3 Immediate Doggie DayCare Deal Breakers

3 Immediate Doggie Day Care Deal Breakers

Recently, I searched for a good Doggie Day Care for Buzz’s stay in Memphis, TN. While I did that, I was reminded of the importance of properly researching Doggie Day Care places both online and IN PERSON!

I had already mentally decided on Grace Animal Hospital, which is located right in downtown Memphis.

That’s after I looked at their website and found the pricing acceptable. I even called, and just wanted to quickly check out the place in person. 

Let me tell you that several alarm bells went off in my head when I entered the place. They were bad enough to make me want to turn around and walk right back out the door I had just come through.

However, I forced myself to stay and get a tour of the place. Here’s what I experienced:

Grace Animal Hospital Not Recommended For Doggie DayCare in Memphis, TN

#1 Doggie Day Care Deal Breaker: Urine & Feces Smells

This was the first thing I noticed when I walked through the entrance. The smell of urine & feces.

I intuitively looked around the reception area in search of a fresh puddle of pee and/or a pile of diarrhea or poop, but didn’t see any.

The lack of anything in sight immediately raised red flag #1: The smell had to come from the Day Care area in the back. Along with all the noise.

#2 Doggie Day Care Deal Breaker: Deafening Noise

Judging by the deafening sound of barking that filled the reception area, there had to be many, many dogs behind the wall separating the front from the back. 

Now, I realize that there will be some barking in a Day Care environment, don’t get me wrong. Obviously dogs communicate via their voice as much as through their body language.

However, this scenario reminded me of a kennel instead of an area where dogs are supposed to have a good time and be relaxed. 

I’ve volunteered my time at a no-kill shelter in Northern Virginia once and walked some of their dogs. The insanely loud volume I experienced there was similar to the one at this Doggie Day Care facility. 

Leave if you can’t understand your own words!

It was so bad that I could barely understand the woman who showed me the back. I actually had to wait until we toured the deserted outside area to ask her a few questions. 

The crazy volume was definitely due to the Day Care dogs hanging out closely to the boarding dogs. I counted about 20 boarding pups. While I walked past them on our way to the outside area, I noticed several piles of poop in the pups’ crates that hadn’t been cleaned up yet.

I’m a professional dog walker and pet sitter myself, and whenever an accident happens at one of my clients’ homes, I clean it up right away.

It’s impossible not to notice it since the smell is a clear indicator of a poopy mess. How this can get overlooked at a veterinary hospital is beyond my comprehension!

#3 Doggie Day Care Deal Breaker: (Mostly) Unfriendly Staff

The young woman who gave me the tour of the back was relatively friendly, there’s no denying it. The staff manning the reception area, however, couldn’t have been more dull and clearly uninterested in my visit.

There was only one woman behind the reception desk when I walked into the building. While she did greet me and arranged for me to get a tour of the back, she sounded like a broken, boring record. 

I had to wait for about 10 minutes until my tour guide emerged from the back. During this time, another woman sat down behind the reception desk and completely ignored my presence. 

She didn’t greet me, asked me how I was, or at least smiled at me. That’s although I was standing right within her field of vision behind the counter. Nothing. It was as if I was thin air. I thought to myself that if I treated my clients this way, I wouldn’t have very many.

3 Doggie Day Care Deal Breakers: Bottom Line

There was only thing I enjoyed seeing about that place. That was the mist that was being sprayed out back. It made sense that no dogs were out there at the time I looked at that outside play are. That’s because it was noon on a hot and humid mid-western summer day.

I couldn’t wait to get out of that place as quickly as possible. One thing was clear: This would not be Buzz’s DayCare facility.

I’ve taken both Missy & Buzz to two wonderful, inviting, clean, and fun Day Care places. That’s why I know what a good Doggie Day Care should look like. One thing was clear: I wouldn’t accept anything less.

One of them is the Olde Town Pet Resort in Dulles, VA, and the other one is Riverbark Pet Retreat in Spring Lake, NC.

If you’re interested in reading about those, check out the links in the Related Reading section at the bottom of this blog post.

Unfortunately, since I eliminated Grace Animal Hospital, I had to continue my search for a Doggie Day Care. I can tell you that I was incredibly lucky with the next place I went to right after touring the smelly place.

I’ll be writing about it soon and will tell you why, although it was perfect on so many levels, it didn’t end up working out after all. Stay tuned!

Update: You can now read it about the next place I toured here!

What are your criteria for a good Doggie DayCare? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Related Reading:

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






10 responses to “3 Immediate Doggie Day Care Deal Breakers”

  1. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

    I cannot help with requirements because we do not do doggie daycare. I really do not want my dogs mixed in with unknown dogs. As an alternative we have sent them for field training, but that is more of a boarding situation.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Doggie DayCare is definitely not for everyone – that’s why pet sitters such as myself have a job 😉 I believe you’ll appreciate reading about the thorough interview process at the next place I toured.

  2. MilitaryWifeandPugLife Avatar

    Omg this is why I can’t put the pugs in daycare! I don’t trust people at all!!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      It goes to show that there are black sheep in the pet services industry as well, which is sad.

  3. Elaine Avatar

    This is interesting because I met a really nice lady at a dog event who owned a doggie daycare center near us. I had been wanting to do a post on that topic and she was really excited to be interviewed. I was so impressed with her and her business…until I stepped inside the place.

    I noticed most of the things you mentioned here along with an unfriendly and inattentive staff. I was so surprised, because this place had good reviews and it seemed to be the best daycare center in the area.

    I was so disappointed and ended up not writing the post. I thought, if the staff couldn’t be pleasant and welcoming to people, how well would they treat the dogs?

    I’m so glad you found a great place for Buzz though! Looking forward to hearing more about it soon.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Elaine, it was relieving to find the complete opposite right after that terrible place. I can’t believe it got good reviews – just like the place you went to. Makes you wonder if they were fake reviews written by the owners of the Day Cares? Or maybe the people who wrote the reviews didn’t tour the place and only saw a professionally put together website? Then again, wouldn’t they have smelled what we smelled? It’s just baffling!!!

  4. Lindsay Stordahl Avatar
    Lindsay Stordahl

    Ace has stayed at multiple boarding facilities over the years and in one he took part in the dog daycare. It wasn’t the nicest but I did tour the facility multiple times and I was OK with it and trusted the owners.

    I have not actually toured the facility I use for boarding where we live now, and I know I should. I haven’t used the daycare service there but I would like to eventually when we board Remy again. The front entryway is nice, but you never know how it really is in the dog area.

    I used to work at a boarding facility and let’s just say that place was pretty awful. It was very run down and understaffed so it was impossible to keep the dogs clean and properly cared for. I’m talking 200 dogs on a holiday with 2 staff members, 2-3 dogs per cage. More like an overrun shelter than a boarding kennel.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Wow, that’s insane – 2 staff members for 200 dogs? Yeah, that’s pretty much impossible to manage.

      I find that the front entryway can already tell a lot about the rest of the place, so your boarding place is probably alright 😉 I still can’t get over the smell at that Animal Hospital in Memphis. That was such a turnoff.

  5. Beth Avatar

    That sounds like a nightmare! I hope you found the perfect place for Buzz! The place I board Barley occasionally isn’t necessarily updated and pretty, but it’s owned by her trainer who loves Barley like I do and knows all of Barley’s quirks when it comes to other dogs, so we’re will to trade pretty for love–we definitely wouldn’t be willing to put up with a place like this one, though! I’m glad you toured it before sending Buzz there!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      It sure was a nightmare, Beth! I ended up not opting for a Day Care after all and found a pet sitter/dog walker for Buzz who comes to see him every day. I’ll be writing about the nice Day Care soon! As long as it’s clean and staffed with knowledgeable dog lovers, I’m fine with that. Visual appeal just gets bonus points 😉

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