The Best Dog Day Care Centers of 2021

Find the best place to leave your furry friend

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two dogs playing together on green grass

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As dog owners, where would we be without doggie day care? They’re a great place to drop off our furry friends whether we’re busy at work or just need to let them burn off some manic puppy energy for a few hours.

But with a wealth of day care options out there, it can be a challenge to understand what distinguishes one from the other. That’s why we’ve rounded up our picks for the best dog day care centers—each of which checks the key boxes while bringing something different to the table.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Camp Bow Wow

Camp Bow Wow

 Camp Bow Wow

Why We Chose It: Camp Bow Wow is one of the biggest doggie day care franchises in the country, with over 170 locations and webcams to watch your pup play.

What We Like
  • 170+ locations nationwide

  • Well-trained staff

  • Live webcams to watch your pup

What We Didn't Like
  • Pricing varies significantly by location

  • Early closure on weekends

Camp Bow Wow is one of the most trusted names in the dog day care industry. With more than 170 locations around the United States, the company looks after more than 4.7 million dogs each year—and it's popular for a reason. Camp Bow Wow features spacious play areas and highly capable staff, all of whom are trained in dog behavior, first aid, and pet CPR, so you can feel confident your pup is in good hands. Meanwhile, live webcams make it easy to check on your dog’s adventures throughout the day.

While pricing will vary from one Camp Bow Wow location to the next, they typically offer package deals for multiple days or half-days. Whatever your needs, we think they’re one of the best dog day cares out there.

Best Cage-Free: Camp Run-a-Mutt

Camp Run-a-Mutt

 Camp Run-a-Mutt

Why We Chose It: Camp Run-a-Mutt offers a cage-free day care and boarding experience for your pup, which is perfect for rescues or dogs with crate-aversion.

What We Like
  • Multifaceted play area

  • Live webcams

  • Cage-free boarding

What We Didn't Like
  • Smaller chain with fewer locations

  • “Community snoozing” approach doesn’t work for all dogs

If you’re looking for a day care and boarding combo that never uses cages, we love Camp Run-a-Mutt because it's entirely cage-free. This day care boasts a park-like setting built on synthetic turf replete with a waterfall, bridges, and plenty of places for dogs to lay around or play. Dogs are never left unattended by the camp’s staff of “alpha humans,” and it’s easy to check in via webcam anytime you like.

When you’re planning on extending a day care session into a night of boarding, Camp Run-a-Mutt allows all the dogs to sleep in the same area—what it calls “community snoozing.” An alpha human stays with the pack all night.

Best Customer Experience: Dogtopia

Dogtopia

 Dogtopia

Why We Chose It: Not only is Dogtopia one of the largest dog day care companies in the country, but its app makes it easy for customers to book stays.

What We Like
  • Well-designed app

  • 140+ locations nationwide

  • 100% supervised open play

What We Didn't Like
  • Membership plans vary based on location

  • Typically slightly higher price point

When it comes to dog day care, customer experience applies to your pup just as much as it does to you. But Dogtopia goes a step further than the rest of the pack with its slick mobile app, which makes it a breeze to book sessions, review scheduled appointments, and check in on the day care’s webcam. You can even request to have a staff member greet you at your car, saving you time if you’re dropping off your pup on the way to work.

The day care experience itself is equally stellar, with well-trained staff members who are attuned to socializing dogs and creating an environment that’s as nurturing as it is fun.

Best for Activities: PetSmart

PetSmart

 PetSmart

Why We Chose It: With a slate of activities for dogs, PetSmart is a great choice for pups who love staying active all day.

What We Like
  • Wide range of activities

  • Structured day care sessions

  • National chain with many locations

What We Didn't Like
  • Not all PetSmarts offer day care

  • Fewer add-on options

If your dog thrives on structure, PetSmart’s Doggie Day Camp is a solid choice. Each day is broken down into a series of engaging activities, starting with a morning meet-and-greet and concluding with a post-play nap. In between, your dog will engage in games like hide-and-seek, practice skills, and even play with bubbles or enjoy a calming storytime session.

For the dog that loves having a bit of variety its life, PetSmart’s Doggie Day Camp should be the top choice.

Best for Grooming: Central Bark

Central Bark

 Central Bark

Why We Chose It: Central Bark is a full-service doggie day care with a robust grooming option for busy pet parents.

What We Like
  • Full-service salon

  • Varied play sessions

  • “Canine Cab” pickup service

What We Didn't Like
  • No webcams for doggie play

  • Website not incredibly user-friendly

Knock two items off your dog’s to-do list in one fell swoop with Central Bark, which provides an in-house salon and spa as well as day care services. The day care’s groomers are equipped to handle dogs of all breeds and sizes, and they offer everything from routine cuts to ear cleanings, nail trims, and gland expression (always everyone’s favorite).

Beyond the spa, each session of Central Bark’s day care balances fun activities with individual attention and periods of quiet time. Central Bark also offers boarding every day of the year.

Best for Travel: Rover.com

Rover.com

Rover.com

Why We Chose It: Rover.com is a marketplace for pet sitting and day care that you can access no matter where you are in the country.

What We Like
  • Ability to filter professionals to suit your dog’s needs

  • Thousands of pet lovers across the country

  • Great for dogs who need a solo dog day care experience

What We Didn't Like
  • Must rely on reviews or past experiences

  • Prices can vary based on the sitter

Rover.com is a marketplace where pet lovers can search for sitters and walkers in their area. We love it because it offers a very personalized experience for your pet, giving you the option to filter and sift through professionals based on your pet’s specific needs (for example, if your animal needs to take medicine or must be the only dog in the home). Plus, it's great if you need to find a doggie day care option while you’re away on a trip with your pet.

Many doggie day cares require a prior behavioral assessment, making it difficult to book when you’re on vacation in town, so Rover is a great choice if you need day care while you’re out and about.

Verdict

Most doggie day cares offer all-day play, but some feature additional add-ons and structured days to give your dog even more out of his experience. Our top pick, Camp Bow Wow, offers a fun day care experience and has webcams so you can watch your dog play all day. If you bring your dog with you on a trip and need a sitter, check out Rover to see who is available in the area.

How Much Does Dog Day Care Cost?

Prices vary based on your location and how many dogs you send to day care, but generally, a day of day care will run between $20–$35. Many companies offer half-day rates and package deals, so you can save money if you send your pup to day care frequently.

Is Dog Day Care Good for Your Dog?

For dogs with a lot of energy or those who get anxious when they are left alone, doggie day care can provide a great outlet. Dog day care centers are fully staffed, so it’s a great and safe place for your pup to socialize with other dogs. Plus, if you are away all day at work or while traveling, doggie day care is a good alternative to hiring a dog walker to take your pup out during the day.

That said, doggie day care may not be a great option for all pups, so it’s important to know your dog's personality. Aggressive dogs or dogs that do not do well with others may not be good candidates for doggie day care. Plus, most franchises do require that your pet be fully up to date on vaccinations and be spayed or neutered.

How We Chose the Best Dog Day Care Centers

Finding the best dog day care centers started with going over all of the national chains that offer dog day care. From there, we focused only on companies with great reputations and reviews. Additional points were given to dog day cares that offered extras such as webcams (Camp Bow Wow and Dogtopia) so you can watch your pup play all day. Additionally, some companies made our list due to their add-on services such as grooming (Central Bark).

Finally, while price wasn’t a major factor in our decision (daily prices vary a lot by region), companies that offered packages and discounts for repeat customers such as Camp Bow Wow got the highest marks.

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