Frequently Asked Questions

Doggy Day Care
How do I Request a Reservation for a Day Care or Sleepover service in my online account?

Step 1: Login

  1. Click the “Client Login” option found at the bottom of all pages on our website. 
  2. Enter either your email address or phone number that you signed up with 
  3. Click “continue logging in”
  4. Then enter your password and click “Sign In”

Step 2: Request Services

You will now see the page below. From this page you can do a number of things along with requesting a reservation from the drop downs including editing your information, editing your pet’s info, adding/removing pets, checking your package credits, purchasing package credits, and adding/editing/changing photos.

  1. Click the blue “request services” button 
  2. In the popup window, click the “Book Day Care or Sleepover Now!” button 

Step 3:  Select a Service Type

  1. Scroll down past the notes (after you have read them) until you get to the “Details” section. 
  2. Click on the drop-down in the “Type” row and choose your reservation type. 
  3. Note: Grooming requests cannot be made through the customer portal. Please call (240) 582-7389 to schedule an appointment.

Step 4: Make Your Reservation Request

  1. Choose the pet or pets you would like to add to this reservation 
  2. Choose the date you are looking for 
  3. You may edit the drop-off and pick-up time from within our open hours, if you know those approximations 
  • You can set up “recurring dates” for the same day/days each week for a timeframe 
  • You can add additional reservations for other days at the same time. 

Step 5: Add-on Services and Notes

  1. You may add any additional services (such as enrichment training, training tutor, special meals (outside of lunch), salon and spa services, etc, to their reservation. 
  2. You may add any notes that you would like us to see in the notes box 
  3. You may run an estimate for the total cost of your reservation request (please note that the charges for “additional services” such as salon and spa, may vary from the default that shows in the estimate) 
  4. Once you have added everything you want, click “Save” in the lower right corner 

Your Done!

You should see the page below if everything went through correctly. You will get an email confirmation when your reservation has been accepted and confirmed, if you are added to a waitlist, or if it is denied. 

What’s a Behavior Assessment and why is it important?

As part of joining the Central Bark® family, our expert staff conducts a thorough behavior assessment at your local Central Bark store. These assessments help ensure that your dog is placed with a playgroup they’re comfortable with so they can play safely every day they’re with us.

This four-day evaluation, while your dog participates in our Enrichment Day Care, assesses your dog’s:

  • Comfort and social skills with people 
  • Social skills and playstyle with other dogs to help determine the playgroup and play schedule they can benefit from the most
  • Comfort in both indoor and outdoor play spaces
  • Comfort in rest areas and a crate 
  • Ability to share resources like water and toys in social settings
  • Level of comfort taking treats in social settings

This process gives us a chance to get to know you and your dog while your dog gets acquainted with their new favorite place away from home. Through the entire four days, your dog’s comfort and safety is our top priority.

Once your pup passes all the behavior assessment elements, you are welcome to sign up for any of our daycare services or a sleepover!

To schedule a Behavior Assessment for your dog, please contact your local store.

NOTEPlease bring all required signed forms, vaccination proof, and a collar and leash for your behavior assessment.

How does Central Bark mentally stimulate a dog?

At Central Bark®, our goal is to provide a balanced day of play, learning, rest, and love. Learning and mental exercise can happen in various ways, including training activities, brain games, scent work, and more. Our playgroups offer several hours of active playtime paired with learning opportunities during Group Play Skills. This way, dogs have plenty of time to socialize and get their energy out, while also exercising their minds through learning.

During one of your dog’s rest periods throughout the day, they are offered a rest period enrichment activity to stimulate their mind while encouraging healthy rest. These licking and chewing activities involve food rewards, such as a frozen peanut butter KONG®. These activities engage their minds while helping foster quality rest. 

Did you know? Scientific studies have shown that licking and chewing behaviors (especially those that involve food rewards!) are self-soothing, decrease heart and respiratory rates, and even release dopamine in a dog’s brain.

Training Tutor sessions stimulate the dog’s minds and bodies and help them learn important skills, behaviors, and tricks.

One-on-One Enrichment sessions give the extra attention dogs love and the freedom to use their senses and safely explore their instincts through interactive toys, puzzles, and games.

Did you know? 15 minutes of mental activity is equal to 30 minutes of physical exercise!

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care

What are One-on-One Enrichment sessions?

Our One-on-One Enrichment sessions give your dog the freedom to safely explore their senses with an Enrichment Specialist. They’ll get the personal attention they love, supplemented with interactive toys, puzzles, and games that exercise their bodies and minds. They can also level up their skills with fitness training and agility exercises if they’re ready for more. 

Did you know? 15 minutes of mental activity is equal to 30 minutes of physical exercise!

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care

What are flexible playgroups?

Flexible playgroups allow us to match your dog with the social atmosphere and play schedule they can enjoy and benefit from most. This helps give them a healthy balance of play, rest, and learning and creates a safer social environment with a better quality of play. And our lower dog-to-staff ratios offer more individual attention, education, and love.

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care 

What are Rest Period Enrichments?

Rest periods can be paired with fun and interactive food toys (like a frozen peanut butter Kong) to create a rest period enrichment activity for your dog.   

Not only are rest period enrichments fun and mentally stimulating for your dog, but they also help build positive associations and crating skills. Hence, dogs are calmer, quieter, and more relaxed. For dogs, being comfortable in a crate is a life skill that is incredibly useful for them and their owners. 

Did you know? Scientific studies have shown that licking and chewing behaviors (especially those that involve food rewards!) are self-soothing, decrease heart and respiratory rates, and even release dopamine in a dog’s brain.

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care 

What do dogs do at doggy day care?

Central Bark Enrichment Doggy Day Care combines our industry-leading doggy day care expertise with the latest science-based activities and techniques. We personalize your dog’s day with fun, healthy, and well-balanced activities that appeal to their instincts and enrich their bodies, minds, and senses.  

Each day at Central Bark® includes exclusive options like:

  • Flexible play groups allow us to match your dog each day with the social atmosphere and play schedule they can enjoy and benefit from most. This helps give them a healthy balance of play, rest, and learning and creates a safer social environment with a better quality of play. And our lower dog-to-staff ratios offer more individual attention, education, and love.
  • Group play skills help dogs practice important behaviors and life skills like name recall, group sit, and calmly going in and out of doors and gates. These activities are fun and rewarding for your dog and help improve behavior and impulse control, prevent overstimulation, and creates a safer social environment. 
  • Rest Period Enrichments help dogs relax and recharge in their own private space with calming interactive toys and healthy food pairings tailored to their preferences and diet. It promotes physical and mental relaxation and can help them become more comfortable in crates by building positive associations. 
  • One-on-One Enrichment add-on sessions give your dog the personal attention they love, supplemented with interactive toys, puzzles, and games. Sessions are fun and rewarding, exercise their body and mind, and engage their senses. Add complexity with fitness and agility equipment.
  • Training sessions during day care visits help your dog develop essential skills and behaviors like name recall, sit, stay, down, wait, leave-it, door and gate control, and loose-leash walking. Excellent for your dog and easy for you! Your dog will come home tired and well-socialized, with the training and skills they need to be a well-behaved member of your family.

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care

Do I need to bring bedding, toys, or treats for my dog?

Nope! We got you covered! Most dogs will not need any bedding for a single day of day care. If your dog is boarding with us, see our Sleepover Guidelines. As far as treats and toys, we have plenty! Please ask about which toy and treat products are available.

What should I bring to Doggy Day Care?

Once you have enrolled, we will need a copy of your dog’s vaccination records, which you can upload to your online account or bring with you on your scheduled first day. We also ask that your dog comes in on a regular 6-foot flat leash (no retractable or flexi-leads in the lobby) and a quick-release collar. Not sure what a quick release collar is? No problem! We’ll be happy to show you on your first day. If your dog usually wears a harness while walking, you’re welcome to bring that as well.

If your dog typically eats a midday meal, you can bring it in an airtight container clearly labeled with your dog’s first and last names. 

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care 

How do I enroll in Central Bark Doggy Day Care?

It’s easy! Just complete our online registration form.

To speed up the registration process, please have available: veterinarian contact information, an emergency contact (other than yourself or your partner), pet information & medical history, and credit card information (optional). We will ask you a series of questions about your dog’s training and social history. These questions help us get to know them and provide the best care possible.

How to choose the best day care for your dog

Selecting the right doggy day care is an important decision for you and your family. You want to make sure you find the right fit for your dog and your family’s needs. Follow these tips to find the perfect place for your pup! 

Tour the day care center before leaving your dog there. We recommend visiting several centers in your area before making a final decision.

While you’re there, ask yourself:

  • Is the play space clean, odor-free, comfortable, and safe for the center’s stated capacity? 
  • Pay attention to how the management and staff treat you, your dog, and the dogs in their care. Are they mature, knowledgeable, courteous, professional, and patient at all times? 
  • Note how the dogs respond to the staff – do they seem happy, relaxed, and excited? How do staff members greet and treat each dog?
  • How do other dogs act during your visit – relaxed, happy, stressed, scared, or out of control?
  • Is there a great deal of noise? 
  • Does the facility seem well organized and equipped with essential tools and supplies? Look for access to fresh, clean water, sanitation tools, ready access to treats to reinforce good behavior in playgroups, toys, secure fencing, rubber flooring in the inside play spaces, and access to outdoor play spaces.
  • Are there enough crates for every dog on-site in case of an emergency?
  • Are the dogs ever left alone together without a staff member present?
  • Are the handlers engaged with the dogs in their care and actively working with them? Or are they sitting on the sidelines? 

Questions to ask the doggy day care provider:

  1. Will my dog get individual attention time with staff?
    Ask if staff will have time to work individually with your dog on behaviors, play with them, and give them support and love while at day care.
  2. Are there small group play options?
    Small playgroup options help ensure your dog will have a social environment that allows them the freedom and comfort to thrive based on their unique needs, preferences, and play styles. 
  3. What’s the daily schedule? Is this tailored to my dog’s unique needs and preferences?
    Dogs thrive on routine, so the center should have a clear schedule for how things run every day. A consistent program tailored to your dog’s individual needs and style will promote a healthy and happy dog. 
  4. Are there regularly scheduled playtimes and nap times throughout the day?
    Day care should offer your dog a safe and balanced day of play, learning, rest, and love so you can look forward to a happy, well-balanced dog at the end of every day. 
  5. How and where are the dogs’ given downtime to wind down from the day’s activities to help prevent exhaustion and overstimulation?
    Maintaining a healthy balance of rest and play is important for the physical, mental, and social health of dogs. Just like human athletes, rest helps dogs avoid bodily injury and provides a space for them to unwind, so they do not become over-stimulated or over-aroused during play. This creates a much safer social environment for dogs. 
  6. Are there fenced and secure outdoor play areas? 
    Safe outdoor areas are important for a healthy, fun playtime. Whether it is romping in the snow or playing in swimming pools, everyone loves recess outside!
  7. How are new dog introductions handled?
    The center should clearly outline their procedures around new dog introductions, with effective policies that encourage happy, healthy, and lasting relationships and experiences.   
  8. What training does the staff receive?
    Doggy day care staff should be professionally trained and educated in animal behavior, socialization, and obedience training to ensure every dog’s well-being.  
  9. Are the dogs supervised at all times?
    A trained staff member should ALWAYS supervise dogs.
  10. Ask about behavior management tools used at the facility while caring for the dogs. What happens if your dog does something right? What happens if your dog does something wrong?
    Staff should use positive reinforcement and reward-based techniques to develop and reinforce behaviors that will enrich dogs’ lives at home and day care. Avoid centers that use punishment or correction to manage dog’s behavior as those techniques can create negative associations and fear. Utilizing reward-based techniques and positive reinforcement, on the other hand, can help build healthy relationships and happy experiences.
  11. What provisions are there for avoiding dog scuffles?
    Ask staff how they manage the dogs in their care. What do they look for in dog-dog interactions? How do they deal with emergencies and scuffles? How do they interrupt and redirect dogs? How do they build useful playgroup skills to keep the dogs safe proactively? Pay attention to how staff redirects dogs who need additional support to stay safe and whether they respond promptly and use effective strategies in these situations.
  12. Is there an in-depth interview to determine relevant background, behavioral, and health information including confirmation of spay/neuter, proof of vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, etc.? How is this information kept up to date?
    Find out what kind of assessments and evaluations the center uses before they accept a new dog. Also, every dog’s information should be regularly updated and kept on file to prevent illness and injuries.
  13. Do they have safety, cleaning, and disinfecting policies and procedures? What are they?

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care

Why choose doggy day care for your dog?

There’s no bond like the one between our furry best friends and us. We love our dogs and want to give them the best life possible. But it can be challenging to fulfill all their needs to stay healthy and happy for a lifetime. Doggy day care gives pups a place to play and learn in a safe environment, with the socialization, mental stimulation, and physical exercise their minds and bodies need to stay healthy for a lifetime. 

  • Dogs get to socialize. Dogs are social creatures. Positive experiences with new humans, new dogs, and new environments are essential to a well-rounded pup.
  • Dogs learn social skills. Dogs learn from other dogs – they’re always teaching each other what is (and isn’t) appropriate social behavior. Doggy day care staff can also help support safe play and practice healthy social behaviors.
  • Dogs get more exercise. Exercise helps your dog maintain a healthy weight and muscle tone while improving their mood and providing a healthy outlet for their physical and mental energy, meaning they can be more relaxed at home.  
  • Dogs get human attention. Your dog will get the care and love they need while you’re at work or school.  
  • Parents get a break. Doggy day care can give you a day off from responsibilities, while your dog gets what they need to be a healthier, more well-adjusted pet.

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care

What is dog day care?

Dog day care gives dogs a fun place to play with their friends while their owners are busy at home and work.

At Central Bark®, doggy daycare is our specialty, and nobody does it quite like us. We don’t just give dogs a place to play. We create a personalized program of activities that optimize your dog’s whole health – their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Central Bark goes beyond a traditional doggy day care with our unique Whole Dog Care philosophy. Our personalized approach helps enrich your dog’s whole health and well-being throughout their entire life so you can enjoy a healthy, happy, and loving life together.

The heart of our whole dog care approach is our Enrichment Doggy Day Care program. We combine Central Bark’s industry-leading doggy day care expertise with the latest dog behavior science. Our mission is to give dogs a balanced blend of exercise, social group play, learning, rest, and TLC. To help your dog be a healthy, happy, calm, and well-rounded member of your family.

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care.

How are staff trained and what behavior management tools do they use in a playgroup?

Our staff is trained in dog body language and positive playgroup management techniques to respond proactively to help avoid issues between dogs. These tools include praise, treats, and work on important Group Play Skills daily like name recall, group sits, and going calmly in and out of doorways and gates. If a dog ever becomes overstimulated during play (like kids do on the playground sometimes), we use these practiced skills to help redirect dogs into more desired behaviors (like coming to us and offering a sit for a treat). This gives the dog a chance to reset and calm down. When needed, we also utilize play breaks (a short rest in an individual crate) or in-group leash walks if a dog needs a little more help to bring their energy levels back down.

How does Central Bark proactively address safety?

At Central Bark, a proactive approach to safety is woven right into the fabric of our program. That is why we require that all dogs enrolled in our Day Care program pass our behavior assessment and attend at least once per week. It helps us ensure that dogs are social with other dogs and people and remain comfortable with all aspects of our program. It also allows us to proactively staff so we can keep a dog to staff ratio low, which also helps increase safety. Plus, we ALWAYS supervise play. Whether it’s a group of 2 dogs or 12 dogs, we never leave dogs unattended during group play.

Are the management and staff mature, knowledgeable, courteous, professional, and patient at all times?

We have a team of very qualified individuals at Central Bark®, including managers certified in Canine First Aid and CPR.

Are the facilities well equipped with toys?

Central Bark® has plenty of tennis balls and toys for everyone. The dogs could ask for nothing more!

Is there a schedule of activities and safety rules?

Yes. Our day is broken up into areas of play, rest, feeding and more. And we always keep a watchful eye on canine good manners.

Learn more about our commitment to safety

How can I be sure that the play space is clean, odor & disease-free, comfortable and safe for the stated capacity of the center?

Central Bark® is licensed and inspected by local government or regulatory authorities. We also clean and disinfect nightly, regardless of how many dogs have visited.

Learn more about our commitment to safety

Does the center maintain the same policy for sleepovers?

Central Bark® reserves sleepover services exclusively for dogs accepted into the day care program, so the same policies do apply. Our Stay-n-Play program (available at participating locations) offers boarding services for dogs that have not enrolled in our day care program.

How do dogs wind down from the flurry of activity and avoid potential conflicts?

Dogs nap quietly in their crates in the Nap Room, complete with classical music and aromatherapy.

Is there enough outdoor space to accommodate all dogs on nice days and indoor space when the weather is poor?

Central Bark® has both indoor and outdoor play areas large enough that all dogs can be inside or outside at any given time. This helps us keep the dogs safe and comfortable at any time of year. 

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care

Can I see the complete facilities where my dog will be staying?

Of course! You are welcome to visit and tour the center before enrolling. 

Contact us to schedule a tour