Every so often my 16-pound terrier screams when he is afraid of a large dog. People don’t believe me until they hear it themselves. But it’s true. It’s a tiny shrieking, usually followed by him cowering between my legs or running at top speed in the opposite direction out of the park.
It is for this reason that when Murphy Brown gets his weekly dog daycare visit, it’s somewhere that understands that wee dogs are often strange, temperamental beasts. Some, like mine, are freaked out by (and will run from) larger dogs, while others will straight up go into fight mode. Others are incessant barkers and many just annoy larger dogs, which can in turn end with them being trampled or injured.
Thankfully, Vancouver offers a multitude of doggy daycares that offer a great way for your tiny pup to be mentally and physically stimulated without having to worry about them being overwhelmed.
Here are some of my favourites, and please feel free to leave yours in the comments section:
Address: 75 West 5th Avenue, Vancouver (at Manitoba)
Owner Sonja is passionate about small dogs, and started her dog daycare business out of a desire to have the perfect spot for her pooch Charlie.
Originally a block from the Olympic Village SkyTrain Station, she just opened a new and improved 2,400 square foot facility at 5th and Manitoba.
I take my dog Murphy here once in a while, and he sleeps for two days when he gets home. The best part is that Sonja is constantly taking photos and videos of the wee ones interacting, and she posts them onto her Facebook page.
Organized chaos at Pipsqueak Pups
The facility is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and I haven’t met nicer staff anywhere in the city. Everyone is friendly and seems genuinely thrilled to be hanging out with your tiny dog.
Address: 141 East 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Heather’s Place, just off Main Street, is separated into two floors: one for the big dogs and one specially suited for the wee ones. Heather told me once it wasn’t to protect the small dogs — it was to make sure the petite pooches didn’t annoy the bigger ones. Think of it as passive conflict avoidance.
Small pups have a snooze at Heather’s Place
The facility has a great backyard, and dogs spend every other hour chilling outside. Come the nice summer months, the yard is filled with beach umbrellas and Kiddy pools to keep your wee one shaded. And all three indoor playrooms are air conditioned, should the need arise.
This is a spot that really understands the quirks of small dogs. Knowing that dogs get really freaked out by Halloween fireworks, it offers a by-donation after-hours “safe haven” on the holiday.
It also caters to senior dogs and dogs with disabilities. Service dogs are always treated to a free nail trim and get discounts on services.
Address: 35rd East 3rd Avenue, Vancouver
This Mount Pleasant haunt has a 1,000 square foot facility especially for small dogs, including an outdoor area. This “Disneyland for Dogs” sets up sprinklers and pools in the summer so wee ones can run and play and soak up the sun in a front patio area. There’s a daily nap hour from 1 to 2 p.m. so pups can take a much-needed rest.
Small dogs enjoy playtime at Canine Adventure Den
This is a great spot if you’ve got a new puppy too. The daycare has a separate puppy facility where it welcomes wee ones aged eight weeks and up. The pups are kept separate from the other dogs and staff work on socialization skills. All daycare includes a free bath with every day purchased.
Bonus: This spot is open on Saturdays, and Sundays too, as long as you make an appointment. It also posts photos and videos on Facebook and YouTube.
Location: 105-1833 Anderson Street, Vancouver (Granville Island)
Housed at the entrance to Granville Island, The Doghouse, which opened back in 1996, was the first small dogs-only daycare in the city.
Daycare includes three on-leash walks around the iconic island neighbourhoods and dogs get to chill out on their famous “space beds” (see photo).
The famous space beds at The Doghouse
It opens at 6:30 a.m., so it’s perfect if you’ve got an early day at the office ahead. And unlike a lot of other places, the rates here have remained the same years – and are lower than just about every other Vancouver daycare. The owners also own Rex Dog Hotel + Spa, which also offers a small dogs-only option.
Address: 1188 Homer Street, Vancouver (Yaletown)
If some daycares cater to small dogs, you could say Barking Babies are courting the micro crowd.
Owner Nancy Jelenic says the majority of its clientele are under 10 pounds. Urban Rush host Fiona Forbes often brings her Yorkie Chewy in.
The cool kids at Barking Babies daycare
Barking Babies allows dog owners to drop off their dogs on an hourly basis, so they’ll watch your wee one while you shop, eat or play in Yaletown.
The daycare does a 1-hour free trial babysit to make sure that the dogs are comfortable and a good fit for the facility.
It’s a double gated environment for added safety, and also provides grooming services.
Address: 3080 Cambie Street, Vancouver
This daycare is very structured and set up like a doggy preschool environment. It has three large doggy playpens where dogs are separated by size and personality to maximize enjoyment and decrease potential for conflict.
Staff spend one-on-one time with each dog, teaching them or brushing up on tricks like sit, come, stay – or something a bit more fun like crawl, spin, high-five or “secrets.”
With your daycare fee, your dog gets three 25-minute neighbourhood walks through the quiet streets of Cambie Village with five of its best buddies. On rainy days pups are given waterproof, fleece-lined jackets. If your pup is soaked they’re treated to a warm air-dryer back at the shop.
All staff at The Pet Shop Boys are certified in Pet First Aid by the Walks ‘N’ Wags‘ Pet First Aid training program. Its highly-trained staff also includes veterinary nurses, certified dog trainers, dog nutritionalist and Japanese-trained grooms.
This is a company that also gives back, and its fundraising projects have raised more than $25,000 for local animal charities, including the SPCA.
Address: 1788 Alberni Street, Vancouver
This boutique dog daycare is just a stone’s throw away from Stanley Park, which is where small pups get to go on their morning and afternoon group walks – complimentary with their stay.
Owners post adorable daily daycare pictures on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
The wee ones at Stanley Bark take a stroll in Stanley Park
Its grooming boutique only uses 100 per cent organic products, and groomers promise dogs stay fresh smelling longer with its environmentally-friendly shampoo line. It also provides sedation-free dental cleaning services seasonally.
If you’re in need of a longer stay, Stanley Bark offers home boarding services, where wee ones are allowed to snuggle in their beds (if owners allow) and the dogs are “spoiled rotten.”
Address: 491 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby
Small Paws comes up a lot when you’re talking to owners of small dogs that live outside of Vancouver. Pet parents who take their wee ones here love it a lot.
Its North Burnaby location means that it has great access for commuting dog parents living in Burnaby, Port Moody, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. It even boasts customers driving in from as far as Kitsilano, West Vancouver and Richmond.
The owners really do consider small dogs “fur babies.” It only takes in small dogs, and offers daycare, grooming and in-home boarding if you’re heading out of town.
It’s a double-gated, bright 1,600 square foot facility, with two separate playrooms so even the tiniest pups can be paired with buddies their own size.
Have I missed your favourite spot? Let me know where you like to take your dog.