Does your dog like socializing with other dogs or not? Some dogs can be “loners,” so they might want to stay at a place where they can have their own space, away from other dogs, and, perhaps, short play times with small groups of other similar dogs rather than one large group. Therefore, ask facility workers if that option’s available…
As for the facility itself, does it have the needed room for dogs to play? Are there places for your dog to opt out of interaction and take a nap? Are the facilities clean, sanitary and safe, both outdoors and inside? There shouldn’t be any sharp objects that could injure a dog. Does the facility have a plan in place if there’s an emergency? You should ask to see (or hear) their plan in case there was a fire or some other catastrophe.
Play and Rest Time
Dogs appreciate play time as well as nap time. Some facilities brag that their dogs never leave the play floor, but that’s not good– dogs should also have some quiet spaces where they can rest during the day.
With dog play facilities, how’s the staff? Do they seem to know a lot about dog behavior, such that they can notice appropriate versus inappropriate play? Do they know how to effectively manage dogs both as individuals and in groups? Is there at least one person for every 10 to 15 dogs?
When a new dog arrives at the facility, the staff should conduct a behavioral assessment. They should ask questions of the dog owner to get an idea of how that dog acts and what he or she likes/dislikes. Dog owners should be able to ask what the policy is for dogs who fight/bully others. Also, if you do walk into a facility, notice if dogs are separated, somewhat, by size into different play groups. It makes sense that little dogs play with other little dogs, rather than little dogs playing with big dogs, ideally.