You love your dog like crazy and want to provide him with a happy life — unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it may seem. “Being a responsible pet parent is about more than just feeding and providing a home for your dog and doing the basics of veterinary care,” says Christina Russell, the president of Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest pet care franchise. “It's about getting them out there into the world and letting them experience life as a dog.”

Take a look at a few of the ways doggy day care creates the perfect environment to make friends, run, jump and play, all while promoting your furry family member’s overall wellness.

1. It provides exercise

For the majority of dogs, twice-a-day walks or an hour spent at a dog park isn’t enough. “So much of the day they're sedentary,” says Russell, “especially if you have to do crate training.” At day care, dogs are separated by size and temperament into groups and spend most of the day playing, with rest-breaks as needed.

“Playtime with another dog is much more strenuous, typically, than our average walk,” says Erin Askeland, Camp Bow Wow’s training manager and resident dog behavior expert. Even if you have an older dog or a couch potato, the combination of Camp Counselors and other, more energetic dogs will get them active. Exercise is a critical component of pet health, shares Askeland, because “it's better for their joints, it's better for their blood circulation.”

2. It encourages socialization

“Dogs by their very nature are pack animals. They like to be with a family, with a group.” says Russell. “Putting your dog in a Camp environment is a way to make sure that your dog gets comfortable around all different dog types.” Day care, Russell adds, also exposes dogs to new humans. “Being around the different Camp Counselors and getting used to that, to different people coming over to pet you, touching you — especially folks like ours that are well-trained at how to make dogs comfortable — it puts them at ease.”

This exposure to different types of interaction means that owners can feel comfortable bringing their dogs into social situations, be it a dog park, around the neighborhood or even to a restaurant. It also has larger benefits. “To get them to meet new friends is so important to their longevity,” says Askeland. “It can help them live longer.”

3. It shapes positive behavior

Askeland shares that a key to solving a pet’s behavioral issues such as chewing shoes or chomping on drywall is “putting them in a safe environment where they're not able to be destructive, but have interactions that take their mind off the fact that they're separated from their family. They know they're not alone, and that's a huge difference to a dog who struggles with separation anxiety.”

Russell points out that when dogs have a positive outlet to channel their energy, such as the all-day play and attention that day care provides, “they're pleasantly fatigued, they're resting at times that they should rest and they're integrated with their family in constructive ways.”

Think day care might be right for you and your dog?  Most centers offer a free interview day to find out for sure. “So many working dog parents have started to realize that [day care] benefits their dog in so many ways,” says Russell. “You love your dog, and it gives you so much joy to have your dog in your home, and this is a way to give it back. To give them an experience that makes them as happy as they make you."

To learn more about Camp Bow Wow and to find a location near you, visit campbowwow.com.