What is involved in your pre-screening process?

You should have a pretty good idea already if your dog will do well with other dogs in group play. After our initial in-person or phone conversation, we have a 5-step evaluation process.

Initial Conversation

If you are not sure how your dog will do in group play, then we will ask you a few questions over the phone to get an idea, such as:

  • How old is your dog?
  • Do you take your dog to the dog park and how do they do at the dog park around other dogs?
  • How much experience your dog has with dogs they do not know (family dogs don’t count)
  • What breed is your dog?

If everything sounds good and you’re comfortable, then we proceed to a meet and greet.


We want to see how your dog is with us, the staff, and how they are with us moving them using their collar. We watch for how your dog enters our facility. We want to see a happy dog, loose, wiggly, good balance on all four legs. We can work with shy/timid dogs even if they are tail tucked coming in the door. Sometimes the dog’s radar is up and they think they are in for an unpleasant appointment. More time is better so the dogs can relax and see that we are about fun and playtime. What we don’t want to see in our lobby is intense stare and body posture strongly leaning forward, or a height-seeking body position. When we feel your dog is comfortable with us, we move to the backhouse.


Your dog is introduced, on leash, to two other dogs, one at a time, one of the same sex and one of the opposite sex. If we see happy appropriate body signals from your dog, then your dog will proceed to step 3. If we aren’t sure about your dog’s body language or signals, then we will introduce a couple more dogs individually, still on leash, so we can get a more detailed read on your dog’s acceptance and tolerance of being in a group of new dogs.


Your dog is now in our play group with the couple dogs your dog already met during the leash introductions in part 2. We take your dog outside immediately so he/she can sniff around and potty if necessary. We monitor all new dogs and gradually build up the group adding a couple more dogs at a time until our staff is comfortable with your dog. Once our staff gets a good read that your dog is comfortable then the group can be expanded.


We make sure all dogs are a good fit for both the humans and the other dogs. Therefore we do let the other dogs in the group give their feedback about all new dogs who come to Happy Pets Palace & Playground. Working with dogs every day we learn how to recognize if the dogs sense bad vibes from a new dog. Imagine you’re walking up to a human to ask a question, and you get a vibe, so you quickly know not to approach that person. Dogs do the same thing. So when we see our group of dogs that we know well all change their mind about approaching the new dog, there’s a reason. And we respect our pack’s choice for the safety of all the dogs.


Before a new dog is signed off on, at least two staff members working with the dogs have to give approval that the new dog is a good fit for our environment. Once the new dog has been approved, he/she is welcome to come to daycare and/or boarding as long as they maintain good behavior.

The pre-screening process is done on your first day of daycare. It does take us 3-4 hours. You can choose if you want a half day daycare (up to 5-hours) or a full day daycare (over 5 hours). Regular daycare rates apply. Boarding dogs must also go through our meet and greet evaluation because at Happy Pets Palace all boarding dogs receive doggy daycare included in their stay. We do pre-screening appointments on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. We do require advance notice, so please call us at 480-207-1852 and schedule a time to come in.