I am fortunate enough to have the chance to meet many first time daycare clients, enthusiastically bringing their dogs in for their first day of daycare play with the excitement that their dog will play and they will get a much needed break when their dog returns home tired and happy. Most people know they’re making the right move with daycare, but they’re not always sure exactly why. The idea of their dog home alone all day or stuck in a kennel for long periods is certainly not appealing, but with so many options for dog care now “why daycare?” is a legitimate one.
And of course, like most things when it comes to your dog, this is a personal issue and depends a lot on your individual dog and lifestyle. However I would like to explain why I believe in dog daycare and how I think it benefits the dogs that come here from the perspective of someone who is a veteran to the dog daycare and boarding world as a dog trainer and manager of almost 15 years.
Building and maintaining social skills
This is the most obvious one as dog daycare usually evokes an image of a group of dogs exuberantly playing. And while that certainly happens here, play is only one part of a larger picture when it comes to social skills. Some of the other social skills that transfer nicely from daycare to home life are…
- A dog’s ability to read and respond to another dog’s communication, in and out of play.
- How to approach and greet other dogs smoothly, through casual, indirect, and fluid movements.
- Learning to accommodate for size and power differences. This is especially important for dogs that have younger human beings at home and involves a dog learning how to adjust their strength, power, and intensity to the individual they are interacting with.
- A gentle mouth. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of dog-dog interaction but is arguably the most important. A dog’s ability to use their mouth gently even when upset determines whether a dog is safe in and out of the home and in dog-dog interactions. And this is a skill that must be practiced to maintain.
- Overall comfort level around other dogs. Time spent in a group setting prevents strong or inappropriate reactions to other dogs from developing.
Fulfilling the needs that home care can’t
For your dog, time spent at home can be a good thing, but it can be lacking in fulfilling some core requirements for your dog, namely…
- Physical stimulation – an obvious one. In daycare your dog moves around, runs, and plays.
- Mental stimulation – engaging in play, greeting new dogs and people, engagement from staff
- Environmental management – most daycare facilities are, hopefully, built with the well-being of the dogs in mind. This means stressful, unpleasant, overstimulating, or risky experiences are carefully structured or prevented entirely. Unlike peering out a window at home, which can be a frustrating experience and build unwanted behaviors like barking or reactivity, those type of experiences are controlled in daycare so that they build better emotional control and better behavior for your dog at home.
Creating a comfortable environment
Not all dogs that benefit from dog daycare are dogs that play all day. For some dogs daycare or boarding in a group environment provides a low-stress home away from home, free from the isolation that many dogs feel alone at home or in a kennel environment. This is why dog daycare boarding is such a frequent choice for older dogs who no longer do well in a traditional kennel environment.
So there you have it: why daycare might be a good fit for your dog and why I support daycare for a wider range of dogs than might meet the eye initially.
I used to hate trimming my dogs nails. Lucy would scream if she even saw the nail clippers! When I got my second dog, a puppy named Charlie, I was determined to do something, so I called Central Bark and spoke with one of their groomers. Andrea has over fifteen years of experience in dog grooming and was happy to help me out explaining the importance of keeping a dogs nails trimmed regularly for optimum health.
She started me with a few quick tips:
* Play with, hold, and touch Charlie’s feet often to get him used to being handled.
* Start trimming Charlie’s nails while he is young.
* Take my time, even if it means only clipping one nail a day.
* Clip a small amount at a time to avoid the quick.
* If I have serious problems, or don’t feel comfortable, let a professional do it.
She reminded me of all the dangers of long nails:
* They can easily catch on things and break or tear.
* Long nails are prone to infection and disfiguration.
* In extreme cases the joints in the toe, ankle, and elbow can be damaged.
She went on to explain just how a nail trim works. The quick is the blood supply that runs under the nail. The goal is to clip right up against it being careful not to nick it. Traditional clippers give the nail a blunt edge but get the job done. A nail grinder (like a Dremel) can get a lot closer and round out the edge of the nail making it much smoother. She told me how Lucy’s nails had gone too long without a nail trim so using a Dremel to get close and trimming her nails about every 2 weeks would help the quick recede back to its normal length.
After playing with Charlie and Lucy’s feet regularly I can finally get a nail or two clipped a day. It’s a slow but sure progress. And Charlie doesn’t mind them at all. He looks forward to the belly rubs he gets during them. I still have them done when we go in for our grooming appointments at Central Bark in Seattle since it is part of their grooming process. Thanks Andrea, and Central Bark, for all your help and care!
Going through a training class that focuses on (and tests for) a CGC certification is not only a great way to bond with your dog but will also give them a solid obedience education.
What is the CGC certification?
The Canine Good Citizen is a program started by the American Kennel Club (AKC) back in 1989 to reward dogs who possess good manners at home as well as in the community.
A class is taken focusing on specific criteria and then your dog is tested afterwards. Here’s what you’ll learn:
TEST 1: ACCEPTING A FRIENDLY STRANGER
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness.
TEST 2: SITTING POLITELY FOR PETTING
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler’s side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.
TEST 3: APPEARANCE AND GROOMING
This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.
TEST 4: OUT FOR A WALK (WALKING ON A LOOSE LEAD)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog’s position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler’s movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.
TEST 5: WALKING THROUGH A CROWD
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.
TEST 6: SIT AND DOWN ON COMMAND AND STAYING IN PLACE
This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog’s leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler’s commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.
TEST 7: COMING WHEN CALLED
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to “stay” or “wait” or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.
TEST 8: REACTION TO ANOTHER DOG
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.
TEST 9: REACTION TO DISTRACTION
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.
TEST 10: SUPERVISED SEPARATION
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, “there, there, it’s alright”).
(taken directly from the AKC’s website http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen/training-testing/ )
What that all means?
Your dog will be a joy to live with! They’ll have better manners around people and other dogs and respond better around the house to your commands. Plus you’ll be providing training that stimulates your dog’s intelligence and makes their quality of life, as well as yours, much better!
What to do after the class and certification?
Many dog owners choose CGC training as the first step in training their dogs. Some go on to work as service dogs while others progress to activities such as agility.
For additional information check out PetMD http://www.petmd.com/dog/training/evr_dg_canine_citizen
Sign up for the next CGC class at Central Bark http://central-bark.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CB-Spring-2017.pdf
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