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.
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You’d spend every minute of the day with your pup if you could, but that’s just not possible. When you can’t be with your furry friend, how do you know which dog daycare in Seattle to send Fido to?
Here are 10 questions to ask potential doggie daycares.
1. Can you get a tour? Any reputable doggie daycare will allow you to tour the facility. This allows you to look at the cleanliness and get an overall sense of the atmosphere, whether the dogs are having a good time or whether there’s tension.
2. Is there a temperament test, and what does it entail?
3. What are the health requirements? Which vaccinations does my dog need in order to enroll?
4. What is the cost? Are there any discount packages available?
5. What is the ratio of staff to dogs?
6. What training and qualifications does the staff have? This would include things like animal CPR or animal behavioral degrees or certifications.
7. How are dogs separated? Is it by size, temperament, or activity level?
8. What is the schedule like? How much time do the dogs play, and how long are they kept in kennels? How much time is spent indoors versus outdoors?
9. Is there a webcam where I can view my dog at play throughout the day?
10. What other services does the daycare offer? Is there grooming or training available?
All doggie daycares are not created equal, so be sure to do your homework before deciding which one is right for your four-legged best friend.
Daycare isn’t for every dog but a lot of dogs benefit from the extra playtime and mental stimulation that they receive at daycare. Puppies especially benefit from daycare and here are the top 7 reason daycare rocks for puppies!
1.Learn good play behavior
Just like any kid, puppies need to learn proper social etiquette. Having the exposure to different play styles and ages of dogs while at daycare will help you puppy learn appropriate play
2.Burn that puppy energy
No one will argue that puppies are bundles of energy! They quickly recharge after a nap and are ready to go again. The awesome benefit of daycare is that they can burn some of the puppy energy throughout the day rather than having it pent up for when you get home from work.
3.Reduced potty accidents in the house
It’s no surprise puppies have accidents in the house. A 8-hour work day is a long time for a puppy to hold its bladder, especially if they are still figuring out potty training. At daycare, they are able to relieve themselves when needed so no need to worry about your four-legged pup soiling on your carpet.
4.Emergency dog care
Life is never predictable, emergencies come up: work runs late, last minute trips, etc. If your puppy is already evaluated and a regular at daycare, it makes those emergencies less stressful and a tad bit easier to handle. Knowing your puppy is happy, comfortable and safe while you’re away is the greatest piece of mind.
5.Enforcement of training outside the home
One of the major benefits of daycare is reinforcement of training done at home while the dogs are at daycare. Ask the staff at your daycare facility to reinforce the behaviors you are working with at home.
6.Makes lots of dog friends
This plays into the dog socialization part but a lot of dogs find their doggy best friend while at daycare or make friends with everyone and play all day long!
If you haven’t already figured it out but puppies take up a lot of time and work. It’s sometimes nice to be able to drop off your four-legged kid at daycare for a couple hours so you can run errands, clean the house and then come back to pick up a tired puppy ready for a long nap.
We want to hear from you! Have you tried daycare with your puppy? What was your experience?