The Many Advantages of Doggy Daycare
Despite working from home, and being home almost every single hour of every day, we decided to put Brock into doggy daycare for a day a week. “Why would you pay to put your dog into a daycare program,” you ask.
Well, let me tell you…
Doggy daycare is very much the equivalent of sending your kids off to preschool. They are given the opportunity to meet new friends, they learn social skills that are invaluable to their development throughout life, and they help your pet (or child) develop new skills that challenge and motivate them.
However, choose the “wrong” daycare and you could wind up doing the exact opposite. This is why we put a lot of time and thought into researching the best options.
We wanted a daycare that focused on training and socialization. Brock is an absolutely amazing dog, but he is a little more “high-strung” than Bree, his sister, and doesn’t really know the proper way to interact with other animals because he was trained by our very grumpy senior dog, Cheiss.
Also, he’s very codependent on his canine sister, me and his human dad. We wanted to get him some “free” time where he can make decisions on his own and begin to build some confidence. Since he’s so sensitive to others, we wanted a day care that made him feel safe, that actually kept him safe, and that allowed him interaction with level-headed dogs.
We selected a trainer near our home that is not only incredibly patient, but is an active dog rescuer and very familiar with shy dogs. Her name is Sheila and she’s not only perfect for Brock, she’s very patient with his nervous mom and dad. She takes pictures throughout the day and posts them on Facebook so we can see how he’s doing and she gives him lots of “down” time where he goes into a “safe cave” and rests so as not to over-stimulate him, which would create other behavior issues.
Since we only take him over there one day a week, Brock feels safe. He knows we’ll be there to pick him up and I honestly don’t think he feels abandoned when we drop him off.
At this particular daycare, the dog “packs” are allowed free run on several acres. However, like all pack animals, they prefer to stay in a small group. The first few weeks mean that Brock is kept on a long line while he explores and gets comfortable with the pack.
Dogs are social creatures, which is just one reason they make ideal companions for humans. Like us, they can become “overly attached” to a human or another animal, they can become stressed when left alone, and they can become destructive when left alone. Daycare can be an excellent way to wean your dog off an unhealthy attachment. It’s also a great way to socialize rescue dogs when they come out of shelters, which can be devastating to any normal animal.
Choosing a Daycare
Choosing a daycare is an important part of a healthy and happy training protocol. You should only work with daycare facilities that employ qualified dog trainers who understand and love dogs. A good place to start is to ask your current trainer for a recommendation.
- Ask your trainer for recommendation
- Choose one that has indoor and outdoor facilities in case of inclement weather
- Be sure your trainer is cautious about assessing your pets needs and who will reassure you that your pet is fine during the day.
- Be sure the dogs are under constant surveillance by a human that is there and present at all times. Tragedy can strike in a second, so the dogs should be absolutely under control and monitored.
- Be sure your facilitator is well-trained in dealing with fear and the many factors of pet aggression.
- Make sure your facility requires that pets be up-to-date on vaccinations, is spayed/neutered, and has implemented a flea and tick protocol (you should have a natural one in place if your pet is sensitive to topicals) and that these protocols are rigorously observed.
- Be sure they have an “emergency” protocol in place (i.e., in case your pet becomes ill, or is injured, or in event of a power loss). It doesn’t hurt to ask what would happen in an actual emergency (such as an earthquake, hurricane, or fire) and how they will keep your pet safe during an emergency.
- If you your dog is well-balanced and simply needs to burn off some energy, a communal daycare will work just fine for you.
- Be certain that you understand the daycare’s protocols in selecting dogs to enter their program, the requirements (vaccinations, etc.) needed, and how they proceed in case of emergency.
Who Can Attend
Requirements will vary according to the facility, but generally groups prefer dogs to be at least four months of age. For general daycare programs, like those offered by pet stores, usually require your dog to be well-socialized with other dogs. They also require your dogs to be in good health and spayed/neutered.
If you have a dog that does not qualify or do well in this environment, consider hiring a dog walker to come to your home throughout the day. These are wonderful services that allow your dog the one-on-one time they need and can be a great way to help socialize them during the day.
The cost of the facility and program will vary according to the level of care required. Some places range a few dollars a day to a monthly program that includes training and range in the hundreds. But you’ll find that many fall into the $25 per day category – a small cost compared to the destruction an unsocialized, untrained dog can do to a home during the eight hours you’re at work.
If you’re near a FitDog Sports Club, they currently offer UNLIMITED daycare for $250 per month. This allows you to drop your high-energy dog off every morning and pick him up each night. Now, I don’t know anything about these clubs, but it sounds like a pretty neat deal for anyone with a destructive new puppy in their home. Be sure you check out their requirements and follow the rules. You’ll want to make sure your pups are in an active environment, but still have plenty of time to rest and decompress. You’ll also want to make sure they aren’t picking up any bad habits while in daycare.
Do your homework and you will find a perfect solution for your active, high-energy, or undisciplined dog that will help make training a lot easier at home. There are many different solutions available to committed pet parents!