Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Is Daycare Right for Your Dog?

Do you work long hours and worry about leaving your precious four-legged friend home all day? If so, you may have thought about enrolling him in a doggie daycare program so he can get some exercise, meet new friends, and socialize. But how do you know if your dog will truly enjoy himself and get the benefits you hope?

Dog daycare isn’t right for all dogs. Yet, many people take their dogs to daycare without understanding this, and without realizing that their dog may Photo of daycare dogs resting at Rocky's Retreatnot be having the best time. After all, when the dog is picked up, he seems very tired, so the owner assumes the dog has had a great day of playing with other dogs. That may be the farthest thing from the truth. Instead, he could be tired from being put into a stressful situation and being forced to be there all day.

Yes, dogs are pack animals and should love being with a group of dogs, but as pack animals, they expect the pack to be a cohesive unit with rules and hierarchy. Daycare doesn’t offer that, since at most daycare facilities the dogs vary on any given day. A situation like this can easily overwhelm all but the most confident dog, especially when there are 30 or more dogs in a single group.

Dogs who enjoy daycare the most are those who are well socialized and who really enjoy the company of other dogs. Young dogs who like to play and need a lot of exercise are often good candidates as well, even if they haven’t been as socialized as they could be. Even older, healthy, less active dogs are good candidates as long as they enjoy the company of other dogs.

Dogs who are generally not candidates for daycare are those who are fearful, under socialized, aggressive toward other dogs, have separation anxiety, or who simply don’t care about being around other dogs. Some of these issues can be alleviated by having the dog in a very small playgroup, but if not, consider getting a dog walker to exercise your dog while you’re working.

If your dog attends daycare, t’s very important for his long term health and well-being to know if your dog really enjoys it. Unfortunately many daycare facilities either don’t know or won’t tell you the truth. Most are staffed with personnel who aren’t skilled in the fine art of knowing the signals a dog gives off when he’s stressed or uncomfortable. And, most facilities put a lot of dogs with one staff member, so even if the staff member was trained, it would be difficult to see a subtle signal when so many dogs are in close proximity.

If you decide you want to try daycare, do your research on facilities. Tour them and ask about staff qualifications. Find out what kind of behavior and training methods they recommend. If it’s anything other than positive, science based training, run away! Also ask how many dogs are routinely in a play group. The studies show that dogs do much better when the play groups are small, generally two to four dogs per group. The benefits daycare offers to some dogs are numerous, and it’s worth the time and effort to find the right facility for your dog. When you do, you’ll be rewarded with a happy and healthy dog!

Category: Daycare