You got the call. Your dog is no longer welcome at Doggy Daycare? What now?
Hearing that your dog is not suitable for doggy daycare can stir up a rollercoaster of emotions. It floods over you when you hear that your dog has failed at something! You want to be proud of your dog. You’ve done what you thought you should. So how can your dog fail at daycare?
What does that mean? Have you failed your dog? Does this make your dog a bad dog? You might feel disappointed. You might feel embarrassed. And you might even feel angry, embarrassed and frustrated. Does this mean you have a bad dog?
The truth of the matter
There are large numbers of dogs at a Doggy Daycare facility. There are usually also limited staff. The staff often do not have a thorough understanding of dog behaviour. For starters, they can often can miss the beginnings of serious problems.
Facilities that lack structure will have a high failure rate. What does that mean? Dog’s need structure. If the facility won’t provide it, many dogs won’t be suitable for daycare.
Modern Dog Training is Failing Dogs
The modern view that humans can’t correct a dog’s bad behaviour is not healthy. If you watch dogs they often correct each other. I’m not saying that every human is stable enough to be fair to dogs. But, many are. And experienced trainers can be more ethical than another animal would. That’s also why owners need training, but I digress.
If you want my honest opinion. Every dog who comes to SolutionK9 who attends Doggy Daycare makes very slow progress. Why? Owners believe that their dogs are social because they attend daycare. The reality is that the dog is happy in their daycare group. But it does not mean that the dog is either well adjusted or social.
What is Normal?
Many dog breeds were actually developed to distrust strangers. Dogs were selectively bred to protect stock from wolves, foxes and other dogs. They were bred to keep their families safe at night from strange and dangerous people. So having a dog that is not a social butterfly is normal. Social dogs got their livestock stolen and families killed. Social dogs are actually not normal.
Let’s think about other animals. A herd of elephants, horses, cows, sheep or a pride of lions, pack of wolves all social animals. Let’s look at it from the perspective of these groups. Would a member of one group, say an elephant, visit a different group of elephants? How about a lion? Wolf? Hyena? No. They don’t. Why? Because the group of animals will kill the visitor.
What is Normal?
So, do you think it’s normal for dogs to be social? Nope. They’re not. Except some Labradors. So if social dogs aren’t normal, why do we expect dogs to be social? Because we’re putting human expectations on our dogs.
The truth is, your dog does not need a doggy daycare and other doggy friends to be happy. Your dog needs you. Dogs have been selectively bred to work with people.
And if you work long hours selecting a laid-back breed like a Ridgeback or a Greyhound can be a great solution. These breeds generally like to laze about. (Please note, this is a generalization, not every member of these breeds are like this). Selecting an older rescue is also a better choice than getting a puppy.
Is Any Daycare OK?
Dogs do much better in a daycare with structure. Firstly, look for a daycare where you’re happy with the ratio of staff to dogs. You also want to find a daycare where the dogs have structure. What do I mean by structure? The dogs should spend some of their day on a place bed or crated. The dogs should be taught self control.
You see, dogs need structure. It makes them feel secure and that makes them happy. So if your dog just gets to play all day, they will neither be happier or fulfilled. Unfortunately, these types of daycares are few and far between.
You also want to select a daycare run by a dog trainer. Not a dog lover. Why? Dog trainers are best suited to spot problems before they arise. I’m not going to be popular for saying this. But I’m not here to win popularity contests. I’m here to help dog owners enjoy their lives with their dogs more.
What else can you do?
There are a few other things you can choose to help your dog feel more fulfilled too. You can stop feeding your dog out of a bowl, and feed them out of boredom buster toys instead. Boredom buster toys make their meals last longer and actually gives your dog something to do. This strategy is also used in Zoo’s. It is called “enrichment”.
Another thing you can do to help your dog is mental exercise. What is mental exercise? It’s things like tracking, scent detection or trick training. Things that tax your dog’s brain so that they have less mental energy to get up to mischief. The problem with physical exercise is that your dog just gets fitter. Not tired.
Let’s look at it from a different angle. What makes you feel more tired? A half hour walk? Or a half hour’s accounts? Understand what I’m saying?
But What if Your Dog Gets Bored?
If you have a more active breed of dog, or a young pup (under 24 months), you can get a dog walker. If your dog gets exercised during the day with a structured walk it can help keep your dog out of mischief. This is especially valuable if your dog is kenneled or crated, like mine are. And not only is a dog walker about the same price as a doggie daycare, your dog will be more fulfilled.
If your dog is in a large run or has your whole backyard to themselves, this might not be necessary. A large run being an area large enough to toilet in. There are many ways to keep your dog occupied so they don’t get up to mischief.
Don’t despair if your dog is no longer welcome at your local daycare. Your dog doesn’t need other dog-friends to be happy. Your dog needs you!