The dog daycare industry is big. and it can be overwhelming when trying to find the right place for your dog. There is a lot to look for when choosing a daycare. If you need help, check out Jamie Migdal’s blog on how to choose the best doggy daycare. In this post, I am going to concentrate on whether or not your dog is a good candidate for daycare.
Dog daycare can be great for humans. We feel better knowing that our dog is getting exercise and attention while we work long days. It’s also nice coming home to a tired dog so we can enjoy our evenings in peace. But what is great for us isn’t always great for our dogs.
So here are some ways to tell if your dog is a good candidate for daycare.
Your dog loves other dogs: I know you are probably saying, “Duh Erin! All dogs love other dogs.” But that isn’t true. A lot of dogs don’t very much like the company of other dogs, at least not to the extent that they want to be around them all day. Most dogs are perfectly content being around only their humans. Some dogs only enjoy familiar dogs. Just like humans have different personalities, so do our dogs. If your dog is an introvert, don’t fret. Also, if your dog has any reactivity towards other dogs, they aren’t a good fit for daycare.
You can’t give your dog adequate exercise: There is no judgment here. Sometimes you just can’t give your dog the exercise they need, whether that’s because you work long hours, you can’t physically give them exercise they need or your dog just needs a lot. Sometimes your best option is to send your dog to daycare a few days a week.
Your dog suffers from separation anxiety: Daycare isn’t the best option to help your dog get over separation anxiety, but sometimes you don’t have the time to fix the problem. For example, I know many people who live in apartments and have been issued a notice that they either need to quiet their barking dog or find a new place to live. Sometimes time isn’t on your side and you need something to help while you get the training your dog needs. If your dog does suffer from separation anxiety, make sure you are seeking the help of a positive reinforcement dog trainer.
If your dog doesn’t like daycare or isn’t a good candidate for it, don’t worry! There are plenty of options to tire your dog out.
Dog walker: Dog walkers are a great alternative to daycare. They come to your house, take your dog out for a nice walk and give them some personal attention. Your dog never has to leave the comfort of their neighborhood. Dog walkers are usually happy to work around whatever schedule you desire and will walk multiple dogs if you have more than one.
Individual play groups: Some daycares offer up an individual or family daycare option. This means that they give your dog individual playtime without other dogs around. Or if you have multiple dogs, they will let them play together without other dogs around. This option, if offered, is usually going to cost more, but might be worth it if your dog needs some special attention or doesn’t play well with others.
Sports: If you have an evening or two free each week, a great way to tire your dog out is to get involved in dog sports. Agility and K9 Nose Work are great options. They not only tire your dog out, but they allow you time to bond with your dog.
Remember, doggy daycare isn’t for everybody – and that is OK. There is nothing wrong with your dog if they prefer the comfort of their own home compared to a busy environment. If you do take your dog to daycare, try to limit it to 2-3 days a week so they have plenty of downtime.
Does doggy daycare work for you? If not, what else have you tried?
Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.