Doggy Daycares Maybe Not?

Why I don’t suggest doggy daycares for MOST dogs.

Too many dogs? Are there enough staff to stop a fight?

๐Ÿ“ฃBefore we get started I want to mention that not all daycares are created equally.    There are some pretty great doggy daycares out there that have great education for staff and care for dogs, but even those are not a fit for every dog.

It’s a good idea to see the crates up close where dogs will be resting or napping, ask about group sizes and staff training.

๐Ÿ‘‰Staff to dog ratios

While doggie daycares oftentimes are required to have a ratio of fifteen dogs per one handler that is not often enough in an emergency situation sometimes pack mentality can come into play making it nearly impossible for one person to break up dogs.

On top of that having worked in and with several doggy day cares. I can tell you that that ratio is seldom followed.ย  I have even seen numbers as high as fifty to sixty dogs per one handler.

โญ๏ธPlease note that this is not every doggy daycare, but this is still considered fairly normal in the industry.

In addition, staff are typically start with little to no animal experience.

  This is a common position for high school students, college students and people first entering into the animal industry.   

Some doggy daycares DO invest in education, the majority I have worked closely with do not invest enough several offer only training next to another staff member. 

๐ŸšฉThis makes it difficult for them to give accurate feedback about how the dog is doing which is why owners frequently hear their dog is great right up until they are asked not to come back.

๐Ÿ‘‰Doggy Daycares decrease your relevance and makes engagement harder.

  A lot of people think of socialization as allowing dogs to play and do whatever they want with strangers and other dogs.  Unfortunately, that is not what proper socialization should look like.  

Typically dogs who experience this early start to life tend to struggle with with their self control in public situations. Instead of being neutral they try to meet other dogs and strangers.  They may try pulling,  whining and eventually barking.   Not being allowed to meet and engage when previously allowed to with no guidance will cause them to become frustrated and eventually cause reactivity on leash.

๐Ÿ‘‰Allows them to practice bad habits.  Many adolescent dogs attending daycare are not fully house trained which means your puppy will observe other dogs marking,  peeing and popping inside even with ample potty breaks.  Dogs learn from each other.

Most doggy daycares have staff who are truly dog lovers,  but most are very

lenient allowing young dogs to jump up and rewarding them with lots of petting and baby talk.

๐Ÿ‘‰Allows them to practice ignoring cues because the staff often doesn’t have the tools, education or ability to properly enforce the cues your dog is hearing.   There is no way that the staff can learn the same cues for all the day care dogs.  Learned or relevance is a term that dog trainers use to describe a dog who has learned to ignore a cue.  There is no better way to teach a dog to ignore a cue then to say it and not ensure it happens or reinforce it.  This means Most likely every time one of the day care staff sees a dog humping another dog or running to eat another dog’s tool they’re going to be saying…. No! No! no! leave it! leave it!  leave it!

 Even if they aren’t specifically talking to your dog your dog is hearing it and learning to ignore it.

๐Ÿ‘‰Often floods undersocailized dogs and young puppies.  

๐ŸŒŠFlooding is a technique used to force dogs to be in the proximity of something that they are afraid of. Many people use it without having a clear understanding of how negatively it effects dogs. All too often, itโ€™s done without even knowing they are flooding them. This is the most dangerous and how aggression ties in with flooding.

A dog who is flooded is often described as shy or slow to warm up.

They are in overwhelm, so they shut down their senses as a coping mechanism because they know they canโ€™t get away from the fear. They may be on leash, in a crowd, even a party at your home or a crowded place like an outdoor market, a dog park, doggy daycare facility, etc. It may also happen while training.

 For example, if your dog is afraid of horses, you might think that bringing him to a dog friendly herd or inside a barn, will help him get over his fear of horsesโ€ฆ it wonโ€™t. This couldnโ€™t be more wrong.

Bringing a young uncertain puppy into a doggy day care where they will be approached by sometimes dozens of dogs at once is a sure way to flood a new puppy.  

๐Ÿ‘‰ One naughty dog can cause a lifetime of problems in your dog, especially if your dog is attending daycare during a fear period. 

๐Ÿ‘‰Safety, many daycares restrict water intake throughout the day offering drinks by squirt bottle or only during “down time”.   The idea behind this is to prevent disease spead… Which in reality is a cute idea since these dogs are often times chewing on one another.

This is specifically concerning because the majority of dogs fed a kibble diet are already in a chronic state of dehydration.

In addition, many have older crates some of which are broken.  If you are Considering leaving your dog at a doggy daycare. Make sure you receive a tour that explains when and how the dogs receive water.  Make sure your tour also allows you to see where the dogs will be separated if they need to take a break.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Teaches dogs how to be over aroused in the presence of other dogs.  This translates to when they see dogs on walks or in situations where they should behave neutrality. 

๐Ÿšดโ€โ™€๏ธ BUT my dog comes home tired and gets lots of exercise. 

Did you know there is also a difference between good exercise and bad exercise?

Some forms of exercise cause arousal. A highly aroused dog will be very excited, with a fast heart rate and respiration and poor impulse control. 

Highly aroused dogs are stressed.

 Remember that stress is not necessarily bad. When we think of stress, we often think of negative stress… also called distress. 

However, thereโ€™s also positive stress, known as eustress. 

Winning the lottery and having your home foreclosed on are both stressful activities, and your body actually responds to them the same way even though your emotional response to each is different.

This point is important for us to understand as it relates to our dogs, because happy exciting events still create a physiological stress response in your dogโ€™s body.

Why does this matter? 

Stress when overstimulated causes physical changes in the body. When you or your dog become stressed, your body releases certain stress hormones into the bloodstream. These stress hormones donโ€™t just instantly dissipate. They hang around for awhile (the most commonly quoted length of time is 72 hours, but estimates range from mere hours to an entire week depending on who you ask).

โš ๏ธIf you engage in activities that cause your dog to become aroused, and therefore stressed, everyday, your dog will always have high levels of stress hormones in his bloodstream. High arousal becomes the new norm.

 When dogs become over aroused they also may start redirect the arousal which will look like jumping up on you, mouthing, humping and biting. 

An adolescent dog that practices mouthing when overstimulated is actually rehearsing biting. Just because it doesnโ€™t break skin today doesnโ€™t mean it won’t tomorrow.  Plus, once a dog escalates to this level it can take 72 hours to fully decompress.

๐Ÿ‘‰Much higher risk of leash reactivity.ย  The dogs do not have an opportunity to rehearse impulse control around one another. Some facilities use crates as time out allowing some dogs to run around and play will the time out dog watches. This creates frustration.ย  Frustration behind a barrier will then translate to being frustrated anytime a dog is behind a barrier and sees a dog or anytime a dog is on a leash.

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