By Stacy Mantle
Doggy Daycare – Pros & Cons
There are many advantages to putting your dog in daycare during the long work week. If you live a busy life (and who doesn’t), you probably don’t get as many chances to let your dog socialize with other animals or engage with other humans. Socialization is an important part of your pet’s development and doggy daycare can help you meet that need. 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.
Doggy daycare is much like “child daycare” in that it provides an outlet for energy, offers an environment for socialization, and if you choose the right daycare, can help you in your training protocol so that you have a happier, healthier, well-adjusted pet.
Choosing a Daycare for Your Dog
Choosing a quality daycare is the most important thing you can do. You should only work with daycare facilities that employ qualified dog trainers who understand and love dogs. A good place to start is by asking your current trainer for recommendations.
Be very cautious about unlicensed facilities or ones that take place in a person’s backyard. A fun day at daycare can result in tragedy if an aggressive animal is added to the mix or if the owners are not trained in how to deal with aggression.
It’s very important that you are honest in assessing and reporting your dog’s needs to whichever facility you choose. For example, if you are working on separation anxiety with your dog, or if your dog is aggressive towards other animals, you will need to find a trainer who understands and knows how to deal with these problems. If you have a well-balanced dog who gets along with others and simply needs to burn off some energy, a communal daycare will probably be just fine.
Who Can Attend and Requirements
Requirements will vary according to the facility, but generally groups prefer dogs to be at least 4 months of age. For general daycare programs, such as those offered by pet stores, they usually require your dog to be well-socialized with other dogs. They also require your dogs to be in good health and spayed/neutered.
Every daycare worth its salt will require your dog’s vaccinations to be up-to-date. This generally includes bordetella, rabies, distemper, parainfluenza and parvovirus. They might also require your pet to have some sort of flea/tick protection (e.g., Frontline, Advantix or other topical treatments). If your dog is prone to skin conditions or has had a reaction to any topical medication, be sure you discuss this with the daycare staff and ask for an exception.
Unfortunately, most bully breeds or wolf hybrids are going to be turned away from many daycare facilities. However, there are many daycare facilities that have trainers who specialize in these breeds and you’ll want to avoid any daycare that doesn’t want your beloved dog there, anyway.
If you have a dog who does not qualify or does not do well in this environment—and there is no place qualified to take him nearby—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 he needs and can be a great way to help socialize him during the day. Be just as certain that the person you hire for dog walking is well-trained and understands your dog, and is licensed and bonded. You’ll want to avoid any liability if anything happens at your home. Again, the best thing you can do is be honest with anyone who interacts with your dog.
Cost varies dramatically according to region, the quality of the facility and the education of trainers available, as well as the frequency of visits. Some places range a few dollars a day to a monthly program that includes training and range in the hundreds. However, 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 while you’re at work!
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com