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Navigating Day Enrichment and Your Companion

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Dogs and Stuff: let’s talk daycare

Hey there my dear fellow cynophilists (dog lovers), today I want to talk a little about doggy daycare. If you are like me and have had a few trips around the sun, then you know the term doggy day care is still fairly new jargon. We have all heard the buzz word doggy daycare, but what is it? Well, it's simply a place where dogs can spend their day socializing and playing in a supervised environment often while their pet parents are busy at their jobs. The doggy daycare industry has been a thriving business for the past 35 years. Go back to 1986 and you would be hard pressed to find one daycare business in the US. When Yuppie Puppy opened their doors in NYC in 1987 they set the doggy daycare business in motion. Today there is at least one daycare in every community. In fact an estimated 9 million dogs spend at least one day in daycare a week and that number is expected to continue growing. To put that number in perspective, compare it to the 13 million children who attend children's daycare on any given school day. We sure do love our dogs and that is a good thing, but with so many daycares out there how do we know which one is right for us? Or rather, is daycare right for us?

The majority of doggy daycares will operate what’s called a traditional daycare. Dogs will socialize in groups based on size, play style and personality. Depending on the daycare dogs may play/exercise either inside, outside or both and may even have access to a pool. Some facilities may offer the option of crate time to give your dog a break. This environment may be a great choice for the confident or social dog who loves to play and engage with other dogs. It’s also an option for dogs who do not like spending time alone or may become destructive if left alone for any amount of time. Your dog will come home exhausted and happy from a day hanging out with their BFFs. It is not generally a good mix for the shy or reactive dog.

For the dogs who cannot appreciate the company of other canines, finds play time an undignified activity or has a tendency to become over-stimulated in a traditional daycare setting, a structured daycare may be a better fit. Within a structured day care setting dogs will be provided enrichment activities in a safe and nurturing environment. Dogs will receive much more one on one attention because your dog's day is specifically tailored for his or her individual needs and goals. Play groups are smaller with dogs matched by personalities and play styles. Exercise, mental stimulation and playtime are balanced out with quiet crate time. Your dog can expect to play, learn and rest while being both mentally and physically fulfilled.

While daycare both traditional and structured can help give dogs mental and physical stimulation, alleviate boredom and in some situations help with separation anxiety, daycare isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. For some dogs it can be too overwhelming and lead to negative behaviors, like marking in the house, jumping on people or barking.

Bringing a dog into your family is a big responsibility and sometimes that responsibility extends into, what should I do with my dog when I have to be away from home for hours at a time everyday at that place called a job? Maybe doggy daycare is the answer, but daycare isn’t right for every dog or right for every stage of a dog’s life. Dogs who are not a good fit for daycare may benefit from a dog walker or pet sitter. Before enrolling your dog into any daycare program whether traditional or structured, think about your dog and what do they enjoy doing, can they handle being in a group of other dogs, do they have any special needs and then talk to the staff and ask questions. Make sure it's a good fit for both you and especially your dog.

A happy dog is a fulfilled dog…

Written by Louisa Redman


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