Dogs are social creatures-It’s no wonder they can get lonely, bored, and anxious when they’re home all alone. Can doggy daycare help make your dog a happier companion? Yes, with two conditions. It is FUN. It is SAFE.
Depending upon a dog's breed(s), age, health, and most importantly past experiences, different levels of dog-dog sociability, canine social skills, and play styles result. Some dogs are social butterflies and others are social nerds. Some play rough and others play delicately. Here are some tips to help daycare be a paw-sibility:
Be Proactive: Canine social skills are best taught by dogs and learned in contexts of play and fun. Offer your puppy plenty of safe early positive exposure with familiar well-mannered dogs of similar age. If your dog is already an adult and has not had much dog-dog play, allow them to experience some remedial dyadic play with one social dog, and then a small group, before introducing them into an established experienced group.
Be Safe: Choose your dog’s friends carefully and supervise. Prevent traumatic experiences and physical altercations by being mindful and objective about your own dog's behavior. Can they be a bit over bearing? Even familiar social dogs have a tolerance threshold when it comes to inappropriate behavior. Some dogs are more patient than others, and some dogs are more reactive than others.
Fair Play: Social skills, role acceptance, and reciprocity are keys to successful dog-dog play (i.e. fun). It was believed reciprocity was required, but it turns out some dogs prefer to be the "chased" over the "chaser." So, as long as boundaries and stop signals are observed and respected, healthy play is flexible and can take a variety of forms. That being said, the play-bow establishes the context as "play", but a dog who is always the "hider"and never the "seeker" probably isn't having fun.
Daycare Trial Run: Increase the chances of your dog having a good experience the first time at daycare by making it short and sweet. The experience is new and can be overwhelming for the new kid on a new playground. Many daycares have webcams or observation areas-take the time to watch your dog at daycare.