Should I take my dog to a daycare, is that the right answer for me and my dog?
There are many things you want to consider before deciding if this is the right decision for your dog. Did you just get a new dog recently? Are you tossing around the idea of taking your dog to a daycare. Everyone has to go to work, some of us get to work from home, but for most of us it means leaving our house. Routinely it can be an 8 hr day away sometimes even 9 or 10.
Well now what are you going to do with that new puppy or new dog that you just got. We all know that you can’t leave that dog in a kennel or alone in the house for that long, especially if it is a puppy.
The great thing about owning a dog these days, is we have options. One of those options is dog daycare.
Don’t rush a puppy to daycare
Puppies when we first get them have had limited socialization. Yes they have had time with their litter mates and maybe even some extra socializing to get them ready to be adopted.
In the overall scheme of things though, they still haven’t had as much as they could. Well thinking about taking them to daycare may seem like the perfect solution. But honestly that may not be the best decision.
Taking your dog to daycare can be to intense and just too much socialization at once. Your dog can become overwhelmed with all the action and even become scared. They can get skiddish and unsure how to properly behave.
Any type of daycare can be a high energy situation. From the moment you get there it is go go go. Constant playing, running, wrestling and overall high energy. This high level of energy can be extremely hard on a puppy. Just like young children, they are still growing and still require much more sleep than an adult dog. On average a puppy sleeps 12-14 hours per day.
If they are at daycare, they will not be getting the right amount of rest and naps that they need. Yes some daycare’s do allow kennels and nap time, but I am hesitant to think that it still isn’t as restful for the dogs like being at home.
When a puppy doesn’t get enough rest, they are far more susceptible to getting sick or even injured. Let’s not forget the size of a puppy, they are much smaller than a full-grown size dog. It is easy enough to imagine a small dog amongst a group of much larger very excited dogs. They can certainly steam roll a puppy pretty quickly. It can happen in the blink of an eye.
Your puppy could even be injured and cost you a trip to the vet.
A puppy can also easily become manipulated or inadvertently copy another dog’s behavior like mimicking them. The problem with this is that what if that dog is behaving badly and your puppy picks up on it. You then will have a puppy that has developed bad manners or behavior that can be tough to deal with.
We always want to make sure that we give our puppies the best training and the best experiences when they are young to help them develop in a positive way. Setting them up for successful behavior.
We have talked a lot about puppies and daycare’s, but what about adult dogs. Well when it comes to adult dogs, obviously there are many of the problems with puppies that you just don’t think that you have to worry about.
Even though the dog maybe used to being socialized throughout their life, a daycare that has a lot of dogs all at once can still be overwhelming to a dog of any age. Something that I think makes a huge difference on whether daycare’s are a good idea for your dog, must come from you. What I mean by that is you know your dog best.
You see how they react around chaos, excitement, lots of people and especially a lot of dogs all a once. Your dog for example, may have a completely different personality than my dog. Just to give you a better idea of what I mean, my dog Finn was a standard size Labradoodle. He never fit in very well at any kind of daycare or park, for whatever reason, he was always chased obsessively by other big dogs who wanted to generally hurt him.
I am not sure what it was about his personality that warranted that kind of treatment from other dogs, because he was the sweetest and most lovable dog. But if he was put in a large group of dogs, he was never left alone. This would cause him anxiety and he would get stressed out. For us then, that meant we would never leave him at a daycare. Even dog parks could be a tough situation for him. Our poor boy, I am not sure to this day what it was. Maybe they could just see his sweetness and they wanted to stomp on it. Who knows.
I like to look at the situation as if we were talking about humans. Not all humans are great at socializing and being put in party type situations. Many of us prefer smaller groups and less overall excitement. Dogs are exactly the same. Not all dogs are the same and thrive on the same thing as the next one. Approaching the situation by evaluating each dog individually is the best approach.
There are also reasons that assessing your dog’s personality will tell you if daycare is a good idea or not. Dogs that already have bad behavior like excessive barking or aggressive type behavior towards other dogs, should not go to daycare. Adding one badly behaved dog to a pack of dogs can easily turn that group to behave differently.
By not doing these recommended tips, you could actually be putting your dog in danger.
Exercise we are taught is the number one thing that we need to make sure to provide for our dog daily if possible. When we aren’t always available to do that, we need help from other sources to make sure we give our dogs what they need.
Funny enough, some things we talked about with puppies can apply . Obviously not the tired sleeping issue with a puppy, but an older dog can get tired too. Especially when it is something that they haven’t done before. Now that doesn’t mean that they can’t get used to it, but what it does mean is that you may want to try breaking them in slowly to daycare. One or two days a week maybe. Don’t go full blast with 5 days a week right away.
Just like us if we start something and don’t go at it slowly, we can risk injuring ourselves. Well the same thing can happen to your dog from over exercising to quickly. Nobody wants a serious dog injury for their pup on something that can be averted with just slowing things down a little.
Now if you have a senior dog or dog that has health issues for example, this amount of exercise may also be too much for them to handle.
There are many other ways to provide exercise to older dogs, dogs with behavior issues and senior dogs. Walks or short hikes is always a good idea.
Who are the best candidates for daycare
The best candidates for doggy daycare are dogs that get along well with other dogs. Dogs that are happy, even tempered and well-behaved are the perfect choice.
Another great fit is a dog that has boundless energy to burn and behaves well in a high paced environment with a lot of dogs.
Dog owners have busy lives and more times than not, putting a dog into daycare is a great idea. A dog that is a good fit for dog daycare, can do very well there. There are many dogs that come home absolutely exhausted from their daycare day, which is great for mom and dad. Coming home to a tired dog means that we get to hopefully relax for the night and not worry about needing to exercise our dog.
I talked about puppies and leaned more towards not taking your puppy to a daycare. Now that being said, a young dog can go to daycare, just not too young.
We always want to be mindful of a younger dogs immune system and making sure that they are protected from contracting anything at a daycare like Parvo.
Young dogs without proper vaccinations are at risk of being around other dogs. Make sure that your dog is healthy before going anywhere.
What to look for in a daycare
All the information I have provided up to this point, is about whether or not our dogs should go to a daycare or not. Now what about the daycare’s. What if I think a daycare is perfect for my dog. What am I looking for in a good daycare.
Some of the most important things that you need to seriously look into when shopping for a dog daycare are :
- proper supervision
- proper safety
- security measures
- how educated is the staff
- emergency protocol
When interested in taking your dog to a particular place, make sure to go and check it out. Get a tour of the place and check out the facility. What kind of space is there. Is it a nice large space that has an anti-skid floor.
Is there a good ratio of dogs per human. Some states have specific restrictions when it comes to the right
ratio. In Colorado for example that number is 1 human for every 15 dogs. The actual preferred number is 1 adult for every 10 dogs. This option allows for the employee to enough time and be able to payattention to 10 dogs at one time. Especially if the dogs are all high energy. On a quieter pace style of daycare 1 adult to every 20 dogs is an acceptable ratio of humans to dogs.
Check out to see if all the large dogs are mixed in with the puppies or smaller dogs. Sometimes facilities will have to separate areas for different dog sizes. Try to find the best fit for the size and age of your dog.
Have you ever heard of a temperament test? Well some facilities have established this particular test to administer to your dog, to see if your dog is suitable for daycare. This can be a great thing for everyone involved. The facility is protected because they did some background on your dog, and you are protected as they realize if your dog is a dog that will fit in well at their location. It is a win-win for everyone.
Should I take my dog to daycare is more times than not a great idea. Just make sure to do your homework with where to go, what they offer and also be sure your dog is a good fit for their daycare.
Best of luck!