Dogs are social animals, so leaving them alone all day at home with nothing to do is a most common cause for many common dog behaviour problems due to boredom and anxiety. It’s no surprise then that doggy daycare has become a popular alternative.
Dogs require a lot of daily environmental enrichment, which is more than just interactive toys. It includes daily exercise, social interactions outside of the home, and much more.
Even with this, many dogs still struggle with being left at home while their human goes out to work all day and can suffer from severe separation anxiety.
While doggy daycare is not for all dogs, especially if they are anxious and / or reactive around other dogs or strangers, it may certainly help those that crave any type of company, human or dog, over being left alone.
For those dogs that aren’t quite suited to a busy and often boisterous doggy daycare environment, they may do better with a private dog walker, a friend, neighbour or family member that works from home. If you aren’t sure, or if you would like to learn more about anxiety in dogs, have a read of this article.
Likewise, if your dog does have some reactivity or aggression issues, read more about that here.
What to look for in a doggy daycare
A responsible doggy daycare should also request that you bring your dog in for an assessment and /or trial visit and provide comprehensive and honest feedback as to how your dog responded to the environment. Every reputable doggy daycare should have a sound temperament evaluation system for new dogs coming into their care.
Reputable doggy daycares should be staffed by experienced professionals, that are not only good with dogs and enjoy looking after them, but senior staff should hold some form of dog behaviour training or qualifications. So, before leaving your dog with a doggy daycare, make sure you visit the complex first and ask who will be looking after your dog, what qualifications management or staff hold, and the processes for making sure your dog will be well looked after and safe.
Space and activities
It’s important to understand what a day looks like for your dog when they are at the doggy day are. Is it safe? Is the fencing secure? Do the other dogs seem to be having a good time? What do the dogs do during the day? Does it include exercise, interactive games and plenty of time and places to rest? Do they offer any training at all?
What is their staff per dog ratio to help ensure everyone is kept safe? According to experts the dog to adult ratio should be no more than 15 to1 and there should never be more than 10-15 dogs to any individual group.
Dog interaction policies
Ask the doggy daycare what their policy is regarding grouping of dog personalities, what are their safety plans and practises for when dogs get too excited / frustrated / aggressive.
They should use positive reinforcement training methods and it is important that they don’t use harsh corrections or the water hose to discipline dogs. Punishment can make anxiety and fear-based aggression worse and this can spill out into their life at home. So, it is important to find out how are staff trained to manage any friction or unwanted behaviour?
Brief them clearly
If your dog has any specific behavioural issues, dietary needs or medical requirements, these should also be relayed to the staff. Provide them with Vet and emergency contact details should something go wrong and you can’t be contacted immediately.
Finding the right doggy daycare for your dog
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing the right doggy daycare environment for your dog, depending on their individual needs.
A good place to start is asking friends or your local Facebook dog owners group for recommendations and look at their online reviews.
Diggidy Doggy Daycare is an Australian indoor doggy daycare centre based in South Melbourne, Victoria as well as in some selected PETstock stores as well. To find a local Diggidy Doggy Daycare near you, click HERE.
Kip Happy Stays is also another doggy daycare option to consider as well, so to find out their locations, click here.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love Your Dog