Have any of you ever taken a foreign language? Maybe in high school or even in college? Now many years later, how many of you have forgotten most, if not all, of what you learned? For me I took Spanish throughout high school and college. I even took a conversational class and at one point was able to dream in Spanish! Unfortunately, 15-20 years later (man that is depressing) I can barely remember how to conjugate a verb and only remember a few of the dirty words….
Now why do you suppose that is? Could it be that in the last decade or two I have not kept up or practiced Spanish? Not to mention the fact that I have not needed it or used it. Let’s face it, our knowledge or how we remember things is just like a muscle. And if it is not exercised and practiced, then it becomes weak and undependable. So, what does my ability to speak Spanish have to do with Doggie Day Care or even dogs in general? Well, they both have a lot in common. Let’s look at it from Fido’s perspective…
From the day I came home as puppy, my new family was great. They spent tons of time with me, they taught me to sit, where to go potty, how to work for my food and even how to play nice with them and this thing called the “family cat” (this one I am still not so sure of!) Everything in my little doggie life was going great until I hit about 7 or 8 months old. That’s when they decided I had too much energy and they started taking me for walks and to this really scary place called a dog park…Now I keep finding myself surrounded by these things my family keeps calling dogs. They kind of smell familiar but they don’t look at all like me or my family, and my owners keep getting angry with me when I growl at them in an attempt to make them go away. In fact, last week one of them bit me right on the end of the nose! It is now official these things called dogs are no fun and I do not like them…
Now while my little story might seem a little farfetched, hang in there with me for just a little while longer. This dog was brought home and never socialized with dogs, only people. It was taught obedience skills and how to live inside a home full of humans (from their point of view) and that goofy thing they call a cat. At no time was the pup given a chance to be around dogs or learn things from dogs like,
- What a play bow means or what it is?
- What a dog yawning means?
- What a dog licking its lips means?
- What a look away means?
- Why on earth it is Ok to have his Butt sniffed?
- Finally, how he should react to these and many other things that dogs do every day to communicate with each other?
The fact is, without continual exposure and life experiences around other dogs (and I do not mean the ones they live with) dogs themselves can and will forget how to speak “DOG”. This is one of the main reasons I strongly believe in Doggy Day Care programs as a way to not only burn off some energy in a safe and controlled environment, but also the chance to be around other dogs and learn about and from them!
OK, so a quick final thought on picking your doggy day care.
- You should never have to schedule a visit or walk through. They should take you on a tour right then and there.
- You should not see 20-30 plus dogs loose together in a big pen.
- Play groups should be small 8-10 dogs of the same personality and energy level. (The dogs should be categorized by age, energy level, size, and personality.)
- You should see at least one if not two employees monitoring the play groups
- They should have access to the outdoors and room to run. Trust me big dogs need space to run! The goal is to have a tired dog when you go home at night, not a dog that is more keyed up than when you brought them in.
- Ask about extra charges, if you don’t you could get quite a surprise. You should also ask what happens if you are 15 or 20 minutes late?
Now go out there and find a place for your dog to brush up on Doggy 101 and get the benefit of a socialized and exercised dog!
P.S. Not all dogs are going to do well in a doggy daycare/kennel environment, and that itself could be another entire article. Suffice it to say, talk to your vet or trainer about this idea before jumping in with both feet, but a good Doggy Day Care facility should be the first ones to tell you if this type of program is just not your dog’s cup of tea! As always have fun and remember to Keep it Simple Stupid J