Doggie Daycare Suitability for Dogs
In Fun Paw Care’s final series about doggie daycare, kennels, and hotel dog boarding in Los Angeles and Miami, we discuss the suitability of these environments for pets. Doggie daycare is not suitable or appropriate for most dogs. Most daycare facilities are primarily concerned with profits and not the health or well being of your dog. There is often a conflict of interest, and the volume business model will conflict with your dog’s health and well being. Volume and health are inversely correlated. Many daycares are stressful places for even highly socialized dogs but can be a nightmare for nervous, shy, apprehensive or jittery dogs or dogs with any behavior or obedience issues. Most doggie day care facilities are opened by people with good intentions and business minds but who have very little background or advanced education in animal behavior or dog training and simply slap supervised by a “trainer” or “behaviorist” on a shingle and open shop. The majority of doggie daycare and pet service business are opened by autodidact dilettantes who are out of work, don’t want to work in a corporate environment any longer or they had a pet dog when they were a kid and try to make a quick dollar or conclude that because of their love for animals they could dog train, open a daycare or boarding facility. In most states, there are no laws that regulate the staff of doggie daycare facilities and licensing is nonexistent.
Often I hear stories of daycare, kennel and dog boarding businesses that brag that they never have the dogs off the play-floor or are always uncrated. These businesses misunderstand and obfuscate their responsibility to provide a balance of play activities and quiet time rest and decompression for each pet in their care. Ideally, each dog has a quiet, clean, comfortable and secure individual “sanctuary” room, kennel run or large crate in which to rest for a nap. A time-out is as necessary or more than the playtime.
Most daycare models are parochial and glib. They work on volume and do not offer catered, individualized or specialized care. Socialization is extremely important for dogs but what people don’t understand is the most essential part of socialization is “unfamiliar.” If your dog is going to the same place and playing with most of the same dogs day in and day out, week after week, there is nothing novel or unfamiliar about this experience. Furthermore, if the temperament test and intake of a dog is not ultra-selective and, if a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) or equivalent ethologist or behaviorist is not supervising the pets in small groups, it would not be safe or effective at all at achieving anything but unencumbered chaos. You are unconsciously doing your dog more harm than good by sending your beloved friend to learn inappropriate behaviors and consequently put their health and life at risk as an outcome.
Day care environments are fertile ground and ripe for bullying, barking, jumping, inappropriate bite and mouth control, predatory drift (where a larger dog suddenly perceives a much smaller dog as prey) or impulsiveness, all of which set your dog up for failure and behavioral problems that are manifested down the road or when your dog is back home.