My Dog Gets On Well With Other Dogs!
So .................. there's not a problem?
Unfortunately, this isn't always the case! A pack dog is a very different animal to the one you know and love. His primal canine instincts will come to the forefront and he will most likely behave very differently to the way you expect.
Firstly, he needs to be accepted by the pack and there are many factors that will affect this process. Dogs greet each other by sniffing each other's rear end; it's a kind of handshake, but it does go so much deeper than that. Unlike humans, dogs have anal glands and mutual sniffing is an integral part of how they gather information about each other such as gender, sexual status and overall general health. It also informs the 'sniffer' if the newcomer is aggressive, nervous or friendly. How your dog responds to this process is key to canine harmony. An ideal daycare dog has been neutered, is comfortable in his own skin, is confident but not overly so and responds to canine social cues. As humans, we don't get on with everyone and It is unreasonable to expect all dogs to get on with all dogs!
Daycare is not a place to give your dog confidence if he is severely lacking! It can of course increase a dogs' confidence but it does depend on their starting point. An overly submissive dog will smell exactly the same as an aggressive dog and may possibly provoke hostility. Whilst humans will nurture an insecure dog, unfortunately dogs will see it as a weak link and attempt to remove it.
An uncastrated male may be perceived as a threat and provoke unwanted attention. A male dog will smell a female who is due to come into season long before there are any physical signs which again may provoke unwanted attention. Daycare is about play and social interaction, and whilst it would be lovely to think that canine attraction is a romantic affair, aggression can and does play a part. As soon as maturing puppies begin to attract a little more attention than usual, owners are informed and advised that it may be time to visit the vet.
It is natural for a new dog to be unsure of a new situation, however if we feel that your dog is overwhelmed, submissive, aggressive or unsuited to daycare for any other reason, you will be informed. This may not be a permanent situation, but we have a responsibility to you, the owner, and to your dog, to ensure that they have fun in a safe environment and are not put under any unnecessary stress.
Behaviour is monitored constantly and any changes in behaviour are noted and the owner informed. We operate a '3 strike' process, depending on severity, where there is an informal notification and then two written warnings, the third being exclusion. However, targetted aggression will not be tolerated on any level; the offending dog will be immediately isolated until he can be collected. Safety is paramount.
Understanding the Pack
We have all come to understand the pack mentality with the many programmes on TV explaining the canine psyche and we know that the dog sees their human family as the pack. What we don't see is the 'primal pack instinct' as it's rarely needed in a loving family home. This doesn't just include the supply of food, but positioning within and the overall success of the pack, meaning an unstable pack member is rarely welcome.
Play is constantly supervised as there are occasions when play can become too rough. Like the school playground, a hostile outburst will attract the attention of all dogs, including the shy little one in the corner who never gets involved, according to its owner!
All this said, it's all about fun, cuddles, socialising, snoozing and learning new things. Puppies learn so much from the other dogs, and there are some things that only a dog can teach. Assessments allow us to take a snapshot of how your dog interacts and behaves around other dogs, however behaviour is monitored constantly; we do not take every dog that comes through the door. For us dogs are a way of life and we are not pressured to fill spaces. If your dog can't play nicely, then he doesn't play at all!
Do your research on daycare establishments. We are not all the same, just as not all dogs are the same! Take time to visit a few before making your final decision on which one is the best fit for you and your dog. Be wary of establishments that offer daycare on a 'turn up, no need to book' basis.