Daycare & Assessments
My Dog Gets On Well With Other Dogs!
So .................. he'll be fine at daycare!
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.
Our assessments are rigorous and designed to assess your dog's suitability for daycare. Among other things, we look for:
response to correction,
behaviour around food and toys,
All dogs have things they don't like and situations that may make them feel uncomfortable but it's how they react to these situations that's important. They are, of course, allowed to behave like dogs and correct each other with normal canine behaviour. Baring teeth and low level growling is all part of showing displeasure, but there's a line that cannot be crossed. Daycare is about having fun in a safe environment and safety is at the forefront of everything we do.
Our assessment process lasts for 2 hours and is designed to take place when the pack has been exercised and fed and is therefore more open to any newcomer. Assessments take place between 1:30pm and 3:30pm, Monday to Friday.
All dogs are introduced to your dog, one by one, in a controlled way; each dog must lose interest before the next one is introduced, and only when your dog is comfortable in the presence of existing dogs.
We usually have a good idea from the outset whether your dog is going to be an ideal candidate for daycare. Others we know will grow in confidence and can be worked with, whilst others find the whole concept just too much to deal with. In these cases it is possible that daycare will have an adverse effect on your dog's behaviour and it would not be fair to continue with the assessment.
Whatever the outcome, you will be kept informed and your dog's wellbeing considered at every stage.
An ideal daycare dog has been neutered, is comfortable in his own skin, is confident but not bolshy 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. This will do nothing to instill confidence in your dog, in fact quite the reverse.
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 apparently sees their human family as 'the pack'. This theory has been debunked in recent years but it is true to say that a 'group' of dogs will behave as one should the need ever arise. We don't usually see the 'primal pack instinct' at home as it's rarely needed within a loving family. However, in a daycare environment, an unstable, submissive or particularly nervous dog 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 into trouble; and yet there he goes, nevering like he's never nevered before!
All this said, it's 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 it cannot be 100% reliable as it can take a little time before certain behaviours show.
Behaviour is monitored constantly throughout the day, and you are kept informed of anything that may be of concern. 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, 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 assessment, no need to book' basis. Managing a pack of dogs is a huge responsibility that we take very seriously. Your dog is your baby and deserves the very best of care!