Copyright © Gail T. Fisher, 2007. All rights reserved. http://www.alldogsgym.com
Excerpt from original article
Doggie daycares can be wonderful outlets for many dogs. But as with any service or business, there are good ones, properly run. There are not-so-good ones, and even some bad ones. Here are just a few things to find out about any daycare you’re considering using.
1) Is someone present with the dogs at all times? Not looking through a window; not outside a fence; but hands-on, in the same place as the dogs 100% of the time. Careful monitoring” is often a catchphrase meaning no one is actually with the dogs. That’s not good enough. Ask if the dogs have someone physically with them and accept nothing less than a responsible presence at all times.
2) Ask how many people are with the dogs. There is no ideal ratio of staff to dogs, but if the group is larger than ten, there should be at least two people. We have had days when we have seven people in the yard with 50 dogs – mostly obstreperous adolescents – and the staff is constantly re-directing dogs’ energies, splitting dogs that play too roughly. Then we have other days when we have 90 dogs that are calm and quiet and the staff have little to do but keep the yard picked up.
We have a rule, however, that there are never fewer than three people with the dogs at all times. That’s because there are immediate jobs to do if an altercation breaks out. One person calls the pack away from the fracas, and the other two step in to stop the combatants. So, I’d say with any group that numbers ten or more dogs, no fewer than two, and preferably three people should be supervising at all times.
3) Are the dogs wearing collars? They must not be! I’ve written in the past about the dangers of dogs wearing collars playing together. I would not leave a dog at a daycare if they keep collars on the dogs. For an article on this subject, visit my website: www.alldogsgym.com, go to About Us, and click on Articles to read why collars are dangerous. If your dog’s daycare keeps collars on the dogs, ask them to change their policy, or don’t leave your dog there.
4) What is the training, background, knowledge and experience of the supervisors watching the dogs? Not just number of years. As one of my first mentors once said to me, someone claiming twenty-five years’ experience may have one year’s ignorance repeated twenty-five times.
What seminars have they attended that cover body language and dog interaction? Where did they receive their training?What apprenticeships or educational background prepared them for supervising an interactive playgroup? What do they know about dog interaction and behavior? What specific training does the management provide to their daycare staff?
Ask questions about your breed. Do they know about it? Ask specific questions, and make sure you’re comfortable with the answers. Don’t be impressed by unrelated achievements such as championships, titles, number of dogs bred or trained, and the like. Competitive accomplishments are meaningless when it comes to understanding dog behavior. Nor do they qualify someone to supervise your dog in an interactive group.
5) How much rest are the dogs given? I’ve heard of daycares where the dogs are kept crated most of the day, taken out individually for walks or short play sessions. Another may brag that it never crates the dogs – that they play freely all day. What is best? Clearly if your dog will be crated all day, you might as well save money and keep him home. On the other hand, dogs need an opportunity to rest during the day – and many need enforced rest.
We have tried a number of different approaches over the years and have found that a rest period in the middle of the day – a time to give the dogs a snack or lunch, with some down-time to relax, digest and unwind – is critical to the health of the individual, and to the safety of the group. When dogs that are actively playing don’t get rest, much like an overtired child, they can get cranky. You can guess what crankiness in dogs translates to.