Every dog owner reaches a stage where they need to decide on a daycare where they can leave their pooch while they are away from home.
When you imagine a dog daycare, the image that comes to your head will be of a group of dogs romping and running, playing with their snuggle buddies, and wagging their happy tails. Well, that is how daycares are honestly advertised. But with an ample number of privately run dog daycares, hardly a few maintain standardization. Hence, the process of finding the perfect daycare for your dog can be strenuous in itself; on top of that, your dog needs to be accustomed to the idea of being left alone in the facility.
You need to consider if your dog will benefit from joining the daycare or if it is a good fit for your dog. You may wonder what it means if your dog has failed a daycare trial or has been dismissed previously from a daycare altogether. Does it mean your dog is not fit to be kept in one?
There are several factors to be considered as soon as the idea of putting your dog in a daycare pops into your mind, and we have addressed this topic comprehensively below.
Why is Finding the Right Daycare Facility Important for the Training Process?
So, you have finalized the idea of frequently sending your dog to daycare. Before you even begin training your dog to adjust to one, you must do the groundwork of finding the right daycare for the dog. This should start with understanding your dog's temperament and the breed's characteristics. Once you list it down, you can start finding suitable dog daycares nearby that can be considered.
Understand the Temperament of Your Dog:
Different dogs behave differently in a daycare. A few breeds, such as retrievers, are more social, whereas guard dogs can become a bit suspicious of new people. In fact, while getting a dog, you should understand what traits you wish your dog to possess and accordingly find a breed that suits your needs.
Never get a dog based on its looks; instead, check if the dog's temperament can match your personality and needs. You can also go for designer dog breeds that are bred to possess certain good traits from both the parent breeds. If you finalize on a designer breed, you should understand that you should find a certified designer dog breed as an amateur can mess the process up, and what you end up with might be a dog with traits you never desired. For example, I fell in love with Huskies, but as I live in an apartment, keeping a large dog that needs lots of outdoor activity is not ideal. Instead, a crossbreed doodle named Pomsky, a mix of Pomeranian and Husky, can be a good alternative.
Remember, individual dogs have its own temperament as well hence understand your dog's behavior and analyze if it would be fit to be kept at a daycare or you need to prepare it further.
Find the Right Daycare:
Understand you are trying to adjust your dog with the idea that there is a place where it can have more fun than home so that the dog learns to play with its buddies rather than be anxious the entire day. If you fail to find the right fit, your dog will get worse at the idea of being put up in daycare. Your dog will be more anxious in a new daycare now, which might increase the chances of bad behavior. Hence, to train the dog for daycare, you should start by finding the right one, which can be done with the help of the following tips.
- Know the Pets They Allow:
Different daycares impose rules restricting certain breeds or allowing only a specific-sized pet. Small-breed dogs may not get along very well with giant breeds. Hence, if you own a smaller dog breed, you should consider choosing a facility that separates smaller dogs from larger ones. This way, your dog will not feel threatened or be injured around large dogs.
- Ask About Safety Certifications:
While you will not find a trained vet in the daycare, they should know how to respond during a health emergency and provide basic first aid to your pet. The facility should have one person available always who is first aid and CPR certified for four-legged buddies.
- Look into Eligibility Criteria:
Any decent daycare allows pets only if their vaccination is up to date and they have been given kennel cough vaccination. You will be sure that the facility is trying its best to keep away animals that are not vaccinated or infected, which will keep your dog safe in the daycare. If they are stringent with their criteria before considering your pet, it is good as they are careful with other pets too.
- Look into Cleaning Protocols:
A clean facility is vital to keep your dog safe and healthy. The entire facility should be cleaned several times daily, so your dog gets a clean environment. If the attendees detect something like kennel cough, like a human cold, they should immediately isolate that pet from others so that others do not fall sick. The same thing goes with dogs with ticks which could be transferred to others if not paid enough attention. Do remember to give your dog a bath after it returns from the daycare, especially for breeds with longer hair such as goldendoodles. Use best detangling dog shampoo to ensure they are clean and tick free after returning from the daycare.
- Check the Facility Structure Thoroughly:
When your dog goes to the daycare, initially, it may try to escape to you if it feels anxious there. The facility needs to be constructed such that there is no scope for the pet to escape. They should have a double gate facility to ensure the dogs do not sneak when someone enters or exits the facility.
- Let Your Dog Meet the Attendants:
If you are planning to leave your dog alone in this facility with these attendants, your dog needs to be friendly around them. It is a good idea for them to meet your dog in your presence so that you can sense if it is the right fit for your dog and decide accordingly.
The tips above will come in handy when you choose a daycare facility, but only these will not help to successfully keep your dog in the facility; you have to train the dog to stay there. This will not happen overnight. Hence, let us break it down so that you can easily send your pooch to daycare without worrying.
How to Train the Dog for the Daycare:
Many dog owners find it tough to send their dogs to daycare, especially after the pets got used to being around their humans 24/7 during the lockdown period. Hence, the daycare training process can get challenging for a few pet parents, but the tips below will help them smoothen the process.
- Socialize Your Dogs:
A daycare is about socializing your dog with others as they share the facility. If your dog has not done this before or is not good at it, it will be tough to adjust it in any daycare and result in your pooch being banned from one. Before you even think about sending the dog to a daycare, start visiting a nearby dog park till your dog seems to be ok with the idea of being around other pets.
- Approach the Idea Gradually:
Leaving your dog in a daycare for the entire day might be extreme, especially if your dog has never seen the inside of the daycare. Start by leaving the dog there for an hour. You can slowly increase the time to two hours and more. Spread this process over a month at least so that the dog gets used to the place and the idea of being left alone. When you start slow, it teaches the dog that you will come to pick it up at the end of the day, no matter what. Once the dog does not feel abandoned, it may try to enjoy its time in the daycare and make new friends. This is beneficial for you as well as the dog.
- Be Ready with a Treat in the End:
Reward the dog after it has Successfully Spent the Day in the daycare. It should be the highest-value treat for the dog. This signals that it has done something right and you are happy with your dog. Once it understands behaving in a daycare pleases you and gives it a chance of winning treats, your dog will behave better in the daycare.
- Analyze Your Dog's Comfort Level with the daycare:
Just as daycares are choosy about the dogs they want to keep, your dog may be picky about where it wants to stay. Different daycares follow different schedules, and your dog may not be comfortable with a few of them. Analyze if your dog looks happy or anxious at the end of the day. If you feel the facility is not the right fit for your dog, you can try again by switching the daycare to another.
- Stay Away from Punishments:
You should refrain from punishing the dog if it does not behave well in daycare. You do not know the reason why your dog misbehaved. What you hear is from the facility personnel, and it is their version. Your dog cannot narrate its version; hence, making judgments that your dog misbehaved is incorrect. If the bad behavior continues, it simply means you should change the daycare to see if your dog's behavior has changed. In many cases, if the daycare was not the right fit, your dog may behave well in the new one.
Punishing the dog after you pick it up from the daycare will not make any sense. This will only make the dog associate any daycare with this negative experience. Your effort should be to ensure your dog associates happy memories with daycare. Hence refrain from punishing the dog.
- It is essential to teach the dog to stay in a daycare for its mental development.
- Many dogs may not easily adjust to staying in a daycare. With the proper training, they will come around and enjoy it.
- The entire process will take a few months at max, but it can be rewarding in the end.
- Learn how a typical day goes in the daycare so that you can decide if it suits your dog's schedule or not.
- Send the usual dog food with the pet to avoid any tummy-related issues later.
- Simply a daycare might not be the right fit for your dog. You may need a few trials and errors to find the right fit where your dog spends a happy day.