Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Doggie Day Care PET’iquette

So you’re thinking about alternatives for your very dominant miniature pinscher, or your high-strung Jack Russell, or your laid back (easily dominated) Golden Retriever. Doggie daycare is an excellent way for your pet to beat boredom, eliminate destructive behavior, and get exercise at the same time. But, before you sign up, there are a few things you need to know.
Daycares Don’t Train
That’s not to say they can’t train, but that’s not the point of daycare. Daycare is designed to be a social outlet for our highly social pets and give them an opportunity to burn off some energy. Ensure that your dog responds to their name, knows basic commands, and “plays well with others.”
The Lone Wolf
If you have a dog that prefers to be the lone wolf, don’t torture him (and everyone else) by subjecting him to a pack he doesn’t want or need. Doggie daycare is designed to simulate a pack scenario and there are dogs (like mine) that just prefer to be alone. Yes, this means more daily walks for you, but hey – if you’re like me, the extra exercise will do you some good.
Find out how the daycare is organized. There should be separate play areas for different personalities. An ideal pack consists of one ‘commander’ (remember that ONLY the HUMAN should be the Alpha), a second in command, and an assortment of other roles that members play. That’s not to say that all packs will be like this, but dogs should be carefully evaluated and their “role in the pack” established before they are turned loose. Two or more dominants in the same pack spells trouble.
As for you, let the sitters do their job. If your dog is being dominated in the corner for the first 10 minutes, let the handlers handle it. Jumping in to your pets rescue is like breaking up a fight between two men. If the handler is responsible (and it’s your job to ensure that they are), let them determine when enough is enough. Posturing is common in a pack situation – it’s a way of establishing roles, so don’t interfere because you’re overprotective.
Before you drop your dog off at a daycare, be sure he understands the rules of the pack. If your pet doesn’t get that annoying the big Shepherd in the corner is not a good idea, do yourself a favor and get your dog out of that pack. Dogs will “train” other dogs to a point, but if you happen to have one of those pups that are just oblivious to the signals they’re annoying others, you might want to reconsider daycare and just start walking your pet more often.

photo credit: Copyright PetsWeekly, 2005

Stacy Mantle

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