If you’re a working pet parent, you might feel a bit guilty about leaving your pup home alone all day.
What if they’re bored or stressing out while you’re away? What if they’re practicing their chewing skills on your furniture and favorite pair of Crocs?
Well, it’s not uncommon for dog owners, especially first time owners, to feel this way.
After all, you want your dog to be happy, but you also can’t stay home 24/7. So, what do you do?
Many pup parents have turned to doggy daycare to provide a place for their dogs to play and socialize.
The idea of your dog spending the day with other pups sounds preferable to wallowing away in self-puppy-pity home alone.
And, indeed, doggy daycare can have lots of benefits, but before signing Fido up, get the skinny on doggy daycare.
How Do I Know If My Dog Likes Daycare?
Doggy daycare can provide an excellent outlet for sociable pups that like to romp and play with other canines.
Typically, if your dog likes daycare, they’ll be excited when it’s time to go. You’ll also notice them interacting with the staff and other pups.
However, just because it works for some doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for every dog.
But, unlike a child who might excitedly chatter away about how fun daycare was (or not), your dog won’t have the words.
Therefore, you need to look for other signs to determine how your dog feels about their daycare experience.
Here are a few signs that your dog is loving daycare:
- Your pup is worn out when you pick them up. This is a good sign that your furry friend has been having a grand time playing all day.
- Your dog gets super excited when it’s time to head to daycare. They might start to wag their tail happily in anticipation whenever you say the name.
- When you arrive at daycare, your pup can’t wait to get inside. You’ll also notice your dog excited to greet the staff.
- Your dog will also show signs of excitement when seeing the other dogs.
Is Doggy Daycare Bad for My Dog?
In some situations, and for some pups, doggy daycare could have some negative consequences for your dog.
First, before sending your fur friend to any daycare, ensure you carefully check out their credentials.
Positive recommendations and reviews are a great place to start, but nothing beats seeing things for yourself.
After all, if you were sending your children to daycare, wouldn’t you want to see the building and meet the staff first?
Ask if you can have a brief tour of the facility to check out things like cleanliness, safety, and how the staff interacts with the dogs. Also, make a note of how the other dogs appear.
It’s also essential to check on staff experience and qualifications and their procedures in emergencies.
If the staff is untrained or oblivious to dog behavior, then the daycare could be bad for your pup.
But, if your initial gut reaction is positive, then give the daycare a try.
However, it’s also vital to keep in mind that some canine personalities won’t fit with the daycare setting.
For example, overly hyper dogs could end up instigating fights in the playroom, albeit sometimes unintentionally.
On the other hand, timid dogs could feel overwhelmed in one large room full of other dogs. (Kind of like forcing an introvert to attend a huge party full of strangers, all alone.)
In a nutshell, if your pup’s personality isn’t a good match for daycare, it could end up doing more harm than good.
Plus, even if your pal enjoys daycare, there can always be too much of a good thing.
Spending every day, all day in daycare means your dog is missing out on other vital experiences.
We’ll dive a little deeper into this in just a bit.
Dog Acting Strange After Daycare
If your pup behaves strangely, seems depressed, or overly lethargic, they might not have enjoyed daycare so much.
Or, unfortunately, they may have had a bad experience while there.
However, If your dog doesn’t seem quite themself after daycare, it doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t like it.
For example, if your pup can’t seem to move his tail and keeps it down, don’t fear the worst.
It could be a condition called cold tail or dead tail. Basically, it happens when a dog sprains their tail from overuse.
In other words, your pup could have been having such a good time at daycare, they overexerted their tail.
Despite the sinister name, the condition usually resolves within a few days after rest and anti-inflammatories.
But, if you feel your dog may have had a negative experience at daycare, stay vigilant.
Be on the lookout for these other potential signs that your pup doesn’t like daycare:
- When it’s time to go to daycare, your dog resists. They might even try to hide.
- At daycare, your pup spends most of the day solo instead of making friends with the other dogs.
- You notice your dog shaking or tucking their tail at daycare. Both of these are a sign of fear and anxiousness. If it’s the first visit, your dog could just be nervous about a new situation. But, if it persists, then daycare might not work out for your pup.
If you believe the daycare experience didn’t go so well, you need to determine if it’s perhaps that specific daycare.
If your dog normally enjoys being around other dogs, you might want to try a different place.
If you get the same reaction, you can be more certain doggy daycare just isn’t for your companion.
Benefits of Doggy Daycare
If your dog enjoys daycare, then it’s a win-win.
Not only will you feel better about being gone all day long, but your dog can reap many benefits such as:
- The opportunity to socialize with fellow dogs
- Essential mental stimulation
- An opportunity for exercise
- Relief from issues like separation anxiety, boredom, and stress
Plus, you get the added benefit of not worrying about how your pup treats your furniture while you’re away.
Doggy Daycare for Puppies – Yay or Nay?
If you’re a freshly-baked pet parent with a brand new puppy at home, then it’s best to avoid daycare.
Ideally, you should try and stay home for the first few weeks you have a new puppy. Try to arrange your schedule to make this possible.
Or, if necessary, seek out trusted friends and family that can rotate and check in on your pup.
However, try to keep your time away from home to a minimum during the first few weeks.
While socializing your puppy is critical during your first weeks together, it’s best done through other means.
For example, you can try short puppy playgroups and beginner puppy training classes.
It’s a good idea to expose your dog to as many different positive places and experiences as you can.
However, puppyhood is a vital time for your dog’s social development.
Therefore, having them spend all day in a doggy daycare could be risky.
You’re putting them in the hands of daycare staff that might not be as knowledgeable as you would hope.
This could potentially expose your pup to unfavorable experiences that could negatively impact their social development.
Plus, when you spend more time with your pup early on, there are lots of positives.
You get increased bonding time with your pup, and the opportunity to train your fur baby.
Therefore, you can ensure your dog is as prepared as possible for future experiences, like daycare.
How Do I Prepare My Dog for Daycare?
Typically, before your pet begins daycare, you’ll need to take care of a few things first.
Of course, things like training your dog in basic obedience commands is always a good start.
But it’s also important to ensure your dog is up to date on all of their vaccinations; be ready to show proof to the daycare.
You may also need to bring your dog to the daycare for an assessment.
A good doggy daycare will (and should) want to meet your pooch before you sign on the dotted line.
This way, they can get to know your dog and determine what the best plan will be for your pup while in their care.
Finally, practice makes perfect.
Let your dog have plenty of opportunities to be around other dogs, whether at the park or at an arranged playdate.
Assess how your pet acts and reacts with other dogs and address any potential issues before beginning daycare.
For you, make sure you know any items you’ll need to provide as well as logistics.
Consider things like, will your dog eat at daycare, do they administer medication, etc.
These are all the things you want to have in place before you send your dog for their first day.
How Much Doggy Daycare Is Too Much?
So, as previously mentioned, you can always have too much of a good thing.
Your dog’s overall personality and temperament will factor significantly into how much daycare they can handle.
However, basically, try to avoid sending your dog to daycare every day or five days a week.
Going to daycare five or more days a week is simply too much for your pup.
Not only can they become overstimulated, but they also miss out on other vital dog activities, like training sessions and bonding time with you.
Consider mixing things up a bit. Have your dog stay home 2 to 3 days a week and go to daycare on the remaining days.
On the days you pup’s at home, utilize other solutions like a dog walking service.
Or, perhaps your work is flexible enough where you can work something out in your schedule.
You might be able to work from home one or two days, or come home for a lunch break, etc.
The point is, create a plan that doesn’t involve daily doggy daycare. The result will be a happier dog, and you’ll be one proud pup parent.
Has your dog tried doggy daycare yet? How did it go? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.