Ever since I've been working a contract position full-time, I've been taking Homer — and in some cases all three dogs — to doggy day care. The main reason I started, was the fact that Homer has such extreme separation anxiety issues when all of the dogs were left home alone. Homer would bust through the baby gates into the area of our house that we had sectioned off. His only way to cope was to run around, even if it meant going to areas of the house that were off-limits.
While the Thundershirt worked pretty well, it got to the point that whenever Homer saw it he would run and hide. Why? Because any time I'd take it out, he'd associate it with being home without humans.
That being said, the Thundershirt is a great product but in order for me to have it work in the best way possible, I have to start putting it on Homer on times where there's someone at home, to desensitize the situation for him.
A New RoutineBecause my time has been limited, I decided to try out doggy day care as an option. I called the daycare center to learn about their program. After taking Homer the first day when I was most concerned, I received no phone calls at work. Instead I called the center more than once because I was uncertain of Homer's actions toward other dogs. To my surprise, I was told that Homer was being a good boy and if that he started misbehaving, I would have been called. Many times while I was walking him on leash, his encounters with other dogs would be unpredictable.
When I came to pick up Homer that day, I was relieved to hear that he had a good day. He of course was elated to see me, yelping cries of joy. When we got home, he was pretty tuckered out and mellow.
After a couple more daycare sessions, I noticed a change in Homer on our walks. When we would come in close proximity to other dogs, he didn't feel the need to challenge them. His reaction was more like I want to say hello and be your friend. It was apparent that doing day care was an ideal solution for weekdays when everyone in the house had lots to do.
A Recent DiscoveryProbably what surprised me the most about my dogs at day care was the reaction of my oldest dog Cookie. I had forgotten that Cookie hadn't been crated in a long time. I had let the center know that she had past injuries and to be careful when handling her.
Since it was her first day, I called the center again just like I did with Homer. The lady told me that Cookie let out a horrendous cry when they tried to put her in the crate. (The dogs are crated for a short time before their play session would begin at 9am). Instead, Cookie was staying with one of the workers while he did his tasks and they kept her separate from other dogs.
I then told the center that Cookie would be fine with other dogs, she just doesn't like being crated. Cookie has always been a good girl, we never really had to crate her since she way past her puppy stage when we brought her home. The center worker agreed to mix her with the other dogs, and I checked in later. She then told me everything was fine.
Positive ResultsI think that doggy day care is an excellent alternative for handling their schedules on days one needs to work long hours. Here are some of the benefits:
- They get socialized with other dogs in a neutral territory.
- A full day at day care will tire out your pooch. It's a great release for excess energy.
- You know that someone will be there looking after them. They are experienced in handling dogs and will make a dog's stay as comfortable as possible.
- The cost is pretty reasonable. While taking your dog every day may add up, taking them occasionally is the price equivalent of two walks.
Some important features to look for in a good dog daycare business are:
- It's important that the place is clean. Most day care centers will have a doggy odor smell but that's a given considering so many dogs are staying in one area. It's common to see them constantly wiping up accidents with a mop and pail nearby.
- The way the employees treat their customers. I'm far more likely to take my dogs to a place where the employees are glad to see my dog instead of acting like everything is routine. While taking care of dogs isn't the most glamourous job in the world, people who choose to work with dogs, do it because they love it. A dog owner shouldn't settle for less.
- Find a place that has ample space. All doggy day care places are not alike. Some places segment their areas and the dogs are kept confined most of the day. A good daycare establishment will have access to indoor and outdoor spaces.
Other AlternativesWhile most big cities have dog daycare centers, smaller cities and towns may be more limited with this option. Other alternatives may be hiring a dog sitter or dog walker, having your dog as an outside dog during the day or leaving him with a close friend or relative during the day.
Let's Discuss!How do you balance work and life with dogs?
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