By Tori Ganino, BS, CDBC, CPDT-KA
February 5, 2019
In addition to the six questions outlined in “Choosing a Doggy Daycare, Part 1”, there are four more that we would like you to consider.
1) How does the staff control the dogs?
Staff should be trained to handle all situations that arise when dogs play together. As I mentioned, active supervision, as well as being well versed in proactive prevention of problems when behaviors start to escalate, is essential. The question you should ask is what methods are being used to control the group? Would you believe that there are daycares in New York State, as well as other states, that use whips? Yes, you read the right. The use of whips are often described as the extension of the staff’s arms. In reality, the staff uses them to intimidate dogs into control or fearful submission. The same goes for shaker cans, spray bottles, bark collars, and shock collars, all of which are all typical “tools” that daycares might use.
2) What activities do the dogs participate in throughout the day?
Owners want their dogs to play with other dogs, but it is also important that other activities take place. Small training sessions are beneficial for the dogs to learn to listen to the staff and to come when they are called. Breaks should be incorporated into the schedule to ensure that the dogs learn to relax in the presence of other dogs, but also so they do not become over aroused or tired, which can lead to altercations.
3) Can you access pictures and videos of the dogs playing every day?
When I brought my young dog, Cooper, to daycare, I called to check in during my lunch break and asked how his day was when I picked him up. The staff always told me that he was doing well. The facility posted pictures of all the dogs at the end of the week. Out of 100, I might see one of Cooper. I continued to bring him there for eight months because the staff ensured me that he was having fun. When I started working in a daycare, I took him with me. It turned out that Cooper was terrified and would shake in the corner. It was evident that not only was he not having fun, but he was terrified. Make sure to insist that you have some evidence that your dog is playing and enjoying his time there.
4) Do the dogs wear collars?
While the staff needs to be able to move dogs around, it is vital that the dogs wear either breakaway collars or no collars at all. In my daycare, breakaway collars are utilized. This is so there is no chance of a dog’s jaw becoming stuck in a collar. Not only can the jaw be damaged, but the dog who is wearing the collar can be strangled.
While the list is not exhaustive, between parts one and two of “Choosing a Doggy Daycare,” ten critical questions have been outlined for you to assist in your search for the right daycare. If you have any doubt about one that you have interviewed being the right fit for your dog, make sure to move on. If any additional questions arise, make sure to ask them. Working with multiple dogs in a play setting can be fun, but it also has its challenges. The staff must be trained to handle the day to day occurrences, and the facility needs to be organized to ensure everyone’s safety.
Tori Ganino CDBC, CPDT-KA is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the IAABC, Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed through the CCPDT, and a member of International Canine Behaviourists (ICB) and the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN). She owns Calling All Dogs located in Batavia, NY where she teaches group classes and private lessons for obedience and behavior modification.
You can find out more about Tori from her website www.CallingAllDogsNY.com