Recently, I wrote about the 3-3-3 rule when bringing a new dog to your home. Furry family members take a while to adjust to a new environment. There are new smells, sounds, and people. There are patterns to adjust to so that your pet feels safe and secure – and this takes time. The same philosophy applies to doggie daycare. We should not be your dog’s first interaction with other dogs.
A young dog is highly stressed when adapting to a new home and away from its mother. They are immature and while most doggie daycares separate dogs by size, a young puppy will be overwhelmed if immersed in a group of a dogs. This applies to both dog parks – an uncontrolled environment – and supervised doggie daycare facilities. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of doggie daycare as the equivalent of babysitting during the day. Animals, as much as we love to treat them like our children, are … well… animals. So, proceed slowly with a new pup and let them meet new furry faces one at a time and over the appropriate period of time.
It’s somewhat of a myth that all dogs remain dog social throughout their lives. As dogs get older, many get less tolerant of other dogs – and especially of other dogs who want to play when your dog wants to rest. Sound familiar? It can happen in humans too 😊. If you just adopted an adult dog, don’t assume they are already social or ready for group play. It’s not fair to test this out while the dog is also adapting to the new environment of your home. If you are adopting an adult dog, it’s best to strategize an integration plan that does not involve doggie day care for the first three months.
I once heard a customer say that bringing their dog to doggie daycare is like bringing their dog to Disney. It was said it in the most complimentary way and well received at the time, but later that evening I thought about the impact of that statement. Disney is a great place – no doubt about that – but it is also a place of overstimulation and is exhausting. One doesn’t take a one-year-old child to Disney and expect a good outcome, and not all adults find Disney enjoyable. There’s a sweet spot in age and temperament that makes Disney a really fun place. It’s a combination of youth and perhaps exposure to other amusement or theme parks prior to Disney.
I encourage all to take this “Disney” approach when pondering the best time to bring your furry family member to doggie daycare, and if anyone is wondering, Fetch is definitely the “Magic Kingdom” of doggie daycares.
Carolyn Lapps is the General Manager at Fetch Family Pet Resort. Her love and passion for all animals began at a young age and has led to a career. She is frequently consulted on pet socialization, family integration issues, and is highly regarded for her experience with domestic animal management and care.