We offer day care as a service for well socialized dogs, this is great for dogs that enjoy playing with other dogs as well as for dogs that have undergone social training systematically to help maintain it.
However day care for dogs should not be in big groups of 20 or 30 dogs, dogs that are put together should be comfortable with each other. Day care is NOT training for unsocial dogs. So many clients contact us for day care that actually need training as their dog is reactive. Or dogs go to other day care center's and are either bullied or are the bully.
Day care’s should not be there to fix behavioral issues, yes it can help gain confidence in your dog but not if it is being flooded with a group of 30 dogs.
See it this way…
Your human child is at school being bullied by another kid. The bully can continue to do so, because he always has a few other kids hanging with him reinforcing his bully behavior helping to gang up on your kid. It’s the same with dogs, especially young UN-socialized dogs that have not learned proper body language. Or an older dog that no longer wants to play being forced to interact with other dogs. This can easily happen from the age of 4 years. There are exceptions, I have a 10 year old Husky that still wants to play like a 2 year old dog.
Or your child is the bully and has the gang of kids supporting his behavior, he keeps on being a bully and even escalates as the kid being bullied gets “smaller” and more fearful. Once again it’s the same with dogs, the dogs that bully others continue to do so and the fearful dogs become even more fearful. Some will completely shut down and then a few will try and keep the bully at bay by snapping before the bully can even come close. It’s a circle of unwanted behaviors no matter from which angel you look at it.
So what do we want…
We want groups to be as small as 2 dogs playing with each other. If dogs really get a long you can put up to 10 dogs in a group, but then you have to know what acceptable body language between dogs is so that you can step in long before anything happens. We have never had dogs come into fights while doing day care hence the reason we are constantly checking their interaction and keeping groups small.
The old saying of dogs should sort it out themselves is outdated and not backed up with any science.
Dogs that are bullies, do it due to a lack of confidence just like humans with a big ego do. They are reactive and need training just as much if not more than the fearful timid dog.
We put dogs that are confident with a less confident dog. If a dog is relaxed and non-reactive that is a confident neutral dog. If a dog reacts or is vocal the confident dog is able to turn away and mind his own business by sniffing the ground for example and not react. That is a confident dog. You want roles to change one dog should not constantly chase the other dog, they should switch around. The less confident dog will be a loud to be higher and the confident dog will lower himself to the ground to be less threatening. The confident dog will also initiate play in the form of play bows and inviting the other dog to chase him.