Socialisation | Enrichment | Adventure – This is our daycare’s philosophy.
As a dog owner, I feel passionate about providing our yellow Labrador called Luna with as much experience (socialisation) with as many dogs and people, in as many environments, as possible.
This will allow her to feel relaxed and confident when faced with new situations. There is no doubt that humans are dog lovers and provide dogs with abundant love, but dogs are still dogs… nothing beats being with other dogs, running and playing in a safe environment, rather than being hindered by leads and restrictions often used by us dog owners.
Often, there isn’t always a suitable place for dogs to be able to safely interact; meeting other dogs on lead next to a road just isn’t safe. Further, meeting other dogs on lead is regrettably, not an appropriate way to socialise dogs (in most cases), as the lead restriction can lead to anxiety, stress and a negative experience for the dogs.
Whilst we may think we are helping by introducing dogs to other dogs and building up their dog social skills, too frequently, this can negatively impact our dogs.
How do dogs typically communicate and socialise?
Dogs are extremely skilful communicators with other dogs, making subtle body language cues to each other which we as humans aren’t able to read as it can occur so quickly.
In fact, a dog’s main methods of communication are through body language and scent. This is why at our dog day care we focus so much on providing dogs with opportunities to learn and be around other friendly canines off-lead, allowing them to make choices and communicate via their body posture successfully without (lead) restrictions.
This ultimately leads to dogs making positive associations with meeting and being around other dogs.
It’s important to note that socialisation done poorly or inappropriately can be worse than not socialising a dog at all, and that is why daycare is so important; it offers dogs a safe and secure environment, putting an emphasis on positive social experiences being reinforced.
Why is dog daycare is so beneficial?
I like to explain the wider benefits of dog daycare by comparing two situations.
First, imagine a dog who has attended dog daycare since they were a puppy and is well versed in dog communication. They spend 3 days every week in a dog daycare setting, learning how to appropriately meet new and old friends, how to play fairly with dogs of all sizes, and that being around other dogs is a generally rewarding experience.
In scenario 2, a friendly dog of the same age has primarily been introduced to other dogs on lead. When off-lead they have unfortunately had a negative experience with another dog in a park who was out of control. Although this dog is a friendly dog, the negative experience may cause him to experience stress and anxiety when meeting other dogs now, which can manifest as barking, jumping and growling at other nearby dogs, which is classified as anxiety based defensiveness.
Every dog is different and their personality is shaped by both their genetics and their exposure to environmental stimuli.
Consequently, a dog who has been well-socialised within a daycare setting, has numerous other dog best friends and is comfortable meeting other dogs is less likely to experience fear or stress-based reactions within their daily walks.
Too often, aggression between dogs (who are quite often friendly nice dogs) results from what can be mis-labelled as ‘an aggressive dog’, but in reality is founded in fear-based situational reactivity/aggression.
That is, the dog who is under-socialised feels stressed by the environment, doesn’t understand how to communicate this and believes their only resort is to fight (fight or flight response).
Conclusion: Is dog daycare the best thing since peanut butter stuffed kongs?
For dogs it’s hard to beat chewing and licking on a peanut butter stuffed kong, however, attending daycare (where they will also get to have stuffed kongs..!) provides opportunities to socialise with other friendly dogs, have mental and physical enrichment, which is all part of their big daily daycare adventure!
Dog daycare allows dogs of all sizes and temperaments, to create positive associations with being around other dogs, which can help shape a dog’s behaviour, becoming a well-mannered, happily socialised dog.
This dog will likely develop beneficial behavioural outcomes, and display reduced unwanted problematic behaviours.
11 Acres Doggy Day Care
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