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Gone are the days when a dog was just a dog. There’s a whole new breed of dog owners that exist now, and we’ve taken dog ownership to a whole new level.  We call ourselves #DogMom or #DogDad and we don’t really have dogs, we have #FurBabies.  Just like parents of human children, we want our fur babies to have a social life that’s as colorful as our own (or more so in my introverted case).

We want our canine companions to have Instagram accounts, doggie birthday parties, and wardrobes so vast, that they need their own closets.  We want to take our dogs to dog parks, dog-friendly social events and doggie daycare.  We especially want our dogs to have #DogFriends.  We want a lot for our dogs, but why?  It’s a canine conundrum that I’m here to shed a little light on.

As the team lead for our off-leash play program aptly named Daycation I get to see it all.  In this blog post, I’m going to list the top 3 reasons why the majority of dog owners truly want their dog in Daycation.

Reason #1 – Their Schedule 

We live in a very busy world, jam packed with work, school, meetings, family functions, extra curricular activities, social events, the list goes on & on.  We feel guilty about the amount of time our faithful companions have to spend alone or in a crate, while we juggle the seemingly endless to-dos of everyday life.

We come home to an exuberant dog who’s waited all day for our return, only to tell them to be a good dog and leave us alone because we still have things to do.  By the time we’re finished with our tasks, we’re typically too tired to exercise or play with our fur ball.  This leads our precious babies to start misbehaving perhaps attempting to obtain some attention (remember that even bad attention is still attention).

For those in this boat, Daycation can be the miracle they’ve been praying for, provided their dog enjoys group play environment.  An amazing place where their dog is well cared for, has multiple play sessions with up to 14 of their best dog friends, and comes home one tired & happy pup.  The cherry on top of this paw-shaped cake, is the owner-specific Facebook Group, Club Dogs. Every night my coaches and I upload a video recap for each play group and the best still shots from the day.  So, not only do dogs’ get to make #dogfriends, parents get to see their pooch in action all in their newsfeed!  It’s a win/win for parent and child, err…dog.

Reason #2 – Boarding Guilt

Guilt is the most common reason I get from owners who are scheduled for a boarding stay at The Country Club.  They envision their dog’s sad little face, sitting all alone in their room all day, and it’s simply more than they can bear.  They feel sad about having to board their fur baby, so they sign them up for any activity that will get them out of their room.

For some dogs, Daycation is the perfect option.  Especially for those who already regularly attend Daycation, and are comfortable in the often high-intensity group play environment.  It gives these dogs additional exercise, mental stimulation and fun with their friends.  Only downside, is that your pup may not want to go home!

However, Daycation is not a great fit for every boarding dog.  For an adult dog who has had very minimal socialization and only comes to Daycation during boarding stays, it’s typically difficult for them to adjust to the group play environment.  They would likely be much more comfortable with an individual play session, a sniff walk or a cuddle session in their room.  The group play environment can be extremely overwhelming, frightening & stressful for an unsocialized dog.  The well-intentioned owner doesn’t even realize that forcing their dog into this unfamiliar environment, will most likely make their stay less enjoyable, not more.

Reason #3 – They Want To Socialize Their Dog

Socialization is such a crucial piece to the developmental process of a puppy and key to having a well-balanced adult dog.  But folks often miss this piece altogether or do it incorrectly (a.k.a throwing them in the local dog park).  This can cause undesirable behavioral challenges in social situations once pup reaches adulthood.  Having your dog attend a structured socialization program, where they’re thoroughly evaluated & placed in a play group of dogs based on compatible plays styles, is a FANTASTIC way to socialize your dog!

However, I can’t stress enough, that the social dynamics of Daycation is NOT for every dog, despite how much their owners might want it to be.  Trust me, I know…I’m one of those owners.  I wanted nothing more than to have my high energy dog, Otis, burn off energy in group play every day.  But as it turns out, he’s the kind of dog that just doesn’t do well in the group play environment.  He has less than a handful of friends that he actually plays well with in a one-on-one situation.  Other than those few dogs who will put up with his rude behaviors & play chase, he very much prefers human interaction to canine.

Otis is not alone in his human preferring ways – many dogs share his sentiments.  It’s not uncommon for dogs, socialized & unsocialized, to simply prefer the company of humans.  When these types of dogs are forced into a canine social situation, the flight, fight, or freeze stress response typically kicks in. For example, when pushed too far, Otis’ stress response is fight, every time (#bummer).  Some dogs become extremely panic stricken & pace the perimeter of the fence, frantically looking for an exit.  Some get aggressive & lunge to bite any dog (or person) that comes near.  Some dogs are so overcome by fear that they simply freeze in their tracks.  Those dogs become targets for other dogs to pick on.  None of these reactions are a healthy state for an animal to be in; especially not for the sake of relieving our own guilt.

In conclusion, what I want the dog moms and dads to understand, is that if your dog doesn’t appear to want a robust doggie social life that doesn’t make it a bad dog.  It doesn’t mean that they have something wrong with them and need to be “fixed”. None of us would enjoy being forced into a social setting with no escape.

Daycation may not be for every dog, but for many, it can be a truly positive & rewarding experience. We’ve seen shy dogs become more confident dogs, fearful puppies become outgoing puppies and unsocial dogs become more social dogs.  It’s really quite amazing to watch these types of transformations take place.  Our Daycation dogs come into our doors in the morning, beaming with excitement and anticipation to play.  It’s like tweens entering a Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber concert.  They absolutely FREAK OUT, in the best possible way.

Are you curious if your dog would be a good fit for our Daycation program? We would love to meet them!  To get the ball rolling, click here to fill out the application for your dog to be evaluated.  To become a member & schedule the evaluation, you’ll also need to create a profile for your dog in our Pet Parent Portal.  Once your dog is in the Portal, and we review your application, we will contact you to schedule their evaluation. And if your dogs’ Instagram page doesn’t have a bunch of #dogfriends pictured I can guarantee they won’t care one bit!

Warm Wags,

Carole Arnett

Daycation Lead

The Pet Station Country Club