This is most likely an accurate representation of the response I would get while trying to explain doggie daycare to someone from the 1960’s. Back then a dog was just that-a dog. They were outside creatures that would guard the yard from the likes of evil squirrels hell bent on nut domination. They slept in the barn, they ate table scraps from the dirt, and they were a very small piece of home life. Nowadays, our fur babies eat better food than us, occupy the best spot on our beds, and receive more kisses, hugs, and pets than most human children. But thats just it; for many their dog is their child (one that can’t talk back, never misses curfew, and is always happy to see you). Our modern day society views dogs as an equal member of the household, sometimes more. And just like children, many parents think their dog needs daycare.
But do they? The most common reasons are to burn off energy, socialization, off leash training, and the biggie: guilt. You feel bad that you have to leave your child home alone all day, and when you return you haven’t the time or energy to give your ball of excitement what it needs. Not to mention, the dog industry has done a great job adding to the guilt trip… #oops. You end up thinking those are great reasons for your dog to be in daycare, and you trot them off to the nearest place thinking this is exactly what they need.
But is it? According to Robin Bennett and Susan Briggs, owners of the Dog Gurus and nationwide consultants about the dog daycare industry, have said that only about 40% of dogs truly enjoy being in a big group of dogs. For all my math whizzes that’s less than half of the dogs currently in daycare. But I thought dogs are pack animals? And you would be correct, but a pack would usually consist of two, maybe three other dogs in total; not these enormous groups we see in a lot of facilities today. So while you think your little angel is having a ball with all their friends, silently they could be a nervous wreck.
What now? Great question, and I am going to answer and promote our new facility all at the same time.. #noshame :). The Country Club has created Dog Daycation. It’s not your average dog daycare. We start with a extensive background survey (some say overkill, I say anything for our babies!) Once complete and reviewed, we have a day-long evaluation where we put Fido in a ton of different settings and with different types of dogs. We are reading body language, play style, energy, and most of all- enjoyment level. You even get to take home the results! Our philosophy is to keep our play groups small and tight knit. We don’t have staff members watching your dogs, we have Canine Coaches. Our highly skilled Coaches are there to enrich the lives of their pack. They work on simple obedience cues, confidence builders, and other engaging activities to not only stimulate them physically, but challenge them to grow mentally. Bonus: all Daycation parents get daily Facebook videos to see their pup in action!
What if my dog doesn’t like off leash play groups? No worries, The Country Club developed UnoCare. This is where our Canine Coaches spend time individually with your pup during their Daycation at The Club. This is where both my dogs will go. But, Scott, you’re a professional trainer, why don’t you have social dogs? Great question, and the answer is my dogs fall into that large group that don’t truly enjoy off leash play; and for totally different reasons. My Cattle Dog, Tag, is solitary and is just annoyed with most other dogs. Goose, my Labrador Retriever, is incredibly submissive which leads to dogs being pushy and then she growls and snaps. I’m totally fine with that. My dogs prefer to hang out by themselves; it’s just their personality. Every dog has qualities that make them unique, and it’s our job to pair them with their perfect pack mates- even if that mate is just themselves.
What if my dog doesn’t do well in groups, but I want them to? If you are really set on your dog being in an off-leash play group, our Coaches will work on integrating them into just the right pack. It may take some time, but we will work to find their best fit.
So there you have it, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but- as told by Scott. Whatever you decide for your four-legged child, do your homework and don’t be fooled into thinking every dog loves off leash play.