Top Tips When Choosing a Day Care

These days doggie day care is becoming more and more popular as people want to provide the best for their dog when they are out at work. I know that for myself it is difficult to find someone that you trust to look after your dog. There are things that you need to look out for when choosing which day care to look after your dog.

Here are a few of  my tips:

  • Check out the website and facebook page and get a feel for what goes on. If there are things that make you feel uncomfortable, then move on to the next one. Look at people’s comments or reviews.
  • It is important to look at the about us section as that can give you an idea of what they do, but also about what approach they take to dogs and their behaviour.
  • Look out for words like force free, positive reinforcement, boundaries. Take note if anything seems ambiguous. It may be that they simply didn’t write everything, or it may be that they don’t want you to know what really goes on. You can always ask.
  • It is a good idea to know whether you want your dog to go somewhere small such as an individual/small business, or somewhere more commercial where they employ staff.
  • Make sure to go and visit the place before you book them in.
  • Take notice of the general condition of the house/building and the surrounding areas.
  • Take note of how many dogs there are, where they are and how they appear.
  • With groups of dogs that don’t know each other, it is very important that they aren’t left unsupervised either outside or inside to play or wander around. Disagreements can quickly escalate.
  • If dogs are to be left unsupervised, make sure they they are separated by stair gates/doors in small groups and that food or toys are not left around.
  • Make a note of how many dogs there are in the amount of space. For example, if there are 15 dogs in one room, then that would ring alarm bells.
  • Ask about whether shock/spray/choke collars are used as some do use them.
  • If they crate the dogs, ask how long they are crated and why.

The MOST IMPORTANT things to ask about or look for:

  • CONTRACT – Make sure they offer you a contract and read ALL the terms before signing.
  • INSURANCE – Ask to look at their insurance, they shouldn’t have a problem with that.
  • VACCINATIONS – Whether you vaccinate you dogs or not, a day care license requires the company to ask for proof of vaccination. If they don’t ask, they either forgot, or they may be hiding something.
  • BEHAVIOUR – Your dog’s behaviour can’t lie. If there are any changes to behaviour that you are concerned about, first get a vet check. But also ask yourself whether the day care may not be suitable.

Usually your gut instinct will inform your decision. But sometimes, people can be lovely and the place look really good, but then once you get started, you start to see  things aren’t as they seem.

You can never be too careful!

Advertisements

On Barking

This week I have been struggling more with Daisy’s barking. She has been barking more than usual and it really started getting me down. At first I was thinking I will just ignore it and she will stop. That didn’t seem to work. She mostly barks when on the arm of the sofa, so I thought that if I get her off the arms and don’t let her up, she won’t have the opportunity to bark. So I did that, and she simply ran to the chair and proceeded. So it was back and forth between the chair and the sofa. I live in a flat so I was beginning to get worried about what the neighbours would think.

As I was getting more frustrated, I took a step back and said to myself that Daisy isn’t barking to be naughty or to annoy me. There is a reason that she is barking. I reminded myself that she has beagle in her, and that could account for a lot. I started to look at what was around and what was outside the window that would make her want to bark. What was she telling me?

There have been builders working on a car park on the opposite side of the road, making noises and wearing high vis jackets, talking loudly and so on. Daisy was barking at this I thought. It is a change in circumstance, they are strangers, and she could perceive them as a threat, letting me know that they are there. Also, she barks when other dogs walk past, which has been a problem for a while with reactivity, which I am working on. So if there are workmen and dogs, no wonder that it is over-stimulating Daisy and it is causing her to bark more.

So what can I do about it? Well I think the important thing for me to do it to stay calm and redirect Daisy’s attention, get her focussed on something else such as a treat or a toy. I find that engaging her in short training games gives us both a break. The more that she barks at things outside, the more it will become a habit because it is physically rewarding to bark, especially if the threat goes away. Raising my voice or shouting certainly doesn’t work because she then will think that I am joining in. I have to be realistic and remember that Daisy has an genetic tendency to bark/howl and that I need to embrace it rather than try to stop it all the time. I am hoping that the more I can redirect her focus, the less she will feel the need to bark. I can’t remove the perceived threat or trigger, but I can help her to get a reward from something other than barking.

Agility

Daisy is a very active dog and I do struggle sometimes to keep up with her. I wanted to find something that might channel her love of running and her abundant energy. Agility seemed to be the answer. I’d seen it on the TV and I’d been to an agility festival where the dogs and handlers seemed to have a great time. So with slight hesitation, I booked us on to a 6 week beginners agility course.

Now I’m not the fittest of people, and exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. But I wanted to do this for Daisy. I realised just how out of shape I was, and I realised just how fast Daisy was! I was totally out of my depth the first couple of weeks, but as I kept at it, small achievements were worth it. I managed to get Daisy through a tunnel, which I had never been able to do before. I was so proud of her!

There have been times when I have thought to myself that I can’t do it, that I’m not the sort of person that does agility. I have thought that I’m not good enough because I haven’t always given the correct signals to Daisy, which has resulted in her being confused as to what I wanted her to do. However, I have also found that small things mean a lot and that I get so much out of seeing Daisy being focussed and having fun.

I was really conscious of the fact that Daisy barks a lot when she’s on the lead around other dogs. I thought the club were going to kick me out. But they didn’t mind, and said that it just shows she is excited and getting into it. That made me relax and not worry about it. In turn, I think that this has helped Daisy to be more relaxed. Because of her tendency to bark at other dogs, I have to work hard during the hour or so to keep her attention when having a break. She is very easily distracted. Thankfully, she is really food-orientated, so I probably get through a whole bag of treats in one session!

I’m not the most confident person, and I have found that I have had to challenge myself mentally and physically to do agility. But I would say that the more I do it, the more I realise that I don’t have to be perfect, Daisy doesn’t have to get it right all the time, and that it is as much about having fun as anything else. I have really noticed a difference in the way Daisy responds to me since starting to agility. Her focus on me has improved greatly, and I feel the bond between us has got stronger. I am really proud of how much she has worked. It takes a small distraction for her to run off and play, but she chooses to stay with me. Well most of the time anyway!

For any owner that struggles with focussing their dog, or that wants to strengthen that bond, I would really recommend agility. It challenges your dog mentally and physically. It will also challenge you as an owner. But I would say that you will get so much out of it, and your relationship will blossom!