The Pros and Cons of Doggy Daycare
The first time my sister ever took her then six-year-old pup Wiley to doggy daycare, she was just as nervous as a mom bringing her kid to his first day preschool. She researched incessantly before settling on a place with great reviews that even had a special playgroup just for shy dogs like hers. She felt confident that he'd be well taken care of, she'd considered everything. Well, almost everything. When she picked him up after a single day at daycare, Wiley howled.
For six years, Wiley barked, yipped, and whimpered, but not once had he ever howled. Apparently, just like kids can pick up new words and habits from others on the playground, so can pups!
That said, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of doggy daycare. Some cons, like some unexpected howling, might not be a big deal, but others might be worth considering. To help you make the smartest decision for your dog, here's a quick rundown of doggy daycare pros and cons:
Your dog will get much-needed exercise.
Walks are great, but they won't necessarily cover all the exercise your pup needs, especially if they're only getting a walk in the morning and one at night with 8–10 hours in between with nothing to do. Some might be happy to nap, but others need to burn off the extra energy.
Being around other dogs can help yours learn to socialize better.
If you're a one-dog home, socializing your pup is important. Being around other dogs while supervised by trained professionals can help them learn how to behave better at the dog park, on walks, and other dog-friendly spaces. They'll learn to play nice and maybe even make some furry friends of their own.
The stimulation can prevent destructive behavior.
Not everyone realizes that one of the main reasons dogs act out by chewing slippers and furniture and scraping up doors and floors isn't that they're badly trained. It's because they're bored. Walks aren't always enough! The socializing, playing, and romping about with other dogs gives their brains more to do making them less likely to do damage when they're home.
Not all dogs play well with others.
Whether it's your own dog or the others at the daycare, there's no guarantee your pup won't end up in a scuffle. Good daycares do their best—some, like my sister's daycare, even set aside special play spaces for shy dogs—but accidents happen! And it's worth considering, especially if you aren't sure how your dog reacts to others yet.
There's such a thing as overstimulation.
Stimulation is great! But if you have an already excitable dog, surrounding them with others for hours at a time outside the comfort zone of their home, might lead them to get more stressed out than worked out. A stressed dog may then come home and seem not to have let out any of the energy they were supposed to be burning off at daycare!
Diseases can spread quickly in a daycare environment.
Again, reputable daycare centers will take extra precautions here, requiring all dogs to be up to date on their shots and vaccinations. Unfortunately, that doesn't help much with illnesses like kennel cough, which spread quickly and are naturally more likely to occur in places like daycares and dog parks.
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