Jazzie was driving her owners crazy. She was an energetic Labrador Retriever with plenty of love to give, but she turned into a terror whenever her pet parents were away. She’d rip up carpet, chew on shoes, and tear into their leather couch with abandon. When I met Jazzie’s parents they were on the verge of giving her up, just to get their sanity back.
I explained that Jazzie was not a bad dog. She was a bored, lonely, anxious dog whose needs were not getting met in her parent’s one bedroom Alexandria condo. Both of her parents worked long hours and had assumed a dog would be fine with food, water, a few toys and a twice daily walk. This is a common assumption, if an utterly incorrect one.
I suggested trying her out on doggie daycare five days a week, and they saw an immediate change in Jazzie’s behavior. The carpet was safe…even if Jazzie’s parents stepped out to go and enjoy their weekend. Jazzie was able to remain in her forever home.
Doggie daycare isn’t just some hipster idea designed for anxious millennials who spoil their dogs rotten. It’s a way of meeting your dog’s very real instinctive need to run, play, and frolic. Dogs are highly social pack animals who need the company of both humans and other dogs. They’re also very physical animals who need the opportunity to use their bodies. They also sometimes need to go to the bathroom more than twice a day, just like you or I do.
Don’t feel guilty if, like Jazzie’s parents, you’ve assumed otherwise in the past. There is plenty of bad information out there when it comes to dogs and their needs. You wouldn’t be the first person to assume animals are fine on their own, and you won’t be the last.
Doggie daycare offers other benefits besides the behavioral ones. For example, the modern dog also struggles with obesity because he rarely has enough space to run around in at home. By taking your dog to daycare you ensure he gets the exercise he needs.
It’s also a stress relief for pet parents. Imagine being told you had to work mandatory overtime or stay late on some work project. It can be quite guilt-inducing and very stressful to wonder if your dog has had an accident because your boss wants you crunching on some last minute deadline until 10:00 at night.
Finally, there’s the benefit people rarely consider: someone is there, watching your dog for signs of distress. If your dog chokes on something at home while you’re at work, for example, there’s simply nobody there to help him. When you choose a good dog daycare you get dedicated attendants who can help your dog stay safe. Here at Reserved Barking we feel that’s so important that we actually got our entire staff pet CPR certified.
Of course, there’s an important lesson to be learned here, and it’s not just about doggie daycare. It’s important to remember there are no “bad dogs.” If your dog is causing problems, and training isn’t helping, look for his unmet need. Often, you’ll find the solution you’re looking for.
Bilal Malik is a lifelong canine enthusiast, former code-of-ethics breeder, rescuer, and behaviorist who was inspired to start his own dog daycare, boarding, and training facility where he could fundamentally incorporate his deep understanding of individual and pack-based canine behavior acquired over a lifetime of working with dogs. He started Reserved Barking with a 2600 square foot facility in 2010 that has since grown into two 15,000 square foot facilities in Alexandria, VA and Springfield, VA. For more information, visit www.reservedbarking.com.