10 things I learned running a doggy daycare

The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned from Owning a Doggy Daycare

  1. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Body language, tone, and intonation are all very important when communicating with dogs.
  2. Dogs act differently when their owners are not around. A calm, submissive dog may become rambunctious and defiant when their owner is not present. On the other hand, a perceived “alpha” or an aggressive dog may become more relaxed and solicitous sans owner, especially if the dog’s domineering behavior is the result of a perceived or real need to protect or guard the owner.
  3. A dog’s behavior will change around different dogs, and especially different groups of dogs. A dog may be copacetic around one or two other dogs but become very uncomfortable among a large pack. The reverse may also be true.
  4. Dogs are unpredictable. They are animals, and although humans are as well, our canine companions do not have the same capacity for reason and logic as we do. Sometimes dogs will behave in a way that will leave us scratching our heads. Just as with humans, we can’t always explain every thing they do. And because we lack an adequate means of thorough or complex communication between species, their behavior may have to be chalked up to the great unknown/unknowable. We can try to unravel and understand them – but we may never know all the answers. That’s okay.
  5. As a very general rule of thumb, male dogs tend to get along best with female dogs, and females tend to gravitate towards males.
  6. Some dogs will get along with 99.99% of other dogs, but keep in mind, there’s always that .001%. Always be diligent when introducing your dog to a new dog.
  7. Dogs that are perfectly housebroken at home can come to daycare and revert back to puppyhood. Some may “leak”, some will pee when excited, others will “mark”, still more will pee to get your attention, and finally, there’s a few who will decide that there’s just no good reason to hold it inside at daycare because all those smells and other dogs must mean its an appropriate area to eliminate.
  8. Dogs value human attention above almost all else. Even negative attention is better to them then no attention at all.
  9. Dogs are much more likely to listen to you if you have a treat (especially a high value treat) in your hand.
  10. Quite a large number of dogs could be diagnosed with having pica. Before I owned a daycare I had only heard anecdotal stories of dogs eating things that they shouldn’t. These days I’m confronted with it on a daily basis. Dogs, like toddlers, explore their world through their mouths. Some become stuck in this “oral phase” and will ingest anything and everything they can get their stinky mouths on. They will eat poop (their own and others), toys, rocks, sticks, and anything else you may inadvertently leave out. Just another reason to never leave a dog unattended around anything that is not safe to ingest.

Owning a doggy daycare is not for the faint of heart. You must have a passion for hard work, a love of dogs, and a blasé attitude towards poop, pee, and puke. It’s a lot of work, but probably the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.



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