“Transition Times” by Mary Penta, Shift Manager at Dingo’s Dogsitting

There are many times throughout the day when dogs need to be moved – or “transitioned” – from inside to outside or vice versa.  While we strive to maintain a fairly consistent schedule in order to facilitate clear expectations between pack and handlers, dogs are not people (as much as we sometimes wish that they were!), so we are unable to outline an exact game plan for their day, every day, as there will always be some nuance based on weather and our attendance list.  Some of our pack members are quite mellow and have a high threshold for arousal, while others are more excitable and can become overwrought quickly during transition times.  Because of this, many of the maladaptive behaviors we see within the pack are centered around our transition or gate areas – the areas where dogs tend to crowd and the energy level is heightened.  

When moving the dogs outside from inside, there’s a tendency for all of them to push forward towards the gate, which makes it difficult to execute a calm and mannered exit.   In order to negate this, we plan ahead by putting the dogs we know to get overstimulated on leads so that they can have some space away from the boundary threshold areas where the energy level is high, and the crowding can become concentrated. If left to their own devices, some of these dogs may become reactive by the gates and redirect their unchecked arousal at another dog.  Moving these dogs away from our egress points on lead helps them to avoid overwhelm; it also allows them to receive some extra attention from a staff member during this time of increased excitement.

The rest of the dogs are backed away from the gates until there is a boundary created between them, and our threshold area. This can sometimes take a few minutes as dogs can be quite pushy! Then, we typically let out three to five dogs at a time until all dogs are safely and securely in our fenced areas outside.

Since there’s so much activity occurring in these transition areas (which would be the area around the gate, and in between gates) some dogs become fixated on the gates; at times, this can become a compulsion.  Dogs exhibiting gate compulsions or reactivity by the gates, who are unable to be consistently redirected, will likely need to work with our onsite trainer for some one-on-one trainings. Owners of these dogs are notified by email and our trainer works in conjunction with our daycare handlers to assist these dogs in becoming less aroused and more responsive during times of increased energy around our gates.   

The doggy daycare environment is a hectic one, full of romping, playing, and friend-making. To keep it safe and calm, when we have to change scenery from inside to outside, or vice versa, we mindfully pay attention to all the dogs ensuring our movements are planned and efficient so that our pack remains copacetic even in times of high energy. 

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