Tag Archives: dog daycare

Dawg House 8th Birthday This Month!

Here’s an article and picture from summer 2004 when Dawg House was getting ready to open. Hard to believe we’re 8 years old now ~~ it’s all thanks to YOU, our supportive, loyal (and handsome) pack! We couldn’t do it without each and every one of you! WOOF! THANKS FOR EVERYTHING!

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/t-qanda/Content?oid=1077015

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Lobby Etiquette

In the past several months, we have had many new dogs join our pack at Dawg House, which makes this the perfect time to explain our rules and expectations for our lobby.

When you are in the lobby with your dog,  please make sure your dog is leashed and under your control.  This is for several reasons–first off, the door to the outside can open at any time, leaving a loose dog vulnerable.  Also, as much as we try to maintain a safe lobby, there are items and foods to which your dog should not have access.  The only way to insure they don’t is to keep them leashed and under control.

In addition, we have many dogs that are truly excellent daycare dogs—sweet and friendly, playful and enjoyable, until “Mom” or “Dad” enters the picture.  We have several clients that call from the parking lot for us to remove the dogs from the playroom safely, and others that need a wide berth when entering and leaving.  Because of this,  please don’t approach a dog in the lobby without asking if it’s okay;  but also, please be respectful and move away from the gate as people are exiting. Many of the dogs that attend Dawg House are rescue dogs, and have some real trust issues as well.  They are fearful of strangers, and may even bite if touched when afraid.  We do our best to maintain a calm and conflict free entrance and exit,  so by giving people and their dogs plenty of room, you will help with the process.

What happens when two dogs are in the lobby together? It’s fairly similar to the above situation–many dogs are BEST buddies when they are running around for hours together, loose in the playroom.   Get them on the other side of the fence, or on their lead in the lobby with another dog, and immediate conflict arises.  For this reason, please keep your dog on a short lead and don’t let your dog approach another dog in the lobby; it may not end well.

The final piece of this puzzle is how to handle your time in the intro area/airlock.  Because during pickup and drop off time our entire job is to safely get dogs in and out of the pack, we ask that you remain calm and avoid putting fingers through the fence to touch the other dogs that are present.  We know how completely adorable the pack is, and also how exciting it is to see your dog after a long day of work.  However, excited and high-pitch sweet talking or paying lots of attention to the dogs through the fence, can both cause over-arousal and can lead to conflict.   The dogs will compete with each other to get to the person doling out affection, and actually get aggressive in doing so.  We don’t want to dampen your excitement,  but it will actually help in training your dog to greet you more calmly as well.

We are so happy to have all of you new clients as part of our pack, and also to have the dogs that have been with us for a long time.  We wouldn’t be here without you, and our goal is the same–safe, fun play for the dogs that actually helps build their confidence, and wears them out for the night!

Dog Daycare Goals and Perceptions

Dawg House dawgs have individual and diverse personalities, levels of energy, play and relaxation styles, mental and physical stimulation needs. Under one big roof, in essentially one big indoor dog park, we work hard to address all those things. We also try to find out what your long and short-term goals are as the mom and dad, and work toward those!

1. Some dawgs have a ton of energy every day, all day, and need to “get out the crazies” with other dogs on a regular basis. These dogs play hard and fast at daycare and need a human referee to make sure they play safe.

2. Some dawgs are shy or introverted, and need some dawg-and-human time outside of what their mom and dad can provide on a regular basis. Daycare is all about socialization: we specifically work toward the positive socialization of dawgs in a pack environment. Being exposed to other dawgs and humans in an outside-of-the-home environment on a regular basis is important for building confidence and providing mental stimulation.

3. Some dawgs have boundary issues or other social quirks that could use adjustment or refining. Maybe they need reinforcement with training issues like jumping up on people, “demand” barking, a too-aggressive play style, or just learning how to play well with others. We work very hard at Dawg House, refining play styles and setting boundaries in a social environment. We also work hard reinforcing good play styles with positive feedback.

Most dawgs have a little of all of these things in their personalities. Most dawgs could use some reinforcement in their basic training (sit, stay, no bark, down, off), positive reinforcement in their play style (good job, Mr. Pickles!), social exposure to other dawgs in a supervised, safe pack environment, mental and physical stimulation, and just a nice change of scenery with friends.

We know that folks watch the Dawgie Cam from work and home, and often have questions or concerns about what they observe. On any given day, you can watch dawgs playing hard and fast, relaxing in a group nap session, sniffing and wrestling, and you can see how humans regulate these activities.

We get questions about what people see. Maybe Mr. Pickles doesn’t seem to be as perky as usual – this could be that they’re just easing into things, or waiting for a different group to play with, or just watching. Maybe Mr. Pickles hasn’t been on cam after a particularly aggressive play session – this could mean they’re resting in another area, or a human has given them a neutral ‘time out’ to regulate the energy level of the group. Maybe a wrestling match looks a little fierce – not to worry – a human is always paying attention, watching and listening for warnings that things might be too heated.

As “dog behaviorists” we do our best to address both long-term and short-term dog daycare goals. A short term goal might be “I need Mr. Pickles nice and tired tonight because I’m having people over for dinner.” A long term goal might be “Mr. Pickles has been skittish around other dogs, and I want to make sure to reinforce positive interactions with him by bringing him to daycare.”

There are some mis-conceptions about how this works, however. We do try to communicate to new clients that it is best to bring your dog regularly in order that they get used to dog daycare, the pack environment, the human referees, and all that goes with the daily cycle. As dogs become regulars, we try to reinforce longer-term goals like basic training commands, positive play, and how to adjust to an ever-changing pack. Dawgs do need to come on a regular basis in order for these reinforcements to become natural and habitual. They forget, and they get out of practice. A skittish dog that takes a couple of weeks off or has a bad experience at the dog park or on a walk may take a few steps back and need to catch up on their confidence all over. We don’t pressure folks to come more often, but we do emphasize the importance of positive, regular social exposure.

More on how these things work in future blog posts… and we’d love to hear feedback from you!

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