Have you ever considered the differences between a training-based daycare program and a standard daycare program? I always come back to this question throughout my career at numerous daycares and as a dog owner myself. Here’s why.
Just like humans, dogs are different from one another; the variety of breeds and temperaments, their ages and personalities, and the overall environments to which they’ve had exposure. Whether your dog was rescued from a less-than-ideal situation or comes from a loving and reputable breeder, all of these variables–along with the fact that most dogs are at different stages of development when they begin a daycare program–should be taken into consideration. When we look at all these variables, we can begin to see that a training technique that works for one dog may not work for another and taking a holistic approach to training is truly about looking at the specific needs of your dog. Most people, however, are unaware of the differences between these two programs and that daycare training is an option.
Training-based daycare versus standard daycare
Dogs are watched very closely throughout the day in a training-based daycare. Due to specific protocols, the dogs are always put into small groups which is key for both the safety of the dogs and the handler(s). It also allows for some dogs to have downtime if they want or require it. On the other hand, in standard daycare, I have noticed there can be as many as 20 (or more) dogs put into one group. Having this many dogs together contributes to a “high-energy situation” and could potentially lead to a dangerous outcome for all involved. Taking the necessary precautions to prevent a situation from escalating is paramount for safety reasons.
Although there are many well-meaning people who are employed at regular daycares, a training-based daycare’s employees have either been trained as apprentice trainers or have gone to school for animal behavior. This is extremely beneficial when handling a variety of personalities and volatile situations. Training facilities are a place for fun, but also a place where every dog will be exposed to proper training techniques. They will have the opportunity to advance their training skills on individual training walks, learn what is acceptable behavior both on and off leash and will also be exposed to a variety of learning tools in various play situations.
When one-size-fits-all doesn’t work
In a standard daycare environment, there seems to be a one-size fits all approach and I’ve witnessed dogs that were kicked-out of daycare because they seemed too dangerous. Again, as all dogs are different, this behavior may show up in a multitude of ways. For example, a fearful dog could display aggressive tendencies due to its protective instincts, while another may have separation anxiety or be excessively vocal during the day. Having experienced trainers with the tools and techniques to prevent these behaviors from escalating is paramount in these situations.
In a training-based daycare, dogs with these same behavioral challenges are taught basic manners and boundaries. Like children, they feel safer when we provide the boundaries that define what is acceptable and what’s not, and we work with them using both positive and negative reinforcement techniques. Whether it’s interacting with other dogs, walking on a leash with its owner, or coming when called, proper training will give you the results you desire.
The benefit of mental and physical stimulation
Another key aspect that sets a training-based daycare apart from a standard daycare setting is the focus on both the physical and mental stimulation. I love the feeling that my dog is coming home exhausted after playing with other dogs yet is also keeping up with his training; this is an added benefit that helps me in my everyday life. What’s better than having your dog come home happy and tired? Having additional training is just icing on the cake!
You may think that training is not entirely necessary if your dog has already gone through training, but the truth is that it’s best to keep up with your dog’s training on an ongoing basis. This will allow you to reinforce what he has already learned and will continue to keep his brain active. The best part for the dogs is they get a reward for their good behavior!
Vanessa’s personal experience with her own dog at Atlantic K9 Training:
My dog used to be very difficult to handle on and off leash. He pulled constantly to the point where it was dangerous for both of us. For example, he would pull on the leash so much there were times when I thought I was going to have to let go and just hope that nothing would happen to him. At this point, I decided to enroll him in Atlantic K9’s boot camp program and they worked with both me and my dog. AK9’s boot camp program is like camp for your dog(s). While he was boarding, AK9 worked with him on his obedience (sit, come, stay, heel, down) and walking properly on the leash.
After his boot camp, Kathleen worked with me and showed me how to properly use the e-collar when walking to stop his pulling. Now, I am happy to say, he is very well-behaved on and off leash and is a joy to take on walks. I am also more comfortable having my dog handled by other people. In fact, I went away with my dogs to visit family and while we were walking on the beach, a group of young children was also able to walk him with no problems. Looking back, I am confident he would not have been able to do this if he didn’t get the proper training.