How do you know if doggy daycare is right for your dog? As all dog owners know, it’s fun to have a newly adopted puppy around the house — but as they start to grow, keeping up with both their mental and physical needs can be a lot of work. As a dog reaches the age where they can start to be left on their own for periods of time, parents may start to see some behaviors that, unless interrupted, can become harmful. Even if you’ve got the time to take them on walks, give invigorating playtime, and have socialized them occasionally at dog parks or with friends, every dog’s needs are different. Some may develop destructive behaviors at home, get aggressive with other dogs, or be overly stressed when left alone.
Many of these tendencies can be reversed through one-on-one training, which focuses more on how to cater to your dog’s individual needs when you’re with them. But what about when you can’t be at home, or if you work from home and can’t give them your full attention? What if you aren’t comfortable with the regulars at your local dog park or that kind of unstructured environment? What if you are concerned about the amount of time your dog spends sleeping or barking during the day?
These are the kinds of situations in which daycare can be a lifesaver. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a napper, a gentle player, a rough player, or is skittish and shy around other dogs. If you find the right daycare, it can make a world of difference for your dog’s mental state, as well as help them work out any extra physical energy.
Active dogs need stimulating playtime! But if you live in Northern Virginia, the opportunities for public, off-leash dog parks can be sparse. There are two dog parks in Reston, and Ashburn, Herndon and Chantilly also each have one. If your dog has had a bad experience at any of these parks or you find that the owners of the other dogs are not being responsible, doggy day care is absolutely the best option for your pup. Most dog daycare facilities with multiple playrooms will divide the dogs by a combination of size, age, and temperament, and will work with you and your dog to find the best fit.
This allows for supervised play where your dog can find the perfect playgroup or partner to rough-house with. Good attendants can help your dog find a new playmate if certain dogs aren’t responding well, or let them know it’s time to cool off before things get too heated. At the end of the day, your dog will have been so busy they will likely fall asleep as soon as they get into the car! Some dogs even find true friends that they grow particularly fond of, and they may play or cuddle together for weeks on end.
No matter your dog’s particular needs, daycare may be the missing piece of their enrichment. Whether it’s a secure place to play, a distracting place to keep their minds off missing you, or a safe place to test their social skills, dog daycare is so much more than just somewhere to keep your dog while you’re at work. Of course, doggie daycare isn’t the answer for every dog, but give it a try and see how your dog responds — you may be surprised at how much they want to come back!