My Dog Was Kicked Out of Daycare… Now What?
Doggie daycare is a fantastic outlet for lots of social, energetic dogs. The dogs get tons of stimulation and exercise at daycare while their people are at work, and by the evening, everyone is home and ready to wind down together. But there are many dogs that don’t do well in the bustling daycare environment. This may include:
- older dogs with less patience for exuberant adolescents,
- dogs that play too rough or get overly aroused,
- dogs that need a lot of personal space,
- dogs that are too small to safely interact with the other dogs,
- puppies that have not been vaccinated or spayed/neutered.
If your dog falls into one of these categories, don’t panic. There are plenty of other ways to give your dog the exercise and stimulation he needs.
Playdates with Doggie Friends
If your dog is selective about his canine companions, set up playdates with the dogs with whom he plays well. Friends and neighbors are usually happy to bring their dogs over for a casual supervised (and free!) play session. While playdates may not be possible every day of the week, this option provides quality of play over quantity of play.
A qualified dog walker from a reputable dog walking company can give your dog a midday break on workdays. Many walkers offer pack walks; even though the dogs aren’t playing, pack walks provide some level of doggie interaction. Your local walker may even be able to take your dog for a long run, if that’s more your dog’s thing.
If you have limited time to expend your dog’s energy, use it playing a game like fetch. For many dogs, the more running he can do, the better his physical and mental state will be. Fetch can be played indoors in a hallway, and there are even automatic ball launchers that allow dogs to play fetch when home alone (provided you feel it is safe).
Scent games are a wonderful way to burn a dog’s mental energy without getting him wound up physically. Plus, these games are easy to set up and require little effort on your part. You can set up a Find It game as you leave the house, which will keep your pup entertained for several minutes after you’ve left. Read my article here to learn how. You have to feed your dog anyway, so why not use his food as a way to get his brain thinking?
Agility and Other Sports
Agility is one of many dog sports that can have a major impact on your dog’s well being. Agility is not just about running and jumping; rather, it teaches your dog to interact with various obstacles while focusing simultaneously on you and on the course. It it both challenging and highly rewarding. Agility is generally learned in group or private lessons, but you can also find classes online to teach you some basics at home.
A little training can go a long way towards having a balanced, satisfied, and well-mannered dog. Even trick training has major benefits. Tricks teach you and your dog how to communicate and work together. the more you train your dog, the more satisfied you’ll both be. Some tricks — such as sit pretty, take a bow, and crawl — can even stretch or build muscles, giving your pup an added physical workout.
Remember, daycare is a place for already-social dogs to enjoy each other’s company. If that environment isn’t the right match for your pup, find an outlet that truly speaks to your dog!
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer at Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY, and author of the training book, "BKLN Manners." She draws upon her experience as an educator and dog trainer to apply positive training techniques to a challenging urban environment. Kate is a rescue advocate drawn to special-needs dogs and currently has two Chihuahua mixes, Batman and Beans.
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