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Monday, January 12, 2015

Playing With the Big Kids

Can a Previously Reactive Dog do 
Doggy Daycare?

Depends on you. Yes you. Take a good look in the mirror and let's be honest. How much work have you done with your dog? Have you worked on threshold training? Do you train and exercise regularly? Have you worked on socializing and desensitizing your dog towards other dogs?

Lets look at Ziva. When we first adopted Ziva she was living with a rescue and a large group of other bully breeds, sometime in between the rescue and living with us she developed a fear aggression towards other dogs that was downright frustrating for me personally.  My Reactive Dog (How we dealt with Fear Aggression and Dog Reactivity with Ziva.)  

 I don't want people to see a crazy bugged out snarling "pit bull" puppy when we're out walking - feeding into stereotypes is not what we are all about. We want people to see our lovely little princess who plays with children and snuggles on the couch.

Well today I can say our hard work has paid off!!

For our new readers - this is my last year in college, I graduate this June 2015 Hooray!! But with this last year has come some new challenges, we work hard to make sure Dante and Ziva aren't left home alone for more than 6 hours.

In the past if we needed help or someone to just let the dogs out to potty our neighbor was able to bail us out but we almost never needed help. Well this year I have less options of class times due to my senior status, if I need the class to graduate I have to take it.

Fall term we were able to juggle work, school, and dogs but we quickly realized that at least one of my upcoming terms we would need either a sitter, dog walker, or daycare. Our biggest issue with daycare of course being Ziva.

In September I researched, and found a wonderful doggy daycare. After interviewing them and walking through the facility I realized that if at all possible we wanted to do daycare due to the benefits of social time and play. It would be way more fun for our pups to spend all day with dogs than in a house by themselves waiting for a dog walker to relieve them.

What I Looked for in a Daycare:
  • Cleanliness - does it smell of dog? Urine? How often do they disinfect? Where do dogs do their "business?"
  • Are their breed or size restrictions?
  • How much experience do the handlers have?
  • What is the discipline philosophy? Training philosophy?
  • How many handlers are on the floor?
  • How many dogs are there?
  • Dog Health Considerations
I walked through the whole daycare, and spoke with the manager regarding my concerns (this was back in September). We ended up not signing up for daycare because I didn't think Ziva was ready.
    • We then enrolled her into doggy classes to get her started in agility, the goal being to continue desensitizing her in a safe environment while increasing her self esteem and confidence around other dogs.Training Through Shaping.
Doggy Daycare:
  • Due to my school/work schedule (hubby gets home too late to help with this problem) we signed up for daycare this term because we needed the help.
  • Our daycare requires proof of current vaccinations, as well as a current fecal test.
    • The bordatello vaccination needs to be renewed every 6 months for daycare.
  • Our daycare does not separate dogs by size or breed, Ziva has had issues with tiny dogs - this is a great way for her to be around and learn to accept dogs of all sizes! 
  • Their are 2-3 trainers with about 15-20 dogs, the dogs are kept mostly indoors but their is a large garage style door that opens up to a securely fenced outdoor area for play/potty outside. 
    • Inside the daycare area it is wide and open, the floor is made up of a thick black mat for easy cleanup, it also helps with traction to prevent injury (they dogs can't slide on this floor), it is also more comfy to lay on than concrete would be.
    • During the warmer months a pool is placed outside for the dogs to play in.
  • Their are no toys but their is a play set for the dogs, they daycare does not use toys or treats because they want the dogs to interact and be social - they also want to prevent any potential problems such as possessive behaviors.
    • The work with the dogs using lots of praise, but just in case they have spray bottles to break up any issues if their happens to be one.
  • I can watch my pups on a live webcam!
  • Their is a lineup of crates - if a dog becomes too excited, nervous, or just needs to calm down the crates are used as a sort of "time out". They are never in for long, just a few minutes, but it gives them a chance to relax. For nervous dogs they place a blanket over the crate to create a dark safe place for the dog inside.
  • All the trainers carry a slip lead to quickly and easily separate dogs if needed or to remove a dog that is playing to rough from the group. Sometimes all they do is loop the dog and walk him away to cool off next to the trainer before being released.
I have to admit it I was a bit nervous dropping the pups off this morning! For the first day of daycare they only do a half day - and they have to be the first dogs there so that it isn't as overwhelming. On their second visit they may be checked in during regular times.

Ziva did it! 

Dante and Ziva were the first dogs there.
Look at her! She's surrounded and doing great!
There she is in the middle getting some love!
The Great Pyrenees was her buddy!
Can't forget about Dante! He had fun too!
Way to go puppy! The power of the pack will finish building up her self confidence, especially since we're also doing agility starting this month!

We are participating in Awww Monday's hosted by Comedy Plus, and Mischief Monday hosted by Alfies Blog, Snoopy's Dog Blog, and My Brown Newfies.


  1. I love the webcam! That is so neat. I wish we had daycares like that around here.

    So glad to hear both pups had a great time. I'd like to put Bain in daycare once a week to change things up for him, he loves other dogs.

    1. I bet Bain would do great in daycare! It's a good way to also help wear them out. :-)

  2. That's awesome Ziva did well at her first doggie daycare trip!! I love that they have webcams!

    1. The webcams were definitely a selling point! I love that I can look in and see what is going on, also I think it helps keep the quality of care high. :-)

  3. Awww, you are a great dog owner. You care for your baby. You do all the things that need doing. This is pawsome and then some.

    Thanks for joining Awww Mondays too. It means more than you know.

    Have a woof woof Awww Monday all week long. ☺

    1. Thanks! We certainly work hard, so it's nice to see improvement on things we've had issues with in the past. :-)


  4. what a great way to help you and your dog! yippee!

    1. Definitely took a load off our shoulders. :-) We were crossing our fingers in the beginning.

  5. THAT is so awesome!! All your hard work paying off, I hope you gave yourself a big pat on the back. And Congrats on school too, that's also a great accomplishment.

    1. Oh yes, not to toot my own horn but I've been walking on clouds all week! We feel very accomplished, we put a lot of hard work and effort into helping her accept other dogs and be less reactive. The doggy daycare was a scary last step but we really felt that if she could handle it then it would be the final step in solidifying her social interactions with other dogs - and it's gone better than we could have imagined!
      She was a little snarky day 2 for about the first 15 min, but then she settled down and became really interactive and playful towards the other dogs. The handlers even called her a social Ziva?! Shocker there, but hooray! :-)

  6. Aww, I'm so proud of your dogs. They did so well! I would have been a nervous wreck too. I had to leave my German Shepherd in a top-of-the-line facility for a week one time and I couldn't wait to get back to see her. She did fine, thankfully. We'd had a lot of fear aggression problems with her too, fear of other dogs, and I spent a lot of time and several terms of dog obedience classes and agility to get her straightened out. Thanks for what you do for your guys. :)

    1. I love finding other people who love their furbabies as much as us. Thank you for the time you too put into your German Shepherd. :-)


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