While any dog can benefit from attending a doggy daycare facility rather than being left alone, there are three specific groups that really can use this personalized type of service. These three distinct groups include senior dogs, puppies and dogs that require any type of ongoing daily care.
Each one of these specific groups has needs that are different than dogs over one year that are trained, healthy, active and without any individual types of needs. Of course this doesn't mean that doggy daycares that provide activities, socialization and even a bit of training aren't a great idea for any dog, because they really are. Special groups of dogs, however, are often overlooked when considering doggy daycares when, in fact, they may be just the option the owner is seeking.
Senior dogs are not necessarily dogs that have reached a specific age, although most trainers, breeders and vets consider the term "senior" to indicate dogs over the age of seven years. For purposes of this discussion the dog's age is much less relevant than his or her overall health and activity level. Senior dogs, in this definition, will be dogs that are less likely to self-exercise, need frequent trips outside and perhaps have other health issues such as arthritis, hip dysplasia problems or other mobility problems.
Typically senior dogs are a lot like puppies and adult dogs, they enjoy being around other dogs and stay very social and playful well into their senior years. Unfortunately many senior dogs begin to become more sedate and less active if they aren't provided with routine interactions with other dogs to play and even just walk around and explore. Even though humans may take the dog for a walk in the morning and evening, by far the greatest amount of time for the dog is when he or she is left alone. Many senior dogs get into the habit of sleeping away this time, which keeps them out of trouble but also causes other problems.
Senior dogs with muscle and joint problems that are inactive most of the time and only exercise in short bursts such as going for a walk in the morning of the evening are more likely to have more significant movement problems. Dogs that have regular opportunities and encouragement to be up and mildly to moderately active will actually have better movement overall. This is because the muscles and joints stay flexible and in use rather than becoming stiff and sore from lack of use.
If you are taking a senior dog to a daycare be sure to talk to the staff and have them monitor the dog to avoid overstress or exercise, at least until the dog has built up to the desired exercise level. Many doggy daycares have special exercise times and even rest areas for senior dogs so they aren't necessarily always with younger, more active dogs. This is a great combination of down time as well as exercise time.
Since puppies are the hardest to leave by themselves due to housetraining, chewing and even barking, doggy daycares can offer the perfect answer. They can help with housetraining and getting the puppy quickly acclimatized to going outdoors or on paper, whatever your preference is. If you are leaving a puppy with a doggy daycare make sure they are using the housetraining method that you prefer and are using at home. Using two different methods for housetraining is only going to confuse the puppy so either communicate to the staff what you are doing at home or follow what they are doing if you don't already have a program in place.
Some doggy daycares offer in-house training for puppies or adult dogs. Like with housetraining you will need to know what commands, cues and methods they are using. If possible look for a doggy daycare that works with a well known professional dog trainer in your area and also offers classes for you and the puppy with the same trainer. This combination assures you that you will know how to work with the puppy plus you will also have regular contact with the trainer.
The socialization opportunities for puppies at a doggy daycare are really the icing on the cake. Every puppy, regardless of the breed, will benefit from having lots of regular interaction with other puppies and even older dogs. Since the staff at the daycare closely supervises this interaction it is great way for your puppy to learn to get along with other dogs. This will translate into a more well behaved puppy when you are out on walks or visiting your local off-leash dog run area.
Dogs With Special Needs
Occasionally there will be situations where dogs may have short or long term special needs. This could include medications that need to be given during the day or specific care that may be required after surgery, after having puppies or when recovering from an illness or medical condition. Typically the doggy daycare will need to have information from your vet as well as additional contact information and perhaps releases before they will admit dogs with these conditions. Some facilities will offer private kennels for dogs with these issues and limited interaction with the more active and boisterous dogs in the program.
This interaction with other dogs can be helpful in recovery and ongoing socialization rather than being isolated and left at home. Many doggy daycare facilities now offer the option to view the program via webcams, which can be a real advantage to monitoring your dog if they do have special requirements. This added technology can provide you with peace of mind but also helps you know all the wonderful things that the service is providing for your dog. It may also help with some training techniques and making things as consistent as possible between the doggy daycare and your house, regardless of what special needs your pooch may have.
Shop around until you find the dog daycare that suits the needs for yourself and your dog. Don't be afraid to make an appointment to view the facility and take the time to watch the staff interact with the dogs and other owners before making a final decision.