One of the things that hasn’t changed over the generations—or even centuries—is that “man’s best friend,” the dog, continues to be a popular addition to a home as a pet, or just as a four-legged member of the family. The worldwide popularity of dogs is just as vibrant here in Australia as it is anywhere else on the globe.
Unfortunately, even if the popularity of the dog as a pet hasn’t changed, a lot of things about our lifestyle in the 21st century have. Life, especially in urban centres, is a lot more fast-paced and demanding. On top of that, in heavily populated areas, space, understandably, is at a premium. For people that choose to have goldfish, ro-dents, or even cats as pets, this isn’t as difficult a situation, even when people are working longer hours, spend-ing more time away from home.
But if you have a dog, and you really care about your canine companion, things become a bit more challenging, especially if you have a larger breed. With more people in cities living a condo/apartment lifestyle, then working fulltime on top of that, being able to take proper care of a dog can be a real test. One of the ways that this problem is being addressed is with the rise of the “Doggy Day Care.”
If you’re not sure what this is, or whether it’s right for you and your dog, here’s what a doggy day care can do for you.
While a cat, hamster or goldfish can sit in a small apartment for an entire day and be fine with that daily sched-ule, a dog, even a small one, is different. Dogs are, by nature, pack animals, and they bond closely with their owners and families, requiring a lot of contact. In other words, dogs, left to themselves, don’t just sleep during the day, they get bored and lonely. Over a long enough period of time, this can have an effect on their psychology, in the same way, extended isolation has profound effects on people.
The other issue is, of course, toilet needs. Your dog may be paper trained, or may not be, but keeping the dog locked up in your home during the day because you’re not home means accepting that certain toilet activities may have to take place indoors. The other option is keeping your dog locked up in the yard if you have one. Even then, if the dog acts up and starts barking, you’re not there to enforce discipline, and if the dog does relieve him or herself, it will remain uncleaned until you return home.
On top of all this, there is the activity level, an especially pressing concern for larger dogs. Large breeds are athletic, they need space to roam and even run. If you keep a dog in an apartment or condo, you can’t give your dog proper exercise until you get home, assuming you have the time and energy after a hard day’s work to do so. If you keep your dog in a yard, it’s possible to move around a little, but depending on the size of the yard, this may not be sufficient.
All of which is to say that when you’re not at home, with your dog, your dog’s life is effectively “on hold” until you return.
Dogs, like people, are primarily diurnal, which means they are animals that are active during the day. Unlike you, however, who will be going to work during the “prime time” when you are at your most efficient and energetic, a dog left alone at home spends what should be “prime time” doing not much of anything except waiting for you to come back. Then they enjoy a few brief hours with you until you go to bed to rest for the next day.
This is where the doggy day care can be invaluable for anyone that really loves their canine family member. As with a quality children’s day care, a doggy day care isn’t just some place for your dog to kill time until you get home. A doggy day care can actually be a healthy, enriching experience that improves your dog’s quality of life in ways you might not be able to provide at all if you have a demanding schedule.
Doggy day cares are full-featured facilities that ensure your dog is getting the proper care, stimulation, and companionship during the most active and alert part of the day if you have other daytime commitments like a career. With a combination of caring staff, generous space, and, of course, other animals to roam with, your dog can keep busy and productive at the same time as you are!
You might have a high energy dog that needs to run and roam. Or you may have a very social dog that is at his or her happiest when interacting with other dogs and other people. Or perhaps you even have a dog that may have some very specific timing for meals or even medication, and your schedule won’t allow you the proper time to take care of this.
A doggy day care provides a safe haven where all your dog’s needs can be looked after. Good, professional doggy day cares provide experienced staff that—naturally—are good with dogs and enjoy caring for them, so your dog gets proper human supervision and interaction during the day.
On top of this, however, there are other dogs also staying at the doggy day care, so your dog will get the chance to “run with a pack” and get some healthy exercise in a suitably spacious area along with other dogs. This is an extremely productive way for your dog to get some healthy exercise while also getting some much needed canine interaction if your dog is very sociable.
If your dog has any specific needs, these can be relayed to the staff in order to take care of specific dietary or medical requirements. This also means that if your dog has any medical conditions that may require a visit to the vet, the staff at the doggy day care can take care of this and keep you updated, rather than you finding out your dog needed veterinary attention only after coming home from work.
Of course, if you decide that maybe a doggy day care might be a solution for you and your dog, you want to make sure this is actually an improvement in the quality of your dog’s life. The doggy day care concept is a relatively recent one, which means that there isn’t yet the same type of stringent licensing and regulatory requirements for this industry as more established fields—such as veterinary medicine—have.
Unfortunately, that does mean that for more unscrupulous scam artists that are seizing a financial opportunity, signing a dog over to the wrong doggy day care could mean you’re simply paying to have your animal stuck in a cage all day. Obviously, in a situation like that, your dog would be healthier and happier simply waiting for you at home. But then there are the committed doggy day cares that love canines just as much as you do, and are genuinely striving to keep their charges stimulated, active and happy while during the day.
Take the advice of friends that have tried different doggy day cares if you can. Also, keep an eye out for online reviews of various doggy day cares. The ones with poor service and low standards will immediately stick out with many negative reviews. However, with the right, quality facility and staff a doggy day care can actually improve your dog’s life while you’re at work!