Spokesdog's Canine Couch
A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich
On Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Technology to be Unveiled to Help Reunite Lost Pets and Owners Following Disasters
American Humane Association and The Weather Channel team up with mobiPET™,
to launch first-ever mobile service to send out digital photo “AMBER Alerts” for pets
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest weather-related disasters in American history made landfall in Louisiana, wreaking havoc, taking more than 1,800 lives, and stranding more than 250,000 pets. American Humane Association’s Red Star Rescue team was there on the ground in the days after the storm, rescuing pets and reuniting them with their owners – making families whole again.
Now, just in time for the tenth anniversary of that historic disaster, American Humane Association, which has saved and sheltered millions of animals over the past 100 years (http://bit.ly/1hi2Ygg), is teaming up with The Weather Channel and mobiPET™ (www.mobipet.me) to unveil a new, high-tech, visual “AMBER Alert” for missing pets that not only will help reunite lost pets with their owners, but will help raise funds to help animals in need all across the country.
Basic Service Free
MobiPET is the first mobile image and information service designed to increase the chances that families will find their lost dogs or cats. Pet owners can register via computer or mobile device, but must use a smartphone or text-enabled cellphone to submit a lost pet alert. Owners simply upload their pet’s image and contact information at www.mobipet.me to register each pet and receive the web app for their phone. If the dog or cat runs off pet owners can text the word “LOST” to email@example.com. Smartphone owners can either text or open the web app and click on “Lost a Pet.” The basic registration is free and mobiPET will donate 10 percent of all premium service subscriptions to American Humane Association when pet parents include “AHA” on the referral line. Basic subscribers’ lost pet alert will trigger an immediate email blast to their vet and all registered pet owners and pet finders in a two-mile radius. Premium service subscribers’ paid lifetime alert will reach animal shelters and control centers within a 30-mile radius and will protect their pet while traveling. They will also receive a flyer to print, post on social media or email.
Butler the Weather Channel Therapy Dog Enlists to Show How Easy Signing Up Is
To show how easy signing up is and encourage pet owners to take advantage of this service, Butler the Weather Channel Therapy Dog, who travels the country bringing hope and healing to communities hurt by natural disasters, is becoming an early adopter and will become one of the first dogs to enlist in the program. On average it takes three minutes to enroll – minutes that can make a significant difference when faced with a disaster.
Help for Pet Owners in Disaster Areas Where Red Star Deploys
American Humane Association’s century-old Red Star® Rescue program, which comes to the aid of lost, missing and homeless pets following hurricanes, tornadoes and floods has enlisted mobiPET to help find and reunite owners with their pets following weather-related or other disasters. Any pet owner who loses a pet in a disaster area to which Red Star deploys and who owns a smartphone or text-enabled cellphone can go to the websites of mobiPET (http://mobipet.me/?ref=AHA), The Weather Channel’s Connect with Weather site (www.connectwithweather.com/our-partners), or American Humane Association (www.americanhumane.org) and upload their missing pet’s photo from the owner’s computer or cell phone.
Generally, non-registered owners whose pet becomes lost can access the service for a $50.00 emergency registration fee, but during a Red Star deployment, mobiPet is waiving the fee for those within the disaster area.
10 Million Pets Lost Each Year
In addition to disasters, this new service will also help find pets who are lost.
Some 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in this country every year and the mobiPET partnership aims to increase the number of happy endings to these traumatic episodes.
“Whether it’s as low tech as adding a phone number to a pet tag or high tech as storing your best friends’ pictures in a digital database, it is important to do anything you can to help prevent the heartbreak of losing a pet forever before the animal goes missing,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “While the vast majority of pets are found and returned, significant numbers of dogs and cats are taken to shelters where reunion rates are low because contact information is out of date or completely missing.”
“Microchips are only good when the animal is found, the chip scanned, and if owners’ information is current. We saw the chance for mobile technology to lead by addressing the ‘lost’ part of the process,” according to Dave Ropes, co-founder and Chief Pet-Finder of Bluffton, SC-based mobiPet, adding, “mobiPET helps owners, pets, animal shelters and rescue groups. Our goal is to donate 15% of our revenues annually to American Humane Association and to local shelters who help promote pet/owner registrations.”
“During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, far too many owners were unable to find and be reunited with their beloved pets,” said Ganzert. “This is tragic for the animals as well as the owners, and puts additional physical and emotional strain on shelters and volunteers. We encourage advance preparedness for all pet owners, including updating vet records and signing up for mobiPET before there’s a weather emergency.”
Pet owners in the U.S. are encouraged to visit www.mobiPet.me, www.AmericanHumane.org or www.connectwithweather.com/our-partners to learn more about the Red Star® Rescue program partnership, register their dog or cat and help support the American Humane Association’s efforts to help animals in need.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.
About Red Star® Rescue
American Humane Association’s Red Star program was created in 1916 at the request of the U.S. Secretary of War specifically to rescue war horses on the battlefields of World War I Europe. Since then, Red Star has been rescuing animals of every kind and have been involved in virtually every major disaster relief effort from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Joplin, Missouri and Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes, the Japanese and Haitian earthquakes, and Superstorm Sandy. Over just the past ten years Red Star teams have saved, helped and sheltered more than 80,000 animals.
mobiPET™ was cofounded in 2012 by Aram Kovach, CEO of Mobius International and David Ropes, a former senior marketing executive and Vietnam veteran. mobiPET sends out an immediate photo alert for your missing pet. mobiPET offers a free basic subscription service along with two premium offerings for your pet(s). mobiPET works across all cell phones with a text plan and all carriers. Based in Bluffton, SC, mobiPET’s corporate mission is to reunite as many lost pets with their owners as possible and to donate 15% of the company’s annual revenues to non-profit animal rescue and shelter organizations. mobiPET has been in test market in the Bluffton/Hilton Head, SC area since October 2013, as well as The Villages community in Florida since June 2015.
What’s Your Inspiration to Walk?
When you Walk for the Animals you’re helping pets like Chaz, a 4-month-old kitty who needed extra time in foster care to help him grow.
Chaz was born with Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a condition that results in walking and balance problems. While in foster care, Chaz received the time and medical attention he needed to grow before becoming available for adoption. Thanks to caring supporters like you, we are able to continue the growth of our foster care program and help more special pets just like Chaz. See him now in his very own video!
Whether you’re walking on behalf of foster pets like Chaz or your own furry friends, find your inspiration and register to Walk today. The early bird discount is extended through Sept. 1 so REGISTER NOW for $5 off with code TailWaggin15.
A special thank you to our presenting sponsor, The Safeway Foundation.
In honor of National Senior Citizens Day, Seattle Humane is offering people 60 years and older discounts on senior pet adoptions, Friday, August 21 through Sunday, August 23. “Seniors for Seniors” features no adoption fee for cats 7 years and up, and $50 off adoption fees for dogs 7 and older.
From no more puppy teething to already house-trained to a fondness for cat naps, there are many reasons why senior pets make the best companions. Read 10 reasons why adopting a senior dog or cat is the quickest way to integrate a loving new companion into your home.
View available pets online at seattlehumane.org or come visit them in person. We’re located in Bellevue at 13212 SE Eastgate Way near the junction of I-90 and I-405. Seattle Humane is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun.-Wed. All Seattle Humane pets are spayed/neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated.
ABOUT Seattle Humane
Founded in 1897, Seattle Humane proudly promotes the human-animal bond by saving and serving pets in need. We provide adoption services 7 days a week, plus pet workshops and training, a pet food bank, a low-fee spay/neuter surgery program, humane teen club, a visiting pets program and more. Seattle Humane is located in Bellevue, at 13212 SE Eastgate Way. For directions and more information, visit ww
Does your dog suffer from anxiety or phobias caused by thunder or fireworks and a loving hug
from you just won’t do? Then you may want to consider a unique garment called the
Thundershirt that may hug away your pet’s fear.
It all started with the Thundershirt’s founder, Phil Blizzard whose dog Dosi, like
many dogs was frightened by fireworks and thunderstorms. Phil went down the usual
path of reaching out to his Vet who suggested medication. Phil was not so keen
on medicating his dog so continued his search for help and and spoke with trainers who
offered behavioral modification techniques such as CC (counter conditioning) and
desensitization exercises. Excellent suggestions but time consuming. A friend of Phil’s
recommended putting a t-shirt on Dosi to be used as a snug wrap. Phil used duct tape to snug
the t-shirt up. The goal was to swaddle the dog like swaddling and infant, a technique used
to help the infant feel secure. It seemed to work for Phil’s dog and the Thundershirt was developed.
Dr. Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University is known for
showing that pressure can be used to reduce tension and anxiety in autistic children as it
seemed to have a calming effect on the nervous system. Anxiety wrap garments like the ThunderShirt
was developed to copy that swaddling technique to provide comfort for dogs experiencing phobias
and anxiety as well and said to also to calm the dog’s nervous system.
It has been suggested by Dr. Ian Dunbar who tested another wrap-type garment
created to address thunder phobia that further testing is needed from the scientific
community to prove any real benefit from these garments.
The company’s website and promo material state the Thundershirt is a proven solution for
many types of canine or feline anxieties such as fireworks, thunderstorms, separation anxiety, and
excitability at the door with no training required. The company statement of no training required
captured the attention of many pet parents and this product became quite popular.
Some dog owners like Phil who do not want to just throw a pill at the problem jump on
the anxiety wrap couture wagon as an option to help the family pet cope with specific
phobias. An anxiety wrap does not cure the various diagnosed anxiety conditions
for which it is used but may, in some cases offer the pet some relief from a particular anxiety.
Some dogs present such severe anxiety due to thunderstorms or fireworks they can endanger
themselves if not contained in a room or crate but that containment can exacerbate the anxiety.
Heartbreaking for any loving pet parent watching the family pet exhibit even a mild
meltdown due to any phobia.
The testimonials on the company website lean towards owners observing a positive
change in the dog’s reaction to stimuli that once triggered anxious behavior. There are many
other consumers who do not observe any reduction in their pet’s anxiety level.
When a company rep reached out to me to review this garment my
response was that Chase, my Doberman has zero fear of anything that comes to mind
and has never presented any anxiety before or during storms or during fireworks.
He does present some excitability and arousal around specific stimuli so I thought I
would set him up see if it worked in these situations. Unfortunately, I did not observe
any reduction of arousal.
I did note however that the first couple times I put the Thundershirt on him, he
chose not to move a muscle. He just stood there until I encouraged him to move around.
He is used to snug fitting coats during winter hikes so I did not think there would have
been any issue. His comfort level improved but the snug garment seemed to be problematic for him.
The material used for the Thundershirt is stretchy and the manufacturer
states breathable. I would exercise caution leaving the garment on the pet for too long in warm weather.
Velcro is used to attach and snug up the flaps to the garment. It is important that the wrap
is snug but not too tight and it is important the dog is measured properly before purchase
so the fit is spot on. For deep chested breeds like Dobermans, the fit is not easy
to snug up properly.
As a behavior specialist, I am a strong believer in working with an owner to set up
behavior modification techniques to help a dog learn to cope and possibly move past
a fear or phobia. I also know, like others in my profession who help owners with behavioral modification
strategies that the process implementing CC and desensitization techniques takes time
and patience and unfortunately will not offer the owner immediate desired results so the
average pet owner’s motivation wanes. A behavior expert may also suggest alternative remedies
to contribute to the dog’s overall well-being.
In conclusion, I spoke with clients, friends , Vets and retail employees who have either used
this garment or recommended its use and I received mixed reviews as to its success.
About 50% observed little to no positive effect but with 50% stating it has proven
beneficial to some degree it is certainly worth a try. Some clients told me they
also gave their dog herbal remedies along with using the garment.
Sizes from xxsmall to xxlarge range from $39.95-$44.95 via the company website. The Thundershirt
is also available on Amazon and at many retail pet stores.
I would be interested in hearing of your experiences using the Thundershirt.
Please feel free to email me at the address below.
First time for Obedience Competition
at America’s Dog Show
The Westminster Kennel Club will expand its activities next February in New York City with the addition of The Masters Obedience Championship at Westminster.
The Masters Obedience Championship at Westminster will be an invitation-only competition. It will mark the first time that obedience competition has been held as part of Westminster and, like agility, mixed breed dogs are eligible to compete.
The obedience competition will consist primarily of existing AKC approved Open and Utility Exercises. Not all exercises will be included and some, including the group exercises, may be slightly modified. Invitations will be sent to the top 150 dogs based on OTCH points earned between January 1, 2015 and October 31, 2015. Invitations will be mailed in late November. The entry limit is 35 and entries will be compiled on a first-received basis.
Obedience competition first became an AKC activity in the mid-1930s, but this marks Westminster’s first venture into this popular canine sport. Mrs. Sharon Ann Redmer of Whitmore Lake, MI will serve as the judge for this historic event.
The 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 15-16, serves as the centerpiece of Westminster Week, with all events presented by Purina Pro Plan.
The obedience event will also take place on Monday during the day in the same location as the breed judging (Piers 92 and 94). The competition joins the dog show and the Third Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster, which takes place on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Pier 94.
The agility, the breed judging in the dog show, and obedience will all be held at Piers 92 and 94, with the Groups and Best in Show for the dog show happening Monday and Tuesday evenings at Madison Square Garden.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
HUGE Sale on Pet Food, Time to Stock Up
Location: 12534 120th Ave
Totem Lake Upper Mall next to Big 5
When: Saturday, August 8 from 9am-8pm
Sunday, Aug 9th from 10am-6pm
Buy any size bag of dog food and get the second bag at half price.
Buy one can or case and get the second can or case at half price.
Many pet supplies are also on sale.
Pet food and aquarium vendors available for questions.
Don’t miss out on your chance to buy Freshwater fish
saltwater fish and aquariums on sale!
I will be there as well, please bring your dog and come
by my table to say hi. Happy to answer questions about dog
behavior, training, pet therapy. It’s free.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
|ABOUT Seattle Humane
Founded in 1897, Seattle Humane proudly promotes the human-animal bond by saving and serving pets in need. We provide adoption services 7 days a week, plus pet workshops and training, a pet food bank, a low-fee spay/neuter surgery program, humane teen club, a visiting pets program and more. Seattle Humane is located in Bellevue, at 13212 SE Eastgate Way. For directions and more information, visit www.seattlehumane.org or call (425) 641-0080.
Guest blog By Stuart Furman, Esq.
Our pets are often as much a beloved part of the family as are our children, yet they are all too often the forgotten loved ones when it comes to estate planning. With our nations senior population expected to double from 2012 to 2050, that means hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pets are at risk.
Should we, or our loved one, need to be moved into a care facility, or worse, pass on, there should be a plan in place that has the pet’s and owner’s best interests in mind. In an owner’s’ sudden absence, animals can show signs of anxiety that may be mistaken for aggression, sadly resulting in being sent to an animal shelter or worse, put down. This would likely be devastating to the senior and not what they would want for their beloved pet.
Although you cant replace the seniors own voice, touch, how he/she plays with the pet, or just how he or she spends time walking the dog. The best that can be done is to have all of the alternatives well established in case the pet must be separated from its trusted friend.
A pet estate plan should include the following:
1. The Pets medications and health history must be clearly articulated.
Like humans, pets often take medications. Is there a medication list? Dosages identified? Times of administering the medications listed? Veterinarian identified? Emergency hospital identified? If the senior is incapacitated, these items cannot be communicated.
2. Alternative living locations must be identified.
If the senior needs to go to the hospital for a short stay, where will the pet live on a temporary basis? Is there a boarding home that has already been selected? Is there a friend or relative to be the caretaker for the pet until the senior returns?
If there is a catastrophic event with the senior, where he or she passes away or must move to a facility where pets are not allowed, where will the pet reside on a permanent basis? Has the pet been previously introduced to this person? Has the person consented in advance? Are there funds to support the pet identified in the seniors estate plan? If the worst happens, is there a no-kill shelter identified that will take the pet?
3. Pets attributes must be identified.
Tragically there are many animals that are needlessly killed or destroyed by others due to the pet not being understood. Dogs in particular can be possessive and territorial. They sense stress and tragedy and react as you would expect. Understanding the characteristics is important to protect the animal from needless harm since they cannot communicate on their own. Their character must be articulated and should include aggressive tendencies, if any, their territorial nature, their habits, bowel habits, whether they are crate-trained, and other characteristics that may affect how the pet is treated by third parties under stressful conditions.
4. Pet records must be identified and accessible.
There is no Pet-Veterinarian Privilege but if the location of records and contact information is not available, then caring for the pet can be more difficult. Has the pet been inoculated? Are they current? Where are the records located? It is not uncommon for a pet to have had more than one Vet over its lifetime. The records may be scattered among several Veterinarian offices. Where are the records location? Is there a chip implant? What is the company name, code and password to communicate with the chip company?
5. The pets diet and other food must be clearly identified.
What is the regular food, feeding times, amounts? Many pets have digestion issues if food is changed which can be very messy. Are allergies identified?
6. Pet provisions must be drafted into the seniors estate plan in case of death.
The people that will take the pet must be identified in the estate plan. Funding for the ongoing care needs to be clearly articulated.
After watching thousands of families struggle through the eldercare process, I wrote a book and accompanying guide, including a chapter just on pets, that takes out all the guesswork for families starting their eldercare journey by packing all the necessary information into one place. Whether you go it alone or use an estate-planning attorney, I cant emphasize enough the importance of planning ahead.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stuart Furman, Esq., is an elder law attorney of 34 years. He is President of the Southern California Legal Center, Inc. and author of The ElderCare Ready Book (2015) and The ElderCare Ready Pack (2015). For further information, please visit www.eldercareready.com.
A Guide to Common Canine Ailments, By John Bloxham, D.V.M.
By the age of 12, Dr. John Bloxham knew he wanted to be a Veterinarian and
that young boy grew up to be just that, a Vet. Looking back over 50 years of Veterinary
service, Dr. Jack decided to write a guide for pet parents covering common
canine ailments. This passionate Vet cuts to the chase in a no nonsense approach
breaking down his topics from the dog’s nose to the dog’s toes.
Dr. Jack states “if you take your dog to 10 different Vets you
would end up with 5 or 6 different opinions.”
He goes on to say, “there are no absolutes in diagnosing
and treating illnesses.”
Case and point, one of this Vet’s topics briefly covered Lipomas.
Any lump or bump on your pet should be checked out by your Vet
and most of the time lipomas are benign fatty tumors. Many breeds,
like my breed, Dobermans are prone to lipomas and my dog’s Vet believes in
letting them alone unless they are impacting the dog’s comfort or pose
a health risk. Dr. Bloxham believes in removing lipomas if they get bigger than a quarter.
The author offers an uncomplicated, easy to understand explanation of a variety
of health conditions along with options for treatment. Dr. Bloxham is a very matter of fact
author, compassionate about animals and their people and does not sugar coat his opinions
about canine care. It is a style of communication I look for when selecting my dog’s Veterinarian.
I recommend this book.
For more information, please visit http://www.drjacksdogfacts.com
“Dr. Jack’s Dog Facts: A Guide to Common Canine Ailments”
Retail price: $13.95
About the Author
Dr. Jack (John) Bloxham has practiced veterinary medicine for over fifty
years since his graduation from Auburn University. Having practiced both with
large animals and small, he has enjoyed having fostered wonderful relationships with
his four legged patients and their owners. Dr. Jack has been appreciated as an excellent
diagnostician and a skilled surgeon by his patients and technicians whom
have been fortunate enough to have worked with him. It has been estimated that
Dr. Jack has had many thousands of patients through the years!
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC
Pros and Cons of Doggie Daycare
c Diane Rich 2015
Pet Parents want the best for the family pooch and some parents may be concerned about
leaving the dog home alone all day. Help may be just around the corner.
Enter, doggie daycare.
Annual Pet Expeditures On the Rise
The doggie daycare business has continued a strong growth
pattern in most major cities over the past decade. Statistics from
The American Pet Products Association estimate total pet expenditures,
which includes daycare will reach over 60 billion dollars in 2015.
Catching the Scent of Investors and Others
What used to be a single operator daycare business has caught the scent of investors
and the doggie daycare business concept has hit the franchise market.
In addition, this demand for daycare was strong enough for a big box
pet store to add a Pet Hotel for boarding and daycare services.
Some breeders have jumped on the money train as well and offer boarding
and daycare exclusively to their puppy and adult dog customers.
The main “pro” for this opportunity is as long as the dogs are not just
warehoused and numbers don’t exceed proper supervision, the breeder has
a vested interest in the dogs under their care. Many breeders offer grooming as
well which adds to their bottom line.
Some commercial boarding facilities that once only warehoused hundreds of
dogs in separate dog runs charging customers extra for short daily dog
walks have expanded their real estate to include fenced play yards for daycare services.
It doesn’t stop there, some Veterinarians and groomers created or expanded
space to offer daycare. This service adds to their revenue stream.
$ to $$$$
Prices vary for daycare based on zip code and services provided.
Expect to pay anywhere from about $15 to $100 a day.
The Search Begins
The usual process to locate a daycare facility is getting referrals through
a friend, the dog’s Vet or trainer. If a referral isn’t available one can just google
doggie daycare plug in a zip code, read reviews and make a selection.
After zeroing in on a facility an owner makes a call or fills out an online form listed on
the company website. The next step is usually an invitation to bring the dog to that facility for an evaluation.
Ruh Roh; the Behavioral Evaluation
If you have chosen a daycare and they do not require an application, proof
of vaccinations or titer results and require an on- site behavioral evaluation find another daycare.
This on-site evaluation also gives the owner the opportunity to tour the facility.
If you are not allowed to tour the facility, that should be another red flag.
The canine evaluation is based on that employee or business owner’s ability to properly
evaluate the newcomer. Some business owners use their own dogs or specific
dogs to test out the newbie’s social skills. The challenge with this approach
is there are usually different dogs on different days and who knows if all will
In addition, an owner’s nerves may be on edge for this audition hoping for approval
which can also affect results. If your dog is approved, you can breathe
a sigh of relief, sign a contract and choose daycare days.
The Business Side
As with dog trainers, daycare operators just need a business license, not
expertise in dog behavior to open a daycare. Most daycare providers learn
on the job, which means learning on your dog.
Every daycare owner adheres to their own specific philosophy as to what
constitutes appropriate k-9 social skills. More importantly each facility
owner implements their own techniques as to how to manage a pack of dogs,
which includes how they will discipline unruly dogs, how they deal with excessive barking
and how they break up scuffles. Most customers believe the business owner and staff know what
they are doing and do not ask questions as they do not want to make waves.
Doggie daycare, like any business is bottom line driven and unfortunately dogs may be
approved that have no business or benefit being in that environment. To
maximize revenue the number of dogs accepted may increase under
the more tails the better philosophy.
The Pressure to Socialize the Family Dog
Daycare or dog parks in my opinion, should not be used to socialize dogs.
Dogs should already be socialized under the watchful eye and guidance of the pet
parent before they enter these environments.
c Diane Rich 2015
Small play groups organized by someone knowledgeable in canine behavior,
or just choosing one or two appropriate, dog friendly canine buddies can be
a good way to begin and maintain your dog’s social skills.
Is Day Care Glamorous?
Day care seems like a glamorous business being around wonderful dogs all day.
Many dog lovers romanticize this business thinking of dogs romping
and playing all day. This scenario does happen but there is more to it. Daycare
employees are playground directors, play buddies, cuddle buddies,
referees, pooper-scoopers, dishwashers, janitors and disciplinarians. If it were all fun and games
the attrition rate of daycare employees working in commercial businesses would not be so high.
The Pros and Cons
1. Socialization Benefits
If the dog has some social skills or is a social butterfly then with proper
supervision, daycare can be a wonderful environment if those skills are kept in check.
Keep in mind the population of dogs may change daily and some dogs only do well with
familiar buddies but not so much with new faces. Some dogs prefer the company
of humans to that of their own species and prefer to hang with the humans.
2. My Puppy Comes Home Tired So I’m Happy
I hear this statement frequently from clients. What the average dog owner may
not know is that the daycare environment is very stimulating, too stimulating
in some cases for some temperaments and can cause increased arousal with some dogs
around other dogs. So, the exhaustion a pet owner observes from their dog at the
end of the day could be more from stress than from romps with furry friends.
Busy work schedules may impact the owner’s ability or even motivation to
exercise the family pooch and it is left up to the daycare to provide that opportunity.
Some dogs are not interested in romping with other dogs and are much happier
with a structured activity like a hike. Some small daycare providers offer
this type of outlet.
4. Behavioral Changes
My clientele includes many dogs that may have had positive experiences
at daycare as a pup but as some of these dogs matured, behavioral problems developed such as:
- The previously social dog has become overly excited or overly aroused around other dogs
- Dogs that were great or tolerant around other dogs have become guarded and defensive if other dogs invade their personal space. Some breeds are just more sensitive to another dog invading personal space. Some dogs are not savvy reading other dog’s cues to back off or are just pushy trying to instigate play or some other interaction. And some dogs that cannot or just do not read cut off signals from another dog continue to be obnoxious pestering a dog to engage. In this case neither dog has a good time or if the pushy dog continues it can escalate into both dogs having a seriously bad time.
- Puppy owners are told daycare will help their shy dog gain confidence and those owners now are living with a dog that avoids other dogs, is shut down around other dogs or reactive towards other dogs. I work with many dogs that were shy around other dogs, attended daycare and with no escape at daycare became defensively aggressive around other dogs to keep other dogs at a distance. Sad and preventable.
- Dogs that were pushy around other dogs were been banned from daycare
as they became quite skilled at being a bully.
- Dogs that loved people with no prior issues of being approached by people developed hand shyness and now back off from any approach
- Dogs with no prior issue around high value items developed resource guarding behavior
What Can Happen Behind the Scenes Out of Web Cam Range
Many providers offer exceptional service to their clients. However this is not
always the case. About 15 years ago, a client who bought a local daycare
business hired me as a consultant. I was asked to conduct a workshop
where I met all the “wranglers” and discussed dog behavior, pack dynamics
and management, how to read dog behavior, how to be proactive to prevent a problem,
strategies to address the problem, and how to evaluate new dogs.
A couple of the young wranglers told me how experienced they were around dogs and stated they were
not really interested in the information. One employee told me in private almost bragging about
what he did to “naughty” dogs outside the view of the web cams. I was stunned by what he told me,
defined his behavior as dog abuse, and reported this to the business owner who seemed to turn a
deaf ear to this news. I was saddened by the business owner’s lack of follow through and the
only thing I could do at that point was refer clients elsewhere for daycare.
Picking a Daycare
1. What is the ratio for handlers to dogs? Rule of thumb is 1 person for every 10-12 dog
2.What techniques are used for discipline breaking up squabbles or excessive barking?
The current methods seem to be using a squirt bottle filled with either plain water
or water and vinegar to diffuse an issue. Some dogs are given time-outs and confined
in a crate or a dog run throughout the day. Other physical, old school methods
are used at some facilities.
3. Is the facility clean? Your nose knows. Being overpowered by strong disinfectant isn’t healthy for dogs either.
4. If it is an indoor facility where to the dogs potty? Many dogs just potty on the floor
5. What is the emergency plan should a dog get hurt or evacuation plan if there is a disaster?
6. Are dogs supervised at all times?
7. What vaccinations or health checks are required?
8. Do they alert you should there be an outbreak of kennel cough, flu, parvo, giardia or other parasite infestation?
9. Are dogs thrown together in a large group or separated based on size, age or play style?
10. Does the facility provide shelter from the elements, offer heat in the winter and keep dogs cool in the summer?
11. Are dogs allowed some peace, nap-time, chill-time away from the pack?
12. Is the play yard or indoor area escape proof ?
13. Is access by the public allowed to tour the facility supervised?
14. Is staff trained on dog behavior? This is a tough one for dog parents as most owners
do not really know what questions to ask and are at the mercy of the employee’s experience.
A well run daycare can provide a wonderful opportunity to offer the family dog social time and
an outlet for energetic dogs or young pups to blow off steam. However as a dog hits adolescence
and matures into adult-hood, social behavior may change and in some cases take a turn for the worse
in that environment. Some dogs prefer the company of humans rather than other dogs, some dogs
prefer a few dog buddies rather than a large group, some prefer more organized activities and some
dogs are either too shy or too pushy to be in a daycare environment.
Alternatives for consideration could include hiring an experienced dog walker
or looking to friends or co-workers with social dogs for playtime. Seattle is home to many
large corporations and small businesses that allow employees to bring dogs to work.
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC