Matchmaking for day-care
We get a lot of different shapes, sizes and personalities of dogs that come through the P&R doors so we often get asked we match the dogs up to ensure things are kept safe and fun.
I think first up, it is very important for parents when looking to send a dog to daycare that not all dogs love socializing or are able to thrive in a daycare situation. Think of it like a night club:
- some people love going clubbing and can have a great time;
- some people love going clubbing but are unable to hold their alcohol so it’s best to have restrictions on themselves for going out;
- some like going out occasionally but not all the time;
- some like going out and sitting on the edge watching everyone have fun; and finally
- some just don’t enjoy it at all!
There are lots of different things that come into play when accepting a dog into daycare:
- Vaccination – first there is the obvious, are they vaccinated
- Desexed – we allow pups to come up until 6 months un-desexed and then assess them on a case by case basis as to whether this may be extended at all.
- Sociability – the next thing we look for is behavior and ability to socialize with other dogs. This can be displayed in a number of ways. What we are looking for in accepting a dog is the ability to socialize and enjoy playing with other dogs, ability to share toys and food and how they engage and feed off the body language of other dogs, ensuring there is no history of not getting along with other dogs.
Once the temperament test is passed we get the dog started for their first day, quite often we suggest starting with a half day to ensure they are eased into it and on a Monday where we are able to have them in ‘Mellow Mondays’ for the more nervous dogs.
When it comes to selecting which group a dog is put into to play we begin with splitting by size to ensure the pups are matched up with other dogs of similar size to play with, secondly we consider play style. Play-styles are important because dogs need to play with other dogs that are an appropriate play-style match.
All staff are well trained in dog play-styles and the importance of appropriate matching and monitoring the play throughout the day. The day-care teachers intervene when required and are constantly adjusting classes to ensure all dogs are enjoying their day in a safe environment.
Like humans, they have preference for who their friends are and even the most social of dog may not enjoy friendships with others due to a multitude of different reasons and that’s totally okay as long as it is being displayed in a respectful way. Often the first few hours of our mornings are spent “match making”, like a big pool of dogs all out on a date and we are playing cupid to ensure they find their loves for that day. ????
We have some smaller dogs who struggle to adjust their enthusiastic play style to play with other dogs their size or smaller however when paired with bigger dogs are able to play beautifully and we also have some dogs that just flat our enjoy playing with other dogs either bigger or smaller and have a much better time.
On the other hand we do have some larger dogs that feel more comfortable in with the small dog room, particularly those that are less active and happy to just lounge around.
These are the things we are monitoring and watching closely to ensure that they are engaging nicely with other dogs without being ‘bullies’ or feeling bullied and that all the dogs are enjoying the experience as well.
There’s a lot more I could go into regarding dogs and daycare suitably and different things we can offer if it turns out a dog is not suitable or not having a good time so next time I’d like to discuss this as well the changes in behavior we often see in dogs for a multitude of different reasons and how we can work together to make the best choices for your pup.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments surrounding our acceptance process and “group splits” absolutely feel free to reach out and we are always more than happy to chat further.