Do Dogs Grow Out of Doggy Daycare?
It happens quick – one day you’re hopping from one cookout to the next, meeting people and making new friends, and making it to Taco Bell right before they close; The next thing you know, you’re in your jammies by 6:30PM, setting your phone to do not disturb, and wondering when the neighbors will be done setting off fireworks. It’s not universal, but the age-old troupe states that we slow down as we get older. Things that were once exhilarating become exhausting. We become more set in our ways and less tolerant of things that never used to bother us. The same can be said for dogs.
When dogs are young they are full of energy and often oblivious to who they are bothering (think about that loud group of teenagers in the grocery store). It’s exciting for them to experience new things, meet new friends, and to be pushed out of their comfort zone in new ways. Canine To Five is the perfect place for young dogs to experience new and exciting things in a regulated environment.
HOW CANINE TO FIVE ACCOMMODATES VARIOUS STAGES OF LIFE
Our doggy daycare program offers structured playrooms to accommodate dogs at various life stages, comfort levels, and play styles.
- Our Puppy Preschool helps build puppy confidence and teaches dogs to communicate healthily and “politely”.
- Playrooms 1 & 2 absorb most of our puppy graduates, that’s where larger dogs get to run, jump, wrestle, and play.
- Our Serenity playroom is exactly what it sounds like – a serene spot where larger dogs can just lay around. Serenity is usually reserved for dogs who prefer not to have someone trying to play with them.
- Tiny Town offers a play and lounge space for adult dogs under 35 pounds.
- For dogs who would rather be with a person than in any of our other groups, Private Play is always an option.
It’s normal for a dog to move through all of our playrooms over the course of their lifetime. Just like us, dogs learn a lot when they are young. They are more resilient towards uncomfortable situations, and more tolerant of one another. Behaviors rooted in stress (fear, anxiety, overstimulation, etc.) are often quite workable when dogs are young and malleable. As dogs mature, stress-related behaviors tend to become more intense and more difficult to redirect.
MANAGING STRESS RELATED BEHAVIORS
It’s common for us to notice a stress-related behavior in a young dog that is still safely workable for the dog, our Pack Leaders, and the group. Space sensitivity is a common example – we may have a puppy who gets snappy at other pups when they crowd him. This is a normal communicator, and we can encourage the pup to make better decisions when he gets crowded. As he grows up, our Pack Leaders will continue to reinforce his healthy communicators, and help him regulate his arousal when his stress-related behaviors surface.
Even with this consistent structure, behaviors rooted in stress become more intense as dogs age. The space-sensitive pup will gain some great tools for working through his stress, but as he gets older, he may become more particular about who he tolerates. It’s normal for us to see a behavior that was already present become more extreme as a dog grows up. Situations that were once tolerable become stressful, and dogs become more certain about what they will and will not tolerate.
DONE WITH DAYCARE DOESN’T MEAN DONE WITH DOGS!
When a dog “ages out” of daycare, it’s not to say that they no longer enjoy being around dogs, or even playing at the dog park. Oftentimes, the daycare environment has just become too stimulating, or more simply – they’re over the excitement of that whole scene. As a dog’s stress behaviors increase with age, they are communicating to us that the environment isn’t as beneficial as it once was.
Canine To Five does not want to push a dog into a situation that will not be healthy, safe, or beneficial. We are paying close attention to the progression of the dogs in our care through their various life stages. Many of our Pack Leaders have been here for years, and they’ve watched some of our best friends grow from puppyhood all the way to old age. It is very sad when one of our dogs is dismissed from group play, but we know it’s what’s best for them and their personal comfort level. We can still accommodate these guys when it suits their needs – it just means we get to love on them extra in Private Play!