Should I Send My Aggressive Dog to Daycare?

Jack Russell Terrier being walked
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Doggie daycare can benefit busy owners and pets, but for some canines, daycare is not a viable option. 

The most important factor when deciding on daycare is whether or not your dog is comfortable around other dogs.  Recently I received a call about an aggressive dog. The owner wanted to put him in daycare to “get him over his issues.”  Some dogs simply don’t enjoy the presence of other dogs, and daycare is not a solution for aggression or fear, and can actually make it worse. This can also put your dog, and others, at risk of injury. If your dog shows signs of aggression with other dogs or people, consult your veterinarian for advice on how to modify this behavior, and forego doggie daycare for now.

There are numerous benefits that make doggie daycare a growing trend.  Dog interaction is both a physical and mental workout for dogs because they learn to navigate social and play situations. This makes it a great solution for working pet parents who want a tired dog when they return home. A dog that gets ample mental and physical stimulation is less likely to exhibit certain canine behavior issues, such as destructive chewing. 

Daycare can make transitions easier for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety from their owners, because they receive attention from caretakers supervising dog play.  Daycare also provides an alternative to leaving dogs at home, while still protecting them from weather extremes which can have devastating effects on dogs left in the car for even a few minutes.   

Although there are plenty of benefits to doggie daycares, there are also drawbacks -- even if your dog is friendly with other dogs.  Regardless of how well socialized your dog is, you don’t have control over every canine coming in contact with your dog.  Although most daycares have constant supervision, not all dog care workers know how to properly read body language to tell if a situation is making a dog fearful or uncomfortable. There are occasional fights at daycares, leaving some element of risk.  Bad manners can also develop at daycares.  Some facilities don’t have access to the outdoors to allow dogs to relieve themselves, meaning the linoleum or other flooring becomes the toilet.  Even though messes are usually cleaned up immediately by a care professional, some housetrained pooches can become confused about whether or not it’s okay to go to the bathroom inside their home too.  However, most dogs can separate daycare from their home environment, especially since their home doesn’t have the same menagerie of smells which encourages marking.    

When I go to work, not only am I in the habit of dropping off my daughter at her babysitter's, but I also make the trip across town to drop off my pugs at their favorite destination, doggie daycare.  When they return home they are both exhausted, but content and ready to lie down on the couch for some much needed cuddle time.

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