Well, bet that got your attention huh? Today I want to talk to you about balls in daycare. No, not the bouncy kind that you throw (though a quick note on that topic- did you know that tennis balls are incredibly abrasive on your dogs teeth, and can do a huge amount of damage? More info here.)
Today I want to talk to you about entire dogs in daycare. This is often a sensitive topic, for both owners, dogs and daycare staff alike. I have the unique opportunity to share with you my views from both sides! I myself own an entire male and had a bitch that was entire for her whole life. I have also worked in some of the busiest daycares and kennels in New Zealand. In my considerable experience, *most* entire dogs have a hard time at daycare.
Most daycares are designed for group interactions. And most daycares have a fairly strict policy about neutering… Why is that? And what is the most common feedback we receive about entire males?
Unwanted behaviours: Licking, humping, following, being pushy or aggressive.
What do you do to prevent these unwanted behaviours?
First off: these are all normal behaviours and can occur in desexed dogs. However- they become a problem when they become obsessive.
Our staff are trained to interrupt and redirect any problem behaviour. It becomes are problem when the dog is insistent, and not responding well to staff. The honest truth is; *most* staff at *most* daycares do not have time to strictly monitor one dog, all day. This is unfair to our other clients, and just isn’t possible in most social settings.
Another issue I have frequently seen, is entire dogs being targeted by neutered dogs. Entire dogs smell very different than those dogs who are neutered or spayed and will become the center of attention in a pack setting. Those dogs may feel picked on, or receive far too much attention for their comfort level.
Why is my entire dog humping?
Humping is a normal means of communication between dogs, but it is heavily discouraged in a daycare setting as it can cause offense to some dogs. Entire dogs are much more likely to hump due to all that extra testosterone- and they don’t often get an appropriate outlet for these urges. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be?
Why are you excluding entire females?
Entire females present a few different difficulties for us. For one; it can be really dangerous if we receive a female in heat that an owner has not noticed. Even though the staff will notice quickly, we do not have the facilities to separate an entire female out, and this can upset the balance of our play groups if they realise there is a girl in heat nearby!
Females in season need to skip daycare for 3-6 weeks while they are in season. As we run our daycare by pickup and delivery, this means we need to hold an empty spot in the van which could be taken by another client.
Some entire females still smell really ‘good’, even when they’re not in season and can cause possessive behaviours from other dogs in the group.
I’ve been told my dog is humping at daycare, but I’ve never seen him do this at the dog park?
You very well might not see any of these behaviours at home or at the park - daycare is a completely different setting! A group of dogs, in a large, confined area (well, at least at Dogs Galore. They have free run of big paddocks!) with a couple of staff present for 6-8 hours. This is so different from a trip to the park with some other pooches, where all owners are present and watching their own dogs, and only there for an hour or two.
Why is it not a case by case basis?
Put simply- we have reached the capacity where it is easiest for everyone involved to have a blanket rule for all dogs. By setting a clear expectation of what is required to attend daycare, we can avoid hurt feelings or upset owners when their dog needs to be excluded due to their behaviour.
Am I a bad dog owner? Can training help?
No, you are not a bad dog owner! In some cases, training can help, but as mentioned above, daycare is a very specific scenario. We do not have the capacity to work with a dog on a 1-1 basis the entire day.