The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.
At Bark + Boarding, we’ve established a daycare evaluation process that works effectively. It’s a color-coded grading system to evaluate dogs on their first day of daycare. Green dogs are easy passes, while yellow dogs are those attendants need to watch more closely. Red is a dog that is currently not a good fit for our daycare environment.
What kinds of behaviors are we looking for and what does this grading system focus on?
Questions Before the Evaluation
Before we take your dog to the daycare area to begin the evaluation, we ask each client a series of questions. What are your reasons for daycare? Does your dog have off-leash social history? How old are they? Does your dog have resource guarding issues when sharing toys or food? Although we don’t allow food or toys in daycare, it tells us your dog could possibly become aggressive in other situations.
Does your dog have a strong prey drive? Most dogs see a squirrel or bunny and want to take chase. We want to make sure your dog knows the difference between a small dog and other small animals.
When they are upset, do they whine, bark or growl? It tells us if they listen when they’re being corrected on behaviors such as humping, rough-housing, resource guarding or barking. If your dog listens to daycare attendants when being corrected on a certain behavior or moves on to another dog if the dog they first approach for play doesn’t wish to join in the fun, these are signs of a submissive dog. The more submissive the dog, the higher the score.
Green dogs are characterized as being easygoing, friendly, balanced, playful, and responsive to social cues with humans and other dogs. Generally speaking, the younger the dog, the more “green” they will be. If you adopt a puppy and plan on using daycare, the sooner you bring them in, the more likely they will be successful in daycare. Puppies learn behavior from watching other dogs and daycare is the perfect puppy preschool.
Yellow dogs will exhibit behaviors like rough playing, humping, snapping, occasionally challenging authority, excessive barking, and/or door guarding. These are the dogs our attendants watch closely. Frequently, a yellow dog can become a green dog just by going to daycare on a regular basis.
Like puppies, they learn from observing the dogs who listen, are friendly, don’t get corrected as often and in return, gain more rewards with affection and attention from daycare staff. We encourage yellow dog owners to work on certain behaviors at home as well as making the commitment of frequent visits to daycare and dog parks.
This is a dog that isn’t right for a daycare environment at the time of evaluation. They growl, snap, bite and lunge at other dogs or humans. Raised haunches are another sign of aggression.
The first thing you should know, there is nothing wrong with your dog. Not all dogs are good daycare candidates. We give clients advice on how to change negative behavior, including suggestions on training classes. As an alternative to daycare, we offer in-home visits or recurring mid-day visits.
Our staff takes pride in working with dogs that need extra time or training. And won’t give up on dogs we believe can improve.
“If I have the slightest inkling that a dog can be molded into daycare material, I will take the time to work with them one-on-one as well as in the pack,” says Bark + Boarding daycare manager John Kasinger. “No dog is a hopeless case. They just need extra attention.”
In fact, we love dogs that need extra help. The work we do with dogs and their owners always seems to pay off and these dogs often become staff favorites. Daycare would not be the same without them.
By Sara Schabach, In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer
If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you, your pet, and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services.