6 Signs Your Dog Isn’t *Quite* Ready for Day Care

Considering sending your dog to a day care program, but worried about how they’ll do in a new setting? Here are six signs that your dog isn’t quite ready for day care just yet. 

#1: Wary of new things: Some dogs are wary or scared of new things.  It could be something as simple as going down stairs or as general as “strange noises.” This is okay, but means they are unlikely to enjoy themselves in a day care setting. Day care will be new to them, and filled with new activities each week. It’s important for your pup to be excited to check out the new activity during day care rather than be scared of it.

#2: Finds other dogs scary or overwhelming: Some dogs simply prefer to be alone, or enjoy the company of people, and that’s okay. But some dogs really would thrive around other dogs and have fun playing, if only being around other dogs wasn’t so overwhelming or scary. If your dog doesn’t enjoy being around other dogs yet, they will not have a positive experience at day care. 

#3: Doesn’t know how to play well with others or do activities: When your dog is around other dogs, are they unsure what to do? Or maybe they accidentally find themselves scaring away the other dog? Many dogs really want to participate in the fun and activities of day care, particularly group play, but they do not actually know how to tell another dog “I want to play!” and sometimes they don’t know how to listen to another dog say “I don’t want to play.”

In other cases, some dogs want to play in a very rambunctious rough housing style that is perfectly healthy, but not compatible with more gentle styles. It’s important for your dog to be able to figure out their own play style and how to communicate so it’s fun for everyone.

#4: Guards toys, food, or attention: When your dog is around resources like toys, food, or even people, do they try to hog the fun? Oftentimes, this presents itself as physically guarding that resource and growling when another dog comes near. Some dogs come to daycare without much exposure to toys and resources. All of a sudden they are in day care, there is treasure everywhere, and they guard it. Some dogs have serious resource guarding issues, but many just need to be taught that everyone gets treats and there are plenty of toys for everyone. Once they are shown this, they get it, and stop guarding.

#5: Has separation anxiety, clings to people, or becomes upset alone: Many dogs today have separation anxiety. If your dog clings to you when you try to leave the house, or whines if you go out of sight, these are signs of separation anxiety. It’s important for your dog to be comfortable being on their own for a few minutes. Structured rest is an important component of a well run day care program. Learning to be comfortable alone for a moment will also allow them to be able to enjoy playing games at day care like “hide and seek” and “find it.” 

#6: Sometimes has indoor accidents: Dogs come to us from all over the country who have been to other day care centers or adoption kennels where they are allowed to go to the bathroom on the floor. If you’re thinking about enrolling in our Dog Montessori School, it’s important for your dog to be able to follow a bathroom break schedule. At Patrick’s Pet Care, there is a specific place to use the bathroom, and a regular schedule with relief breaks built into their day. 

So what do you do if your dog matches one or more of these six signs? 

First, don’t worry—it is completely okay if your canine friend struggles with one or more of these skills and it’s very common! But, mastering these six skills will mean that they get the most out of their day care experience and have a genuinely good time when they are at school. We want day care to be an experience your pup looks forward to each day. 

To help your dog get ready for day care, Patrick’s Pet Care offers Day Care 101. The program focuses on the fundamentals necessary to thrive in a day care setting or in our Dog Montessori School. It usually takes 4 to 8 sessions before a dog is ready to graduate from Day Care 101. Once the fundamentals are mastered, the sky’s the limit! If this sounds like the right fit for your dog, you can read more about our Day Care 101 program here