October 1, 2020

Everything You Need to Know About Dog Montessori School

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If you’re considering enrolling your pup in our new Dog Montessori School, read on to learn the answers to five key questions about the program.

Every pet owner wants the best for their furry friend. At many dog day cares, this means simply keeping pets safe during the workday. 

But what if a premium dog day care could provide more than just the basics? That’s the question that sparked our Dog Montessori School program. 

Along with a safe and hygienic environment, Dog Montessori School provides structured enrichment activities that will engage your dog mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout the day—all led by our force-free, fear-free certified staff.

Common questions about Dog Montessori School include:

  • Why should I choose Dog Montessori School?
  • How does Dog Montessori School provide enrichment?
  • What is force-free, fear-free dog training?
  • Who will be taking care of my dog in Dog Montessori School?
  • What if my dog hasn’t been successful in past dog day cares? 

Whether you’ve got a German Shepherd or a teacup yorkie, there’s a place for your pet in Dog Montessori School. Read on to learn whether Dog Montessori School is right for your pet.

1 Why Should I Choose Dog Montessori School?

Dog Montessori School is the only program in DC that offers carefully researched, intentionally chosen, individualized enrichment for dogs. Our program calls upon the latest research from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and the Duke University Canine Cognition Lab. It is a holistic dog day school that nurtures your pet’s entire being.

Dog Montessori School focuses on five key areas of enrichment: 

  • Physical fulfillment and exercise
  • Mental stimulation
  • Emotional well-being
  • Rest to recharge
  • Supervised pPlay

This unique blend of elements has the power to transform a dog’s quality of life in day care. 

Take Cooper, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who first came to Patrick’s Pet Care as a four-month-old puppy. “He’s like my shadow,” says Alex Russell, Cooper’s human. “He’s a really, really wonderful companion.”

Though Cooper is a lap dog who adores people, Russell says he can be “aloof” around other dogs. “He’s friendly with some dogs, but he’s more into people,” Russell says. She enjoys checking the webcam throughout the day, where she can usually spot Cooper lounging in the window. 

But as much as he enjoys relaxing, Cooper can get restless at home. “He’s really, really smart, and he gets frustrated when he’s bored,” Russell says. 

When Cooper began Dog Montessori School, staff members witnessed his transformation first-hand. Instead of snoozing all day, Cooper loved being challenged with puzzles and obstacle courses led by Patrick’s Pet Care’s staff of certified dog trainers. On the days he attends Dog Montessori School, Cooper returns home calm and easy-going. “It’s nice for us to know that he’s had such a fulfilling day,” she says. 

As Dog Montessori School expands in the future, we plan to offer specialized programs for puppies and senior dogs. 

2 How Exactly Does Dog Montessori School Provide Enrichment?

Like people, dogs have individual preferences, interests, and needs. We strive to keep dogs not just safe, but happy and stimulated. 

The exact type of enrichment your dog receives will be based on his or her needs and play style. Examples of enrichment include:

  • Puzzles and obstacle courses
  • Tricks and challenges that contribute to overall training
  • Training to share resources with other dogs
  • Confidence building exercises that translate to the real world 
  • Teaching patience and impulse control 
  • Activities that interest your dog

While most people think of enrichment as adding something new, it can also mean managing a dog’s natural tendencies. Dan Logan lovingly refers to his fifteen-month-old bulldog, Ruby, as “a little meatball” who’s extremely friendly with dogs, humans, and anyone else she encounters. The only trouble is, “she has a little trouble knowing when to stop,” Logan says.

Ruby needed a premium day care that would monitor her activity, include breaks for rest, and reinforce training. When staff members trained Ruby to play “target” — a game that involves booping a ball with her nose — she responded enthusiastically and her ability to focus improved. 

Instead of becoming overly exhausted, and potentially grouchy, from too much physical play, Ruby comes home “a lot more willing to go with the flow,” Logan says, thanks to the mental stimulation games like target provide. “It’s really helped her social skills,” he says, thanks to training interventions that help Ruby grasp when other dogs want to play with her (and when they’d rather not). 

Rather than simply supervising dogs, the enrichment we provide contributes to their lifelong development and well-being.  

3 What Is Force-Free, Fear-Free Dog Training?

At Patrick’s Pet Care, all staff members are certified force-free, fear-free dog trainers. We rely on research-backed methodologies to create the right conditions for dogs to thrive. 

According to our affiliate Pat Miller, a leading advocate of force-free training, force-free dog trainers lead with “gentle, humane training methods” that are more effective than fear-based methods. 

We view dogs as intelligent beings who are capable of consent, which they show through subtle behavioral cues. For example, any resistance to a leash or command means that a dog is feeling fear and discomfort. Instead, we observe dogs’ behavior and train them to respond to cues, allowing us to intervene before situations arise. 

Though some competitors may say it’s unsafe to provide toys, we find it’s very manageable to monitor dogs’ behavior while providing structured play and activities. At the first sight of tense ears, lips, or hackles, our staff will proactively step in. 

Similarly, fear-free dog training uses treats and affirmations to reinforce positive behaviors. By teaching dogs the behavior we want to see, we can help them form good habits in a safe and nurturing environment.

Our expert staff will train your dog to independently navigate daily routines, from outdoor walks to scheduled activities and rest periods. Best of all, dogs enjoy our carefully designed facility, which has distinct areas for rest and activities. 

4 Who Will Be Taking Care of My Dog in Dog Montessori School?

At Patrick’s Pet Care, your dog will spend the entire day with our expert trainers—from morning drop-off to evening pick-up. And if transportation is an issue, we’ll even pick your dog up in Pet Force One—our special dog day care transportation van.

“The level of detail that Patrick’s sends every day is truly heartwarming. It’s just more personalized about Jack, and you can tell they’re paying attention to his behaviors.”

Duane Desiderio

Patrick’s Pet Care sets team members up for success by providing a living wage, health insurance, and educational opportunities. It’s why our staff members stick around and form long-lasting relationships with our clients.

That’s what happened with Duane Desiderio, who brings his affectionate, high-energy labradoodle, Jack, to Dog Montessori School. From the first time he dropped Jack off at Patrick’s Pet Care, Desiderio paid attention to how staff members responded to the questions and concerns he raised. “I would not say it was like trying to find a provider for a human child,” Desiderio says, “but it wasn’t that different either.” 

Desiderio quickly noticed that staff members cared deeply about Jack’s wellbeing. “We just got an automatically good vibe,” he says. In particular, Desiderio enjoys reading daily reports of Jack’s activities and behavior. “The level of detail that Patrick’s sends every day is truly heartwarming,” Desiderio says. “It’s just more personalized about Jack, and you can tell they’re paying attention to his behaviors.”

Today, Desiderio cites Patrick’s Pet Care’s investment in staff members as a key attraction of Dog Montessori School. “It might cost a little more, but it’s given back to the community,” Desiderio says. “It’s reflected in the enthusiasm of the employees to do their job and care for their dogs.”

5 What If My Dog Hasn’t Been Successful in Past Dog Day Cares?

While many dogs enjoy the opportunity to play and socialize, not all dogs enjoy the company of others. While non-aggressive, these dogs may have been stressed or unhappy in past day cares. 

Dog Montessori School is designed to welcome all dogs, including those that prefer not to run with a pack. To start, dogs enjoy plenty of open space—a minimum of 75 square feet each, which is unprecedented in DC. 

Additionally, Patrick’s Pet Care is the only premium dog day care in DC that voluntarily complies with best practices that have been signed into law in other states. Our dog-to-staff ratio is an impressive 10:1, ensuring that your pet will have individual attention and care. 

While these measures aren’t mandated by law in DC, we keep pace with the latest research to set all dogs up for success. 

Interested in Taking the Next Step? Book Today!

If Dog Montessori School sounds right for your pet, getting started is easy. New customers can fill out a simple form to help us get to know your dog. Patrick’s Pet Care is the only pet care provider in DC with separate facilities that cater to large and small breeds. 

If you’re an existing customer, visit our scheduling portal to update your booking for Dog Montessori School. 

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