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John W

Socialising a dog - daycare?

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John W   

I'm getting a staffie next year, didn't arrive at the choice ill-informed or by whim. I've researched hard on breeds for a match and then on both of the specific breed and breeders and I'm confident in my choice. I think I got most things covered but a little concerned on my options for socialising the dog. I want it comfortable in the presence of other people and other dogs and other situations.

 

I know a lot of that is up to me and I'll do the best I can and I'll start from day one. but there's only so much I can do without seeming like the weird bloke following people around with his dog. A walk around the neighborhood will only do so much and there's no guarantee I'll come across many people or other dogs anyway, no guarantee they'll want anything to do with me or my dog anyway. There'll be constant visitors to the home, but it'll be comfortable there and they'll mostly be the same people anyway.

 

Sooooo, I was wondering, is it worthwhile dropping it in doggy day-care once a week or fortnight or more or less? for no other reason than for it to meet and play with other dogs and other people under supervision? I have no need at all for dog-sitting as I work from home, but I'm just wondering if it's good for socialising for socialisings sake?

Edited by John W

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Honestly - I wouldn’t. There’s so much that could go wrong very quickly and a single bad experience might leave your dog with issues that linger for life. 

 

Before your pup arrives, drop in to a few training classes to find one with small class sizes, careful management of dog-to-dog interactions and kind, effective training methods. Consider a puppy pre-school - if you can find one that manages interactions between puppies without allowing a free-for-all.

 

Play lots of training games with your puppy, so that you become the most interesting person around. There are plenty of websites and web-based classes with good ideas - Susan Garrett and Denise Fenzi are two names to google. 

 

Take him out for picnics and walks in the park (but not off-leash dog parks!). If families come up and say hello to the cute puppy, that’s good; otherwise, teach him to relax and focus on your games. If you meet some canine kindred spirits and can set up play dates, that’s good. If not, he’ll meet other dogs at training class. He needs to be happy and calm around other dogs and people, but ideally not obsessed with playing with them. Many dogs won’t appreciate a large, bouncy puppy approaching, and a staffie is likely to get the blame for any altercation, no matter what the facts are.

Edited by DogsAndTheMob
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IMO the trick to good doggy daycare is finding one where the people understand dog behaviour, leadership and packs, are well trained and who provide excellent supervision.  Any dog daycare where dogs are simply dumped in pens and not well supervised are a recipe for disaster.  

 

I use a brilliant one in Adelaide - Dogcity.  All the staff are trained pack leaders, they are careful to match temperaments, there are enough of them compared to dog numbers and they take special care of special needs dogs (like the brilliant job they did with my old Mac before he returned to God).  And I've not heard of too many problems.  I'm now commuting and at work 10-13 hours a day, 5 days a week so for me its been a God-send.  And I have no qualms whatsoever about leaving my guys there. While accidents can happen anywhere, they can happen while  dogs are alone at home too.  So I prefer to break up their really long weeks with a visit to doggy daycare.  

 

In terms of socialising, doggy daycare has been brilliant for my puppy farm rescue Andy - he has blossomed since going to doggy daycare - brighter, less anxious and much more confident..  But again you have to be smart about it and find a good one. Have a really good read of the Dogcity website here.  This is what really good dog daycare looks like.  

 

Hope that helps.   

Edited by westiemum

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John W   
2 hours ago, westiemum said:

In terms of socialising, doggy daycare has been brilliant for my puppy farm rescue Andy - he has blossomed since going to doggy daycare - brighter, less anxious and much more confident..  But again you have to be smart about it and find a good one. Have a really good read of the Dogcity website here.  This is what really good dog daycare looks like.  

 

Hope that helps.   

Well thanks for that, it's the kind of info I'm after - how it works socialising your dog.

 

Dogsandthemob I'm in a semi-rural area just turning to the edge of suburbia so walks in the park and around the neighbourhood is fine and I will be doing that, but I just know that I could walk around for hours and there's no guarantee I'm going to come across many people or dogs to socialise with. That's why I'm after something.... regular. ESPECIALLY at the beginning. I'm looking for something to expose the pup to as many other dogs (especially) and people as I can.

 

That's why the thought of doggy day care come up. I'm not looking for some place to "pen" him/her (as yet undecided), I have no need for dog-sitting. I'm looking for something as westiemum describes above just for the socialisation alone.

 

There is a place near me (Morisset) that's very similar to WM's link, same practices I would think, looks like a doggy amusement park. I spoke to them via Facebook and they say the dogs are always under supervision (as I would expect) and it would be a good place to socialise my doggy and they work on it - but of course they would say that wouldn't they.

 

Socialising through walks, picnics etc, I gotta be realistic that none of that I think is gonna be enough exposure and sporadic at best.

 

Finding a place of repute and all the rest is up to me - and I will. I just want to know if it's a good option, if it works.

Edited by John W

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Rebanne   

depends what your aims are. My dogs don't socialise with other dogs as such. My expectations are that they don't lose their brains when seeing other dogs/people and can remain calm and walk on by nicely. I don't want my dogs to play nicely with other dogs, I want them to ignore them. My circumstances are different to yours, different breed and multiple dogs, so sort out your goals and go from there.

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My dogs don’t socialise much with other dogs except when in passing on their walk. They are very calm  and that’s how I like it.. Occasionally they will stop and say hi to a dog but I can read their body language pretty well.

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RuralPug   

Yes, puppies need to be socialised. Too many people think that this means that they need to be exposed to a lot of other dogs without a great deal of supervision. WRONG.
 

In this instance, quality is far, far better than quantity. better to introduce the pup only to dogs that you know and trust, one or a few at a time. 

Spend most of your socialisation time budget on bomb proofing the pup against traffic, crowds, weirdnesses like stairs and automatic glass doors, construction sites, wheelchairs, bicycles, loud noises,cattle, birds,remote control cars, etc.etc.etc. Successfully socialised dogs will walk calmly and interestedly by your side when all hell is breaking loose. They will not panic, or get over excited and stop listening to you. That should be your goal.

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6 minutes ago, RuralPug said:

Yes, puppies need to be socialised. Too many people think that this means that they need to be exposed to a lot of other dogs without a great deal of supervision. WRONG.
 

In this instance, quality is far, far better than quantity. better to introduce the pup only to dogs that you know and trust, one or a few at a time. 

Spend most of your socialisation time budget on bomb proofing the pup against traffic, crowds, weirdnesses like stairs and automatic glass doors, construction sites, wheelchairs, bicycles, loud noises,cattle, birds,remote control cars, etc.etc.etc. Successfully socialised dogs will walk calmly and interestedly by your side when all hell is breaking loose. They will not panic, or get over excited and stop listening to you. That should be your goal.

 

13 hours ago, Rebanne said:

I don't want my dogs to play nicely with other dogs, I want them to ignore them

THIS . 

does this mean your dog lives in isolation forever? No :) 
What it does mean is that  YOU choose a few friends' pups/dogs who are known and safe  to help grow YOUR pup :) Meanwhile ..YOU are the pup's world /entertainment/treat provider/disciplinarian/leader/safety net .... games master ...  :):)

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John W another thing I found helped with socialisation and confidence with my puppy farm rescue westies and with my adult westies when I first got them was training. I've found Adelaide Pet Dog Trainings puppy/beginners 7 week class brilliant. Also the puppy program at Dogcity. 

 

I'm in the same boat as you - ad hoc socialisation opportunities weren't going to cut it.(My puppy farm rescues were coming off a particularly low base as well). So I had to find something regular (and something that my westies would enjoy during my long days at work).  And Dog City and Adelaide Pet Dog Training has worked well for us.  While I know many people here don't like doggy daycare, I do if its done well, for me it works well... and our differences are what's makes these forums interesting. Hope that helps. :) 

 

ETA: John the other thing I'm very lucky (and grateful! ) to have access to is a marvellous garden (complete with a mini Schnauzer) in the Adelaide Hills.  My friend works from home and likes their dog to have the company of 'the white ones' as well.  So my guys go to what I jokingly call 'Doggy Disneyland' once a week  - they are both really animated, waggy tailed, happy and tired when I pick them up after work.  So maybe you could find something similar near you? :) The garden is just heaven for dogs - huge with lots of space to sniff and explore, bark at the dog and chooks next door, get pats, play with each other, snooze and generally have a ball.

Edited by westiemum

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8 hours ago, westiemum said:

John W another thing I found helped with socialisation and confidence with my puppy farm rescue westies and with my adult westies

Your gorgeous dogs find their pot-of-gold with you  ;) 
 I guess it depends too , on whether  a new companion is a puppy , or an adult ?  
And what its previous experience has been ....

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corvus   

My dogs in general walk calmly by other dogs except Kestrel, and Kestrel is the one that has had the least socialisation with other dogs out of the three of them. They can all also interact politely with strange dogs and all of them will play with unfamiliar dogs and I honestly find that not only gratifying but also useful and I believe it helps them a lot in coping with suburbia where they do meet a lot of dogs inevitably. Furthermore, my most social dog is an awesome stooge dog for work with reactive dogs, and can do close work like few dogs can. There is a lot to be said for stellar social skills, and dogs don't get those without direct experience to help them develop. I see dogs all the time that have had little to do with other dogs and over time this drove them to become fearful and anxious. It breaks my heart to see dogs that are afraid of their own kind for no reason other than that they just don't understand dogs well enough to be able to interact with them confidently. On the other side, I see dogs that are dog park regulars whose owners cannot walk them past other dogs because they so badly want to greet (very often staffy mixes!). Give me the latter any day of the week. It's usually easier to work on, and much HAPPIER dogs. 

There is a happy medium. I don't think a dog daycare is a terrible idea, but it depends on the individual dog. For some dogs, their social interactions really need to be carefully watched and managed to ensure they build the right kinds of experiences. Two of mine it would have been madness to send them. For other dogs, they are more resilient and a well run dog daycare can be a good environment for them to visit once or twice a week. My most social dog went to daycare twice a week for several months as a young dog. He adored it. He was always very excited to arrive and couldn't get in there fast enough. It did not turn him into a dog that loses his mind around other dogs, because guess what, I trained him. 

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The people you’ll have coming over, what demographics would they represent? 

If you can hit even something like “small child, larger child, loud child, man, woman, big, muscular adult, deep voiced adult”, I reckon you’ve got the basics covered. Especially if any of these are willing to do things for you like show up one day in a hijab/beekeeper outfit/all black everything, carry a cane one visit, use an accent loudly the next, bring around a token child they know (don’t go kidnapping one purely for socialisation purposes :p), push a pram or trolley or anything big ish around in front of your place, that sort of thing. 

With people, I think anyway, it’s more about getting your pup ok with the notion that humans exist in many different forms - short and high pitched, loud, foreign speaking, sunglasses wearing, covered in flowy skirts, using machinery  - than just the sheer number of humans they’ll meet. 

 

Even you can do a lot by carrying backpacks randomly, wearing a ski mask, wearing sunglasses out of the blue, changing the texture of your fabrics.

 

YouTube - get sounds like birds, thunder, men yelling, crowds clapping, women chatting, people speaking Mandarin, so on, and play them while you’re doing fun stuff. 

 

I had a beautiful dog who had been woefully unsocialised and for a long time he would freak if he saw a change in footwear or if you lost your voice, if you carried a bag, details that small. It’s really - to me - less about “socialising” than introducing as much stuff as positively as possible.

 

If possible, do things like going to playgrounds to see children congregating in large groups, running, making noise and climbing on things, and walk past a group of people watching a D grade sporting event so you can see adults yelling loudly whilst whistles blow and other sensory stuff happens. Drive if necessary so that you can even just watch from a distance at first, or so that you can reach a destination without a massive walk.  

 

As for the dogs, weird suggestion and not exactly one pertinent to socialisation, but do you have a mirror? 

If you can leash your dog and have him ignore the dog in the mirror and sit for you, that can help your dog learn to ignore them and stay focussed on you.

that is of course if your dog notices their reflection :p 

otherwise play dogs barking on your phone while you do a simple training game with your dog. 

This ain’t gonna teach your dog to speak canine but can help teach them that they need to look to you and not the random dog they’ve just spotted.

 

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Panto   
On 12/25/2018 at 4:43 PM, John W said:

Well thanks for that, it's the kind of info I'm after - how it works socialising your dog.

 

Dogsandthemob I'm in a semi-rural area just turning to the edge of suburbia so walks in the park and around the neighbourhood is fine and I will be doing that, but I just know that I could walk around for hours and there's no guarantee I'm going to come across many people or dogs to socialise with. That's why I'm after something.... regular. ESPECIALLY at the beginning. I'm looking for something to expose the pup to as many other dogs (especially) and people as I can.

 

That's why the thought of doggy day care come up. I'm not looking for some place to "pen" him/her (as yet undecided), I have no need for dog-sitting. I'm looking for something as westiemum describes above just for the socialisation alone.

 

There is a place near me (Morisset) that's very similar to WM's link, same practices I would think, looks like a doggy amusement park. I spoke to them via Facebook and they say the dogs are always under supervision (as I would expect) and it would be a good place to socialise my doggy and they work on it - but of course they would say that wouldn't they.

 

Socialising through walks, picnics etc, I gotta be realistic that none of that I think is gonna be enough exposure and sporadic at best.

 

Finding a place of repute and all the rest is up to me - and I will. I just want to know if it's a good option, if it works.

Not all doggy daycares are equal, and some of those with the flashiest websites may not actually have a great practice.. 

It comes down to the people who look after the place and other dogs who attend it.

If you don't have a need for daycare, the best bet would be to socialise your dog with known dogs you know that could influence your dog with the correct and desired social cues. Unknown dog socialisation is a lottery, just as much as some people get lucky (eg, your friend's dog who came from a rescue scenario and blossomed thanks to doggy daycare), you could get very unlucky. My previous dog had a day at a very flashy and expensive daycare and came back with some very poor social cues which I then had to remediate with controlled socialisation. 

If you really want to try it out, visit the daycare without your dog and go from there.

Otherwise do look into having small meet ups with other dog owners and socialise your dog with you present, that way you get to enjoy it too :) 

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Snook   

I'm not a fan of doggy daycares. My dog was going to one run by a trainer we'd worked closely with for 2 years and was attacked by another dog. He came home sporting puncture wounds in his neck and back, a partially torn ear, and was covered in bite and scratch marks under his fur. The daycare didn't even know he'd been attacked until I called them after getting him home and finding all of his injuries, which means the dogs would have to have been left unattended for a period of time (which they denied), as there's no way he could have been hurt like that with no noise from either dog. They at least paid the emergency vet bill, and follow up vet bill when his neck became infected, but I'll never leave any dog in daycare again. 

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