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Owning a pet is oftentimes quite similar to raising children,
including the need for finding them a place to stay while you are
out of the house. The majority of pet owners leave their pets at
home, unattended during long days at the office. The downside to
this is that dogs, especially young ones, need just as much
exercise, attention and love as children do. One of the best
alternatives to leaving a pet at home is taking them to a pet day
care while you are at work.
Doggy day care is similar to the human day care system. The pet
owner drops their four-legged family member off in the morning on
the way to work, and activities will be set by the day care
depending on the dog's interest level.
"A doggy day care should provide exercise, stimulation,
socialization, and sometimes training to a dog that otherwise would
be left at home alone during the day" said Dr. M.A. Crist, Clinical
Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. " It can help with that dreaded
'potty training' in young dogs. Hyperactive dogs have an outlet to
release some of that excess energy, and overweight canines needing
to lose a few pounds can do so by exercising and playing in the
play groups during the day. "
Doggy day care can greatly assist in the socialization of your
pet. It may provide them with an opportunity to meet and greet with
a variety of other dogs. According to the American Veterinary
Society of Animal Behavior, it is important to socialize puppies
during the first three months of life. Enrolling puppies in a pet
day care system can be an excellent way of socializing puppies in a
safe environment where risk of illness and harm are minimized.
Although pet day care is an excellent way to care for your pet
while you are unavailable, be aware that it is not the best option
for every pet.
"Senior pets might be overwhelmed with the number of dogs
romping and playing and might get knocked down, shy dogs may be
fearful, and aggressive dogs should not be allowed" said Crist. "A
well trained staff should be experienced in recognizing signs of
disposition and anxiety that may indicate that your pet is not
right for the day care setting. You need to feel comfortable and
happy leaving them at the day care. You will know the answer when
you pick up your pet at the end of the day if you have made the
Other benefits to the doggy day care system include the use of
the day care as an adjunct with behavior modifications for treating
separation anxiety. The day care is a place you can take your pet
so he or she will not be left home alone to suffer from symptoms of
"Play areas should provide a supervised, clean, and relaxed
setting for the dogs" said Crist. " Small dogs should be with small
dogs and large dogs with large dogs. Most play areas are roofed
shelters, indoor and outdoor, fresh water always available,
imaginative toys with an attentive well trained staff. Most day
cares do require vaccinations and that health records be up to
If the idea of pet day care does not appeal to you, an
alternative form might be a pet sitter that comes to the house and
provides one-on-one attention to the pet.
"A full-time company will provide a dedicated pet sitter to your
pet in your private home which will cater to its every need" said
Crist. "Another service provided are dog walkers and dog runners
that will come by the private home and take your pet for a walk or
A second alternative is a privately-owned or in-home dog day
care. They are often less expensive and have a fewer number of dogs
being cared for at any given time.
"For dogs that are less social or shy, this might be a better
option" said Crist. "In-home or private day cares offer your pet a
home environment and a closer human-animal bond. The only negative
might be the number of staff to the number of dogs being cared for.
At least two or three people for five dogs should be present in
case an argument broke out because one person could not handle
things if this happened."
All things considered, the best way to fully care for your sweet
fluffy friend is to give them the constant love and attention they
need just as much as people do. Limiting the time that you leave
your pet feeling neglected and alone will help him to become a
better socialized and well-rounded pet.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
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