Monday, November 23, 2015

Bark City-- A New Kind of Daycare Part II and Why Rest is Important

It's getting really close, people! And we are EXCITED! Like anything in life, we know that not everything or everyone fits into one mold. Dog Daycares are not an exception. As much as I love our current daycare program, I believe this new program will offer something special to dogs that have  outgrown our current program.

 The new daycare program is going to offer a unique combination of playtime with other dogs, individualized attention with our staff and fun activities that are hand-selected just for your pet. Rather than just putting your dog in a large group all day,  we will find out what he really loves. His time will be rotated among playtime and enrichment programs with our staff.
Both our current daycare program and the new one are focused on fun and the well-being of your dog. We are committed to understanding group dog behavior. All of our staff are educated on safe, and humane management techniques that use positive reinforcement.  We are proud members of the Dog Gurus, the best educational resource available on off-leash dog play. All of our programs are focused on safety and fun as the measurement of success. Your pet will be treated like one of the family and we will hand select the best program for your dog.

What exactly is this new daycare option?
Again, we have learned that one size does not fill all when it comes to dog daycare. Some dogs can get overly tired and overly stimulated by playing all day without adequate rest. Some dogs can also become bored from the same routine. Our new format ensures your dog gets plenty of rest and an excellent quality of play. Your pet will still get playtime with other dogs, but we'll also add some special small group activities and more one on one attention with the staff.  Every day will be unique and tailored specifically for your pet. 

What type of activities will my dog do?
That really depends on what your dog likes. We will conduct a thorough assessment to find out what your dog really loves and then we'll rotate those activities into your dog's daily daycare routine. We will have a wide range of activities including fetch, massage time, tricks, nosework, tug time, UNLEASHED adventures, leashed nature hikes, stuffed kong time, training and more!

I've heard you mention "rest" a lot, what does this mean and how much rest will my dog get?
Over the years we have changed our nap schedule numerous times and have learned this is a very important part of the program. Both daycare programs (new and old) will now have a nap program.
We understand owners want a tired dog after a day of play with their buddies. BUT, it's important that exhaustion is not the only measure of success when you bring your dog for a play session. Our approach to your dog's day in off-leash play is to balance physical exercise, mental activities, and rest periods. All three are equally important components to keeping your dog safe and healthy when socializing with other dogs.

Physical exercise is the most obvious benefit of off-leash play. It's what most pet parents think about when they drop their dog off. But for your dog's health, we also consider it important to provide mental stimulation, which allows your dog to think and use his brain during the day. Mental work builds confidence and self-control in your dog. Like play time, it will also cause your dog to be tired. Your dog will need rest in order for the brain to process all that is learned. This is why we include rest periods as an important component of our health and safety program for your pet. Dogs that get overly tired are less tolerant and more grumpy (just like kids) which increases risk of injury.

Research studies report that dogs need 12-18 hours of sleep per day. Dogs that require amounts on the higher end of the scale include:
  •  Puppies
  •   Senior dogs
  •  Giant and large breeds
  •  Dogs in active households or with extreme exercise routines
  •  Dogs that attend dog daycare multiple days per week or are staying away from home for long periods of time. 
  •   Dogs participating in sports like agility, fly ball, or rally-o.

Sleep habits of dogs also differ from humans. Napping on and off during the day is a normal pattern for dogs.  We will offer formal rest periods during play visits to mirror a canine's normal pattern and to allow dogs to reach deeper sleep levels. Providing a private, quiet area for rest periods allow dogs to reach the restful deep sleep levels they need to stay healthy and happy.

Dogs may take natural rest breaks during our current playgroups, but it is rare that a dog will relax and enter a deep sleep. Most dogs napping in the playgroup are in light sleep and very alert. This allows them to jump up whenever something exciting happens. They do not reach the restful sleep stages needed to keep their brain healthy. In fact, Nineteenth century sleep deprivation studies performed on dogs confirmed degenerative changes in their brains resulted from lack of rest. We include formal rest periods as a part of our play sessions to help ensure the long-term health and mental well being of your dog. Your happy and healthy dog is the most important measure of our success. When it is time to take a nap all dogs will be provided with a quiet place to rest with bedding, water, soft music and lavender essential oils. If you would like, we can even give them a stuffed kong as a treat. This is a much needed break before starting the next activity. We feel this down time is vital to healthy dogs and helps your dog get used to learning how to relax during the day.

How do you get started in the new program?
Our new enrichment program is our VIP level program and space is limited. In order to secure your spot in our very tailored program, you will want to sign up to secure your spot. We will be doing trial days with our existing clients to see what program fits your dog the best.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bark City's Puppy Preschool Program

Our next expansion announcement: Puppy Preschool! We will no longer be taking puppies 4-months-old or younger in our daycare programs. Puppies need more socialization than just daycare. The first 4 months of a puppy's life is the most critical period for socialization. Positive experiences help him learn that new things are fun, and hopefully he will remember the good association when he encounters them again later in life. It's important to take advantage of the socialization period and provide the puppy with as many positive experiences as possible in the world.

Having a young puppy attend daycare is great for socialization for the first time or two. After that, the puppy knows the staff, he knows the environment and he has met some of the dogs. Things are no longer novel to him and therefore, no longer counts as socialization. Daycare becomes a safe and healthy outlet for energy, but that's about it. This is where our new program fits in.

How it works: 
The Puppy Preschool Program is based on at least 5 days at our facility. The days are completely flexible. The puppy can come 5 days in a row, twice a week or whatever schedule best fits the owner. With the way this program is designed, the 5 days need to be completed by the time the puppy is 4 months old. Once the puppy is over 4 months old, he can no longer be enrolled in the preschool program.

What will my puppy experience?
Puppies in the preschool program will not only be given time to socialize with other puppies, but will also be socialized with different things they may encounter on any given day. Examples: different kinds of flooring, children, men with hats, canes, grooming, crate training, potty training, ect... We will make sure they are being introduced to these things in a safe setting and at a comfortable pace for each individual dog. We will also be giving owners feedback in order to continue the socializing at home.

Who will be working with the puppy?
This is such an important period in the puppy's life! We want to make sure only our most experienced dog handlers are the staff doing the socialization exercises. The whole program will be overseen by a certified dog trainer. The staff working with that trainer will also be required to take courses in canine body language and the development stages of puppies.

Is this program the same as a puppy training class?
Even though we will be having a certified dog trainer working with the puppy and teaching basic commands, this is not the same program as a puppy training class. This program is focusing more on socializing the puppy to his the world around him.

Pricing and availability:
Since this program is more specialized and structured, we will open enrollment to puppies at the first of each month. You may enroll your puppy later in the month, but that will be based on availability. We will be keeping our numbers small to make sure each individual puppy gets the time he needs. The daycare preschool program is $30-$35/ day and the boarding preschool program is $40-$45/night. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bark City-- A New Kind of Daycare

The expansion is getting close to being finished! Once it's done, Bark City will be adding new programs to the facility! Since opening in 2005, we have been blessed with the opportunities we have been given. When we first opened, we were one of the only facilities in town that offered "all day play". This was a new concept in the dog boarding world and to the pet owner. I can't even tell you how many times I heard, " Sooo.... people really just drop their dogs off while they are at work?" Back then, it took a lot of convincing to show people that it can be done safely and is actually good for their dogs.

Fast forward to today, everyone knows what a dog daycare is and there are more and more opening everywhere. Because we have been lucky enough to thrive in this industry for 10+ YEARS, we have been able to master what works and what does not. Every dog is an individual. As much as we would love for every dog to thrive in a standard daycare environment, for some it's just not the ideal setting. When I first started on the expansion, I honestly had a completely different idea for what I was going to do with the space. But after doing a lot of soul searching, I changed my mind. I am blessed to have the opportunity to have a building I can construct myself in order to try the new approach to daycare on one side while still maintaining my original design on the other. I hope that between the two, Bark city can make sure every dog that comes through our doors will thrive and enjoy their time with us. I am so excited to try this new concept! I honestly feel it is going to be a great and very popular choice once tried. With all that said, I now introduce..... (drum roll, please).....

Bark City's Canine Enrichment Program!! Here are some of the highlights. With later posts, I will go into more detail on the why's and hows. But for now, here is an overview:

Our Daycare Program: 
 The daycare program will be a little different from what we are doing right now. If dogs are enrolled in this program, they will get to socialize and play with other dogs like our current program, but will also be given activities during the day for mental/cognitive exercise (Think Luminosity... only for dogs). The daycare groups will be a lot smaller. We will only be putting 5-10 dogs together at a time and will be pairing them based on personalities. We will then schedule their day based on their personality. They will get more one-on-one time and will be able to feel comfortable being themselves. This program will be a great option for most dogs, but we are super excited for the dogs that seem uncomfortable with our current program. Because of the structure of this program, it will only be available to dogs that attend daycare for a full day. Drop off times will be 7a-9a and pick up 430p-7p.

Boarding Program: 
For the Luxury Boarders-- You will get to enjoy the new daycare program during the day and will stay in the new boarding room at night.

Intact Males: 
We are excited to announce that with the new daycare program, we will now have a better ability to socialize the intact males. We will select a group that we feel comfortable socializing without the worry of testosterone interfering. We will be one of the only facilities in the county that will be able offer this kind of option.

Non-Social Dogs:
Some dogs just don't enjoy being around other dogs. And that's OK! Currently we take these dogs, but have never really been happy with what we have been able to offer them. If they are unhappy, we are unhappy. With the new expansion, they will get to safely be in our new doggy gym and be able to enjoy some activities with one of our skilled staff members.

I hope you are as excited as I am for our new approach. At Bark City, we make sure ALL of our staff is trained. For information on how we train our staff, you can click here. Since our new approach is such a specialized program, we will only have our top trained employees working in it. The program is going to be headed by a Certified Dog Trainer AND a Certified Fitpaws Instructor. Our Fitpaws Instructor is also working on becoming certified in Canine Fitness as well! Between the two of them, they will be working with each dog and owner to create an individualize program with all expectations met.

Next week... The new Puppy Preschool Program!!!