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.

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