Mum & I aren’t animal behaviour experts but based on an incident that has happened recently and is being widely talked about in our social network we felt compelled to put something out there about dog minding and things to consider.
(Feature image source: http://www.petbucket.com)
Us Australians love our dogs, and why wouldn’t we love wet noses. Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world with 36% of Australian household claiming to own a dog (Source: http://www.acac.org.au) but we also have a high level of employment, 69% of males and 58% of females over the age of 15 years are in either full or part-time employment (Source: http://melbourneinstitute.com). So there are a lot of dogs out there who have owners working out of the home for large chunks of time. Wanting the best for our furkids the industries of Doggy Daycare, Pet Minding and Dog Walkers have boomed. Australians spend over $450 million annually on dog minding and walking services (Source: http://www.acac.org.au). So while this all sounds fantastic to know that Fiddo is hanging out with his mates and playing all day in reality it isn’t all fun and games. In fact this week in Sydney there was the tragic loss of a dog’s life while in care at a Doggy Daycare centre. So not saying that it is all bad to have someone help keep your dog stimulated during the day so they aren’t doing their own version of interior decorating or some gardening for you.
There are just some things to consider before dropping Fiddo off at daycare.
- Space & Hygiene: The basics of…. is a place large enough for the number of dogs and is it kept hygienic?…. these should be just the basics.
- Staff Qualifications: Mum wouldn’t leave The Toddler in the care of just anyone and nor would she do the same for me, I’m the furkid afterall. Like childcare qualifications there are similar qualifications for those caring for and training dogs. Check them out! And a bit like getting Nana to look after The Toddler it can be the same with dogs… maybe someone doesn’t have a piece of paper but if they can show that they have good quality experience than that maybe an option. Critical is that they understand animal behaviour and can see when a dog is uncomfortable in a situation.
- Not For Every Dog: While you want to do the right thing for Fiddo not every dog wants to be hanging out in a crowded noisy space with other dogs. I’m a pretty social chap but even I need my space. I don’t share well when their is food about or if my favourite toy is about and someone else tries to take it. For this reason Mum wouldn’t take me to one of these places just because there are too many potential risks for me to get snarky…. and remember I’m a pretty well socialised dog who spends my days out with other dogs and weekends at dog sport trials where there can be up to 100 other dogs there. Imagine what suddenly being placed with 20 or more other dogs if you weren’t used to it would be like?
- Friends My Size: I’m not discriminating here against the large or the small, cause hey I’m in the middle, but lets be fair and say if you were a little dog and you have arrived at a doggy daycare in a large open space and all sizes are together than you might feel pretty intimidated. Even if you have larger dog siblings at home or that you play with regularly, that is different to suddenly being put into a space with large dogs that you don’t know.
- Time To Myself: Did I mention I like to snooze. Yeah it is fun running around and playing but I also like to snooze during the day. I need somewhere that I can have some timeout. Ideally somewhere that is quiet and separated from others… why my crate comes with us to trials so I can chill between events. It is the same deal with food… I don’t do the let’s all sit around the dinner table together. When we have friends over that is when we pop into our crates and are fed in the crates. Unless Mum was to know that all other dogs were fine with me trying to steal their food (and let’s be honest here… I would) than it is separate at meal times.
This is really only a couple of things to consider but hopefully it gets you thinking. It might be the difference between having your dog safely cared for versus getting a phone call like one dog mum received this week (and we just don’t want that stuff happening).
So What To Do Instead:
- Get Up Early and Get Some Morning Exercise. Everyone can come up with an excuse but if Mum & I can do it than so can you!
- Tricks: There are some days when we just can’t get out of a morning. They are the days that Mum and I work on different tricks. You know how tiring working my brain is? Yep sometimes I am more tired after doing 10 mins of tricks than I am after an hour out walking. Looking for some ideas… check out these.
So many tricks with just a standard washing basket…. no special equipment required.
- Share the Love: What a great way to get to know the other dog friendly people in the neighbourhood. Either get together in the morning or evening for a bit of off-leash fun in someones yard or even ask if the dogs can come over to visit for some of the day if one person is home at different hours to the other… just remember the same stuff as doggy care with toys, food and rest time.
If Mum is going to be out for a long day with work she asks if I can have some playtime with my mates down the street.
- Professional Dog Behaviour Help: While some dogs are happy to just chill (did someone say snooze time???) when the family go out, others can get quite anxious. This is when it might be better for everyone long term to get a professional dog behaviouralist in to work with the source of the issue. Why isn’t that Fiddo turns the place upside down the moment you leave? It is probably not that they are bored but just as likely to be anxiety or some other stress that is seeing them destuff the cushions for you.
By no means are we saying don’t do dog minding or daycare… for some dogs it will be a great way to spend the day. We just want to prompt dog owners out there to ask questions and look for signs that not everything might be as rosy for your furkid as you would like to believe… and unfortunately it is difficult for us to tell you apart from you seeing how we react in different situations.
I have been really honest about my little pet peeves… when I am likely to get narkey and hence why Mum wouldn’t send me to a daycare centre… and remember I am a dog that has been fairly well socialised and trained. It is just Mum is aware of my faults (I know I do have some faults… just) and chooses the situations she puts me in.
Our list isn’t exhaustive…. what are the things that you consider before having someone else care for your dog?
Hope this helps with some things to consider to keep us all safe…