Sometimes we have issues with boarding parents when we tell them we require a daycare day in advance of boarding when it has been more than 60 days since we have seen their dog(s). We thought it might be a good idea to provide some more context around our policy and intent.
consistency = confidence + ConDITIONING
We find that most dogs that haven’t been in for a while lose some of their dog language skills and a refresher daycare day ensures that they will be ready to board. Your dog doesn’t retain much about any place they only visit every 60-180 days.
The refresher daycare day makes sure that they know what the environment is prior to the boarding experience so that if we have an issue with a dog that hasn’t been socialized in a while we can work with you to fix it before your trip rather than have your dog have a “meltdown” while you’re away.
Even if your pup is easygoing and never has any trouble it is still a shock to their system to go from a handful of playmates to 30+ in one day. The extra energy, stimulation, and noise is different from their in-home experience and getting them a little desensitized to the environment in advance sets them up for success.
It is also physically taxing for a dog to go from hanging around your house to playing with other dogs 10 hours a day every day. The same way that you wouldn’t run a marathon and take off 6 months and then run another without training applies to your dog in our boarding/daycare environment. The average dog at home gets in roughly 4,000 steps but the average Dogtopia dog does 30,000 steps (more than 7.5x vs in-home). That means 2 days of boarding is like 15 days at home. It’s vastly different and a refresher daycare day helps prep them for that experience.
AGING and behavior change
Let’s face it, we’re all getting older, and your pup ages as well. As they age their behavior doesn’t stay the same, it evolves. We need to make sure that your pup hasn’t adopted new behaviors that might be problematic in our daycare environment. Again, 10 hours of play every day means they are around a lot of dogs at all times for their entire stay. That stimulation for an extended period of time will cause some level of stress (good or bad doesn’t matter, it’s still stress).
A few hours of daycare helps us get a good look at them and how they engage with the other dogs. If they seem fatigued or are finding places to remove themselves from play that gives us the information we need to understand where they are at in their socialization continuum.
We also find that dogs that mostly stay at home and don’t engage much with other dogs have more separation anxiety issues which often leads to some challenges with other dogs as they attach more to the coaches in the room rather than engaging with the dogs. Knowing about this behavior lets our coaches manage them a little differently so we avoid potential resource guarding.
prepping the pet parent
Lastly, we find that pet parents that haven’t been in for a while are a little “rusty” in getting ready to board. We often make changes to our process as we improve operations and inconsistent boarders sometimes get surprised by changes. Here’s just some of the things that every boarder should verify on their refresher day:
- Do you have webcam access and have you checked the app to make sure it’s working?
- Do we have a working email and phone number (both are required to board)?
- Do we have an emergency contact other than yourself and the people traveling with you?
- Are you aware that there is a daycare charge for AM play if you drop off before 2:00P?
- Are you aware that there is a daycare charge for PM play if you pick up after 12:00N?
- Are you aware that there is a bagging fee if we have to prep your food from bulk to individual bags per meal?
- Are you aware that we don’t accept beds, only blankets and toys?
- Do you know that your pup needs a bath every 4 days to maintain hygiene?
- Do you want a full bath/5 spa at pickup after boarding and do you know what time you’ll be picking up so we can schedule it?
Our goal is to make sure your boarding pup isn’t stressed and that they can have “the most exciting day ever.” We also want to make sure that our pet parents aren’t stressed and know what to expect. We really don’t like to call you while you are on vacation because your pup is having issues acclimating after a couple of days. The policies in place have really helped mitigate many issues with infrequent boarders and result in happier guests and pet parents.