“Man’s Best Friend”
This statement appears to have originated from Frederick II, who was King of Prussia from 1740-1786. King Frederick was reportedly referring to one of his Italian greyhounds as his “best friend”. The statement was further popularized by the poet Ogden Nash in his poem “An introduction to dogs” written during the 1950s. Nash wrote a number of poems which lovingly portrayed dogs and their relationship with humans.
Most people who own dogs identify with this statement and have come to realize the tremendous benefits that dog ownership conveys to them. Many studies have shown correlation between dog ownership and lessened stress levels, with some studies going so far as to attribute life extending benefits to individuals who have strong personal relationships with their dogs. If one were to ask a group of dog owners why they enjoyed owning a dog and what benefits they felt they derived from that relationship, typical responses would include the following:
– “My dog offers me unconditional love”
– “My dog never judges me, nor criticizes”
– “My dog is always happy to see me”
– “My dog makes me feel less anxious and safer”
– “My dog lifts my spirits”
The list of health and emotional benefits realized to owners through dog ownership could easily fill many pages, and indeed a vast number of articles, papers, studies and blogs have been written on this subject.
My question to you as a dog owner is – how does your dog benefit from your relationship? What does your dog gain from having YOU as its pet parent?
Let’s talk for a moment about dog daycare. In Canada, particularly east of Alberta – dog daycare is viewed by many as a “niche” business which primarily appeals to dog owners who are away from home all day (at work or elsewhere) and fills somewhat the same function as children’s daycare. Unlike kid’s daycare however, dog daycare is viewed more as a “luxury” than a “necessity”. This is in large part because dogs can take care of themselves at a very early age and are not reliant on continual adult supervision to ensure their safety and maintenance. However, the parallels between children’s daycare and dog daycare are much more substantial than simply having somewhere safe to place your loved one when you can’t be there.
Consider what your child’s development might be like if they did not interact with other children. They would become selfish, socially awkward, inconsiderate, and self-absorbed. This is why children attending elementary school, and their experiences while in the early grades are so crucial to their development. In later life, most individuals consider their social interaction with other people a being a key component to their lives as happy, well-adjusted adults. If a human being were to spend all of their formative years and/or later life in the exclusive company of dogs – they would probably become a bit weird.
So it is with dogs. Being social animals, dogs thrive on interaction with other beings. While dogs highly value their relationship with their owners (a fact that has been scientifically documented) they also like interacting with their peers. That is, other dogs. Dogs have been observed creating friendships, correcting socially unacceptable behaviour by other dogs within a group, and learning dog “etiquette”. When dogs have an opportunity to establish relationships and friendships with other dogs, they often become happier, less anxious, and better behaved. This in turn leads to a happier relationship for you and your best friend.
The socialization element of dog daycare is what makes this service not only beneficial, but truly necessary for owners who wish to enhance the lives of their dogs. Kennels (where dogs are usually crated for extended periods throughout the day) offer very limited opportunities for dogs to interact with other dogs as do dog walking services. Obviously, in home dog “sitters” cannot facilitate dog to dog interaction unless they actually bring in a dog of their own, and that interaction would still only take place between 2 or 3 dogs as opposed to many as in daycare. The best opportunity for dogs to enjoy the stimulation, playtime, social interaction and companionship offered by establishing relationships with other dogs is in the open play environment offered by reputable, professional dog daycare services.
Next – what happens to dogs when they attend daycare.
www.dogtopia.com for more information on daycare