If you wonder how your dog will do in the daycare scene, we’re here to give you the inside scoop. Many dogs thrive in daycare and look forward to their daily romp with friends. Other dogs dogs, in fact, don’t like daycare at all. Below is a list of dog personalities that either need more or are not suited for daycare.
Poor personality traits for dog daycare
Not to be confused with active dogs. Hyperactive dogs have no impulse control, a lot of energy, and don’t respond to basic obedience commands. Hyperactive dogs elevate the energy of the playgroup within seconds which can quickly escalate into a fight. In addition, because they have so much energy, they are constantly trying to engage other dogs by jumping on them and biting their necks – behaviors many dogs do not like.
These dogs need additional dog training that specifically focuses on impulse control. After completing a training program, they should have a varied schedule of exercise and enrichment classes at least 3 times a week in addition to daycare.
Dogs that have a protective nature care great guard dogs and companions; they always stick by your side and will do anything for you. In an open play environment, however, this behavior comes with issues. Overprotective dogs can snap at other dogs to protect resources or reinforce rules.
Think of these dogs dogs like your personal bodyguard or “muscle.” Someone bothering you? They will take care of it. Someone not listening to you? They will take care of it. Despite their good intentions, it can cause a lot of problems when your doggy bodyguard snaps at other dogs because they didn’t follow your instructions or because they have set out to guard the perimeter or gate. We sometimes have to dismiss these dogs because, in the process of “helping,” they inadvertently hurt dogs.
Highly Intelligent Dogs
There is such a thing as a dog that is too smart for daycare. Smart dogs, breeds such as Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, and Jack Russell Terriers, should only come to daycare once or twice a week; the routine becomes tedious and causes boredom and, potentially, neurosis. When dogs grow bored, they get into trouble. Whether they are harassing other dogs for fun or giving themselves jobs like patrolling the fence, it causes problems for the group.
Dogs that are highly intelligent need a dynamic schedule filled with a variety of enrichment, exercise and training.
Giant (Active) Dog Breeds
Dogs weighing more than 100 pounds or standing taller than other large dogs are extremely intimidating to other dogs. It escalates if the giant dog is unaware of their bigger size and tries to engage in active play despite the size difference. The other dogs see the attempts at play as aggressive and typically will “counter” attack the larger dog. If this happens frequently, we have to dismiss the giant dog. Improving training for boundaries and obedience can help and make it easier for these dogs to participate in daycare. Regardless, if they are active, they need more exercise and enrichment in their weekly schedule outside of daycare.
Lazy giant dogs, on the other hand, tend to be all right (because they don’t actively jump on or engage the other dogs).
Dogs lacking confidence are considered weak by the pack, prompting other dogs to attack them. Interestingly, dogs in the pack can pick up on this trait almost immediately and consistently (meaning different groups of dogs will have the same reaction). Dogs with low confidence are timid, afraid to make decisions, and are generally perceived by humans to be shy. In the dogs’ world, however, these dogs are the lowest ranking members of the group and can elicit an immediate negative reaction from the pack (such as dogs attacking them).
Dog training can help these dogs become more social and confident. Training and sports classes like a Scent Works class can boost confidence. In addition, providing consistent training and reinforcement at home is key to having a confident and well-adjusted dog.
Intact Female/Male Dogs
Dogs that are not spayed or neutered are not suitable for open play. Daycares require that dogs are spayed or neutered by 6 months of age. Contrary to what some people think, it’s not because unneutered males are aggressive, it has more to do with the fact that other dogs will attack the unneutered dog as they perceive them as threats. In addition, males in the group will fight for the attention of unspayed females. In general, a lot of conflict arises when intact dogs are in daycare.
Needless to day, aggressive dogs (toward humans or dogs) are not a good fit for daycare. All dogs have instances where they have an aggressive reaction prompted by a specific behavior or dog. However, aggressive dogs exhibit this behavior frequently and without provocation or hesitation or regard for the person or dog he or she is attacking.
There are two main types of aggression: dominant and fearful. Dominant aggression describes dogs that attack other dogs when they want to be in control or in reaction to fear, however, it’s more of an offensive reaction (like a school bully). Fear aggression is when dogs attack other dogs out of fear, more of a defensive reaction.
In either case, usually, aggressive dogs will lunge or try to attack an approaching dog on a leash before they even get into the play area. If you have an aggressive dog, we recommend dog training as soon as aggressive tendencies arise to avoid escalation and having to give up your dog.
Dogs that you think wouldn’t daycare, but do!
- Lap Dogs. It’s a misconception that “pocketbook” dogs, like Maltese, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus, only want to lounge on the sofa all day or ride around in a purse. Don’t get me wrong; they do like lounging. But they are also dogs, and they like to play and have fun. Some of our littlest dogs have been our most active and social.
- Low Activity Dogs. Some dogs receive great joy relaxing on play equipment and watching over the pack. Even though they refrain from wrestling and chasing, they have just as much fun as rambunctious pups. Think of it like watching TV or a live sports game.
- Miniature Dogs. Owners with dogs under 5lbs tend to be afraid of placing their tiny pup in a group of dogs. A confident dog, regardless of size, is able to mingle, play, and have fun. We’ve had dogs as small as 2lbs in our daycare play groups without issue. In fact, many of our miniature dogs have powerful personalities that let them rule over the pack and have fun.
- Elderly Dogs. A healthy, elderly dog enjoys being in the pack as much as anyone else. It keeps these older dogs social and in the mix. Many senior dogs lack the stamina to play and move around but enjoy being around their friends. They are also the first to tell you when they need their afternoon nap.
Dogs, like people, have different preferences and needs. Just because a dog doesn’t thrive in daycare, doesn’t mean they can’t thrive in life. With training and a varied schedule of activities and enrichment, all dogs can be happy and a great companion to you.