Comfort and Safety Standard
The safety and comfort of our guests is our main concern! We have an excellent reputation among veterinarians and the public, and are known as the safe dog daycare and boarding facility in town. Other facilities can and do take dogs that are inappropriate in our environment.
Our team members are trained and certified by nationally acclaimed Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA) in dog behavior and safe off-leash group play. Pet Play House is unique in that respect in the Reno/Sparks area.
We are providing this information for a better understanding of what goes on in daycare and group play, and how our team has been trained to handle this group-play interaction. Some of these terms may be foreign to you, and we want you to know what these terms mean so that we can all be speaking the same language.
Dogs can receive cuts, scrapes, abrasions, nips, sprains, torn nails, and various other boo-boos when playing safely in a group of dogs. For many dogs this is much like a sporting event with the associated injuries. Our goal is to prevent serious injuries, and intimidation/bullying. We do appropriately allow dogs to give low-level warnings to other dogs, and dog-to-dog corrections.
Our team is trained to use the following terms when describing naughty behavior, and the corrective action taken. The definitions are provided for your reference:
- Snark: A big aggressive display that usually includes strong vocalizations from one dog to another when the receiving dog does not vocalize or fight back.
- Tiff: An aggressive sounding moment between two dogs in which both dogs vocalize but there is no contact.
- Scuffle: A very brief (less than 10 seconds) aggressive interaction between two or more dogs that includes body movements and not just vocalizations.
- Fight: An incident between two or more dogs over status or control of some resource that lasts longer than 10 seconds and includes body contact and possibly vocalizations. May or may not result in injuries.
- Arousal: A state of energy were a dog is excited and in a state of high alert. It could be because he is happy and having fun, or is getting stressed and overwhelmed. Arousal can show up in the form of a faster heart rate, a tense body, barking, mouthiness, jumping, spinning, or general lack of impulse control. Arousal can lead to aggression if we don’t give the dog a break.
- Humping: The action of a male or female dog mounting another dog, even after dogs are spayed or neutered. Dogs do this when playing or dominating another dog. It is not fun for the dog being humped, and it can cause fights, as well as scrapes/scratches on the dog being humped.
- Excessive Barking: Barking that cannot be stopped by a simple command, squirt of the water bottle, or time out/rest period. Excessive barking is non-stop and not related to an alert (see arousal above). Uncontrolled barking excites the group and can cause anxiety, arousal, and aggression in the other dogs in the group.
- Fun Stopping: Some dogs want to be in control of the group-play and will jump in to stop play they do not approve of.
- Time Out: Dogs can get over-excited and need a moment to calm down. Time outs are brief periods in a confined space for 5 to 15 minutes.
- Rest Periods: Longer than a brief time out. Dogs are used to sleeping for long periods at home, and sometimes in group play the all day activity can be too much for them and they can get grumpy. Dogs that are exhibiting tired, grumpy behavior will be given a rest period if they are unable to rest on the sideline on their own.
- Slow Start: Dogs can become very aroused upon first arriving at daycare. This arousal can cause aggressive displays by the dog that they do not exhibit at other times during the day. The dog is placed in a confined space where he can see the other dogs arriving and smell the other dogs without harming other dogs due to this aroused state. The dog then joins the group when he is calmer.
- Squirt Bottles: Used to distract dogs from naughty behavior. Used to distract dogs farther away or in noisy situations where a verbal command may not be heard.
- Verbal Commands: We use basic training commands – Sit, Stay, Down, Off, No, Wait, and Come.
- Lavender Spray: Has a calming effect and can be used for humping or other signs of arousal or stress.
- No-bark Collar: A collar that senses the vibration of a dog’s vocal cords when he barks. The collar “vibrates” to distract the dog, stopping him from barking unnecessarily. You would be notified prior to the use of the “no bark collar.” It is used only with a pet parent’s permission, understanding of course that it may be required for a dog to continue attending.
Doggies attending group-play may be placed in time out or given a rest period without notification to the owner. This is normal and responsible management of dogs in group play, and not a cause for alarm or concern. This does not mean your dog is bad, or that you need to be called each time this happens. If we were instead talking about a child with language skills, the situation could be explained to the child and the behavior could be changed. With dogs we have to use simple non-verbal tools to stop certain behaviors and ensure the safety of the group. If your dog is continually acting out and requires repetitive time outs you will be notified.
If the Pet Play House “Senior Kennel Technician” feels your dog is endangering, bullying, or intimidating other doggy guests or creating over-excitement that cannot be controlled in this setting, you will receive a notice. The person picking up your dog will be required to sign the notice and will be given a copy of the notice. Depending on the situation you may receive a phone call prior to pick-up.
Depending on the severity of the incident, or the repetitive nature, your doggy may be removed from daycare or group play.
Because we want to be open and clear about behavior that is not acceptable, we have developed a form that outlines the situation that must be signed by the pet parent or person picking up the dog. Below is an example of a “Dog Behavior Notification Form.” This form may change slightly over time, but this is generally what you could receive:
Dog Behavior Notification Form
Type of behavior____________________________________________
Corrective actions taken _______________________________________
Recommendation of actions to be taken at home_______________________
What to expect if the behavior continues_____________________________
Signature of person picking-up ___________________________________
Printed Name _______________________________________________
Other Useful Links:
Above is a great article on “Canine Cough” written by a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and pet care facility owner. She does a good job of explaining what Canine Cough is like, what to do about it, and why the Bordetella Vaccine is not entirely effective in preventing your dog from contracting the virus.
Above is a great piece written by Certified Professional Dog Trainer Robin Bennett – it helps to explain what to do if a dog daycare facility finds your dog is inappropriate for, or just does not like, a group-dog environment. Your dog is not a “horrible doggy” if this is the position you find yourselves in!
This site above is written by a veterinarian and it is helpful in explaining why we require vaccines to be administered by a licensed veterinarian, rather than owners purchasing vaccines from feed stores and administering the vaccines themselves.