Each month Petplan vet Brian Faulkner takes a look at some of the issues he comes across in his day-to-day life as a practising vet.
This month he talks us through some unruly visitors to his surgery and why he thinks innovations like doggy day care can be an important way of helping dogs learn vital social skills…
While a vast majority of pets that are brought to me are suffering from physical ailments – whether illness or injury – I do see my fair share of pets with behavioural problems, with dogs being the most common.
Within the past week one client visited me asking for my thoughts on how she could get her dog to behave better around other dogs and people.
My first piece of advice in these scenarios is nearly always the same. I tell them that they need to socialise their dog – which basically means exposing them to other people and dogs in as many different situation and environments as possible – and is why I’m such an advocate of dog day care.
While many fashionable pet trends serve no purpose other than to separate well-meaning owners from their money, ‘doggy day care’ is something that can make a real difference to the lives of pets and their owners.
There are plenty of dogs that don’t get the correct amount of exercise, stimulation or interaction with other dogs and people, and doggy day care is something that can help all three of those things as discussed below:
Doggy day care is great for increasing the amount of exercise your dog gets
This is fairly self-explanatory. If your dog is stuck at home during your working hours, then the amount of exercise they’ll be getting in most circumstances isn’t enough.
However, if they are in a professional facility with plenty of space for them to move around in then the amount of exercise they’ll get will significantly increase – something that will only be beneficial to your pet, helping them fend off obesity, numerous other health problems and boredom.
Doggy day care provides brilliant stimulation for dogs
Dogs are incredibly intelligent and social animals and, much like you or I would, can become bored and fed-up spending hours cooped up without company.
A good day care facility will provide plenty of opportunity for your dog to be stimulated, whether through individual attention or through group activities with the other dogs.
This increased stimulation makes for a far happier and healthy dog – and one that is well prepared to spend time in the company of others.
Interaction with other dogs and humans increases dramatically at doggy day care
This is the single biggest reason why I think day care facilities for dogs are brilliant and why I always recommend them to people who bring their unruly dogs into the surgery.
Socialisation is vital for dogs if they are to be confident and learn to behave in the correct manner around other dogs and humans.
The only instances in which I wouldn’t recommend doggy day care as an option to owners would be if their dog has severe behavioural problems. These pets would benefit from a more personal approach via behaviourist advice or a more controlled environment such as obedience classes.
Similarly, I’m aware that many people will not be able to afford the added expense of placing their dog in daily care. For those that are unable to send their dog for daily care, I would recommend the following:
One day a week is better than none
If you are unable to afford daily care, then sending them for just one day a-week can be enough to make a significant difference to their behaviour and ability to socialise with others.
Have a dog walker break up the day for your dog
If your pet is left on their own in your house during the day, then hiring a trusted dog walker to come to your home and take your dog out can be a great help.
It allows your dog to meet another person and you can instruct the dog walker to take your pet out to areas where there are plenty of other dogs such as local parks or beaches – something you may not be able to do when you return from work at the end of the day.
Doggy day care is one of the most exciting innovations of the past few years and one that has produced plenty of great results for many of the people who come to my surgery – this is one fad that I hope stays around for a long time.