My Dog's been expelled from Daycare
So, you’ve just been told by your dog’s day care centre that they’re not going to be able to continue attending. It’s not a nice feeling – it’s like having your child expelled from school for bad behaviour! It can feel embarrassing, as well as incredibly concerning – what’s wrong with your dog?! Fear not – day care isn’t the right environment for every dog, and your dog isn’t necessarily “broken” just because it’s not working for them!
There are a few reasons dogs can typically be “kicked out” of day care. Some common problems we hear about include humping other dogs, excessive vocalisation, aggressive behaviour towards other dogs, appearing fearful/timid, rough play and harassing of other dogs. Often, dog owners are genuinely very surprised to hear why things aren’t working at day care for their dog – they may never have witnessed their dog behave this way in any other environment before.
The thing about day care, is that it’s simply not for every dog. Day care can be great for the right temperament of dog, but it’s also an incredibly socially demanding environment that can be absolutely exhausting for many dogs and is a great place for them to learn some really bad habits. Timid and nervous dogs are likely to feel overwhelmed in this environment, and may even begin to display aggressive behaviour as a defence mechanism – where they would usually be able to employ more subtle body language to ask another dog to give them space, when surrounded by lots of excited dogs they may soon learn that they need to be loud if they want to be listened to. Bolshy dogs can learn to become the class bully, as they spend hours of their day with an endless supply of dogs to chase around and roughhouse with.
Behaviours like humping and barking can be a sign your dog is overexcited in this environment, or even signs of frustration when things aren’t going their way. Many dogs can become “addicted” to the thrill of interacting with and playing with other dogs – some owners may start to see their dogs unable to focus around other dogs and even becoming reactive when out on walks, particularly when on the lead, because they feel excited whenever they see another dog and then feel frustrated when they can’t get to them to play.
So, we know it’s not unusual that your dog might have found day care overwhelming or stressful – but now that they’ve been kicked out, what are you going to do next? Here are our top recommendations for what to do with your dog after they’ve been expelled from day care.
Thank the Day Care Staff
This might seem a strange one, but don’t take the staff’s decision as a personal attack. No day care wants to turn away a client, but the staff saw that the situation wasn’t right for your dog and they are doing the right thing by removing your dog from the environment. Ignoring the problem could not only cause ongoing distress for your dog, with potential behavioural issues developing over time, but could end up with them being in a dangerous situation where a dog fight may occur. They are looking out for your dog and the rest of the dogs in the day care by noticing the problem and addressing it head on.
Attend Group Classes
Whether your dog is a social butterfly, who is now more than a little overenthusiastic when they see other dogs, or is a little nervous and has learn that other dogs are something to be fearful of, a group class is a great way to remedy this. Working with your dog in a safe, controlled environment around other dogs is a wonderful way to help build their confidence as well as teaching excitable dogs how to manage their impulses and be calm and engaged around other dogs. A huge part of appropriate socialisation for our dogs is about them learning to be calm and relaxed when other dogs are around, and to ignore other dogs – a group class is a great way to achieve this. You can book classes here
Consider a 121 Session
If your dog has development more extreme behavioural issues after attending day care, you may want to consider a 121 session before your group classes. This will give your instructor and opportunity to assess your dog to make sure a group class is suitable for them at this stage, as well as to help you start to implement some useful training and handling techniques so you can manage your dog’s nervousness or arousal levels when you arrive at class. You can book 121's here.
Take Your Time
Whatever the reason your dog is no longer to attend day care, it’s wise to take your time before rushing to find them a place with another dog care provider. Both to allow your dog to decompress – “good” and “bad” stress have the same physiological effects on our dogs, so they will need time for those stress chemicals to dissipate whether they were struggling due to nervousness or overexcitement. You also cannot rush the training process – your dog has learnt to behave a certain way around dogs, and this takes time to correct. You will be setting everyone up to fail by rushing this process, so focus on your dog’s training and resocialisation with the guidance of a professional trainer via 121 sessions and/or group classes.
Research Dog Walkers
If you are keen to find some other form of care for your dog while you are at work, start researching dog walkers. Look for a dog walker who takes out small groups of dogs and who has a background in dog behaviour and training. We already know that a day care environment, where your dog was spending time around lots of different, unknown dogs, was not suitable for them – a good dog walker can walk your dog with a few other dogs who they will be carefully introduced to. The dog walker should account for the dogs’ personalities and play styles, and a relaxing walk where your dog can vary their time between playing, mooching and sniffing with their walking friends will be much more beneficial for them in every sense.
If your dog is too nervous or needs training before they can attend a group walk, some dog walkers offer solo walks or pop-in visits so your dog can still get some interaction and a toilet break during the day.