The dog daycare experience is more than what meets the eye when you visit Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center. Yes, there is a yard filled with playful dogs engaged in activities and hanging out with friends. However, what goes unseen is the unique personality, the style of play, and the story behind each dog.
For most dogs, joining a dog daycare program is easy. Due to many reasons, some dogs may need a slower introduction to the resort and daycare teams. A slower introduction can help build trust and establish good communication between the staff and the dog. This introductory period allows the daycare team to discover which daycare group the dog will enjoy most.
Dottie, Kami, and Smitty have blossomed since their start in the dog daycare program, but it was a journey for each of them.
DOTTIE – A beagle/hound mix adopted at three months old whose story begins with training
“Dottie’s training and participation in dog daycare at Holiday House Pet Resort changed our relationship with her for the better. The dog daycare experience has been the best thing for Dottie,” said Barbara.
Barbara initially enrolled Dottie in a puppy program at a local pet store. Although Dottie was comfortable at the vet’s office and with her family, she became aggressive with the pet store staff. She would not let people near her.
“I was concerned about this behavior. It was important to us for Dottie to receive socialization and training. We wanted a dog that was good around people, and especially good with our grandchildren,” said Barbara. Adding, “I looked at other options, and that’s when I spoke with Brianna at Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center.”
Dottie enrolled in the resort’s 15-day Stay & Learn program. It was evident to the resort and training teams that Dottie was uncomfortable with strangers approaching her, especially to put on a leash.
“Dottie’s reactions to leashing were more extreme away from home. It was evident that Dottie was uncomfortable with unknown situations. A goal was changing her negative association with the leash to a positive one,” said Jess Philp, training manager at the resort.
The training team spent the first week of her program simply bonding with her and building trust. To achieve those goals, it took consistency with putting her leash on and engaging in a fun activity. As a 10-month-old puppy, it was also essential for her to have an outlet to burn energy before returning to the crate or suite for rest.
Dottie’s transition from professional training to dog daycare
As the leash became a symbol of something fun, Dottie’s trust grew. The training team and her parents agreed that enrolling Dottie in the daycare program would help with socializing, maintaining her progress with training, and using up her puppy energy.
“The ability to put a lead on a dog is critical for participation in any daycare program with us. Our teachers knew that the Adventurers group would be a great daycare program for Dottie. We wanted her experience to be successful. During her first day in daycare, Jack, her trainer Jack showed each daycare teacher how to approach Dottie with a lead. We continued to work with Dottie until she was completely comfortable with the process,” said Ro, one of the daycare managers.
The leash was no longer a source of stress for Dottie. “She loves being around the other dogs, and we love having her in the group. Dottie is now a member of our daycare Explorer group. Being able to put a leash on her for nature walks and connecting with her for special activities are great,” added Ro.
“Training a dog is about learning to communicate. Every dog is different, so it’s important to understand what the dog needs first for training to be successful. Our trainers earned Dottie’s trust, and shared the details with the daycare team to reinforce that relationship with her,” added Jess.
KAMI – A 3-year-old Husky mix rescue adopted in 2019
“I know that Kami has made huge improvements being in daycare. It keeps her happy. When I ask her, ‘Ready to go see your friends?’ Kami gets excited. She’s a great dog and she loves life,” said Matt.
Kami came to Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center in October 2019 for a daycare introduction. She was not interested in the other dogs or interacting with people, which also presented challenges putting on her collar and leash.
“Kami started with our day lodging program where we could take time, on Kami’s terms, to form a bond and gain her trust. When she approached me and began to show more interest in being around other people and dogs, we knew it was just a matter of time,” said Amanda, resort lodging manager.
Within a month, the team introduced Kami to canine friends, Rudy and Bo, during a small group play session. As Kami became more comfortable with allowing herself the freedom to play instead of feeling overwhelmed by the dog daycare experience, the team gradually included more dogs in her play sessions. Eventually, Ro attended as a passive bystander.
“I just wanted to be a presence in the yard when Kami was playing. Eventually, she came to me for affection. That’s when the team decided on another daycare introduction with the larger group. Everyone fell in love with Kami and wanted to make daycare a positive experience for her,” said Ro.
Kami now attends the daycare program regularly. She enjoys playing with all of her canine friends, and she is more trusting and affectionate with people.
SMITTY – One-year-old Husky rescued from an abusive environment
“Being in the daycare program has given Smitty more confidence around people. When we rescued Smitty last April, he was afraid of people and had a lot of anxiety,” said Brenda.
Knowing Smitty enjoyed being around other dogs, Brenda brought him to Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center for a daycare introduction. The challenge for the resort staff was approaching Smitty to handle his collar and leash. He was not aggressive, but he was the master of avoiding anyone headed in his direction. He did not trust people and was not interested in the daycare team.
“That first day of daycare, with his collar and leash on, we would casually walk him around the daycare yard for 20 minutes at a time. It was simply a matter of being with him and creating that positive environment,” said Ro.
During the earlier days of attending daycare, Ro would keep a few treats in her pocket. With no expectations from Smitty, she waited until he approached her and quietly gave him a treat. Ro educated the staff about Smitty’s personality, behaviors, and the action plan for working with him to build trust and make him feel comfortable with the dog daycare experience.
“It’s been a slow process, and that is ok. Smitty loves being with the other dogs, so, at his own pace, he’s finding a way to trust our team and feel comfortable in the daycare program,” added Ro.
“Smitty is more affectionate now and allows us to pet him. We also don’t have to chase him around to put on his leash. The daycare team has helped Smitty move beyond his trust issues, and he’s just a happier dog. We love him so much,” added Brenda.
Teamwork & Communication
The relationships among the lodging, the daycare, and the training teams are essential. Team members frequently share helpful information about the dogs in their care. Some dogs like to be around other dogs, so a daycare program is a terrific place to spend the day. An obstacle to that experience could be people, a leash, or a communication breakdown. By working together, each team member understands the needs of the dogs in the program and the best way to communicate with them. This knowledge allows the team to match each dog with the daycare group program designed for their energy level and personality.
“When we know that a daycare program is the best place for a dog to be, we want to make it the best experience. We want a positive outcome regardless of which daycare group the dog chooses. As managers and trainers, we share our knowledge to support a dog’s development and progress. It’s rewarding for the dog, and it’s rewarding for us,” said Ro.
Dottie, Kami, and Smitty love playing at Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center. Seeing them in the play yard having fun is not the full story. Each of them had a unique journey for their dog daycare experience to be positive. And there’s more to being a dog daycare teacher than monitoring a play yard full of happy dogs. With a dedicated team of experts focused on the needs of each guest, the daycare programs offered at Holiday House Pet Resort & Training Center can be a positive experience for every dog.