Dog daycare is not a dog park. While the concept of the two can seem similar, they are in fact unbelievably different. While both daycare and dog parks allow off leash play, that is where most of the similarities end. This means that your dog might be excellent in daycare, but doesn’t do well at the dog park, and vice versa. There are several reasons why daycare could be perfect for your dog, while the dog park might not be a good fit for your pet.
When bringing your dog to daycare, you drop them off knowing that there are trained professionals there supervising your dog’s behavior the entire time. The professionals are there to read and interpret the body language of your dog and other dogs. They are trained to address anything good or bad before it happens. If something is about to happen at a dog park, as well as you may know your dog, you might not be able to understand everything he or she is trying to tell you.
Another difference is that with supervision from a trained professional, the dogs will experience interrupted play. Play should be interrupted in intervals so the dogs understand the human in this equation is not going to let things get out of control. It is our experience that dogs that go to dogs parks typically aren’t used to interrupted play. Interrupted play is important because it makes sure the play is well balanced, and that both dogs are enjoying interacting with each other. Dogs that have the ability to “check-in” with their owner or daycare attendant understand that play has boundaries. Over-stimulation can cause dogs to react in a negative way, even towards their friends.
A huge benefit to daycare is dogs are screened before they are allowed to play. At the dog park, any dog is allowed and it is ‘play at your own risk.’ At a reputable daycare facility, trained staff will carefully screen dogs to make sure all dogs in the group are appropriate and are having fun. With the dog park, you can’t always guarantee that all the dogs there are dog friendly and would enjoy the attention of your dog.
Dog daycare and the dog park both give your dog an outlet to burn off lots of energy. However, it is important to always be prepared. Educate yourself with what appropriate body language looks like when dogs are interacting to make any experience a safe one.