Too much of a good thing
Updated: Oct 9, 2021
Daycare for your dog has so many great benefits (see blog post about daycare benefits - coming soon). But, too much can have adverse consequences for your dog's health and wellbeing. We are obviously huge fans of dog daycare here, but we want your dog's health to be our number one priority. Below is a list of reasons why we do not allow dogs to attend 5 days a week regularly.
Overstimulation: The classic "too much of a good thing" here means the dog never has time to take a breath and relax. The stimulation of daycare is an ongoing, exciting experience like Doggy Disneyland! It would be like being on a roller coaster for hours at a time. It might be fun at first, but after a while you just want off.
Dogs will tell us they want off the daycare roller coaster in several ways. They might start aggressing and snapping at their former playmates. they might shut down and cower in the corner until it's time to go home. Either way, we do not want to see these behaviors. We want all our guests to want to be in daycare and enjoy themselves.
Builds Endurance: A dog in daycare builds endurance the same way as someone builds a tolerance for a novel stimulus, or builds endurance for a physical activity (running a marathon perhaps). The more exposure to it, the more accustomed you become to it. If you run once in a while, you won't be able to compete in a marathon, but if you run every day, your body becomes used to that level of running. Each day it becomes less taxing on your system. The same can be said for dogs in daycare. The more often and longer the days spent in daycare, the more they grow used to that amount of stimulus. When they are no longer exposed to that level of stimulus, they have a hard time settling back down. They won't nap as long at home after a day of daycare. They will need additional exercise to tire out than they used to. This never ending cycle is not good for their health or mental well being.
On your dog's off daycare days we love to see them do training or other forms of exercise like dog sports or sniffy walks. Using a variety of mental and physical forms of exercise will benefit your dog in the long run.
No Down Time: Yes, we do give every dog naps in the middle of the day. One or two 2 hour naps are not sufficient to provide enough rest and recovery between play sessions in the long term. A full 24 hours is good. 72 hours is even better. Dogs sleep for 12-18 hours a day. They do not sleep 12 hours straight. They take many naps throughout the day. By allowing your dog the rest it needs on their non-daycare days, you will have a much happier dog.
Ability to be Alone: Dogs are social creatures and want to be with their "family" as much as possible. We love that about dogs. But, there might be a time where the dog needs to be alone. It could be as simple as going to run errands for a couple hours. It could also be spending time at the vet due to an illness that needs to be monitored. Being able to spend time alone safely means you can trust your dog to not hurt themselves if you need to leave the house for any reason.
Short term, 5 days a week will not cause long term effects. If a dog needs to board for a couple weeks, or something at home has caused a short term need in daily daycare (house guests, construction, etc), we will accommodate this. However, we will not put a dog on a 5+ day a week recurring schedule. Our ideal schedule is 2-3 days a week with a day off in between.
Further resources: http://www.sportdogtrainingcenter.com/aggression-cortisol/