My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today

I received an email the other day that started with, “My dog got kicked out of daycare today.”  It was from a dog owner I knew. She loves her dog and was looking for outlets for his energy.  She is a fantastic owner — the kind every dog trainer wants to meet. She was bonded to her dog, committed to his well-being, and loved to hear advice from pet professionals on how to improve her dog’s life. 

So she emailed me to find out what she had done wrong. She needed to express her embarrassment with her dog, and wanted to cry on my shoulder (virtually) and find out what she should be doing to fix what she viewed as her dog’s problems.

She had a lovely dog, with no behavioral problems.  The dog was friendly with people, well mannered in the house, walked nicely on leash and was absolutely adored by everyone in the family. But there was this one problem….her dog got kicked out of daycare today.

My advice to her?  “Just don’t go to the daycare and don’t go to dog parks.”  That’s it.  No magic wand to fix a problem.  No behavioral modification program to force her dog to tolerate the presence of large numbers of other dogs.  No litany of tools and tricks she should use to get her dog to accept the environment of off-leash play.  Just don’t go to the daycare or dog park.  That’s it.

Far too often we try to force our pets into environments they may not like.  And when we do, the dog suffers.  I’ve seen shy dogs taken to crowded parades.  The dog is not happy. I’ve seen sound sensitive dogs taken to fireworks displays. The dog is not happy.  And I’ve seen dogs who don’t particularly enjoy the company of other dogs taken to dog parks and daycares.  The dog is not happy.

Most of the times these situations occur because well-meaning dog owners are trying to do things they think would be fun for their dog.  In the excitement of taking the dog someplace new, many owners fail to notice how their dog is responding to the new environment.  I recommend looking to the dog for clues as to what makes them happy.  Watch for loose, wiggly body language in your dog.  If your dog is hiding, shaking, jumping up on you, or appears more nervous than when you are hanging out at home, he’s probably not happy.

Not every dog likes off-leash play and that’s ok.  It’s not a statement about the dog. It’s about an environment that just isn’t a good fit for a particular dog. Just like an evening at the fireworks isn’t the best environment for a dog who is sound sensitive and a crowded parade isn’t the best environment for a dog who doesn’t enjoy crowds, an off-leash play environment isn’t the best place for a dog that doesn’t enjoy playing with other dogs.

When a dog doesn’t do well in off-leash play it is not necessarily a symptom of a problem, or a bad dog or a dog in need of behavioral modification.  This might be the case, but more often than not, it’s just a dog who prefers people.  It’s a dog who would rather hang out with the people he loves than dogs he doesn’t know. It’s a dog who would love a hike in the woods but doesn’t enjoy off-leash play with a group of other dogs.  This doesn’t make the dog bad.

But is this normal? Don’t all dogs want to play with other dogs?  Shouldn’t I socialize him so he gets used to it?  I get asked these questions all the time.  The truth is, there are far more dogs who do not enjoy off-leash play, than there are dogs who love it.

When a pet care professional dismisses your dog from daycare or recommends you don’t go to the dog park, you should thank them.  Thank them for caring more about your pet, than about making a buck by bringing your dog into their facility if the dog isn’t going to enjoy the off-leash environment. Thank them for seeing your dog as a unique animal with individual temperament traits.  Thank them for trying to look out for the well-being of your pet and putting your dog’s safety and comfort first.

What if you dog doesn’t like the off-leash play?  It’s ok. You are not a bad owner and your dog is not a bad dog. Just find other ways to exercise your dog that don’t involve interacting with other dogs.  Go for a walk, take a hike, give your dog a massage, or try some activity such as agility, RallyO, or nosework. You’ll both have a great time bonding, and your dog will be happy.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

285 thoughts on “My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today

  1. THANK YOU for writing this! As a daycare owner with a HIGH refusal rate for daycare, I get a lot of criticism for being too strict, or too picky, etc. BUT I have an obligation to put the dogs first. There are a LOT of dogs that do not want to socialize in a daycare environment, even a smaller quiet one! From disinterested to dog-selective to overstimulated to downright afraid there are MANY reasons why it might not be the right environment for any one particular dog. EXCELLENT article, and yes, when I turn away a dog or ask them to stop attending, I truly have the dog’s best interests at heart!

    • Thanks, Heather! I know you are always looking out for the dogs! It’s always good to be reminded you are on the right track and doing the right things.

      • What a fantastic article, it has made me feel 100 times better and describes my GSD to perfection. Also I love your remark Heather about doggy day care, I tried Kaiya and she spent the whole morning eyeing the fence, they were terrified that she was going to go.
        She loves people and will happily walk with a few dogs, so I do agility with her on a one to one which she adores.

        • Great job recognizing what Kaiya enjoys, Liz. Off-leash play isn’t for every dog and sometimes the herding breeds really have a hard time relaxing and playing in that environment. Sounds like agility is a much better fit! I’m glad you liked the post.

    • I agree with the fact that dogs should not be forced to socialize in “off leash” parks and/or “day care” centres. As you say, it is the dog’s interest that we have at heart. There are so many other ways to exercise/bond with your dog. Later on in the evening you can take them to the park, a drive out to the country on the weekends where they can romp freely in closed areas (where other dogs are absent). There is so much information on the internet these days where your dogs are in the best of care. There are private dog sitters where they come into your home and sit/spend quality time with your dog and get one-on-one care.

    • My dog got kicked out of dog car too! They called for me to come and get Jasmine not 10 minutes after I left her. Never tried it again.

  2. I have a Puggle and she does not like to play with a lot of dogs but she loves humans. Snuggles is an excellent pet therapy dog because of this. Thank you for this article.

    • A puggle names Snuggles? I love that. 🙂 The best thing you need in a therapy dog is a dog that adores humans so I think Snuggles has the perfect life!

  3. Love this article. When I first adopted my dog, I was told that I have to socialize her and I have to get her to ‘like’ other dogs so I took her to a doggy daycare 3 days a week for over a year. She hated it, but I kept going because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do and that’s what I was told to do (by the daycare owner).

    I started fostering a dog who had distemper and my dog got kicked out of daycare for a month because some of the daycare care dogs had gotten sick and the owner was certain my dog was ‘a carrier of distemper’ (my dog never showed any signs of illness). Well, for a month she stayed home with me and I realized how much she hated going to doggy daycare — we never went back.

    • Hi Jennifer, it’s not uncommon to receive that advice and I’m hoping more pet owners and pet professionals will move more toward being the dog’s advocate. There are ways to help dogs learn to become comfortable around other dogs, but in the big scheme of things the goal should be a dog that is able to go on walks and be near other dogs on-leash and not
      necessarily a dog that can play off-leash with a group of unknown dogs. I’m glad you were able to see how much she preferred staying home!

  4. I work at a doggy daycare and I’d say about 75 percent of the dogs shouldn’t be there. They aren’t happy and daycare is just not for them. Also, when a dog isn’t accepted into the daycare, or gets kicked out, almost every single time the owner is upset, blames themselves, thinks the dog is a failure, they are a failure, etc. I worry about it because people do crazy things when they think their dog isn’t acting the way he/she is ‘supposed’ to act. Thank you for a fantastic article!

    • That’s so sad to think they are there and aren’t having fun! And you are correct, the owners do get upset because our society has kind of made it seem as if daycare is an absolute for all dogs and that just isn’t true. Keep helping to do the right things for the dogs!

    • Perhaps you can print this article and post it or give it to selective customers. If the owner approves of course.

  5. Unfortunately, most boarding facilities now are having masses of loose dogs thrown together. At least in northern Utah. The few with old-style boarding usually insist on annual vaccinations even though 11 vet schools now say 3 years is more than sufficient for antiviral vaccines. (Bordatella is bacterial and hence the vaccine is shorter lived.)

    As the owner of a cattledog who responds if another dog presses his buttons, I’m just happy that my vet will keep him for me when needed.

    • Hi Rosemary, At “The Dog Gurus” community we work with pet care professionals in the boarding and daycare industry. Your comments were very insightful in helping those businesses understand that they need to take a strong look at their business model. I’m going to make sure they understand your experiences as an owner! Thanks for sharing this information.

  6. Saw this article on fb after a friend shared it. Loved this article. I have a black lab who gets along with others if forced but would rather be with humans. And I have seen the same thing with dogs at fireworks, carnivals, etc. who shouldn’t be there. Thanks for writing this and I am now a subscriber.

    • Thanks for the kinds words, Janice. My own lab is the same way. Loves a small gathering of one or two dogs, but really hates large groups of dogs. Mostly, he would just prefer to be with me throwing the ball. 🙂

  7. Great article. I have Siberian Huskies and in the winter time when we’re out sledding they’re in heaven, however, they’re not forced to actually associate with the other dogs on the teams… they just love being in that atmosphere. I don’t take my dogs to the dog parks (yes I can actually have a couple of them off leash) but they have “play dates” in their own fenced yard with their doggy friends. They’re great with dogs that they’ve gotten to know on a one on one basis and then that dog is slowly introduced into the “pack”. In the summer time they’re in Obedience, Rally, Scent Detection and a little agility and we have a blast. They love doing things with people as opposed to running around trying to get away from other dogs in a dog park.

    • Gerat points, Susan! Love the sledding analogy too. There is a big difference between a group of dogs working together as in sledding and a group of dogs trying to play. Many sledding dogs are serious workers and are great with their team of sled dogs…but they have a job to do. Great example! Sounds like you have lots of fun with your dog and your dog has fun too!

  8. Great article! I use to take my Fiona to a dog park for the “socialization” aspect but quickly realized she just doesn’t care to be around other dogs. I spoke to my Vet about it and she said, “who said she HAS to like other dogs” because that is just the way she is. I always joke that she doesn’t have that “mother” instinct because although we have two other dogs and babysit another she is fine with them but if they weren’t there she wouldn’t bat an eye!

  9. Overall, I think this is an excellent article, but if your standard for a dog to go to daycare or do any activity is that it must be “happy”, then I think that’s a hard standard to live up to. There are many dogs that are simply “okay” with being in a daycare, and that should be good enough too.

    “The truth is, there are far more dogs who do not enjoy off-leash play, than there are dogs who love it.”

    Yes, not all dogs LOVE off-leash playgroups, but I think there are many more dogs that benefit from it. Even if a dog is just sitting or laying there, being around other dogs, and not showing signs of distress, the dog may still be benefitting. Learning to be comfortable around other dogs and feeling a sense of security, enough to sit or lay down with them around. I know many dogs that if left alone at home, show signs of distress, yet when they are in a daycare, they do not show those signs. They may not be “happy” but it’s a better alternative.

    • Hi Howard, you bring up a good point. It may be hard to understand my philosophy without knowing some of my background, but I strongly feel that if you are going to pay someone to take care of your pet, then the dog should leave the facility behaviorally better (and certainly not worse) than when they arrive. I feel the same way about doing something with your dog on your own. Most of how I classify behavior is in accordance with a traffic management signal (red is behavior you don’t want to see, yellow is behavior that should cause you to observe and perhaps change the dog’s environment, green is behavior that is good to see). This is all laid out in my book “Off-Leash Dog Play” if you want more information (you can check the store for info about the book). So yes, I do believe the dog should be happy. And we want green behavior as a general rule. Although “tolerance” is a great thing in a dog, there is a fine like between tolerance and a dog that gets to the point of not liking something. So we aim for “happy” (green) behavior and sometimes we end up with tolerance…but the bigger point is why would you want to pay for a dog to tolerate an environment? Now, if there is some behavioral benefit to having a dog in a certain environment, I’m in favor of that (I am, afterall a dog trainer and understand the benefit of behavior modification). However, I’m not sure pure exposure, without a definitive plan to modify behavior is always the best route either. And there needs to be continual reassessment to make sure the tolerance does not move toward “dislike” which can show it’s self in aggression and avoidance displays. Most dog daycares are not set up to do behavior modification but if they are, and if the dogs overall are benefiting from it, then that’s great. Hope that helps to explain things a bit. Thanks for your comments.

  10. Fantastic article! My dog also got kicked out of day care shortly after he came into our lives from the shelter. It was only after we realized that it was a rather unhealthy environment for him and when we stopped the day care, he was much happier! A lot less aggressive with other dogs on walks and a lot less adrenalized on days he did go to day care. I have been so thankful to the owner of the day care ever since and recommend her often!!
    I will be sharing this on my own blog as I think my readers will benefit from such great advice!

    Great note, agree 100%. Too many dogs suffer due to humanizing them and expecting them to thrive in situations which may cause discomfort. I am saving this and sharing with potential adopters. THANK YOU AGAIN
    Sylva Penkov
    Believe in Buster Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

  12. The solution is not practical. Sometimes doggie daycare is the best or only option and a good daycare will work with you and the dog to make the experience work for everyone.

    • In response to the comment that daycare is the “only” ootion: Doggie daycare is hardly the only option. You can always find a qualified dog sitter/walker who will come to your house. You can even do a background check if you’re nervous about a stranger in your house or with your dogs. Around me, the daycares are also expanding their services to offer in-home care from the same price who work in the daycare. As the owner of a dog who came about a centimeter away from losing his eye in a fight at daycare, I can assure you that this kind of thinking gets dogs hurt and even killed.

    • Hi Adam, I do agree that sometimes some sort of pet care is the best option for a dog. I agree that a good daycare will work with you to find the best fit for you and your pet. That might be daycare, or it might be one on one attention, or it might be referral to some other business such as pet sitting. So long as it’s a good fit for the dog I think there are several options that can be considered.

  13. Good article. I, for one, would have appreciated the honesty of that day care’s staff, or Heather’s (below). Many years ago I regularly left 2 young dogs in day care. One was being used as a group leader (so to speak)–setting the calm tone for the group… and it turns out the other one was crated all day (she could be pushy). I was paying for the dog to “have fun” and instead it was crated all day except for a couple of potty breaks. At least at home she had free run of the house and we did agility at night and on weekends. If it hadn’t been for an honest worker who said something to me privately I would probably have wasted my money for an additional year.

    • I’m so sorry that happened, Peggy. I’m glad someone was able to let you know so you could make some better choices for your dog.

  14. Some dogs will though simply do their own thing. It may not be engaging the other dogs, but perhaps scenting, peeing, playing by themselves. Still worth the experience of going for them. Just know that can be normal. Not always about interacting

    • Hi Sara, I totally agree that some dogs will just “hang out” versus actively playing in an off-leash setting. And if they enjoy being the “watcher” and aren’t stressed out by the environment, then I think that’s fine.

  15. I appreciate this article very much. My fight-bust pit bull (I don’t think she was ever fought) seems to LOVE other dogs. She strains to be near them, licks their faces, gets extremely excited and playful. But playdates almost invariably end with snarking and/or a fight, with no clear trigger. As she’s aged over the past year (she’s 5ish now), the time-to-snark has shortened, and I’ve decided on-leash walks and training classes are her limit. It’s sad, because she really does seem to enjoy the playing; she just can’t regulate herself while doing it.

    • You are very observant, Ruth and are making good decisions for your dog. Great job. The way you describe your dog sounds to me more like what I would call “arousal” which is very often confused with friendliness. Arousal is a high state of energy that often looks like the dog wants to greet (and perhaps they dog initially!). The challenge with arousal is that arousal and aggression are linked so it’s easy for all that energy to spill over into aggression. The same thing happens with people…think of kids who get too keyed up. When that happens parents know they need to calm the children down before something bad happens. Another example is hockey fans, who get revved up in the stands and then a fight breaks out. Arousal and aggression can be hard to balance.

      • I just ran into this problem with my dog–I’ve known that she gets keyed-up easily and is a rough player (big boxer mix), so we don’t do dog parks. But I thought we had found a good daycare where the staff are observant enough to intervene when she’s getting too hyped. She’s been there for 6 or 7 sessions and been fine (so I’m told), but every time I drop her off I take care to say that she’s a rough player and can be a bully, so I have no problem with her being put into time-outs when she’s getting amped.

        But the last time I picked her up I was told that she was causing fights and we should “look into training.” But they also said that she’s not necessarily kicked out, as it depends on what dogs are there on any given day (on whether the arousal turns into aggression). I’m at a complete loss on what kind of training would work for this. I don’t want to bring the “bad dog” into daycare — should we just accept that daycare isn’t going to work for her?

        • Hi Lynn, If the issue is that she gets amped up too much (very common in boxer breeds), the only real solution would be more interrupting when she is playing and also smaller playgroups might help. If the daycare can arrange for those things to happen it might be a good fit for her though.

  16. Thank you for this article. My Lab as she got older just didn’t like being around other dogs, or dogs that got in her face. She loved me and everyone else, including children. I always thought I did something wrong. Thanks again.

    • Great observation which I didn’t even mention, Guilly. Dogs often grow less fond of off-leash play as they get older. That is natural and normal. I’m no longer a huge fan of playgrounds or roller coasters although there were times in my life when I loved both of those! 🙂 Same thing with dogs.

  17. Thank you so much for this article. My fiancé and I take our four dogs to the dog park to run for the exercise. It’s a huge park and all of the dogs love it. But one of our pups does not like dogs outside her pack. She is pretty nervous around unknown dogs off-leash. I have felt horrible because I have had some bad interactions in the past at the park. Each one left me feeling like a terrible pet owner – although she is the best trained of the bunch and she is so loveable.

    I am going to stop feeling bad about her tendencies – she is much happier with her own pack and I’ll find another place where she can run without the interactions of unknown dogs. Thank you again for some just plain old common sense. 🙂

    • Good job, Kara.If you can find times of day when the dog park is less crowded and your dogs had it to themselves that would be perfect! Or perhaps your one dog would just prefer to stay at home while the other go to the park (I know…that’s harder for the people to leave one dog home though!!).

  18. Excellent article… so true. We need to listen to our dogs. I pulled my Sheltie from a (high paying) Pet Therapy program because it was obvious to me that he just wasn’t happy. They were disappointed to lose him because he’s adorable, but his well being will always come first with me.

    • That’s an entire other blog post, Janice. Thank you for recognizing that your dog wasn’t a good fit for your dog. Sometimes it is so hard to be our dog’s advocate but it’s great that you were able to do it. I have seen other Therapy dogs that just don’t enjoy it. It’s very sad. You dog is lucky to have you!

  19. Thank you for this! I run a dog kennel and a lot of people just don’t realize how unhappy their dogs are in a group play setting. We are set up so that we can do single dog play sessions with people instead of other dogs so we don’t have to kick unsocial dogs out (in fact, we are full most of the time because we can handle them!) but people still seem so upset when we tell them that their dog can’t go out with other dogs anymore. I always tell them that some dogs are just like people that don’t particularly enjoy other people and that seems to make them feel better.

    • That’s a great set up, Jeanine. It’s always good if you can keep the client by offering alternatives!

  20. A great article. I wish we could send a shout-out to farmer’s markets all over the country. I’ve been visiting local markets in North Eastern Connecticut this summer and am amazed at the amount of (often very young) dogs at markets. It’s hot, it’s crowded, it’s noisy, there are little kids running all over the place. Why are people bringing so many dogs??? It’s unsanitary (I’m a dog owner and a food manager), it’s stressful for the dogs and it’s a problem waiting to happen!

      • It’s all about the dog and owners knowing their dog. We go to farmers market for the exact reasons you say we shouldn’t. Noah is a 2 1/2 year old Bichon Frise therapy dog. A crowded farmers market is the perfect situation for him to learn (we are working on disaster training) and manage stressful situations. It would be nice if calm, slow moving children controlled by a parent come up to pet him, but that just doesn’t happen any where. To go with the rest of the story…he loves day care. I agree not all dogs can go to day care. Noah goes to a very controlled center where they know him. If the little dogs won’t play with him, they will move to a bigger dog group so he can play. The owners and worker know who he can and can not play with. He has a great time there. I just have to ask him if he want to go to day care and he is down to the door spinning. Dog parks scare me. Dogs off lease you don’t know, that may or may not be current on shots is never a good situation.

  21. THANK YOU! I agree with Heather Staas. I too own a Doggie Day Care with a high refusal rate- typical for day care centers owned and operated by dog trainers. Thanks for taking the time to help dog parents know its ok if day care is not your dogs “thing” there is nothing wrong with your dog and nothing wrong with you!

  22. Beautifully written! As a past owner of a DINOS I can relate. Owners of these dogs need all the support they can get, and they need it continuously!
    I had to keep telling myself over and over again that I had a good dog, he just had different needs.
    Unfortunately, not all dog owners/handlers are aware, or know who to deal or not, with these dogs.
    Keep up the fantastic writing on this subject! It made me emotional reading it knowing what this person went through and how they felt.

    • Thanks, Kelly. I had a DINOS dog at one point too which I guess is part of why I can empathize with owners.

  23. Thank you for writing this. I have an Aussie and we pretty much gave up on the dog park. Mac loves his few neighborhood friends, but he does not like strange dogs to run up and jump him. I overhead a woman say he was mean. 🙁 He’s not. He is a love bug. He just likes to take his time making a new friend. And he loves the sounds of his leash! It means walks and hikes and exploring.

  24. I was wondering: I have an acre fully fenced in for my dogs; they play and have a blast and we play ball and frisbee together and they get plenty of exercise. I have two pit bull, mother and son; mother a rescue who had 10 pups with her that I spayed/neutered and placed in good adoptive homes. My question is this; do i HAVE to leash walk them? Both of them are well socialized in the past, but when I try to walk them together, loose dogs will often be about and I am terrified my dogs will hurt them when they approach. My dogs are okay with other dogs if introduced gradually and no face to face; just the parallel walking for 15 mins and then just allowed to sniff a little. I feel bad not walking them to let them see the world, but I am afraid there is too much danger in doing so. Being they are pit bulls, if something happens THEY WILL GET BLAMED. Please let me know what you think. Thank you so much. One of them has completely been through Obedience classes but mama has not. She is naturally perfectly behaved, however.

    • Hi Gemma, Thanks for your question. I think what is important is for dogs to get physical and mental stimulation to keep them from being couch potatoes or going stir crazy. If you are actively playing with them in the yard and perhaps even giving them interactive games to play that cause them to use their minds (it could be doing tricks or obedience, using some of the food puzzle type games or even just hide and seek with treats in the back yard) that can go a long way to keeping them healthy and happy. I do think it’s good to get them into new environments occasionally just for a change in scenery and to be sure you are keeping up with their ability to handle new people and situations, but I would weight that with the need to be in a place that is safe. If your neighborhood has a lot of dogs running loose, you might try to find a place where you can take them for a walk with less fear of encountering other dogs running loose. Hope that helps!

  25. Great article – being owned by two Dobermans, we have a unique responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of our dogs. We do NOT attend dog parks but our male DoberDude LOVES day-care. However our DoberGirl simply prefers the company of her humans or dober-brother.

    When we would leave them both at day-care (out of town vacations), we were able to tap into their web-cam, and what did we see but a very sad & scared DoberGirl perched on top of a pile of boxes to remove herself from the group. She wasn’t having any fun (unlike her DoberBrother who was running and playing), and it broke my heart. At that point, my husband & I decided to finish our basement to be their playground while we were gone. We have an awesome dog-sitter that takes care of them, and they’re protected and comfortable in their own home environment.

    My point is we, as dog owners, need to cater to our dogs and their behavioral needs. Not the other way around. If you see that your dog is nervous or anxious in certain situations, don’t keep them there! Be the voice of your dogs when they cannot speak.

    • I love this, Heather…Be the voice for your dog! That’s so true! I’m glad you were able to find a better match for your dogs.

  26. Excellent article, thank you! I receive no less than five phone inquiries a week asking for help for this very issue and the reality is that there is no “fix” for the dog that simply does not enjoy daycare/dogparks. Humans certainly don’t love and enjoy the company of every person we meet but no one is forcing us into being social with those people, so why do we insist we do it with our dogs?
    Short answer is that many of the things we do for our pets is for OUR benefit and emotional fulfillment, not the dogs ;).

  27. Omigosh! Thank you, so much, for writing this article! Judging by the responses and positive comments — I finally realize I am not alone! My loveable golden retriever, Simon, is a wonderful dog. He is my constant companion, listens well, and likes (most) people. However, he does not like other dogs! After five trainers (in CT, and here in GA), uncomfortable attempts at doggie classes, and countless books, videos, calming drugs, and training guides — I can take comfort in the fact that he is not the only dog who does not enjoy socializing! We’ve slowly & carefully developed some great friendships with other furry friends — so he enjoys dogs that he knows! But, as soon as a ‘new dog’ walks down the street, my ‘cute’ Simon turns into ‘Cujo’. I used to get extremely embarrassed and apologize … and try to make Simon behave. Over time, I’ve learned its easier – and better – for us to simply walk with a wide berth.

    • Tina, you are definitely not alone! Your dogs are lucky to have you and you have obviously worked hard with them, but I’m glad you can see the joy in just enjoying the things they enjoy without the need to have them play with tons of other dogs. I hope you can hold your head high and not be worried about what others think. To be honest, my own lab only prefers a few other dogs..he really doesn’t like large groups of off-leash dogs.

  28. There is another point to make here, as my dog has taught me. I have taken her to daycares, pet stores and groomers that she hates, and others that she loves. Even vets for that matter. She lets me know whether or not she likes where I am taking her. As far as daycare is concerned, so much has to do with the people who run it and who spend their time with the dogs. How invested they are in working with, leading and interacting with the dogs as opposed to it just being “a job” and “babysitting” the dogs makes a HUGE difference. Dogs can tell the difference too. Listen to your dog. They will let you know whether or not they are comfortable and happy in different social situations.

    Early on I made the common mistake of thinking that all dogs like each other. WRONG. We don’t like every person we meet. Neither will dogs like every dog (or person) they meet. Nor are they best friends the minute they meet each other.

    We have so much to learn!

    • Hi Cindy, Love the comment, “Listen to your dog”. I always say follow your gut when you think your dog is trying to tell you something. 9 times out of 10 you will be right!

  29. I am so glad I read this article! I have told many of my clients that the dog park is not meant for their dog. As long as their dog is happy, healthy, and getting positive outlets for their energy the dog park or daycare is not necessary. My dogs enojoy the dog park, but I have seen far too many come into the dog park nervous/aggressive/scared/ect. This article is great!

  30. Great article! I am grateful that my dog’s daycare temp tests its dogs with a complimentary visit before they become clients. I didn’t start Rita in daycare until we had training together because she had some leash aggression when I adopted her. I do wish dog parks had some sort of monitoring. Far too many owners bring aggressive dogs that don’t belong there.

  31. This was a wonderful read. I totally agree that some dogs don’t belong in an off leash environment. Of my 5 dogs, only two would thrive in day care. The other three would prefer solitude, and are happy to stay in a small room or crate. I would feel much better knowing that if my dog is in day care, it’s with other dogs who are happy to be there.

  32. Love this article. I have a 6 year old dog, Roscoe, who loves other (submissive) dogs, but has seizures when he’s stressed and a gsd/collie mix who is absolutely horrified of others dogs except Roscoe. I always honestly thought I needed to socialize her with other dogs. I took her to a dog park once, and she was shaking, sitting on the park bench 🙁
    So I think I’ll stick to taking her for runs and letting her play with Roscoe 24/7. Thanks for the article!

    Also, I think it’s a great idea for skittish dogs (and dogs who don’t like being out of their normal element) to not go to a kennel when their owners are out of town. We are blessed to have found a local college student who comes over to our house and stays when we go out of town. Our dogs are MUCH much much happier that way!

  33. THANK YOU! As a daycare owner with new dog’s seeking to come here all the time, this was so perfectly & clearly written! I have so often have attempted to explain to folks that my best intentions are for their dog’s mental & physical well being, that not all dog’s enjoy the company of other’s. Many folks will leave here upset, thinking their dog has a problem (when i know and have tryed to explain that there is not one) this article was PERFECT!!! KUDOS!

  34. What a great article, thanks for sharing! We have two dogs, a 2-year old aussie who loves everyone and every dog he meets, and we can pretty much take him anywhere on-leash or off, and he is fine, the kind of dog I suppose everyone wants to have. We also have a 4-year old retriever/shepherd mix. He’s an awesome dog and loves people, but is much more “selective” about who his doggie friends are. He is not a “dog park” kind of dog. Too many loose dogs running amok really upsets him and he will bark and try to get them to be more orderly. But he LOVES off-leash hikes, and any dog he has meet on our hikes he is totally fine with. Something about just migrating, saying a quick “hello” to the other people and dogs we meet, then carrying on, really works well for him. We felt bad for a while that he wasn’t so happy-go-lucky with other dogs, but have now realized it is just his personality. You can’t force your dog to be something they’re not. I’ve never had him in daycare, but I can only imagine how unhappy he would be in that environment. He’s quite content to be at home with his people and doggie brother. Thanks again for sharing!

    • Jodi, It’s great that you know your dogs so well. I think your description that the meet and greet on a hike works well for your dog but not the more intensive socializing at the dog park is great observation on your part!

  35. What a fantastic article! As a dog day care owner, it is the hardest thing to make an owner understand that all dogs are not happy in a day care situation. They seem to feel as if they have not trained the dog right or there is something wrong with their dog. I always remind owners that WE don’t like everyone we meet so why do we expect that from our dogs? They are all individuals. Day care should be a pleasant, fun experience. We want happy dogs in our day care, not frightened, overwhelmed or stressed ones.

    • So true, Carla. At The Dog Gurus ( we are going to be talking with daycare owners about this very thing later this week!

  36. It’s funny because I’m the one that is uncomfortable with a lot of loose dogs running around, not my dog. I’m too nervous that Rocket would get bit or is playing too rough or is being played on too rough. As a pittie mom, I feel the need to be extra responsible and those environments stress me out. Even humans can have an aversion to large off leash play. :-p

    • So true, Katie! When I had my dog training business we had 10 trainers and only 3 of us really were comfortable supervising off-leash play. The others would run to the hills if you suggested they help to watch. HAHA It does take some practice to understand what you are watching.

  37. I’m with you! One of my dogs flunked daycare but he’s never been a social butterfly, preferring just the company of family and friends’ dogs. When I took him to the daycare, he was picked on by the other dogs so we left before he was injured or reached the end of his tolerance. He’s an senior pitbull so when we need someone else to care for him, we’ll use our usual kennels with separate runs. He’s much safer and happier there.

  38. Great article… My black Lab (Zucker) and my cocker spaniel (Maddox) get along pretty well and will even play a little with each other, but they both prefer human interaction over playing with most other dogs. It is kind of interesting though that our Lab has a couple of dogs that he sees a few of times a year that he loves… almost like he has a dog crush on these dogs. Besides these two dogs he can take or leave most other dogs.

  39. You are so right! My first dog I took to day care because he had terrible separation anxiety and fearful of noises. It was fine in the beginning until no one was watching the dogs at all. The owner let them run around at will. My dog came home with a bite on his head. Then when I took him halfway there he realized where he was going and curled up in a ball. I thought this was strange. Then I had to drag him in. Guess what, he came home with another bite on his head. I realized the owners son pit was bulling my buddy, who was already very insecure. He never went back. We took our second dog to a nice fancy place with cameras. Only to discover months later because I never got to watch real time video that she was locked in a room with other dogs and getting humped continuously. Unacceptable. She never went back. We got a doggie door, they got each other and 2 cats. They are happy at home.

    • I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, Kathryn. I’m glad you found a solution that works for your dogs.

  40. As a specialty pet-sitter, I applaud your honesty! I have a niche for shy/ fearful & reactive pets- the kind that can’t be kenneled when their humans go away. Instead, I offer in-home care so the pets can be as comfortable as possible.

    I would also recommend that you send your dog to daycare *at least* 3x (including a weekend day) before sending them for a vacation. You might think that your dog will enjoy the (activity) while you go out of town, but that’s not always the case. By going on a trial basis, you’ll have a better idea as to whether or not your pup can handle it for an extended period/ overnight. It’s stressful enough to be away from home & humans, but add that to an environment that is over the top and your dog could have a very UNHAPPY vacation.

    If your dog can’t handle a daycare/ kennel situation, do your research when finding a pet-sitter:
    1. Ask friends, neighbors, trainers for referrals
    2. Interview a few of them- you don’t know until you meet them if it’ll be a good fit.
    3. Ask for references- check them
    4. Your pet is your baby- treat a sitter just like you would a babysitter

    Thanks for taking such good care of the fur-babies 🙂

    • Great suggestions, Ultra! And what a great service you have! There are many dogs that require a bit more attention and care and it’s wonderful you can offer that service to them.

  41. We have a 200# female St B who plays well with her two 140# male St Bs fellows, in fact, she is quite protective of them. She loves to play with other dogs, however, when going to an off-leash play area, should an 8# dust mop make threatening noises, she protects her adopted boys, if left alone, a veterinarian’s life-savig efforts might well be needed, for the dust mop.

    Any suggestions?

    • Hi Floyd, My biggest suggestion in this situation is to only attend off-leash play areas where the big and little dogs are kept separate. I actually don’t recommend dogs of widely different sizes play together at all because there are just too many things that can go wrong. I actually did another blog on this topic which you can find here:

      Unfortunately, many times even if the dog park has separate areas, sometimes owners don’t adhere to them so you really have to be diligent to watch when small dogs come into the big dog area and should probably move your dogs if that happens.

    • Dogs are dismissed for many reasons, Heather. Not just aggression, but often just because they aren’t the right fit for a particular facility. In this situation the dog just wasn’t enjoying the play and was stressed out all day long.

  42. I believe that dogs should learn how to be around other dogs from a young age. My dog also loves the company of humans more than the company of other dogs , but that doesn’t mean I don’t take him to the park and that I don’t let him play with puppies or females ( he does not like males dogs as they are a threat to him or something – he can ignore them if they are in the same place but he does not interact well with them ). It’s a dog. If it’s not comfortable around other dogs or a large number of dogs, he/she should have playtime with just one dog that he/she likes . I think that while the dog is young ( until 6-8 months old ) , they have to be with other dogs , they have to learn how to act like a dog and be a dog. Stop seeing your pets as humans. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to be a dog and never be allowed to see , interact or play with other dogs … the ones that look like your mom and brothers/sisters. Day cares should have this in mind. Not all dogs are good in a large group of dogs , but can feel very happy with just one dog that they like. If you take a dog that lives alone with his human and force it to be in a group of dogs , that dog will not feel safe , because that dog is not used to that kind of socialization . The behaviors are learned and there is a process. As a Doggie day care owner , I would have more than one pen where dogs can interact , do I can let them all play , but with the right dog and in the right environment for them.
    I agree that big crowds and gatherings of people , festivals and fireworks are not appropriate for a dog , but if a dog does not interact with other dogs , the dog has a problem. The dog may not like to play or be bothered , but dogs have a way to communicate that, and they can just sit far from the playing group and sleep or whatever. If a dog becomes aggressive and really hurts another dog , then this is an issue of socialization ( that dog does not understand the language of another dog , that dog has fear issues , anxiety issues etc ) , and it needs to be worked with by a trainer.
    You can’t say ” your child is not good with other kids at school , stop taking him there ” …

    • You make some valid points, Lexy. I do think socialization for puppies (especially under 4 months) is vital. Unfortunately, too many people thing socialization equals “exposure.” Just exposing a dog to a wide range of things, including other dogs, is not good socialization. In order for socialization to work the way it is intended the puppy has to be having positive associations with those things he is encountering. But you are correct that I would heavily socialize my puppy to a wide range of people and at least 100 different people by the time he is 3 months old. Unfortunately, many dogs do miss out on this critical socialization period. In those situations forcing them to endure one on one interaction with other dogs off-leash really isn’t fair. For those dogs I would do enough training or behavior modification to ensure they can be in the presence of dogs enough that they can walk on a leash, enter a vet’s office, and do the things normally required and expected of a dog. However, for me, that is much different from saying it is a requirement that he be able to be put in a group of dogs playing off-leash. I do agree with your concept of daycare in which the daycare is set up to accommodate the various dogs. The best daycare do this and are also clear as to which dogs won’t work well in their set up. Thanks for your comments.

  43. Thank you! Great article Elaine and very sympathetic to dogs’ needs. You make the point very well that all dogs are individuals, with varying temperaments, and varying needs. I saw a dog just the other week whose owners were leaving him at an extremely busy doggy daycare centre 5 days a week, 8-9 hours at a time. They thought they were doing him a favour (as well of course as being able to solve the problem of what to do when no one home for hours at a time).

    The poor dog was exhausted! Solution? Alongside some behaviour modification for problems at home, and a regular, known walker, take him out of daycare.

    Look forward to the next one Elaine – excellent stuff!

  44. I would NEVER take my dog(s) to doggy daycare!!! I am a dog trainer and educator for over 40 years…my dogs that go to herding, agility, obedience, conformation, etc. trials will NEVER go to a place where dogs are doing their own thing…such a dangerous place. When I have called many of these facilities the owner doesn’t have enough experience and when asked how many people are attending the dogs in an area…5 t0 10 dogs at a time…I surely cringe…how would they ever break up a fight!!! What happens to the dog that is dominant…is it becoming a new type of dominant …and what happens to the dog that is already submissive…NOT For ME!!!

    • Hi Debbiedog, Your thoughts are not uncommon among other trainers I meet. As a trainer myself I share in your concerns. However, I also feel that there are ways to train your staff properly and raise the bar of safety so that dogs can be safe and have a great time in off-leash play. But it has to be done right. My entire joint venture at is dedicated to exactly this. The members of our community are committed to running safe off-leash play groups. But when it’s done poorly it’s a huge risk.

  45. I agree some dogs don’t like it. My dog was kicked out of daycare but it was because the daycare was awful and not supervising the dogs. He loves his new place because the dogs are well supervised and he is taken care of. There are multiple explanations and I have seen far more bad daycares where no one is even in the playroom than dogs that don’t get along with other dogs.

  46. My husky boy was kicked out of day care because they said he marked too much. It was a large metallic building with little tykes furniture in it with a doggie door to a small outside pee area. When the dog crowd exceeded 25, he started marking to ‘compete’. He is not the alpha or omega of the pack. They said to make him stop or leave. I had him checked at the vet and he was okay. No idea from his regular trainers. Talked to the expensive trainers and they said that what you have is an indoor dog park and that he’s doing what comes naturally. I said explain that to the day care. We were forced to move to an outside daycare which in Houston, TX can get very hot in the summer but he likes it…they are nice to him and they have a pond for him to swim in.

    • Hi Patty, It’s not at all uncommon for some dogs to mark the area at daycare. And, because dogs are situational learners, it’s also not uncommon for them to have housetraining habits at daycare that differ slightly from their habits at home. It can be frustrating to have to keep cleaning up after a dog that is marking but most daycares that want to resolve this problem will suggest the dog wear a “belly band” when he is attending daycare. This usually resolves the problem. I’m glad you were able to find another place where your dog can have fun.

  47. I just LOVED this article. I have 5 dogs and 2 cats. I used to have a HUGE townhome with no yard. To compensate, I would trek my dogs to the park every morning and every evening, with walks in between (I work from home). The park was always a drama. With at least 20 dogs there, we could always count on at least one mass dog brawl, complete with freaked out, finger-pointing owners. It was exhausting! During this time, my dogs were antsy, squirmy, very vocal, destructive, clingy, into everything and hardly slept during the day. It was impossible to work….they were relentless! But I couldn’t IMAGINE they didn’t enjoy the park. I mean, don’t all dogs want to run and play with other dogs? Fast forward – I now live in a tiny home on a HUGE fenced-in property. We don’t go to parks anymore; the dogs play with each other outside all day long and go in and out of the doggie door as they please. I’ll rotate taking one to the beach or a one-on-one playdate now and then, but other than that, we keep to ourselves here at home. Now, my dogs are happy, well adjusted and SLEEP from play exhaustion…I love it! Even the CATS are happier – hunting during the day, then coming in to sleep at night. I started to feel guilty about our new arrangement…wondering if I was confining them too much. But I feel so much better after having read this article. They are obviously happier and living a life better suited for their temperament. Thanks so much for broaching this topic. I don’t know why we don’t accept that dogs’ personalities vary as much as humans, and that we ALL need our own customized lifestyle!

  48. What a wonderful article. I work at a doggy day care that has open play yards. I dislike when owners continue to bring their dogs when the dog clearly does not enjoy themselves. I love all the dogs that come to work and none of them are bad dogs. Some are just not suited for the environment. Thanks for the article.


    • Thanks, Melissa. I think it can be so hard to explain this stuff to owners, but it’s so important.

  49. Great article! My eldest dog {Bella, an eight year old kelpie x shepherd} was socialised from the time I rescued her at 11 weeks. She went with a dog walker twice each week, sometimes three times. We went to the dog park. We got another dog {Bear, a malamute x golden} when Bella was 4. They get on like spectacularly well, and have done since day 1. They continued to go with a dog walker twice each week while I worked to the dog park. They socialised to their heart’s content. But some time around 3 years ago, while I was pregnant Bella had an altercation with a dog while at the dog park with the walker. No-one knows exactly what happened, just that Bella bit the other dog. Thousands of dollars in behavioural vet bills later, it was discovered that Bella has a slipped disc in her back and what our regular vet thinks might have happened is that the dogs were rumbling and someone stepped on or bumped Bella’s back, so she reacted. I asked if Bella needed to go to the dog park. My gut told me that she is {and always has been} a happy, peaceful, calm dog who showed no agressive tendencies. Ever. Until that incident in the dog park. From that moment on, we can’t go to the dog park, and I need to be very aware of who is out walking when we go for a walk. She is fine with 99% of dogs, but for some reason, that 1% now upsets her where they never would have before. Having said that, she’s totally fine whenever we’re at our vet – it doesn’t matter who is there. So we don’t go to the dog park any more. And Bella is happy and peaceful. So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that something can change in them during their lives which means you need to change course. And that’s okay. It happens to us humans too!

  50. This is so true. Both of my dogs were socialized the same way, but one did not do well in daycare or at dog parks. Eventually she became dog reactive around the age of two. I wish I’d paid more attention to the warning signs.

    Thanks for the article.

  51. Hey Robin! I just read your July 21 blog about the dog being kicked out of daycare. You always put out sound information and advice, but this was truly a work of art in it’s simplicity and honesty. Well done!

  52. I understand what you are saying but i have to disagree. Dogs are pack animals its the people that change a dogs attitude because they are a mirror image of the energy we project. As dog owners we should make sure that we know that 1 they are animal not human 2 they are a species 3 a breed. To have a well balanced pet there is three things we can try to achieve 1 excersize (a dog in every size needs a walk everyday for at least an hour) 2 disciple (rules, boundaries, limitations) ex. A dog that begs while you eat! Make an invisible line that the dog can not pass while you eat insteof being at your feet) 3 affection after you succeed the first to steps you can give the dog affection anyway you likeFor ex. Scratching, talking in a babyvoice throwing a ball etc. When a dog is insecure of its surroundings it makes itself a target to dominant (bully) dogs. If we focus on making sure we always have a calm positive assertive energy our pet will be the same and it should have no probnem were ever the own er and pet are going. And as dog day care owners what are things you can change to make a better suroundings for pets that come. Workers can have better energy, excersize the dogs, make sure there are rules boundaries and limitations within a pack of unbalanced dogs. Everyone can and practice being the pack leader! Thank you

    • Hi Kara, I agree with much of what you are saying. I do think that dogs need exercise, discipline and attention. In fact, I teach staff training for facilities with off-leash daycare employees and one of the biggest issues I discuss is the leadership, posture, attitude, etc of the employees working with the dogs. You are correct that the right attitude can have a huge influence on the dogs. However, I also teach a significant reliance on understanding dog body language and being able to read what the dogs are saying since they communicate using a very wide range of motions, body postures and movements. I think the difference we are talking about is that I’m not trying to force a group of unbalanced dogs to get along. My point regarding off-leash play is that if screening is done properly, you end up with a balanced group of dogs who enjoy playing together. You still need boundaries and leadership but the dogs are having fun. With “calm, positive, assertive energy” of any sort (which often means you are sending signals to the dogs that they should not react to their environment), you may be able to force dogs to tolerate one another and you may be able to suppress their tendencies to show aggressiveness due to fear, but in my opinion that is not the same thing as putting the dogs in a position where they are having fun. It is a common myth in my opinion that lack of aggression means the dog is not scared or nervous. Simply being near a strong leader with positive energy does not mean a dog will no longer be feeling insecure. So I do think understanding canine body language is also an important part of the puzzle. Part of changing things to make a better surrounding for the dogs should include screening the dogs and accepting the ones who enjoy the off-leash environment. If a dog can’t be around dogs at all, then I’d say there are behavior modification programs that can help…but they should be geared toward helping him walk past dogs, not forcing him to play with them. Great points about the exercise and the importance of teaching boundaries. I think those are critical for every dog. Thanks for your comments.

      • My mom’s dog is 15 years old, going blind and deaf. If I walked her for an hour a day, she would die of heart failure. Her little romps in the back yard and zoomies through the house are plenty of exercise for her.

  53. Such a thoughtful, well-written article. I thought how this could apply to children as well. We have become misguided as a society because we think everyone has to want to be social and we project those thoughts and emotions onto our two-legged and our fur children, much to their detriment. The gift you gave to this woman, is just that, the gift of permission to do or not to do something that society insists is the new normal.

  54. that was the most caring and sensitive response
    when you stop and think about it it’s just common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded
    Thank you

  55. Hello
    I was wondering if I could ask the reason that the dog was released from daycare? The reason they gave for not letting the dog come back?
    Thank you

    • Hi Julie Dogs are dismissed for many reasons. Not just aggression, but often just because they aren’t the right fit for a particular facility. In this situation the dog just wasn’t enjoying the play and was stressed out all day long.

  56. This is an excellent article that addresses several great points. I abhore daycares that just go for numbers without thinking of the dogs’ best interest. And dogparks…don’t get me started, lol

  57. I love this post! And I love the message it sends. It is not necessary to force dogs into situations they don’t like because we think they “should” like it. This is a GREAT reminder to really observe our dogs, check their body language, and really think about what they are telling us. Thanks for posting this!

  58. Thanks for this article! My dog got kicked out of daycare after almost 7 months of good behavior – she bit a labradoodle who wouldn’t let her rest. She is a good dog, she just prefers people over the company of other dogs (except her boyfriend Gustav the Ridgeback). She appeared to love daycare, always super excited and waggly tailed when we got there – darting out of the car directly to the “handler” who she adores, but I believe it was the people who worked there that she loved (they are amazing), not so much the other dogs. I thought she would like the extra doggy socialization, but apparently she does not. I hate that she is home alone all day (I try to get home at lunch to walk her and play a bit), but she doesn’t destroy anything or stress chew, so maybe I am the only one with anxiety here!

    • HAHA..I do think it’s hard to leave our dogs! But if she isn’t destroying things or causing problems at home when she is alone then she is probably just fine..although I do admit it’s hard to see that sad face when you have to walk out the door. 🙂

  59. My dog got kicked out of daycare. I would suggest that before a pet owner gives up to try a different daycare. That’s what I did. My dog went to a bootcamp at another facility. He was just fine in a different daycare! We go to a weekly “pack to basics” offleash socialization for dogs and training class. For the first time yesterday, I saw my dog exuberantly play with another dog. They kissed each other. They did a playbow…and then rolled around and exuberantly played several times. Awesome! A different daycare may be a better fit for you and your dog.

  60. Yes, thank you! Our dog does not love dog parks or off leash areas. He prefers long walks, running, fetching, and walking with a pack of dogs. He also prefers playing with dogs at home than outside which is why we foster dogs. Ouside, he’d rather be sniffing and walking . Some people don’t understand this, and wonder why I stay at a distance from groups of strange dogs, or avoid crowded parks. But having Bo isn’t about hanging out with everyone else, it’s about hanging out with many best friend, and loving each other for who we are!

  61. Thank you. This was so validating to read. I have 4 dogs and 3 of them are not into social scenes but love to walk in neighborhoods on leash. I have had even doggy day care owners tell me these dogs would love it at day care — NOT! And 2 of them are herding breeds. The other is a chihuahua mix. They are fine in their own pack. I so appreciate your words.

  62. I have a now three yr old Border Collie called Jack I have had dogs for many yrs and never come across a Jack before he was kicked out of every training class I took him too because he was so over exitable he would end up biting me and anything else he could get to that moved in front of him. Various methods were tried to ” cure” him all failed and some with hindsight put me in danger as I was the one trying to distract him with food , toys etc. The breakthrough came when I met a behaviorist who understood him she uses the much critisized Cesar Milan methods but I can assure you never at anytime was Jack hurt or humiliated during any of it and neither was I .His behavior is much better these days but she asked me a very important question . Do you have to do obedience training with him or agility or anything else for that matter and my answer to her was no . All I want is a happy dog that I can take out without an issue. The only reason I took him to training classes in the first place was because I thought he would be happier if I worked his brain a bit. She said to me if thats the case then whats the problem he is an intelligent obedient happy chap as long as he isn’t surrounded by lots of other dogs especially on lead and in confined spaces so dont put him in that position in the first place. He has and always will have the personality he was born with and there is no cure for that and however well trained he gets he is never going to be happy in those situations the best thing you can do is learn to deal with it when it arises. So now we walk out with my other dogs and my friends two everyday and anyone else who cares to join us he does sheep work and agility at home he is happy and fulfilled and if a problem arises when we are out I now have the confidence to deal with it ….and he is still red zone on lead in a hall full of dogs but so what. Really hopes this helps someone who is going through it at the moment It’s not your fault and your dog does respect you, he is what he is so respect him ,you cant force a square peg in a round hole.

  63. Thank you!! I learned this lesson with one of my own dogs 4 years ago and am embarrassed to say it took that long to figure it out. Why do we try to force our pups to do things they don’t want to do when there are so many opportunities out there for activities we both enjoy? Thank you for pointing this out to well-meaning but perhaps not critically thinking dog parents.

    • I think many have had your experience of trying to work things out and finally realizing the best thing is to find a new activity. Hopefully you can share that with your clients too and help them learn from your experience. Thanks for posting your comment.

  64. Great article thank you for posting it for others to read. I am always telling my owners that dogs like people they have likes and dislikes too. I can get out infront of 300 people and give a talk on doggy stuff but I hate going to parties and can’t stand crowds, I’m not a person into cuddling everyone I meet…is this saying I am an antisocial human being? Perhaps I need behaviour modification! It is so important to be able to read our dogs so that we learn what they do and don’t like, stop making their liuves miserable.

  65. I’d like to suggest an easy solution to this problem. Many people use doggy day care, because they think they have no other options while they work, or have to be away for several hours in the afternoon or evening. However, as a previous 15 year owner of a Professional Pet-Sitting business, which I recently sold, I’d like to recommend that as a perfect solution for these kinds of dogs. The dogs remain in their homes, with their own toys, their own beds and their own familiar yard and neighborhood. A professional sitter can make visits during times specified by the owner, and can feed, walk, play or just keep the dog company after being let out, especially in the case of elderly or sickly animals. I would recommend interviewing many sitters from several services, until you find one who is friendly and loving to your pet, but is still competent and professional. Eventually you will find someone who just “clicks” with you and your dog. That is important because the dog will soon bond with their sitter. I’ve had many people tell me through the years that their dogs did so well and liked their sitter so much, that they acted like their owners had never been gone. I just thought these were important points to consider in this discussion.

    • Great point, Carol. I think that is the key..finding something that works best for each dog. And for some dogs a pet sitter can be a perfect solution.

    • I will not travel because I will not leave my dogs anywhere so I have had 2 good friends pet sit and house sit….they live at our home for the time we are away. My dogs remain happy, healthy, secure, comfortable and safe in their own home and, though I can’t help still missing them a lot, I am not nervous or anxious and able to enjoy my vacation time away from them. Unfortunately, we are now in need of finding another sitter and do not know how I can find and trust anyone outside of our family or another friend that would be able to stay at our home.

  66. Appreciate this advice so much. As a professional petsitter I often get asked to take dogs to play at the dog park and refuse. The dogs don’t like it and I don’t like seeing them uncomfortable or worse.

  67. You are SO right! Thank you for writing this. Not all people enjoy being in groups (Im one of them, so is my border collie) nor will all dogs. Common sense really. He puts up with other dogs to certain extent, but will eventually tell them to back off. He likes to “work” for me (or herd my terrier!,) and then wants to be left to rest alone. Closed off dogpark/dogcare facility would be his hell.

  68. Great article among many great articles!
    I work in a daycare facility and often have to tell owners that daycare is not the right choice for their dog. Sometimes they get it, and sometimes they wonder if their dog has some sort of problem!
    Reading this article and the comments below reassures me in my belief that not every dog needs to be fixed.
    What I would like to add is that many owners seem to think that not liking daycare means that their dog has been declared ‘Not good with dogs’! This just is not the case.
    Rather than being ‘Not good with dogs’, their dog may just be ‘Not good with 20 other dogs!’ or ‘Not good with dogs charging around them at high speed!’. Some dogs just want to be with a small group, or just with calm dogs, or just with dogs they know.
    And a final note; If an owner has a dog with some issues around other dogs, daycare is (more than likely) not for them. People often believe that daycare facilities are like a behavioural clinic for dogs. They think a few days there and their dog will remember that it is a dog, and that it really does love to be around other dogs after all!
    I guess, as always, owners should choose carefully and talk to staff about what is right for their dog. If the facility is well-run and has good dog morals at its heart, they will not mind if you go somewhere else for a second opinion.

    • Excellent, Derek. You are right about “not good with dogs” and rather it might just be “not good with 20 other dogs”. My own lab loves groups of 4-5 but he is terrible in a larger group. Thanks for your insights.

  69. I just found your blog today and I love it. Thanks for saying this because it’s so validating to me. I have two rescue dogs, an English Shepard mix and a Lab/Pit mix, who are both highly anxious with other dogs and sometimes also with strangers. We get criticized by friends for allowing these dogs to be part of our family. We have created an enviroment where the dogs feel safe and we can enjoy all the love they bring to our lives. They are both amazing family pets and they are very relaxed and happy with us. We have a portion of the back yard fenced in and we ask the neighbors to not come too close to the fence. When someone comes over, one or both of the dogs retreat to the beds in our bedroom and we let them stay in there. We tried for a while to socialize the dogs and with the help of a behaviorist we determined that for their health and happiness, not to mention our stress level, that we wouldn’t push any thing on them. Keeping our dogs safe and happy and keeping others safe when they come to our house is our first priority. So THANK YOU for allowing us to say – This dog doesn’t prefer the company of other dogs and strangers and THAT’S OK!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement and kind words, Michelle. I appreciate it. And you are doing an excellent job of being your dog’s advocate and providing them with a wonderful, safe life. Kudos to you.

  70. Than you so very much for this article!!!! You are soo right and I hope this helps people to better understand their dogs and not feel guilty. I do agility with 2 of my dogs and play ball with them…. my other dog just enjoys walking, riding in the car and snuggling.
    I also have a couple of jumps and a tunnel in my yard and they love it….especially love running through the tunnel!!! My dogs have done both day care and dog parks but one doesn’t like either at all and the other 2 are much happier doing the above.

    • Great job, Diane! It’s all about finding out what works best for each dog, just as you have done.

  71. Boy do I know this. I once had a dog that I wanted to get into daycare because I needed good, convenient boarding and that was my only option outside of a vet’s office. She flunked out. I was upset, not at her but more because when I asked the daycare for some tips on helping her socialize with other dogs I was ignored. I never once attempted to get her back in, but was concerned that if I wanted to get her a dog companion that it might not work out if she was not willing to accept other dogs. Ultimately it worked out fine, she liked to be able to choose her dog friends and was uncomfortable in a situation where her pack was constantly changing. I still yearn for some good traditional boarding and wish more of these type of facilities would offer this as an option.

  72. This hit home for me. My dog is very timid and sensitive–traffic, trash truck, people walking behind her. My first reaction is to put her into those situations with loving reassurance but, your article tells me differently. My problem is we live in the suburbs, no fenced yard and long walks are our norm. I am at a loss as to how to reassure her that she is safe. Any advice?

    • Hi Karen, Since you need to walk your dog in a suburban area, I would try to find a quiet place or time to walk. And then, i would also take some really yummy, smelly treats with you to see if your dog will eat them when she is in the presence of something scary. The goal is to give her enough space so she is comfortable, while, at the same time, trying to get her to realize that scary things equal good things for her. This is harder to do with sudden sounds that occur! I think for things she can see, distance will be your friend. Stay as far from things as possible and work on making things positive.

  73. My greater swiss husky cross dog got kicked out of daycare when he was two for being “too friendly” with the other dogs. They put them in playgroups, but said he was too high energy and was apparently driving the staff nuts. They told us we needed to deal with his “behavioral issues”, before he would be welcome back. He is great on-leash and off-leash, has excellent recall, and is friendly (but not overly so) with other dogs and humans, and is great with kids. When he first meets new people and dogs, he gets excited, but calms down within ~5-15 minutes, depending on how much stimulus there is and where we are. We tried to take their advice to heart – but are finding it confusing… Any advice?

    • Hi Lisa, I guess I would need to know a little more about the specific behavior that was driving the staff nuts. If he is friendly and his behavior with other dogs is appropriate, then it’s possible he just needs a bit of exercise before getting into the daycare group. I know this sounds kind of crazy since you are taking him to daycare for exercise, but sometimes a very energetic dog will do better if he has something to “take the edge off” before getting to daycare. Some daycares have treadmills which they will use for 5-10 minutes when a dog first arrives before putting him into daycare. Hope that helps.

  74. Thank you for this beautifully inspiring article. I identify fully with the person that e-mailed you, with just one exception. We were not kicked out of daycare. I quit. I suddenly realized there was no point in forcing my puppy to go through something he clearly was not comfortable with. He has since grown to be a fabulous sports dog, he has some doggy friends he enjoys playing with, he is a loving companion, and I would not change him for anything in the world.

    • Hi Alessandra, I think it’s great that you made this choice for your dog. I would hope that any daycare would have let you know your dog was not happy, but if you realized it on your own, that’s great. Your dog is lucky to have you!

  75. I have a feisty fido that I began taking to daycare at the kennel where he had stayed during vacations. They knew his problems and worked with him, putting him only with dogs they knew hecould tolerate. He went for a year and there were no problems. I assumed all was fun even though he was hesitant about leaving me. Finally, I got the call the come pick him up because he had been bitten. My first reaction was “What did he do?” He was being carried out to the play area, to keep the other dogs from rushing at him. A dog that he had always played with jumped up and grabbed his hind leg, leaving a tear about 4 inches. When the dog couldn’t get to him, she bit the lady holding my dog. Of course the biter was asked to leave day care and my dog was not blamed. I’ve been hesitant since to take my dog back to daycare. How would I feel if my dog was the biter? It could easily have happened. I was happy that he was playing with other dogs and his attitude has improved when we are around other dogs but I don’t know if this is worth the worry. He’ll just have to play with my other dog until I’m able to approve who else he’s going to play with.

    • Hi Sharon, Thanks for sharing that story. I’m so sorry that happened. For all the reasons that your dog experienced, I generally never recommend picking up a dog in an off-leash play setting. Of course if a dog is about to be attached I would pick it up to try to save if I had no other options. But carrying a dog is really a challenge.

  76. Amen! My favorite is when I am walking my 2 dogs on leash on a leashed required trail and we encounter dogs “off leash” and the owners of the off leash dog yell at me when my dog growls as their rude dog runs up and jumps up on me and my dogs and won’t leave us alone. I’ve been knocked over, had muddy paws jump all over me, -no wonder my dogs get grumpy when dogs get in our space. I don’t blame those dogs….but the owners. They don’t understand that their over friendly pals are different than my dogs who just prefer people and their space. Even worse what can you do….here I am avoiding the dog park, opting to use a leashed area and we have trouble. The best advice I got was to carry treats and if I can get my dogs to sit and focus on the treats vs the dog approaching at full speed we have 60% success of no problems. And if the approaching off leash dog behaves he/she might even get a treat too. Grain, wheat, soy, corn free of course 🙂

    • I SO appreciate your post. Our sweet dog, Franklin is a rescue who is wonderful with people and was ok with dogs when we first rescued him. We did “canine college” and the local humane society and worked with a trainer on walking/commands so we thought it was ok to have him in doggy daycare. He started having some problems here and there with other dogs while he was with us, but the daycare never said anything so we thought it was ok. He ended up getting into a nasty fight and was kicked out. We come to find out from one of the employees that he was clearly uncomfortable most of the time at daycare. We were upset that the owners of the daycare hadn’t told us sooner, but we also didn’t know what to do and felt like bad owners.

      We ended up finding a terrific trainer that helped us realize that not all dogs are happy being around other dogs and that is OK. It was an adjustment for me because I had dogs growing up and thought when we got Franklin that having a dog was going to be a social thing…e.g. going to dog parks, meeting and chatting with other dog owners, etc. I had to accept that no matter what kind of training we did with him, Franklin just got too aroused around most other dogs and that it usually turned out badly. Either his energy would be too much for other dogs and they would snap at him or he would get so aroused that it would turn aggressive. While I’m not a parent, I feel like this situation is probably similar to coming to terms with having an idea of what you want for your child and then having to make adjustments when it turns out that your child doesn’t fit the mold you had envisioned.

      We know Franklin’s limitations now and our most important role is to keep him safe and healthy. I feel grateful that we learned this and don’t have to deal with those struggles anymore. I do still find it difficult when I get opinions from other people about what I should be doing with Franklin. For instance, a neighbor of mine recently told me that “even though he’s not an expert”, he knows that avoiding other dogs isn’t going to solve the problem and that I need to expose Franklin to dogs so he can “get over it”. This person is a big fan of the “Cesar” way of training where you have to show your dog who’s boss so he’ll fall in line. That unsolicited advice got my blood boiling and I appreciate this post for the reinforcement and validation that we are doing the right thing for Franklin.

      Thank you so much for this post. It was so helpful!

  77. Great article indeed. I had Gideon in daycare for his first year, of which he enjoyed. But as soon as he turned 11-12 months, I noticed that he stopped enjoying himself. Whenever I turned the doggie cam on I would see him pacing the fence rather than interacting.
    Because he and I live without the happy chaos that a family brings, we tend to shy away from people/doggie high energy events. This year’s hydrant expo event confirmed this. He displayed nervous energy of which he never had before. He was simply trying to tell me “too much, yo.” Now, that doesnt mean that we are in any way not social. We go for car rides and metro walking. Farmers markets, craft fairs, hardware stores. We people watch as well as Gideon enjoying “performing” for treats. His least favorite thing is interacting with children. Considering our life style, you really can’t call it a flaw. I guess I’m saying daycare was IMO essential for his healthy early development, but at 1 yr and 8 months he’s simply out grown daycare. I think at this point, he would rather enjoy an interactive program that includes me. Because after all, we are each others best buds and he’s come to understand companion life vs pet life. Your post confirms my belief that activities should be organized according to individual temperament and energy levels for both you and your buddy. And in doing so, it will bring out the best in your companion. Giddy and I have begun “agility for fun” which proves to be a great bonding experience. 🙂

    • Thanks, Deb. I’m glad you found some fund things to do with your dog. I think you know your dog really well and that’s what’s important.

  78. Thank you so much! My bichon frise is the sweetest little girl and loves her furry siblings but does not like socializing with strange dogs and never has. On walks she tends to ignore all other dogs unless they approach her and with all the off leash dogs it’s quite common for her to be approached and then people say she is bad when she barks/growls, she isn’t bad she just wants to be left alone to enjoy her walk!

  79. My 5 month old German Shepherd Puppy got asked not to come back to daycare. When I picked her up she has a bit on her nose and I was told it was because she was too bossy. I wasn’t allowed to come back until she was trained. Well, she is now 2 1/2 years old and the most sensitive, gentle loving dog you could ever meet. As a puppy she was very rambunctious, but they did invite puppies to their daycare. What kind of a trainer puts a 5 month old puppy in with an older dog??? I don’t go to daycares with my dog, nor dog parks, I have simply come to the conclusion that most people are inherently stupid and I don’t want my dog around them, especially if these stupid people own dogs.

  80. Wish I had seen this article and all the comments below 3 years ago when my dog got kicked out of daycare! I felt awful and yes, like a failure, as if I hadn’t socialized Yoda enough, which probably only made some of his behaviors into real problems because I couldn’t accept anything but how he “should” behave and caused myself a lot of stress. Thank you!!!!

  81. My doggie day care has an orientation session where your dog is observed first playing and socializing with other dogs before they are allowed into daycare. I am really surprised more daycares do not do this.

  82. I own a pet care facility that also does overnight boarding. A dog that we “kick out of daycare” is one that is over rambunctious, non respectful of other dogs, crazy and a danger to employees in terms of jumping/knocking them down. A dog that is fearful of daycare is one such as is described in this article and I agree that it isn’t necessary for your dog to go to dog parks or day care despite what some “professionals” say. A fearful or non-social dog can be kept for the day, or overnight, in a quiet area and get some one on one time with staff. We are always very truthful and frank with the owner. The dog’s well-being is more important than money but I find that many facilities don’t feel the same way because it’s money out the door.

    An overly rowdy male dog is usually an unneutered male. Some day care places will allow unneutered males with good manners, as we might rarely and depending on the dog, but our experience is that they hump, jump, start fights even as young as 4-6 months.

  83. What about if my dog is unhappy when seeing another dog ? I’ve tried everything. Socialization and training. Off leash or on. She growls and barks at other dogs. I log her but I am at my wits end. I don’t know how to help her. I think it’s a security issue. As soon as we exit the door to our apartment she growls. Even if she doesn’t see anything. She growls at dogs when looking out the window. She’s never been in a fight with another dog. She’s never been in a shelter or homeless. Even though she’s been a adopted a couple times she’s never been in those types of situations. I have no idea what to do to help her.

    • Hi Desiree, It really takes a long time to modify this type of behavior in a dog and it starts with finding out at what distance he can even be comfortable around a dog. I would start at that distance and work just to get him comfortable there before trying to move closer. i would recommend finding a trainer who can help, but it can take quite a bit of time. In the meantime i would also work to try to prevent as much of the behavior pattern from continuing by moving her away from windows and calling her away from doors, etc if she growls when she sees other dogs.

  84. This is right at the top of my list of GREAT advice. Not all dogs are comfortable in an environment with multiple dogs. Such a simple answer….“Just don’t go to the daycare and don’t go to dog parks.” It doesn’t mean that the dog is bad. It doesn’t mean that the day care is wrong. It just means that this isn’t a comfortable place for the dog.

  85. This is a excellent article ! I own a dog walking and pet care service and most of my clients are not candidates for dog daycare or dog parks. Every dog is different and every dog has his own needs. Robin this article is absolutely fantastic …thank you for calming so many nerves and reassuring pet owners that may have been questioning their pet parenting skills.

  86. I see this at the dog beach as well. There are the dogs that want to play with every dog there and the ones who just want to play ball or hang out with their owner. And the former are a bother to the latter.

  87. Can I post this on the daycare and boarding place I manage’s board? I have to constantly tell people their dogs can’t do daycare or boarding with us. I also tell owners days thier dog can come based on that days play group. Owners tend to get upset and this is very well written explaining. I love doggy daycare because I love watching group behavior but it does not mean dogs should ever feel stressed out once slowly intergrated in a group. I normally do a two day eval with one rest day inbetween to judge if a dog wanted to return, how long it took to join group and if dogs are able/feel comfortable to take a nap and lay down in the ring.

  88. Just as there are humans who are introverts and extraverts, there are dogs who are the same. I had two female dogs for many years. My rescued, Pomeranian female was gregarious and social and loved other dogs and everybody she met, while my American Eskimo, whom I had raised since a puppy, including taking her to obedience classes from a very young age, was shy and withdrawn with strangers. She was like that her whole life. I didn’t raise her to be, but that was her personality. Like humans, they all have their own little personalities and unique temperaments. I had to honor and respect their differences, which meant sometimes getting a dog sitter if I was going to include one of them in an activity that made the other uncomfortable.

  89. I’d like to give a short plug to the yellow ribbon campaign ( I have noaffiliation with them, but I think it’s a good idea. Basically the idea is to affix a yellow ribbon to your dogs leash if it needs some space.

  90. I like taking my dog to daycare but I’m afraid that he might get kicked out. I would hate to leave him at home all along for 8 eights or so when I work. I love knowing that if anything happens to him he wouldn’t be alone. Plus my dog cries when he is left behind and I don’t want me neighbors to complain 🙁 I don’t know what to do.

    • Hi Caitie, you might look into the option of having a professional pet sitter come to your home to exercise you dog.

  91. This article could not have come at a better time! Right now we are dealing with an issue that has come forward in our Shiba which is similar but different and if anyone has any comments we sure would appreciate it!!

    We have had Winston the Shiba since a pup. As soon as he had his 2nd set of shots we brought him to the dog park and he loved it. We went at least weekly thereafter and it was a great release and bonding experience for him.

    Recently (less than a year) we have been taking Winston to a doggy daycare a couple times a week as we have both been working a lot (long shifts) and think its not fair to leave him at home alone so much. He loves daycare, always comes out smiling and falls asleep in the car less than two minutes after driving away. However, the past couple months at the dog park have been terrible. When a dog comes to greet Winston, he automatically gets his hackles up and wants to fight. This was NEVER an issue so this leads me to believe that day care is the issue? What could have happened there that we don’t know about? We feel like all the work we did socializing and training him has gone downhill. He’s now the bully of the dog park and he used to absolutely love it.

    Can anyone shed light on this (sudden) change of behaviour or offer any ideas? We like taking him there because its a great outlit for him to run run run and get all his shiba out.

  92. I haven’t read through every comment but I think I am going to be the only one who thinks this is wrong. While it may be true that some dogs prefer people and are just as happy to be around only humans, what is going to happen when they do run into another dog. Your friend should have talked to the daycare about why her dog was kicked out and how she can help her dog. Shouldn’t these daycare people be somewhat proffesionals and at the very least be able to point her in the right direction. To say thank you to them for saying that you should shelter your dog from others is irresponsible. If your dog does not like being around other dogs that’s fine but your dog needs to be trained to behave well around other dogs. My dog used to go to daycare and he did become what we all called a “bully” but rather than tell me to leave they gave me some great advice on how to help him. We are not around alot of other dogs now but at least I know if we are, we are prepared. Thanks to the thoughtful professionals who work at his daycare.

    • Hi Linda, I agree that dogs need to learn to be near other dogs. This dog was not reactive, he just didn’t enjoy off leash play with a group of dogs. The best advice would be to put him in a different environment. If he were reactive on walks I would recommend some training but the goal of the training would get him to handle walking near other dogs not necessarily get him to like playing in large groups of them. Thanks for the clarification.

    • Hi Sheena, it is not uncommon to see a change in dogs as they mature. Sometimes they become more confident and learn to bully dogs, and sometimes they just lose interest in playing as much (just as we get tired of swing sets as we mature). It could be that he requires specific groups of dogs hand selected to match his temperament and playstyle. That is not always possible to arrange at the dog park. I would make sure he is not practicing his bad behavior at the daycare though. Hope that helps.

  93. I am a consultant for a large corporate daycare chain. I watched 1000s of hours of video tapes of dogs “pre fights” .

    Never take your dog to daycare

    what is worse is they most often wont tell you your dog got the shit kicked out of him by 20 dogs.

  94. Hello,

    Thank you for this post! My dog got kicked out of day care today as well! It was actually her evaluation day and they said she was really sweet but her playing escalates to fights, which shocked me. She loves dog parks and I’ve seen her do well with most dogs…only having issues with other females on occasion. I am fine with not doing day care, but I would like to know of other options for energy outlet. We live in an apartment so we don’t have yard space. Right now we have to crate our dog while at work because she chews (a symptom I think of separation anxiety since she was a rescue and also pent up energy). We are so disappointed day care won’t work because we want what is absolutely best for our Gilda. We are smitten with her, and we want to make life healthy and fun.

    • Hi Elyse, It’s great that you are looking for other options. For rainy days, I actually love some of the interactive toys (stuffed kong toys, and some of the puzzle games). I have found that mental stimulation can often tire a dog out as much as physical exertion. So teaching tricks, playing games inside like hide the person (or treat) and find it, and the puzzle games can be great. For outdoor activity, I would look at things such as long walks in new locations. Lots of times just going to a new area, neighborhood, woods, etc is more exciting for the dog and will tire him out more because of all the new smells. You can also look for facilities that offer one on one services with dogs such as massage, pool time, games with the staff, etc. I hope that helps!

  95. Hello!

    I read this post and had a similar problem this past Friday – however, my dog loved doggie daycare! He did well for 4 months there and then last Friday, he was playing with another dog, very hard playing and he ended up biting down on the dog during play and it caused a puncture wound on the dog – and the other dog had to receive a few small stitches.

    The daycare owner said she viewed the tape and that the bite DID NOT come from an aggressive nature, it was purely through play. and that the other dog even after it happened, got up and kept wanting to play with my dog! Only when they noticed some bleeding, did they end up having to stop play and view the tape.

    They told me they thought my dog didn’t have good bite inhibition and that it’s not something that can be taught or trained out of dogs!? My dog has been to the dog park on a weekly basis, obedience classes and doggy daycare for 2 times a week for 4 months and this happened out of the blue! Do you suppose it was a freak accident? He’s still a puppy at 12 months old and he was a rescue, so I don’t know his background before he came to me.

    Anyway, my dog got kicked out of daycare -and it made me feeling awful! He is such a good, sweet boy! He is a lab/border collie mix at about 36 pounds.

    Any advice?

    • Hi JJ, This is a challenging situation and I’m sorry you have having to deal with this kind of thing. It’s hard when we don’t understand the dog’s behavior. I would tend to agree with the daycare view that the dog doesn’t have good bite inhibition and that it can be more challenging to teach that to an older dog. It could be a freak accident, but the problem is that the daycare has to make decisions based on what is possible in the future so I’m sure that guided their decision. It is possible that your dog could have fun in smaller groups that you set up, or with playmates he knows well. It could also be that he would love to just spend time with you on walks or playing games of fetch or other activities. It does sound like you have given him great opportunities to learn how to interact with other dogs and you should not feel bad about him being dismissed because I don’t think this is anything you caused or anything you could have prevented. But it is always safer to err on the side of caution in terms of monitoring his play sessions. Hope that helps!

  96. Great & true words!!
    Thank you for kind and very true words about what is in the best interest of our Dogs.

    I have watched over 45 years of working and caring for dogs, that “beliefs about what is right” have a big effect on how we care for our pets. Right now the “Cool things to do” include doggie parks, and doggie daycare. So much so that owners have stopped teaching their dogs how to politely walk on a leash around town. Leash walking is a skill like any other, that dogs & owners need to learn to be safe on our streets, just like we teach our teenagers to drive according to safety rules & laws.

    More about beliefs: In the 70’s , there was a small percentage of owners who believed that “dogs must run free to be happy”. So dogs were let out off leash to run free in cities & towns. The unfortunate side effect of that practice was numerous dogs who were injured by cars. Lucky for dogs it was a small percent of owners. It seems that dog parks are a substitute for the “dogs must run free to be happy” idea. So now Veterinarians see serious dog attack injuries and many more behavior problems caused or worsened by the unsupervised interactions that happen too often at dog parks.

    Instead of “run free”, think about the Dog’s natural life. They are social carnivores who’s natural behavior would limit them to familiar, guarded territories with strict family groups, members only. The idea that all dogs must get along is imposed onto dogs by humans. In nature strangers are attacked to be driven away. There is a small window of time during the emotional development in puppy-hood where learning to tolerate/enjoy outside dogs can happen. This is between 6 weeks up to 4 1/2 months. After this time the pups brain reacts to all novelty, especially strangers (dogs or people), as dangerous. In the wild that keeps the puppies safe. Just as they become mobile enough to wander far from Mom/Dad, an internal fearfulness emerges in the emotional center to keep them close to home.

    Doggie day cares started as place for owners who jobs involved long hours away from the dog or dogs with separation anxiety. But as Pet care has become, big business, allot of advertisement (appearing as education) has been devoted to convincing owners that it is the right thing to do for all dogs.

    Dogs are motivated by 10,000 years of selective breeding to form a bond with humans. Our families replace their dog family groups. Their social needs still apply. Dogs are most happy when with their small family group. Dogs are diurnal (active twice a day) 2-4 hours at dawn and dusk. They sleep, (in cycles of 2 hours nap, short 10-15 minutes awake, back to nap) the remainder of the day and night. So a normal work day schedule is perfect for a dog as long as they have a quiet place to get away and nap all day.

    Whether spending the day in a doggie day care is a good experience depends on the individual dog. It is overstimulating for most dogs who would normally spend their daytime napping. It’s a bit like summer camp, fun, activity filled days but, after a week you long for home.

    I applaud this Daycare owner who understand dogs & puts the welfare of dogs ahead of profit. I hope this info is helpful to everyone, worried about their dogs who don’t do well in daycare.

    Dr Smith Veterinary Behaviorist

    • This is excellent information, Dr. Smith. I really appreciate your insight and comments. I especially think the information on the dog’s activity level and sleep requirements are important. I think daycares should be giving frequent breaks to the dogs for those reasons you mention. Great stuff! Thanks so much.

  97. I have a rescue, Golden Retriever and Springer Spaniel. He is about 68 pounds. He was very happy at Doggie Day Care for two years. However, recently, he arrived and immediately went after another dog when taken off leash. He was dismissed from Day Care. Why would this happen after 2 years of very happy play with the other dogs and counselors? He was known as “Mr. Social” until this incident.

    • Hi Pamela, I’m sorry to hear about the situation with your dog. There could be a couple reasons for this behavior. With older dogs who are acting uncharacteristically, I would first rule out any kind of medical issue. Just like people, if dogs feel bad, they can be more grumpy. If he is feeling ok, then it’s possible that he is just desiring a less active playgroup. It’s not uncommon for dogs to enjoy play less as they age. Sometimes this means they will play for shorter periods of time, or may have less tolerance overall for being in an off-leash setting. Lastly, it could be that he just needed more time to meet a new dog that arrived (assuming the dog he went after was a dog he never met before). So those are a few possibilities. hope that helps.

  98. Brilliant article, the same also applies to people wanting to bring reactive or very fearful dogs into a training class because their vet or rescue centre says they ‘need to be socialised’, I have classes with no more than 8 dogs but even than can be too stressful for some dogs, I will always do a private assessment prior to attending class and if I feel the dog wouldn’t cope I would offer a few more 1-1 sessions to give the owners gentle techniques to help the dog such as distance work, lots of scenting games while out on walks to make the walk more enjoyable for the dog and make being with their owner even more fun, many owners have found this hugely beneficial and appreciate ‘permission’ to not insist their dog must play with others.
    My pet hate is going to a popular park and watch a large group of dogs rough playing in the centre while their owners stand together and chat with the occasional glance over and “Fido, play nicely”!!!!!!

  99. Awesome article and having been a dog owner for 50+ years, it’s great insight into dog behaviour and peoples’ takes on dogs.

  100. I have a Scottie who loved day care. Then I went on vacation and left him with a friend who has his mother and several other Scotties and Westies. When I returned from vacation and took my dog back to Day Care he got “time out” for aggressive behavior a couple of times. My friend says he got “terrier”. I no longer work so I no longer take him to Dog Care. I still take him to dog parks and he does well until a ball comes in to the picture. He is obsessed with balls. Then he tries to get the ball this includes large dogs. Rotts, Labs, and Dobs. I am able to call him and “leave it” and he listens. Should I be concerned?

    • Hi Joan, It sounds like your dog is more of a problem with he wants to guard something he considers valuable. That’s something that is hard to retrain in a dog park so it’s more a matter of removing him from the situation if people bring in balls while he is there. The great thing is that if you can call him to you when those situations occur you can manage the problem. I would continue to be on the look out for those situations where you need to call him back to you.

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  102. What a fantastic article! There should be more like this! I have just taken both my dogs out of a daycare because I got a lukewarm (ok, it was bad) report on one of the dogs. (I had noticed behavioral changes at home with my two year old guy for the last two monthes — more mouthiness, hand shyness, stress, neediness but nothing was clicking with me. I took him to the vet for a check up which came up “he’s a healthy boy”.). I discussed this with the daycare, who said that he has become more assertive & like me they noticed that it is a sudden change, like someone has pushed a button. That was the beginning of September. There are no changes in my home or my other dog. They tell me it is still ok to take him to daycare. (I am so angry at myself for actually thinking it is ok). TWO MONTHS later comes the report from the owner that my dog is nipping others, that he has no recall and handlers are afraid of him. I said the dog needs to come out– not a good situation. Something has happened. Owner says, no, bring him back in a week. He needs basic obedience training (?). Is he out of his mind? Bring him back to daycare? A dog your handlers are afraid of? Both dogs are now out permanently. (Leaves me wondering if they aren’t reporting on my older dog.). At the root of it, I suspect that my two year old is too dorky & pushy a dog to be in daycare and he somehow got in the middle of something he & they couldn’t handle. Things snowballed from there. I am angry at the daycare because they did not report to me that the environment was too stressful for my dog & I am very angry at myself for not picking up on the signs. My job is to protect my dog. I wish there were more articles like this one.

  103. Hello, I hope you wont mind me emailing you- Ive been reading all you have wrote about, dogs in general. I Found the information very useful. I’m in my early 70’s and have been looking around for a small Dog or a pup and getting a bit mixed up about it, one will tell me I should not have a dog and let it get use to one person I go out every day we have a park block away, and I have a fare size garden also been told I have to get a dog to suit me’ don’t know what to do about that one.’ Is there any advice you can give me on any level…Thank you Robin. I hope to hear from you again…

  104. Robin-
    I recently opened a dog enrichment center, similar to a daycare but more focused on the well being of the dog mentally and physically. I turn away quite a few dogs despite being new because they don’t want to be here and I won’t force a dog to do anything they want to do. I’ve had some people break down in tears because they think i’m being mean or their dog is perfect how could they not like it. I’m sharing this article with everyone I have to turn away to let them know it’s okay if their dog doesn’t like playing with multiple dogs.
    THANK YOU! For all of your wonderful information I really enjoy having something to reference my clients to for great info.

    • Glad you found the information useful! I do have a copy of the handout in a format that might work for you to print to give out. I’ll send that to you!

  105. So i have an American Bulldog named Jack Daniels, he is 15 months old and he gets very excited about going to the dog park and even going to the day care. Seriously if i mention going to play with other dogs and I take to long to open the door he stands by the door and huffs at me. Well yesterday I was told that he wasn’t allowed back because he went after another dog in the yard. They did say that he could come back if I show that he has had more training. I have taken him through training in a group environment at the local Pet Smart. He is normally pretty well behaved and listens about 80% of the time. I get that he is still sort of a puppy but when he plays with other dogs he doesn’t listen and wants to wrestle and chase other dogs. I do have to give him time outs while at the dog park because he doesn’t know when to stop. The day care i took him to was very nice about it and they really like Jack, he just doesn’t like to listen when he is playing. I am just worried that he won’t be allowed to play with other dogs because he wants to do what he wants to do. This article is very good and has helped me feel a little better. Any advice to what I can do or just keep him from those places?

    • Hi Ken, I love the name jack Daniels! That’s great. I think if you can find a few good friends who like jack’s rougher play style you can try to set up smaller playgroups that might work better for him.

  106. I have a 3 year old lab who has been going to daycare 1 or 2 times a week. She gets very excited when she gets there and cries very loudly, trying to race through the doorway to get to the other dogs. I make her wait until she calms down before she goes to meet the other dogs. The last 2 times she was there, she began the very loud crying/whining as soon as she got in with the dogs and kept it up all day. I didn’t realize that was happening until I took her yesterday. The owner and I agreed we would let her stay for 2 hours and see what happened. Same thing. I don’t think I can have her go anymore. It’s sad because she seemed to love it but I don’t want her experiencing that stress. She’s not crying because she’s unhappy; she’s crying because she is overly excited. She is a nice, calm dog at home but does have a lot of energy and does need walks, retrieving balls, etc. She was bred to be a hunter and she is only a house pet. I often feel bad for her that she is not out hunting. Any thoughts? P.S. Thank you so much for this marvelous site.

    • Hi Liz, It sounds like your lab has lots of energy!! The hunting lines can be very energetic and it sounds like that is what’s happening when she gets to daycare. It might sound counterintuitive but I have seen good success with those kind of high drive dogs if you can take them for a good game of fetch or get them on a treadmill for about 10 minutes before taking them to daycare. Some daycare will even offer this an an additional service. That can help to take the edge off a little and helps the dog to acclimate to the playgroup. Maybe that is worth a try. Hope that helps.

  107. The article has given me some peace of mind. I have an Australian shepherd who got into an altercation with another dog at an off leash park and has become extremely dominate toward other dogs since then. I know as her owner I did not see the signs that she did not like this environment. I was the one who loved that she could run free and be happy. I failed to see she got extremely uncomfortable around huge groups of dogs. A few calm well behave dogs are fine but a pack of strange high energy pups is not for her. I learned the hard way. Thank goodness the no other dog or her were hurt. Now we take nice long walk with her on leash and she is tired and happy at the end. Thanks for reminding me that I have wonderful dog and that I finally recognized her needs.

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  110. Perfect!!! just what I needed to read today! my one year old is such a great dog, but omg when he see other dogs he goes crazy with excitement then he all over them sometime not in the best way. Today I was feeling like such a failure but after reading this not anymore! it is some we will work on but I no longer will stress over it!

  111. As a dog trainer and the the former manager of a large boarding kennel where every dog got yard time (alone or in groups) and we also did daycare I also want to thank you for this article
    Spot on!

  112. The local dog training school in my town has a different model, dogs are trained while their owners are at work. It is not a doggy day care, but a doggy day school with 3 training sessions per day and individual walks and play time, and group play time for those dogs who enjoy it….my dog reactive Irish Terriers love going there. They don’t participate in the group play time, but they love the training, evidenced by happy wagging tails everytime we go there. If you live in the Rockville/Gaithersburg, MD area, I highly recommend

  113. How refreshing to hear someone say this! All one hears about is socialization and exposure to all the various stimuli and I am happy to hear someone say that it just isn’t what is best for every dog! Two thumbs up!

  114. Good article. description fits my daughters wire Fox Terrier. He’s a people dog, enjoys off leash exercise but seldom approaches other dogs when on a walk. He will rarely play with another dog if the other dogs temperament is right. He will play with our Irish Terrier Bitch after a bit of ‘persuading’ from her.
    If you want to socialise a dog who may have missed the early interplay with other dogs, I would do it gradually and gently , try and walk with one other dog on leash, one that your dog is happy to walk with. They may eventually play as they become comfortable in each others company, there is less stress with a dog he knows. If they never get to play, nothing is lost as you will have gained a walking companion. For a reserved or nervous dog to be put straight into a pack of strange dogs must be quite difficult to cope with.

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  116. Wow! What a sad but adorable story! I love my dog more than almost anything in the world and I feel for you! I have had to leave him a few times because I am traveling where I can’t bring him and it breaks my little heart. I can see my dog doing this as well! Thanks for posting this cute story!

  117. Thank you so much for writing this piece. Our dog was kicked out of the daycare today that she’s been going to as a puppy (she’s now 8). It was a tough conversation to have and I cried. I am so appreciative of the trainer however because she kept both dogs safe and continues to be diligent about doing so. She explained how some dogs “age out” of socialization and Haley is at that point. This article made me feel better about her incident. She’s still an amazing dog who loves spending time with us.

    • Thanks, Jocelyn! Your dog is so lucky to have you and I’m sure she is much happier just hanging out with you rather than having to tolerate daycare!

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  119. Thank you so much for writing this. I’d come to the conclusion long ago that our dog just doesn’t really care to socialize with other dogs or do daycare, so we try not to board him or take him to such places — but it’s nice to hear that there isn’t something horribly wrong with him! He loves being off-leash but just doesn’t really enjoy other dogs that much. We think he’s got a lot of border collie in him, and he just prefers working (now defined as ball/frisbee activity) and being with people, so that’s what we do.

  120. Monica was my 6th pup, in some way the most troubling, some way the most simple. My first was a ST BERNARD mix., 2 LAB mixes (terrier and a regular hound), a COCKER SPANIEL and a Greyhound ~~~ all rescues. If she played much she lost the use of her hind legs, the vet “guessed” being crated too long or was bred way too young. As she grew and became healthier her scars became prominent, and her attitude. Extremely friendly to most people, but most other dogs- especially bigger she became defensive and protective. At 11 she has never been in a confrontation with any another dog (it’s MY job to protect her) but still loves strangers, her circle of friends have grown. We still walk, still visit friends, and she loves it.

    When I walked her I steer clear of other dogs, or keep her attention. Because her scars most people were scared, but due to her looks (she looked like a GREMLEN) kids loved her. Still any time we ride (several times a week for her hamburger) or walk I look for anything to trouble her. Snores way too loud (a relaxing effect to me though), dances in her water when excited, after a 12 hour day she meets me at the door with her rope ready to play. She could lose that tug-a-way nowdays, for some reason she never does…

    A doggy daycare never was an option. Even as the old age signs happen (accidents) I change her bed linens (I have several comforters she sleeps on), she almost makes the doggy door, I get more from her than I can ever give

  121. Thankyou for your article….wow I have looked right into the meaning of it and I can relate to it with my young boy. At a young age he would cling to my legs, I couldn’t even walk, especially on own I put it down to being bullied by his litter sister, but being a show dog, he had to walk, and a happy go temperament. At shows he would shake his whole body and cling to my legs, it was breaking my heart. He was so nervous and was unhappy, time went on (months) he started to improve but he still shake but wasn’t as clingy. I kept calling him a sooky Layla, but reading your article it made me realise may be he just will never be a show dog.

  122. My shepherd was very well socialized with other dogs as a puppy then the town built a dog park and it took a year. In that time he grew to weigh 100 lbs and kept trying to play with dogs as he did when a puppy and no one was happy to see me arriving with him at the park. I stopped going, he was too rough. BUT on the other hand, I fostered a female shepherd adult about 3 or so, and she HATED my dog and acted poorly with others. She didn’t want to kill them just wasn’t self confident so I used a basket muzzle and took her every single morning (routine) to the park. She didn’t play but she was being “FLOODED” which means overwhelmed and had so accept the other dogs. She didn’t have to play or interact just accept them around her. She went to a single dog home but his girlfriend had 2 dogs and was tasked with dog sitting for him. So she HAD to get along with her dogs and she did because and ONLY because of the flooding training. So my dogs sit when other dogs pass on the sidewalk and I give them a cookie to distract them. Sometimes distraction is all you can do. My female played for a year with the dogs at the park then began hiding in the bushes so I could plainly see some dogs scared her and we stopped going too. Every dog is different. Not have a playful group dog isn’t a crime, but some dogs must learn to ignore or be distracted and never go to the park to play.

  123. I have a very social 4 yr old cattle dog who loves to meet and greet. That’s all. Playing is dog selective and usually in a smaller setting. Large groups of dogs shut her down. I think she is an introvert!

  124. What about dogs that are afraid of other dogs when on leash but fine if everyone is off leash? I have two of those.

    • Hi Clare, I would still recommend dogs be able to walk on leash around other dogs so there might still be an opportunity to do some training for dogs like this.

  125. Well, I kicked my own dog out of daycare today. As soon as he got there he literally attacked a deaf young dalmation. I really saw it coming as he went after another blind dog previously. He has been going to this daycare for nine months without incident but they recently had a staff change. I feel maybe there are too many toys and she is in the habit of keeping some dogs on leash to keep them under control but I understand this can increase aggression? The usual group is young dogs with lots of energy and I noticed too late how annoying this was to my boy. I feel terrible for the other dog. It was traumatic I think for everyone. My dog has terrible thunderstorm anxiety when he is alone and does not do well if he is at home. We found that out months after we adopted him from the shelter and keeping him at daycare was the safest choice at the time. I don’t know what is the best thing to do for him now. We are in a quandry and we love him.

  126. Love this article! I run a small semi private boarding and daycare service and come across this too often when a dog isn’t a doggy social butterfly. Their owners assume there must be some thing wrong with their dog or that they aren’t trying some thing hard enough and the dog is a reflexion of their skills or efforts. Dogs come in a very wide range of sociability preferences and tendencies just like people, and that’s normal and it’s ok. There are people who would be sick to their stomach if they were made to go to parties or corporate functions on a regular basis while others would think it was the best gig in the world!

  127. Thank you for this article. I think my dog likes going to the day care. He gets along with the other dogs in his play group. It’s the staff that he doesn’t always like. He’s a Westie x Bichon. They told us we have to do something about it. Get one of their expensive 1 on 1 training. He’s been going there every week for quite sometime now so we are quite shocked when all of a sudden, there was incident of him biting one of the staff. They said that time that the staff tried to carry him which he didn’t like and bit the staff. This happened few months ago. They didn’t tell us what we need to do. They just said the next time we came back, they’ll just use one of those leads that auto adjusts so they wont have to carry him. Then today another incident happened. Apparently they were taking him out to go “toilet”. He was OK at first then when they were going to take him back in, he started to be a bit crazy in a sense like he keeps moving around pulling his lead and scratching the staff when they try to hold him then his nose bled. When we arrived to pick him up they told us what happened which I think was weird and worrying. He wouldn’t act like that all of a sudden. Something must have happened that they’re not telling us. Then that’s when they mentioned again when he bit the guy few months ago and that needs to get that 1 on 1 training. The lady who suggested it claims that he bit the staff out of the blue which contradicts the first statement. I don’t believe that though. He wouldn’t attack anyone out of the blue. He’s not an aggressive dog. I want to stop taking him to the day care but we have prepurchased sessions already. I am worried though that something else might happen to him if we don’t stop taking him there. The place that I initially liked has been a let down. They claim to be professionals but for some reason I don’t trust what they have said recently and I don’t really want to leave him there anymore. They said they don’t think we need to take him to the vet to find out what caused his nose to bleed. Right now, he seems relaxed and is playing with his toys. Can you please give an advice? Will greatly appreciate it!

    • Hi Reese, If your dog is having issues at the daycare then i would definitely not take him back because it only gives him more opportunity to practice bad behavior regardless of what reasons there might be. If he isn’t showing any issues at home then I would just find other activities for him to do outside of playgroups. if you hare having any issues at home, then a trainer might be able to help you resolve those. Hope that helps

      • Hello Robin! Thank you so much for your reply. My dog doesn’t have any issues at home. He doesn’t have issues with other dogs at the day care either. I think the staff might be a bit “rough” when training him. I didn’t like how he ended up having trauma and nose bleed after their “care”. A friend who’s a bit more experienced with dogs than I am suggested for us to try a dog walker. It is something we are definitely looking into. We are just trying to find out other options in case we can’t find one in our area. Any suggestions?

        • i think a pet sitter or dog walker would be a great option. You might be able to check on the Pet Sitters International website to locate someone in your area. You can also talk to other pet businesses in your area to see who they might recommend.

  128. My diesel was kick out of daycare after the second warning. He done about $1,500.00 in damage to the daycare as an overnight for 11 day stay. I sometime have to go to Columbus, Ohio to take my mom to see her sick brother. I most of the time take diesel with me, but lately I have been boarding him. This is new to both of us for he is my best friend and he really are separated. So now what do I do. I know that I’m going to have to go back to Columbus soon, and I can’t always take him with me never knowing what I will run into when I get to Ohio or when I come back home. I fully understand why but, diesel is a people dog and I have no family here. I just don’t know what to do. Diesel is a 98 pd. pit bull ,that loves people and a great temper and very spoiled.

  129. I have a 6 year old pit mix that is just like this. When she was a puppy I used to try to take her to dog parks all the time to help socialize her but she just doesn’t like other dogs. As I was too broke to afford puppy classes at the time I read every book I could find to educate myself of how to train her.

    but like I tell my friends she is just a straight b****. She loves people and can be in almost any crowded situation and Loves kids(she doesnt mind the abuse and loves to play with them). she just doesn’t like most dogs. (She does have 3 dog friends) Its just part of accepting your dog for who they are.

  130. Great article, I hope daycare owner/operators will see this. I worked for one that would leave dogs huddled by the door shaking and drooling and completely miserable, and they would take nightmarish bullies even knowing the dogs were too rough and too prone to starting fights and it made me doubt myself as a dog trainer when I would get blasted for suggesting dogs were not happy and should not be forced into the daycare and also that some dogs were too dangerous to other daycare clients and should not be allowed to return but the place was run so only if blood, and a LOT of blood was spilt would a dog be suspended and the owner told the dog had to get training, then a few weeks later that dog would be back, heeling nice, nice sit etc but still a nightmare to every other dog once off leash and again we were forced to deal with it until the dog caused bad injuries to another dog, for owners with more than one dog coming and regulars that spent alot at the center they let them hurt other dogs alot before suspending them. They waited with a particular boxer until he finally KILLED another dog, I was in the adjoining small dog daycare that day, it was my last day there, I couldn’t stand watching them endanger peoples loved and cherished pets every single day, it was too much for me. Sometimes as many as 60+ dogs to one single attendant were a common thing, it was so unsafe and so many dogs were hurt.

  131. Doggie Day Care is not for the weak. We tell our staff all the time your in charge, you decided who comes and goes. But we need to make good informative decisions. Shame on the day care for not communicating sooner with the owner that there was a potential issue with the pet in day care. Heather we also have turned away pets. Even pets who have been here for a while, but the customer was always in the know. We make every attempt to keep our owners in the loop. Too many times in the industry I think we are so afraid of loosing a customer that we tend to ‘rosie’ the reports. It is my belief and policy..honesty is the best policy. Thank you for the positive words of encouragement

  132. Robin,
    Thank you so much for this wonderfully insightful and encouraging article. I have two dogs, and they are very social with people..friendly little terrier/beagle mixes. They are active dogs who are well behaved, but they are not overly playful dogs. We meet with friends and do off leash walks and on leash walks, and my two girls are happy to explore and mind their own business with these calmer dogs. They aren’t aggressive with dogs they don’t know, and if we are around more high energy dogs and everyone is leashed, they are happy and friendly. I see videos of people with their dogs playing tug of war and chasing and racing, and I admit, I have thought, “What have I done wrong?!” I have trained and loved and socialized my dogs over the years. Your article has helped me to let go of my guilt! I have great dogs! Sure, I can stretch them a little and keep them around other dogs, but I don’t have to feel like I have failed them because they aren’t overly playful. Thank you!!

  133. Thank you so much for this great article, a pet daycare has certain days you can bring your dogs to play freely in a large fenced area. We took our 3 dogs, a chihuahua and 2 dachshunds to check it out thinking it would be so fun for them to run around free with other dogs. The 1 doxie walked around and sniffed and seemed to enjoy, the other doxie just stayed near me and constantly barked. The owners said she was enjoying herself which I did not believe. The chihuahua seemed to like it unless another dog came to see her, she would run back to us and jump up. We have not gone back. I really appreciate your article because I have always thought a dog loved to be free with other dogs and that was their ultimate enjoyment in life and I wanted to provide that opportunity for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We now try to go to places when they are empty and they all love that.

  134. My dog was kicked out of daycare today. It was his first visit, after a positive 20 minute assessment last week, and three amazing dog park visits the past few days. I was told they’re not comfortable with him coming back.

    I left stunned and hurt and cried all the way home. I thought about their obvious discomfort in telling me. I thought why does this seem like the first time they’ve encountered a dog who was “too forward with the dogs”.

    Anyway, maybe he freaked out when I left him in an unfamiliar environment, didn’t say goodbye. Maybe my shelter rescue thought I was leaving him. Maybe he needed that nap from being overstimulated. Either way, maybe taking him to the dog park where he is happy and not at all forward is the best thing.

    Thank you for your article it really helped ease the tension I’ve been feeling for the past few hours while my poor pup sleeps the stressful day away.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your dog and I’m glad the article helped. It could be that your dog missed being with you, or that the environment at the daycare is just so different from the dog park, or maybe there are different playmates at the dog park your dog enjoys. It could also be that your dog just prefers being with you than playing with other dogs. It sounds like the daycare wanted to do what is best for both of you and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your dog. He just prefers you! 🙂

  135. Amazing article! Robin, I’ve been to many of your seminars over the years and look to your insight often. Would you consider giving permission to use this article to help clients whose dog is not a good fit for daycare understand that we do indeed care deeply about the well being of their fur kid and we are not in any way saying their dog is “broken.” Thanks for all you do!!!!

    • Hi Deb, Thanks so much. You are welcome to use the article. I just sent you an email with a pdf version. Hope that helps!

  136. I have long known that some dogs are 1 – person dogs, some are 1 family dogs, and some are everybody dogs. I would have to assume they are also like that with dogs. I took my dog to the local dog park when she was a puppy, for socialization. As she got older, she walked around the fence line with me, and often didn’t find another dog to play with. After an argument with owners who were not paying attention to their own dogs, I stopped taking her. She might seem to be one of those less sociable dogs.
    However, she loves going to daycare. Can hardly wait to go in. But one daycare I took her to, they had to practically drag her into their facility. After that happened again, I changed daycare facilities. She couldn’t be happier where I take her now. And she doesn’t come home exhausted; but rather, calm and attentive, and happy.

    • It’s great that you are so in tune with your dog and can find the best activities for her.

    • From my experience there is very few adult dogs “loving the world”. Most of the dogs have their types of friends or individuals. It’s why in my hotel every dog has a room – private space for eating, sleeping and resting. The groups are formed only for play / walk time and the companions are picked with attention. If the dog shows any not 100% social signs I start by a walk with my own female. Social, friendly but not pushing / demanding contact. If the “guest” doesn’t show interest in interaction she goes by herself, exploring the smells, accommodations like the pond etc. Lot of dogs start to follow her and after a short time they become confident enough to play together or enjoy the nice company in sniffing around etc.
      Socialization is still something new in Poland, lot of dogs with “other dogs problem” just didn’t have a possibility to find a dog friend, but I’m happy to know that there are people with so much bigger experience then mine who confirm my opinion that the dog doesn’t have to love every other dog. Socialization is new here so lot of professionals believe in it. Meaning if the dog shows any social discomfort, the owner did something wrong. I try to assure my clients that the luck of success in socialization of sound sensitive dog with preschool kids is not their failure. I will use a link to your article since today. Thank you

      • Thanks for helping people to see that their dogs can be happy even if they aren’t always playing with other dogs, Maria!

  137. So love this!!!! Thanks for posting. Saying that….i would never subject my dobermans to either a daycare or a dog park……as an owner it is “my” responsibility to socialize my dogs….which includes classes.. Obedience.Nosework etc….taking them to places like TSC tractor stores. Or the local Agway……..I walk each in our neighborhood…. they socialize with all kinds of people…. of all ages……..they have playdates occasionally…. With friends who we know…. I don’t expect my dogs to like every dog they meet….people don’t like everyone we meet……….so I try very hard not to put them in a situation where a strange dog will come charging at them…….we ve had that happen….stupid people abound!

  138. This happened to me and my dog. I did think something was wrong that had to be fixed. And he’s an amazingly behaved dog in every other situation. He won’t even approach other dogs. He just doesn’t like them to approach him.

    But you are forgetting something. Lot’s of people don’t have many alternatives for other exercise. Agility and other dog sports can be very costly (it runs $400-500 in my area for 3 months), or their dog uninterested or not suitable due to genetic diseases like hip dyplasia. Many parts of the country are not conducive to adequate hikes, such as Florida in the summer with the heat, poisonous snakes, and gators around, and dog daycares or parks or the only options for those who live in conditions like that. Fortunately, that isn’t the issue for me, but I feel for the owners who are in that situation and don’t know how to give their energetic dog enough exercise.

  139. My 2 dogs go to daycare when I was having work done on the house because with doors being either left open or the in & out portion. They also go for 1/2 day playtime after a bath. They really like it, only thing is they have to separate them because the female dominates the male and then he will just sit out and watch. So being with other dogs without her he is fine and has a good time. They go only every few months, they have a big fenced back yard that they play in. If there was a real problem for them going – I would just keep them home. Love those two too much to have them unhappy.

  140. That’s my dog! so glad to read. I never have taken her to day care but I have tried the dog park. Sometimes she seems happy other times not. I stopped taking her.

  141. Great article! My dog is now 10 and although he loved the off-leash park when he was younger, he no longer likes it and isn’t keen on daycare either so he no longer goes. When we go trail walking and he’s off-leash he stays in a heel and doesn’t wander. He’s a Pug/Boston and just likes to be with his humans. No shame in that! I love it! ❤️🐾

  142. Thank you so much for these words. Our dog is one of those who loves people more than other dogs. More often than not, Imfeel embarassed about his behavior. From now on I shall let him be the good dog he is and not worry or be judgemental.

  143. I very much appreciate and mostly agree with this. It needs to be said more often and HEARD. The only thing that I don’t agree about is the seeming suggestion of a black and white split of dogs who like a pack environment and dogs who don’t. I run a small home boarding network in Colorado and we socially board some–NOT ALL–dogs happily who bombed in daycare environments because they were overwhelmed. (Kicked out of daycare because of aggression is another kettle of fish.) But even in my own home where I board sometimes 6-8 dogs, some dogs are not optimal matches, yet play like puppies in our small-dogs-only home where there are no more than three dogs at a time or one home where they no longer have dogs of their own and only board one or two at a time. Some of these dogs succeed when placed correctly and still love other dogs, but need a lower key environment. We’re not the answer for everyone or every dog, but behavior sure changes from one environment to another. We refer some super social and confident, high energy dogs to big group play enviroments sometimes, too. Our homes are not soccer stadiums! 🙂 Thanks for the article. I will definitely Share it.

    • Thanks Cheri, I totally agree wit you! I think some dogs love smaller groups and sometimes just the setup of a daycare environment can make a big difference as to how well a dog enjoy it.

  144. I have an approximately 6 1/2 year old chihuahua mix rescue I adopted 3 years ago. She came with issues I wasn’t totally aware of, noises, startling responses, separation anxiety, she’s a nervous nelly for sure, etc., but fine, she’s such a love bug, seriously best life decision I’ve ever made! We settled in, saw a behavioral specialist after a few months because of her anxiety, on a lose dose of daily meds and then I decided she needed socialization after about 6 months because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do!
    So we go to daycare at an absolutely wonderful place once a week so she can get her “socialization” in. I board her there also when necessary and they are beyond fabulous. They work with me and my issues and hers and always.
    Reports are usually she loves all the staff, doesn’t interact much with the other dogs but not aggressive either but I was determined to make her be a dog she was not meant to be. Mind you I have to take her on a day off due to my work hours, but you know, she needs “socialization”.
    Received an email today that daycare is starting a new program basically involving individual playcare time devoted to specific categories she might enjoy and they quoted you as a reference which led me here, so thank you. Thank you for letting me let go of what I thought she should be and just be her and thank you to her daycare that is willing to try new programs for dogs that just don’t really want to be around other dogs but still want to have room to run and play!

    • Thanks Robin! I love that your daycare is starting a new program with individual play care. That’s what I would recommend especially for your dog. Your pup is very lucky to have found you. Thanks for looking out for her!

  145. very good advice, with the rider that even though your dog(s) may not like being around other dogs, aggression towards other dogs when out for a walk on leash is not acceptable, and needs some help to over come that problem

  146. And if your dog is any threat to others, never let it stray. Never allow your dog and potential combatants/victims come together.

    Your priority should be safety, for your dog and others.

  147. I think my dog would be overwhelmed in daycare with lots of other strange dogs but she does enjoy offleash play with dogs – she just needs a bit of time to sniff and greet them first (she’s timid – dogs that charge up to her and get in her face scare her… almost always labs that do this …) and she prefers to meet one dog at a time (maybe even two if they’re small). I take her off leash to the beach in the mornings before the swimmers get there and we usually meet one or two other dogs being walked that she will greet and play with if they’re friendly. The beach is better for us because she has plenty of space to escape if she feels overwhelmed or the other dog gets too boisterous and we usually only meet one dog at a time so she doesn’t feel out numbered.

      • Hi Robin I am so confused people have been saying my sweet little 1 year old cavalar mix loves all people very loving little girl and wantes to play on leash with other dogs …..So I took her to day care red flag they would not letme even watch from a window 2nd red flag gut told me to pick her up she is totally black I went and got her she was drinking water like crazy I mean a lot I had it stop her.Then boom a whole demeanor change first night she was liking her lips as if she was trying to tell me something she had never done that she never went pee pee for over 14 hr she was wattaling when she walked normal a very tall standing almost showing stance she Wimmer a lot yet she played with her toy and eaten her dinner a day later she is barking fearful shaking as if water is on her in a store she was always on my shoulder quite waiting to be petted not this time she came unglued barking at a child she never ever had done that then boom again she full out challenge me had that at about six months but this time she was out of control so I am wondering what is the path out of this I will not take her back their of course they said she was shy and watched for 30 minutes then slowly walked into the group of 20 dogs all I want is my sweet girl who loved everyone is their something I need to find out from the day care this is my first fur baby I am just at a loose she has also been sleeping alot the last 48 hours thank you sorry it is so long ….very worryed

        • Hi Glori, It sounds like your little dog would prefer not to play with other dogs. I would try to find another outlet for her energy rather than a dog daycare. Hope that helps!

  148. This makes so much sense. I don’t have a dog at the moment but I’ll keep this in mind. Don’t have the same expectation for all dogs.

  149. Thank you so much for writing this. My dog is a huge people lover, but I noticed that when I used to drop her off at daycare, she looked very nervous and as I walked away I had a very uneasy feeling. The daycare owners are great people, but i’ve come to learn that daycare is just not a great place for my dog. Instead, i’ve taken her to places where she can hike with a smaller group of dogs that she knows well, and in a private canine hydrotherapy pool to swim. I’ve always known that my dog doesn’t have behavioural issues but i’ve also always wondered why i’ve felt uneasy about unleashing her into a room full of dogs that she and I don’t know and hoping that something bad doesn’t happen. We usually go to dog friendly parks in off-peak hours so that she and I can feel comfortable with the environment we are in. Her tail is constantly wagging and I can always find her on the ground rolling! Thank you for writing this and helping me understand my dog.

    • Hi Samantha, It sounds like you are doing a great job reading your dog and understanding what is best for her. Glad the article helped.

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