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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

I have a a 2 year old Shepherd mix named Otis. We have a small yard and I take him on long walks but I know he's not getting enough exercise. I'm not a huge fan of our local dog park so I don't take him so I know he's not getting enough socialization either.

We've done some training at a place called Doglando and they have a daycare program so I've been thinking of taking him. Only problem is it's expensive/far so I can only manage to take him once per week.

So basically that's my situation. My two main questions are 1. Does anyone has any general thoughts about doggie daycare? Positive/negative experiences? Good for the dog or waste of money? And 2. Would it be worth it if I can only take him once a week or do I need to bring him more often in order for it to have a real impact?

He's good with other dogs. Pretty anxious/nervous normally but when he's with other dogs he's much more relaxed and confident.

Thanks in advance

Luke
 

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GSD's aren't usually good candidates for daycare/parks as they mature. Socialization is much more than playing with other dogs(or people), it is experiencing new things and expanded learning.
Why can't you just continue with training? Mental exercise is just as important as physical, and a well trained GSD is more balanced and happy than one that is just running rampant with other dogs.
Are there any training programs that you or Otis would enjoy?
 

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I would not trust anyone else with my dog around other dogs all day long. Not that my dogs are aggressive, but I want to have control of their interaction, all of them. Not leave it to someone who has no vested interest in my dog.


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Discussion Starter #4
Onyx...thanks for the feedback. We just finished up an obedience class and started an intro to scentwork class today. That will definitely stimulate him mentally...I'm just concerned he's not getting the physical exercise he needs. I don't really have a big open place that I can let him safely run around (aside from the dog park). I was thinking about trying agility with him for the physical aspect of it but I'll have to wait until after scentwork ($$$).

gsdsar...I totally get what you're saying. The only reason I am considering is that because I train there I know the people, have a comfort level, they know my dog, etc. Still very much on the fence about it.
 

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Teach him a solid recall and use a long line on him. Play fetch on a long line~ works well for exercising/ if a dog is dragging a line and will retrieve(two ball?), it should be fine!
What about swimming?
 

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I'm a newbie with GSD's, so this is just my personal experience, not advice! Jedda was initially shy/fearful with strange dogs, so one of the places we go for group OB is also a daycare. Since the owner knew her issues (he was our trainer) he worked with introducing her slowly to balanced dogs. She's completely over her fear, and in fact, got me a little worried with some bully behavior with smaller/wimpy dogs. So, I work with her a lot on the fringes of the dog park where we can meet dogs coming and going, but not get in the scrum. And, I started taking her to a second doggie day care which is much smaller. They separate the smaller dogs from the big ones, but they work with Jedda with the little dogs until she gets bored and then they bump her up to the bigs. I can only afford this once or twice a week for half a day too, but I think it has helped her gain confidence. When we meet strange dogs now, she almost always just greets them politely, which is really my ultimate goal. While she's a puppy, I like letting her play (and get worn out!) at daycare, but as she morphs into a nice regal GSD, I will use the daycare less and less.

So wow, that was a rambling response, and didn't really answer your questions! I think it's worth the money IF (and that's a big if) you feel the dogs are WELL managed by well trained minders - don't leave your dog there until you have watched what's going on to be sure that the employees are really keeping the dogs' behavior and interactions appropriate. And I think only once a week will still be beneficial, as long as your dog agrees! I forgot about that part - I learned from this forum that socialization is only working if it's fun for the dog. That being said, it took Jedda a few visits to get excited about going in the place! Good luck:)
 

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Fiona loves doggie day camp at our vet's. She goes on rare occasions, but this week will be there 4 days, because the floor people refuse to do the floor if she is there and she won't lay out on the balcony like a good girl. She gets lots of exercise, because she runs back and forth. That is the only place I would take her, because the doggie day camp workers aren't just some kids with absolutely no training. Most are vet techs and getting to work the doggie day camp is the plum position here.


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My dogs have gone to high quality "play care" for years -- and one of them is 11! He still loves, loves, loves going there. Not all of these places are good though --some are downright terrible. The quality of the staff, the number of employees supervising each play group, the skill of matching play styles/energy levels (which requires really knowing their guests), and the sophistication of the temperament test for admission all matter a lot. When you find a good one with people you trust, I think once a week makes big difference to the dogs (when I am in a run of working long hours, a Wednesday of play care really breaks up their week, and I notice a difference in them).

I really want to emphasize that the quality of the place, staff and its selectiveness in allowing clients in is key. A bad play care place is a mistake worth avoiding.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Onyx that's a good idea...there is a big field (not fenced) a short walk from my house...I will try working him out there. As for swimming...we tried water once when he was a puppy and he hated it. Any thoughts on the best way to introduce them to the water? I'm sure I went about it the wrong way...I picked him up and just walked into the pool. He freaked out. I wonder if he can recover from that or if I "scarred" him? Haven't tried since.

kjdreyer, Cheyanna (love that name BTW), Magwart... thanks for sharing your experiences. I have seen the daycare dogs briefly when I'm coming and going but haven't spent much time observing. I think I'll go up there without my dog and observe for a longer period of time and see what kind of vibe I get. Any specific things that I might not think of that I should look for?

Thanks
 

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Luke ... Your last line in your 1st post I think says it all ... Ok with other dogs but anxious/ nervous normally (is that around people ) correct me if in wrong but seems that human reaction skills with dogs is more the way you should lean . Just my observation as an outsider looking in.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ross....very good point. That is what I meant...anxious around other people and inanimate things/sounds that he is not familiar with. I did an OK job socializing him but not GREAT and I think that is starting to manifest itself as he matures.

Any suggestions on things I might be able to do with him? The Little League baseball field is nearby so I'm thinking walking him around when they are playing so he can meet a lot of people and see/smell/hear things he's not familiar with...
 

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Luke personally I'd take him where there is not a lot of excitement . No ball park ,no dog park to many neurotic owners .just make part of your day at different times a walk thru the regular park up & down the street . Keep the excitement low key until you see him relax on his own. Sit down some where with a long line back away from it all & let him observe & you observe him. Main thing is your reactions physically & mentally that he picks up on . It will take a while but is worth it . If your doin it right it will happen. I have a 4 yr old GSD in avatar pic just arrived a week ago over anxiety / slightly neurotic just starting to show change. Was so excited has skin issues from it . Treat him like a dog not a human & you should get there. As race car drivers know slow is fast. Good Luck
 

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1. If you can find a great daycare (Good staff and facility) that you can trust, then I think that it would be a great idea. I was lucky in the fact that my trainer also offers a dog daycare service, so when they go I'm comfortable that she can take good care of them. Don't go somewhere where they just hire people with no experience handling big dogs.

2. Even one day a week can make a difference. I regularly bring my guys in once a week, on Tuesday, because it is my longest work day. It's awesome because when I get home, they just sleep so I have some free time :). If I don't bring them in once a week, I need to amp up my training and exercise scheduled because my female will bounce off the walls, so the one day a week really helps to burn off some energy during the week.

I hope that I helped to answer your questions.
 

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Just like Onyx said, I can never trust anyone to watch my dog while hes playing with other dogs either. Only time Lincoln is in daycare is for grooming and I made sure he doesn't get playtime with other dogs even if they say they are under supervision. If he is playing with other dogs, I need to be there. I'm a freak like that

I choose other means to get him socialized... riding in the car to places, play date, hiking, go on a run with me in the park, having backyard party at the house, obedience class ... I'm not brave enough to try dog park yet but I will somewhere down the road lol

I think if you can find a daycare that you can trust the staff and facility is clean, you are comfortable in leaving your dog there, once a week visit is probably a good idea. Its gonna make him tired and I LOVE when they are tired. I just can't find any good daycare in my town. So I walk him, play lots of fetch with him to get him tired instead.
 

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We used a dog walker when Jake was a puppy. But due to mishandling and a mishap with a bite, I don't trust anyone now. Our Jake does do well in the dog park so 4 - 5 times per week we walk to the park and he chases his bouncy ball. We also play it in the backyard.
 

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I disagree with the comment that "GSD's aren't typically good....". It's all a matter of how you train them.

My GSD was well socialized from the getgo. He's been to many different doggie day cares and he absolutely loves going there and playing with other dogs. We take him there once a week to let him socialize and get his energy out.
 

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I agree with Jane actually. A GSD is not a breed I'd consider being a good candidate for dog parks and dog daycare. It's not just about how you train them. My dogs have been socialized from 7/8 weeks. I spend weeks, even months, taking my new puppy somewhere new every day. They travel with me often since I compete about once a month which requires travel, hotel stays, and all day long tournaments. But my GSDs often have little to no interest in interacting with dogs they don't already know. Mine even completely ignores the other dogs on his team. We can carpool and share hotel rooms with all the dogs free and they just don't exist to him. He is not badly behaved or aggressive but does not really care to play around with dogs. Daycare would be a waste of money. I often have dogs I am dog sitting or training for other people or puppy/young rescue dogs that I foster and the GSDs are totally fine with this but again, they just really don't care. The breed standard calls for aloofness. Nothing wrong with social GSDs but it has way more to do with genetics then just socializing them as puppies. A lot of times GSDs are very outgoing as puppies but as they mature mentally they become much more aloof, some will even develop social aggression which is completely appropriate for the breed.
 

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I had my puppy in daycare because I worked full time and she was too young to have crated all day.

It was good in that my dog came home tired. It was good playtime for her with other dogs.

bad things - you have to have certain vaccinations including bortadella at most daycares. Your dog has to be altered by a certain age at most places. Those are things that perhaps not all owners want to do with their pets. I kept my dog fairly lean because she was young and growing at the time and was also very active and extra weight is hard on their joints. They were forever lecturing me about her weight (and my vet said she was perfect) and it was getting on my nerves.

There is also the chance that your dog will play too hard and injure itself (mine is a pretty rowdy dog), or that another dog might injure yours. I think my dog was getting giardia at daycare, so there are some things they are going to be exposed to.

Now I just have a dog walker and I go to dog training and different sport training with her. She can also be a bit edgy with other dogs and when she's in extreme drive/play mode I worry about how people might handle her, so I thought it was better to keep her home. Also, is your dog good with small, bouncy breeds? My dog cannot stand those in your face, bouncy, poofy dogs. Oddly, her BFF at daycare was a shih-tzu puppy. lol

I guess it really depends on your dog. I think if your dog has any issues, it's not a good idea, but some dogs might play quite nicely with others, and then it's fine. I guess you have to judge your dog for yourself. There can be some benefits though.
 

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No, I would never put a German Shepherd or a working dog in daycare with a bunch of purse dogs.
 

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No, I would never put a German Shepherd or a working dog in daycare with a bunch of purse dogs.
Good places I've patronized don't mix small and large dogs -- they group according to both size and play style. Young, rambunctious large dogs play with other young large dogs who are into that kind of play. Tiny squirts play tiny-squirt games. Most of the good places have lots and lots of large play yards to divide up the dog groups, with a big staff. I've also known the staff to be very conscious of prey drive in the "admission" test--again, though, this is only in "good" places where they have the knowledge and staffing resources to think sensibly.
 
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