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Toby, Did Something Happen at Doggie Day Care?

These are the time I wish dogs could talk, because I really want to ask my dog, “Toby, did something happen at doggie day care?”

Let me take a step back. Toby used to love to play with other dogs. He would whine and whimper until he could go play with them – especially big ones. If we were walking down the street and a golden retriever, especially, walked past, Toby would not stop until he got to play with the dog and say hello. Same went for black or yellow labs.

In the past, he’s always loved the dog park, and many times I would let my 12-pound dog play in the large dog area because he loved jumping and playing with them more than the ones his own size. It was part of the reason I thought dropping him off at a doggie day care would be good since he’s a pretty social dog.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, I took him to the dog park last weekend. He was obnoxious, snotty and wouldn’t play with anyone. It was not the Toby I knew.

Everyone I spoke to said not to worry about it – dogs have good days and bad, some days feel like being social and other times not. (For the record, the only dog he would play with was a giant Newfoundland)

This weekend we were supposed to participate in a dog walk group with about 40 other dogs, but because I drove in the completely wrong direction to get there, we ended up just going to the dog park again.

And, while he was better, this time, he got into growling matches with other dogs who wanted to play with him, was bearing his teeth and behaving in a manner I wasn’t very pleased with.

Although I reprimanded him, he still continued to act out. (hmmm, this may be a question for Trainer Dan to tackle)

I’ve never seen him act like this before. And, with the people in the dog park he was fine – brushing up against them, letting them pet him and even pick him up.

After the dog park we went to my best friend’s office (at a dog friendly hotel) and he was fine.

He barked a few times, but let people play with him, hold him and even fell completely asleep on the floor.

The only difference between a few months ago and now is that he’s been to doggie day care several times.

Anyone have any suggestions, or advice? 

7 thoughts on “Toby, Did Something Happen at Doggie Day Care?

  1. Dogs can learn bad behavior or get sensitized in doggy daycare if the group isn't supervised and managed well. Maybe he has been getting bullied there and now feels like he needs to be proactive to keep it from happening in the dog park.

    Also, I don't think I know how old he is, but it is not uncommon for dogs to have a shift like this when they reach social maturity.

    For Lilly, it happened around age 2 – 2 1/2. My shy girl no longer ignored other dogs and began snarking at them … we called it "the best defense is a good offense."

    Any chance he isn't feeling well? Sore joints? Broken tooth? Ear ache? Maybe he is grumpy because he doesn't feel well.

    Just a few ideas. I hope Toby feels better soon.

  2. Thanks, Roxanne!

    Toby just turned three in December, so that could be a possibility. He also suffers from luxating patella in both knees, and we had an issue over the winter where he really hurt his leg, so that could play a part in it, too I guess.

    Last week he had a hard time jumping on the couch when we got back from the dog park, because it was bothering him. This week he wasn't as sore, but was holding his leg a little funny when we left.

    So, all of what you said could definitely be a possibility. Thanks for the advice. 🙂

  3. I think he could be reacting to other stressors. It may not be dogs at all. Hang in and remember how well he reads you!
    Love AD

  4. Hey girl! I agree with Roxanne, that there is a possibility that he isn't feeling well. But it might be worth asking the owners of the daycare if something happened, or if they have noticed anything that might cause a change in his behavior.

    If the only difference in his routine is that he started going to daycare, it seems likely that something from his experience at daycare is a catalyst – though it may just be that he is figuring out a new dynamic when he is there and it is crossing over to non-daycare activities, too. He might just be going through a transition period, too, in figuring out his place in the social order when around groups of dogs…

    Keep us posted on what you observe with him over the next couple days/weeks!

    Love, Lauren&Claire

  5. I would definitely take the opportunity to speak to the daycare about Toby's behaviour. I had a similar episode recently with my own Chihuahua-mix. She's been going to daycare for a few months now without any problems, but then was bugging another much-bigger dog who was trying to sleep and got roughed up a bit. She's young and still learning her manners, but the daycare and I had a long chat about what we could do to both prevent something like that happening again as well as make sure Lola keeps learning what's appropriate around other dogs. In the end, we shifted her time when she comes to daycare so that she gets ample time to play when the other dogs are active and is more inclined to sleep when all the other dogs are tired.

    Anyways, all I'm really trying to say is that a good daycare should work with you and be more than happy to talk to you about what's going on while your dog is under their care. And, of course, if they aren't cooperative or seem to be defensive then I might consider looking at a different daycare.

    Hope that helps.

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