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Dog Daycare Seminar report PDF Print E-mail

N.H. Sunday News - Dog Tracks Column - 10/5/08
By: Gail T. Fisher

We hosted a weekend seminar last weekend on Doggie Daycares (Mega Dog Daycare Seminar), which brought in over 80 participants from as far away as Omaha, Nebraska. I was one of four presenters, the others were colleagues from Virginia and Texas – experienced, knowledgeable, bright, and caring daycare professionals. Many of the participants, as well, have a great deal of experience and knowledge to share. The attitude of sharing and communicating was wonderful to experience. Our program included topics such as ethics, safe introduction of new dogs, play styles, group size, what owners need to know, dog handling, staff training, and dog safety guidelines, plus round-table discussions about staffing, facility and other issues we have in common.

As one of the first (and therefore the oldest) interactive daycares in the country, when we first started our daycare in 1993 there were no guidelines, and we had to develop standards and practices as we went along, revising, adjusting and changing as we grew and learned. The one procedure I have always insisted on from the very beginning is “collars off for safety.” This has been one of my mantras from the time I first started “in dogs” over 30 years ago. I learned this lesson when my first mentor, who had two German Shepherd Dogs, mother and son, were playing together when the dog’s mouth got entangled in his mother’s collar. As he tried to free himself, the collar wrapped completely around his lower jaw, strangling his mother, choking off her air supply. Two 80 pound dogs thrashing in pain and panic, unaware of what they’re doing, what is happening, or how to stop it is more than one person can handle. This horrific event would have ended tragically for one or both dogs, but fortunately my friend’s mailman happened to arrive just then and helped her extricate and save the dogs, averting disaster.

Two of our instructors had a similar experience when two of their Golden Retrievers got entangled in a collar. It took four people to separate them, and hours before their heart rates (the peoples’!) returned to normal. I tell these stories at daycare seminars when I’m talking about safety, and I share them when people ask me advice for finding the right daycare for their dogs. The one rule that I recommend no compromise is “no collars.” It isn’t enough that they’re willing to remove your dog’s collar. No dogs should be wearing collars – or find a different daycare.

Neck biting and wrestling with collars on poses a danger of entanglement and choking.One of the seminar participants said that she had been working in a doggie daycare for five years where they keep collars on the dogs, and they’ve never had an incident. As I said to her, you can think of it as you would any safety measure such as backing up your computer or wearing a life vest, seat belt or bike helmet. You don’t need a back-up until your computer crashes, and you don’t need a life vest unless your boat sinks, or a seat belt unless you stop short or crash, but wearing either one means you’re prepared for a worst-case scenario. Taking collars off dogs is a safety measure to prevent the worst-case – when the dog’s collar might get entangled on another dog or an object, and the dog chokes to death. At that point it’s too late to say, “if only . . .”

I’ve written previously about what to look for in finding the right doggie daycare for your dog, and you’ll find advice on my website along with past columns. What was heartening, refreshing and energizing for me about the group of people we hosted last weekend was being part of a wonderful network of caring professionals who offer safe, high-quality services for dogs all across the country. From Maine to Nebraska, from Canada to Texas and beyond, wherever you are, there are wonderful people offering this healthy, healthful service.



Copyright © Gail T. Fisher, 2008. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint this article or suggestions for future topics, please contact us.

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