a non-profit whose goal is to help keep dogs out of shelters 

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Free Winter Workshops

Workshops are from 1:30 - 3:30pm at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 6030 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda. Only demo and service dogs are allowed. 

THIS Sat, Feb 2:    Fun, Enriching Activities for Your Dog - day or night, inside or                                    outside, in cold or heat

       Sat, Feb 9:    Teaching Tricks to Soothe the Savage Beast

       Sun, Feb 17:  Advice for Adopters - guidance for adopters, potential adopters                                & fosters

       Sat, Feb 23:  Helping Your Fearful Dog Navigate the World

You can see all of our workshops, both winter and spring, and register at http://yourdogsfriend.org/free-workshops/

My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today

by Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA 


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.

                                 Some dogs don't like the company of other dogs.

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.

Robin Bennett, CPDT-KA is the author of All About Dog Daycare: A Blueprint for Success and co-author of Off-Leash Dog Play - a Guide to Safety and Fun. Robin and trainer Susan Briggs developed the day care training program, "Knowing Dogs" and The Dog Gurus™, consultants to pet care providers and businesses.

Highlighted Classes

Puppy 1st Grade:
- Sun, Feb 24 - Mar 31 at 12:10pm
for our Puppy Kindergarten graduates or with instructor's permission

Puppy 2nd Grade:
- Sat, Feb 9 - Mar 16 at 2:45
for our Puppy 1st Grade graduates 

Vet Visit Tricks: Mon, March 4, 1:30 - 3:30pm (1 session)
Teach your dog skills useful for vet visits, bath time, and nail trims.

Distracted Dog: Sat, March 16 - May 11 (no class on April 20) at 5:15pm
Learn to help your impulsive, impatient dog control his normal doggy impulses and pay more attention to you, even around distractions. 
Prerequisite: a positive training class or private instruction with a positive trainer

Teaching Your Dog Impulse Control: Sat, March 23, 9:00 - 11:00am (1 session)
Learn skills and strategies to help your exuberant dog learn to focus on you and wait patiently. 
Prerequisite: Dogs in class must be friendly with other dogs and people.

TTouch Methods to Calm Your Dog: Sat, March 23, noon - 2:30pm
Body work, wraps & movement exercises to help your reactive, fearful, easily distracted, or elderly dog.

Simmer Down, Now!: Sun, March 24, 5:20 - 7:30pm (1 session)
Learn behaviors that will help encourage your dog to relax - both at home, when you have guests or deliveries, and on the road, like at kids’ soccer games and outdoor cafes.
Prerequisite: a positive Basic or Puppy Kindergarten class or positive private training. Dogs in class must be friendly with other dogs and people.

Kids & Dogs Summer Camp
-Monday, June 24 - Friday, June 28, 1:00 - 4:00pm
-Monday, August 5 - Friday, August 9, 1:00 - 4:00pm
for kids 8 - 13 yrs old; dogs must be friendly around people & other dogs.

Check our Basic MannersPuppy Kindergarten, and Puppy Party schedules here.

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