A day in the life of a dog daycare

September 5, 2019

Have you ever wondered what goes on at a canine daycare centre? Our collaborator checked out the scene.

What could be better than being greeted by a pack of dogs with wagging tails? That’s what happens every time I walk into Studio Paws. I take my dog there for grooming but I’ve always been fascinated by the daycare centre and wondered what those dogs do all day.

Just stepping into the space is a complete sensory experience: The sight of dogs in all shapes and sizes, the sound of panting tongues, the rich smell of fur, and the feel of those wet, sloppy kisses; it’s doggy heaven.

Most of the dogs are regulars, so they all know each other and Michael Charad, the owner, very well. Like in any community, there are cliques. Charli, the Golden Retriever, and Auggy, the rescued Lab mix from Texas, spend their days chasing a ball … and each other. Luna, the Goldendoodle, loves to play with the other dogs and then sneak over for cuddles. And then there’s Cali, the Dachshund Lab mix, who just wants to hang with the humans.

My favourite part of the day I spent at daycare came mid-afternoon when a woman walked in and stopped at the gate. The dogs ran to greet her and she petted them each in turn. She clearly wasn’t there for a pick-up. I looked over to Michael, curious.

“Happens many times a day,” he laughed. “I could start a side business charging people $5 for 10 minutes of puppy therapy.”

I was stunned yet delighted. What an awesome idea to let people come in just to pet the dogs! I asked him how he gets the dogs to be so good. “It’s about respect,” Michael said. “Usually, all it takes is me saying their name to get them to stop a certain behaviour. I love them, they know that. But I’m firm. Never mean. And they respect me.”

Daycare isn’t the place for dogs to learn to get along; they must be socialized beforehand. With that said, Michael says he takes puppies, if they’ve been vaccinated and fixed by one year of age. He also insists on spending time with new dogs, to make sure they’ll mesh with the others.

Lezley, a client, says, “My Cockapoo, Sadie, has been at daycare since she was 12 weeks old. I had to go back to work and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving her in a cage.” Sadie loves daycare; when I was there, she was being groomed, but still demanded my attention and I hung out in the grooming area just to sneak in some cuddles.

Lezley cites a common reason for using daycare services: Instead of getting into trouble at home, or being crated, your dog can be entertained and stimulated all day long.

“I love that Sadie socializes with different dogs, and the peace of mind it brings me is priceless,” she says.

Well, not priceless. Here, fees range from $27 - $37 a day. Most daycares offer other services, like boarding and grooming. Studio Paws employs two in-house groomers—Laura, who was locally trained, and Yumi, who trained in Japan, where dog-grooming is taken very seriously.

Both women are great at adapting their style to the dog’s temperament and personality. It’s obvious that Michael, Laura and Yumi love dogs. “You develop relationships with them,” Michael says. “I’ve spent every day with some of them, for years!”

So, if you’re one of the many people who leave their dogs at daycare, rest assured they’re doing fine. In fact, your dog’s social life may be more active than yours!

Photos credits: Julie Matlin

Cover: There’s nothing better than being greeted by a pack of happy dogs.

Photo 1: At Studio Paws, people are welcome to stop in and pet the dogs.

Photo 2: Your dog will be entertained and stimulated all day long.

Photo 3: Dogs at daycare socialize safely with a variety of dogs.


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