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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I have a two year old Gordon Setter that I rehomed about a year and a half ago.
He wasn’t very well socialised with dogs and people by his previous owner and was very nervous of new people and overly excited by other dogs.
Started sending him to a doggy daycare once a week, about 6 months ago, to get him more interaction with dogs and new people. They send us photos of him during the day and he seems to look happy with the other dogs. But recently I’ve been starting to worry that he actually finds it a bit distressing.
He doesn’t like to be separated from me and is wary of other people so I’m wondering if he actually doesn’t enjoy it. Recently he’s been doing some odd things when he gets back which make me think he’s distressed when he’s there.
He is fully housetrained but when he comes back he goes straight to sleep and has started to have accidents peeing in his sleep. I know it’s rare for dogs to pee in their beds because they want to keep them clean. I’ve started letting him out as soon as he comes back and he does a massive pee. I’m thinking he doesn’t pee all day and is so desperate that he’s been having accidents in his sleep. It’s an outdoor daycare they spend most of their time in a field playing so it shouldn’t be that he’s holding it in. He knows he’s allowed to pee outside.
Wondering if anyone has heard of a dog refusing to toilet if they are in an uncomfortable situation or with people they don’t trust?
Sometimes we give them his meal to eat at the daycare because they leave very early in the morning. Normally all he wants to do is eat but sometimes he comes back with a Tupperware full of his uneaten breakfast. He’s reluctant to take treats from strangers so maybe he doesn’t want to eat when it’s given to him by anyone other than myself but he’s been at the daycare a while know and I would have hoped he’d have warmed up to the staff by now. There are friends of mine he knows well now and is always excited to see. I’m wondering if the problem is just not being comfortable without me around?
I’m going to contact them to ask about his behaviour when he’s there, if he toilets and how he interacts with the staff and other dogs. But just wondering if anyone has experienced anything similar or has some insights!
 

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I've worked at a couple daycares over the years, and I know first hand that not all dogs enjoy it. Of course it depends on the dog and the daycare setup, but it's possible your dog is holding his pee from nerves. It's also possible that he's playing constantly, and gets really thirsty and then drinks a lot of water. (Is the pee really yellow and concentrated? or clear, almost water?) My dog went to daycare when he was younger, and he would occasionally drink a lot there, come home and pass out and wet the bed (very dilute, almost clear). I was there with him though, and I know he was having fun, not stressed. Maybe you could ask the staff if they could take a few short videos of him throughout the day so you can observe his body language. Pictures can be deceiving sometimes...an "I was just playing super hard" smile can look a lot like an "I'm panting because I'm stressed" smile. A video would show you more. They should also be able to tell you about his daycare bathroom and drinking habits as well. If they can't keep track of that, then they likely have too many dogs. Also, the fact that he won't eat there indicates he's stressed to some degree. That could be because he doesn't like it, or he's overly excited to play with the other dogs...

Different daycares are set up vastly different, so there are tons of variables. My dogs have done well in certain setups, and been really stressed in others. If you have any doubt that he's having a good time, I'd probably stop taking him. especially if the staff won't take the time and effort to assure you he is enjoying it.
 

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I've worked/work at daycares for some time, and I honestly believe a small fraction of dogs brought to daycares truly enjoy it.
I rarely see a setter of any variety enjoying daycare, they usually cling to staff and avoid other dogs.
Does this daycare have webcams? If so please really study them! Signs can be subtle but it's worth taking the time to watch him for the day.
Not eating at daycare is not necessarily a sign of stress, but it can be. Most often the dogs we have who don't eat simply are uncomfortable in the kennel, but this doesn't mean they don't enjoy being in the yard.
Being excited to go doesn't even mean they necessarily enjoy it, plenty of regular clients dogs are so excited to see the staff but once in the yard they shut down and find a corner.

Dogs don't NEED to socialize with other dogs, especially not away from their owner. The dogs I see who truly enjoy daycare environment are usually the dogs who will completely ignore their owners in the presence of other dogs. This isn't ideal, you should always be more exciting than any dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've worked/work at daycares for some time, and I honestly believe a small fraction of dogs brought to daycares truly enjoy it.
I rarely see a setter of any variety enjoying daycare, they usually cling to staff and avoid other dogs.
Does this daycare have webcams? If so please really study them! Signs can be subtle but it's worth taking the time to watch him for the day.
Not eating at daycare is not necessarily a sign of stress, but it can be. Most often the dogs we have who don't eat simply are uncomfortable in the kennel, but this doesn't mean they don't enjoy being in the yard.
Being excited to go doesn't even mean they necessarily enjoy it, plenty of regular clients dogs are so excited to see the staff but once in the yard they shut down and find a corner.

Dogs don't NEED to socialize with other dogs, especially not away from their owner. The dogs I see who truly enjoy daycare environment are usually the dogs who will completely ignore their owners in the presence of other dogs. This isn't ideal, you should always be more exciting than any dog.
Yeah I totally agree about the socialisation. He needs more socialisation with dogs in a controlled manner. So that he actually learns to be calm around them and ignore them. I think at day care he’s learning dogs are just to play with which is hindering his recall training.

I’m going to contact them about his demeanour when he’s there. Also look into some different options for getting him some more mental stimulation but with more controlled dog interactions I.e. agility. Everyone suggested day care as something fun and a way of socialising but the more look into things I agree that just playing with dogs is not proper socialisation and that it’s hindering other areas of his training.

Thanks for your input!
 

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I think that's a right call. I've come to believe that, even if it sounds contradictory, ,most dogs who get really amped up and overexcited to see other dogs are not good candidates for unstructured dog-dog socialization environments, like dog parks and daycare. My nine year old started like that - just really excited about other dogs - and I encouraged it thinking it was appropriate socialization, but at some point the balance tipped from overexcited to overwhelmed and stressed. We've been working through his leash reactivity and rude, controlling behavior with other dogs for years now, and it's improving bit by bit (he'll probably always be a dog who fixates on other dogs though), but we'd have been in a much better place if I recognized that putting him in chaotic, amped up situations with other dogs was putting him in a bad mental place.
 
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