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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm probably overthinking the situation, but thought I'd post anyway!

My biggest 'mistake' with Brae is I have not boarded him or had a sitter watch him at all over these first 2 years of his life. He's very well socialized, has been alone in new places, has been watched multiple times by my partner without me, is great with all people, fine at the vet's, adores attention, and loves playing with dogs. So all these things suggest he will really enjoy the daycare/boarding situation I'm going to try him in. But the fact remains that he's never truly been without either of us and I have no idea how tolerant he will be to handling and separation from us. For example, he always loves playing with other dogs or (rarely) playing with other people and toys. But he always has me in the corner of his eye. I feel like he's going to search for me when I leave him at daycare. Brae's litter seems to all be very social (for the breed) and I'm almost glad I didn't toy around with this too much when he was young. It seems like owners whose social Dutchies had a lot of daycare also had challenges being overly interested in dogs, too pushy, etc. But I see how it can make this experience harder for him as an adult.

That said, I've chosen as good of a place that I think I can get in my area. I semi-personally know the owner, who has taken a couple training classes with me and has also trained with Karen Pryor. I like her training and dog raising ethics, and even though training is not the major point I like that the owner (and hopefully trained staff) recognize body language. They emphasize matching dogs with similar energy levels, having dogs take breaks so they don't get overstimulated, hiking the dogs on their huge fenced property, etc. The dogs are always supervised when together, or kenneled securely apart.

I have no concrete travel plans but I just know that some time this year or in the near future I will have to leave Brae in someone else's care. Or else my partner and I will just never vacation together :) I've scheduled a 4 hour daycare session to start, and see how Brae takes to it. I'm not sure how it will go (if I just hand him over and leave) but I strongly believe I will be able to stay a little and observe their operations. I'm the person who either does or doesn't recommend facilities to clients who train with me, though this place has already been vetted by my supervisor. But if it goes well, I'm thinking to schedule a full day of daycare once every week or every other, then schedule an overnight boarding at some point, to get Brae ready to board there if I ever need to.

So anyone have any experiences with having their dog try daycare/boarding as a adult?

The other option is I have one trusted friend who I could try and see if she could board Brae in her home. But she has a senior dog and a cat, and works full time. She is very knowledgeable and can crate, separate, and such. But I just think Brae requires a lot (of exercise and otherwise) and almost don't want to burden her. And, I feel Brae may truly enjoy daycare in a way that Soro never really did.
 

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The first time I boarded Ralphie was when he was just under a year old, I believe. He is very dog social, and he is very people social as long as there are other dogs around. He's weird that way, I don't know what his deal is, but I use it to my advantage in those situations. Honestly, I dropped him off and left without making it a big deal. He didn't notice I had left. The staff said he was fine. Except he liked to hump at the time, lol, so they did mention that.

The second time around he knew what was going on, so he was concerned. I walked him back myself, and then he was fine when he saw fun dogs.

Third time he saw a staff member and rushed straight for her so he could go back and play. It's mostly been like that since. He does not go to daycare regularly, but we do board him at lest 3-4 times a year, and he does fine.
 

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I did visits with my guys, stay'd there hung out with them and then left with them. typical meet and greet with owner, facility, staff members and we all went home. next was an short stay i drop off staff take them I went with to their room , I left to run some errands and came pack in an hour or two and picked them up, we went home. full day stay drop off staff take them I don't go with, pick up at end of day, then over night stay and pick up first thing in the morning. It's great if you have errands to run that you don't want your dogs sitting in the car . If you have the time to condition before an emergency comes up I say take advantage of it..
 

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Worked at a very busy daycare/boarding facility for a year and so got to see a lot of first-timers. The main thing I always say is if your dog is prone to stomach upsets when stressed, get him on a good probiotic and/or gastro-friendly food a few days prior to and during the first stay. I found most dogs adjusted well to the yard but got stressed at night in the kennels, so bringing in a safe chew toy/stuffed kong that he can have unsupervised in the kennel can also be useful!

I also highly recomend dropping him off and leaving (or staying inside and watching through cameras if you really want to see). The dogs who had the most trouble adjusting were usually the dogs whose owners lingered, were hesitant to hand them over, or didn't trust us. You've done your homework and picked this place, now you have to trust the staff. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well I did it and dropped him off for 4 hours. To start, the owner was happy to give Brae some treats for simple behaviors and play a little tug with him. He got really into it so I removed the toy before she brought a dog out. I did not push to stay but when I casually asked, "Would you like me to leave?" She said I could stay and watch the dog tries. I stayed for two then left while he was busy playing.

It went really well! I was told he adjusted to different play styles, very responsive, and was very easy to redirect when needed (which was with one young puppy he was too pushy with). He apparently looked for me for about 10 minutes on and off in the beginning, but nothing more than some pacing and looking, and he was all to happy to play for 4 hours. The only concerning part was when they tried to kennel him for a break, he whined and howled and did not eat treats. So they let him hang out in the office and he was happy about that. I've never heard Brae howl ever, so I can't even imagine that. I know dogs don't generalize well. But this is a little surprising for me since Brae's been contained and/or alone in SO many situations (in a classroom, in a different classroom, in different vehicles, in a pen in a hotel, in my office, at home, in a staff area, etc.) and has never had an inkling of an issue. It was the one thing I wasn't worried about with daycare.

But the summary was "we love him!" and I have him signed up for a full day this week. I'm going to ask the owner if I can spend 5 minutes doing kennel training with him if it won't be intrusive to their general operations. I think if I put him in the space and do the usual crate training routine, he'll get comfortable with it really quickly. And my goals are to help him be comfortable and give staff an easier time containing him.

Overall, I'm very happy with how adaptable he was and I'm going to continue sending him to daycare once a week to get him accustomed. Once he's fully comfortable with kenneling there, and if reports come back consistently positive, I'll do an overnight here and there.
 

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That's great !! Even my like to scare everyone in the world for fun Darien did well with a good staff, just left his ball with him and he hamed it up with everyone.
 

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I found a sitter on Rover last time. I was very nervous because my 2yo had never been away for me more than one night (we had a sitter overnight when she was 6 months), and the 1yo had just been with us for 6 weeks, but she did it well, she came over twice to visit beforehand, so the dogs would get used to it. Even my nervous 2yo got used to her pretty fast.

Really, unless you have concrete plans to go somewhere, I personally wouldn't spend the money for no reason. Once you do, sure, definitely sign him up for daycare a couple times beforehand.
 

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I'm concerned about not having a safe place for my chihuahua mix puppy to be in case of emergency. I'm a "single pet parent" and she is very fragile and also a "velcro dog" who loves people and other animals.

She simply isn't the type of dog to spend a lot of time alone in an empty house, crated or not, and doggie daycare is very inexpensive in our area.

It sounds like things went well with Brae even though you did wait until adulthood to get him used to the idea. Thank you for starting the thread and please keep us updated.
 

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That's great news! It sounds like the staff there are really good too, which helps a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I had Brae do a 7 hour day today. He did well in some aspects and was challenging in others.

The good, after 5 minutes of kennel training (and I left after talking to the owner for a bit, and he was still in the kennel), there were no more issues with kenneling him. In fact, the owner said he immediately settled each time he was put in there.

The challenging, he was way more humpy this time. It was directed at a few select dogs who were not there last time, but he was very fixated on them. The dogs who were humped were high energy dogs that are usually pushy towards the other dogs, I was told in sort of a 'they had it coming' kind of way. Not that I approve or would allow that behavior. The owner said she could redirect him to a tug toy, but that her arms got tired and every time she had him Drop he would zoom back to hump the dogs. She ended up doing time outs. This is unsurprising to me, as I anticipated over arousal to be the #1 issue. I said to the owner I didn't care how much she needed to kennel him. She appreciated that, since most daycare clients get offended at the thought of them spending money and having their dog kenneled for any amount of time. Besides, my overall goal is to use them as a boarding facility, not as a daycare. It would have been icing on the cake if he was a 'perfect' daycare dog. But I never expected him to be.

She asked me to bring one of his tug toys for her to carry on her person. I agreed. But after thinking on the drive home, I think I will ask them if they're okay with just leashing him up (he's not leash reactive) or just putting him in a kennel/separating him from dogs that he humps. I think redirecting with tug over and over again will just rile him up more, and it's not a sustainable long term solution. Overall, none of this is surprising or too concerning to me.

The thing I'm focusing on is the fact that Brae won't consistently eat while kenneled, even though he settles now. I brought his breakfast in his regular food toy and he didn't touch it; he usually empties it. He did clean out a Kong with frozen canned food. But I gave that to him during my 5 minute training session in the beginning. I would like to see him more comfortable, and eating more consistently, before I board him. But I'm in no rush.
 

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you might consider not bringing him so often, not let him get too comfortable that he too confident.. Like when you bring a new dog into your house hold they reserved for a few weeks while they sizing the environment up, sizing you up and the other animals in the house, before they gain confidence to show you who they are. The most I wanted to achieve was they been there before knew the people and knew it was a safe place for those emergency situations,
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm thinking of doing it once a week for now until he reaches a comfort level I'm comfortable with (ha.)

I still want to eventually board him once overnight to see if it affects his behavior. And then tapering it to once every other week, or less, once I am fully confident that he understands that whole routine. The earliest I'd take a vacation is mid-April, so it's not that far ahead.

I actually considered investing in a good house sitter before going this route. In theory it would be much easier if someone could keep him in his most familiar environment. But I don't easily form relationships with people to the point where I trust them staying in my home for an extended period of time. And the real kicker is Brae forms associations so quickly, I don't want anyone to ruin the lovely home routine we have established. I mean, he's easy in that he's well trained and he doesn't... get hyper at people or dogs, damage things, etc... But he's not the easiest dog to live with. His exercise needs and the particularities of his exercise outlets are so specific (and intense). I ultimately chose daycare/boarding so that IF he gets out of routine and learns other behaviors I don't want, it very likely won't generalize and affect MY routine with him.

The other thing is safety. With Soro, I could leave him with most average sitters. He was an easy keeper, would eat anything anywhere, and loved to play but self regulated. Brae is needy, eats consistently only under particular circumstances, and can easily injure himself if someone even throws the ball the wrong way/place/time. I know that there are inherent risks to daycare and boarding too.

Man, maybe I should just not take vacations without my dog :D
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Brae's gone twice more, including today, and he's doing great. Staff have discovered that having him in the small dog/mellow dog group is better. He still plays, but he amps up too much with the bigger, high arousal dogs (to no one's surprise). He eats stuffed frozen kongs without an issue there. No marking issues. No containment issues in their daycare kennels or airline crates. Today they said there was "nothing noteworthy" about him and I couldn't be happier.

Here's a photo they took today:


It feels good to plan ahead and establish a relationship with a nice facility instead of having to do this all last minute. I know he would have been fine but it would have bothered me. I think when I will have to board him for real, I will feel much less worried about him.
 

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He looks so happy. You're inspiring me but I still haven't done it yet. I'm pretty sure I've picked out Laurel's day care and it's dirt cheap but there may be a better one out there I don't know about yet.
 

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What a beautiful canine smile! He looks so happy.

I'm so glad for this thread. I knew most vets offered overnight boarding but I never felt comfortable doing that. Why would I want to board a healthy pet with a bunch of sick animals? But I never knew there was such a thing as doggy daycare. I looked it up and found a place in a neighboring city that seems fairly reasonable. Half day, full day, overnight stays. Its nice to know that the dogs aren't stuck in a crate 24/7. The place near me even offers extras for an additional charge: swimming, snacks, one-on-one play. And I like that they have webcams where owners can peek in to see how things are going in the doggy play area.

I think I'll take my girl to get her pre-registered and later put her in for a half-day session to see how she does. At home, she is a handful. Often looking for something inappropriate to chew on. Constantly bugging me to play tug or fetch. And often complains about being in her crate or playpen if I'm not in the same room. But at her puppy class, she runs around and couldn't care less if I'm in the same room. I'm guessing she would get a similar enjoyment from a daycare, provided it is well supervised. We canceled our vacation plans because our new pooch is such a needy, high-energy little dog and did not want to ask extended family to rearrange their life for a week to take care of her. Maybe next year we can actually leave for a week.
 
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