Archive | November, 2013

Dog Fights

At The Good Dot Spot, we are fully committed to providing your dog a fun, safe place to socialize. We differ from other dog daycares because we focus on ensuring all dogs are playing safely and improving their dog and human manners through specialized playgroups, positive reinforcement and frequent breaks. We utilize all our playrooms to keep groups small and require a staff ratio of 1 staff member per 10-15 dogs.

All new staff go through extensive training, which includes learning canine body language, how to and when to intervene during play and operant conditioning. New staff spend time shadowing Senior Pet Care Technicians so they can observe how to properly interact with the dogs, while also getting to know the dogs we care for. As we feel they are ready, the Senior Pet Care Techs begin shadowing and observing the new staff member to see how they are progressing. Only when new staff members are confidently and effectively managing playgroups are they left alone in a room. We frequently review our procedures to ensure we are meeting the needs of our clients and to ensure all staff members are consistent in their dog interactions.

Staff members are trained to carefully observe dogs and to intervene as needed. We watch for specific body language cues and interrupt play frequently to refocus attention. We encourage good behavior by praising dogs that are exhibiting it and discourage bad behavior with interruptions, time outs and gentle leaders. Each dog is different, so each dog may be rewarded for different behaviors, based on what our goal is for that dog. For example, younger dogs that are wild are frequently and heavily praised for giving themselves breaks and vocal dogs are heavily praised for being quiet. Dogs who need help learning to play properly get more staff-interruptions or may be kept on lead with a staff to be given more individual attention.

By keeping low-arousal play groups and encouraging good behaviors, many fights can be prevented. Fights are always preceded by body language cues, which is why our staff spend a lot of time learning canine body language. Sometimes, certain dogs just do not get along. For this reason we give a lot of thought to our playgroups. We ensure our staff members are given the tools necessary to stop a fight before it even starts.

In the rare occasions fights occur, all staff members within earshot are required to stop what they are doing and help. Any dogs involved are removed from the playgroup for the rest of the day. The situation is reviewed by senior staff to determine what caused the fight, which dog instigated it and how. We use each opportunity to further train our staff as needed, or to review our color-coding for each dog involved. Lastly, we ALWAYS involve the pet parent when these situations occur. If we recognize a behavioral change in your dog, we want you to know immediately so you can be involved in our plan to turn the issue around.