Socialization is super important for a well balanced family dog and a lot of people love the idea of bringing their new pet to the local Dog Park where they can run and romp off leash with other canine friends and meet tons of new people. After all, isn’t that what Dog Parks are for? At Breakthrough K9 Training, we strongly advise against this for several reasons.  We do however value and recommend the option of a professional Doggie Day Care service.  In this comparison, you truly do get what you pay for, and it could cost your dog its life!

As soon as a puppy has been fully vaccinated, it is important to expose them to as many new environments, people and other animals as you can. A word of caution however, before they have been fully vaccinated, you should only expose them to other animals whom you know are up to date on shots! It’s never a good idea to bring them to places like PetSmart or to the park, especial Dog Parks until your puppy has been fully vaccinated!  Stick to playdates with relatives or friend’s dogs whom you are certain are current on vaccines and parasite free. Young pups are much more susceptible to diseases like parvo and distemper, and whereas an adult dog may survive even a bout with parvo, most pups do not.

Equally important, you want your pup’s initial introductions to other dogs to be with ones you know are going to welcome your puppy’s company. You don’t want your puppy’s first meet and greet to be with the neighbor’s dog who barks and lunges uncontrollably while their owner screams at them to “stop it”!! This type of first impression can be stamped on their young brains and may cause them to react nervously or fearfully the next time they see a new dog.

So, you see, how we socialize our dogs is just as important as the socialization itself. A young pups first experience with meeting new dogs, people or places should be done in a healthy environment and in a positive manner so as to encourage his confidence and have them looking forward to the next adventure!

So, why not take her to a Dog Park? They’re fenced in and surely only responsible owners bring their well socialized and fully vaccinated dogs to Dog Parks, so they have to be safe – right? And best of all, Dog Parks are free, unlike Doggie Day Care where you have to pay just to have your dog play!  Free they may be, free to dogs who are not on heartworm or flea/tick preventive, free to dogs who are not vaccinated, free to dogs whose manners are questionable and sometimes downright aggressive.

Dog Parks are a free place for your dog to be exposed to an unlimited host of internal parasites, fleas, infections, and the possibility of a dog attack. There is no staff regulating whether owners clean up after their pets, so the Park is a veritable breeding ground for all sorts of parasites and disease, such as Coccidia and Giardia, both of which are spread by feces and are not controlled by vaccination. Not to mention, no one in charge to supervise socialization and prevent aggression. Both of these cases could result in expensive vet bills and at worst your puppy’s life!

Doggie Day Care on the other hand, is a great alternative for your new puppy to not only be exposed to other dogs, but also all sorts of new people in a controlled and safe environment. Make an appointment to visit a few that are close to you, the owner should be excited to welcome you to come see for yourself what a day in the life of their program looks like.  You want to see a clean environment, do they clean up after the dogs regularly, do they offer shade in their outdoor yards, clean water if they offer doggie pools, dirty water can lead to internal parasites too.  How about inside playrooms, do they smell fresh, are they free from a lot of fur and dirt which can indicate a flea problem?  Are there clean kennels or crates where your puppy can retreat to for nap time?

Doggie Day Care’s also have strict regulations requiring veterinary records showing proof all clients’ dogs are up to date on vaccines, on heart worm and flea and tick preventive. Since the goal is safe socialization time, dogs with aggressive behavior are not accepted, (they come to us first for behavior modification!) and most first timers are usually temperament tested prior to joining the other dogs. Unlike unsupervised Dog Parks, a quality Doggie Day Care’s trained staff are experienced in reading canine body language and know how to keep the peace among dogs with different temperaments.

The benefits offered by Doggie Day Care are numerous, especially if you are gone at work several hours a day. Your dog will be exercised, socialized, and mentally stimulated in a safe and healthy environment. You may have to pay for such a great service, but in the long run can save you expensive repairs from a bored dog who finds their own ways to keep active such as chewing or digging. At the end of your work day, you get to pick up your dog who is at the end of their “work day”,  now both of you can go home and enjoy some relaxation time together.

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