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In our newsletters, we hope to share information that is valuable to you and will create a better understanding of why the dogs do what they do, why we have certain policies to set the dogs up for success and help you create an even better bond with your dog.

In today’s newsletter we want to shed some light on the fascinating world of group dynamics in our doggie daycare and explain why it shares similarities with human group behavior. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all the dogs in our care.

Just like in any group of people, conflicts can arise when dogs interact in a playgroup setting. Dogs have their own unique ways of communicating and resolving disagreements, and sometimes, this can result in scratches or bites. We understand that this can be concerning, especially for those who may not be familiar with dog behavior in a group setting.

The most important thing for owners to remember is not to punish their dogs when they express discomfort or react to a conflict. Dogs use various warning signs to communicate their unease, such as growling, snapping, or even a subtle shift in body language. It's essential that these warning signs are respected and acknowledged. Punishing a dog for showing signs of discomfort can lead to suppression of these warning signals, which may cause the dog to skip the warnings altogether and escalate the situation more quickly.

It's vital to understand that a dog's reaction to a conflict has nothing to do with whether they are "good" or "bad." Dogs, much like emotional three-year-old’s, act based on their emotions. Just as a child may cry or become upset when feeling overwhelmed, a dog may react similarly. By recognizing and respecting these emotions, we can create a safe and supportive environment for our furry friends.

At our daycare, we take great care in assessing dogs for their suitability in group play. However, it's important to note that even the most well-behaved and socially adept dogs can sometimes act unexpectedly. Dogs, just like humans, can be surprised, overwhelmed, or experience what is known as "trigger stacking," where multiple stressors combine and lead to an intense reaction. In these instances, things can happen very quickly, catching both the dogs and our staff off guard.

Unexpected things can happen, including injuries. Our staff does health checks in the morning and the afternoon, where they look over all the dogs to see if there are any concerns, from ear infections, ‘hot spots’, to cuts and scratches. We do our best to do a careful lookover, and notify you of anything we find. All incidents are recorded and entered in the appropriate Gingr profiles.

We want to emphasize that these occurrences are a natural part of group play, where dogs are allowed to interact and engage in their innate behaviors. It's a learning ground for all involved, and when handled and followed up with appropriate measures, it can be an opportunity for dogs to develop better life skills.

In our daycare, we have experienced staff members who are trained to recognize and manage these situations swiftly and effectively. Our team closely monitors the dogs' behavior, intervenes when necessary, and ensures the well-being of every furry participant. We constantly strive to create a positive and safe environment for all dogs, enabling them to learn and grow in their social interactions.

If we notice a change in your dog’s behavior in daycare that concerns us, we will discuss that with you. We know that these can be difficult conversations, especially if we need to dismiss a dog, but please understand that all our decisions are made with the best interest of all the dogs in mind. We want to set the dogs up for success, so please be understanding. We are emotionally invested in all the dogs and these discussions can be just as hard on us.

We encourage all owners to be patient and empathetic, both with their own dogs and with others in the group. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your dog's behavior or our group dynamics, please don't hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable staff. We are here to support you and your furry friend every step of the way.

Thank you for choosing A Walk in the Park as your trusted partner in providing a fun and stimulating environment for your beloved companions. Together, we can help them develop valuable life skills while ensuring their happiness and well-being.

Wishing you and your furry friends endless tail wags and joyful moments!


Dirk Broersma