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Hey everyone. Just wanted to get some insight on if others train troublesome dogs in their doggy daycare. The daycare I work at is great, but we want to work more on training the dogs that struggle (excessive barking, humping, rough play, etc), but I'm a bit unsure of how to exactly do these things in such a stimulating setting like a group of dogs. For excessive barkers, I obviously try to first identify why the dog is barking to begin with (trying to initiate play, policing behaviour/controlling the group, anxiety, etc). The one dog I work with seems to bark out of anxiety and over-stimulation because he never wants to play with dogs. He does a lot of anxious/attention seeking barking (with staff more so). What I've been trying to do are:
-Only give him attention if he's quiet. Throughout the day just walking up to him, petting him, then walking away.
-Every once in a while as long as he's calm, leashing him and walking around (to work his brain and body and give him interaction with staff).
-Watching my energy around him and being calm, cool, collected without getting over-excited
-Giving him breaks as needed (where he has a puzzle toy to solve in his kennel)
-Working on some obedience when walking around with him and getting him to do things like climb on top of the plastic table/slide, sit and wait until I realize him to get off, sit and wait while I step away from him in the group and then call him to me, etc.
-Burn off energy by playing with toys inside

Anymore tips for how to work with an anxious/over-stimulated barker? I was considering looking into using Adaptil collars (ONLY with owners approval and only for dogs that do not play and won't be a risk for other dogs grabbing the collar), though don't know if that's a good idea or not?

What does everyone do for the following behaviour issues in a group?
-Arousal humping
-Barking
-Policing
-Rough play
-Play that sounds rough by a very vocal dog which is truthfully playful but play escalates because of it
-Third wheeling dogs that jump into other play
-Active submission towards other dogs

Any tips or insight would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Why is he anxious? Is it by being around these many dogs and in this high stimulation environment?

In that case he maybe would do better being alone in a peaceful and quiet place.

If he is over-stimulated and in high stress, activities like fetch or playing with toys could just make the situation worse, since this will cause extra stress. What he needs is more calm and mind challenging activities. This could be walks, tracking and just scent work in general. You want to make him calmer, not more hyped up.

Most of the behavior issues you’ve listed is signs of stress. What I would find very important if working in a dog daycare is that the dogs know when to be calm and relaxed. I don’t know the layout for the place but for example only allowing play outdoors and then keep a calm and harmonic energy indoors. The humping might not be caused by arousal but by stress. This is a common behavior and sign of stress in dogs. Generally I wouldn’t allow very rough play if there are a lot of dogs around or involved, since this can escelate or upset other dogs and cause problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your
Why is he anxious? Is it by being around these many dogs and in this high stimulation environment?

In that case he maybe would do better being alone in a peaceful and quiet place.
If he is over-stimulated and in high stress, activities like fetch or playing with toys could just make the situation worse, since this will cause extra stress. What he needs is more calm and mind challenging activities. This could be walks, tracking and just scent work in general. You want to make him calmer, not more hyped up.

Most of the behavior issues you’ve listed is signs of stress. What I would find very important if working in a dog daycare is that the dogs know when to be calm and relaxed. I don’t know the layout for the place but for example only allowing play outdoors and then keep a calm and harmonic energy indoors. The humping might not be caused by arousal but by stress. This is a common behavior and sign of stress in dogs. Generally I wouldn’t allow very rough play if there are a lot of dogs around or involved, since this can escelate or upset other dogs and cause problems.

Thanks for your reply! And yes I think it’s because of the high stimulation and fact that it happens at home too but the owners sadly don’t work on it so he stays in a state of stress and knows barking will get him some type of attention (even if it’s negative). His owner wants him in doggy daycare so sadly it’s not like we can just keep him in a quiet area.


I don’t play with toys in the group, he gets pulled out into a bigger room and we play with toys while working on training and doing some brain games (like I said he gets puzzle toys as well). I find dogs that have high anxiety typically aren’t exercised properly which I think contributes to his issues as well, that’s why I find after we play for a bit he does a bit better.

I know humping can happen for a number of reasons but I truthfully don’t find it’s always stress related. Some dogs use it to initiate play with others and some are just over-aroused around certain dogs, though I’m not saying stress can’t sometimes play a role in it as well.

I’m just wondering what other daycares do for dogs that have these types of challenges in a group. I feel like certain things are nearly impossible to fix in a group setting and don’t know what’s realistic and what’s unrealistic training dogs in a daycare setting.
 

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Okay, so you don’t have any extra rooms to keep him in?

Well it doesn’t really matter where you play with the toys. Like I said activities like fetch or similar often causes a lot of stress which might cause even more problem for an already distressed dog. How are you playing with him and what training do you do?

Lack of exercise and proper activities are definitely a reason for stress and anxiety. But practicing activities that will cause more stress is not the type of activity you want to do. You need more challenging activities. The puzzle toy might not be enough.

Do you offer any particular exercise for the dogs? Like walks?

Like I said I think it’s important that the dogs knows when to, and are allowed to, relax and be calm.

I’ve been at two dog daycares, just for a couple of weeks. And there the dogs were separated in smaller groups into different stalls. The groups were put together to create groups that worked well. When in their stalls it was time to relax. Activity and play was only allowed in the park outside. We also went on two walks a day for about 1-2 h in total maybe.

So the focus was always to create a harmonic environment for the dogs.

I’ve also worked as a dog sitter private, however with tops four dogs at a time due to legal reasons. I let the dogs know that we’re calm and relaxed indoors. Play and activity is for when we go outside.
 

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Okay, so you don’t have any extra rooms to keep him in?

Well it doesn’t really matter where you play with the toys. Like I said activities like fetch or similar often causes a lot of stress which might cause even more problem for an already distressed dog. How are you playing with him and what training do you do?

Lack of exercise and proper activities are definitely a reason for stress and anxiety. But practicing activities that will cause more stress is not the type of activity you want to do. You need more challenging activities. The puzzle toy might not be enough.

Do you offer any particular exercise for the dogs? Like walks?

Like I said I think it’s important that the dogs knows when to, and are allowed to, relax and be calm.

I’ve been at two dog daycares, just for a couple of weeks. And there the dogs were separated in smaller groups into different stalls. The groups were put together to create groups that worked well. When in their stalls it was time to relax. Activity and play was only allowed in the park outside. We also went on two walks a day for about 1-2 h in total maybe.

So the focus was always to create a harmonic environment for the dogs.

I’ve also worked as a dog sitter private, however with tops four dogs at a time due to legal reasons. I let the dogs know that we’re calm and relaxed indoors. Play and activity is for when we go outside.
We have extra rooms but it also doesn't help him a ton to be totally isolated as he can become barky in those circumstances as well. To me he has chronic anxiety and I feel like if it's occurring at home as well, there's only so much we can do to change it in our setting.

Mind me asking what you mean by fetch and playing with toys causing stress for dogs? Do you mean it will cause an already aroused dog to become even more stimulated simply due to increasing their adrenaline and stimulation further? That's why it's not out of control play. It's play that involves working on training incorporated into it (asking him to 'sit' and 'wait' for his toy, 'settle' until released to play with toy, etc). I think as long as it's controlled and not causing over-arousal it can do dogs some good to have that as an outlet if they struggle a bit more in group and don't even play with dogs. I wish I could pull him out and have him play with a friend one on one, but sadly he has no interest in playing. We also do things like hiding treats under pylons for him to sniff out, and doing a bit of agility too like climbing up onto things, over things, etc.

Unfortunately we don't do walks but I would love to if we could. I don't even know how that would work to be honest with you, we live near a busy road so for us to take the dogs out we would have to be extremely cautious especially because not every dog has good leash walking skills nor do we know if all the dogs have certain reactivity issues while walking. I would be worried about liability issues walking them in the area we are in and I don't know if we could simply due to having a smaller staff attending to multiple things in our facility. Luckily we do offer enrichment so we pull the dogs out and find out what's truly fun and enriching for that dog and apply that during their daycare visit, though we just started it so any tips or recommendations for enrichment are always welcome!

What do you mean by stalls? We do typically have 2 groups, a calm group and a more rambunctious group. The issue is I don't always know how to keep the group calm. I mean we are all skilled at reading body language, redirecting and stepping in when needed to prevent issues, but I find it's hard to keep a group of 10-20 dogs calm at all times when there are so many different personalities in the group and only one trainer trying to work on these issues. Due to the layout of our building, we found having the more rambunctious group indoors made things worse as the indoor space isn't as large and everything echoes in the area, creating more issues and stimulation. Our calm group is indoors and the other group outside.

We try to pick out the dogs in group that struggle the most and need the most work and create a training plan for them. But another struggle I have is I obviously don't want to use treats in the group to work on training with particular dogs as it will cause dogs to swarm me and I don't want food aggression or guarding to become an issue. Because we don't use treats, I find there is only so much you can do to be more motivating and valuable to a dog than them running around and playing with their friend is. That's why we take them inside, do some enrichment and training indoors, and give them breaks to rest as needed.

I would love to create a harmonic environment for our daycare group, I just don't know exactly how to do that further from what we are doing. If you could even type out some bullet point tips for how to ensure daycare groups stay calm and controlled, I would really appreciate it!

Do you mind me asking why you left after a couple weeks? Did you not like it?
 

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Every time you throw a ball you can compare that to the dog hunting for a prey which every time releases stress hormones. But apart from real hunting the dog doesn’t get to work with their nose or mind, it only include the most stressful part “running and catching” without the opportunity for the dog to work and get tiered. Ball games can be really fun and great at times but doing it when the dog is already distressed or too much/too often, without other “mind-tiring” activities, it can cause stress problems. However some dogs won’t be negatively affected.

The activities like hiding treats and agility I think are great. In general I would recommend more scent work games and training. This can be more advanced treat hiding, maybe snuffel rugs, creating tracks, hiding toys etc. Maybe this isn’t possible but a really easy and good activity for the dog is to just throw out their food or treats in the grass for them to search and eat. Kongs are another way to keep the dog occupied for a some time while being somewhat mentally stimulating. Other things could be more calm obedience and/or trick training. However I would always consult with the owner before training anything.

If you can’t walk in a safe way you shouldn’t do it, but otherwise it’s a really good exercise and activity.

By stalls I’m basically meaning rooms. I don’t know the correct word for it in English. But they were divided into smaller groups of maybe 5 in individual rooms. Like this:
41C8444C-3DE6-4C09-82B8-CE27FDC13D41.jpeg


Are you working on having times through out the day dedicated to resting? When the dogs are not allowed to play. I don’t believe you always have to offer treats for the dogs to stop running around or playing. But rather to put an demand on the dog to not play. You show by body language, words and physical contact (never to harm or cause pain tho!) that they need to be calm.

My advice is really just to decide when the dogs can play or not. Give them time through out the day to relax and just rest. If possible it could be really beneficial to decrease the amounts of dogs in each group.

I didn’t leave, when in high school we were allowed to “test”- work for a week or so and I chose to work at a dog daycare.
 

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Every time you throw a ball you can compare that to the dog hunting for a prey which every time releases stress hormones. But apart from real hunting the dog doesn’t get to work with their nose or mind, it only include the most stressful part “running and catching” without the opportunity for the dog to work and get tiered. Ball games can be really fun and great at times but doing it when the dog is already distressed or too much/too often, without other “mind-tiring” activities, it can cause stress problems. However some dogs won’t be negatively affected.

The activities like hiding treats and agility I think are great. In general I would recommend more scent work games and training. This can be more advanced treat hiding, maybe snuffel rugs, creating tracks, hiding toys etc. Maybe this isn’t possible but a really easy and good activity for the dog is to just throw out their food or treats in the grass for them to search and eat. Kongs are another way to keep the dog occupied for a some time while being somewhat mentally stimulating. Other things could be more calm obedience and/or trick training. However I would always consult with the owner before training anything.

If you can’t walk in a safe way you shouldn’t do it, but otherwise it’s a really good exercise and activity.

By stalls I’m basically meaning rooms. I don’t know the correct word for it in English. But they were divided into smaller groups of maybe 5 in individual rooms. Like this: View attachment 247552

Are you working on having times through out the day dedicated to resting? When the dogs are not allowed to play. I don’t believe you always have to offer treats for the dogs to stop running around or playing. But rather to put an demand on the dog to not play. You show by body language, words and physical contact (never to harm or cause pain tho!) that they need to be calm.

My advice is really just to decide when the dogs can play or not. Give them time through out the day to relax and just rest. If possible it could be really beneficial to decrease the amounts of dogs in each group.

I didn’t leave, when in high school we were allowed to “test”- work for a week or so and I chose to work at a dog daycare.
We do give most of our dogs rests as needed, but we don't remove every single dog to rest for a period of time. Ideally I think it could help, but I could also see it causing issues as well with every dog being kennelled in the same area barking and feeding off each other (we don't have kennels in other areas, just in the same area for all the dogs). If all the dogs could be calm in the kennels then I think it could help, but we have dogs that do not do well isolated in a kennel so it's sadly not an option for every dog. That's why we pull certain dogs out of the group to try to work with them on training and calming behaviours one on one, then if they can be kennelled for a break we do, then we apply the training we have done one on one when they're in the group.

I know you're saying you don't need treats to work with a dog in group, but I find that it's quite difficult for a dog to strictly be motivated by just you and your praise, when they are around so much valuable stimulation (I also find some dogs simply become over-stimulated that their cortisol and dopamine levels are so high that their brain simply can't think through things properly in a group setting, making training a bit harder as well). I know you're saying to just show by body language, words, and physical contact that they need to calm down, but what do you mean by this exactly? What would be your approach to say, an over-stimulated dog that is not motivated by praise and gets frustrated when you try to redirect them away from their friends and essentially refuses to walk away with you (example, lays down and resits when you try to walk them away). I truthfully find there are just some dogs that do not listen to you in a group setting and there's not always much you can do to 100% fix this. Unfortunately I don't think it helps as well when the owners are not working on training with the dog at home and we try to implement new things in such a high arousal situation like daycare.
 

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We do give most of our dogs rests as needed, but we don't remove every single dog to rest for a period of time. Ideally I think it could help, but I could also see it causing issues as well with every dog being kennelled in the same area barking and feeding off each other (we don't have kennels in other areas, just in the same area for all the dogs). If all the dogs could be calm in the kennels then I think it could help, but we have dogs that do not do well isolated in a kennel so it's sadly not an option for every dog. That's why we pull certain dogs out of the group to try to work with them on training and calming behaviours one on one, then if they can be kennelled for a break we do, then we apply the training we have done one on one when they're in the group.

I know you're saying you don't need treats to work with a dog in group, but I find that it's quite difficult for a dog to strictly be motivated by just you and your praise, when they are around so much valuable stimulation (I also find some dogs simply become over-stimulated that their cortisol and dopamine levels are so high that their brain simply can't think through things properly in a group setting, making training a bit harder as well). I know you're saying to just show by body language, words, and physical contact that they need to calm down, but what do you mean by this exactly? What would be your approach to say, an over-stimulated dog that is not motivated by praise and gets frustrated when you try to redirect them away from their friends and essentially refuses to walk away with you (example, lays down and resits when you try to walk them away). I truthfully find there are just some dogs that do not listen to you in a group setting and there's not always much you can do to 100% fix this. Unfortunately I don't think it helps as well when the owners are not working on training with the dog at home and we try to implement new things in such a high arousal situation like daycare.
What I mean with time dedicated to resting is not that you have to separate the dogs for individual resting but that the group rests together. Time when they’re not allowed to run around or play even though they’re in the group. For this I don’t think you need to reward, motivate or treat them but just to set rules and demands on the dogs to be calm and relaxed. You decide if they’re not allowed to play, it’s not like you have to motivate them to stop playing.

What it takes to make them calm down and listen to you can depend on the situation and the dog. I found some videos that might clarify how I mean by intervene or stop play. These are not the best videos or the most informative but maybe it will make it a bit clearer how I usually approach this.

In this video I went in between and separated them. Quite clear and simply just showing that I wanted them to stop:


In this video (I’m just fooling around with the straw so don’t get distracted by that) about 20 seconds in: they start playing so I tell them to stop, which they listen to at first. But then they start again so I try to gain their attention. They still keep going so I step in and tell them (with a more strict voice) to stop which works.


Here It was enough to just raise my voice for her to listen and stop (about 35 seconds in):


But here she didn’t listen when I told her to stop so I physically pulled her away to show it was time to stop. Then I gave them okay to keep playing but if you don’t want that, you shouldn’t do that obviously. It’s about 1 minute in:


In this video (about 10 seconds in), I show by physical contact that I want them to stop. Then I also mark with a snap (snapping my fingers, not her) that the smaller dog needs to stop which she responds to very well:

It’s about creating rules around when the dogs are allowed to play and when they aren’t.

So they know when they should be calm and relaxed:
22 juli 2020


And when they’re allowed to run and play:
22 juli 2020

Sorry if it’s too many videos, I just thought it might make it a bit clearer.
 

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What I mean with time dedicated to resting is not that you have to separate the dogs for individual resting but that the group rests together. Time when they’re not allowed to run around or play even though they’re in the group. For this I don’t think you need to reward, motivate or treat them but just to set rules and demands on the dogs to be calm and relaxed. You decide if they’re not allowed to play, it’s not like you have to motivate them to stop playing.

What it takes to make them calm down and listen to you can depend on the situation and the dog. I found some videos that might clarify how I mean by intervene or stop play. These are not the best videos or the most informative but maybe it will make it a bit clearer how I usually approach this.

In this video I went in between and separated them. Quite clear and simply just showing that I wanted them to stop:


In this video (I’m just fooling around with the straw so don’t get distracted by that) about 20 seconds in: they start playing so I tell them to stop, which they listen to at first. But then they start again so I try to gain their attention. They still keep going so I step in and tell them (with a more strict voice) to stop which works.


Here It was enough to just raise my voice for her to listen and stop (about 35 seconds in):


But here she didn’t listen when I told her to stop so I physically pulled her away to show it was time to stop. Then I gave them okay to keep playing but if you don’t want that, you shouldn’t do that obviously. It’s about 1 minute in:


In this video (about 10 seconds in), I show by physical contact that I want them to stop. Then I also mark with a snap (snapping my fingers, not her) that the smaller dog needs to stop which she responds to very well:

It’s about creating rules around when the dogs are allowed to play and when they aren’t.

So they know when they should be calm and relaxed:
22 juli 2020


And when they’re allowed to run and play:
22 juli 2020

Sorry if it’s too many videos, I just thought it might make it a bit clearer.
Thanks so much for the videos to help visualize it a bit more! We definitely apply those methods between dogs when needed, a lot of us body block, clap or even snap our fingers, and I even find with certain dogs if you step in and point at them while giving a firm 'hey!' they know they're in the wrong and need to stop and typically back off (nothing super intimidating, simply telling them that's enough and once they calm/back off we praise them). I definitely do appreciate your videos! Though I will say I find it's a lot easier to gain focus and compliance between 2 dogs, over a group of dogs. That's the issue I'm having, is building calmness in a group full of dogs where the stimulation is much much higher and focusing on handlers is truthfully a lot more difficult.

If there is a pair of dogs that need some intervention and help, then absolutely we will step in and guide as needed (we will use leashes too to get more control and walk away/separate if necessary). Though, what's hard for me is when I'm trying to work on controlling play between a pair of dogs, while the other dogs are running around and getting carried away in other pairs, another dog is trying to mount a dog, another dog is off in the distance barking at a dog, another dog is trying to get a dog to play when they don't want to, etc. It's like I need 50 arms in order to gain full control and harmony in the group as there can be so much going on at once. That's my struggle, how to control and keep a group calm when you can only be in one place at a time working with one or two dogs at a time.

I feel like I may just have unrealistic expectations for gaining the amount of calmness and harmony I'm looking for when at the end of the day, there's only so much training you can do in that kind of setting with that many dogs.
 

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Oh there’s no doubt about it that a group is more difficult to handle than just two. It was just to show what I meant by demanding them to stop playing through body language, words and physical contact.

I understand that it’s really difficult to handle all at once. But quite frankly, that might just mean that you need smaller groups or more staff. However, when a group knows what’s expected from them they’ll be easier to control.

I don’t really understand, have you actively tried to get the group in a calm resting state? Or have you just intervened when their playing got overboard?

If you’re very strict on them not playing and being calm from the second the first dog arrives I think it would have a big impact. If the dog have expectations to play, run around, and all in all is in an excited state, then it of course will be very difficult to demand calmness.

How does your routines look? Do all dogs arrive pretty much at the same time and are directly put in the group? Do you have a time where there are less dogs?

In that case an advice could be to already then get the dogs to understand that they need to be calm, no playing. It will be easier to create a calm environment if you gradually increase the number of dogs to a group that already is calm. If you just put together 20 excited dogs that are hyped up, it will obviously be more difficult.

If the dogs typically arrive all at ones, couldn’t you put them in their kennel. And then gradually let them out to the group. Before letting more dogs in, the group obviously needs to be calm, then you work with the dog that you let out and make sure that they also understands to be calm. Does this make sense? I feel like I’m terrible at explaining but please ask if you don’t understand what I mean.
 
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