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THE WELLBEING MODEL

Expect something truly different with wellbeing-based daycare and boarding

The wellbeing model of daycare and boarding is very different than traditional models.


It combines:

  • science-based research about learning theory and the cognitive abilities of dogs,

  • the effect of positive reinforcement in training and behavioural rehabilitation, and

  • the impact each dog's unique personality, experiences, preferences and confidence have on their response to being in the care of someone else and interacting with other dogs


It provides an environment and programs that go beyond caring for the the physical wellbeing of a dog to caring for their emotional and mental wellbeing as well.

Our wellbeing-based model is founded on:

  • meeting the unique needs of each unique dog

  • improving the relationship between dog and owner

  • educating each owner, and

  • advocating for each dog

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BEYOND "SOCIAL" SOCIALIZATION

A wellbeing model of care understands that socialization isn't just focused on dog to dog play and engagement. It understands dogs thrive within trusted and secure relationships and knows that every individual dog has personal preferences about who they enjoy engaging with, when they wish to engage, and that not all dogs want to engage with other dogs.


It does not push the threshold of a dog's comfort, but responds to their specific needs and supports socialization through meeting each dog where they're at and encouraging confidence and relationship building.

A wellbeing model understands there is so much more to ensuring a dog is thriving and doing well and advocating for their mental and emotional health than simply focusing on their play behaviours and interest in a room full of other dogs.


What a wellbeing daycare offers is knowledgeable, experienced and educated caregivers following a program based on the most current research and understanding of dog behaviour, socialization and learning theory combined with recognition of breed traits and the very unique characteristics and needs of each dog, all within an environment of positive reinforcement.

TRUE SOCIALIZATION

What most people think it is

People generally believe that a well socialized dog is one who greets all other dogs happily, enjoys playing with others, and never has conflict of any kind with any other dog. 


To "socialize" a dog is the number one reason people bring their dogs to daycare, with the belief that simply by being placed in a room with other dogs, they will learn to “dog”, learn the language of play communication and will become “socialized”.

But…

That’s not what socialized means. And that’s definitely not how growing comfortable with others works.

Being socialized isn’t just about other dogs or playing. And just exposure to other dogs isn’t the magical cure-all for a dog disinterested, fearful, anxious or aggressive toward other dogs.


For a dog that reacts poorly around others, being immersed in a group of dogs doesn’t help the emotional reasons they are reactive to others, and it goes one of two ways:

1)  It STOPS the display of those emotions, simply by virtue of the fact that to freak out in a room full of strangers is downright dangerous, so the dogs “shut down” and don’t display any behaviour, or

2) it triggers the dog into reactivity with the instinct of "I'm going to get you before you get me". 

Whichever way it goes, it sets that dog up for failure and sets all other dogs in the group up for failure as well.

If the dog shuts down, what looks like an antidote is actually just a suppressant, and if the dog reacts, the con


When our goal is to advocate for the wellbeing of each dog and to truly help them become “well socialized”, a different goal based on knowledge, experience and education is required.

So what does it mean to be well-socialized?
What it IS about is being able to handle the new and unpredictable in a predictably calm and confident manner. Being well-socialized means your dog can handle the unknown and doesn’t react in fearful ways.


It doesn’t mean your dog has to love others or want to play with them, and it doesn’t mean your dog always has to do well in all groups of other dogs 100% of the time.

A wellbeing-based daycare understands the far greater role trust and confidence plays in socialization than being "social" with other dogs, and creates a program for each dog in response to not just WHO they are but HOW they are.

 

BREED AWARE CARE

A wellbeing-based model of dog care understands that we have the many wonderful breeds that we do because they were bred for very many purposes. No two breeds are alike and that’s the beauty of having breeds. 

Expecting a working breed to universally enjoy the same daycare or boarding environment or experiences as a toy breed or a herding breed doesn’t give nod to the very diverse genetics and personalities they are purposely bred for.


Expecting all dogs across all spectrums to enjoy the same experiences in the same way is unfair to both you and your dog. And it doesn’t recognize what we as care givers ought to know: there is no one set answer to meeting each dog’s needs and it would be wrong of us to expect them to be something they’re not or enjoy something they don’t.


Not recognizing the beautiful diversity of our dogs isn’t offering the best care.

So what does this mean for daycare and boarding?
It means we follow a model that gives nod to the uniqueness of each dog and to the breed or behaviours of each dog. It means we observe closely and respond to what each dog does and who they show us they are.

 

HOW DAYCARES DIFFER

What are other models like?

The original dog daycare model

In the dog daycare world, original dog daycare is the social play-all day model.


Dogs either pass or fail an assessment (are good with others or aren’t good with others), are out in large groups or in confinement-free (open space boarding or play areas) and where they play all day and “rest themselves” in group.

Not all dog daycares following the original model offer supervised play and some will create smaller groups of dogs without any in-person attendant in the group.


The primary goal of the original daycare model is to provide a safe space for a dog to play, which was a great start for a care program.

The Daycare 2.0 model
As decades passed and more research and education became available, leading care givers in the dog daycare and boarding industry developed Daycare 2.0, which is also called “enrichment daycare”, where daycares incorporate rest and rotations between play sessions and offer enrichment activities like snuffle mats, games and other structured activities into the dogs’ days to challenge their minds and give mental stimulation and edification.

Since this model recognizes the important of rest between play sessions to allow reprieve from the busyness of group activity and being around other dogs, play groups are usually smaller and aim for no more than 10-15 dogs in a supervised group.

The focus of enrichment-based daycares is to go beyond just meeting the dogs’ physical needs and to also meet their emotional and mental wellbeing needs.


Many daycares in the 2.0 enrichment model complete education to become a Daycare 2.0 facility and learn how to lead enrichment-based daycare programs.

Group play management in both the original and daycare 2.0 models
Each facility within the original model and Daycare 2.0 model decides their approach to group play management and adopts what is known in the dog training world as “aversive” methods or “positive reinforcement” methods, or a mix of the two styles called “balanced” or "Least Invasive Minimally Aversive (LIMA)" methods.

Some daycares of either model have playgroups of mixed sizes, introduce reactive dogs into groups using leads on dogs or muzzles to allow them a measure of control if a dog reacts poorly to another, or use water bottles or physical intimidation or bark collars or e-collars to manage barking or behaviour.


Some have a “four on the floor” policy and don’t allow any running or play where a dog doesn’t have all feet on the floor.

Some daycares incorporate positive reinforcement into their model and don’t use these techniques and tactics, but the method by which each daycare manages their groups is personal to their beliefs about training.


A daycare can follow a Daycare 2.0 enrichment model and not follow positive reinforcement training and group management methods.

The new model of wellbeing daycare

A wellbeing daycare takes it beyond the Daycare 2.0 model and focuses not only on meeting the dog’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but does so with exclusively positive reinforcement training and not only for socially-interactive dogs, but also for nervous, anxious, or reactive dogs, with understanding that breed genetics play a role in addition to environment and upbringing.

Certified positive-reinforcement trainers oversee group play and put together personal play programs for guests, and there is no one single model of a day that any dog follows.

There is no set agenda that a dog must incorporate into a group with other dogs or that they must do so on any set timeline.

We have multiple play areas so we can provide dogs with a day that includes group play, private park play, or a combination of the two.


We have small, supervised play groups of ideally 10-15 so that dogs can become comfortable and truly play with others that match their size, play style and temperament.


We don’t combine large dogs with small dogs because we understand the physical risks of play and understand the instinctive drive of dogs.

We rest all dogs between play sessions and understand there is a difference between building confidence so a dog is confident enough to join others in a group and between rehabilitation for a dog that has a reactive response to others and needs work with a trainer and the parents to change the dog’s emotional response to other dogs.

 

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The guiding principles of a wellbeing-based daycare and boarding

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

A wellbeing-based daycare and boarding facility takes it beyond the Daycare 2.0 model and focuses not only on meeting the dog’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but does so with exclusively positive reinforcement training and for both dogs that are comfortable and enjoy being around other dogs and those that aren’t.

PROGRAMS FOR ALL

A wellbeing-based daycare and boarding facility offers personal care programs not only for socially-interactive dogs, but also for nervous, anxious, or reactive dogs, and understands that breed genetics play a role in addition to environment and upbringing.

CERTIFIED TRAINERS

Certified positive-reinforcement trainers oversee group play and put together personal play programs for guests, and there is no one single structure of a day that any dog follows.

RESPONDS TO EACH DOG

A wellbeing-based model responds to what each dog communicates and what they let us know they’re comfortable with. We don’t have a set agenda that they must incorporate into a group with other dogs or that they must do so on any set timeline or at all.

SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT

We understand success for you and your dog comes from creating an environment that will foster a happier, more confident dog in a supportive, structured and educated environment matched to what your dog needs.

MULTIPLE PLAY AREAS

We have multiple play areas so we can provide dogs with a day that includes group play, private park play, or a combination of the two.

SMALL SUPERVISED PLAY GROUPS

We have small, supervised play groups of ideally 10-15 so that dogs can become comfortable and truly play with others that match their size, play style and temperament.

SIZE MATTERS

We don’t combine large dogs with small dogs because we understand the physical risks of play and understand the instinctive drive of dogs.

REST

We rest all dogs between play sessions to provide important down time away from stimulation. 

UNDERSTAND REACTIVITY

We understand there is a difference between building confidence so a dog is confident enough to join others in a group and between rehabilitation for a dog that has an emotional reactive response to others.

 

CONTACT US

101-4105 65A Ave, Leduc, AB T9E 0Z4, Canada

(780) 900-8639

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