Indoor Exercises to Do With Your Dog

Spring fever is epidemic now, but it won’t be long before the ice has melted, the snow has cleared, and you and your dog are able to get back to your outdoor exercise routines. In fact, exercise is one of the most important things for your dog’s good physical and mental health. For high-energy dogs, a rigorous game of fetch or a run around the neighborhood will help to settle him down so he can better focus during a training session. And for couch-potato dogs, an easy walk around the block will do the trick to get his blood moving and be better ready to pay attention to you.

However, until the weather breaks, there are still some things you and your pup can do for indoor exercise to get his mood and energy hormones flowing. In addition, these activities will alleviate boredom. Consider trying these workouts:

  • Stair climbing: A great way to build your dog’s muscle is to have her go up and down a flight of stairs. As you probably know, this is tough for humans, so it is just as tough, if not more so, for your pup. In other words, don’t overdo it,
  • Hide and seek: Movement is key, and this is what an old-fashioned game of hide and seek will do.
  • Exercise equipment: Here I’m talking about a treadmill or ball. Put the speed on low and let your dog walk for a short time. Be careful, though, as some dogs can become fearful which could lead to injury. Encourage your dog to push around a soccer ball, basketball, softball, or some other appropriately sized round object for a fun game of movement.
  • Tug-of-war: Many dogs enjoy a good tug-of-war match and it’s also good for muscle building.
  • Agility: Make your own agility course using brooms, boxes, or other safe household items and entice your dog around it by offering treats.

The key is for you and your dog to move, so try some of these exercises to strengthen muscles and increase stamina to prepare for the fun and rigor of good-weather outdoor workouts.

Tips for Preventing Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is the bane of many a dog owner and occurs when a dog decides a person, place, or thing is a treasure that is his and his alone. But frankly, rather than call it resource guarding, I prefer to refer to it as a dog’s communication style. When some other being, be it human, canine, feline, or something else, approaches a dog who has claimed his prize, communication behaviors ranging from running away with it to growling, to outright biting may occur.  

When a dog has become attached to his prize, he communicates what he wants in the only way he knows how. Think if someone were to come along and try to take away something you treasure – -a car, a diamond ring, your Buffalo wing pizza, a bag of peanut M&Ms. Chances are, you’d have something definite to say about it. You’d probably have a veritable hissy fit. You’d communicate. When something threatens your dog’s precious person, place or thing, the only way he can communicate is by running away, growling, or biting.

Canine Communication Ladder:

You’ll most often hear this referred to as the Canine Ladder of Aggression, but what we’re really talking about is how dogs communicate. Therefore, I much prefer the name, as do other expert canine behaviorists:

Canine Communication Ladder.

What this shows is an escalating sequence of how a dog communicates to a human about his “thing.” If your dog engages in any of these sometimes scary and often embarrassing behaviors, you are not alone. Resource guarding communication is common among dogs, with estimates as high as half of all dogs demonstrating these specific communication behaviors to one degree or another during their lifetime.

Can it be Fixed?

The good news? YES!  Resource guarding and its associated communication behavior can almost always be  corrected and simply boils down to:

  • Determining what caused the behavior
  • Getting help from a professional behaviorist quickly
  • Being consistent in using the techniques you learn when at home
  • Treats, treats, treats

What Causes Resource Guarding?

So, what happened to cause your dog to become so obsessed over something? Some of these obsessive behaviors are based on instinct, but the actual cause will be different for each dog.  For example, a frightened dog will behave differently than a dog who is protective over the same object. My job is to help you figure out what caused your dog to feel and act the way he does over the object.

Check out the following possible causes.

Lack of Socialization

When your dog hasn’t been exposed to other situations, people, or pets, he may show fearful or anxious behaviors, especially if he has been abused in the past or had multiple homes and no real security.


Do you think your dog “owns” you or someone else in your household? Dogs can become possessive over anything: a toy, their bed or crate, food, treats, and any gross but to them valuable thing they have scrounged up from your backyard.


Sometimes it appears “cute” when a dog covets a particular person, place, or thing. Or maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal as the dog’s behavior isn’t hurting anyone or anything. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that guarding behaviors are not cute. No matter how insignificant they may seem now, they are a big deal and can escalate into something dangerous, especially with larger dogs that are known to be more assertive in their communication style.


Have you ever been bored out of your mind? If so, perhaps you remember how your mind threatened to get you in all sorts of trouble. Guess what? Dogs get bored, and dogs think, and dogs can find ways to busy themselves. Guess how?

Aggressive Play

Do you play with your dog? Do you play tug of war? Wrestling? Or another form of play where the ante increases and your dog’s communication style quickly climbs the escalation scale? Dial it back. Let your dog win those tug-of-war sessions. Convert the wrestling match to a relaxed petting session.

Getting Help from a Professional

Your dog’s “prize” can move from one person, place, or thing to another, so the goal is to catch the signs early to make training even easier. This is where I come in.

I pride myself on using techniques that make dogs want to do something as opposed to having to do something. This means no electric shock collars, no chains around the neck, and no hitting or negative punishments.

Think of it like this: in your human world, you work because you get paid. You would not work if you were constantly hit or punished and not paid.

Yes, my techniques require more work, but your dog will modify his communication style – in a major way.

When your dog starts showing undesirable behaviors, do call to either arrange for private home visits or enroll in a class specific to your dog’s needs and behaviors.

Being Consistent

Unfortunately, many of my clients don’t regularly practice the techniques I teach them. Without regular reinforcement, dogs will revert to the original, undesirable communication styles which means you are probably not happy with your dog’s behavior, and you just lost a lot of money.

Treats, Treats, Treats

Underlying everything I’ve talked about here, and will talk more about in the future, is the use of treats. Back to the money thing: wouldn’t you behave better if someone gave you a wad or money than if that same someone kept prodding you with a taser?

Here’s the bottom line. When your dog gets a reward for not guarding the object, it will then become less and less important until at last – problem solved!

Need I say more? The fact is, I will in future articles.

What is Clicker Training?

For those of you who have worked with me before, you are very familiar with clicker training. But many people are not, so I thought it would be helpful to explain what it’s all about.

Another term used synonymously with clicker is mark and reward training.

So how does it work?

First, clicker training is positive reinforcement, or reward, training with the addition of a click sound. As soon as the dog does what you want, you immediately click and follow up with a reward. When you’re beginning clicker training,  the more high-value the treat, the more your dog will want to perform your desired behavior.

The concept of clicker training is based on proven animal science that rewarded behaviors are more likely to be repeated in the future. In other words, positive reinforcement is much more effective than constantly telling your dog what not to do.

So why a clicker?

Isn’t a treat or reward enough? A reward certainly helps, but the reason for the clicker is that it acts as a conditional reinforcer, similar to the idea behind Pavlov’s dogs where key events that the dogs came to associate with food caused them to salivate. The click becomes the key event in clicker training.

Here’s the idea – as soon as the dog does what you want, you immediately click, and then reward it. The click becomes the conditional reinforcer and “marks” the behavior.

Charge the clicker

The first thing you need to do is charge the clicker. Here’s how:

  1. Take your dog into a distraction-free area.
  2. Get a handful of yummy treats.
  3. Put the treats in one hand and the clicker in the other.
  4. Make sure your elbows are in at your sides and your dog is in front of you, sitting calmly.
  5. Click the clicker, move the hand with the treats towards him, and pop a treat in his mouth.
  6. Allow a short delay before popping the treat in his mouth.
  7. Repeat this 20 to 30 times, several times a day.

NOTE: It’s important to always allow a short delay between the click and putting the treat in your dog’s mouth.

So now what?

There is plenty of information out there to help you learn how to train using a clicker, but your best bet is to hook up with a trainer, as in me, to help you work out the behaviors and right timing for your dog.

How to Deal With Your Dog’s Boredom

We just had a spell of cold weather, and I mean really cold, and if your dogs are anything like mine, they’ve been bouncing off the walls with cabin fever. Picture this: a dog climbing into the bathtub to grab a bar of soap and attempt to eat it. (I caught him before he could chew/swallow it and throw up bubbles for the next 24 hours); a dog trying to dig a hole in a plant to hide his bone; and a dog fighting with another dog when they are normally the best of buds. Can you relate?

Well, never fear, your heroic trainer is here with some solutions for bored dogs.

Is Your Dog Bored?

I just gave a few examples of a bored dog’s behavior, but here are some general signs that your dog may be bored.

  • Out of the norm for his behavior: chewing shoes, shredding paper, tearing apart pillows, and even dragging streams of toilet paper all through the house.
  • Excessive barking
  • Digging in the yard (or your plants)
  • Bugging you for attention way more than usual

What can you do to keep yourself and your dog sane?


There’s nothing like a good romp to expel the excess energy that builds when my dog is bored. Granted, when it’s bitter cold, you don’t want to spend prolonged time out of doors, but get outside for long walks as soon as the temperature moderates.

Brain Teasers

Giving your dog something mental to focus on also alleviates boredom. Think tug-of-war or hide-and-seek by hiding treats around the house and your dog has to go find them. Puzzle toys are also great, such as lick mats and toys you stuff with goodies. Consider making your own puzzle toys.


If you and your dog have ever taken a class from me, you know how exhausted your dog is after each session.  Training provides the epitome of mental stimulation. Basic obedience is the place to start, and you can take it more than once to work on specific behaviors. In addition, follow up the training with some sessions of your own where you teach your dog some tricks. You’ll find some fun and easy tricks in this article.


You know how you go a little nuts when you’ve been isolated for too long, the same is true for your pup. Dogs need to engage with other dogs. I’m not a fan of dog parks for many reasons, but there are other ways to provide excellent socializing opportunities for your dog. For one, invite a friend who has a dog that is compatible with your dog for some playtime. Another option is to join up with doggy daycare, as in Wags to Riches!

These are just a few ideas to help you help your dog when the boredom gremlin hits. However, if you need some help, you can count on us!

Would You Believe??

You really have to read this article to learn some fantastical and amazing facts about our most beloved canine companions.

And I’d like you to pay particular attention to this fact:

Trying to be “dominant” over your dog is not the best approach

“Despite enjoying considerable popularity for many years, the “dominance” theory of dog training is finally seeing the truth come out. “You should never try to dominate your dog,” Hartstein insists. The idea that you need to show your dog “who’s alpha,” with methods such as eating before your dog, making sure you’re always in a higher position than them, or punitive behavior, is outdated and ineffective.”

Of course, you need to set a routine and make sure your dog understands rules and boundaries, but avoid traditional advice about displays of dominance.

Poop Eating Pups

This fact relieved one of my clients who has wrestled with the poop-eating of one of her pups. Despite her distress and embarassment over her dog’s gross habit, she learned that poop-eating is not abnormal. However, also adding to her distress is, depite all sorts of alleged remedies to stop the habit, the only real remedy is to march out with your dog in rain, snow, sleet, etc., and pick up the little brown pile yourself.

Want to know why dog’s eat poop? Read on…

How to Train Your Puppy to the Crate

Your dog’s crate should be his Mecca, his domain, his very, very happy place. But not all puppies welcome the crate at first, and in fact, fear may be their initial watchword. For some pups, getting them to cherish their crate may take time and patience.

But it’s all good and doable, and here’s how.

Picking a Crate

The size of the crate helps determine how quickly your dog will adjust to it. A large size crate for a small puppy is overwhelming, just as a too-small crate is cramped and uncomfortable. Select a crate just big enough so that your puppy or dog can turn around in it comfortably without any excess space for him to poop or pee in.

Introducing the Crate

Avoid putting your puppy in the crate right away. Instead, put him in the same area and every time he looks at it, give him a treat.

Moving Closer

After you have rewarded him multiple times for looking at the crate, set up a path of treats that leads right to the opening of the crate. At this point, you can also place a treat right inside the crate’s opening.

As your pup’s confidence builds and he becomes excited about getting the treat in the crate’s opening, reduce the length of the pathway to it and place additional treats further into the crate.

Moving In

Once your puppy has gone into the crate in a relaxed and happy manner, use treats to entice him to sit and/or lie down in it.  Try closing the door.

Give him toys and or a puzzle toy filled with goodies and walk away for a few moments. When you return, you guessed it – more treats. Gradually increase the amount of time you are away until you see that he is happy and relaxed being alone in his crate.

If at any time he becomes tense, back up to a previous, successful step.

Eating Meals

Now, think about meals. Once your pup has successfully entered the crate with the door closed, feed him his meals in it, with the door open.


Now your puppy should be comfortable being in his crate with the door closed for short periods of time. Also, when you are around and able to keep an eye on him, leave the crate door open so he can happily escape to his quiet little cave.

So You Got a Puppy for Christmas!

All you wanted for Christmas was a puppy! You got one, and now what? Read on for the best way to bring your new puppy into your life and home in a healthy and safe way.

First, take a big, deep breath. If this is your first pup, chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed. The more you can relax, the more your puppy will catch the vibe and lose some of the natural anxiety he feels from being in a new environment.

What You Need

Hopefully, you knew your puppy was coming in advance, so you have time to get the supplies you’ll need. These include the following:

  • Food and water bowls – stainless steel is preferred
  • Food – ask the breeder what food your puppy has been eating and be sure to feed him the same thing
  • Collar and leash – there are many different options here. I will be glad to help you select the best ones for your puppy
  • Identification tags – if your puppy should escape, an ID tag with your contact information gives you the best chance of getting him back.
  • Toys – in the beginning try out a variety of toy types to see which ones he likes best.
  • Treat – get plenty of high-value puppy treats: you’ll need these for training.


Using crates with puppies I find is very important. First, a crate gives them time to relax and sleep because puppies need to be sleeping 18 hours a day. Plus, when you don’t have time to watch them, it’s safe to put them in their crate. To first encourage him into the crate, use treats.

It’s a great start when they’re young to get them used to their crate, so as they go through life, they know that a crate is not a terrible thing.

Make Your Home Puppy-Safe

Puppies can get themselves into all sorts of trouble so it’s important that you make your home puppy safe.

Small Space

Set up a small space for your puppy to live in for his first few days or weeks at home. You can put him in a small powder room or use baby gates to section off a small space in a larger area. Put his crate in this area.

Electric Cords and Outlets

Hide cords or use cord concealers and put plastic safety plugs into unused outlets.

Trash Cans

Be sure to keep all trash cans covered or well out of reach from curious little noses.

Cleaning Supplies and Medication

Here lurks potential danger so make sure all are locked away or stored up high.


Use this ASPCA guide to determine if any of your household plants are toxic to your puppy and remove those that are toxic promptly. Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Dogs | ASPCA

Potty Training

Before you even bring your puppy into the house, take him outside to the area you have designated as his potty spot.

Your puppy may get it right away that this is where he does his business, while others may take more time. Take him out every 3 hours and after naps and eating. When he goes in his spot, praise him, and give him a treat.

Inside mistakes are inevitable. Don’t punish him. Just clean up the mess and take him outside.


Adults: Your puppy is bound to be scared and traumatized having left his mother, siblings, and the only human he has thus far known. In other words, resist the temptation to have a welcoming party and instead, keep it quiet – just immediate adults in the family; save the little ones for later.

Other pets: Do not introduce any resident pets right away, but after several days, begin to allow the pets to smell the puppy through a baby gate or the closed door on his crate. Do this several times each day for a few days. Once the pets have gotten each other’s scents, allow them into the puppy’s small, confined area. Supervise the interaction closely.

Kids: Special care needs to be taken with the small members of the household. Young kids may be loud and want to pet and pick up the puppy. They need to be instructed to only handle the puppy with adult supervision.


Keeping Your Dog Safe and Healthy During the Cold Winter Months

It’s here — winter, the season of ice, snow, wind, and endless gray skies. But with proper protection, you and your dog can enjoy all the best of what winter has to offer.  The fact is that being outside is important for a dog’s health and well-being. But the question is how cold is too cold, how snowy is too snowy, and how wet is too wet?

About Winter Temperature

Different dogs have different tolerances for cold weather – think Huskies and Malamutes that thrive in the cold, while poor short hair breeds like Boston Terriers and Greyhounds shiver when you might think it’s a balmy winter day.  In addition, the smaller the dog, the less able to deal with winter weather, while bigger, hairier breeds do much better.

Here’s the general rule: When the temperature drops to 45 degrees, keep a close eye on your dog when outside. At this temperature, smaller, older, and unhealthy dogs may begin to shiver or tremble slightly. When the temperature reaches 32 degrees is when many dogs will start to whine, cry, shiver, and refuse to move. Once the temperature drops to 20 degrees or below, true danger, such as hypothermia or frostbite, can set in.

About Various Weather Conditions

Besides temperature, there are other weather factors that can negatively affect your dog. These include the following.

Wind chill: 

For those of us in northern climates, wind chill is a part of our daily winter lives. It is also a part of the life of our dogs. Cold temps coupled with winter winds can create an overall perilous situation for you and your dog.


Heavy, wet snow and rain are simply uncomfortable and can result in both of you catching a nasty chill. On the other hand, there is nothing more lovely than walking through the woods when light, fluffy snow is falling. 

Gray days

A temperature of 32 feels the same, whether the sun is shining or not, right? Wrong! A cloudy, gray day at 32 degrees will feel markedly colder than the same on a bright, sunny winter day.

About Other Factors

  • Moving: A dog moving briskly generates its own body heat
  • Coat type:  Dogs with double-layered coats adapt most easily to cold conditions.
  • Coat color: This one may surprise you – darker coats absorb heat from sunlight, keeping them warmer than dogs with lighter-colored coats.
  • Size: Simply put, small dogs just don’t have enough skin to give them insulation against the cold.
  • Weight: Be careful with this one> Just like us humans, the more body weight, the warmer in cold weather. Same with your dog but being overweight is not the place you want him to be.
  • Cold is cold, right? Wrong. The first cold of the season makes all creatures feel colder than the same temperature later in the season.
  • Older and Unhealthy Dogs: This is no surprise, for sure. Neither older nor unhealthy dogs should be exposed to cold temperatures at all.

About What Happens in the Cold

  • Arthritis: Cold weather can exacerbate the pain for a dog with arthritis.
  • Hypothermia: Hypothermia can range from mild to severe with symptoms that include shivering, weakness, stiffness, and breathing irregularity. Hypothermia warrants an immediate call to the vet.
  • Frostbite: The most likely places a dog can get frostbite are the bottom of its paws, the ail, or the ears.
  • Salt: Avoid walking your dog on salted areas, but if that is unavoidable, be sure to wipe his paws off when you return home.

About Protection

So, what are the rules of the winter road to keep your dog protected? Read on:

  1. Limit the time he spends outdoors – shorter walks, quicker potty breaks in the yard, etc.
  2. Limit baths: 1 or 2 each winter is plenty.
  3. Dress her up: Purchase a coat or sweater to wear when outside.
  4. Consider dog boots: Many dogs won’t tolerate this, but if yours will, they provide excellent foot protection.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Dog

Wags and Rich’s: The ultimate WAR on aversive training techniques

Ponder these 2 scenes:

Scene 1: A wild-acting dog that jumps on every human in reach, that bites, tears your house apart, constantly escapes from the yard, fights with other dogs, and never comes when called.

Scene 2: A dog that sits calmly when new people enter the home, gets along with other dogs, never pulls, always walks on a loose leash, and pays attention to you despite other interesting stuff going on.

A well-trained dog is a pleasure for everyone – you, your guests, strangers on the street, and anyone else he meets. But training takes work. A class is the perfect place to start – and we welcome you to join one of ours — but a class is only as good as your commitment to doing the post-class work necessary to maintain what you and your dog learned.

The Basics

Basic obedience training gives your dog a way to behave that thrusts him into a never-ending happy dance because he always knows what’s expected of him. In our Wags to Rich’s Obedience classes, you’ll learn to teach your dog these behaviors:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down
  • Off
  • Leave it
  • Drop it

The Shhh Behaviors

But what about the behaviors no one wants to talk about? Call them cute, call them quirky, call them funky, but whatever you call them, you want your pup to stop them. If your dog does any of the following, you are not alone. We can help you and your dog turn over a New Year’s leaf, and we promise to never tell a soul!

Embarrassing Behavior #1 – Humping

Picture this: you are out for coffee with a friend, and you’ve brought your fearless Fido along for the ride. Only Fido doesn’t sit passively while you and your friend sip and chat. To your horror, Fido sees your friend as prime humping territory. It’s hard to tell who’s more humiliated, you or your friend, but one thing’s for sure, you two will never have coffee together again.

Embarrassing Behavior # 2 – Sniffing

Well, let me clarify this one. Dogs sniff. Dogs need to sniff. Dogs sniff to make sense of their world and surroundings. But when your dog is a proverbial crotch sniffer, well, that’s the epitome of embarrassment for you and more embarrassing for the respective crotch owners.

Embarrassing Behavior # 3 — Toilet Drinking

This one is really bad when the bathroom door is left open, the toilet lid up, and the toilet bowl, shall we say, is not empty.

Embarrassing Behavior # 4 — Guest Jumping

Since it’s the holidays, here’s the scene. Your long-lost cousin has done an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods thing and arrives at your door, arms laden with presents. Guess what Fido’s first move is? Yep – here’s hoping there was nothing breakable in those presents and that your cousin doesn’t sue you for your dog’s negligent behavior.

Embarrassing Behavior # 5 – Licking, Everything!

Dogs lick, but let’s say there are lickers and then there are serious lickers. Dogs lick for a number of reasons including to calm, soothe and reduce anxiety for themselves. But some dogs just want to keep on licking – furniture, blankets, human bodies. A dog who won’t stop licking needs to get control of his tongue.

Granted, this discussion has been a bit on the tongue-in-cheek side, but whatever your dog’s issue is, we can help. Think New Year’s resolutions, think Wags to Rich’s and Wags and Riches – the ultimate WAR on aversive training and behavioral techniques.

Dog Park vs. Doggy Daycare: Which is Best for Your Dog?

An active dog is a happy dog, and the best way to provide healthy, robust exercise is for him to play with other dogs. Dog parks and dog daycares are two of the most popular places where dogs can play with other dogs. But is one better than the other for dogs? Read on to see what I think.

Doggy Day Care

Exploding in popularity since the pandemic, a doggy daycare provides your dog with the mental and physical stimulation he needs to be healthy and happy. Playing with other dogs in this setting is generally supervised by trained and experienced handlers.

Here are some facts about the dog daycare business that may surprise you:

  • New York state was the home of the first doggy daycare, which was opened in 1986
  • Approximately 19 million dogs attend doggy daycare every month.
  • A major growth industry, this segment of the pet care services industry accounts for $4.5 billion in yearly revenue. Compare this to a total of $6 billion spent on all dog services each year.
  • The cost of doggy daycare ranges from $29 to $46 per day.
  • More than 4,000 doggy daycare businesses exist in the U.S. today.

Why Doggy Daycare?

So, if you are thinking of daycare for your dog, here’s why it’s a great choice.

  • Socialization: It’s important for their well-being and overall confidence for dogs to play with other dogs.
  • Mental stimulation: A busy mind keeps dogs out of trouble.
  • Activity: Staying active is an antidote for anxiety and boredom.
  • Exercise: Exercise keeps dogs healthy.
  • Affection and attention: If you have indeed chosen the right daycare your dog will be well taken care of with plenty of affection and attention.
  • Professional handlers: A quality daycare hires only well-trained handlers.

Why Wags to Rich’s?

However, what’s the most important feature of doggy daycare is the expert monitoring, supervision, and planning that goes into making sure that not only dogs have fun, but that they also stay safe. And, as with any exponentially exploding business sector, such as dog daycare, there are the great ones and the not-so-great ones. Here at Wags, we pride ourselves on being one of the great ones!

We welcome you to come see why.

Take a Tour

Arrange an appointment to tour our facility. You’ll be greeted by a friendly, positive staff member who will take you around and show you everything. Any competent daycare should include the following, and at Wags, you’ll find outstanding examples of:

  • Cleanliness: Everything is sparkling clean and fresh smelling – no offensive odors
  • Safety: Electrical devices, cords, and wires are well out of reach
  • Air and ventilation: There are plenty of windows and a clean-air ventilation system
  • Staging area: The entrance/exit is set up so that only one dog can enter and exit at a time
  • Floor surfaces: The floor surfaces are safe and sturdy

Dog Grouping

Dogs in any group situation should be matched according to ability and temperament. Here at Wags, we use a full behavioral assessment to determine the best and safest placement for your dog. Not only do competent daycare facilities do this, but sometimes they may decide that a dog is not ready for the rigors of daycare.

This is one of the strengths of our program. If a dog doesn’t appear to be able to handle our program, we will suggest he undergo some training before going through another assessment.

Health Requirements

All customers are required to show that their pet has been fully inoculated with papers from their respective veterinarians. If any dog shows symptoms, such as diarrhea or vomiting, they can’t come back to daycare until they are fully healed. The same is true for any injuries that prevent them from being able to fully participate in regular playing with other dogs.


Proper staffing is a must for a well-running daycare and a positive experience for your dog. Here are the key questions about staffing. When you tour our facility, check out:

  • How many staff are on duty and watching dogs?
  • Ask about our comprehensive staff training.
  • Ask about it and check out our first aid kit.
  • Talk to some staff members about their passion for dogs

Emergency Plans

No one likes to think about an emergency that puts their precious friend in danger, but the fact is, danger is always a possibility, and a daycare under consideration needs to have a solid emergency plan in place. Beyond basic first aid, the daycare should also have an emergency medical plan for serious injuries and illnesses. It should also have an evacuation plan in case of fire, earthquake, or other natural disasters. In addition, find out how they will contact you in case of any emergency.

Here at Wags, we do indeed have emergency plans in place including our 24/7 security cameras that are always on inside and out. In addition, the staff is well-versed on exit procedures should the need arise.

Behavior Handling

You certainly want to ask, but here is also where your tour comes in with valuable information. Our training and handling techniques are based on rewarding good behavior and avoiding any aversive techniques.

After you’ve gone ahead and enrolled your pup, you’re about to get a highly socialized, physically fit, and boredom-free member of your home.

Dog Park

Now for a discussion on dog parks and how they compare to doggy daycare.

The concept of the dog park sounds wonderful – a place for dogs to run, romp and play with other dogs, and return home exhausted. Good for the owners, and good for the dogs, right? Let’s just say not so fast.

Some facts about dog parks:

  • Everyone thinks that the east and west coasts are the most dog-friendly areas of the country, and it’s true they are the home of many dog parks. However, the parks in this area have been shown to be the dirtiest and most dangerous in the U.S.
  • Like doggy daycares, dog parks have also grown by leaps and bounds. Since 2009, there has been a 40% increase in the number of dog parks across the country.
  • More than 1 in 7 dogs have been attacked in a dog park

Why Not Dog Parks

With the tremendous growth of dog parks comes the ever-growing caution against them by professional trainers. I am one of those trainers. Here are a few of the reasons I am not a fan (to say the least).

Irresponsible Owners

When you come to our daycare, you can bet on the fact that your dog will be cared for by a trained and professional staff who always keep their eye on the dogs. At the dog park:

  • All it takes is one owner with a wild, untrained dog to wreak havoc with the other dogs and set the pack mentality into a dangerous frenzy.
  • Owner social time: at some parks, it’s all about a social gathering for the owners – another instance where dogs are potentially being ignored and serious trouble can ensue.

Socializing, or Not

The big hype about dog parks is that they provide exercise and socialization for dogs. All good, right? Consider this: a young pup or fearful dog is suddenly thrust into a situation with some aggressive dogs. You can bet this puppy or fearful dog just had his socialization quotient destroyed around other dogs.


Most dog parks only have one big area for the dogs to play, which means small dogs, big dogs, timid dogs, young dogs, bully dogs, and old dogs are all in together. At our daycare, scrutiny is paid to which dogs should be grouped with which others, and if any changes need to be made, our pro handlers can make an immediate change.

Injuries and Illnesses

Because dog parks typically don’t have separate enclosures, injury is a constant problem, ranging from relatively minor bite wounds to dogs actually being killed. Chances are most owners are unequipped to deal with a serious injury.

Disease is another major problem. Most parks require all dogs to be immunized, but there is rarely anyone around to check. Kennel cough is a common issue that quickly spreads among dogs. New illnesses are also springing up, such as the gastrointestinal illness that recently started in Michigan and rapidly spread to other states. At Wags, we require immunization records, and we study them to ensure their currency.


Finally, dog parks lack the other professional features of doggy daycare. These include:

  • No staff
  • No behavioral assistance
  • Questionable facilities
  • Often inappropriate handling of dogs by owners


Although I am the owner of a reputable doggy daycare and training facility, Wags to Rich’s, I think I’ve presented enough factual information here so you can make your own decision on whether it’s a daycare or a dog park for your pet.

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