Frequently Asked Questions
What is the assessment for?
The assessment is simply an opportunity to make sure your pup is a good fit for and will enjoy daycare. It is dedicated time for a trainer to slowly introduce your dog into our group while monitoring body language and watch for any signs of stress, apprehension, fear, or aggression. Once the assessment is complete, we can better know how to proceed to give them the most success and fun out of daycare and/or training. Sometimes we have recommendations, sometimes they fit right in and can start daycare and/or training right away.
What age should I start training my dog?
Right away! Bringing home your puppy is an exciting time, however, it is important to remember that as cute and cuddly as your puppy is at this stage in their life, they will need to learn some manners in order to become a valued member of the family. It is very important to teach your puppy their role in your household so they can learn the social structure of their new home. Your puppy will never be more open to learn then are during the first 13 weeks of thier lives.
Just like children, puppies need structure and guidelines
Should I crate train my dog?
To kennel train or not is always a personal choice, but in our opinion, Yes!
This is for a few reasons -
- Safety - Your dog can't chew your couch or drywall when in a kennel
- Safety #2 - In the event of a fire you know exactly where they are to send help
- Emergency & Health - if your dogs ever become ill and needs to stay at the vet, if they get spayed or neutered being able to be confined comfortably is a big deal.
- Travel - If you have to leave your dog in a boarding facility being able to be kennel give your dog added comfort and often saves money.* Even for in home boarding dogs - It is a new environment and as such the risk of destruction or accidental ingestion is higher. It is also the safest place for them to be in the event of any emergency, and reduces the risk of and accidents or escapes.
- Travel #2 - In the event of an car accident a kennel is only safe place for your pet to be and prevents accidental ejection.
- Security & Safe Haven - If you have children or a busy household, or could ever have a busy household - if the energy in your home gets to be too much, or you need to bring in a stranger such as a repair man, having a safe space for your dogs is critical for everyone's safety.
- Housebreaking & Seperation Anxiety - Proper use can speed up house breaking and dramatically reduce your risks of seperation axnxiey ane the assocaited destruction.
- The earlier the better - the odds of success of kennel comfort in a puppy is exponentially higher then attempts to kennel train an adult dog. The associated stress related to the process is also significantly reduced.
How much exercise does my dog need?
Did you know that puppies should spend more than half thier day sleeping?
Did you know that a nippy puppy is often over tired?
Did you know most behavioural problems can be traced back to an under stimulated, under exercised dog?
Did you know that mental stimulation is just as tiring if not more tiring then physical exericse for your dog?
Did you know some sporting breeds can run for hours straight without the need for rest?
That is why your pup should be assessed by us so we can work with you to help your pup satisfy thier specific training and exercise needs for better success and happiness at home!
Some breeds require exercise more than others, and some require more mental stimulation than other, some require hard exercise for 5 mins 3x a week. and every dog is different. As your dog ages they may require longer play session and less frequent breaks, while other will require less over all. Some may never slow down at all.
In addition to obvious home and health benefits to a lean body weight, regular exercise helps stop injuries in dogs that are "weekend warriors". There is also evidence that exercise and a lean body weight can slow the prgression of many orthopedic problems, along with a reduction in unwanted behaviours such as digging,chewing and barking.
All in all - we can help guide you to a plan for proper exercise and mental stiulation for you pup, we just have to meet them!
Why is handling my puppy and bite inhibition so important?
Dog are pack animals and as such they are seeking leaders. No, this is not pin your puppy and growl at them leaders. This is I've got you, you can trust me leader.
First it is important to undertand that mouthing and biting is part of normal puppy bahaviour. It comes in phases (as does chewing). True aggression in puppies is rare - though it does happen.
Handling your puppy a young age can aid in vet visits, and grooming visits. It also helps teach your pup that they can trust you, even with vulnurable parts of themselves. A puppy that will let you (as thier leader) to cradle them in in you arms will also trust you to tell them whether is that stranger is a risk or not.
Bite inhibition is another part of this entirely - this is the force in which your pup uses thier mouth for. This is taught to puppies from thier mom's and siblings. Sometimes we have to carry on this lesson. Daycare is a great place to teach this as you pup will be paired with a dog that has been trusted to use proper force or other puppies who are also learning. So, when your pup bites too hard someone screams and they all scatter leaving your pup alone and without friends. That way your pup learns soft mouth = more friends.
We want to stress, the dog park IS NOT the place to teach this to your pup! Those dogs are necessarily tolerant of puppies (many aren't) your pup may end up traumatized or worse from accidently biting another dog at the dog park too hard.
If you are stuggling with puppy nipping and biting we encourage you to schedule an assessment with us as soon as possible so we can help you and your pup course correct and get on the road to success.
Do small dogs and big dogs all intergrate together at daycare?
Yes & No. We do not group dogs together based on size alone, but rather group by age, personalites, and energy levels followed by size. The biggest dog in the group is a 150lb irish wolfhound - who also happend to be the resident mom (literally). Size is not everything! and we know that here.
However, safety is a top priority, the odds of a 3lb dog playing in a group with many dogs over thier weight class is slim - and if a little dog has a big dog personality, but we feel it is unsafe to group them with the larger dogs, then we will make a size appropiate play group.
The staff are trained to match based upon each dogs needs with safety as our top priority. If you have a little dog and have any questions or concerns, feel free to reeach out using the "contact us" option on our site!
What are some key points when dog training?
Keep it short - anything longer than 5-10mins for a puppy and 10-15min for an adult dog can cause frustration and lead to blow offs and lack of interest.
Reward! Reward! Reward! - if you didn't get paid for doing your job, would you still continue to go to work?
Always end on a good note - Pushing till the point of failure is never the way to end your games.
Don't get frustrated! - make training a fun experience for both you and your dog.
Keep it random and informal - "training sessions" makes for a dog who only works when the treat bag and clicker are out. Ask for 1 thing then move on. Hide treats in the house or in your pocket so they "appear" when your dog offers good behaviours. Dogs do not generalize. This is why it is important to practice basic obedience outside of your home. This is also where you will need to remind your dog to "leave it" for various things.
Catch your dog doing something right!
It takes time to train your dog. Unfortunately there are no short cuts or magic solutions. Some dogs catch on quicker than others, but consitiency is key, so make sure to practice lots.
There is building blocks - you can't place a roof on 1 wall.
NEVER scold your dog for coming to you, even if they were being bad. If your friend smacked you every time you came to see them, would you still go visit them?
DO NOT repeat commands. Your dog will learn they don't have to listen to you the first time because you will repeat it a few more times before you mean it.
Earning your dog's respect requires you to act in certain ways that they see worthy of your respect.
We could go on all day... Or, you can call us - and we can help you.
Seriously... contact us.
Should I free feed my dog?
No! Free feeding can lead to weight gain and lack of motivation when training your dog. It also is a slippery slope to the need for toppers and extras to get your pup to eat making for a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety over feeding your picky dog.
Food from a bowl is a wasted training opportunity. Ideally your pup would work for every piece of kibble (or raw) they receive - we suggest that you have your dog work for at least one or the beginning of all thier meals.
To transition to meal feed, simply put the bowl down for 15 minutes and if your dog does not eat their food in that time frame, pick the bowl back up and try again at the next meal time. It may take a few days and a couple missed meals but the odds of your dog starving to death is less than 1%!!
Can I have a tour of your facility?
Yes! We have nothing to hide! Howvever, for liability reasons, tours must be done before the first dog arrives in the morning, or after the last dog leaves at the end of the day. As you can imagine, this can be hard to schedule. Luckily, we have a whole wall that is also a window into our facility, upon request (and often in the summer) that window is open for all to see behind the scenes. We also have closed cirucuit cameras that we are happy to show you upon request.
The only thing we ask of you - please do not address the dogs as they can be leery of stangers and can set back reactivity training, or cause unsafe situations due to overstimulation. Here at TopDog's Muttessori EVERYTHING is a training opportunity!
When do I start socializing my puppy?
Now. Right now. Call us.
It is never too early (unless you got your puppy to early) in which call us right now.
The socialzation window for puppies starts at 8 weeks and beings to close at 18 weeks - after that you are working against the clock. So, call us!
Have you ever had any incidents at the daycare?
After 4 years of operation if we didn't we would be supernatural. Have any of our dogs ever been seriously injuired? No. We have a staff to dog ratio higher then another daycare we know of. This allows us to average 1 staff person for every 6 dogs. What this means is that like any other living creature; when there is a disagreement, there is more then enough hands present to get things under control quickly.
We are also leading the industry in out rates tailored to each dog polcy that allows higher needs dogs to have smaller groups and more staff to ensure a safety record to dont have to be embarrased of.
Disagreements happen - but here we are staffed for them.