My day starts off with a morning walk with my two dogs and I mostly schedule everything in between their other two walks, potty breaks, and mealtimes. I’m lucky that I have that flexibility. I also have my husband to help when I’m wiped out from the day or feeling under the weather. Sometimes I just wanna sleep in. So how do single people do it? Many people in Singapore hire helpers just to look after their pets. I definitely meet more helpers out on walks than owners. Another increasingly popular solution is doggie daycare. Today I visited K9 Culture at Turf City to find out more.
Doggie daycare is by no means new. It is not only a great idea for the urban dog owner, but another way to socialize your dog. I’m not an advocate of using daycare as a substitute for owner-dog interaction and if you work 9-5 (or more commonly 12 hour days) you shouldn’t be having a dog. It’s not fair and I believe most, if not all, rescue and rehoming organizations do reject potential adopters based on this (if there’s no one else in the family). Doggie daycare is like a play date for dogs, a place for group play and doing activities like swimming not usually available at home.
To get into the K9 daycare, all dogs have to pass a temperament test, weeding out the aggressive and nervous dogs who can destabilize their open concept. While the trainer took Creamy for her evaluation, I spent the time filling out the form. Does my dog share toys with other dogs? Has she ever bitten a person? Is she good with puppies? The application was several pages long. It was part of the interview process, which would cost me $30.
As expected Creamy passed. Apparently she didn’t bark at all. On walks, she barks at other dogs, usually as an invitation to play. She used to “ass-bump” the other dogs, if her play bow was not reciprocated with play. Needless to say, she hasn’t made too many friends that way but the ones she has are great playmates. I thought she would pass but you just never know, right?
Next I took a tour around their premises. The small dog section (which also included a Goldie and some hounds – too small to be greyhounds but too large to be italian greyhounds). The big dog section, where Creamy and a cute chocolate lab had a “sniff-kiss” through the chain-link fence. All the dogs roamed freely in the two areas and those staying for boarding will later move to the one-room dormitory.
During the day, the dogs get walked twice, 6-8 dogs at a time, and take turns in the two salt-chlorinated pools. There’s also (very) basic obedience training available. I was relieved to see that one pool was only shin high. Creamy does a great job out in the sea, always proudly retrieving her frisbee but in a pool? She sinks. Vertically. Seriously. Maybe the salt content in the K9 pools will help but at least she can now just run through one, getting gloriously wet, the way she loves to be.
I stood outside the large dog daycare area for a bit, watching the dogs. It was already mid afternoon, and hot. Most of them were just lying around, some sleeping. I was initially worried when the staff told me that there are about 60 owners on any given day (meaning more than 60 dogs). What I saw was that dogs were able to just hang out by themselves, resting and taking a break from play. If the space is too small, overcrowding can cause issues when dogs are not able to regulate their play-rest activities. And I know for Creamy, having quiet time is important. She is energetic but she is still 9 years old.
In each area, there is a trainer. I think they said the ratio of dogs to trainer was 10:1. The staff assured me that they were all trained to break up fights. Good I guess but I just didn’t know how my Creamy would fare in those situations. I did feel better having someone supervise at all times, especially when a new dog joined the group. It must be very stressful to have twenty noses up your butt and in your face. Creamy wouldn’t like that at all! She’s had her litters – been there, done that, she says!
Overall it seemed the staff felt as least comfortable with dogs and were affectionate with them. How good they are as trainers it was too short a time to determine. The dogs I met, including Marco (who goes once or twice every month for daycare), were all very well-behaved and friendly. The premises appeared clean. I didn’t get a close look at the pools but a lady was in her swimsuit playing with her dog in the shallow pool.
As I lay in bed, writing this post, Creamy is sleeping happily next to me. I wonder if she would enjoy daycare, and the companionship of such a large number of dogs. Creamy, like Blackspot, has gotten used to living in the lap of luxury, graduated from napping in the chair to the daybed! While we were there, she seemed more interested in sniffing the greenery and was quite eager to leave. Her “boyfriend” is now at another daycare so I’ll probably check out that one next.
Having this option is fantastic though. There are times when I do need to be out all day, though rare, for seminars etc. For Creamy who already gets regular walks and at $53/day and $20/transport, it’s a tad expensive to be an everyday activity. For the owners with a young or a really energetic dog, daycare would be a good way to supplement a schedule of regular walks.
Is doggie daycare something for you and your dog? If your dog seems bored or isn’t getting enough exercise, stimulation or socialization, then I would say yes. If your dog is nervous or aggressive, you will need to work with him first (consult a behavioural specialist). Increasing walks or exercise will certainly help.
Is K9 the daycare for you? Maybe you want to take your dog to the cafe and swimming on the weekends a few times to see how things are. And then try a few hours, then a few days…at least that’s my plan.