Puppies are the most adorable little creatures on earth and we were blessed with loving many precocious pups from baby Huskies to tiny little Shitzu’s. Don’t you just melt whenever you see a puppy video on Facebook or on any other social network? There is no way you can resist grabbing up that small velvet ball of fluff and cuddling with it, they are so soft and sweet and their bright shiny eyes just melt your heart.
Can you imagine how we felt when a tall, young quiet man walked through our door one day and asked if he could leave his 9 week old Labrador puppy with us, so he could work his midnight shifts as a new ER physician? Being an extremely responsible owner, he just hated crating his puppy for what would surely be very long shifts for this new physician, and he was willing to pay for overnight boarding followed by a day of playtime. My husband took one look at the dark eyed adorable puppy and fell instantly in love with her. I whispered to him that I thought she was way too young to be left alone in a kennel at night, she would surely be a mess for the staff to clean up in the morning, and how could she possibly go into group play since she was so young. She was just a tiny little baby, snuggling up on her daddy’s shoulder, probably less than 10 pounds at that point in her life.
Most Doggy Daycare facilities do not allow very young puppies to join into group play. Their social skills are not fully developed, many of them haven’t even learned how to play yet and they still miss their mom and siblings. We had a hard and fast rule that dogs had to be at least 6 months old before they could visit our facility. It was all about limiting the risks, keeping puppies from getting hurt and also reducing the high level of work required with a young one.
Well, we caved in and took the sweet young female black Lab and never regretted it for one minute. She was amazingly well potty trained, had an easy going personality and fit right in with the other young dogs. Santi was the most wiggly, loving little female we had ever seen and we were so happy that Will had agreed to accept her into the “tiny pack”. She was very submissive to the other dogs but she was never afraid for a minute, both with humans and canines. She was a frequent boarding and daycare guest over the next year and we were always delighted when she pranced through our door for visits.
A year later Santi’s owners decided they needed another dog to keep her company, so they purchased a male from the same breeders who bred Santi’s parents once again, producing a perfect little brother. Carlos started coming at a very young age like his sister Santi had. The crazy thing is that just like with human siblings, the parents might be the same but the “kids” can be as different as night and day! Carlos was super active and wasn’t as meticulous with the potty training. He constantly pestered his big sister until she would snap at him and put him in his place in a gentle way, just like most older sisters do!
What Santi gave to us was the knowledge that bringing puppies into Doggy Daycare is the absolute best way to socialize a young dog before they learn to be afraid of other dogs. Young dogs are very receptive to learning how to give and take, and are eager to learn how to play with other young pups and the humans who are responsible for supervising them.
Labrador Retrievers make amazing family dogs as long as you have lots of space in your home and also have the dedication to help burn off their excess energy. Buying a Lab puppy and leaving them unattended in a cramped apartment will end up costing you a lot of money with torn up furniture and other things. We had another client that had a Lab that was about 1 year old when he started coming for Doggy Daycare that had never been socialized early and had been passed around from one family member to the next, trying to deal with his high energy. The end result was closet doors that were eaten through, a sofa completely destroyed and every single pair of very expensive women’s shoes chewed up and left all around the owners cramped little apartment. That on top of constant complaints from the neighbors and landlord about the non-stop howling and barking all day long. Doggy Daycare was a much kinder alternative for Mr. Wild and Crazy and a whole lot cheaper.
If you do have a Lab puppy that is driving you nuts, find a reputable Doggy Daycare that will help you get through the challenging but adorable puppy stage and save both of you a lot of unneccessary pain and expense.