Big and Small – Who Loves to Play?

When we were newbie Doggy Daycare owners, we had one gigantic playground inside and another one outside.  It worked perfectly for our small group of dogs that primarily came for boarding, or overnight visits.  Doggy Daycare was still somewhat of a new concept and most pooch owners didn’t seem to know much about it at the time and weren’t willing to spend money so their pups could play all day long.  We were happy if we had 3 or 4 daycare pooches come in for playtime with the dogs that were spending their vacation with us.

All was good in Poochland until some new customers started calling with inquiries about bringing their small dogs for Doggy Daycare and boarding.  That seemed kind of strange to us as little dogs seemed to require so little care. Why bring a small dog for playtime?  Don’t they usually just sit on someone’s lap all day long?  We knew why the big dogs came in.  Daycare is a lot cheaper then when they eat a sofa for lunch.

HarkenB22013-02-04It turns out that small dogs are social beasts just like their big brothers.  They love playing with other dogs, big and small.  One of their favorite things to do is get up extra high on the playground equipment where they can scout out where the action is happening.  They even love going down the slides, like Harken, this tiny terrier in the picture, and especially splish-splashing in the pools.  It turns out that Doggy Daycare is a real hit with the little dog owners too, so we made a variety of changes along the way to separate the “littles” from the big dudes.  Before long, we had 7 play areas but we learned some interesting things along the way.

Not all big guys like to play, and some would rather watch the little guys get frisky and dash around the playgrounds in a flurry of fur.  We had one huge lovable snow white guy named Tug, a Malamute who was as big as a horse and yet gentle as a tiny bunny.  During tours, our new customers would always comment on his size and assume he was a rough and tumble sort of dog.  He was far from it, simply happy to lounge around and talk loudly to everyone that would listen.  Looks can be deceiving and we learned that lesson quickly.

An older little Chihuahua named Kaiser came in to to board frequently and wasn’t into playtime at all.  His play days were past and he just wanted to rest in a quiet place.  He had very specific and easy requests…the yummy treats his mom packed up carefully and his food, exactly in that order.  His owner adored him and we handled him with extra special care and attention.  The only time I was bitten was trying to assist his poor arthritic body out of his kennel to go outside and Mr. Land Shark attacked…the title eventually given to him by Brad, a staff member who had the same experience with Mr. Kaiser.

While playgroups are sometimes divided into small, medium and large groups for overall supervision, you can never judge a book by it’s cover, so to speak.  You have to look at each personality to determine who will play well with each other.  It might be some easy going big guy mixed in with some smaller mellow mutts, but then there are times when a group of young energetic Doodles are almost too much to manage.  While the state of Colorado limits playgroup sizes to 15 per dog supervisor, it is important for the supervisors to assess how much “pooch play” they can manage.

Big and small – some love to play and others would rather crawl up on your lap to snooze.


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