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How to Manage Behavioural Issues as a Doggie Daycare

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Dog with paw up for high five. "How to Manage Behavioural Issues as a Doggie Daycare"

Doggie daycares offer dogs the opportunity to socialize and exercise while receiving proper care and attention. However, it's not uncommon for behavioural issues to happen, which are concerning for both pet owners and daycare operators.

These behavioural challenges can affect the well-being of the dogs and disrupt the overall harmony and safety of the daycare environment. Because of this, it is important for responsible doggie daycare owners and staff to be well-prepared and equipped with effective strategies to manage these issues.

In this blog post, we will be discussing just that — how, as a doggie daycare, you can best prepare yourself and manage behavioural issues in your space.

Our primary goal is to provide a comprehensive guide that gives you the knowledge and tools necessary to address and resolve behavioural problems within daycare settings.

We recognize that each dog is unique, and behavioural issues can vary widely. We provide a flexible framework that can be adapted to meet the specific needs and challenges of any daycare facility, fostering a safer and more enjoyable environment for the dogs.

At Debonair Dogs Daycare & Grooming, we have a special spot in our hearts for furry pals. We’ve made it our mission to provide them with a safe, fun and engaging environment that will get their tails wagging! If you’d like to learn more about our facility or would like to book your dog for a grooming appointment, reach out and we’d be happy to make that happen!

Understanding Behavioural Issues

Before giving you the tools to manage behavioural issues in dogs, you first need to understand these issues firsthand.

Common behavioural issues include excessive barking, aggression towards other dogs or staff, separation anxiety, destructive chewing, and inappropriate toileting.

These issues can happen in a daycare setting because of the presence of unfamiliar dogs, the new and potentially overwhelming environment, the absence of their owners, and the excitement and energy levels of group play. Dogs in daycare may experience stress or anxiety stemming from these factors.

Understanding the root causes of these issues is fundamental for effective management and creating a harmonious and safe atmosphere where dogs can thrive while their owners are away.

Importance of Proper Management

Addressing behavioural problems promptly ensures the well-being of the dogs themselves but also contributes to a safer and more harmonious environment within the facility.

For the staff, prompt management reduces the risk of accidents and injuries, both to themselves and the dogs under their care. It fosters a sense of control and professionalism, making their job more manageable and enjoyable.

Well-behaved dogs create a positive experience for clients, assuring them that their pets are in a secure and controlled environment.

Pre-Drop-Off Assessment

Woman holding puppy while sitting on a park bench and smiling.

Assess a Dog's Behaviour Before Admission

Ensure Safety

Conducting a thorough behavioural assessment before a dog's admission to a daycare facility is crucial for ensuring the safety of the dog, other dogs, and staff.

Identify Potential Issues

It helps identify any existing behavioural problems or triggers, allowing staff to take preventative measures or prepare for any challenges that may arise during the dog's stay.

Provide Tailored Care

Allow for the customization of the dog's experience, ensuring that their specific needs and temperament are accommodated, leading to a more positive daycare experience.

Behavioural Evaluation Process

  • Observation: Trained staff observe the dog's behaviour in a controlled environment, noting reactions to other dogs, people, and various stimuli.

  • Interaction: Controlled interactions with other dogs and staff members help assess the dog's social skills, aggression levels, and comfort in group settings.

  • Evaluation Tools: Standardized assessment tools or checklists may be used to score and document the dog's behaviour, providing a consistent and objective evaluation.

Role of Client Communication

Gather Information

Effective communication with the dog's owner is essential for understanding the dog's history, past experiences, and any known triggers or sensitivities.

Set Expectations

It allows staff to set clear expectations for the daycare experience and any specific behavioural goals.

Have a Collaborative Approach

Client communication fosters a collaborative approach, ensuring that both the daycare staff and the dog's owner are aligned in providing the best care and addressing behavioural challenges.

Staff Training

Effective staff training is so important in the management of behavioural issues at doggie daycares. Well-trained staff members are the frontline in ensuring the safety and well-being of both the dogs and themselves.

They need a complete understanding of canine behaviour, body language, and the ability to recognize early signs of stress or aggression.

Training programs should encompass a range of topics, including:

  • Dog behaviour theory

  • Dog breed characteristics

  • Positive reinforcement training techniques

  • De-escalation strategies for handling aggressive or anxious dogs

Staff should also be well-versed in facility safety protocols and understand how to respond to various behavioural scenarios. Ongoing education and certification should be encouraged to keep staff up-to-date with the latest advancements in canine behaviour and training.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Positive reinforcement is a training method based on the principle that rewarding desired behaviours with something the dog finds rewarding (like treats, praise, or toys) increases the likelihood that those behaviours will be repeated.

It focuses on encouraging and rewarding behaviours you want to see more of, rather than punishing unwanted behaviours.

Examples of Positive Reinforcement Methods

  • Treats: Rewarding a dog for sitting quietly or following a command with a treats

  • Verbal Praise: Offering verbal praise like "good dog" or "well done" when the dog behaves appropriately.

  • Toys: Using toys as a reward for good behaviour, such as giving a toy as a distraction when a dog becomes anxious.

  • Clicker Training: Employing a clicker to signal to the dog that they've done something correctly, followed by a reward.

  • Affection: Offering pets, belly rubs, or affectionate attention when the dog exhibits desired behaviours.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is key to successful positive reinforcement. Dogs learn best when they receive rewards consistently for desired behaviours. Ensure that all staff members at the daycare are on the same page regarding the use of positive reinforcement techniques to prevent confusion for the dogs. Consistent reinforcement helps reinforce the desired behaviours and contributes to a positive and predictable environment, which is particularly important for dogs in a daycare setting where routine and structure are vital for their comfort and well-being.

Handling Aggressive Behaviour

Handling aggressive behaviour requires a combination of training, safety measures, and a focus on de-escalation to ensure the well-being of all dogs and staff members within the daycare environment.

Dog laying down outside.

Strategies for Dealing with Aggressive Dogs


When aggression occurs, safely isolate the aggressive dog from others to prevent immediate harm.

Trained Staff

Ensure that only trained staff members handle aggressive dogs, as they have the expertise to manage and de-escalate aggressive situations.


In cases of severe aggression, consult with a professional dog behaviourist or veterinarian for guidance and potential behaviour modification plans.

Safety Protocols

  • Staff Training: Staff should be trained in recognizing early signs of aggression, such as body language cues, and how to respond effectively.

  • Physical Barriers: Implement physical barriers like gates or dividers to separate aggressive dogs from others.

  • Muzzles: Use muzzles as a safety measure when necessary, ensuring they are properly fitted and comfortable for the dog.

  • Supervision: Maintain close supervision during interactions, especially among dogs with a history of aggression.

Techniques for De-Escalating Aggressive Situations

Prepare a Calm Environment

Ensure a calm and controlled environment, reducing loud noises or chaotic situations that can trigger stress or aggression.

Redirect Attention

Divert the aggressive dog's attention away from the trigger by using treats, toys, or commands.

Give Positive Reinforcement

Reward calm and non-aggressive behaviour to reinforce desired responses.

Ensure Distance

Gradually increase the distance between the aggressive dog and the trigger to reduce tension.

Seek Professional Guidance

Seek guidance from professional behaviourists for specific de-escalation techniques and behaviour modification plans tailored to the individual dog's needs.

Behavioural Enrichment

Mental and physical stimulation is vital for preventing boredom and reducing anxiety in dogs. Incorporating enrichment activities at daycare, such as puzzle toys, scent games, and interactive play sessions, not only keeps dogs engaged but also helps them develop problem-solving skills, boost their confidence, and alleviate stress.

Supervised playgroups and socialization provide dogs with the opportunity to build social skills, learn appropriate play behaviours, and develop positive interactions with other dogs. Behavioural enrichment is important for enhancing the quality of life for dogs in daycare, promoting their mental and physical health, and creating a more enjoyable and enriching environment for both the dogs and daycare staff.

At Debonair Dogs Daycare & Grooming, we have a special spot in our hearts for furry pals. We’ve made it our mission to provide them with a safe, fun and engaging environment that will get their tails wagging! If you’d like to learn more about our facility or would like to book your dog for a grooming appointment, reach out and we’d be happy to make that happen!

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