Beyond Doggy Day Care: Day 2 Recap

Yesterday’s Beyond Doggy Day Care theme was all about the flow… and going with it.

After our morning discussions and a review of our homework the group split up into teams to experience the Doglando daily flow throughout different parts of the facility. Everything we do throughout the day is based on a systemized routine, sort of like a relay race. We think of each dog as the “baton” that must be passed between different members of the relay team. And the activity for the morning was to follow a “baton” through it’s relay, writing down “Who is “holding” the dog? How is the handoff made?”

After they’ve been with us for a while, all dogs know what their daily routine looks like. Every staff member knows what their routine looks like, too.

Our seminar participants watched the “baton” from the time dogs were dropped off all the way through being moved back into the main yard. I won’t dive too deep into the specifics of the flow, but here are some points to consider:

Think about triggers

We had some interruptions to our morning flow (and that’s okay, it happens!) as two dogs were dropped off at the same time. Team Doglando adapted with ease, but it demonstrated something of interest: triggers, and how us humans often don’t even realize them. There were seven or so people in the front office, and as everyone moved around there was noticeable stomping. Dogs will feel those vibrations on the floor and hear that noise, but we’re generally completely unaware of these things.

Being “behind schedule” happens – don’t stress!

We have a system and a flow, but the timing isn’t always perfect. Life happens. The real question here is, “Is this taking away from the dog’s experience?” As long as it’s not ‘taking away’ from the dog, don’t stress.

Work smarter, not harder.

You’ve probably heard this statement before, and we fully believe in this concept. It’s why we teach things like individual and group herding (it makes going through our flow more effective in so many ways).

(Outdoor) space will take care of everything

One of the participants exclaimed, “I can breathe here.” Space and being outside in nature ensures we don’t have conflicts with the dogs. A dog’s most important need is to roam. When they can roam, we don’t have problems with things like resource guarding.

Dogs are not systems.

We love systems at Doglando, but dogs are not systems. They are living, breathing, soulful beings. They have needs, and an effective enrichment center will return control and autonomy to the dogs. Our systems build our dogs up so that they can think for themselves.

As we watched the staff and dogs, BDDC attendees took notes and wrote down what they were seeing. This was their prompt:

“Follow the actions of a handler as they interact with the dogs. What do you see the handler do which adds value to the total experience of the dog’s day? Actions are deliberate, observable, measurable, and unambiguous (patting a dog, breaking up two dogs in unequal play, offering a dog an opportunity to do something). What has value to the dog? How can we tell?”

All the while, we’re keeping this idea in mind: Any time there’s a possibility to control the environment, do it.

Q&A with Doglando staff

During and after lunch we had a Q & A with some of Team Doglando – Brittany, Nicole, Justine, Francette, and Victor. After seeing the team in action throughout the morning, Team BDDC came up with some awesome questions. We put a ton of mindful effort into developing our staff members, but the way we do things isn’t intuitive for many dog daycare owners and operators. It was wonderful having our rockstar employees there to explain their backgrounds, roles, and what it’s like to work here.

And Justine mentioned something that truly impacts how we do things here: Our clients are like family. This phenomenal team is the main reason we’re able to fulfill one of our big company values: Unconditional support. For the dogs, for our clients, and for each other.

The afternoon included demonstrations of baths, blow-offs, and other components to the end of day flow. Francette even took initiative and (unintentionally) showed us how to modify protocols as needed. One of the puppies had some extra gas in the tank, and she had some extra time, so she took the opportunity to practice heeling. This puppy received extra practice on a helpful real world skill and got an enriching experience. We’ll learn from this moment and adjust our flow as appropriate.

You grow as an enrichment center by taking already established best practices and making them better.

The importance of definitions, and using words correctly

We need uniform definitions for the terms we use, so we talked a lot about those definitions. I’m forever on a mission to stress the importance of using uniform and consistent definitions and terms. Then we talked about Technology, or how to apply those definitions and terms in the real world. Our industry uses the wrong words all too often, and we need uniformity. We discussed:

  • Environment
  • Antecedents
  • Space
  • Movement & Triggers
  • Consequences
  • Positive & Negative
  • Operant Learning

We’ve defined some of these terms in various posts on the blog before, but never fear – we’ll get them all up and defined as we’re able.

Essential oils with Young Living

Everyone knew we’d be covering a lot of ground during our time together, and yesterday was no different! I was so excited for our dinner activity with Young Living, all about essential oils and their benefits and applications. Sure they smell great, but participants learned how they can use these oils in their facilities: with the dogs, to clean their facilities, and in their personal lives. I’ll write more about essential oils later, but we’re big advocates of their efficacy at Doglando (and the dogs love them, too).

We wrapped up our day sometime after 8pm. Friday will be another action-packed day, so check back on the blog to read about what we covered and everything we did. Spoiler alert: There will be a field trip!


Do you have any questions, comments, or thoughts about the things we’re covering in BDDC? Let us know what you’re thinking! And here’s a question to ponder: How do you use words in your daily life? Do you pay attention to using them consistently and appropriately?