The post-pandemic doggy day care boom

27 May 2021

Written by: Monica Di Battista

More dogs are attending doggy day care as owners return to the office

Throughout the COVID19 pandemic, we looked to our loved ones for support, and for the lucky few, a furry friend to keep our spirits up during the tough times. The lockdowns and the resulting isolation forced Victorians to appreciate the little things in life that we take for granted. And for many people working from home, this was the perfect opportunity to get a puppy.

Twelve months on, the Victorian Government has announced a 100% capacity to return to the office. This means days spent working from the kitchen table would be replaced with the morning traffic commute.

When the news broke that she was allowed back into the office, Sonia Varallo was excited to see her work friends in person again. But she felt a pang of sadness that she couldn’t spend all day with Teddi, a Pomeranian puppy she adopted into the family in October 2020.

“I’m going to miss not having Teddi next to me annoying me during work zoom meetings,” Sonia tells upstart.

And with schools back to normal too, it means those puppies that are now unruly teenagers will be spending all day on their own, which could cause serious separation anxiety in these furry additions to the family. A major concern for Sonia as she returns to work is how Teddi will go on his own at home.

Some dogs can develop separation anxiety from a young age, and while symptoms vary from dog to dog, the most common signs to look out for are howling, chewing and digging into furniture, pacing, and escaping. Treatment for dogs with separation anxiety varies depending on the type of dog and the level of anxiety it has. According to Dr Michelle Rassool from Vets on Balwyn, doggy day care and natural calming supplements may be enough to help milder anxiety. But for extreme cases, a veterinarian may prescribe medication.

“For other dogs, separation anxiety is part of a broader anxiety or fear concern … In these cases, medication can provide some rapid relief from the issue while coping mechanisms can be taught,” Dr Rassool tells upstart.

With doggy day care centres on the rise and becoming more popular, Sonia feels it could be a great opportunity for teddy to overcome any separation anxiety he may feel when she returns to work. It also means Sonia doesn’t have to worry about Teddi peeing on the floor or destroying the living room while he’s left alone unsupervised, he has a reputation for ripping up pillows.

“We thought it was a good idea so that Teddi could be around other dogs and experience playdates with his fellow puppies,” she says. “It also allows us to have a day or two of freedom without having to worry about him being at home alone.”

Doggy day care centres like Ka-Pooch in Brunswick have seen a higher weekly intake of new dogs than pre-pandemic levels as dog owners head back to work and their pups adjust to a “normal” life that may be totally alien to them.

“Some dogs love day care and some don’t. We understand that it’s not for every single dog. However, we try our best to accommodate for their different needs,” Ka-Pooch manager Nhu Tran tells upstart.

Day care centres allow puppies to grow and develop their social skills with other dogs of different sizes, ages and breeds. According to Tran, dogs are assessed upon arrival at the day care for human interactions, dog greeting approaches, play styles, and overall social skills to ensure they enjoy their time in day care.

“If you have a dog that is social, friendly and/or wants to learn social skills, I will definitely recommend day care as it’s conducted in a controlled environment and supervised by qualified staff,” she says.

Now that Teddi is off to doggy day care while Sonia returns to the office, she will no longer have to worry about him suffering from anxiety from being left at home alone, or coming home to pee stains in her bedroom.

Article: Monica Di Battista is a post-graduate Master of Journalism Innovation student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on twitter @mondibatt.

Photo: Six-week-old dachshunds during play by Bartłomiej Derski can be found HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.