Question on Quora: Growing up we always crated our dog throughout the day, but I’d hate to leave him cooped up for 8 hrs. And especially with a terrier…I know they are busybodies. Do you have any experience with doggie daycare? And if the dog should go 2xs, 3xs, etc…? If I work a 9-5 job Monday-Friday? I know the more often the better, but I’m curious about how much would be “enough”.

My answer:
I haven’t taken a dog to daycare, but it is certainly an option! There are poor and good day cares – certainly something to get recommendations on and observe before deciding. You may even investigate “home” situations where a neighbor, friend, or service provider opens their home to care for dogs during the day. I’m thinking of some of those “peer to peer” websites where you can find other dog owners to help care for your dog.

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The main thing with daycare is you can potentially end up with behavior issues (just like at dog parks), possibly ones that are hard or impossible to remedy. Dogs can learn questionable behaviors from other dogs, and the stress or “incidents” can end up causing issues for you to resolve. I’d be a little wary of this with a terrier – many of them like to be runnin’ the show which could cause a bit of upset at a daycare if another dog disagrees with that terrier mindset. That said, a very well-organized one with experienced handlers may be able to reduce the chances of something like this happening. And some dogs are so “stable” (behavioral) that daycare is no problem at all, and over time many dogs will get used to things and it’s a good form of socialization.

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At any rate, if you decide on day care take it very slow at first (shorter trips, with lots of down time between them, and watch your dog carefully while you’re at or traveling to/from the establishment).

If you want a lot of control over how your dog develops, and what is acceptable behavior, I’d figure out an alternative to day care.

Other options for you might include (and this is what I did while my kelpie was 7months-1yr):

  • Mental and physical exercise before work. Exhaust that pup before leaving, and they are more apt to sleep.
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  • Dog proofed room instead of crate, with interactive food toys/puzzles/frozen Kongs/Etc. There are lots of technology options evolving in this space, that include webcams, feeders, monitors/speakers with your voice, and so on.
  • Go home at lunch, or hire a mid-day dog walker. I was lucky to be able to go home for lunch, but had someone on call.

Younger puppies will have some additional needs/concerns – their bladders don’t hold long, and I’d be very concerned about daycare unless they have special set-up for very young puppies that are isolated from other dogs and so on. Be extremely careful who you trust with a young puppy (not just the establishment and cleanliness – every person interacting with your dog) – problems instilled at an early age are hard to “fix”. Sometimes (nearly) impossible.

For frequency/duration – it will depend on how active your dog is. You should be able to determine this by the state of your dog and the toys when you arrive home, and adjust morning activities and frequency of daycare/walkers accordingly.

Also look into training classes and dog sports. These are very mentally stimulating for both you and the dog – my dog is typically exhausted after these classes/activities. Me even more so!

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.

  • Great response, we crate trained our boy and now he is trustworthy enough to be out while we are not home (thankfully being a student the longest he’s home alone is 6 hours) our younger pup we latch the door on her crate she’s not quite ready to be out she likes to take things. A schedule also helps, our dogs get morning exercise either a walk or play (alternating days depending on what we did the previous evening), then cool down while we eat, we feed them both, put them out to potty, and then they happily sleep until we get home. We then take them out for a harder exercise. :-) They know the routine at this point so a work day doesn’t bother them at all.