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How do you maintain dogs quality of life when you re away?
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DEAR DIDI:  I got my amazing dog, a Dalmation, five years ago. My husband and I were not blessed with children, so Dougy has been cherished. With the change in the economy I was forced to rejoin the work force last year. I am concerned about Dougy staying home alone every day and his quality of life but can’t imagine our life without him either. Any suggestions? -Lots of Spots in French Camp

DEAR LOTS OF SPOTS:  Changes in family routines and schedules can be tough on the dogs and the humans!  Obviously Dougy is very loved and as you are probably very aware, Dalmations require more exercise than the average pooch. Dogs also needs mental stimulation for optimal quality of life.  There is a very simple fix, however, if it fits into your budget.  Doggy daycare!

I encourage all of my students to send their canine pals to doggy daycare but not all daycares are alike. Sometimes a business will advertise that they have ‘daycare’ but they are basically boarding your dog for the day in a large kennel and perhaps letting them out in a grassy courtyard for some fresh air twice a day. A state of the art facility can be amazing. Your dog will be evaluated for personality, temperament and socialization.  Then Dougy will join a group of  dogs with similar behavioral traits. Human playground monitors watch and direct through supervised play sessions. An amazing array of interactive toys are accessible throughout the play area and some facilities even utilize aroma therapy and sound therapy. Dogs learn or improve their doggy manners while they have loads of fun. They exercise mentally and physically and then go indoors for scheduled naptimes in their individual quarters. Meals and medications can be safely and correctly administered according to owner instructions. Then back out for more playtime after a relaxing nap!

Doggy daycare has so many benefits it is almost impossible to list them all. Shy dogs build confidence. Bossy dogs learn to share. All dogs come home completely satiated, exhausted and happy!  Even if you were to budget one day a week for doggy daycare it could be the solution to the problem. You won’t have to worry or feel guilty anymore for having to leave. You can work peacefully knowing qualified people are taking care of your baby and he is loving every minute of it.  Take a free tour of The DogHouse in Lathrop on Yosemite and you will see what I mean!

The other solution is to look for interactive toys online. Something that is programmable to deliver a treat with a fun sound or motion every two hours or, better yet, with remote triggered delivery. Some people have also gone to the expense of having video monitoring equipment installed with voice capability. They log in at lunchtime and do virtual interactions by talking to their dog over a speaker system. Some studies show that just hearing their owners’ voices helps dogs relax! 

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