Wiggly rumps, jiggly jumps, and impatient barks at the door often mean one thing for our students: it's time for dayschool! After loading them up and driving them here, you leave your dog with a young lady at the front desk of No Barks About It. She and your canine companion disappear behind a seafoam blue door, and you go about your day knowing your pup is in good hands. But what happens once the door closes?
At our former facility, pet parents had a view of our "common" room. However, we found that this open concept would cause quite a ruckus with our students! Some dogs are protective, and became upset at the sight of any new people. Others would get worked up at the sound of grooming dogs coming and going throughout the day. Still others simply squabbled with each other over who got the right to go home at all!
In our new facility, our front desk attendant will meet with parents in the lobby and escort dogs down a hallway that leads to the rest of the facility. To the left are the grooming rooms, so those doors stay closed to minimize distraction to any grooming dogs getting their haircuts. To the right of the hallway is a cubby system where we keep leashes, collars, coats, and any other dog fashionables.
Your dog is then brought into our “classroom”. This room serves many purposes: not only is it the room that all our students pass through on their way to their assigned playgroups, but it is also where 1-on-1 lessons are taught and evaluations are held.
This is also why evaluations are at scheduled at 10:00 a.m., once drop-offs are over: imagine trying to meet new friends when everyone is treating the room like a super highway!
Where your dog goes next depends on both their size and energy level. All small dogs (<30 pounds) are kept on the north side of the play area. Larger dogs (>30 pounds) are put on the south side. This area is split in half: the calmer dogs are in the first half, while the more excitable dogs pass through this area and go to the second half. Imagine your local bar: the relaxed, end-of-day crowd are gathered at the bar and tables up front chatting and laughing amongst themselves while the party crowd walks right by the bar and goes straight to the dance floor in the back. The different play groups are not unlike those same bar crowds. Both north and south sides also have access to securely fenced yards, offering the dogs a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air, and a chance to do their business.
Once drop-offs are over and everyone has arrived, what happens next? If there is an evaluation, your dog might be selected as an evaluation helper: we pick anywhere from 3-5 of our social butterflies to whom we introduce prospective students. This helps us get a good idea of the potential newcomer's personality and playstyle. Meanwhile, most of the other dogs are hard at work! Or is that play? Our Dayschool supervisors work with the dogs as a group, encouraging good play behavior while reinforcing basic obedience.
As the afternoon begins, evaluations head home while nap time approaches. Some dogs choose a comfortable cot on the side of the room to relax on after an active morning, while others retreat to our Slumber Room! This is often a very exciting time for them: they walk right into their crate, ready for a snack and a quick siesta. What's on the menu for lunch? A Kong, stuffed with a yummy combination of any number of things: kibble, peanut butter, yogurt, bananas, chicken, turkey, venison, salmon...the list goes on and on! It all depends on what your dog's dietary restrictions and preferences are.
Not everyone is lazing around during this time, though. Our half-days get ready to head home. If your dog is signed up for any of our Extracurricular Activities, these will happen around this time. Our supervisors also prioritize the Monthly Training Focus during the afternoon: it differs every month, and may be something as simple as sit on cue or as complicated as waiting at an open door.
What happens as the afternoon progresses often depends on both the day and the playgroup. High-energy dogs may get another round of post-nap play. Supervisors may continue to work with dogs' basic obedience or introduce a few of the high honor students to more advanced obedience. And, of course, we always find time to squeeze in some snuggles!
As the afternoon comes to an end, our students begin to go home. It's always a joy to see how happy our students are to see their parents! But though the dogs' day is over, staff still have one more very important job. Once full-day pickups begin, so does daily clean-up. As we have such a large rotating group of dogs, we prioritize cleanliness! All play areas have mop buckets that are used throughout the day to clean up messes. These are emptied, mops are washed, toys, cots, and playgrounds are sanitized, and the floor is vacuumed and disinfected. It's not the most glamorous part of the job, but making certain we have a clean environment for our students is one of the most important things we do.
Another dog day done; we head home to our own dogs (and cats)... and get ready to do it all again in the morning. We'll see you then!