Three happy dogs smile at the camera while running in the grass at dog daycare.

Your pup’s first day at dog daycare can be an extremely exciting time, but it can also sometimes be a nerve-wracking experience for the owner. Rest assured that while this may be your dog’s first rodeo, figuratively speaking, it will not be the daycare’s; far from it!

Most dog daycares have their own systems, procedures, and routines to maximize the chances that nearly every dog will enjoy their stay immensely, making them want to come back for more! Greenlin is no exception; we’ve put years of experience and our knowledge of continually advancing industry best practices towards making sure that each and every stay is not only safe but also fun.

When you drop off your beloved pupperino, you can expect that we will spend their first day watching and listening closely to ensure that our staff — and you — have all of the needed information possible to gauge their enjoyment. Below, we have outlined some of the things you can expect as a dog parent, as well as some helpful tips that can ensure your furry family member is a happy camper throughout their stay.

The Importance of a Perfect Dog Daycare Introduction

One of the essential steps in any dog daycare routine is to have a proper introduction for both owner and pet. That first visit is always an important time for giving impressions, setting expectations, and helping acclimate the dog to the new environment.

We can say with no hesitation that nine dogs out of 10 have a blast at daycare and get excited about coming back for more! Some need more experiences to ease them into the high levels of socialization and activity before they start to really fall in love with dog daycare.

A select few may experience anxiety, aggression, or other issues, which is why we always monitor closely and are ready to provide a calming space in isolation from all the hubbub.

The key in every case is a slow intro and close supervision. Accordingly, we will always start dogs out with a full temperament evaluation before introducing them into a group. This period of observation often involves taking the dog around the facility on a leash or having them participate in a small play group or a one-on-one session. 

During this time, our highly experienced and trained staff can observe the animal’s behavior, body language, and other indicators. The staff member will gauge how eager the dog is to meet others and whether they are showing signs of nervousness or defensiveness.

Also, we will assess their relative energy levels in order to determine the most appropriate playgroup to introduce them to on their first day.

Dog Daycare Expectations for Their First Day of Play

After a brief evaluation, your dog will be placed into one of our many play groups. Because every day is different, the number and sizes of playgroups will vary based on the guests who have come to stay that day.

At Greenlin, playgroups are separated based on size and age, as well as temperament. We want to ensure that old-timers and relaxed Rovers aren’t put into the same group as our social butterflies or energetic canine athletes in training. 

For your dog’s first visit, we may err on the side of caution and place them with a group of dogs that may be slightly smaller and calmer than them so that they can work through their shyness. We will also limit the size of their group as well as the intensity of activities on offer.

As they warm up to the group setting, they may transition into other playgroups, potentially even within that same day!

Our goal is to ensure that every dog gets the best level of physical, mental, and social stimulation possible. We want them to come home relaxed, rested, and full of fond memories.

A Packed Schedule

Every day of dog daycare is slightly different, but most will follow a similar routine. Weather, the number of guests, the mood the dogs are in, and the availability of special activities or equipment can all color what’s on the docket. 

Nevertheless, dogs will go through ruff-ly the same schedule on most days.

1. Arrival and Early Play

Mornings are almost always the craziest part of the doggie day! That’s because pups are coming fully rested and with plenty of energy after having eaten breakfast; they are also eager to get into the mix and interact with all their friends, old and new.

While dogs are being dropped off, we make sure to keep control over the levels of excitement in case not every pup is ready for a full-throttle experience. We may keep groups smaller, or we may increase our staff-to-dog ratio for groups so that we can focus clearly on what’s going on.

After drop-offs have tapered, it’s time to get that energy out! Regardless of the playgroup, it can expect some games, exercises, or activities to work through all the wiggles and get dogs geared up for a full day of fun.

2. Pre-lunch Playtime

Late morning is the perfect time for both high-energy games and unstructured play. We rotate play groups through our most popular indoor and outdoor play areas so that each one can enjoy the best of what we have to offer.

Depending on the mood, we may introduce specific activities or just let the dogs enjoy each other’s company and the 100% pet-safe equipment we have provided.

3. Lunch and Naptime

Dogs who stay all day may have the pleasure of enjoying “school lunch” at Greenlin. We encourage owners to provide the dog’s familiar, at-home diet for maximum enjoyment. Animals are all separated into individual units or smaller groups and monitored to avoid issues related to unwanted food sharing or invasions of privacy.

Note that not all daycare guests will dine during their stay. Be sure to inquire about the day’s schedule and request a meal time if you are going to be leaving the dog from the morning to the final pick-up time.

After lunch, it’s time for bathroom breaks, and then some hard-earned R&R. Naptime can take place in our indoor rooms or even in our private condos, depending on the number of dogs and their need for privacy at the time.

4. Afternoon Wiggles and Learning

Energy levels typically level off after a meal, and the excitement of a new day has worn down. Dogs are still looking for engagement and enjoyment, though, which is why we often save our most mentally stimulating activities for the afternoon.

Dogs can enjoy indoor or outdoor play, as well as the opportunity to work on their exploration and movement skills. For groups that are still brimming with energy, there may be some rounds of energetic fetch, chase, or other games so that they can get the full workout they need to feel relaxed.

5. Wind Down for Pickup

As the day draws to a close, it’s important for our guests to begin to feel more settled before the car ride back home. We will provide unstructured group play or light games and activities.

We may also separate animals who are about to be picked up so that we can be sure they are ready with all of their belongings. After pickup, our boarding guests will enjoy their dinner and then some more light activities and exercise before it’s time to wind down for bed.

Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Stay at Dog Daycare

There are a number of important to-dos owners can perform so that they are able to maximize their pet’s chances of having an excellent time at Greenlin’s Dog Daycare in Central PA.

1. Keep Them Current on Exams and Shots

All dogs at Greenlin should be current on their rabies, distemper, and Bordetella vaccinations. We also prefer that they have received their annual exams and are regularly visiting their vet. 

If you have an upcoming vet appointment, you can use the opportunity to mention that you’re thinking about bringing them to dog daycare. The vet may be able to provide health or behavioral recommendations they think will be beneficial.

Also, please be ready to provide any important medical or personal details with our facility, including someone who can serve as an emergency contact and pickup.

 2. Review Social Skills

Most dogs have plenty of exposure to the outside world, but they may not have recently encountered too many new people or other animals. 

Ensure that your dog is ready for dog daycare by introducing them to situations with other dogs, preferably ones that include off-leash time. You can use this time as an opportunity to monitor their behavior and comfort levels while reinforcing positive interactions so that they are ready and able for new social encounters.

If you aren’t confident in your dog’s current socialization abilities, remember that you can always enroll them in dog training to give them a better foundation for encountering new friends and new situations.

We want to ensure that every dog is prepared to have a safe, fun stay at Greenlin and avoid any issues that could cause them to be separated for the duration.

3. Scope Out the Daycare Facilities

Most daycares will provide a tour of their facilities and the opportunity to observe some of the activities. Prepare a list of questions, and reflect on how your pet’s routine could be affected by the change of scenery.

You can also bring your dog in for a possible trial interaction and temperament evaluation to ensure the facility is a good fit.

4. It’s Best to Bring Them In Fed and Relieved

Make sure your dog gets their regular breakfast before they arrive and have had the chance to relieve themselves at least once. Otherwise, they may have to hold it for the duration of the drop-off period while they wait for their morning bathroom break.

5. Give Them Space to Try New Things!

While it’s important to keep a close eye on new dog daycare participants, it’s also important that you give them room to grow into their new experiences. The first few stays may be a little overwhelming in certain cases, but they could gradually ease in and benefit from the higher levels of social interaction.

Our staff can send you photos and videos throughout the day to assure you of your dog’s enjoyment. We will also stay up-to-the-minute with any important updates involving your dog’s health and safety.

Remember that all Greenlin staff are certified in pet First-Aid and CPR in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Come Give Your Dog a New Space to Make Friends and Play at a Top-Rated Dog Daycare in Central Penn!

Voted “Simply the Best” by Harrisburg Magazine for a decade and counting, Greenlin Pet Resorts provides a fun, safe environment for guests to thrive. Small staff-to-dog ratios, organized play groups, and mandatory safety and monitoring training all help us to ensure that your precious pup will be well taken care of and well-loved throughout their stay.

Come find out why we’re one of the Harrisburg area’s favorite places for dogs to stay and play during a complimentary tour. Schedule your tour or your dog’s first day of play when you contact one of our six locations in the Harrisburg area today!

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