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Canine Behavior/behavior question


Thank you so much for your time.  I have a 2 year old golden retriever, black lab mix.  Bruno is a great family dog.  He gets along well with our female chihuahua and neighbors dogs.  We are going out of town for a few days and need to board him.  He went a few times to a doggie daycare last year and some dog obedience.  He hasn't been to a daycare setting in over a year, so I am a little nervous about him going now.  He is neutered and not aggressive with other dogs (unless they are in our yard).  He is if anything submissive.  The other day at the vet when getting his annual shots and exam, he urinated on the floor.  For a dog like this, would it be better to board him with our vet or would a doggie daycare be worth trying out?  I know it is hard to access the situation well without having met the dog yourself but in general do dogs with urination submission do well in daycares?  Thank you so much.

Well I happen to be in exactly your situation and boy is it ever hard!

Your dog was simply doing what he should be as his self perceived social status when he urinated out of fear/submission.  Most dogs are "afraid" at the vet office.  It's fairly normal.  I happen to have a veterinarian who takes a great deal of time to defuse such fear and actually welcomes clients with their dogs for visits (unpaid) to his clinic on a routine basis for the dog(s) to habituate to the friendliness of the staff.  This is quite unusual, as you most likely know!

Doggie daycare can look oh so ever so wonderful and magical from the outside, even to an experienced eye.  Doesn't mean it is ever so wonderful and magical.  Bottom line: a "luxury" kennel is preferred after at least one unexpected visit by you for a "tour".  These places may not be available in your area.  I live in the country now also and the closest to me is fully 50 minutes away (at least) off the Thruway.  I did use one such "luxury resort" last April for ten days when I went to Europe and boy was I sorry.  My dog was so dehydrated I could literally pull her flesh from her frame on both sides and she had dropped about six ounces which, for a Toy Poodle, is a lot of weight: and THAT place got a five star review in this area!  AND it is attached to a veterinary practice!  Never again.

If you can't find a "luxury resort" and your local doggy daycare is (after several casual visits) not quite what you expected or want for your dog: your veterinarian is the last resort (unless you can find a private dog sitter who takes dogs into her home and even then great references have to be followed up by casual drop ins before you leave your dog there, trust me, tried that too.)  The veterinary staff knows your dog; he will not be subjected to other dogs (because he will, unfortunately, be kenneled and allowed outdoors either on leash by a staff member or because there is a run available to him).  But he will be safe.  Maybe not the happiest dog in the world for a day or two after you bring him home (which is, by the way, normal and does not necessarily indicate an unpleasant experience by the dog), but safe and in good hands.

Proceed with caution.  If you wouldn't leave your three year old child in a place, don't leave your dog lol.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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