I did some "blue sky thinking" about what my perfect doggy day care solution would look like, based on my own dog's needs and my aspirations of how they would be looked after, and came up with this...
Your dog will spend the whole day with me and up to 3 other dogs. It'll be the same dogs on the same day of the week, every week, so they'll have their own little friends group. We'll go to woods, parkland, shops, cafes, short journeys via public transport (see photo above), high streets and my home. The focus is on instilling manners, obedience training and socialisation. I do let them play sometimes and they love it, but they always come when I call them because being in my space has higher value than anything else. I also cuddle them and groom them, and enforce boundaries all the time - dogs love structure! Obedience training follows the Kennel Club programme, but I mainly focus on "stay", "come" and "leave it". I also build mini obstacle courses in my back garden for the dogs to jump over, and even hold intelligence tests for the more competitive ones. Lastly, but most importantly, your dog will learn how to access their "off switch" and be calm in the presence of other dogs and people in any and all situations (the true meaning of "socialisation").
Bearing in mind the "if you give a man a fish..." quote, I think it's a much better use of everyone's time (especially the dog's) if I teach YOU how to train YOUR dog. How obedient your dog appears (or not appears) to be, largely depends on the quality of your relationship with your dog. The bottom line is, if you dog doesn't come when you call it, it's because it would rather be somewhere else, doing something else. But, give me 3 hours of your time and I'll teach you how to train your dog so that it comes first time, all the time, for the rest of its life. The same goes for lead walking and many other behaviours. Let me unlock your inner trainer...your dog will thank you for it...
Other things your dog will thank you for include:
4 hour package is £240
(the first session is 2 hours; subsequent sessions are 1 hour; perfect for puppies, adolescents, rescues, novice owners, mild behavioural issues)
One hour, skill-specific session is £70
For Responsible Dog Owners who want to improve their handling skills and learn how to become the centre of their dog's world. The 4 hour package focuses on basic control issues (e.g. recall, polite lead walking, stay), manners (jumping up, barging through doorways, snatching food) and mild behavioural issues (e.g. barking for attention, guarding toys, growling at pet-parent).
Maven Dogs doesn't currently offer group classes but we can highly recommend Reality Dog Training outdoor classes in Marble Hill Park, Twickenham. It's where we started!