What To Do With A Puppy In Winter?

Posted January 10th, 2011 in Doggie Day Care, Exercising Dogs, Friendship, Puppies, Socialization of Dogs by Glenn Plaskin

My new puppy, Lucy, needs a ton of exercise.

At ten months old, she’s in full-blown adolescence–athletic, hyper and in chewing mode–a mischievous, energetic rascal.

Like any healthy pup, she wants to run, jump, wrestle, and race–not only ‘up and down’ our long hallway (as my previous dog KATIE did) but outdoors too.

In fact, nothing makes her happier than trotting along the Hudson River and nearby parks, chasing birds and squirrels, sniffing every tree and bush, and, of course, checking out any dog she meets.

And like  any cocker spaniel, she’s an active sporting dog who revels in the hunt, her long pendulous ears flying in the wind as she gallops along the river’s edge at home here in Battery Park City, looking for “action.”

More than anything,of course, Lucy craves the company of other dogs–big ones, little ones, she likes them all.

Recently, Lucy was tackling a 95-pound bushy-haired giant, getting a hold of his tail and being whirled around by him, literally lifted off the ground as she took a ride before the Husky put her entire head in his mouth. Lucy walked away exhilarated, her tongue hanging out of her mouth with pleasure.

In the summer and fall, giving Lucy enough exposure to other dogs was no problem.

On long hikes along our tree-lined Esplanade (described in the Introduction of Katie Up And Down The Hall) Lucy met literally hundreds of dogs of every shape and size.

And it was this daily exposure to other dogs, that created in her a hearty appetite for play.

Scenic but freezing!

Six months earlier, the 1.2 mile Esplanade just outside our door

Lucy’s Play Group

She also became a regular at our Battery Park City “breakfast club,” a super-friendly group of dogs (and people) that meets each morning in an enclosed dog run overlooking the Marina. There she started every morning with a full hour of running and socialization.

One of Lucy's pals, Cesare

But now that winter has come and temperatures have dropped, it’s not safe to walk a puppy outdoors for very long, especially in gusty winds that sometimes whip up to 50 mph.

Pit Bull Donny protective of his friend Lucy

So our dog run is now sadly deserted, with residents taking their dogs out for only very quick walks, then back inside again.

But for Lucy, a leashed walk around the block doesn’t cut it. She needs to explore, hike, and tumble with other dogs and clock in at least 3-4 miles daily.

Otherwise, she’ll gain weight and become destructive at home. (She recently starting eating the wallpaper off the dining room wall!)

Looking innocent, but watch out!

And THAT’S why I finally decided to send Lucy to Ciao Bow Wowa nearby, eco-friendly, state-of-the-art Doggie Daycare Center where dogs

Lucy can't wait to get through the door...

are pampered, exercised, and minded by a devoted staff. I love the idea of it because dogs here can interact with one another for hours, helping them to become calm and confident rather than aggressive or fearful.

Lucy loves it.

Like a successful dating mixer, she socializes with gusto, blending into the pack of 25-30 small-and-medium-sized dogs, all of them supervised by three dog-loving referees. (I don’t trust just anybody to take care of my dog–but I have total faith in the people at Ciao Bow Wow. It’s spotlessly clean, lively, and the dogs are all healthy and non-aggressive.)

When I drop Lucy off, she’s anything but insecure. No separation anxiety for this Alpha dog. As I’m saying:  “Bye Lucy…..” she’s already taken off into the pack without a glance backward, chasing her new friends, bouncing a rubber ball, leaping from one level of the room to the next, back and forth, I’m told, for five hours at a time.

So far, Lucy’s best friend is Jack, a 1 year old Corgi. She also spends a lot of her afternoons playing with Ramsay, a 1 1/2 year old Poodle Mix.

Amusingly, from 12-2 pm, all the dogs are put into individual crates or beds, the lights dimmed, with soothing classical music lulling them to sleep for their afternoon Siestas.

Lucy snuggling in for a classical music Siesta

And then it’s lights up again until check-out at 7 pm.

By the time Lucy returns home, she’s worn out and deliciously content, falling off into a deep sleep right after dinner, which only proves that a tired (and well-socialized) dog is definitely a happy one!

So Ciao Bow Wow, for me, is the perfect solution–and I know that doggie daycare is a growing industry with lots of contenders in the field.

Just be sure to check them out carefully, educate yourself on what to look out forand soon your dog is going to have a brand-new set of friends, and so might you!

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