Is Structured Daycare right for your pup?

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For some dogs, the typical doggy daycare setting can be overwhelming. Enter Structured Daycare: a safe haven for good dogs and shy dogs alike.


For some dogs, the typical doggy daycare setting can be overwhelming. While all dogs, regardless of breed, size or age, can benefit from a certain level of socialization with their neighborhood friends, not all of them are comfortable sharing space with a large number of pups all at once. However, just because they don’t prefer to be a part of the herd doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the opportunity to experience the mental and physical stimulation offered by playtime with furry friends.

Enter District Dogs’ Structured Daycare program. The program consists of multiple small-group play sessions with short breaks built in for dogs to relax in their own crate. Not only does this provide them their own designated space, but gives them room to cool down from the excitement of play time.

“I really feel that dogs benefit from Structured Daycare the most because of the small-group setting,” says David Stoner, the Structured Daycare Manager at District Dogs. “It’s a simple setup – having only three to five dogs together at one time allows them to have very honest interactions with each other. Spending that quality one-on-one time and gaining the trust of the other dogs here helps build their confidence for when they’re out in the real world.”

Stoner, who moved to D.C. from Pennsylvania back in 2017, has been with District Dogs since 2018, where he started as a dog walker. Having worked in multiple positions across many of the company’s locations, he can definitely say that he’s happiest working in Structured Daycare. “I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve built a relationship with each dog that walks in the door. We genuinely want the dogs, and clients, to have a good time. In the end, building that trust makes their day better, and my life easier, too.”

Originally intended for dogs who weren’t ideal candidates for regular doggy daycare, pups known for their reactivity or who get overwhelmed, or dogs who simply needed an extra push to play with their furry counterparts, the program is actually suitable for dogs of any temperament. The 1-1 interaction with staff and trainers helps dogs to feel more secure having a protective presence in place, but it also allows them to hold dogs accountable for their behavior and intervene, if necessary. “Having that extra buffer is a great way for even very timid dogs to learn to play well with others,” says Stoner. “They know we’re there to help guide and protect them. Even if they have a moment of weakness, we can quickly step in and reinforce what friendly play should or shouldn’t look like. It keeps them calm, makes them feel safe knowing we’re there for them.”

The environment is ideal for dogs who are good candidates for socialization but simply require a more low-key environment to do so at their own pace. However, Stoner reiterated that though Structured Daycare is the best option for higher-anxiety pups, plenty of well-adjusted dogs come to the program every day, too. Having crate time can be a huge plus for dogs who prefer their own designated space, and the deliberate toggle between play and nap times can be appealing to owners who like to keep their pups to a schedule, even when not at home.

To learn more about Structured Daycare and program requirements, visit us at or stop by any of our locations throughout the D.C. Metro Area.

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