FREE puppy play & socialization experience!

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Start Your Pup
on the Right Paw

Puppy Hour is a FREE supervised puppy playtime and social hour at Central Bark®. Puppy Hour is a ton of fun, and it also provides a critical opportunity for puppies to get socialization during their “sensitive period.” That is generally between 8 and 16 weeks of age. Socialization is a process of preparing your dog to enjoy interactions with other animals, people, places, and activities.

We invite you and your puppy to attend as many sessions as you would like until your pup reaches the age limit. Meet our staff, speak with our trainer and groomer, and check out our facility. At Central Bark, our mission is to nurture and enrich your dog’s life. A great way to start your pup on the right paw is through puppy socialization!

staff member with dog

During this puppy hour program, your pup will:

  • Enjoy off-leash age-appropriate play with vaccinated puppies of similar ages
  • Be supervised by an experienced caregiver to ensure all play is safe and appropriate
  • Meet new dogs, humans, toys, environments, and obstacles
  • Be exposed to new and interesting obstacles to encourage age-appropriate socialization and exposure

Benefits of Puppy Hour & Training:

  • Long-Term Emotional Development: Puppy Hour provides your puppy with interactions with other dogs and people. This will help them develop confidence and social skills that can positively impact their emotional development throughout their lives.
  • Learn Important Group Play and Social Skills: During Puppy Hour, our staff will help guide your puppy through important group play and socialization skills. These including proper play behavior, impulse control, bite inhibition, and more. These skills are essential for your dog to develop healthy and appropriate social behavior.
  • Comfort and Confidence: During the sensitive period of 8 to 16 weeks, puppies are more likely to feel scared or uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations. By attending Puppy Hour, your pup can get exposure to new sights, smells, sounds, and experiences in a controlled environment, which can help them become more comfortable and confident in unfamiliar settings.
  • Expend Excess Energy: Puppies have a lot of energy to burn, and attending Puppy Hour can give them an outlet for that energy. Through supervised playtime and interactions with other puppies, your dog can get the physical exercise they need to stay healthy and happy.
  • Establish a Strong Foundation: Puppy Hour is an excellent way to establish a strong foundation for your puppy’s future training and development. Our program can help your pup develop essential skills and behaviors that will make them easier to train and manage as they grow older.

Rules & Requirements:

  • Puppies aged 8–16 weeks
  • Space is limited
  • Preregistration is a must
  • Proof of up-to-date Bordetella and DHPP vaccines
  • Children with a dedicated adult are welcome to participate* There will be learning opportunities for children too!
  • Observe CDC guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks
  • Regular 6-foot flat leash (no retractable or flexi-leads in the lobby) and a quick-release collar. If your dog usually wears a harness, you’re welcome to bring one.

From the Blog

Read more on the blog

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Central Bark proactively address safety?

At Central Bark a proactive approach to safety is woven right into the fabric of our program. That is why we require that all dogs enrolled in our Day Care program pass our behavior assessment and attend at least once per week. This helps us ensure that dogs are social with other dogs & people and remain comfortable with all aspects of our program.  It also allows us to proactively staff so we can keep a dog to staff ratios low which also helps increase safety. Plus, play is ALWAYS monitored. Whether it’s a group of 2 dogs or 12 dogs, we never leave dogs unattended during group play.

How to choose the best day care for your dog

Selecting the right doggy day care is an important decision for you and your family. You want to make sure you find the right fit for your dog and your family’s needs. Follow these tips to find the perfect place for your pup! 

Tour the day care center before leaving your dog there. We recommend visiting several centers in your area before making a final decision.

While you’re there, ask yourself:

  • Is the play space clean, odor-free, comfortable, and safe for the center’s stated capacity? 
  • Pay attention to how the management and staff treat you, your dog, and the dogs in their care. Are they mature, knowledgeable, courteous, professional, and patient at all times? 
  • Note how the dogs respond to the staff – do they seem happy, relaxed, and excited? How do staff members greet and treat each dog?
  • How do other dogs act during your visit – relaxed, happy, stressed, scared, or out of control?
  • Is there a great deal of noise? 
  • Does the facility seem well organized and equipped with essential tools and supplies? Look for access to fresh, clean water, sanitation tools, ready access to treats to reinforce good behavior in playgroups, toys, secure fencing, rubber flooring in the inside play spaces, and access to outdoor play spaces.
  • Are there enough crates for every dog on-site in case of an emergency?
  • Are the dogs ever left alone together without a staff member present?
  • Are the handlers engaged with the dogs in their care and actively working with them? Or are they sitting on the sidelines? 

Questions to ask the doggy day care provider:

  1. Will my dog get individual attention time with staff?
    Ask if staff will have time to work individually with your dog on behaviors, play with them, and give them support and love while at day care.
  2. Are there small group play options?
    Small playgroup options help ensure your dog will have a social environment that allows them the freedom and comfort to thrive based on their unique needs, preferences, and play styles. 
  3. What’s the daily schedule? Is this tailored to my dog’s unique needs and preferences?
    Dogs thrive on routine, so the center should have a clear schedule for how things run every day. A consistent program tailored to your dog’s individual needs and style will promote a healthy and happy dog. 
  4. Are there regularly scheduled playtimes and nap times throughout the day?
    Day care should offer your dog a safe and balanced day of play, learning, rest, and love so you can look forward to a happy, well-balanced dog at the end of every day. 
  5. How and where are the dogs’ given downtime to wind down from the day’s activities to help prevent exhaustion and overstimulation?
    Maintaining a healthy balance of rest and play is important for the physical, mental, and social health of dogs. Just like human athletes, rest helps dogs avoid bodily injury and provides a space for them to unwind, so they do not become over-stimulated or over-aroused during play. This creates a much safer social environment for dogs. 
  6. Are there fenced and secure outdoor play areas? 
    Safe outdoor areas are important for a healthy, fun playtime. Whether it is romping in the snow or playing in swimming pools, everyone loves recess outside!
  7. How are new dog introductions handled?
    The center should clearly outline their procedures around new dog introductions, with effective policies that encourage happy, healthy, and lasting relationships and experiences.   
  8. What training does the staff receive?
    Doggy day care staff should be professionally trained and educated in animal behavior, socialization, and obedience training to ensure every dog’s well-being.  
  9. Are the dogs supervised at all times?
    A trained staff member should ALWAYS supervise dogs.
  10. Ask about behavior management tools used at the facility while caring for the dogs. What happens if your dog does something right? What happens if your dog does something wrong?
    Staff should use positive reinforcement and reward-based techniques to develop and reinforce behaviors that will enrich dogs’ lives at home and day care. Avoid centers that use punishment or correction to manage dog’s behavior as those techniques can create negative associations and fear. Utilizing reward-based techniques and positive reinforcement, on the other hand, can help build healthy relationships and happy experiences.
  11. What provisions are there for avoiding dog scuffles?
    Ask staff how they manage the dogs in their care. What do they look for in dog-dog interactions? How do they deal with emergencies and scuffles? How do they interrupt and redirect dogs? How do they build useful playgroup skills to keep the dogs safe proactively? Pay attention to how staff redirects dogs who need additional support to stay safe and whether they respond promptly and use effective strategies in these situations.
  12. Is there an in-depth interview to determine relevant background, behavioral, and health information including confirmation of spay/neuter, proof of vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, etc.? How is this information kept up to date?
    Find out what kind of assessments and evaluations the center uses before they accept a new dog. Also, every dog’s information should be regularly updated and kept on file to prevent illness and injuries.
  13. Do they have safety, cleaning, and disinfecting policies and procedures? What are they?

Learn more about Enrichment Doggy Day Care.

How do you train a dog?

No matter how long you’ve had your dog, it’s possible to teach them new skills and tricks. 

Whether you’re crate training, leash walking, or potty training your dog, consistency is key. It’s crucial to establish a routine, practice positive reinforcement, supervise your dog (especially when potty training), and avoid punishing when mistakes happen.  

Central Bark® offers everything you need to help you train your dog. We offer expert training and classes so you and your puppy can learn and bond together.  

Learn more about our training classes.

Visit our Dog Blog for more helpful tips.

How are staff trained and what behavior management tools do they use in a playgroup?

Our staff is trained in dog body language and positive playgroup management techniques so they can respond proactively to help avoid issues between dogs. These tools include praise, treats, and work on important Group Play Skills daily like name recall, group sits, and going calmly in and out of doorways and gates. If a dog ever becomes overstimulated during play (just like kids do on the playground sometimes) we use these practiced skills to help redirect dogs into more desired behaviors (like coming to us and offering a sit for a treat) which gives the dog a chance to reset and calm down. When needed, we also utilize play breaks (a short rest in an individual crate) or in-group leash walks if a dog needs a little more help to bring their energy levels back down.

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*The safety of guests and puppies in attendance at Puppy Hour is of the upmost importance. Upon arrival, a Central Bark team member will instruct you and your children of the rules and requirements to ensure safety, fun and learning for all involved.