News Menu

IMG 4063

We are way into the second half of August already, summer is going by fast. In our weekly newsletters, I hope to give you some information on dog behavior and explain what we do on the ranch and why.

As dog lovers, we know that raising dogs comes with its own unique set of challenges. Many of us can understand the ups and downs of parenting children, but sometimes, we encounter a curious blind spot when it comes to our four-legged companions.

Just as children go through stages of development, so do our canine companions. From the adorable puppy stage to the rebellious adolescent phase, our furry friends experience their own journey of growth and learning. One critical stage that often puzzles pet parents is the "flight period" and adolescence. During this phase, dogs may test boundaries, and just like teenagers, they can exhibit behaviors that seem out of character.

One common misconception is that aggression in dogs equates to a fixed personality trait. However, it's essential to understand that aggression is a behavior, not a personality. It's a trait that all living beings, including humans, possess to some extent—it's an inherent survival mechanism from our evolutionary past. Just as we've been known to snap, lose our temper, or express frustration, dogs too can display forms of aggression.

As dogs mature, they naturally experiment with behaviors, including some that might be interpreted as aggressive. But not all aggression is the same. Ritualized aggression, like a hard stare, freezing, a warning growl or even a snap, serves as a communication tool among dogs. These are often signals of discomfort rather than a desire to harm. Dogs are remarkably skilled at expressing their emotions, and we, as responsible pet parents, should listen attentively to their cues.

Empathy is the key. While aggression can become a concern if not managed properly, it's crucial to understand what our dogs are struggling with. It's the responsibility of all pet parents to help their furry friends navigate the world comfortably. Begin by managing situations and environments to prevent unwanted reactions. Just as we wouldn't force ourselves into uncomfortable scenarios, we shouldn't put our dogs in positions where they're set up to fail.

Your dog, like you, has boundaries. They don't have to tolerate every touch or intrusion into their space, and it's okay for them to communicate this. Teaching children to respect dogs as living beings rather than playthings is vital. Always seek permission from the pet parent before approaching a dog and observe the dog's comfort level. Just like humans, they deserve personal space and consideration.

If you find yourself grappling with your dog's behavior, don't hesitate to reach out for help from qualified behaviorists. Remember, punishment isn't the answer. Aggression is a sign of underlying distress, and addressing it with empathy and positive reinforcement is the way forward.

Let's continue to foster a community of understanding, compassion, and responsible pet ownership. Together, we can help our dogs thrive, ensuring a safe and harmonious environment for everyone.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and if you have time, come and join us on our weekly dog walk in Sidecut park.

Best wishes,

Dirk and the staff at A Walk in the Park

Dirk Broersma