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Years ago I was listening to a story on the radio about a professor who was surprised by his younger assistant listening to such a wide range of music while he himself had had the same tape playing in his car for years. He studied animal behavior and the jest of the story was that both animals and people are more open to new experiences and their preferences haven’t been set so firmly until they reach a certain age.

For dogs, most puppies are excited to meet most other dogs and people, we say they are ‘dog social’. As they get a bit older, they might still like meeting most dogs and they can handle certain rude behavior from other dogs, we say they are ‘dog tolerant’. As dogs get older, they’ll often become pickier who they hang around with. They like dogs they know and are less interested in meeting new dogs. We say they are ‘dog selective’. Some dogs, as they get older will, because of a combination of genetics and experiences, intolerant of dogs, we say they have become ‘dog aggressive’.

We have an attendance policy to keep dogs familiar with the ranch. We found that occasional attendance doesn’t work very well in our off leash environment. Regular attendance helps the dogs stay familiar with us, which helps them relax and have a positive experience. Remember that dogs have the emotional maturity of a 3 year old and they have no say and no heads up about where they are going. Only coming every now and then can become stressful and that colors the view the dogs will develop of going to daycare and of other dogs. Every experience is a learning experience.

Also, for our team to be able to evaluate the dogs and know if they behave normally or out of character, they need to know the dogs. Often, if there is something wrong with the dog, it will manifest itself mostly through different behavior.

Our mission is to be a partner with the pet parents in the care and development of their dog, through socialization, training and by providing enrichment activities to mentally exercise the dogs.

Dirk Broersma