Is Your Dog A Good Fit?
We are a cage-free home environment. Our guests move about freely and enjoy our house, our yard, our company and the company of our other guests. It is important that they are well socialized and comfortable with both dogs and humans.
As you read this page, don’t panic. We know that everyone has a quirk or two and their own personality. However, some behaviors are not acceptable in our pack environment. Safety is our priority.
Please read the information below to help determine if your dog may be a good fit for Camp Jimmydog.
Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and to discuss whether or not your pup is a good fit.
What Do We Mean “Well Socialized”
- Comfortable with being in a group of varied dogs in an off leash, social situation on a regular or semi-regular basis, recently.
- Meets new dogs and people without fear/anxiety/aggression . A “getting to know you” period when meeting new dogs or people is normal. A little reserved or slightly timid at first can be normal. (see on fear/anxiety more below)
- Understands, accepts and participates in good dog etiquette such as sniff and be sniffed. Butts, mouths and feet. Who are you? What did you eat? Where have you been?
- Understands and respects social cues given by other dogs – Example: Respects when someone doesn’t want to interact/play
- Gives appropriate social cues. Doesn’t overcorrect or show aggression
- Plays appropriately – does not aggressively dominate, latch on, show teeth, bully
Not every dog will want to play, cuddle or hang out with the other dogs. That’s normal for many dogs and it’s perfectly ok. Many are happy to hang out with us people and some just want to check in once in a while but generally enjoy their own space. What’s important is that they have the social skills and experience that allows everyone, including your pup, to be safe, comfortable and happy in our pack environment.
Aggression or clear potential for aggression – We cannot accept a dog that has shown any aggressive behaviors or a strong potential for aggression towards either dogs or people.
Lack of impulse control – Probably the #1 issue we see. Simply put, a dog with impulse control can resist the temptation to perform unwanted behaviors. It may be counter surfing, jumping, rushing through doorways, barking and lunging at people or other dogs, or a host of other troublesome and potentially dangerous behaviors.
A dog with poor impulse control can be so focused or agitated by whatever is stimulating them that they will not listen to commands or withdraw from a situation. This can potentially escalate to dangerous situation.
Many owners confuse impulse control issues with their dog “just having fun”, “being happy” “being a dog” , “just trying to get someone to play”, or as behaviors they will “grow out of”. Often dogs without good impulse control will repeatedly annoy other dogs and ignore their attempts to let them know they are “too much”. This creates an unfair situation for the dog being bothered and unsafe situation for both.
Dogs with poor impulse control can easily escalate past play in a high energy, pack situation. Instinct, such as prey drive or herding, can takeover and quickly things become unsafe. Additionally, a dog with poor impulse control can trigger these instincts, as well as self defense, in others.
A truly happy dog is a well balanced dog that has fun, knows how to relax. calm itself and respect the others around them. Dogs crave direction and benefit from clear boundaries and rules. Impulse control is something that needs to be taught, it doesn’t just happen.
Fear and/or extreme anxiety – As mentioned earlier, it can be normal for some dogs to be a little timid at first when meeting someone new. I like to say they are “cautiously excited”. There may be a low tail wag and a bit of uncertainty but in a fairly short period of time they are comfortable and happy to have met new friends and be exploring a new place. Dogs that are very fearful (of either dogs or people) are a potential danger to us, themselves and others in a pack situation.
Resource guarding – Depending on the intensity, ability to “leave it” and what they typically guard, this can be an issue.
Fence jumpers – In our 17+ years we’ve only had an issue once but it’s worth mentioning. Both of our locations have 6′ fencing. We have had quite a few dogs labeled fence jumpers and had no issues. They are not home alone, not bored and simply don’t want to to leave. However, there are some dogs that may not care who is around or how tall the fence is, they just want to go. If this is your dog, we are not a good fit.
An understanding of basic obiedience. This doesnt mean that your dog knows every command and trick in the book. Or that they are 100% perfect. What it does mean is that you and your dog have learned to communicate. They know some commands and have some rules at home. They look to you for direction and come to you vs running the other way when you call to them.
(We do work with our guests on basics such as sits and recalls while here. This keeps them engaged with us and its fun for all to have the pack working together. However, we do not offer training.)
Over the years I have come to realize that there are many misconceptions as to what socializing your dog looks like. The examples below do NOT represent good socialization.
- He/she is always interested and excited in dogs we see on our walks. Always on leash and they don’t get to interact/play
- He/she loves to sniff noses when we pass dogs on our walks. Always on leash they don’t get to interact/play.
- We have two (or more) dogs and they are all fine together. Used to their own pack but no interaction with new and different groups of dogs.
- He/she plays with our sons/mothers/neighbors etc dog, or used to. (same as above)
- He/she loves to sniff and run along the fence with the dog next door. This actually promotes negative behavior. The dogs are not together and not interacting in a positive way.
- He/she barks loudly and growls when meeting a new dog but as long as they dont react he/she will be fine. This type of “greeting” promotes negative behavior and can provoke a negative reaction from the dog(s) on the receiving end. It is not the greeting of a well experienced, happy dog.
- He/she is great, as long as no one sniffs them/approaches/goes nose to nose etc. Sniffing is a normal dog “hello”.
- We go to dog park often….when no one is there, to play ball with him/her off leash OR, We go to dog park but don’t go in. No interaction with others.
- He/she played and got along with the others (in the litter or at the rescue) before we got him…. as a puppy… 2 years ago. No socialization as a mature dog or possibly even as a puppy past the first couple of months.
Socializing. Why and how.
Socialization and experiences not only allow you to choose care options such as Camp Jimmydog, they enrich the the life of you dog as well as your own. It strengthens the bond between you both and creates options that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Maybe Sunday morning coffee at a cafe and a walk in the park. Joining you on a weekend getaway or for a visit at a friends house. Car rides become fun not stressful. Trips to the vet aren’t traumatic. Visitors to your house aren’t overwhelmed, or the dog confined away from everyone.
It’s especially important for puppies and young dogs. *For very young puppies use caution and choose safe options but don’t be afraid to socialize them! Find fully vaccinated, smaller groups of dogs. Set up play dates with friends and neighbors. Find a puppy class. Schedule day care with us! They are sponges from 8-16 weeks. Use that time wisely.
To start, a good portion of your dogs social time should be in a supervised environment with professionals. Were they can learn appropriate behavior, not inappropriate. Without some guidance you may not recognize a behavior that is inappropriate or potentially a larger issue in the making. Dogs are always learning. It’s up to you if they are learning good behavior or bad.
Learning to understand social cues, appropriate play, good recall and impulse control, being comfortable and confident meeting and being in a group with new dogs as well as old friends, these are all crucial to a happy, well adjusted, well socialized dog.
What about dog park?
I don’t recommend dog parks for young dogs. It’s more likely that they will quickly and easily learn unwanted and inappropriate behaviors. You will also have a large lack of control.
However, if your dog has solid good social skills, you recognize bad social skills, and you have control over your dog off leash with distractions, then go for it. Observe the other dogs prior to entering to make sure they (and their owners) are appropriate and also acting with good social skills. Dog park can be great or it can be a disaster. Be aware, alert and in control.
How often should your dog socialize? For puppies and young dogs up to age three, a minimum of weekly to bi-monthly, monthly as they get a bit older.
Older dogs that were well socialized when younger can usually maintain good social skills with less frequent socializing. We like to see our guests or know that they have had quality social time elsewhere at least every 3 to 6 months.
The more experiences your dog has, going different places, meeting a variety of people and dogs, the more comfortable, confident, and well behaved they will be.
I also want to mention training. Obedience training helps build bonds, teaches you how to communicate with your dog and gets them out in the world. They learn to listen to you with the distractions of a group around. It also allows for some socialization with people and other dogs. Agility, herding and other types of training and activities are a great way to enrich your dogs life and get out and enjoy them. These are all great ways to tire them out too!