A social dog is one that is comfortable in new situations, with a variety of other dogs, people and things. Having a social dog means that you are able to take them with you anywhere that dogs are allowed to go, without any drama. Socialized dogs don’t bark excessively, lunge or misbehave. They aren’t skittish or anxious, they adjust quickly to new situations and relax.
I have had lived with under-socialized dogs that required management and special care and I have had the privilege of owning social dogs that were easy going, friendly and confident. These dogs are a joy to live with everyday and I can include them in almost every aspect of my life. I would want it no other way.
Getting to ‘social’ requires effort. You must get your dog out and about for positive experiences with a variety of new things, places, sights, sounds, people, dogs and other animals from an early age. Then, you must continue this adventure you are both on, well-beyond their adolescence (i.e., two years). The benefits will pay off when you are enjoying the companionship of your best buddy and showing him off to boot. I love hiking with my dogs in the woods, taking them swimming in lakes, watching them play with friends and form new friendships. We enjoy going to the beach where children want to pet them and other dogs are curious. Thankfully, we sail through these encounters with nothing but pleasant memories.
This type of socialization comes with some risks however. Hiking in the woods can result in getting a tick or two. There are tick preventatives of course, but as everyone knows, they don’t always work and Lyme disease vaccinations are only approximately 75% effective in preventing disease. Swimming in lakes can be problematic for ear and skin infections, hot spots, or ingested toxins. Going to dog parks can result in injuries. Walking your dog on the street can increase the likelihood of contracting parasites. Chewing on bones can cause broken teeth. Visiting Petsmart or even the Vet’s office can expose your dog to illnesses, like Kennel Cough, Ringworm, and Canine Papilloma Virus. A well-managed day care, the ultimate in social interaction for your dog, is no different.
What We Do
At Coventry Day Camp, we are proud of the social dogs that we have helped to nurture over the years. We provide a safe environment for the dogs to play and supervise and guide them to help them learn good social skills. But, no matter how safe we try to make things (i.e., rubber mats, rounded equipment, gates that open in, etc.), injuries can still occur. A jubilant adolescent who is happily being chased and running at breakneck speed, doesn’t see that 10 ft. piece of play equipment in front of him and WHAM! A scrape or sprain occurs! Have you heard the saying, ‘its all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone’? We screen all day camp applicants to ensure that they are friendly and good with dogs, but even under the best circumstances, with the friendliest of dogs, arguments occur.
The same is true for some illnesses. We require vaccinations of all dogs and check them regularly. Some would say that we can even be a bit nagging about keeping them current. We don’t allow dogs that have been recently adopted to even enter the building for a day camp evaluation until they have been known to be clear of diseases for a minimum of two weeks. We scrub the walls, floors, crates and equipment daily with the same disinfectant products used by Vets. But still, dogs can catch airborne diseases.
What You Can Do
Choosing to have your dog attend day camp to enhance his sociability is the perfect option for people who love dogs but have limited time due to their work schedules. Knowing the risks, what you choose to do will depend on what you want for your dog’s life with you. There are as many responses as there are owners. Some owners may decide to err on the side of caution and eliminate risks by limiting their dog’s activities to the back yard with little or no contact with the outside world. Others may choose to accept some risk while avoiding others. Some opt to accept the risks while doing their best to minimize whatever risks are within their control. At the end of the day, you get a tired, satisfied, socially active dog.
With some proactive steps on your part, you can minimize illness risk. Vaccinations are an important first step but not the only answer. Bordatella is the vaccination for kennel cough, the doggie equivalent of a cold. However, like human flu vaccines it isn’t effective against every strain and despite being immunized the dog can still get the virus. Additionally, there is no vaccination for Canine Papilloma Virus more commonly known as oral warts. The best alternative is to keep your dog healthy by supporting his immune system with natural dietary supplements. Like an ‘apple a day’ keeps the Doctor away,’ some additions to your dog’s meal might keep illnesses away too.
Here is a list of some suggested supplements to give your dogs that can keep them healthier and enjoying a full social life at the same time!
Salmon Oil – (Grizzly Oil or Nordic Naturals)
Aunt Jenis All Systems Go
Animal Essentials-Herbal Multi-Vitamin
Wholistic Pet –Canine Complete
Herbsmith Support Immunity