A recent article on the web (so you know it’s got to be true) asserted that an alarming uptick in Californians visiting emergency rooms due to dog bites is due to the maturation of pandemic pups into dangerous dogs. The article notes a significant rise in the number of such visits post-pandemic (70%) and, while fortunately still very rare, a corresponding increase in the number of people killed by dogs.

The article postulates that one of the reasons for this increase is that pandemic pups, who suffered through a lack of socialization and training (just like the rest of us), have now matured into dogs and are simply more capable of causing harm because of it.  Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, Chief of the Behavior Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, is quoted in the article stating, “You’re supposed to socialize that puppy to new kinds of people, new kinds of animals, new kinds of places, new kinds of everything,. . . Nobody was able to do that. So we’re seeing the effects of that all the time right now.”

We’re not in a position to argue with the article about whether there is a causal link between the lack of socialization and the increase in dog bites, but we do know that socialization and exposure are an important part of helping a dog and pet parent succeed in an urban environment such as San Francisco. It’s for these very reasons that we built our new Ranger Station! The pet care industry has long catered exclusively to “well-behaved” and “well-socialized” dogs, overlooking the fact that dogs, just like people, are different and cannot all be confined to traditional pet care facilities’ ideas of “well-behaved” or “well-socialized.”, Not every dog can  be about 18 months old, spayed/neutered, and get along with everyone, every dog, and everything. The Ranger Station is designed for dogs who need physical activity and mental stimulation Beyond Group PlayTM  . From desensitization areas to allow your dog to get exposed to stimuli in a safe and supportive environment, and mazes to challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills; to play areas with tunnels, bridges, and slides; and finally a Sensory Garden to allow your dog to explore in a calm and relaxed manner, the Ranger Station was designed to address the very concerns of lack of socialization and exposure.

Now, before you get concerned that your dog is too old to start down this path, we suggest you watch a San Francisco favorite, MythBusters, specifically the “Can you teach an old dog new tricks” episode.   Pet Camp is super familiar with it since the stars of the show (the dogs) stayed at Pet Camp during filming! The point is, it’s never too late!

One last thing, in addition to the lack of socialization/exposure leading to the increase in dog bites, the article argues that another reason for this increase in behavior is that because shelters in California are full and under pressure to sustain high live release rate numbers, they are adopting out problematic dogs that they should not.  We look forward to exploring that argument at a later date.

Thanks for reading!