• Freedom of Expression - Behind the Scenes at DD

October 10, 2020

In this instalment of ‘Behind the Scenes at DD’ I wanted to take a minute to unpack a statement I made last week about ‘freedom of expression’.
One of our followers, Lisa Musser, rightly commented that this is one of the single most important things to a dog...actually, to anything or anyone!
When we set up the Ranch, it was with the idea that there needed to be a place where dogs could be dogs (albeit with all safety precautions taken), where they could run free, jump over streams, climb trees, chase butterflies and yes, even catch squirrels...because thats exactly what dogs are meant to do!
Just like when kids are not given the freedom to run and play during recess to ‘blow off steam’ and end up unable to concentrate during lesson time because they are like an undischarged pressure cooker, dogs need that freedom also.
Freedom of expression is vital for the mental health of all beings, two legged or four.
We spent a fortune fencing off the acreage....every inch of the perimeter fence is dug down to 12 inches deep below ground and all the way around its 6 feet high with inward facing ‘jump preventers’ and down closer to the main road, its 7 feet high.
We did this so that dogs would understand their boundaries and not even bother trying to get out, when there was a whole world of enjoyment within to experience.
You never hear of any kids trying to bust OUT of Sixflags do you?
Every day, we meet dogs previously unable to board anywhere because they hadn’t done well in a concrete indoor/outdoor run, had come home sick with stress colitis after being locked up all day.
Mum and Dad couldn't ever travel again, no more dog-less vacations, they thought...until they heard of us.
Our mission is to provide a natural, organic environment (yes, we are pesticide free) where dogs can run with friends, exhibit the normal behaviors of stalking, pointing, chasing critters, and jumping in and out of a pond...just because it feels good.
Eight and a half acres of land, all designed to bring out the very best in your dog, and will do, we promise.
Your dog isn't Cudjoe but still doesn't enjoy being with too many other dogs?
No problem, play sessions will be held down at the world famous 4 acre Dingly Dell where your dog can utilize the environment to create distance and diversion while he works out the (perceived) social threat of the other dogs, getting closer or retreating, in his own time, at his own pace, while pretending just to sniff at the underbrush. Over the session he will work out who he likes, whom he doesn't want to play with and then match his personality to whomever is a fit, without feeling forced to play if he doesn't wish to.
Such a useful social tool, Dingly Dell, and the main reason we moved to the Winder location.
Dogs can engage or disengage at will, no pressure, no forced interactions, when the environment provides such rich opportunity to create diversions.
Friendly dog who needs to learn play skills? Then the DD field is the place to be!
3 acres of beautiful hardwood trees and open space interspersed with forest, man made obstacles and woodpiles. Here a dog can have a huge run at his natural pace, where he chooses to go and still have huge amounts of visibility to see the who, what, where and when of his playmates helping him to build relationships comfortably and safely.
We are off leash so that dogs can make choices without fear.
On leash can mean the dogs’ natural inclination of play or interaction is stymied, and can sometimes contribute to feelings of powerlessness in the face of unknown oncoming dogs, giving him no option but to freeze or lunge if he’s suddenly scared.
Being off leash in either of these environments means he can either decide to remove himself from the threat he perceives....or play his little heart out with his new BFF!
We temp test all dogs very very carefully to ensure suitability for our program, don't worry. No one just comes in without us making sure they're a fit, and our key staff are very experienced at foreseeing problems if Fido is placed in a group with Max, or Fifi with Trixie.
It is actually our careful selection process that has led us to become an award winning off leash facility and to have the high safety record that we do.
Inside, when the days play is done, it is no different.
Nine boarding rooms all designed that one of them will tick your dogs box.
Not everyone wants to be in a communal room with other dogs, however nice they are. So we have smaller rooms for singles or small groups.
Not all dogs like a couch or leather chair to sleep on, some have had difficult pasts leading them to prefer a discreet corner BEHIND the couch to curl up and feel more protected.
One delightful girl we have regularly, sleeps UNDER the chaise in one of the communal lounges because it makes her happy.
That’s okay, Tammy, you knock yourself out!
Yet others might require a spot right in the doorway to their room because it helps them to feel more in control of their surroundings.
Fine by us, Sir.
Everyone feels comfortable in a place where they can unapologetically be themselves.....
That’s what DD is for dogs.

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