|Zoe and Phoenix, settled on their mat at a Cafe. Zoe says, "Hey! I think I smell burgers!"|
Today we are joining the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop. This month's theme is: "Being an Outstanding Breed Ambassador through Positive Training and Socialization." My dogs are obviously not purebred dogs but I do take being just a regular dog ambassador very seriously.
Every dog owner has different goals for their dogs. When I got Zoe, my goal was to have a dog that I could take anywhere. I wanted to be able to take her to a park, take her leash off and have her pay attention to me. I wanted a dog I could trust in any situation, off leash or on. I take socialization and training very seriously. When Zoe first came home, most evenings off work and weekends were planned around her. We took her everywhere they allowed dogs. I've been to most of the popular parks in the Portland Oregon area! She's been to outdoor cafes, beaches, malls, Downtown areas and even to a bar that allowed dogs inside. We took her to Seattle on vacation with us, and she's been to the Space Needle, Pike's Market Place, various other places and a couple of Dog Parks. I even got a job at a vet clinic because one of the perks was that I could bring her to work with me. We were very dedicated to educating her.
|At the Pier in Seattle. She was a little nervous because it was loud.|
|One tired pup from touring Seattle, in our hotel room.|
When we got Phoenix, I had to adjust my training. She was not socialized at all. One of the most important things about socializing a dog is quality versus quantity. You want the dog to have great experiences where they feel safe and are having a good time. I did many of the same things with Phoenix but she was so skittish that our outings had to be planned more carefully. She was terrified of any strangers reaching towards her so I had to make sure that didn't happen. It was important that she knew I would protect her from the things that scared her so she could learn to not be so fearful. When I say terrified, I mean she would struggle at the end of her leash to get away from them. She never got aggressive, only tried to get away. I worked a lot on counter conditioning her to people passing by and desensitizing her to strangers coming up to us. Having Zoe helped and Phoenix gained a lot of confidence by just watching her. Everywhere Zoe went we took Phoenix, too. Zoe became her role model.
I would just like to note that some dogs will need a smaller world. Not every dog is cut out to be a dog that can go everywhere. Some just can't handle it. It's up to you to decide how much of a world your dog can deal with. It's okay if they can't go places. If they are more comfortable being a home dog than that's where they should be.
Phoenix is a reactive dog, but her reactivity is generally limited to large "rude" dogs. She's not the kind of reactive dog that barks and lunges on the lead all the time. She only gets upset if a big dog gets in her face or if they challenge her with a direct stare. I redirect her immediately and I can get her attention back in a flash. We are still working on her reactivity at the time of this writing, but she has really improved. Her fear of people has also gotten better but she's never going to be the happy go lucky, "I want to meet everyone" kind of dog. She's a "one-person" dog and we are okay with it. She can still go on outings and be totally fine, she just doesn't want to make friends with everyone. I've actually gotten her to the point where I can cue a "go say hi" and she will go up and sniff the person politely. We just explain to everyone, while she'd like to say hi to them, she'd rather they not try to pet her. We have not had any issues with people getting upset over this.
|Going for walkies in our old neighborhood.|
|Phoenix (with Zoe and me), waiting outside of Target for Grandma.|
|On the play structure at the park.|
|Running free at Canon Beach|
I honestly feel like I've mostly met my original goal, although, the girls are still a work in progress and training never stops. There will probably always be something that I will want to work on but I have two dogs that I can take anywhere. One is more friendly than the other, they both enjoy our outings. They love to go. It doesn't matter if we are going to an outdoor cafe downtown, the beach or hiking in the woods. They are both really well behaved out in public and I think that's very important. If you are going to have your dog out and about with you that they be well mannered. They don't have to be overly friendly as long as they are behaving. Dogs are judged so critically these days and I want to make sure that I leave a lasting impression on the people we meet. Leading by example and whatnot.
I don't think Phoenix would be where she is, if it wasn't for the PR training methods and I'm very thankful to all the wonderful PR trainers who spend time putting information out there, blogging and making YouTube videos. We've learned a lot.
Keep rewarding the behaviors you like and the dogs will keep doing them!
As with any training type blog I do, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I also have a training page you can check out, too.