A Good Dog | When a Fearful Dog Succeeds

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What makes a dog good?

I’ve written a lot about Ru’s behavioral quirks and obstacles and I’ve been really honest about how I try my hardest to work through and around them so that he can have as many enriching experiences as possible while also always being mindful of his boundaries.

We had a visitor this weekend. This person is someone that Rufus hasn’t been around in almost four years and even when he was around her back in Illinois, they met less than a handful of times. And even though I was super excited to spend time with her for a long weekend, I was a bit nervous about how Ru would take to a stranger (one that isn’t necessarily a “dog person”) staying in his house for several days. But! I didn’t let nerves deter me. I took the steps needed to make him comfortable and to set him up for success.

So what’d we do?

1.We met our guest outside. We took a mini walk in which no one interacted with each other. We just walked and talked and let Rufus sniff and get into his happy zone.

2.Then we walked inside and kept the mood neutral. She said “hello” to him but did not reach down to pet him. We put her stuff away, handed her some treats, and sat down to visit.

3.She fed Rufus treats as we praised him in our highest “dog mom” voices for being neutral. He licked her hand. Success!!

The rest of the visit was perfect. He would go up to her for a good neck scratch and then come back to me. He followed me around a lot more than usual, but he wasn’t fearful….just a little unsure.

Nothing happened. He didn’t “bond” with her but he also didn’t dislike her in the slightest. It went as perfectly as I could’ve hoped for.

A lot of people (especially those that aren’t completely nerdy over canines) expect a dog to WANT the attention. They expect to meet a dog that is incredibly friendly, excited to meet every single person ever, and that you can easily reach down to pet no matter who you are or where you are. That’s not Rufus. And honestly…that’s not a lot of dogs, now, is it?

Rufus will never be happy-go-lucky in the traditional sense, but I’m more than ok with that. I just want him to be comfortable and content when life hands him a curveball. Through tiny baby steps, he’s shown me that he is willing to do the work and I love that about him.

Rufus is a good dog because he’s mine. I take responsibility for him and I do my best to push him through those rough moments without forcing anything. Our bond is stronger because of these moments and I’m so happy to have him by my side.

My heart dog. 

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Tasty Tuesday | 1 Ingredient Dog Treats by Halo

Happy Tuesday! I hope all of you out there (human and canine alike) are having a great start to the week. We are sweating our faces off in the Northwest as it is all of a sudden in the high 80s!! Why?? I could go for a whole lot more of of the 70-degree range before we dive into summer, thanks.

I just thought I’d pop in and share a quick treat review with you – Halo Liv-a-Littles! For anyone that tries to keep their pup’s diet pure and simple, these are a win!

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100% wild salmon. That’s what we like to see!

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And yes these are extra stinky! But of course, this just makes them more appealing to the power of the pup nose…

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Since these are dehydrated, they’re definitely not easy to break apart and use as training treats. However, they can be used for a jackpot treat (bigger, smelly, more rewarding) or just to crumble and put on top of your dog’s meals if he/she is a picky eater.  Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have one of those and that comment will actually mean something. Hah!

Oh, and if you happen to be a cat person, these are 100% safe for felines as well! Bonus!

Thanks to Chewy for providing Halo’s Liv-a-Littles in exchange for my honest review and opinion. I know Rufus really appreciates the opportunity.😉

The Dogs You Never See | A Dog Blogger Rants

Disclaimer: This is a topic that’s been on my mind for awhile now. It’s a little scattered and a bit of a mind dump but I hope some of you out there can relate and share your thoughts with me. Ok. Rant before rant over.

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I live in a large community of townhouses. I’ve lived her for almost 4 years. Our pet restrictions are as follows: no more than 2 pets, dogs must be under 45 lbs and breed restrictions apply. 

Through fences, I have seen pitbulls, large labs, bulldogs, huskies, etc. And while I kind of love that these restrictions are obviously very flexible (my landlord often sees me walking large client pups in and out of our place and never seems to mind), I also know that most of these dogs hardly ever see the outside of their (very small) yards.

Of course it was a total bonus for me to move into a place with a fenced-in yard, but ours is strictly used for sunbathing, potty training foster pups, and quick nighttime potty breaks. Rufus does not “exercise” in his backyard and he barely hangs out there 99% of the year.

We walk. We travel to parks. We hike. We socialize with clients. We walk some more. We get out of our tiny bubble every single day.

And while I completely understand that not everyone has the luxury of taking their dog to work with them or even on vacations and day trips, I think that every single dog deserves to explore their own neighborhood at the very least. New scents and daily stimulation are so important for a dog’s well-being, don’t you think?

I don’t preach much on this little ole blog, but this happens to be a matter very close to my heart. I have a dog that can be a little bit of a handful in certain situations, but that would never keep me from exposing him to new things. We’d both be miserable if I did and that’s just not ok with me.

Oh, and I also socialize dogs for a living. Minor detail.

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Generally speaking, I know that a lot of people get their dogs out of some American habit – as gifts, because they think every home needs a dog, or whatever else reason pops into their mind. It doesn’t make them bad people – they just may not be educated in the same way that us crazy dog bloggers seem to be.

So what have I done to fix this? Well I lead by example…a lot! Everyone in my complex comments on how lucky Rufus is to be walked so much. Some people have even gone as far to say thing like, “I didn’t even recognize you without Rufus by your side!” Hilarious. True but hilarious.

But that’s all I’ve really done so far. Once I gave a neighbor tips on how to get her wild pup under control during walks and it really seemed to motivate her, but I only saw her out with her dog a handful of times before she seemed to have given up. :sigh:

So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing: commenting and educating when necessary and hope that things change through kind words and knowledge. That’s how I’ve always done thing.

Side note: Halfway through writing this post, I ran into a neighbor while walking Rufus and actually had a really long conversation on training her dog to walk safely on a leash so that this time together is more enjoyable for the both of them. It went really well and she and I are going to do a few mini training sessions this week. If that isn’t positive manifestation, I don’t know what is!

Do you come from a similar situation? Or is your neighborhood full of dogs crowding the streets regularly? I know that whenever I spend any time Portland, I see dogs EVERYWHERE and it makes me so happy. More of that please!

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City living.

*Of course I know there are always exceptions – fearful dogs that prefer the comfort of a routine and become inconsolable in new situations, etc. I’m just talking about the majority of dogs that deserve more and would benefit greatly from all of the things I stated above. We all deserve a little adventure! 

Wordless Wednesday | Dog Walker Edition Pt. 5

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Abby came back for an extended stay and we had a blast! Young dogs are a lot of work but it’s so worth it when they bring so much joy and happiness to you and your own pup.

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Freshly spayed and hanging in there!

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When your little sis is ALWAYS trying to smooch you…

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My little lady isn’t a little lady anymore. :tear: 

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This sweet boy is aging and dealing with some pretty severe arthritis. Breaks my heart, but his momma is doing all she can to keep him happy and healthy.

The Dog Goes | How to Travel with a Fearful Dog

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For anyone out there that knows about the anxiety that comes with loving a reactive or fearful dog, know that you are absolutely not alone. And your dog doesn’t have to be either…

I know that the easy solution can be to just leave your dog at home, but that may not be what’s best for you or your dog.

Rufus has some special needs when it comes to making him happy. While he is weary and often indifferent towards new people, he absolutely loves being with me and he loves exploring new places. Heavy foot traffic and city buzz doesn’t seem to affect him in the slightest. But a stranger bending down to give him attention? Well, that’s just not his cup of tea.

Taking him to new hiking spots is one thing. There is usually little to no human interaction and wide open spaces are a breeze. But sometimes we travel for longer periods, which means staying in hotels and exploring new cities and local parks full of people. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past several years about keeping Rufus comfortable:

  1. Keep him close. When navigating a new city, I keep Rufus close to my side. While I have a tendency to allow him to lead (without pulling) during our neighborhood walks at home, this just isn’t acceptable in new places. He seems to find comfort in letting me lead and I find comfort in knowing a person will have to approach me first before they reach for my dog.
  2. Keep him busy. If for whatever reason we need to stop somewhere and rest or eat, I make sure to keep Ru busy so that he’s not overwhelmed with obsessing over the people around him. I bring treats, keep him in long “sits” and “stays”, and interact with him constantly. It may make things a little less low-key for me but as long as he’s at ease, it’s worth it.
  3. Praise, Praise, Praise. No calm or obedient moment goes unnoticed! When he’s calm, I praise him. When he’s enjoying himself, I praise him. When he’s just being a normal dog and not focusing on a group of people approaching, I praise him. And when he meets someone successfully, I have a freaking celebration! I may sound like a lunatic, but who cares? I am not above making baby noises in public if it means my dog gets that being a happy, balanced dude is the best thing in the world. No shame here, people.

 

Of course there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach to handling a pup with behavioral issues, but this keeps us happy. Just by being cautious and alert, I have made sure Rufus has as many experiences as possible. He absolutely loves going to as many places as possible with me and these little tips make that possible. Of course he’s improved so much since we adopted him, but the truth is that he will always be a little “quirky” when it comes to socializing. And as long as everyone is safe and educated, I’ve learned that I can work with whatever quirky curveballs he decides to throw at me. And it turns out this guy really loves to keep me on my toes…

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Reunited with one of his favorites after four years!