Linus’s First Trip Out
Well, it was slightly less than a 2 week timeout for Linus, as it turns out. Although I strongly suggest a two week time out, I just had a feeling that the right thing for him was to get him out to see people in very low-key environments. He was improving by leaps and bounds in the house, I wanted to keep that momentum going, so after 10 days we took a short 10 minute adventure.
I decided to venture out to a local small pet store, Healthy Pet Products because it’s typically not too busy or loud inside, it has a really great staff who tend to know dogs well and be very appropriate with visiting dogs and it is pretty small. I figured it would be easy to bail if things were not going well since it’s so small and it’s just a quick drive from my house.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I was expecting but I was definitely not expecting this…
Yep, that’s right… that’s Linus climbing in the lap of a store employee who was fabulous with him. He was a bit timid at first but he warmed up nicely with Rio as his buddy. He was scared in the store at first but started to follow Rio’s lead and investigate the yummies on the shelves instead of worry about life.
He greeted a tiny poodle wonderfully and even gave a very friendly tail wag. He greeted 3 different women and 2 men. It was clear that the men made him more nervous but when he saw Rio getting attention, the jealousy kicked in and he got some good pets/snuggles. Before we left, he actually spent some really good quality bonding time with one of the employees which was great. His tail was wagging a few times and he was practically in her lap for a while getting treats. I never would have expected that at all.
Now, I cannot take this success and make too much of it, BUT it was a very successful outing with Rio as his buddy. I won’t be taking him on any solo trips yet but I was very encouraged by the end of our outing that he’s going to come along quite nicely. The confidence he gained with Rio there was absolutely huge. While I want to give him a few trips to each destination with a buddy before trying a solo trip, I also do not want him to become too reliant on having a buddy with him. He needs to be able to function in the real world on his own to some extent so much of what we are doing a balancing act between building comfort and confidence in a new environment and being dependent on the other dogs.
I tell clients all the time that you can pick and choose your battles, so to speak, when training dogs. If you don’t mind that your dog doesn’t know “down” and it doesn’t negatively effect your life, don’t worry about it. While I still absolutely believe that, I do think there are certain things that should definitely not just be let go. Could I (or Linus’ forever home) live happily ever after with him as he is now? You betcha! He’s a fantastic guy who is ridiculously easy to live with and who is to total clown! I do think that, although he would be easy to live with without working on his confidence in the real world, it would be doing him a disservice in the long run. There will come a day where he will have to function on his own in the real world–perhaps a vet visit, perhaps a training class, perhaps the other dogs are at the vet or being groomed. There will come a time sooner or later when he will be on his own and it’s important that we do our best to prepare him for those days.
It’s really fantastic that I have an aid in helping him learn to be more confident (being with the other dogs) and I will absolutely use that to my advantage on our journey, but it cannot end with that. It’s important that I help him learn to be confident on his own because at some point or another, he’ll need those skills.