Treat yourself to a well-trained dog!

Skills not practiced are lost

Rio was on call all day on Sunday. He was demo dog at an orientation, was a bit of demo dog (but largely sad dog) in my adult basic 2 class, and then came along with me to my private lesson in the evening. Between the classes and the private lesson I had about an hour to burn. I want to get Rio out of the car and give him a chance to move around and get into stuff to tire him out a smidge before being relegated to the car while I finished up my day (the weather was perfect for him hanging in the car, cool, and as the sun was setting).

I initially thoughts about going to a park close to the humane society but since he can’t go off-leash, I didn’t really want to go to that park. So I decided to go to a pedestrian part of town (a neighborhood center with lots of little shops and such) near my private lesson and let Rio walk around with me while I take advantage of my break. This is a busy part of town and the streets can be a bit crowded with people of all varieties, strollers, and other dogs but I wasn’t at all concerned since rio spent his first 9 months with me in a very similar (though significantly quieter) urban environment.

He did really well while walking around the area but it was definitely a bit overwhelming for him. He hasn’t been in this type of environment for years and he lost his comfort. We hadn’t practiced being in this type of situation for a long time and it was quite obvious to me–he was by no means over threshold but was not as comfortable as he once was. I had to increase my rate of reinforcement for him to keep him with me, he was a bit more hypervigilant, and he was not as outgoing as normal. He was not a wreck by any means and I’m probably the only one who noticed he was a little bit stressed out but it was still a big reminder that behavior that isn’t practiced is lost and that extends to socialization in various environments.

It was actually a really good walk and I’m hoping to make a regular trip of it to similar environments to bring back his comfort. We stopped and chatted with some people, he said hi to a few different people (but shied away from two others), he saw a squirrel just 6 ft away (totally desensitized to dogs so the squirrel didn’t even try to run away), and he got to eat Italian Ice with me for a snack. I do think he enjoyed the walk but was definitely a bit of a challenge for him and I’d like to remedy that!

Here’s Rio eating his complementary puppy dish of Mango Italian Ice 🙂 I had guava Italian Ice that was AMAZING (just so you know)!

1 Comment
  1. That is a very good reminder! I actually started worrying when we moved to our new house because there aren’t very many people around. She has come so far with her reactivity that I wondered if after living in an area with few people she would regress. Maybe I should make sure to take her downtown every once in a while, just to keep her in practice.

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