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.

Latest Posts

Contact Us


"Like" us on Facebook


Professional Organizations

Professional Organizations



Pet Professional Guild


Kennel Pro Insurance


Certified Professional Dog Trainer

Certified Prof. Dog Trainer

CLASS Evaluator

Canine Life And Social Skills


ABC Mentor Trainer

Canine Good Citizen