Hey, all! Happy Labor Day! It's time for the monthly Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by yours truly, Tenacious Little Terrier and Cascadian Nomads.
This month's theme is on being a good ambassador for your specific breed or dogs in general, but as always any positive post is welcomed. If you're a little busy to write today, don't worry! The hop is open all week. Just stop by here, or by one of the aforementioned co-hosts, to add your Linky once your post goes live.
If you've been a longtime reader, you know this month's topic hits close to home; I am a HUGE advocate of smaller breeds showing the world that they are, in fact, "real dogs".
Stereotyping is an enormous misconception surrounding many types of dogs, and it's detrimental to so many breeds. People automatically think of Pit Bull type dogs when someone mentions stereotypes or breed discrimination, but they are not the only type affected. Not to discredit BSL and the like, but "small dog syndrome" is just as horrible and demeaning to people with smaller dogs. I can't tell you how many times I've come across small dogs being described as "rats", "footballs", "ankle biters", ect. I've even had some of those terms directed at my own dogs. It's not fair, or accurate, and I try my damnedest to show that in my dogs. Let me tell you how I do it.
When you hear someone mention "Dachshund", what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If you say Nola, thank you. :D If you're like most people (and I admit that before getting Miss Nola, I was of the same mindset), you automatically think of an grossly overweight "sausage" dog, who isn't house trained, barks at everything, doesn't listen for shit, and has no training. Might also be snappy and reactive.
Sadly, this is true for the majority of the breed because most owners are okay with just going along with the mainstream idea of what their dogs will be. I cringe when I stumble upon Dachshund specific forums or Facebook groups because most people simply pile more and more bullshit onto the pile that negatively affects both myself and my dog. People are often stunned that Nola is actually trained, well behaved, and isn't a little monster, and while it's extremely gratifying to have my efforts recognized, it saddens me that she's that surprising.
To start off, I socialized the absolute hell out of Nola. She literally went everywhere with me from 8 weeks until we moved here, where we now have absolutely nothing to do (it's stifling, let me tell you). She was exposed to all kinds of people, noises, sights and environments. Automatic doors, shiny/slick floors, elevators, restaurants, hotels, water, stores, car rides, everything. There is very little, aside from umbrellas, that phases her when out and about. She takes everything in stride and is observant and watchful about her world. Does she like everyone? Of course not, no one does. Does she enjoy being fawned over by strangers? No, and this is one part of her that actually is her breed: Dachshunds are an aloof breed as a whole.
She's...well, not quiet, but she isn't obnoxious and she quiets down when asked. A lifesaving tip for anyone with a loud breed: putting their bark on cue is absolutely invaluable when teaching them to not bark. Trust me.
She's also housebroken. It definitely took longer than with Pike, but she is. She's also not destructive, and is fine being left alone.
Training, second only to socialization, is the absolute best thing you can do for both your dog and yourself. A trained dog is a happy dog, and a trained dog is truly enjoyable to live with. It takes effort, but the incredible reward you receive in your dog negates any difficulties you may experience, in my opinion at least. It's up to you with how far you take your dog's training, but all dogs need it, and most thrive on it.
Aside from the basics, these are some cues I find extremely useful when I'm out and about with my dogs being good ambassadors:
Watch me/look here/focus. Call it what you will, but this is the one I use most. If you dog can be cued to look at you when asked, you have one of the most incredible tools available. Making eye contact refocuses the dog on the task at hand, is calming (at least for my dogs), and turns your dog onto you, rather than their surroundings. Combine it with a sit, down, or heel, and you have one well behaved dog, not to mention a snazzy looking bond.
Heel. I'm talking about a formal heel, although it doesn't have to be obedience ring tight. A loose heel with good focus works just as well! If you dog can heel with you, it's so much easier to navigate crowds and other tight place when you can move as one. It's especially useful if you have a small dog: if they're close to you, there's less risk of them getting stepped on!
Leave it. This one is a must, especially if you're in a city. Keep your dog safe by asking them not to pick up some nasty thing they find on the street, or cue them to ignore a distraction. One instance comes to mind when I think of this cue, and that was when Nola was about 10 or 11 months old and we were on a walk. We were at the local park, and Nola discovered a tampon in the parking lot. A used tampon! My dogs think anything of that nature is a delicacy (please tell me I'm not the only one with dogs like this!), so of course the little snot wanted it. Since her leash is kept loose when walking, she could easily get to it, but since she knows and responds to a "leave it" cue, she ignored it. What a relief, because I'm not sure I could bring myself to fish that out from her throat. Nasty!
That's it for now! This post is probably crap; I really need to stop waiting until midnight to write my posts! Three years of this and you'd think I'd be less of a procrastinator......