Taking my canine anywhere


canine owners miss out on opportunities to share experiences with their dogs beyond the backyard.

To me, the ability to take my mutt practically anywhere is the whole point of having a dog. I specifically adopted Ace because of his calm manner and athleticism – ideal for all kinds of adventures. training and socializing him is an ongoing process and one of the most gratifying pieces to my life.

Every walk and every second of training and interacting Ace and I do together has lead us to where we are now. It is not a particular run we went on or a particular obedience class we took that matters. It is the cumulation of time. Ace is a 4-year-old dog; I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the coming years.

I see a lot of canine owners who are ok owning a canine that is out of control during a walk. A canine that is overly stimulated just by seeing another canine is completely acceptable to many people. A canine that spins in circles or pants all the time seems normal as well.

I expect this is OK. Although the canine is never calm, she doesn’t know what she’s missing. The same is true for her owner. I just wish every canine owner understood that every canine is capable of being well-mannered, socialized and calm. There is no secret on how to accomplish this. It doesn’t take a “professional.” What it takes is time and patience.

My canine went on one walk during the first year of his life, and that was so his owner would be able to tell potential adopters how his leash manners were – terrible.

My canine would strangle himself whenever we came across other dogs during his first week with me. He had to learn his name, how to sit on command, how to use patience. He had to learn to pause and think rather than just react.

With hundreds of walks in numerous neighborhoods, parks and trails, Ace has learned how to unwind in different environments.

I’ve made it my goal to take him somewhere new every Monday. Not necessarily somewhere he’s never been, but somewhere out of our typical routine. It could be a new neighborhood, a different park or canine company in town. It could be a playground or a nursing home, downtown or out in the country. The point is to expose my canine to as numerous new sights, smells, sounds, people, dogs, other animals and experiences as possible.

I don’t know how to discuss how gratifying it was to take my canine to the lake with a group of pals last weekend and have him fit in practically seamlessly. I was concerned he would feel anxious and whine in the car, but my additional work with him on driving to new places, creating new challenges and offering good exercise (thanks Amanda and Eli!) really paid off.

When a canine is well behaved, you can forget he is there.

Believe me, though, I never forgot Ace was there. I always had one eye on my dog, whether he was sunning himself on the boat, lying on the dock or resting by the fire. The fact that he could exist practically unnoticed amongst a group of people was one of the best unspoken compliments to me as a canine owner and trainer.

I did not have to continuously reward Ace or give commands or even leash him. The communication between us was subtle – eye contact, calm energy, the occasional pat on the back in exchange for tail wags.

My canine can really challenge me, upset me and embarrass me. but young boy does he make me proud.

Ace is a good boy.

(Thanks Brian P. for offering the campfire photo)

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