Hello everyone! Marty met quite a few people yesterday. He was put into a variety of situations and handled each one very well. One of the biggest things with Marty in public is to keep his energy levels down. He is a very high drive and excitable dog to begin with so it is very important for me as a handler to recognize this and keep it under control. This may entail you actually removing the dog from the situation before it escalates, not letting people approach the dog at the moment they ask, or even telling people once they are interacting to stop and/or lower their tones and excitement levels. I had to use all of these techniques throughout the day so Marty and his adoring fans could have the best possible experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch Marty play, jump and get all goofy, but there is a time and place for it. This type of public setting was just not one of them. You need to remember that you are responsible for your dog’s emotional state and well-being.
When you have a dog in public, especially in a high distraction one like yesterday that was constantly changing, you need to be “working” the whole time. It is not the time to zone out and let whatever happens, happen. This does not mean you can’t have fun and enjoy yourself. You just need to try and be aware of what is going on around you and what the possible scenarios are that could arise from that. Even if your dog is exceptional, that doesn’t mean other people’s dogs are or the people wanting to interact know what they are doing.
The BIGGEST impact you can have on your dog, or on other dogs while out in public is to remain calm no matter what is going on around you. Let me clarify this, if you want a calm dog, you need to remain calm whether you are the handler or the one approaching. Too many people see a dog and start talking in high pitched baby talk as they approach and pet the dog. This happened probably 90% of the time yesterday and probably 75% of those people unfortunately didn’t get to spend as much time with Marty as they could have because he was getting too excited and I had to change the dynamic of the situation. All of these people could have enjoyed more time with Marty if they had only understood how their energy was influencing him. Most of the time people (this includes the handlers) in these situations blame the dog for acting too excited or not listening to commands.
One of the first things I was taught when I got into higher level working dogs (but this goes for all dogs) was that, IT IS NEVER THE DOG’S FAULT. If a dog performs poorly, improperly, or doesn’t listen to a command, too many handlers (trainers included) have an excuse which blames the dog. The only excuse 99.999% of the time should be staring back at you in the mirror. You need to take responsibility for why the dog responded the way it did. Maybe you should have read the situation better, maybe you need to go back and tighten something up in your training plan, or maybe you just pushed the situation too far or too fast for what the dog could handle at the time. Your dog only knows what you have taught it! If it’s doing something you do not want, then you are at fault for not properly teaching them what you expect. It isn’t your dog’s fault, the stranger’s fault, or another dog’s fault. The blame falls squarely on your shoulders. SIMPLE! I’m not saying we don’t make mistakes, me included, what’s important is how we deal with the situation as it happens and then hopefully what we learn from it to help improve ourselves and our dogs.
Marty is still up for adoption!
Thanks for reading,