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Community Pitches in to Fix a Big Boy

Great Dane Odin

Odin came to us after having a few issues with dogs. His people enrolled him in our Good Dog socialization course, which involves intensive socialization and desensitization to people, dogs, and places.

The root of Odin's behavior was a common onr: lack of experience. Unsure how to act in certain situations, particularly when feeling anxious when meeting new dogs, he acted out. He didn't know better. The key in these situations often involves socialization while under the leadership of someone who can help him make better decisions. But what could possibly go wrong when repeatedly putting huge, aggressive dog around the public?

To limit risk I usually have the aggressive dog wear a basket-type comfort muzzle. In addition, I need the public's help. It takes a village. In Odin's case I had to continually ask people to let their dogs meet him. You can see why they might've been leery and hesitant to help.

When I explain the process, people are usually brave and helpful. They seem to enjoy helping a dog change its behavior. Take this photo of Odin, for example. This dog-friendly bank allows customer dogs in lobby. I knew this young man, who had brought his own dog to me for training. At this point I no longer needed to muzzle Odin, but you can see a hint of residual apprehension. But no worries, these two employees, like many people we met on trail and streets, were willing to interact with him. Heck, look at them rewarding his good manners with treats. The woman even took control of Odin's leash.

Working with dogs in public, I encounter plenty of ignorant, rude people, but most are not only understanding but also helpful. I can only do so much by myself, so am grateful that so many are willing to pitch in.

If you are socializing your own dog, explain to people what you are doing. Ask them to interact. You will be surprised how many will be willing to help. And in the end, you and your dog will be better for it.

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