When we lived in Belgium, socializing our dogs with other people, dogs and noise came rather natural as it is a crowded place. But here in Sweden, we really have to look for distractions for our training. Mogwai feels very confident in public places or with a lot of traffic and noise, but especially Oona can use some practice. In the forest, she is the perfect and playful companion, but other people, strange dogs or bizarre objects make her nervous or insecure. Every now and then we leave our forest – like wildmen crawling out of their cave – and head to the city: Stockholm! What are we doing there? Especially a lot of wandering around (and a visit to my favorite bookstore of course). We practice walking by other dogs, patiently waiting at a traffic light without jumping or turning around to sniff people, walking on the footpath, ignoring crowds, not eating dirt on the street, … actually a kind of basic etiquette for the modern dog.
Last time in Stockholm we actually had a super good training session until Oona suddenly panicked, barked and tried to run away from street musicians. I know she is sensitive to sounds (no fox or squirrel passes here without her reporting it), but I’m not sure what triggered that reaction. Fortunately, I was able to calm her quickly and continue walking. Sometimes I don’t understand what’s going on in her mind, but I notice that training helps and she can control herself better every time.
“Differentiating”, the favorite word of my teachers during my teacher training, is also useful here. Oona’s training is mainly about the basics, but Mogwai needs challenges. She could easily work off-leash at various places to walk around on objects, climb on something or do some tricks on command – and then I would get that happy tail of a proud Border Collie. Only a greyhound in a purple jacket was something she had to bark at.
This time we chose Södermalm, my favorite part of Stockholm. Maybe because it makes me feel a bit at home with his creative (my brother would call it hipster) vibe. My two favorite (art) bookshops are there, the photography museum, a delicious veggie restaurant with a view over the water and lots of cozy streets and hidden gems. And for those who know the stories, a large part of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy takes place in Södermalm.
“Vad duktig du är! *” Said a man as he passed Oona. I asked her to sit and wait on the side while an unknown dog was barking loudly across the street. And then I am proud of my little girl 🙂
* = good, doing the right thing.
PS: Oona is not off leash in any picture, she can’t be yet. To be able to take a few photos without a regular leash and to give her some space to sniff or play, we had an extra long leash with us.