In about 18 days, it will be a year since I adopted my sweet dog, Remy. He has been beyond a blessing in my life, as he has brought me much joy in my darkest times. He is honestly one of the most hyper, fun-loving guys out there, which brings me to the reason for this blog post.
I should backtrack a bit to before I got him, so I can accurately explain his training thus far. A while back, I made a couple of friends who both owned Australian Shepherds and insisted that I should invest in one someday. Of course, I thought this was a great idea because their dogs were so well-behaved and sweet. Well, when Remy’s previous owner contacted me, asking if I could possibly take her dog, I asked her what breed it was. At the time, I lived in a small-ish house, so I didn’t want a huge dog to be inside, considering it would be my first official dog, ever.
She told me that he was an Australian Shepherd. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity on impulse. She warned me, though, that he was hyper, had not spent much time indoors, and was questionable in his relationships with cats. I said yes anyway because I insisted that I HAD to have him.
When I got him, he was indeed a ball of energy. He jumped on me immediately and started trying to play with everything in sight. I loved him from that moment, though, and immediately spent the next week or so acquiring all the basic stuff I needed for him: a harness, a leash, food, bowls, etc. I remember specifically buying a harness because the first time I took him for a walk, he almost pulled my arm off. In addition to this, he had a tendency to chew on any shoe that he could find, and he would jump on anyone who came over to the house. Luckily for me, he was mostly playful with cats. With close monitoring, I quickly got him used to the idea that cats were not toys. It was so cute, but he actually got along really well with our new-born kitten (and was even a little scared of her).
My friend, who has an Aussie that has been trained as a service dog, immediately jumped in to help me with training…
But she soon gave up because his temperament was so weird compared to other dogs. He had not been socialized correctly, and had no concept of dog-social cues. This made going to the dog park unbearable at first. In addition, we had established that he had to be an Aussie mix, as he has a strikingly red-sable coat and extremely long legs… And a tail. He was obviously very different from my friend’s dog.
This prompted me to do a ton of research as to how to properly train dogs. Of course some of the most common articles that came up were warning people of the temperament of the breed. I was also devastated when I realized how many Aussies were given up because people had not done the proper research and no longer wanted to try to work with their dogs. However, while I had indeed lacked the adequate knowledge when I adopted Remy, I fully intended to see him through his training.
To help with his training, I bought a handy little treat pouch to use when we would go on walks. I have since started trying to distract him with the treats when there are people walking by. I do this to avoid him jumping up on them or scaring them. He is hard-headed at times, though, so I often have to use my “mean momma” voice. Only then does he know that he needs to listen.
Fast forward to now: He has come such a long way when we go on walks. He doesn’t pull nearly as much, and he is so much better inside. I don’t think that he has chewed on a shoe in about five months, and he only goes after his own toys (of which he has a lot). Because I work with him regularly, he has learned a lot of basic commands, like sit, stay, lay down, off, etc. He still has some trouble when he is overly excited, but it doesn’t bother me too much.
As for his relationship with cats, he gets along with them fairly well. He is just a playful boy and only wants our adult cat, Nutmeg, to play tug with him. Of course, she is too good for him and prefers to watch him from high perches. Every now and then, she will swat at him when he is running by, and if she is in a really good mood, she will chase him through our apartment. Really, they just try not to get in each other’s way.
Everyone who visits me now comments on how far he has come in the year that I have had him. Now he is the most cuddly dog ever, and he insists on sleeping in the bed with my boyfriend and I. He is not shy about hogging the bed, either. Regardless, I plan to continue his training and to make progress with him. I believe that his previous owner wouldn’t recognize him if she saw him. 😉