I bet you clicked on this post thinking I would be writing about our roadtrip, or the RV. Nope … the title refers to Ty and Buster. You might think, since we travel so much with our boys, that their behavior is beyond reproach. Guffaw! Let’s talk about both of them.
Ty is 5 1/2 years old. He is a purebred Chinese Shar-Pei that we purchased from a reputable breeder (back in the day before we understood the importance of adopting). At the impressionable age of 6 months, Ty was attacked by a large Gordon Setter in a dog park. Ever since then, he’s been distrustful of other dogs and people, in general.
With respect to people, he just wants to sniff them. Unless you’ve spent the night at our house, Ty won’t trust you. If you have spent the night at our house, but he forgot, Ty won’t trust you. He’s very wary of strangers. This wouldn’t be a problem (in fact, it makes him the great guard dog that he was originally bred to be), except that he is so damn cute. Why is this so bad, you ask? Because everyone wants to get in his face and pet him – no matter how many times we ask people just to let him sniff. The “oh we have a Shar-Pei, too” or the “all dogs love me” types are the worst. Those of you reading this that are in a similar position – you know what I’m saying.
Around other dogs, Ty is fearful/reactive on leash. He’ll pull like hell to get to another dog, but mainly just to sniff. Ty does best around another dog that is totally docile. (And how many of those do you think there are in the US?) Off leash, Ty is pretty good, and we have not had problems at any dog parks we’ve visited at home or on our travels.
Buster is 3 years old … we think. He is all German Shepherd … we think. We found him 2 years ago on the street where we lived in Philadelphia – abandoned. We rescued him before he even got to a rescue. Dog only knows what happened to him in his first formative year. He did not appear to be physically abused, but man was he starved for attention.
When we first got Buster in a car, he WHINED and BARKED at on coming traffic. It was a deafening noise that almost made it dangerous to drive. A trainer speculated that Buster was trying to herd the oncoming cars, and he was just getting a little pissy when they kept driving by, refusing to be rounded up. I understand other GSDs exhibit a similar behavior.
Around other dogs or people, Buster can be a handful on leash. Barking, pulling, and jumping … or sometimes totally ignorant of who/what he sees. Really, it’s a crap shoot. Generally, though, Buster is better for me than he is for Amy. We suspect Buster feels like Amy needs more protection. If I were a cynic, I might think that Buster just doesn’t care what happens to me.
Off leash, Buster is 100% joy on four paws. He happily approaches other people and dogs – looking for petting from the former and playtime from the latter. Buster’s only issue at a dog park is telling him it’s time to go.
What happens when you put us and them together? So glad you asked. From best behaved to worst, here’s how the possibilities stack up.
I wrote this post because I suspect many people have dogs with similar issues, are fearful of traveling with them, and therefore, won’t take their dogs anywhere. That is not what GoPetFriendly is about. We are no better or worse than many other dog owners. We try … and we’re not giving up. We look at each challenge as an opportunity to train Ty and Buster. Already, Buster has pretty much stopped his barking in the car. We can see the boys’ slow progress, both around other people and other dogs.
If your dog is really out of control, you need to work with a trainer before you travel with her. Just don’t give up. And realize that it’s probably not about the dog – it’s about you. While not a fan of Cesar Milan’s training, there is one saying of his that I really like: you don’t get the dog you want; you get the dog you need. For me, Cesar’s quote has a lot of meaning because I know the change for the better in Ty and Buster’s behavior is a result of the change for the better in mine.
If you’ve read this far, now is the time to share. What behavior issues does your dog have that keep you from traveling with your furry family member?
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