(re) socialization – weeks 3 & 4

A quick background: Neo, my energetic JRT pug cross, and I have a goal for 30 days to do at least five new or interesting activities per week in order to help increase his confidence and improve his behavior in public places. Every dog can get bored with his routine, even if it includes regular mental enrichment. If that enrichment is the same ol, same ol, he will get restless just like most humans would. To learn more about our (re) socialization project, read our first post: 30-day challenge.

Well, we did it. As a result of our 30-day challenge, Neo has been on some fun adventures, met lots of new people and dogs and is better for it. I think. He is at least a little bit more relaxed so that is all I could ask. The trick is just keeping it up!

Here is a summary of some of the last two weeks of our challenge.

Exercise and socialization with Happy Puppy Tutoring

Marilyn Nichols of Happy Puppy Tutoring is no stranger to Neo’s antics. We know that he gets along well with her group of small (and one bigger) dogs, so we spent an afternoon letting Marilyn’s balanced pack tell Neo when he was being overly dramatic. Neo was happy to listen to their corrections and fit in well. The drive home was quiet and peaceful with Neo snoozing in the back. A sign of a successful day out!


We spent several days hitting the trails around Steiner Ranch, Bull Creek and back to Turkey Creek. It’s a nice change of pace from our usual paved walks. We met plenty of dogs with a common cause along the way, and so Neo treated them as allies. I relaxed and let him sniff what he wanted to sniff for a change, rather than encouraging him to keep up and only give his pee mail a quick, passing whiff.  The glow in his eyes by the end of each day was thanks enough.

on leash dog walking Bull Creek 78730 78732 78734

Road trippin!

There is nothing quite like exploring new territory; it makes for one happy canine! Riding in the car for more than our usual 20 minute trip was good for Neo, allowing him to relax and dream of his next adventure while watching beautiful Texas landscape roll by. Our trip landed us at Marble Falls where Neo impressed some of the locals with his lopsided grin, got his paws wet and dirty at the lake and was even allowed to lick the bottom of my ice cream cup.


I’ve been avoiding the Petsmart trip, honestly. It’s never pretty. Neo gets overly stimulated by all the smells and the numerous dogs on leash straining to greet each other in a strange environment. It usually results in me escorting Neo out, red-faced, as he scrambles his feet like the Flintstones on the slippery floor and shouts obscenities to the dogs he really just wanted to sniff. Just once. And they would have been friends.

This time I exercised the poop out of him before we went. We walked, we threw the tennis ball, we swam (OK he did most of the swimming). Then, equipped with my clicker and bag of treats, we were ready. As soon as we saw another dog and Neo’s ears perked up, I made kissy sounds for him to look at me, something we practice on our walks. It’s hard to explain to your dog that sometimes you just can’t meet everyone you see. Eye contact, click, treat, swivel, next aisle… it went on like this for a while and it did take me about 20 minutes to pick up one bag of dog food, but it was worth it. Neo only shook with frustration a few times and came back to focus on me more times than not, so I was happy with the result and might even return someday soon.

Foster sister

This week we acquired Cheeto, a new foster dog. At first Neo was suspicious, to say the least. On the leash he growled and carried on when he discovered her in the backseat of our car (which was my mistake for not introducing them properly). We tried a second method of introduction by putting Cheeto in a crate in our backyard and letting Neo and Cheeto sniff. After a few minutes I was satisfied that Neo was not going to release his Neo wrath on her and let her out. It’s like she was sent from Doggy Heaven, just for him. Neo and Cheeto have learned to coexist like an old married couple, now, and pass the days chasing evil squirrels and whispering sweet nothings into each others’ over-sized ears. We’re planning on having a few more dogs come and stay with us over the next few weeks, helping Neo get used to sharing his pad with other lovely ladies (and one gentleman).


dog socialization dog walking dog walker 78732

socialization dog walker dog walkers walking Steiner Ranch Lakeway









Our 30-day challenge has come to its end. Refreshingly, it didn’t feel like work so I think I might keep it up. Making Neo’s life more interesting keeps me on my toes and makes for a more peaceful household at the end of the day. He’s not the only one learning, either. Neo has taught me a few lessons along the way. One of biggest is patience.

Long, dramatic pause.

And that’s an important life lesson.

Thanks, Neo.

Interested in doing your own 30-day challenge? Contact us for some ideas! We can even take your dog out for you on new adventures.