If you're a regular Smart Dog Blog reader, you know how vigilant I am about socializing Talos. Take a look at this week's calendar:
- Frederick Community College for a business meeting
- Shopping at Costco
- trip to the bank to make deposits
- visit the hair salon for my hair cut
- doggie daycare (twice)
- Out and About class in downtown Frederick and
- Arlington National Cemetery
This dog gets out. I've rearranged my schedule to afford him socialization opportunities, and I can see the results. He's an even-tempered, easy going, laid-back dog.
So the meeting we attended today started off great: I took Talos through the breakfast buffet line and he managed to keep his head off the table and out of the bacon dish. (That is no small victory!)
We found a spacious location and he immediately laid on his mat. I'm pleasantly surprised- this is going so well!No bacon off the buffet and he's going to lay down?! Fantastic.
Until the entire room gets quiet and the emcee begins to talk. Talos begins his own speech. Except it's in dog-language and he's not even on topic.
Being the resourceful trainer I am, I took the opportunity to play the "target my hand" game and he did fine with that for three minutes. Then he went right back to talking. Or singing. Or whatever it is that he does when the room is as quiet as a tomb.
We took a quick walk around the campus of Frederick Community College, which gave us even more socialization experiences. He'd never run across people in hoodies with backpacks. What were these strange creatures? He stood, mesmerized, for a good two minutes – keeping an eye on these new beings. He gave a couple "buuufs" – not real barks, but rather some exploratory vocalizations, I think to see if these new things would react to him. At 8:00a, these kids didn't even notice him, let alone react to him. There was also campus construction so lots of noise, dust, and machinery. He took it all in, calmly for the most part.
So while I missed some of my meeting, Talos got a lot out of the morning. Again, I am reminded that there's a lot more to socializing a service dog than just mere exposure to different things. I still need to work on his relaxing – quietly! – in a quiet room. Ah, the training never ends…