Socializing at Rat Race Rat Terriers

Piper in Walmart cart 5-14-16
Piper shopping at Walmart

This year I have decided I really need to step up my dog training. I think Piper actually jump started it, as I work with him on a daily basis doing basic training. He is coming along really well. I need to start taking him out to other places to train to expand his horizons. Although he did do really well when I took him to town last weekend. He did sit and down, shake hands and high five while I was at the local craft store. Quite impressive for the young kid!

I wrote a bit about him on my last post, so won’t go into too much here for Piper. Just want to say that I am working hard on training him so if/when he ever does find a new ranch/farm home, he will be able to adjust easily. He has been doing really well when I take him to town. Not too spooked, considering the fact that he lives in a very quiet, country atmosphere. I have taken him down to the small town close to us and he has been inquisitive and not afraid to explore. He walks with his tail up, which tells me that he is confident and comfortable. I like to take him out by himself so that he gets used to working alone with a person and not relying on another dog to help comfort him or lean on, so to speak. I don’t mind pairing him up with Maddie, Em or Sage, as they are all confident dogs. for places that might be really scary for him. That way he can read how they are reacting and see that there is nothing much to worry about. But for what I do, there is nothing particularly threatening or scary, so he is fine by himself with me. Being able to take him into several stores around town really helps him get used to different buildings, objects and people.

I have done a little bit of scent work with him with the tea bag. I will continue with this as it is something more to work his brain and he enjoys it. He is also learning “touch” which can later be transferred to other things, such as light switches, doors, etc. (He could learn to close cupboard doors say or turn on lights, although he may not be tall enough to reach the switch!) I need to start teaching him fetch. When I teach him fetch, I will be testing out a different, more logical way of training it so it makes more sense to him and hopefully will create a willing retriever. So lots of potential for him. Would be great if I could find a way to place him as a service dog!



I haven’t honestly worked much with Joy as she is more my husband’s dog than mine. He takes her with him all the time when he irrigates, so she has met the neighboring dogs and rancher, and he takes her with him in the truck, he just never thinks to take her to town to walk or go into the store with him. So, I decided to take her under my wing and work with her to get her better adjusted to the outside world.

Her first run by herself was yesterday. I had to go to the bigger town and run some errands, so took Joy with me. Since she’s used to riding with her mom, Sammie, she was a bit unsure of what was going on, but did fine on the trip down. She would look around, then take a quick nap, then watch the road some more. First stop was at Tractor Supply to drop off my two turkeys. I had decided to sell them, so made arrangements to meet the lady there. After the turkeys were safely on their way, I slipped a harness on Joy and went into the store to pick up a few things. Then we were off to the bank, where she came in with me. She really wasn’t too sure of all of that, even tho’ it was quiet. Some of the tellers really enjoy me bringing a dog in, others don’t. Sadly, this lady didn’t, so did not interact at all with Joy. Ah well, can’t win them all! Then we were off for a walk down the few blocks of town to explore and visit. She did really well, although she wasn’t too sure of people coming up behind her or sitting outside the small coffee shop. I have a treat bag filled with dried liver and puppy food, so I fed her as we went. She did have to be really brave when an elderly gentleman came up at the corner where were standing waiting to cross the street. He had a motorized scooter type thing, so that was a bit scary for her. I made the mistake of going ahead of him when we crossed the street, but then let him pass. Poor Joy didn’t know what to make of it behind her, but she was ok with it as long as it wasn’t where she couldn’t see it. But she didn’t get really spooking, just wanted to see it to make sure it didn’t come up behind her and bite her in the butt.

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We continued on up the street where I stopped in to see on of the shop owners. I worked Joy in the shop. She responded really well for her down and sit. One of the customers was quite impressed with her calm behavior. Joy never pulled on the leash or got too antsy in the shop, but she was a bit hesitant to take a treat for the shop owner’s hand. She did manage to take a few of the dried liver treats. (Almost always a great bribe!)

We bid farewell to the kind shop lady, promising to come back again soon, and walked down the street a few more blocks to the local craft store. I needed to pick up something for my dog shop business and since I can bring small dogs in, Joy got to go in with me. I put her in the small shopping cart and started to push it to the aisle where I needed to go. Joy promptly jumped out. Luckily I half expected her to do that, so was able to grab her by her harness before she hit the ground. I put her back in, talked to her and petted her, fed her some treats, and again set off for the aisle I needed. She tried to jump out one more time, but I stopped her before she got too far. It was a bit of a challenge to look for what I needed and keep an eye on her, but we managed well enough and went to check out. Some of the ladies know me there, so they were happy to see Joy and comment on how cute and well behaved she was. She did jump out of the cart as I was about ready to leave, and I made the mistake of not putting her back in and having her wait for me to pick her up and put her down on the floor.

Bad habits I have created for myself! I need to start paying a bit more attention to my dogs and holding them responsible for doing what I asked or need them to do. They all are good dogs, so we let a lot of little things slip. They run out the door most of the time, usually barking their fool heads off, especially at night. I swear they are afraid of the dark, so figure that if they go out barking, they will chase the boogey man away! I’m working on that, asking them to sit calmly before going outside. Most do, and they have figured out the sooner they sit, the faster the door gets opened. They are also getting really good at not going out until they hear their name. Now I just have to get my husband to cooperate and do the same thing! Ha!


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But I digress…After the craft store, we jumped back into the truck and went to the local feed store to pick up some chicken feed and puppy food. With a long day and only one more stop, Joy was ready to go home. But I wasn’t going to leave her in the truck so we went shopping at Walmart. She even helped me pick out the meat! She was a bit nervous in there and never did relax. If any of you remember Trev from a few years back, the young boy that was helping me with the dogs, I saw them in the store and said hi. Joy was too tired by then so she didn’t want to take a treat from him, but she did let him and his younger sister pet her without any complaint. She did jump out of the cart when I was checking out, but stayed quietly when I put her back in. Boy was she a happy girl when I loaded her up in the truck and told her we were heading home! When we arrived at our small town, I took her down to the fairgrounds to let her run around and blow off some stress, but the poor girl didn’t relax much. You can see her tail did pull away from her body a little, but she wasn’t carrying it high over her back like she would at home. Maybe I should have taken her to the ‘dobies between our house and town to let her run there instead. Next time I will!

It was probably just a bit too much for her for one day, but she did well and I think the next time we go out, just the two of us, she will be better and more comfortable with the different surroundings. This is where I really wished I lived closer to the large town so I could take all of the dogs down one at a time and work them without waiting until there was a reason to go to town like we do now. Since it is a half hour drive, we don’t want to go to town without a need to.

I was going to write about Maddie here, but I think I will save that for another post as this one is getting a bit too long!

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