Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SociaBulls: Living in the City with a Dog who Fears Strangers

As we've been recapping our SociaBulls walks, we've been featuring different members and how the walks are working for various dogs. Lola is a gorgeous pitbull-type dog (also from Miss M and Bessie's rescue group!)  who we first 'met' when they shared their dog-friendly trip to Harbor County, Michigan; we were quite excited to meet them in person. Since then, her mom has stepped up as Event Co-Cordinator, with Izzy's mom, helping arrange and coordinate the walks. As her mom explains below, Lola has severe stranger fear, which can be hard living in a big city where nearly everyone is a stranger! Read below to see how SociaBulls walks are giving Lola the confidence to meet new people, and see photos of last weekend's walk.

Like most of the 2011 SociaBulls, I first heard about the group via Two Pitties in the City. I'd followed Mr. B and Ms. M's adventures for a few months, and was totally smitten with them and the blog, so when they announced the group walks I knew we had to join just to meet the celebs in the fur. We missed the first few walks due to other commitments, but Lola and I joined the pack in September.
Lola is a middle-aged (4-5 year old) American Bulldog/Pit/?, who has a split personality. She excels in training classes and is great one-on-one, but can get over-excited around other dogs, and has serious stranger anxiety. I figured that exposing her to lots of dogs in a controlled environment, and taking advantage of access to dog-educated, friendly strangers would only help her.
She cried and pulled and whined for the first part of her first walk, then something magic happened. She became a part of the pack. The leash loosened. She became calm and focused. She still gets excited when we get to the walks, but now usually quickly settles into her groove, especially when she's walking near one of her pals.
Each week, I try to have someone she doesn't know come talk to me, and pet her at the end of the walk. She's becoming more comfortable and accepting of strangers.
I'm starting to see this new confidence and sense of security where it's most important. At home. Until just recently, guests did not receive a warm welcome, but as she's getting more exposure to strangers and getting more confident, the barking and freakouts are becoming shorter and shorter, and recent guests have commented on what a great dog she is.
I love being a part of this mass of people and dogs walking without incident through the city, showcasing what great dogs look like. I love seeing the faces of people as they watch this pittie parade pass them by. And I love the dogs (and their people) that I've met on weekend mornings.

You can also read more about Lola, and her adorably small muppet-like brother, on their blog A Franklin a Day. And you can read about SociaBulls members: Zoe (The Dog who "Loves Too Hard")Izzy (Being a good pitbull ambassador while working with an energetic dog) and Maize (Being social with an unsocial pup).
We have been astounded with all the new member requests, and we are working on a process to responsibly integrate everyone into the group. You can also stay up to date with photos, updates, doggy snow fashion and announcements on our SociaBulls facebookpage here.

16 comments:

goosie mama said...

Aww - good job, Lola!!

Tucker The Crestie said...

Love to hear all these great stories of dogs whose lives have been so positively impacted by these walks! Just checked out Franklin and Lola's blog, too - and now I'm hooked!

Diane said...

I have the same dog! I mean my Dexter is a wonderful dog at home and training class but very fearful of strangers. It's so nice to hear you are accepting of pups with issues.

Froggy said...

I adore Lola and she is a rock for new dogs with issues on our walks. I love to see our dogs progress! GO LOLA!

Christine said...

Great job, Lola! We always admire how great you do on the walks.

Kate said...

Way to beat those fears Lola!!

Tannia G. said...

Very nice post, thanks for sharing!

Two Pitties in the City said...

I'm always so surprised every time Lola's mom reminds me that Lola is afraid of strangers; I always view her as such a confident dog, and she is so good at helping other dogs integrate into the group (besides being strikingly gorgeous).

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

Oh what a wonderful thing for Lola. I have been trying to seek out walking and socialization opportunities for my remaining reactive pittie-boy Fozzie; my former foster girl is now living with someone who has access to a similar monthly pittie walk. I think it is just such a great thing; I wish these types of walks would crop up for dogs and owners everywhere.

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

I also didn't realize that Lola was afraid of strangers because she's been doing so incredibly well on the walks! She just has a great energy, and she was so good when we came over! Yay Lola! :)

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

I also didn't realize that Lola was afraid of strangers because she's been doing so incredibly well on the walks! She just has a great energy, and she was so good when we came over! Yay Lola! :)

Claudia said...

She's really good in familiar situations, but gets very flinchy and nervous when strangers approach on walks, or come into our house. She's great with dogs, so if a stranger has a dog, they're WAY better than a dogless stranger. Those are REALLY scary.

She is getting much much better, but still has a way to go. We're so happy to have found SociaBulls and be able to help her like this.

Amy said...

Congratulations on your success with Lola! We also have a dog who's afraid of strangers and it can be tough to deal with. After years of feeling like a jerk for having to tell everyone they couldn't pet him because he's afraid, we got a vest for him with patches that say "Please don't pet me, I'm working." It's been a huge help. Ty's figured out that strangers are not going to reach to pet him, and he's gotten more relaxed. I've also been able to relax because I don't constantly have to be on the lookout for the next person whose going to try to approach him. Of course, we don't try to use the vest to take him places he's not allowed - we just use it to make him "invisible."

Skinny Fat Kid said...

Strangers coming to our house freak Izzy out. She will calm down eventually but can be a bit scary for the first 5 minutes. We'll have to invite some of our pack friends over as they're dog savvy and we're all here to help each other, right??

jet said...

and with that face, I bet lots of strangers want to say hello to her!

Sara Grace said...

Lola looks like such a cutie! Dutch gets overly excited when he sees dogs on our walks, too. He jumps and spins trying to get out of his collar... what a handful!

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