Where do you start when you need to train a feral dog? We have found that one of the best way to train an unsocialized dog is through one of our favorite and most entertaining methods, “monkey see monkey do”. So, as we started to plan to load Two into a car for the first time, we needed a non reactive sweet tempered dog to take a long for the ride. Get ready for a shocker, our “go to” dog is a a pitbull. We know it’s unconventional, but step one…
Step 1: Get yourself a pit bull
Step 2: Introduce feral dog to Pit Bull (they kind of know each other because Number Two used to visit the back yard fence from a distance under the cover of darkness). The two dogs took a walk around the clinic together and then through the surrounding neighborhood. Once they were familiar and comfortable with each other we moved to the car.
Step 3: Load Pit Bull into the car and tether her to the headrest.Pit Bull, aka Pitty, is the perfect pal to train a feral dog to get in a car because, first, you never have to worry about her jumping out. Pitty will NOT get out of the car until the car has moved; thanks to her pitbull nature, she is singularly focused like that. Second, it is good to have a non reactive dog with you when you jam yourself in a confined space with a nervous, feral dog. A dog fight in the hatchback of a compact car is going to end badly, mostly for me. Our bomb proof non reactive Pitty is solid for confined conditions (unless you are a cat).
Step 4: Bend yourself like a pretzel and get in the back of the compact car hatchback trunk with the Pit Bull.
Step 5: Unfold yourself and climb back out of compact car without getting tangled in tether. Climb back into the front seat through the passenger door and try to look interesting. If you look interesting enough, the dog will eventually follow. It also helps to have feral Momma’s formerly feral friend, Frankie‘s, sweater sitting on the front seat. She could not resist taking a wiff of his sweater.
Step 6: Sit in passenger seat of car – wait for feral dog to smush in the floorboard with you
Step 7: Fold yourself up and crawl over to the driver’s side
Step 8: Get feral dog to sit in passenger seat. Tell feral dog you would prefer that she not get into the driver’s seat. Watch feral dog get into driver’s seat.
Step 9: Climb through the front seats into the back seat
Step 10: Have a pet fest with the Pit Bull to make the feral dog want to come to the party in the back
Step 11: Smush up more and make room for the feral dog
Step 12: Have a party in the back seat. Back seat dog party = laying around and doing nothing.
Step 13: Climb over dogs to exit car. Get dogs to exit behind you without them tangling you in their leashes causing a face plant.
Step 14: Rinse repeat a few times
Step 15: Come back another day and practice steps 1-14 plus START THE CAR and go somewhere
Step 16: Clean the car; feral dogs are dirty and smelly.
Step 17: Give the dog her first ever bath before she gets back in the car; feral dogs are dirty and smelly 🙂
Things are moving along in the right direction for “Two”. She really is a sweet, smart, adaptable girl. It has been so rewarding to watch her grow and thrive through a relationship built on trust and love. We can’t wait to finish up her rehab so we can match her with her forever family.