My Pack: The Story Of OakleyJan 07, 2022
My Pack: The Story Of Oakley
Oakley is the only dog in my pack that I haven't raised since a puppy. I met Oakley when I first met my husband, Alan, in late 2017. Alan got Oakley from the humane society as a puppy. Oakley was listed as a puppy at The Humane Society as a Cattle Dog, aka Heeler mix. At the beginning of Alan and I's relationship, Oakley would get jealous and sit between us constantly. At first, I found this rather annoying, but now I realize how he shows his love. Oakley and Zena have been best friends since they met. Which was on one of our Alan and I's very first dates. They both were the same age, and they became instant best friends. Zena showed Oakley how to play fetch, destroy toys, and how to chase squirrels. Introducing a new dog to a household rarely goes right from what I have seen as a dog trainer in the field for over five years. There can be a lot of spite and jealousy between both parties, and humans almost always do the incorrect thing when introducing a second dog into a house or merging households. Luckily for us, Zena and Oakley were the same age, and both had been adequately socialized as pups and were confident dogs when introduced, and they formed a bond together before moving under the same roof. When I first met Oakley, he had a little bit of leash reactivity due to always being off-leash the majority of the time.
Once he was on a leash and couldn't greet a dog, he would react by barking loud once and playing bow in an attempt to initiate play but being restricted to do so. I wanted to work on this with him and started training him with an e-collar to improve his manners. Oakley hated me and refused to do anything I said, especially with the electric collar. I mean anything he would in protest. We wrongfully declared Oakley as the not-so-bright regarding listening and obedience skills. Oh boy, we were so wrong. Oakley is a typical guardian breed that if you try to force them to do anything, they will dog their heels in further. When it came to training Zena, she was happy to work and a people pleaser. Oakley, at the time, was quite the opposite. The more I pushed him to do something, the more "stubborn" he became. After I realized my previous methods were wrong and especially with an Akita.
At two years old, I started retraining him using a clicker and treats from the ground up. I remember seeing the light bulb come on, and his perspective on mom and training changed forever that day. Oakley was magnificent; he couldn't wait to do anything I asked him to. He was so excited about training with me that his whole perspective on life had changed, especially the bond we shared. He wanted to work for me now that he had a choice and a positive outcome. Oakley, at this time, started becoming more of a momma's boy, which was close to two years ago. Oakley being a mamma's boy will always drive Alan mad. In reality, Alan stole Zena from me, so it's only fair his dog is an equal traitor as mine. 🤣
A few years into my dog training career, Oakley became my "tester" dog to help me socialize scared or traumatized dogs. Oakley's calm demeanor and passive outlook on life have made him the best dog for the job. He is always ready to play, nap, or train. He has always been a confident and good role model for play behaviors. Oakley's demeanor has helped me socialize many fearful or leash reactive dogs when coming into my programs.
After our year of bonding through orthopedic surgery and recovery, I am unsure what I would have done without his loyalty. We've been through three surgeries between Oakley and me in one year. This past year has only made Oakley and my bond stronger than before. Dogs come into your life for a reason, and I was lucky that when I married my best friend, I secretly inherited my heart dog with him. ❤️
Oakley has taught me so much about guardian breeds. He was never dumb nor stubborn; his mom wasn't using proper motivators. After all, no one likes a boss they have to work for versus wants to.
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