In This Chapter
- Taking some time for just you and your Pom
- Chasing the fun with other people and dogs
The best times with your dog are probably when you share a quiet moment snuggling in front of the television or make a fool of yourself as you play a private game at home. But taking your Pom out for other people to admire is always fun. Fortunately, you have lots of ways to do this.
A Day at the Bark Park
Dog parks let your dog run around with other dogs, and they’re a hit in large cities these days. Some parks are public, some are for members only, some you pay for by the visit, some have play equipment, and some have separate areas for big and little dogs.
Avoid parks where your dog would mingle with strange, large dogs or run with lots of out-of-control dogs. Of course, make sure your dog is up on his vaccinations first. Then let the games begin!
Like most dogs, your Pom probably has fun playing fetch. You need a Pom-sized ball, one small enough for her to easily hold yet large enough that she can’t swallow or inhale it. (Err on the side of too large.) You can also use a stuffed toy or a cat toy made from fur or feathers.
Poms aren’t natural retrievers because retrieving had little to do with their ancestors’ original purpose. As a result, your dog has a better chance of enjoying the game if you teach her early. Follow these steps to quickly train your world-champion retrieving Pomeranian:
1. Take your dog and two of her favorite toys or balls to the middle of a hallway.
2. Throw one toy to one end, encouraging your Pom to get it. When she does, call her back.
3. Throw the other toy down the hall in the other direction as soon as she gets back to you.
4. Keep this up for a few throws, but quit while she still wants more.
Another way to teach her to retrieve is to clicker-train her. (Check out Chapter Mastering Manners and Basic Commands for details on this method.)
1. Throw a ball. When she takes a step toward it, click and reward her.
2. Gradually only click and reward for getting progressively closer to the ball, then touching the ball, then picking it up, and finally bringing it to you.
This sounds harder to accomplish than it actually is!
Follow Your Nose!
Pomeranians may not be famous as search-and-rescue dogs, butthey have an incredible sense of smell and are perfectly capable of sniffing out criminals, wild animals, buried people, and hidden treats. (I suggest you limit your practice, though, to those hidden treats!)
1. Let your Pom see you hide a treat in an easy place (like under a chair).
2. Take him out of sight for ten seconds or so before letting him back in the area. Encourage him to find it, and let him eat it when he does.
3. Hide the treat in a less obvious place, still letting him watch you place it. Then repeat Step 2.
4. Hide the treat without letting him watch so he has to use his nose to sniff it out. Then repeat Step 2.
5. Keep hiding the treasures better and better, and challenge him to find them.
Most Poms love this game. In fact, it’s a good way to make your Pom work for his dinner just like his wild ancestors did. If your dog is overweight, hide his dinner kibble by kibble, helping him burn calories as he eats!
Venture into the Great Outdoors
If you purchased a Pom thinking she was going to be the ideal companion for a trip along the Appalachian Trail, plan on carrying her a good part of the way. But if you’re up for shorter hikes, your Pom may be, too. As a matter of fact, Poms can enjoy the thrill of a hike just by walking in a park or even around the block.
Whether you’re walking or camping, keep her on an extendable leash and in a harness. And if you camp in a campground, bring an exercise pen to keep her both safe and confined.
While you’re at it, enjoy another activity in the wild — boating. The Pomeranian’s small size makes her an ideal sailor, but make sure she wears a doggy life vest and knows how to swim. A sturdy fishing net can grab her if she falls out, but she should still know to swim to the boat.
Become a Canine Good Citizen
Your dog, of course, is a good public citizen and a credit to dogdom. If that’s really the case, she can earn a Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) certificate from the American Kennel Club (AKC) through a series of simple tests attesting to her civic responsibility.
Basically, she needs to behave around strangers (even when they touch her) without jumping all over them or acting resentful. She also needs to walk on a leash without jerking and freaking out, even when people, dogs, and other distractions go by. For another part of the test, she needs to sit and lie down as well as stay and then come to you when she’s on a 20-foot line. Finally, she has to let a stranger hold her leash for three minutes while you’re out of sight — without going crazy! You can find complete details, test dates, and test sites at www.akc.org.
You can talk to your dog throughout the test, but you can’t use food, treats, or toys during the testing. You also can’t force your dog into position, although you can gently guide her.
If your dog potties during the test, it’s an automatic failure, so be sure she’s empty! If she growls, snaps, bites, or tries to attack another person or dog, she will be dismissed from the test.
In some states the CGC title is helpful in renting apartments or even in getting homeowner’s insurance.
Meet and Greet
If your Pom likes to make new friends, take him to a Meet and Greet, an organized event where dogs of one or several breeds meet the public. Such events are especially popular for rescue dogs, letting the public see just how wonderful these dogs are. Be sure your dog is freshly bathed and on his best behavior. Then all he has to do is be a petting magnet and an ambassador for the breed!
Because everybody wants to pet a Pom, you need to maintain control over the situation. Keep these tips in mind:
– Have a table available to set your dog on so that he isn’t on the ground in a sea of human feet.
– Limit the number of people petting him at one time; too many hands can be overwhelming even for a brave dog.
– Don’t allow strangers to hold him; a person may get startled and let go of him.
– Bring lots of tiny treats for people to give him rather than letting them feed him anything of their own.
– Take advantage of this great opportunity for him to show off a few tricks!
Contact your local Pomeranian rescue group or club, or a local kennel club, obedience club, or shelter organization, and ask whether they’ve planned this kind of an event. If they haven’t, ask them to consider hosting one. Of course, if it’s your idea, you can expect to help out!
Get Some Class!
You may be a firm believer in home schooling, but going to school with other dogs offers your dog advantages he can’t get at home.
– He gets the important opportunity to socialize with other dogs. This is especially vital if he’s still a puppy. If yours is an only dog, he needs a chance to mingle with members of his own species once in a while. Classes let him do this in a structured environment where no dog is allowed to get out of control.
– He gets to practice his good behavior around distractions. Even sitting in a room full of other dogs is challenging compared to sitting in the quiet of his own home. Obedience is most useful in public.
– You get the chance to work under the eye of experienced trainers who can suggest better ways to work with your dog.
– You meet people who also love being with their dogs.
Classes are available for puppy kindergarten as well as all different levels of obedience, home behavior, agility, therapy work, canine good citizen, rally, conformation showing, and other, more obscure activities. Veterinary offices, grooming shops, local shelters, and kennel clubs can be helpful in locating a class for your Pom.
Ask questions before signing your pup up for classes. Besides cost and number of lessons, ask about the training techniques. You want to hear words like positive reinforcement, reward based, or clicker training. Avoid trainers that require your dog to wear a choke collar or trainers that talk about being alpha or dominant. Other questions to ask are
– How many dogs are in the class?
– Are small dogs segregated from large dogs?
– Are dogs under control?
– If dogs are let off the leash for some exercises, is the area indoors or is it securely fenced?
Let Your Pom Be a Furry Therapist
Can you imagine having to give up your pets? Knowing how much better your dog makes you feel, why not share that love with people who can no longer have a dog? Many people would relish a visit from a well-mannered Pomeranian, maybe just to watch his antics or share a quiet moment. These people may be in a nursing home, a children’s hospital, or even down the street.
Many towns have groups of people who take their dogs for these therapeutic visits. They can train you and your dog so you’re ready for any situation and even certify you as a team so you can visit places dogs aren’t normally allowed. The first step in certification is usually to pass the Canine Good Citizen test (see the previous section). Of all the activities you can do with your dog, therapy work is by far the most rewarding.
You can find more information on pet therapy at the Web sites of Therapy Dogs International (www.tdi-dog.org) and the Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org).
Pom Be Nimble, Pom Be Quick . . .
Looking for something a little more active? How about developing your Pom’s agility through an obstacle course that he runs against the clock? Agility competitions combine jumping, climbing, weaving, running, zipping through tunnels, and loads of fun!
In an agility course, you and your dog race from one obstacle to the next in a prescribed order. The obstacles include various types of jumps and tunnels, a tall ramp to climb over, a raised plank to run across, and a see-saw to maneuver. Several organizations sponsor trials, each with slightly different obstacles and courses. AKC agility is divided into two types of courses: the Standard course, which includes all the obstacle types; and the Jumpers With Weaves course (JWW), which includes only jumps, tunnels, and weaves, usually in a somewhat more intricate course pattern than the standard. So get jumping!
Join a Flyball Team
Flyball is one of the few dog activities that’s actually a team sport. It’s a relay race where each team member runs and jumps a series of low hurdles, then steps on a platform to release a ball, and then catches the ball and returns so the next dog on the team can start. It’s one of dogdom’s most frenetic activities. If you thrive on excitement and team play, flyball may be for you.
Before you say your Pom is too little for any team, consider this: The height of the team’s shortest dog determines the height of the jumps for the whole team. So each team has one height dog, the one that guarantees the jumps are set low! Sounds like a Pom to me! For additional information, go to www.flyballdogs.com.
by D.Caroline Coile,Ph.D.