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When it comes to most improved dog, we immediately think of Atlas, a Dogo Argentino and Belgian Malinois mix. Owner's Jenny and John have been on an amazing journey raising Atlas and they've shared a little bit of their magic with us.

John Jenny and Atlas Dogo Argentino

About Atlas

Sex: Male
Breed: Dogo Argentino x Belgian Malinois
Age: 1.5 years old
Instagram: @mymightyatlas

Tell us a little bit about Atlas:

Atlas is a cross of two very powerful breeds. Dogo Argentinos are a relatively modern breed that was bred for large game hunting, such as boar. Despite being a large and powerful hunting breed, Dogos have wonderfully affectionate, tolerant, and cheerful temperament. His other mix is Belgian Malinois, a medium to large working breed often used for police and military K9 work. Mals are typically intelligent and energetic with high prey drives, which is why they're so great as working dogs.

What do you both do for work?

Jenny: I'm a Marketing Brand Manager in the cosmetics industry. So I work a fairly normal and sedentary 9-5. Atlas is the only thing that gets me moving!

John: I'm a Data Scientist for a data intelligence platform.

Jenny: But if he had it his way, he would've ended up a basketball player. And I'll be honest, I'm glad he kept his day job.

When did you first get Atlas?

We got him at 4 months old, last year May of 2020. It's been quite the rollercoaster ride with him. Our entire lifestyle has changed since Atlas arrived.

We go on hikes much more often with him and have even gone camping for the first time together. Atlas has given us a new daily routine too, which has been super enjoyable because it gets us outside.

Does Atlas have any fun party tricks?

He's getting pretty good at climbing things like ladders and big monster truck tires. He also heels fairly well and can walk up the stairs backwards. But my favourite trick right now are his handstands.

Next up, we're teaching him to parkour off a wall and then to skateboard lol I've also bought some Fluent Pet buttons to teach Atlas to communicate via buttons and explore his critical thinking abilities.

What's one thing that you'd do differently with Atlas from the start of your journey?

If we could do it again, we'd go back and implement more structure into Atlas' life sooner. We were so smitten with getting a puppy, as most owners are, that we got all wrapped up in only giving our dog affection (and a lot of free time).

Because he was so sweet and naturally obedient we didn't think much about needing to maintain strict rules. So, he got to sleep with us, sit on the couch all the time, and greet all the dogs he wanted to on leash. This led to a lot of behavioural problems like leash reactivity and separation anxiety, challenges we continue to face today.

We've learned, the hard way, that the first thing you need to do when bringing a new dog home is to implement structure or clear rules and boundaries. This sets the stage for you to become their leader and that's what a dog needs most—strong leadership.

We've also learned that implementing structure isn't just taking your dog out or feeding them at the same times each day. Instead, it's establishing ourselves as the leader—so let them work for each resource that you give them, like your affection, food, play time, furniture privilege, etc. This type of structure really helped with reducing anxiety in Atlas and gave him clear instructions and rules to keep him out of trouble.

Other notes: 

  • As a result of some serious separation anxiety, Atlas ate our couch (literally left the frame and springs). He's crate trained now, but we wish we did that sooner. 
  • We wish we understood the true meaning of socializing your dog. We thought it initially meant giving Atlas as many opportunities to meet as many different types of dogs as possible, and dog parks all the time. But socializing has less to do with this and more to do with giving them exposure to as many experiences as possible (people and environments).

Atlas Dogo Argentino Belgian Malinois Mix Breed

You both have had a long journey with Atlas and have spent countless hours on training and discipline. What's your secret? 

We don't think there's a single secret, but we do have an amazing community of balanced dog owners online that we follow and keep up with. They've all been incredibly supportive of our training journey and that really pushes us to keep going. 

Struggling with behavioural problems in Atlas often felt overwhelming and like we're doing it all wrong (raising a dog we mean). We think 'we're the only one in the world with a dog that has problems' and that's just not true. There are a lot of dog owners out there working on issues their dogs may have and getting support from one another is all a part of our training journey. We're so grateful for them and the new friendships we've made and continue to make everyday. 

What/who are your top 3 go to resources for all things dogs? 

Favourite trainer: @CaninePerformance

Nataly Dobkins is their founder and head trainer. She has a holistic, no-nonsense approach to dog training that's centered around educating human handlers. She is always clear in her communication and provides practical daily tips.

Plus, I [Jenny] really admire a young female entrepreneur building her own voice in this predominantly male space—and she does it with such confidence, clarity and class. 

Favourite dog family account: @moosenmango 

These two Pits and a Pom have the dreamiest Californian vibes and enviable aesthetics. The dogs are unbelievably cute and each have so much character. The best part though is how dedicated the owners are of training and caring for 2 reactive dogs they have. 

They share the good, the bad, and the ugly. The entire journey of what dog ownership can really be like. They're honest about it and I [Jenny] think we need more of that in the world. 

Favourite dog account: @itshenrythebully

Henry's owners are serious about dog training, have beautiful photography, and most importantly, raise awareness and provide education on dog training. 

Providing followers with as much education as possible on all the possible training tools they have at their disposal (like eCollars, prongs, martingales, harnesses, and more) is important. There's no right or wrong, goo or bad tool (which is always a big debate in the dog training community). 

Rather than focusing on what's a right or wrong method, we think it's most important to understand how these tools work, how to use them properly, and in what context they are best utilized to suit you and your dogs needs. 

That's it from Jenny, John, and Atlas

Have you had a fun journey with your pup? Know someone that wants to share their story? Email us at hello@billystreats.com and we'll be in touch!

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