Monkey the Science Dog is a chihuahua, which means he's insane. He's mellowed a bit with age, but he still goes nuts with very little provocation. Kids walking down the sidewalk, knocks at the door, loud tailpipes- anything can set him off on a barking fit. When new people come to visit his Napoleon complex kicks in and he acts aggressive. He's jumped and bitten a few fingers and some folks are terrified of him. There seemed to be no solution besides separating him from the stimulus causing the uproar. As this did nothing to actually aid in socializing him it wasn't a real solution.
I originally made the sock lion as a toy for tugging and chewing. I had a pile of old socks that either had holes or lost their mates and I was trying to find a way to recycle them. I started looping them together and it began to take a wreath shape so I kept going figuring it may turn into something decorative. This is a common practice for me- I often have no idea what I'm doing. I just play with materials until it starts to take a form.
Before long I had a weird looking sock wreath. Monkey and I had fun playing tug and fetch. I got the idea to put it around his neck and it was amazing- he instantly calmed down. Usually he hates collars and harnesses. He'll tolerate a sweater if it's cold, but he seems to like wearing the sock lion around his neck. I don't know if it's canine cosplay or what, but it's adorable and functional.
Step 1: Making a Loop.
We need a loop that's bigger than your pet's head and neck so that it doesn't get too tight when we loop a bunch of other socks around it. I used a footie sock with a large hole in the bottom of it. I enlarged the hole a bit until it was big enough to go over Monkey's head with room to spare.
Step 2: Loop Socks Around the Neck Loop.
Looping the socks is pretty straight forward. First I cut a small hole in the sock near the heel big enough to pull the toe of the sock back through (if there isn't one already). Pull the toe through the hole looped around the main sock loop that acts as the center of the 'wreath'. Pull it very tight so it stays tied. Continue adding socks until the main loop is full. If you have different colored or patterned socks be creative with the arrangement.
Step 3: Try It Out.
OK now's the moment of truth- try it out with your dog. If it helps keep him calm then mission accomplished, if not you still have a fun tug and chew toy. Monkey's problem is aggression, not fear, but I imagine the sock lion would offer relief for frightened dogs on New Year's Eve or July 4th, similar to those weighted blanket people swear by.
The next phase for Monkey and I is to try putting the sock lion on when we know someone new is coming over. Hopefully this will help keep him calmer when meeting new friends. Of course it could just be psychological- who could feel tough with a silly mane of socks around their neck? Either way a calmer chihuahua is a better chihuahua.
If you have success with the sock lion please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your input. I'd also love to see pics of your buddy wearing one so please share. Now stop reading the internet for a while and go play with your dog!