Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

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619-357-6624  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

Bailey in San Diego

So, I feel like I haven’t written many blog/Facebook posts lately. Or at least not a proportionate amount compared to all the activity that’s going on over here! To tell you the truth, I’ve been working hard doing lots of “behind-the-scenes” things, like getting ready to make friends with other San Diego pet-related business owners, meeting other local pet photographers, and exploring the local neighborhoods to get a feel for what’s where. And while I haven’t been meeting lots of new dogs lately, like I normally do when sessions are in full swing, I’ve been spending plenty of time with Bailey. I love my girl so much – she just turned 4 on Monday! It was a great day and we didn’t have the slight fiasco of Birthday #3. We even spent the weekend with her doing extra-special fun things, like visiting the Coronado Dog Beach and joining my extended family in Los Angeles for a barbecue!


 I would post a new photo of Bailey at Coronado, but in the moving chaos, I can’t find my card reader. GAH. So here’s an oldie but a goodie :)

san diego dog socialization


However, I have a confession to make.


In the first year we had Bailey, I’d like to think we did a pretty great job at socializing her. When we adopted her, she was 6 months old – found in the middle of nowhere when she was 4 months old – and we took her to the dog beach most Sundays, constantly met other dogs on our walks, and generally took her with us whenever we could. She was a happy, social dog!


But after that first year, we moved farther away from that dog beach, and pretty far (a solid 25-minute drive) from dog parks too. We were lucky enough to move into a neighborhood with several playful dogs, and Bailey got along fabulously with them! But those dogs became 95% of her dog-to-dog interactions. I’ll admit it – we got lazy. With long walks in a neighborhood where we could let her off-leash and run, what could possibly be wrong with a few less trips to the dog beach? So we thought.


san diego social dog


Bailey has been stressed since we moved: she spent 3 whole days in a car, and we’d never boarded her before but she spent almost a week at Bark Boulevard while we visited Portland. So who can blame her for being stressed? But I’ve noticed in the trips that we’ve taken to San Diego dog parks so far that she’s not getting along with other pups as well as she used to. And maybe a dog behaviorist can help me out with the “why” behind this, but she seems to be quite particular about other dogs that she simply doesn’t like. And then she gives them a hard time: barkling, growling, snarling, etc. She never attacks – my gosh that would be horrible! – just makes it very clear that the other dog is not her friend.


It doesn’t happen often; probably with 5% of all the dogs she meets. If that. I certainly don’t mean to say that she’s lost all her social skills! She usually loves to meet other dogs, and she typically plays just fine with new friends! But every dog parent wants their pup to be social and sweet with everyone they meet… And as much as I’d like to play innocent and say “I have no idea why she’s like this all of a sudden”, I’m pretty sure all the evidence is right in front of me. Less socialization over the past couple of years. Stress of moving across the country and all the chaos that comes with it. In general, just less-than-ideal situations for my girl.


san diego dog

I feel guilty for how things have gone, so I’m making San Diego a new beginning! I’ve resolved to take Bailey out to dog parks and beaches MUCH more often than I used to! And since San Diego is incredibly dog-friendly, we can take her out to restaurants and more places too! It’s going to be great; we’ll get to spend more time with her and hopefully she’ll decide that more & more dogs are her friends. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes; I know nothing will happen overnight but I’m trying to create a pattern of lots of positive interactions. Hopefully my knowledge of dog psychology will help the process along.


I’ll always respect Bailey’s limits. I can promise you that. But until she tells me she’s had enough, I’m going to socialize the crap out of her. :)


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Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

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4 Responses to “Bailey in San Diego”

  1. Deb Pose says:

    I hope a random contact with a wolverine didn’t damage her. She will warm to her surroundings and do fine I Think since she is such a great first assistant with your business.

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Allison,

    Welcome to San Diego! I stumbled across your page on facebook and recently started following your travels. Congrats on your relocation, San Diego is a wonderful place, I grew up here and left many times, yet always return because it is so great.

    RE Bailey and her socialization, I agree that a huge component is most likely the stress she’s experienced through the move. What also may be happening is that as she really is an “adult” now, she just knows who she likes and who she doesn’t. It sounds like you did a good job in her most critical years of socializing her, after that generally, a dog’s social abilities mostly “plateau”. At this point in the game, I’d worry less about her getting along with every dog she meets and just focus on keeping her happy. That may mean that she doesn’t need to greet every single dog at the beach or park or on a walk. I cant be definite without seeing the actual interactions, but I’d be willing to guess that the dogs she has issue with probably are not terribly polite, and as a mature female, she may be telling them so. My dogs are similar in that regard–if they get charged by a rude adolescent, they are not going to take it, they’ll tell him to buzz off. As long as nothing gets too heated, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, its just dogs communicating with each other.

    Honestly by your description, I really wouldnt let it bother you. What you can do is make an effort to learn what types of dogs will set her off, and when you see them coming, head the other way, or divert her attention to you to engage her until the other dog decides to move off. I hope that helps, if you have any questions, let me know, I’d be happy to help! I am a CPDT-KA up here in North San Diego, we spend a lot of time hiking and beaching it up, so if you need any recommendations, let me know.

    • Liz – you are too nice!! Thank you so much for writing such a detailed reply! I really appreciate your input. You really think at 4 years old, she may have already plateaued socially? That’s interesting. We’re definitely not forcing her into situations she clearly doesn’t want to enter, and I had wondered if I should be more forceful, so I’m glad you told me to just focus on keeping her happy. Unfortunately the dogs that are problematic are actually quite polite; they don’t get in her face or jump on her. It seems like Bailey is the one to instigate in these situations, from what we can tell. We’re trying to identify the kinds of dogs she doesn’t like, but we haven’t figured out the pattern yet, so we’ll keep trying.
      (Oh and I’ll be honest – I had to google CPDT-KA, haha! I may have to give you a shout if we ever decide to go on an epic hike/beach day up there! Are you closer to Oceanside or Escondido?)

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Allison,

    Glad it was helpful. I’m not saying that she’s completely “done” developing her social skills at 4 (we have a rescue we didn’t get til that age and he has come a looooong way in that dept), but its just not something I’d spend much time worrying about. She sounds pretty darn functional, so you already succeeded at your job! :) Exercise and mental stimulation should be your key goals. If other dogs she enjoys are part of that, great, and if not, no big deal.

    We are up in Oceanside. There are lots of great hikes in our general area and we have a “semi-secret” dog beach up here too. Its not so good for just running around as its not huge, but it is great for swimming/retrieving if Bailey is into that sort of thing. If we really want to let them go bonkers we go to Del Mar, but as I’m sure you know we’re in the “lock down” part of the year (no off leash until after Labor Day). Drop me an email if you ever want to meet up or have any further training or behavior ?s!!!

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