Alfred | Bernedoodle | San Diego, CA | In-Training
Meet Alfred, a one-year-old Bernedoodle from San Diego, CA who joins us for our Two-Week Board and Train program. Alfred is a smart, lovable guy with a lot of anxiety. He enjoys playing with other dogs and is a daycare regular, but when the leash comes on and he sees another dog, he will pull towards them in a playful manner, or growl, stiffen, and/or lunge if he wants to move the dog away. Alfred is with us for pulling on leash, not following through with basic commands, jumping on people, nipping, and crate training. Stay tuned for his fourteen-day transformation!
On the ride back to my property Alfred was a little whiny but settled down once we started moving. When we arrived, I did a small group social with Alfred and a few other dogs. He maintained a friendly and playful demeanor. Later in the day I took him to a shopping center and we did some leash work in the parking lot. He was easily distracted by people and noises, but started offering an automatic sit after a while. Alfred would not take food but really enjoyed praise. I had to keep my praise neutral or he would jump out of position. In the middle of our session a truck pulled up and asked if we were training. The driver commented on how good Alfred was heeling!
Alfred and Juno in the dog run.
Alfred and I stayed on my property and worked on his commands in the driveway. I introduced a marked system where "yes" means that's exactly what I want you to do and you don't have to continue doing it, and "good" means that's right, keep doing what you're doing until I release you. We use "break" as his release word. Alfred was motivated for his food, which I used to reward him for engagement (eye contact) and the place work that we did. At drop off he would not "down" on cue, but I was able to lure him into the position using food and start building duration using the "good" command. Alfred whines a little bit in the crate, but much less than I expected based on his history of barking in the crate when it was introduced to him as a puppy. He was playful and friendly with a small group of dogs he socialized with in the run.
After doing some engagement (eye contact) we worked on come to sit and extended place. I used the leash to guide Alfred around my back. When he was almost at my left side, I presented a treat and lured him into a sit at my heel. Alfred will "leak" (whining) randomly, but I've found that covering the front of his crate with a towel to remove stimulus, the sight of other dogs or me walking around, helped quiet him down faster.
Today we worked in front of a Starbucks. I’m now layering the e-collar over the commands that he understands and Alfred is responding well at a very low level. The scratching is Alfred trying to figure out what exactly is that sensation that he is feeling from the collar. His heel is starting to come together and his come to sit looks pretty good. Less whining today in and out of the crate.
Alfred has redness and eye discharge in his left eye so I’ve been using the eye ointment and wipes that were provided. This morning we worked on recall and come to sit on my property. He socialized with a group of dogs in the afternoon. Later in the day we went to a pet store and worked on duration sits. Alfred did very well!
This morning we went to the beach to work on Alfred's commands in a new environment. He was a little distracted by noises and activity, but overall he did very well. The whining has almost stopped and he is much quieter in the crate. There was never any barking, only low whining, and when he would do that I would use the quiet cue, which I had paired with a low level stim from the e-collar. Now I just use the verbal cue and he stops making noise. If he is struggling I will cover the front of the crate with a towel and that usually stops the vocalization. With dogs like Alfred the arousal comes from too much stimulation so removing it helps create calm. When Alfred returns home, value can be created in the crate by giving him things like bully sticks, marrow bones, benebones, or Kong's with frozen goodies inside, like his kibble layered by canned pumpkin or yogurt or wet food. He is to only receive these special treats when he's in the crate, and his meals should only be given by hand during training or in the crate. A google search for "frozen kong ideas" or "crate enrichment" will provide a number of options used by others. Just make sure whatever you use is something enjoyable to Alfred and agreeable to his stomach, so moderation is key.
Alfred and I worked on his commands at a park. He struggled a bit with all of the activity so we just worked on loose leash walking/heeling while he took in the environment. Skateboards startled him and sent him running out of position. He growled at one dog and avoided another. This is super common with younger dogs who need more confidence building.
Today we went to a busy shopping area to work on Alfred’s commands. He would get anxious at times when there was more activity around him and I stepped away to practice his extended down. It would only last for a moment but showed how important it is to make him work through these stressful moments.
Alfred and I went to the harbor and worked on his commands while people walked past us with their dogs. He did fairly well but is still working on heeling. He walks nicely on a loose leash but gets startled every now and then or distracted when dragging a leash and will veer off or start walking a little faster. I say, "no," and use the leash and e-collar to guide him back into position.
Alfred and I worked on some rear-end awareness exercises where I lured him onto a feed bowl and rewarded for small steps while his front paws were on the bowl. This is an exercise that helps with heeling and coming into heel. Now that Alfred knows the behaviors we are asking of him, I'm no longer feeding for every repetition. He's now on a variable rate of reinforcement, which means I might feed for the first repetition, and then wait five more repetitions before feeding again. This keeps the dog guessing (like a slot machine) and motivated to work. At Pets Plus I found an anti-anxiety calming chew recommended by other fellow trainers. Alfred is showing off his duration down with the chews in front of him.
Today we went back to the shopping center and worked on heeling around distractions. Alfred has a difficult time with this and will occasionally start whining. We continue to focus on this, and when he does whine, I try to identify what’s stressing him out on the environment, and move him if necessary. In the afternoon he socialized with the other dogs. A small wire fox terrier took a liking to him and they began to play.
Today we went for a walk in the neighborhood and worked on heeling and the "off" command. Rabbits and squirrels sprint across the street, as well as birds, and Alfred wanted to chase all of them. In the afternoon, we went down to the beach to work in a highly distracting environment. Alfred struggled with completing his come to sit and seems very afraid of skateboards. He jumped out of position and stared at the skateboarders as they went by. He is still whining randomly and I believe it's mostly stress from a lack of confidence. The world can be a scary place for a young dog who is unsure of things. Taking him out regularly to different places could help. The trips don't have to be for long periods of time, and can even be an outing where he goes for a walk and then holds an extended down while his humans enjoy lunch on a dog friendly patio. Gradually exposing him to more things, and reading his body language to understand if he is relaxed or stressed out, may also help.
Alfred and I worked on his final video in a shopping area. He did very well until a group of skateboarders rolled past us. The sound of the wheels really startled him. I used the ecollar to get his attention back on the task at hand and we were able to complete our filming.
Today we finished Alfred’s final video, including car manners and food manners. The latter is included in this Pupdate! Alfred did very well heeling off-leash and was able to pass several dogs without having a negative reaction. Very proud of his progress!