Meet Asta! An energetic one year old American Bulldog from Los Angeles, CA. Asta has joined us for a One Week Board and Train Program because he pulls when walking, resource guards his food and toys, and loves to jump. Over this next week we will work on building a strong foundation for his training. Stay tuned for his 7 day transformation!
Asta and I started our day today with a walk that did not include training to build our bond. Once we got settled in we began to work on introducing him to the E Collar and leash pressure. I guided Asta with directional changes of the leash, teaching him that if he follows the pressure path, the pressure will be released. He began to catch on but definitely put up a fight and at times would resist. I used a muzzle while training him because it was our first time working with an E collar together and was told he can react aggressively to pressure. When Asta was resisting at times he would try to bite the leash and showed signs of discomfort. He did try to bite once while I was fixing his E collar in a correcting manner. This was him communicating he wasn’t comfortable with it so we took our time putting it on. Once Asta began to fight the leash pressure I could tell he was overwhelmed and gave him a break after working him through it. There are different levels on the E collar. If he didn’t respond to one level I went up 4 levels higher until I got his attention and he followed it. We will continue to work on his Heel, and introduce him to new commands as well as build our bond.
Asta and I began to work on introducing him to new behaviors today at Legg Lake. He is learning to come to me the second he feels the stimulation of the e collar. When he turns to come to me is the moment I mark it with a Yes and reward him. As I continuously reinforced him for coming to me he became more consistent. We then worked on his Down command. He knows to do it consistently, now we are working on building his Extended Down and Sit. He was able to hold his Extended Sit today consistently for a minute. I give him frequent breaks and play with him to help him enjoy the training. At times he gets excited and jumps, I always correct the behavior by stimulating him and telling him ”Off”. Off is important for him to understand since he resource guards and likes to jump. Whenever I tell him Off I follow it up with cuing him to Sit. Chaining these commands together helps him to automatically offer the behavior of muscle memory.
Last night when I fed Asta, we began to work on his resource guarding. Resource guarding often stems from puppy hood or from previous experiences. In this video I am teaching Asta in a very slow process that food is abundant and he does not need to guard or fight for his food. I began by holding the bowl at a high level, hand feeding him from the bowl. I slowly brought my hand with the bowl lower and lower until it was resting on the floor. Once Asta began to eat from the bowl, I moved him away from the bowl instead of trying to move the bowl away from him. A common mistake that is easy to make is to remove the food from him, this can lead to mistrust and possessiveness. It is also an easy way to get hurt. Once he came to eat the food from my hand, I picked up the bowl and placed more food into it as he was eating it. Every time I put my hand near his food it is to show him there will be more food. The next step is for me to remove the food from the bowl to give it to him. Great progress Asta!
Asta and I took a trip to the Citadel Outlets today. This was our first time out together in a crowded area. We worked on his Come to Sit which is the action of him coming behind me from the right side to sit on my left side. He is consistently coming to Sit when I call him to Come. He is offering eye contact more frequently during his Heel command. Heel is always on my left side. He knows to walk on my left side until I release him with the cue Break. He knows he is free to go when he hears Break. We worked on building consistency with his Down command because at times he tests it or automatically rolls over. This is when he growls at times which is why we practice with a muzzle on. His stubbornness with the Down command is not as severe and is improving. I reward him often when he stays in the down. He gets rewarded in 15 seconds increments when he is Down to encourage him to stay in that stationary position. Today he made it to a minute and a half with his Sit and Down. That is the goal we set for him. Asta does best with short and sweet sessions since he tires quickly. Great progress Asta!
Asta and I began to proof all of his commands at the Block of Orange today. There were crowds of people and even reactive dogs that we worked around. Asta began to get overstimulated when he saw the reactive dog but with a quick pop of the leash and reminding him Off, he continued to Heel next to me. Asta is now consistent with his Extended Sit and Down while I walk about 8 ft away from him. He still gets snappy when I stimulate him with the E collar. I combine leash pressure in the direction I want him to go with the E collar stimulation. Spatial pressure which is the smallest form of leash pressure works best for him combined with stimulation. I have been working on putting his E collar and Prong Collar on him smoothly. Initially he gets the urge to nip at me when I touch his neck and is very sensitive with that area. I take it really slow with him and mark it with a Yes when he lets me put it on him. He isn’t as snappy as he was before which leads me to believe he is becoming more comfortable and trusting with me.
Asta and I worked on all of his commands that he has learned so far at the Citadel Outlets. His Heel is now consistently by my left side. He knows to stay on that side until he is released with the cue Break. If there is a time that he pulls, I turn the opposite direction and add a leash pop along with E collar stimulation. While we walk I always reinforce Asta for offering me his attention, marking it with a yes and rewarding him. He does not seem to like dogs of the same sex. He displays stiff body language and growls at them at times. I never let him focus too long on dogs, this can lead to him snapping. Instead I correct him with a leash pop, telling him Off. Once he stops growling I say his name for his attention and create distance, Heeling near the other dog. Asta needs a lot of exposure in new surroundings. I am desensitizing him to a muzzle and putting equipment on him. I go about it very slowly and always reward him when I put it on. It is important to have clear communication with consequences for his actions as well as rewards for his good behavior.
Asta and I focused our work today on desensitization to having equipment be put on and off. We also worked on him going to the crate on command. Both of these things are triggers for him that cause him to resist by nipping aggressively, jumping and pushing full force. These behaviors may have in the past been self reinforcing to him. He may have learned that if he does this, it will make everything go away. I want him to know that doing this will not in any way stop anything from happening. We worked through this with some leash pops when he reacted aggressively, along with the Cue Off. This helps stop unwanted behaviors by creating pressure around his neck with the prong collar. Once he stops I continue to put the collar on him and reinforce him positively for cooperating. I always do this with a muzzle on because safety comes first, especially when dealing with scenarios that trigger him. After a few tries and leash pops, towards the end of the session, Asta let me put on his collar without nipping or jumping. We then worked on his Crate Training. Initially when I guided Asta to his Crate he would nip and snarl at me. I put his muzzle on began to create a pressure path with the leash towards the crate. I used kibble to lure him with my other hand towards the crate. After a minute or so, he gave in and followed the pressure path I created with the leash. I reinforced it with a handful of kibble and praise. We practiced this repetitively to build consistency. He now goes into the crate the first time I request it.