Bear | German Shepherd | Norwalk, CA | In - Training
Meet Bear! A two and a half year old German Shepherd from Norwalk, CA has joined us for our Two - Week Board and Train program along with a few extra boarding days. He has come to us to work on behaviors such as pulling on the leash, chasing any small animal that grabs his attention. Greeting Manners, excessively barking, and coming when called as he often has a mind of his own, deciding to listen whenever he feels like it.
Over these next two weeks Bear and I will begin to build a solid foundation for his training, providing him with plenty of structure, exercise, and exposure to new environments to proof his obedience as we further his training to help him be the best pup he can possibly be! Stay tuned for his Two-Week Transformation!
Bear and I went on a stroll around the park together as we got familiar with each other. After we walked around the park and tested what he knew, we then loaded him up into the car. Bear was interested in entering the car, he just needed some encouragement as we worked our way back and forth towards the car. I guided him with the leash into the car, which he followed quite nicely. He didn’t make any noise as he was hanging out in the kennel, which is great!
We then went home and got him all settled in as he explored his new environment.
Bear had a relaxing day hanging out with me and the pack as they met each other through the fence. They responded well to each other as they sniffed each other, displaying friendly/playful body language . After some playtime with the toys, we went a stroll around the neighborhood, introducing Bear to following the pressure path of the leash. He is beginning to Sit for longer periods of time and is taking less time now to enter the crate.
Bear and I went on a stroll around the neighborhood utilizing a slip lead to work on leash pressure guidance while practicing our Heel. When Heeling, he is expected to stay on my left hand side until released with the cue Break. Once he is on break he is free to do as he pleases as long as he is not excessively pulling. Since he is in the beginning stages of learning Heel, small intervals of the Heel is best to keep him engaged. Bear does struggle with remaining engaged, as treats, or toys don’t seem to get his attention yet. He is very aware of his surroundings, appearing anxious as he pants heavily, not offering much eye contact, even while his name is called. We have some work to do to begin to help him acclimate to new environments, as well as hopefully build some motivation. I will introduce him to the e collar tomorrow and begin to utilize it as an extra communication tool that can help grab his attention much more quickly as we begin to build a foundation for his training, in familiar environments first.
I have noticed Bear is becoming a bit picky with his kibble, not eating the whole amount served. I began to add wet food to his kibble today which he enjoyed! I will keep mixing it in to help entice him.
Bear and I began to introduce him to a new communication tool today, the e collar. The e collar is used as a bluetooth way to communicate to a dog. Whenever Bear feels the stimulation of the e collar, he will be conditioned to respond to a command simultaneously. There are 100 levels to this e collar, and it will be finely tuned to numbers that Bear responds best to according to his environment.
I utilized a 3.25 mm herm sprenger prong collar to pair with the stimulation of the e collar, as I guided him to Heel by my left hand side. I popped the leash in the direction I wanted him to go, creating a pressure path that turns off as soon as Bear follows where I am guiding him to. He significantly improved his Heel, as we made frequent turns together. I then worked on introducing him to the Sit command, utilizing leash pressure upwards and rewarding him as soon as he sat. It took Bear quite a while to perform Sit utilizing leash pressure. He was very resistant to it and often attempted to give me his back. After popping the leash multiple times, the pressure only stopped once he sat. After each Sit, he took less time to perform the requested behavior as I marked it with a Yes and rewarded him. It was Bear’s first time showing any interest in a treat, which is great to begin to build motivation to work.
Bear and I worked on e collar conditioning today, paired with leash pressure. I switched his contact points to help the effectiveness of the e collar which he responded to more consistently today. He follows my lead quite nicely while we Heel together. I stimulate him whenever we change direction or change pace as we are walking. He is matching my pace as I walk from fast to slow or vice versa.
We then worked on his Come to Sit, which is the action of Bear coming around behind me to Sit on my left hand Side ready to Heel. This is the area that Bear can use some improvement in, as he often resists leash pressure to Sit or Come around me. Although he took some time to Sit today as well, it is a significant improvement compared to yesterday. Yesterday it took an average of a minute for him to offer one Sit. Today he took an average of 15 seconds to Sit or less which is an improvement.
Bear definitely requires frequent breaks during training. When he has been training for longer than about 15 minutes, he begins to resist a lot more frequently. Once he resists, he begins to jump on me, or give me his back. This is a pushy, dominant behavior which is important to correct with a pop of the leash cuing Off. Once he displays high signs of stress by panting and resisting, I reset him, offering a break then working at it again. The goal is to improve his tolerance for training by having a few short sessions, increasing in time little by little. Due to a lack of motivation for food or playtime, it is not an easy task to get Bear to want to work. I am utilizing the leash pressure and e collar stimulation tactfully, to make sure that Bear is working at a threshold he responds best to.
Bear and I went on a trip to the Wilderness Park today! He has now improved with his car manners, following my guidance of the leash as I encourage him to jump into the kennel. We then worked on his crate manners when exiting the kennel, as I noticed he often tries to bulldoze his way out of the kennel. I close the door on him repeatedly reminding him to wait, until he is patiently waiting for my release to exit the kennel with the cue Break.
Once we arrived to the park, he explored for a few minutes soaking in his new surroundings and going on a potty break before getting started on training. There were plenty of distractions at this park which helped me evaluate how he responds to different stimuli. Bear tends to fixate on other dogs and certain people. Although he is not reactive, he will begin to pant heavily and keep turning his body towards the dog. Once Bear is aroused, and I am working him through this, I am very tactful with my application of corrections with the prong collar and e collar. I keep the levels of his stimulation under 25, because anything past that triggers an unpredictable response from Bear. There were a few times that he attempted to redirect nip or jump on me, when I utilized the e collar with him. It is important to teach Bear how to work through stressful situations, and to accept that he does not need to greet every dog or person he sees.
Once he worked through this difficult situation, I walked a few laps with him to decompress. We then spent some time working on his Come to Sit, Heel, and Extended Sit, at a distance from the distractions. He became more engaged, responding to stimulation of the e collar more frequently with less resistance which showed me he was ready to work our way closer towards the busy environment.
He is sitting much quicker now, not needing a pop of the leash to reinforce it every time anymore. Today was also the first day he took treats when out and about in a new environment, if the distractions were mild to moderate which is an improvement! I was able to mark and reward a few times he checked in with me which is great for building up that drive to work.
Bear and I had the opportunity to train around other trainer’s dogs today. This was a big test for Bear, as it was the first time he was surrounded by multiple dogs that he’s never met before, all while in a close vicinity. He was very overstimulated, fixating on the other pups yet able to perform his commands. Although able to perform his commands, he demonstrated to me that he is reactive when near dogs. While we were out on a pack walk, a dog in front of us was looking back at Bear, interested in him from a distance. Once they locked eyes, Bear lunged forward with a stiff body/tail, releasing a deep bark. I popped the leash in the opposite direction and cued Off to Bear. He then continued to Heel next to me as we continued to work on his Place command. Due to this, there is a possibility he may not be Off leash. We will continue to work near other dogs, and desensitize him as well as work towards counter conditioning this behavior.
Place is great to utilize to prevent unwanted behaviors, as well as promote a calm state of mind. It helps build confidence in a dog and can be used essentially on any elevated surface. Bear is expected to jump onto an elevated surface that we point to, and hold his Sit or Down position there until released. I recommend purchasing a dog cot to be able to send him to Place at home. it can also be transported wherever you take him. Having something familiar to him in an unfamiliar place helps him acclimate to his surroundings much quicker. Bear was a natural at this and enjoyed jumping onto this surface until I released him with the cue Break!
Bear and I focused our work today on introducing him to a new command, Down. This is not an easy task for a strong breed to perform, as it is a very submissive position to request from a dog. I noticed that Bear naturally enjoys going into the Down position once he is on my elevated dog cot. I used this to my advantage and began to practice Down while on the cot. We repetitively practiced sending him to Place, then cued Sit to Down. I utilize the visual cues of my palms facing the floor while I cue Down along with pressure of the leash, downwards. I kept the pressure there for quite some time, before Bear rested his elbows into the down position. We kept practicing this, chaining Place, with sit and Down. By chaining these commands altogether, Bear will learn to naturally offer these behaviors once sent to Place, as well as quickly enter this calm state of mind. A calm dog is a good dog!
Bear and I ventured out to Venice Beach today! This was another big step for Bear, as there were plenty of distractions to expose him to such as packs of dogs, skateboards, bicyclists, loud music, scooters, etc. Initially when we arrived, Bear was displaying quite a lot of anxiety. He was shaking and panting heavily for the first 30 minutes. I began walking him on the outskirts of the beach first, where there were less distractions. We made frequent turns, redirecting him away from anywhere he pulled towards. Extra communication is imperative when working Bear through his anxiety. I cue Heel whenever we moved forward from a stationary position, as well as whenever we changed direction. After some time, we began to practice his Extended Place paired with Sit. He did well with this, holding his Sit for up to a minute!
Due to Bear’s high anxiety, the beach was a bit much for him to offer Down voluntarily until we were there for a much longer period of time.
Once we were walking back to the car together, there were a couple of reactive dogs barking at him from a wagon. They were within close vicinity, yet Bear did not react! I praised him for this with some love as we continued our pack walk with the other trainer’s dogs.
Bear and I have focused our work on his house manners, teaching him how to co exist with other dogs present through the other side of the fence. Often times I rotate the pups throughout the backyard, desensitizing them to each other without the pressure of needing to interact. Initially Bear had a difficult time with this, reacting through the fence, trying to open it to get to the other side where the other dogs were. I corrected this by cuing Off with the stimulation of the e collar. Once he stopped, I redirected him to Sit. He began to redirect nip through the fence, refusing to Sit. We worked through this by attaching a 15 ft leash to him and Cuing him to Sit with pressure of the leash along with the stimulation of the e collar at a low level while I was on the other side of the fence. He responded well to this and Sat without any resistance. He then eventually went into the Down position all on his own which I marked with a Yes and rewarded. I then was able to work the other dogs on the other side of the fence without Bear whining or finding a way to escape.
We then went on a stroll around the neighborhood together working on his Heel, Extended Sit, Place and Down command. I recommend purchasing a 3.25 mm Herm Sprenger collar for Bear to maintain his training for his walks, as he is a powerful boy who does not have any leverage over you when utilizing the prong collar properly during his walks. He follows the guidance of the leash utilizing minimal leash pressure. If too much pressure is used, he begins to resist as his opposition reflex kicks in, which triggers his reactive episodes as well. As long as he is worked slightly below where his threshold is, he will continue to work through it more and more each day.
Bear and I started our day working on his Food Manners. He is expected to hold his Sit or Down while being fed. After the food bowl is placed on the floor, that is not his cue to get up. His cue to eat is when I release him with the Cue Break. Although tempted, Bear was able to hold his sit while I eventually went out of sight.
We then went on a trip to the local park where we worked on proofing his commands while increasing distance between us, utilizing a 15 ft leash. Creating distance between us while he holds his Sit or Place is a great way to boost Bear’s confidence while in a new environment. We start with only a few steps between us. Once Bear demonstrates consistency with holding his Sit or Place, I gradually begin to add more distance between us as we work our way closer to distractions. If we are in a low to moderately distracting area, Bear will take a few treats after he has been there for some time. This is an improvement for him, as it helps build drive to continue to work. Bear has begun to check in with me a few times which I always mark with a Yes as I praise him. Teaching Bear to check in frequently is imperative to help condition him to seek his handlers guidance.
Bear and I took a trip to the beach today where we had the opportunity to proof his commands near plenty of distractions. This was a milestone for Bear, as it was the first time he offered Down for a whole two minutes while in a busy, new environment. He has significantly improved with his Down, offering the behavior in an new setting after he has had about 15 minutes to acclimate to his surroundings.
There were a few dogs that were running around off leash, which definitely caught Bear’s attention. He released himself form the Down position to inspect, which I then corrected by popping the leash away from the dogs, and reinforcing Down until he followed through. It is important to reposition Bear back into position if he ever releases himself to hold him accountable for what we requested of him. Consistency is key to maintaining his training. After some work near these dogs, he eventually was able to relax in the Down position without heavily panting or shaking.
Teaching Bear to relax in new environments has been our primary focus to help him overcome his anxiety. I have been adding a positive interruptor whenever he is unsure of his environment and checks in with me. Today he checked in with me quite a few times which I marked with a yes and praised!
Bear and I ventured out to the mall where we further proofed all of the commands he has learned so far. I have noticed it takes Bear about 20 minutes to appear more comfortable in his environment if there are plenty of distractions present, especially other dogs.
If there are moderate distractions, like the mall that we were at today, it can take him half of that amount of time to appear comfortable and also consistent with his commands. This is an improvement for Bear, as before it took him about an hour to acclimate to his new surroundings or become consistent.
While we were Heeling around the mall, we passed by a few dogs which caught Bear’s attention quickly. Bear’s ears are usually pinned back when he is walking, but if he is alert, his ears are fully perked up. Once I saw this, I made a 180 turn with Bear, and continued to Heel with him as I cued Place. Bear followed through with Place and immediately offered the Down position while the dog passed by us. This is a great way to redirect Bear into a stationary position, and create that calm state of mind to prevent lunging or unwanted behaviors. I praised Bear for holding his Down as new dogs, as well as other trainer’s dogs passed by him.
We then had the opportunity to practice his Greeting Manners with friendly people that wanted to say hi. I communicated to them to only pet him if all four paws were on the floor as I reminded Bear to sit. He did well with this, and was able to hold his Sit for multiple friendly people. We will continue to work on his Greeting Manners, especially with an excitable energy level to have him keep building that impulse control. I included a video of his trip to the beach yesterday where there were plenty of distractions for him to work near.
Bear and I went on a trip to the Irvine Spectrum Center where we filmed content for his final video! when we first arrive somewhere new, although anxious, he can now work through it with guidance of the directional changes of the leash. He often resisted any kind of pressure, even leash pressure when he was over stimulated. The more we have worked him through his stress, the more he is able to overcome it. He can now take treats throughout our entire trip which demonstrates to me he is feeling more comfortable in new environments.
We passed by plenty of dogs, as I cued Heel to Bear. At times when he sees another dog, he tries to use his body to push up against me to get to the other side. I body block him as I step into him, turning the other way along with a side pop of the leash. Whining from Bear during these scenarios are not as severe as before which is great! He was able to hold his Sit, Place, and Down for a whole two minutes while in this busy setting. Great job Bear!
Bear and I filmed some more content for his final video today while at the outlets! There were a lot of distractions for him to work near which Bear did great with! He has significantly improved with the time it takes him to appear more relaxed in a new environment. After a quick stroll around his new setting, he is ready to work and even eat treats. He was able to Heel right by numerous pups and stay by my side. Although he appears alert when he sees them, as long as he has a job to do, he will follow through with it, not testing boundaries anymore. Check out a sneak peek of his final video!