Bella | Doberman Mix | Alpine, CA | In-Training
Meet Bella, a 7-month-old Doberman mix from Alpine, CA here for our Two-Week Board and Train Program. Bella is a sweet girl who can be skittish around people and unsure around dogs. She is with us for leash pulling, socialization, and to learn her basic commands. Stay tuned for her fourteen-day transformation!
Bella and I went for a walk around Oceanside Harbor today. She was pretty nervous in the environment with her tail tucked between her legs throughout the walk. I used the leash and my body language to get her to move in my direction, but she would try to lean on me and take cover between my legs. We will work on building up her confidence through her obedience training and socialization.
Today we stayed on my property so I could introduce the e-collar while having Bella on a long line to help guide her in my direction. When I went to put a slip lead on Bella she got a bit uncomfortable in the crate and tried to avoid the leash by averting her head towards the back corner of the crate. I found the lowest level where Bella felt the stimulation from the collar, and then I would tap the top left black button on the remote until she looked in my direction, and then I would use my verbal marker “yes” or body language to get her moving towards me. When I would stop walking, I would tap the black button on the left side of the receiver and ask for a sit. On turns, I would tap the same button while patting the left side of my leg to help Bella understand that I want her moving with me. While Bella was in the dog run, my female, Juno, came over to sniff Bella, and Bella, with her tail tucked between her legs, turned and flashed her teeth at Juno. She isn’t ready to socialize with other dogs at this point, so I will allow her to have free time in the run by herself or with me.
Today Bella and I stayed on my property. I introduced “place” while using the kuranda bed. To get Bella to “place” on the bed I am using a combination of leash guidance, treats, and e-collar, as well as my body language. From the conditioning we did yesterday Bella understands the stim means to move towards me. I use treats to lure her onto the bed, and once she has all four paws on the surface, I use my verbal marker “yes” and reward her with a treat. Once she understood “place” means to climb on to the bed, I then ask her for more by adding a “sit” and rewarding once she’s on the bed and sitting. I use the word “break” to release her from the bed. Bella is showing signs of being a bit more comfortable around me, but I am concerned because she doesn’t always go to the bathroom when I let her out in the yard. She has ample opportunity to potty but will hold it until she can’t anymore. She woke me up at 11pm last night and finally went to the bathroom. I also had to move her from the plastic ruffland kennel to a wire kennel to be able to see her better. After I brought her in from pottying I reached slowly into the crate to remove the slip leash from around her neck (Bella didn’t come with a regular dog collar, only a prong that wasn’t sized and way too big) and Bella bit my hand. It wasn’t hard, but her teeth did make contact with skin. She’s uncomfortable with hands reaching towards her neck, even from the side or underneath, so I will work on desensitizing her to the motion as I have to fasten the e-collar and take it off daily.
We stayed on my property in the morning to work on loose leash walking, heeling, place, sit, and break. In the afternoon we went to Pets Plus to expose her to a busier environment with people. She has made the association with the word "place" and the Kuranda bed, so I'm now layering the e-collar to motivate her to get on the bed. I press the black button on the top left side of the remote, say "place", and hold it until Bella has all four feet on the bed. To release her, I say "break" and toss a treat away from the bed. I only use treats to teach and then phase them out once the dog performs the behavior reliably. She did a good job of holding her sit, but when she did try to break it prematurely I would press the black button while moving into her and saying "no, sit". We worked on heeling, and I would tap my left leg to give her a visual of where to follow. You'll notice she tries to break her heel twice to go back to the bed and self-corrects on the prong collar. She's still nervous, and sits a foot behind me when I stop, but she's sitting so I don't want to ask for more until we have better rapport.
Bella and I went for a walk at Irvine Spectrum Center with my dog Juno to get her more comfortable in a distracting environment. We worked on loose leash walking, heel, sit, and break. When she would get too distracted and break her heel position, I would say “no heel” and hold the black button on the left side of the remote at the same time I’m guiding her with the leash back into her heeling position on my left side. I stopped her in busier areas and asked her to sit and watch the activity around us. I rewarded her with treats to make a more positive association with the environment and every time she completed a command. When she was overwhelmed by all of the activity she would not take treats. She did not eat breakfast and ate 1 cup of her food for dinner, so I left the remaining 1 cup in her crate if she later becomes interested in eating. She did not potty during the day while we were out, but she did finally go in the evening.
This morning I worked with Bella on my
property. We mainly focused on her down command which she hasn’t been willing to do. I tried luring her with food into a down, but she would only put her elbows down and not her rear end on the ground. I incorporated directional leash pressure to help her understand the down. Later in the day I took Bella to a local shopping center to practice her commands in a more stimulating environment. She was more distracted and struggled with holding her down command especially when people were walking by. She would complete her down half of the time, but struggled with duration in public verses on the property she was able to hold her down with no problems.
Bella and I went to Walnut Grove Park today and worked on her commands. In the beginning she was nervous by all the children running around making noises and struggled to hold her commands. Once I created distance between us and the children she visibly relaxed and did a better job holding her commands. She was rewarded with the freeze dried treats I picked up this morning and eagerly ate them.
Today Bella and I worked on her commands on my property and the local park. I asked her to place on a bench near the tennis courts and by her body language I could tell she was nervous because of all the activity going on around her. We continued to work on down, but she is not comfortable in that position. At times I gave her a little leash guidance to help her understand what I was asking of her since she was so distracted and she did much better. She was able to walk past the other dogs on the property without her hackles going up, but when I tried to socialize her with the other dogs she flashed her teeth and reacted on one of the other puppies. She is more comfortable than when she arrived, but I’m not confident she wouldn’t nip a dog if they put too much pressure on her.
Bella had a breakthrough today! When I took her into run with Juno she was super playful, so I decided to bring in Roscoe, who is her age and has a similar play style. They hit it off great and ran and played together. She did have a loose stool around lunch time, but that was around the time she was socializing, so maybe there was some stress involved.
Bella and I worked on her commands on my property today. During social I had Bella with the two puppies she socialized with yesterday and added a third dog. When the third dog went to approach her Bella’s hackles went up, her body crunched up, and she let out the loudest scream I have ever heard from a dog. I quickly moved in between them and ushered the other dog away from Bella, but she acted a little weary of me after that. We are still working on her heel since Bella walks by my side but tries to keep a little more distance than I would like. After social when I was asking her to perform her come to sits she would only perform them half the time and had to be reminded more often to stay at my heel while dragging the long line.
Today I worked Bella with Juno as a helper dog. Bella was able to "place" much better and complete her commands with Juno modeling the same behaviors. She was also able to meet another trainer with Juno by her side, and Bella acted like a normal confident dog greeting this new person! During backyard socialization she had very wild energy where she was running and jumping over the other dogs a lot. Juno corrected her verbally and through touch, and Bella took it very well! She didn't act like the cowering dog I met last week!
I had Haley work Bella at Irvine Spectrum Center to get her used to another handler. They focused on place, come to sit, down, and break. Bella was able to hold her down much better, but her tail was tucked much of the time at the mall. If someone popped open an umbrella or a child ran past them she would get spooked and it was difficult to earn back her trust. Towards the end, Haley had her sit off to the side and just watch all of the activity so she could take it all in without being in the middle of it.
Bella and I went back to Irvine Spectrum Center to work on her final video showcasing what she has learned. Bella was able to complete all of her commands even though she was really nervous! She did bark and lunge at a small dog walking past us on the way out of the mall, but I was able to stop her from reaching the dog by pulling up on the leash. She is still fearful of new dogs she encounters and would rather avoid them, but will sometimes go forward if pushed past her threshold.
Merry Christmas! Here's a snippet of Bella's final video that we filmed at Irvine Spectrum Center. She was very nervous but completed all of her commands. Today we worked on recall while Bella was on a long line on my property. Once she gets home I recommend continuing to take her to different places so she can observe the activity while you feed her something that's high-value. This will help create a more positive association with her seeing people and dogs.