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Charlie | Yorkie | Sylmar, CA | In-Training



Meet Charlie, a nine-month-old Yorkie from Sylmar, California! He's here with us for our Two Week Board and Train Program, where he will be learning basic obedience and manners, as well as working on potty training. This sweet and playful pup has some knowledge of a few basic commands, but he is easily distracted by his surroundings and struggles to listen when asked to do something. He also has some bad habits such as pulling on the leash, jumping on people, chewing on things around the house, and trying to run through open doors. He likes to bark a lot as well, and will often excessively bark at the door, at people, or whenever he is looking for attention. Charlie also struggles with some dog reactivity, and will lunge and bark at other dogs upon seeing them. Over the next fourteen days, we will be working to improve his listening skills, manners, and obedience to set him on the right track to becoming a well-behaved pup both on and off leash! Stay tuned for his transformation!


 

Pupdate 8/27/2023



Today Charlie and I spent the day bonding, getting to know each other, and testing his knowledge of basic commands. I worked to build a bond with him and encourage engagement with me by regularly talking to him, getting his attention, and giving him praise and affection anytime he focused on me. He did sometimes jump on me when he got too excited while I gave him attention, though this is something we will be working to eliminate as he progresses in his training. The park where he was dropped off with me was a great location to assess his behavior while in a public environment around commonly found distractions. Such distractions included groups of people, other dogs, grassy fields, and a variety of distracting sounds and scents. Overall Charlie seemed happy and excited to spend time together at the park once he got to know me a bit, however, he was regularly distracted by everything around us. This caused his focus to bounce between distractions, rarely allowing for the opportunity to focus on me for longer than a couple of seconds. He also was prone to pulling on the leash towards anything he became distracted by, such as other dogs, people, or grassy areas that he wanted to explore or play in. He became especially worked up whenever he saw another dog, and would react to their presence by barking and lunging at them.


After getting a good idea of his overall personality and behavior, we began testing his knowledge of commands to get an idea of his starting point and what areas of his training might need some extra work. He seemed to have some understanding of the Sit command, however he was very inconsistent with performing it when asked and he often chose to ignore the command despite having an understanding of it. When he did listen and Sit when asked, he was only able to hold the position for a few moments before getting back up or walking away again. He didn't seem to understand the Down command at all, and was not able to lie down when prompted. He did however often choose to lie down on his own time to relax in the shade, which is a good sign that he is comfortable and calm enough to relax even while in public places. This may come in handy when we begin teaching him the Down command in a few days! Charlie would sometimes Come when called, though overall his recall was unreliable and he would often try to ignore the command. With enough excitement to motivate him, he was sometimes more inclined to come over, however he rarely stuck around for more than a moment or two after getting to me and was quick to try to wander back off. He didn't seem to have any understanding of the Heel command, and was constantly veering off in different directions and trying to pull on the leash. He didn't seem to understand the Place command either, and he was uninterested in jumping or climbing onto any objects he was prompted to. He didn't seem to have much understanding of leash pressure either, and would often completely ignore or try to resist the pressure when it was used to guide him.


When it was time to head home from the park, Charlie was comfortable being picked up to be placed in the car, which was great to see. Any time Charlie is to travel in a vehicle with me, he will be transported within a secure kennel to ensure his utmost safety. He wasn't quite sure about going into the kennel at first, but didn't try to resist at all when guided into it, and was happy to settle down quietly for the drive home. Once home with me, we played with some toys and I gave him some time to acclimate and explore the new environment. He seems to be settling in quickly, and is not showing any signs of stress or anxiety which is great to see! We also spent some time introducing him to the kennel in his room, and helping him to develop a positive association with it so that he learns to see it as a safe, relaxing place to spend time in. He wasn't quite sure of it at first and didn't seem interested in going inside, though with some encouragement, treats, and praise, he warmed up to it quickly and seemed to get over his initial hesitations. He ate most of his food at dinner time, though he did need to be monitored and given some encouragement to finish his meal as he was prone to taking a bite or two then walking away repeatedly. Scheduled meal times are new to him as he usually free-feeds throughout the day, but helping him get into this habit will be a very important step in his potty training journey as it creates a more predictable potty routine. During his first few days with me, I will be taking him out to potty very frequently, to help him develop good habits about where to go potty and reduce the chances of accidents as he gets settled into my home. Once a good routine is set, we will begin gradually increasing the duration between potty breaks, which will help him develop the ability to hold it for extended periods throughout the day without having indoor accidents.


 

Pupdate 8/28/2023






Today Charlie and I took a trip to a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! We focused on two aspects of his training today, introducing the Off and Come to Sit commands, and working towards dog neutrality to reduce his reactivity. We also introduced the e-collar today, which will be a helpful tool for communication and developing a foundational understanding of pressure. Each time that leash pressure is applied for guidance or reinforcement, stimulation from the e-collar is paired with it. This will help him come to understand that both forms of pressure mean the same thing, eventually allowing them to be used interchangeably. Upon first arriving at the park, he was very excited and struggled to pay attention to anything that was being asked of him, and was very distracted overall. However, once we began training and encouraging him to settle down and focus, his attitude shifted and he began paying closer attention to his training rather than everything around us.


A frequently used and very helpful command for Charlie to learn early on is the Off command. This is the general command used to communicate that Charlie needs to stop whatever he is doing, and refocus on me. It can be helpful to then ask or remind him of another command directly after, such as Sit, as it will help to keep his attention on target and reduce the chances of him repeating whatever unwanted behavior he was displaying. It's similar to saying "no" or "leave it", and can be used in a wide variety of situations, such as when he is distracted by something, barking at something, sniffing or eating something he's not supposed to, jumping on someone or something he's not supposed to, etc. He caught onto this command pretty quickly, and was often able to quickly stop whatever he was doing, and return his attention to me. With time and practice, the undesirable behaviors will become less and less frequent as they are consistently discouraged with this command.


Another important command for Charlie to begin learning early in his journey is the Come to Sit command, which will be our main form of recall. The goal for the Come to Sit command is for Charlie to come directly to me when called, and finish with a Sit on my left-hand side. Having him Sit on my left side after he gets to me will help to discourage him from immediately wandering back off after being recalled, as he will be asked to hold that position until released or given a new command. To introduce this command, we first began working on getting him to come to me when called, which was achieved by using the verbal command, pressure from the e-collar, and guidance from the leash to get him moving in my direction. After a few repetitions of this, he had an easier time coming to me when called with minimal to no leash pressure needed, which was great! This shows he is learning both the verbal command and beginning to understand the e-collar communication. We then introduced the second part of the command of maneuvering around to my left side for a Sit. He struggled with this part a bit, and would often end up trying to sit in front of or behind me instead of on the left, so he needed consistent leash pressure to guide him to where he needed to be.


Upon first meeting up with the other trainers and their pups, Charlie reacted to every dog he saw by lunging, barking, and constantly trying to pull towards them, even if they were far away. He was so distracted by them that he struggled to listen to anything that was asked of him. By consistently implementing the Off command, we began to see progress in reducing his reactivity and getting him to focus even while around other dogs. We started off at a good distance from them, and asked him to perform a Sit, which is a simple command that he is familiar with. Asking for a specific command helps to keep his mind focused and busy so that he is less likely to become distracted or react. When he was calm, quiet, and following instructions, he was rewarded with lots of praise to encourage him to continue behaving in this way. Whenever he began showing reactive behaviors or becoming distracted by the dogs, he was given the Off command and asked to return to the Sit position. With time, he began to settle down a bit and had an easier time ignoring them when asked. We began moving closer and closer until we were eventually able to be within close proximity to them without him displaying any reactive behaviors. He was still distracted by them from time to time and wanted to look at them, but overall he showed an excellent understanding of the expectations set for him and was no longer barking, lunging, or behaving poorly while around the other dogs!



 

Pupdate 8/29/2023




Today Charlie and I visited a local park, where we introduced the Heel command, as well as continued working on his Come to Sit. We also worked him through some moments of frustration he had here and there today, though for most of the time he had a good attitude and was happy to practice his training. The park had a good amount of distractions present, including small animals, groups of people and children, as well as other dogs. Charlie was able to ignore most distractions when asked, which was great to see! He was more distracted by the other dogs than any other distraction, however he didn't display any reactive behaviors such as barking or lunging, which is amazing progress for him! Overall he did a good job of staying focused today and paying attention to what was asked of him.


The Heel command is an important concept for Charlie to learn, as he is very prone to suddenly veering off in different directions and pulling while walking on the leash, making it difficult to walk with him without tripping over him or becoming tangled in the leash. The goal for the Heel command is for Charlie to be able to follow directly alongside his handler on the left side and maintain that position while walking unless released or given a new command. He will need to pay close attention to his handler while walking in a Heel, so that he can match their pace and follow along in the proper position even if their handler turns or makes a sudden stop. This precise positioning takes a lot of practice to master, but it will eliminate pulling on the leash and veering off in different directions, and allow his handler to take the lead on walks instead of him trying to pull them around wherever he pleases. To introduce this command, I kept the leash short but loose, and ensured he stayed on my left side in roughly the Heel position as we walked. If he began to veer off, try to pull ahead, or step out of the Heel position, leash and e-collar pressure paired with the verbal command to communicate and guide him back to Heel. When walking in the correct Heel position, the leash was loose, no pressure was applied, and lots of praise and rewards were given to communicate that he was in the desired position. After practicing with this for a bit, he quickly began to grasp the concept and stopped trying to pull on the leash, and he began to understand where he needed to be when the command was given. He also seemed to need less and less leash pressure the more we practiced, and became much more responsive to the verbal command and e-collar. He did sometimes lose focus and momentarily forget the command, especially when distractions were around, though once reminded of the command and provided with some guidance he was able to fall back into the correct position at my side as we walked. As he gets better with this command, he will have an easier time staying in the Heel position for longer periods without as much guidance, and need to be reminded less and less!


While at the park we also continued to work on the command Charlie began learning yesterday, Come to Sit. He has shown good improvement in coming to me when called, which is great! When the surrounding area was free of any major distractions, he often came right to me the first time he was called without any pressure or guidance needed. When the environment became more distracting, such as if a dog was nearby, he was still able to come to me when called but more often than not did need some sort of pressure, be it from the e-collar and/or leash, to grab his attention and begin guiding him towards me. He still struggled with the maneuver to my left side for a Sit today, and almost always needed consistent guidance from the leash to help him find the proper position. Charlie sometimes became frustrated when asked to reposition after sitting in the incorrect spot, such as behind or in front of me instead of on my left, and would try to refuse the guidance and put up a protest.


Being repositioned for Come to Sit or being asked to hold a Sitting position for longer than a few seconds seem to be the most common causes of his frustration so far. It's important to work him through these moments of frustration, and remain consistent in what is being asked of him in order to teach him that acting out does not yield the results he is hoping for. When he is frustrated or doesn't want to do something, he will often jump up, bite at the leash, or try to plop down and refuse to move. If this behavior causes his handler to give up on making him follow through with whatever command was given, then this behavior will be successful for him and he will learn to do it more and more, which is not what we want. As such these behaviors must be essentially ignored, and consistency must be reinforced to help him understand that acting out will not be successful in getting out of what is asked of him, and that following instructions is much more rewarding instead.



 

Pupdate 8/30/2023



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Today Charlie and I visited a local park and practiced his commands around various areas of my neighborhood. We introduced two new commands today, Place and Down. We also continued to practice his Heel and Come to Sit. Distractions present during our training today included other dogs, groups of people, and small animals. Charlie overall did a great job of staying focused today, and seemed to have a much easier time ignoring distractions when asked, which is great progress for him! He didn't display any reactive behavior towards other dogs, but he did sometimes become a bit excited and distracted when another dog was visible or nearby. Despite this, he was able to redirect his focus away from them when prompted and was able to follow through with commands asked of him despite their presence.


The goal for the Place command is for Charlie to jump or climb onto a designated surface, such as a bench, a bed, or other defined object, and hold a stationary command while remaining on the Place object. This command is useful not only for while out in public places, but also while at home, as it encourages Charlie to remain calm and stationary regardless of his environment. After getting to know Charlie a bit better over the last few days, I've found that he is an excellent jumper despite his small size and he is often willing to jump onto just about any object he can reach with just a bit of encouragement. So today, we began working to associate this behavior with a verbal command and hand signal, to encourage Charlie to perform it on cue. After a few repetitions, Charlie began to catch on pretty quickly and seemed to understand what was being asked of him when the Place command was given. We practiced with a variety of objects, such as a dog cot, benches, chairs, rocks, and other objects, and Charlie seemed to have pretty good confidence with jumping onto each of them. He sometimes needed a bit of leash pressure to guide him where I wanted him to go when practicing with an unfamiliar object, though after a few tries he typically understood what to do without physical guidance needed. Charlie was also quick to respond and perform a Sit when prompted while on top of Place objects, however, he often needed to be reminded of the position or asked to return to it, as he was prone to breaking position by getting back up once he was bored of sitting. Working to improve his capacity and ability to hold extended stationary positions will be a goal we'll be working towards throughout his training journey. The other command introduced to Charlie today is the Down command. The goal for the Down command is simple and is for Charlie to lay down completely when asked, and remain in that position until released or given a new command. Oftentimes, we wait to teach this command last due to the level of trust needed to ask the pup to perform this instinctually vulnerable position on command. Charlie and I have been developing a trusting relationship during our time together so far, and thankfully he is usually comfortable with laying down on his own accord even while out in public, which is a great start! We began the training in a quiet area of the park to encourage focus and success, then gradually moved to more populated areas and tested his ability to perform the command on various surfaces and Place objects. To introduce this command, leash pressure and physical guidance were used to guide Charlie into the Down position while the verbal command was given. Once he followed the guidance and laid down completely, he received lots of praise followed by a break shortly after. He did try to resist the guidance at first, and didn't seem interested in holding the position for longer than a few seconds before trying to stand back up, however, as we practiced more he became more willing to perform it when asked and needed less and less physical guidance each time. He also gradually got better with holding the position for slightly longer periods of time, about thirty seconds or so, which is a great start though more work will need to be done before he is consistent with holding it for extended periods.



 

Pupdate 8/31/2023




Charlie and I made a trip to the Santa Monica Pier today, where we practiced all of his commands around a large amount of distractions. This location was full of various distractions to test Charlie's concentration around, including crowds of people, flocks of birds, other dogs, loud music, and much more. When we first arrived at the pier he was very excited, eager to explore, and a bit overwhelmed by it all, so he struggled to pay attention during the beginning of our session. However, after spending some time warming up, getting accustomed to the environment, and practicing his commands, he showed a huge improvement in his focusing ability. He did a great job of staying neutral to his surroundings despite the busy environment, and was able to follow through with everything that was asked of him! He did bark at a few dogs upon first seeing them, which was likely due to the general excitement caused by the busy environment, however once asked he was able to ignore them and follow through with commands asked of him.


While at the pier we focused on two areas of Charlie's training, learning to ignore distractions, and holding stationary positions. So a good portion of our time was spent around busy areas of the pier, and working to encourage calm and focused behavior whilst distractions were present around us. We practiced a lot with Heel and walking past different kinds of distractions, asking him to ignore whatever may be around him and instead focus on his positioning. At first, he did sometimes try to veer off towards things he found interesting, though after warming up a bit he had an easier time focusing on the task given to him, and did better with sticking right beside me as we walked through distracting areas. We also practiced a good deal with Come to Sit, and focused on improving his reliability with always coming when called even if distractions were present. We also worked some more on improving his positioning for Come to Sit, as he still relies heavily on leash pressure to guide him to the correct spot for the Sit once he gets to me. He was able to perform Sit with ease, and was quick to follow the instruction whenever it was given regardless of distractions around him. He also did well with Down despite just learning it yesterday, though he did sometimes need some leash pressure to guide him if he wasn't feeling quite focused or comfortable enough. He did a good job with Place also, however towards the end of the session he did get a bit tired and wasn't quite as eager to jump onto certain objects as he was earlier in the day. As a result, we sometimes needed multiple attempts and a bit of a running start to get him to jump onto the object, and sometimes leash pressure was needed to encourage and guide him up onto the object.


We worked on his stationary commands around various areas of the pier, including highly distracting areas as well as more calm and quiet spots to improve his consistency with performing and holding these positions regardless of the environment. While in busy places he is more prone to becoming distracted by things which could lead to him breaking positions, and when in quiet places he is more prone to becoming bored and breaking positions due to that, so he does need practice in both types of environments. The goal is for Charlie to be able to perform and hold every stationary position of Sit, Down, and Place for at least two minutes consistently, regardless of the environment he is in. When we first began his training today he was prone to quickly breaking position after the command was given, though his reliability for holding positions did improve the more we practiced. Currently, he can consistently hold any position for about one minute while in quiet places, and about forty-five seconds when in heavily distracting places. Any time he broke position by getting up, moving, or changing positions before being asked to, he was immediately asked to return to the position asked of him. Consistently preventing him from breaking positions whenever he feels like it will teach him that each position comes with an implied stay, and that regardless of the circumstances he is to hold that position until released or given a new command. This also reinforces that breaking a position on his own will never be successful, and therefore is not worth attempting. The alternative of following through with the command until told otherwise leads to rewards and positive results instead, making it the favorable option.



 

Pupdate 9/1/2023





Today Charlie and I visited a local shopping strip, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. This location was busy with people and other dogs along the sidewalks, as well as distractions from noisy cars on the nearby street. Overall Charlie did a good job with staying focused and on task, though as usual he did need a bit of a warmup to training and time to adjust to the new environment before he could have an easier time focusing on his commands. We practiced all of his commands today, including Heel, Come to Sit, Place, Sit, and Down. We mainly focused on improving his ability to hold each stationary position while around distractions, so we can make progress towards the goal of two minutes for each position. We also focused on continuing Charlie's dog neutrality, as there were lots of other dogs out on walks here.


While walking along the sidewalks, we passed by several different dogs, which provided great opportunities to practice Charlie's commands around distractions as well as work on his dog neutrality. Before passing by another dog, we stepped off to the side a bit and Charlie was asked to perform a Sit. When available, we also practiced having him jump and Sit on nearby Place objects such as benches. Down is another option as it is also a stationary position, though its vulnerable nature reduces the chances of success in him holding position in the presence of another dog. So to set him up for success, we mainly practiced only with the Sit position while training in close proximity to other dogs. Asking for a Sit out of the flow of traffic provided people and other dogs room to pass by, kept Charlie's mind focused on holding the Sit, and provided him with some distance from the other dog to reduce the chances of him reacting by barking or lunging. Some dogs Charlie was able to mostly ignore as they passed by, and was able to hold the Sit without breaking position which was great to see. However, there were also a few times when certain dogs became too distracting for him, causing him to lose focus, break position, try to approach them, or start barking at them. This mainly happened if the other dog barked first or began trying to pull towards him. Whenever he broke position, he was given the Off command and asked to return to the Sit. Whenever Charlie was able to successfully ignore the dog and hold the Sit position, lots of praise was given to communicate that this behavior is what we want. When the sidewalk had enough space available, we also practiced Heel as we passed by other dogs, following the same general practice and encouraging Charlie to remain in position and focus on me instead of the other dog. If another dog began approaching or pulling towards Charlie, I would step in front of him to advocate for his space until the other dog left our space. If Charlie attempted to pull towards them, he was immediately interrupted and reminded of the command being asked of him.


Allowing random dogs to approach and interact with Charlie, or vice versa, while we are out on walks or working on training isn't the best idea for many reasons, despite the common misconception that it is beneficial or necessary for dog socialization. This mainly refers to sudden, unplanned meetings out in public with people and dogs we do not know. First off, it can be dangerous if the unknown dog happens to not be friendly or likes to roughhouse, especially since Charlie is so small in size. Secondly, it's important that we as his handlers advocate for Charlie's space, as it builds trust and shows him that we will be the ones to protect him and make decisions when needed. He may not always want to interact with strange dogs, and exposing him to situations where is forced to confront another dog can be stressful for him and lead to reactions or fights. Advocating for his space teaches him that he does not need to react to another dog's presence, and that he can safely ignore and remain neutral to them, as he can trust his handler to deal with the situation instead. Thirdly, even if Charlie does want to interact with another dog, regularly allowing him to interact with strange dogs can reinforce bad behavior, even if the greeting is friendly. If he spots a random dog, and begins pulling towards them or barking at them, and is allowed to then have a fun or interesting interaction with that dog, it teaches him that these bad behaviors will be rewarding for him and will get him what he wants. This will lead to him pulling, barking, and attempting to approach every dog he sees, as it has been rewarding for him in the past. So instead, we interrupt this behavior and make it more rewarding for him to instead ignore them. There are numerous other reasons besides this, but these are the main ones that apply to Charlie's case.



 

Pupdate 9/2/2023



Today Charlie and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. This location provided a variety of distractions to test Charlie's focus around, such as groups of people, other dogs, birds, and interesting smells and sounds from nearby stores and restaurants. Upon first arriving Charlie was eager to explore and a bit distracted by his surroundings, though after having a few minutes to observe his environment and begin practicing some commands he settled into a more focused mindset. We also continued our work from yesterday by continuing to work on his dog neutrality any time another dog was present, and Charlie is showing great improvement with this! For the most part, he was able to maintain good focus and follow through with his commands, even if another dog was in the surrounding area. There were a few moments when he became distracted, though his attention was able to be regained by giving him the Off command and giving him something productive to pay attention to, such as holding a Sit or Heeling alongside me.


Charlie made some great progress with his commands during our training session today, and his hard work is beginning to pay off! His Heel was exceptional today, and he seemed to have no issue following alongside me even as we passed by distractions. Once given the Heel command, he was able to find the proper position at my side and engaged with me regularly to pay close attention to me so that he could maintain the Heel position. He didn't try to pull ahead or veer off, though when he did happen to fall slightly out of position, he was often able to correct himself with just the verbal command and e-collar used for communication, and he rarely needed any leash pressure to guide him. This shows a good understanding of both the e-collar and the verbal command itself. This understanding allows for completely loose leash walking, allowing it to hang unused as we walk, which is an important step towards off-leash training. Charlie also did great with Come to Sit today, and was reliable, consistent, and quick to respond once the command was given. He also seemed to have a much easier time finding the correct position to Sit in once he got to me, and needed only minimal leash pressure to guide him through the maneuver. We practiced this command around distracting areas as well, to test his ability to ignore interesting distractions and choose to come to me when recalled. He did great with this, and no matter how interested he was in something he was happy to stop whatever he was doing and come right to me.


He also showed a lot of improvement with Place today, and seemed confident in jumping onto just about any object I asked him to. Some objects did need a few tries upon initial introduction, though he showed great spirit and was determined to keep trying until he succeeded. Charlie also did well with Sit and Down, and was able to consistently hold each position for about a minute and thirty seconds, which is close to the goal we have set! He did sometimes break position on occasion, though this was much less frequent than previously, and mainly only happened when a major distraction was present, such as if someone walking by called to or talked to him excitedly. He was able to perform Sit with no leash pressure needed, and was always quick to follow the command whenever it was given. He did sometimes need leash pressure when practicing Down still, especially if the surroundings were distracting, though he seems to be getting the hang of the command and is much more willing to perform it when asked even while in distracting places. When in a comfortable and quiet environment he is typically able to perform Down on command without needing any leash pressure, though he will need some more practice before he's able to do this regardless of his surroundings.



 

Pupdate 9/3/2023





Charlie has been with me for one week now, which means he is halfway through his Two Week Board and Train Program! He's doing an excellent job so far, and is on the right path to success! He is developing a solid understanding of each of his commands, and is demonstrating great listening and obedience skills. Going forward, we will continue focusing on improving his skills while in various environments to ensure he will be consistent and reliable no matter where he is. We will also be preparing him for being off-leash by continuing to gradually wean out leash pressure to make the transition smooth and safe for him. With his combined understanding of each command along with the e-collar, we will be able to replace the need for a leash and introduce him to the freedom and fun that comes with being an off-leash pup!


Today Charlie and I visited a local park, where we continued practicing each of his commands around distractions. We focused on improving his ability to perform commands with minimal to no leash pressure, to prepare him for the off-leash transition. When asking Charlie to perform a command, he is first given a "freebie", where no leash or e-collar pressure is applied, and only a verbal command and hand signal are given to indicate what we are asking of him. If he doesn't listen or follow through with the command, then he will be asked again, this time with the e-collar stimulation added as reinforcement. The pressure from the e-collar will remain until he follows through with the command. If he has been asked a few times with the e-collar added, yet still seems to be confused or can't quite figure out where to go or what to do for the command, only then will the leash be used to provide directional pressure for guidance to help him perform the command. The goal is to get him to the point where he never needs the leash to guide him, and is able to perform each command either on the first "freebie", or with the e-collar.


When first arriving at the park, we gave Charlie a chance to explore and become comfortable in the new environment, which is very beneficial for him as it helps him settle down into a focused mindset. Once we began training, he did a fantastic job with Heel and very rarely needed the leash to guide him. He was able to stick directly beside me while we walked as the leash hung completely loose, and he didn't seem to rely on it for guidance even when making sudden turns or stops. When an adjustment needed to be made for his positioning, he was able to correct himself when asked using only the verbal command, hand signal, and e-collar. Charlie did excellent with Place, and seemed to have no trouble with confidently jumping onto objects around the park without the leash to guide him. He also did great with Sit, and did not need the leash to guide him into the position. He did occasionally need some leash pressure to perform Down, however he was usually able to perform it when asked without needing its guidance. His Come to Sit was also good, and he knew to come straight to me when called with the verbal command without the leash being used to direct him towards me. He did sometimes need light leash pressure to guide him to where I wanted him once he got to me, though he was sometimes able to focus enough to find the position with only the hand signals and e-collar used.


I'd also like to take a moment to touch on another area of Charlie's training, his potty training! He has almost had a few accidents here and there, though these happened more frequently during the first few days with me and have since become more and more rare. Ensuring a close eye is kept on him allows us to interrupt any indoor potty behavior, and redirect him outside to the yard where he is then encouraged to go instead. Behaviors indicating he may have to go potty soon include sudden or excessive sniffing at the ground, circling, squatting, or leg lifting. Consistently interrupting indoor potty behavior and rewarding outdoor potty has helped Charlie learn where to go and where not to go when the need arises. He is doing very well overall so far, and making small changes to his daily routine has done wonders in helping him develop good habits. Feeding him at scheduled meal times is important for him, as leaving food out all day for him to free-feed from creates an unpredictable potty schedule. Usually after eating food, he will need to go potty within about thirty minutes, so keeping an eye on him during this time is important. He can patiently wait about five or so hours in between potty breaks during the day now, which is great! At night time, the kennel plays a major role in preventing potty accidents while he is unsupervised, and encourages him to sleep and wait until morning. Most dogs will refuse to go potty while inside their kennel so long as it is properly sized and they have a positive association with it, as they instinctively understand not to potty in their "den" where they sleep and relax.



 

Pupdate 9/4/2023



Today Charlie and I visited a local park, where we continued practicing each of his commands around distractions using minimal leash pressure. The park was quite busy today with the holiday, so plenty of distractions were present to test Charlie's focus around. As usual, he was quite distracted and excited upon first arriving at the park but after a few minutes he was able to relax a bit so that he could focus on training. There were lots of other dogs at the park today, which was a bit of a challenge for Charlie though he seemed to do well overall as long as we kept some distance from them. Charlie often wanted to stare at them and even barked at a few of them if they got too close for his comfort, though by using the Off command and giving him a clear instruction to follow he was usually able to snap out of his fixation and follow the commands asked of him. As always, we made sure to advocate for his space by not allowing any of the dogs to approach him, which helped to reassure Charlie and reduce his anxiety and chances of reactive behavior.


During our session, we focused on practicing each command with as little leash pressure as possible. While there is still more work to do before he is ready to train completely off-leash, he is making great progress! He was able to Heel alongside me with relative ease and seemed comfortable and confident in following my lead as we walked around the park. He did sometimes become distracted, especially if other dogs were nearby, which would sometimes cause him to start veering off, lagging behind, or walking ahead of me, though more often than not he was able to correct his positioning when asked without needing any leash pressure. He did great with his Come to Sit today, and was very reliable about coming to me when called, even when he was distracted by something else. He only needed light leash pressure on rare occasions for the maneuver to my left side for a Sit when he wasn't quite focused enough to find the position on his own. Adding some extra emphasis to the hand signals for this command seemed to help guide him with the maneuver, as it gave him a target to focus on for guidance.


Charlie also did well with his stationary commands today, and when in quieter areas of the park he typically had no trouble performing Sit, Down, and Place without any leash pressure or physical assistance. He could hold these stationary positions in quieter areas for at least two minutes at a time without breaking position, which was great to see! When in busier areas, especially around other dogs, he did sometimes need a bit of guidance from the leash to get his attention, though he was quick to respond to the pressure and follow through with the command without protest. As we practiced more around the busy areas of the park, he gradually became more reliable with performing the commands without needing leash pressure as often. While in distracting areas, he did struggle to hold his stationary positions for the two-minute goal and was averaging about a minute to a minute and a half depending on the intensity of nearby distractions. As always, we made sure to hold him accountable for his actions, so any time he broke a position he was immediately asked to return to it. As we practiced more he became less prone to breaking positions, as he understood it would not be successful if he got up before being asked to.



 

Pupdate 9/5/2023





Today Charlie and I took a trip to a park, where we continued working on each of his commands around distractions with minimal leash pressure. We also met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups today, which provided some more opportunities to practice commands while around other dogs. He was quite distracted upon first arriving at the park as there were lots of new areas and things to explore, though once we began training he was able to focus on what was being asked of him and perform each command when prompted. Overall he did a good job with all of his commands today, and when he was focused he was able to perform any command asked of him without any leash pressure needed for guidance! When distracted he did sometimes need to be reminded of commands or be given light leash pressure, though the need for the leash to guide him has diminished significantly. He was able to ignore most distractions with relative ease, such as people, children, and small animals such as birds or squirrels, though as usual, other dogs were the biggest challenge for him today.


Some of the dogs at the park with us were OffLeash SoCal dogs, a few of which Charlie got to meet last week. When he saw them again today, his reaction was much more neutral in comparison to seeing a dog he'd never met before. He still seemed to become slightly distracted by them from time to time if they got within a few feet of him, though for the most part he was able to ignore them easily and wasn't concerned about their presence during training. While this is good progress for him and was great to see, he's still prone to reacting negatively upon seeing a new dog he has never encountered before. There were several other dogs at the park today apart from the few that he had already met previously, and Charlie often struggled to regulate himself while around them. He was usually able to listen to commands while the other dogs were nearby, however he was prone to hyper-fixation, suddenly breaking commands, and reacting by barking, lunging, or growing at them. He also often became frustrated when prevented from approaching them, causing him to bark, bite at the leash, and protest when asked to perform a command. As always we remained consistent in not letting his protest successfully interrupt the command being asked of him, and worked him through his frustration. We also set him up for success by paying close attention to his body language, interrupting reactive behaviors before they escalated, and adding distance between the other dogs whenever needed.


His behavior when around unknown dogs is an important factor to take into consideration when thinking about where and when Charlie should be allowed off-leash. Places where unknown dogs are present will likely not be a suitable environment for Charlie to be given off-leash freedom, as he could potentially get himself into dangerous situations by chasing after or starting fights with other dogs. That being said, the locations at which Charlie is to be allowed off-leash do need to be carefully selected, and limited to safe and controlled environments where there are no major risks nearby such as other dogs or busy streets. We will do everything we can to provide consistent and productive solutions to minimize and prevent his reactivity, though during the short time we have together it's unlikely his reactive behaviors towards dogs will be entirely resolved. Ensuring Charlie can reliably perform commands without the need for leash pressure involved is still a main priority for his training, as it will improve his obedience skills and make training and living with him much easier. However, when the time comes to begin training off-leash in public places, we will be reserving that training for environments where his safety can be ensured. While on leash, we will still be working to improve his neutrality towards dogs and other forms of distractions, and getting him used to performing commands while in a variety of different environments.



 

Pupdate 9/6/2023



Charlie and I continued working on each of his commands around distractions, without the use of any leash pressure. We visited a local park where we could work around distractions and test his ability to perform commands without any leash pressure. By implementing a long leash and not using it to apply any pressure for guidance, we could allow him some additional freedom while still having him safely tethered in the event the leash was needed. Overall he did a fantastic job, and for the majority of our time training, the leash hung completely loose and was not needed in order for him to follow through with commands. He was able to follow alongside me as we walked in the Heel position with ease, and despite the physical freedom to venture away from me, he knew to stick close to me and not wander off. Whenever he did fall slightly out of position, he was very responsive to the verbal command and e-collar, and was quick to correct his positioning whenever prompted. He also did excellent with Come to Sit, and was able to be recalled even from a distance while practicing with the long leash. When given the verbal command, he was usually quick to come straight to me, and did not rely on the leash to guide him into the correct position beside me. His stationary commands were also very reliable even without leash pressure used, and he was quick to follow through with any command given, whether it be Sit, Down, or Place. He was able to remain in each position for at least two minutes consistently, which shows a great understanding of the commands and shows good discipline and patience. As we practiced his commands at the park, he was able to ignore just about any distractions present around him, however as usual other dogs were his biggest challenge and he did have a few reactions today where the leash was needed to prevent him from running up to other dogs.


While at home, we practiced his house manners while off-leash, and he did a great job! House manners are something we have been working on each and every day since day one, to get an early start on helping him develop good habits and practices within the home. Even seemingly mundane day-to-day tasks can provide excellent opportunities for training. These manners include areas such as Food Manners and Door Manners. The goal for Food Manners is for Charlie to be able to hold a stationary command while his food is prepared and set in front of him. He is then asked to remain in that position until he is released before he can get up and eat his food. Charlie loves meal times, though during his first few days with me, he would often become way too excited and behave in impolite ways such as jumping on me or trying to snatch food out of my hands. Teaching him to wait for his food in a polite manner improves his patience and obedience, and is a great way to reward him for a job well done once he is released! He is now able to wait patiently for his food, and remain in position until given the go-ahead before getting up and eating his meal.


Charlie had similar struggles with Door Manners, and often displayed bad behaviors associated with doors. The goal for Door Manners is for Charlie to hold a stationary position while near a door and remain there until released or given a new command such as Come or Heel. He is asked to hold the position at the location asked of him, and not get up or walk through the doorway even if the door is left open or people come in and out of it. This practice teaches important boundaries and thresholds, and discourages the impolite and possibly dangerous behaviors he once displayed, such as trying to escape through open doors, pushing through people's legs when walking through doorways, and rushing up to bark at or jump on people who enter through the door. Charlie can now show great self-control when around doors, and understands the boundary that doorways represent. He can now hold the position asked of him, even if a door is opened nearby, people walk in and out of it, and even when no one is within his view, he understands to wait there and not pass through the doorway unless invited to.



 

Pupdate 9/7/2023





Today Charlie and I took a trip to the Santa Monica Pier, where we practiced all of his commands around a high amount of distractions. Similar to our visit here last week, this location was full of all kinds of distractions such as crowds of people, flocks of birds, other dogs, and loud music. Compared to last week, his overall focus level was much higher and he seemed to feel calmer about his environment. He was able to perform all commands with a loose leash, and did a great job with listening and paying attention when asked to do something despite the busy environment. He was able to ignore most dogs that we passed by as long as they were at a distance, however there were certain dogs he was more distracted by than others. If the other dog was calm and simply walking along he usually didn't pay too much mind to them, though if the other dog barked, pulled on the leash, or seemed to have a lot of energy then Charlie was more prone to fixating on them and struggled to listen to commands while they were within view. Despite his temporary loss of focus when around certain dogs, he was able to remain calm enough to not react by barking or lunging at them, which was good to see. He also got to be around a few other OffLeash SoCal dogs that he has met previously, and he did a great job with remaining neutral to them and seemed comfortable with being near them.


While at the pier we focused on encouraging Charlie to remain calm, collected, and focused while around different types of distractions. We practiced a lot with extended stationary positions, and rewarded him for remaining in the position asked of him even as lots of distractions were present around him. Overall he did a great job with this, and seemed comfortable and confident with performing and holding Sit, Down, or Place anywhere he was asked to and for however long he was asked to. Being able to hold stationary positions in such a busy environment is a great example of the progress he has made so far in his training journey, as before coming to me he was always hyper, impatient, and unable to sit still for longer than a moment or two, even while in distraction-free places. We also spent a good amount of time practicing with his Heel, and encouraging him to focus on his positioning and engaging with me rather than what distractions were present around us as we walked. He was able to follow alongside me with a completely loose leash for the majority of the time, was able to correct himself when prompted, and generally seemed happy to follow my lead. There were a few moments during Heel when he lost focus due to another dog and began to veer off or try to pull towards them, though as long as they were far enough away Charlie was responsive to the Off command and was able to refocus and return to position when prompted.


There were also lots of nice people who wanted to come say hello to Charlie while we were at the pier, which provided some great opportunities to practice more with his Greeting Manners. This is an area of his training we have been practicing regularly, both at home and while in public, and he has shown significant improvement so far! The goal for Greeting Manners is for Charlie to remain calm, collected, and polite while being introduced to or being pet by other people. Before allowing someone to approach him, we first ask Charlie to focus on holding a stationary command, such as Sit or Down, which helps to prevent over-excitement, jumping, or other impolite behaviors from occurring, as his focus is instead directed to holding the position. If he breaks position or begins behaving impolitely, he is immediately asked to refocus and return to the position asked of him. Before the greeting takes place, it's important to inform the person or people that Charlie is in training, and that they can help him learn by only petting him when he is listening and calm, which rewards him for good behavior. Giving him attention or praise when he is over-excited, jumping up, or otherwise behaving impolitely will result in those bad behaviors becoming encouraged, which would be detrimental to his progress. By ensuring all praise and affection are reserved strictly for when he is holding the position asked of him and behaving calmly, we can work to encourage good manners. Over time, Charlie has come to understand that impolite behavior will not be rewarding for him, and that the only way to get what he wants and say hello to people is to listen and remain calm. Earlier in his training journey, Charlie often tried to jump on people when meeting them, though he quickly realized that doing this would lead to him being ignored and given the Off command, which wasn't very rewarding for him. Once he calmed down, people were able to pet him and give him lots of attention, which he loved! The next few greetings he was definitely excited about, and sometimes broke position momentarily, though he was much better about not jumping up, and was able to express his excitement in more polite ways such as tail wags and kisses. Today, he did a fantastic job with greeting people, was able to hold the position asked of him, did not jump on anyone, and seemed to have a solid understanding of how to properly behave during greetings!



 

Pupdate 9/8/2023



Charlie and I took a trip to a shopping mall today, where we continued practicing each of his commands around distractions. The mall is dog friendly, though other dogs are rare to see here, which provided a safe environment for Charlie to train in without the worry of other dogs distracting from his training. This location was a great place to begin practicing Charlie's off-leash skills, as it was free of any major risks such as busy streets or other dogs. When we first arrived we began the session on leash, though once he had some time to settle into the new environment, he quickly proved the leash to be unneeded! He showed an excellent level of focus, discipline, and obedience as we trained, and he had no trouble performing any of his commands even without the leash present to guide him. He didn't seem to notice or mind the leash being absent, and despite the physical freedom granted to him, he knew to stick right by me and not wander off! He was reliable with all of his commands despite the various distractions present around us, and apart from a quick glance here and there when something caught his eye, he was able to maintain solid focus and did not become too distracted by his surroundings.


He was able to Heel beautifully alongside me as we walked around the mall, and he very rarely needed to be reminded to correct his positioning. He understood exactly where he needed to be, and did not try to veer off, walk ahead of me, or otherwise leave the Heel position once the command was given. He was very consistent with his Come to Sit, did a great job about coming right to me any time he was called, and showed a solid understanding of where to position himself for a Sit once he got to me. Charlie did fantastic with each of his stationary positions as well, and was able to perform any stationary command given whenever and wherever he was prompted to. He was able to hold Sit and Down for extended periods of time, and had no trouble remaining in position for a duration of at least two minutes or more. He happily jumped onto any Place object I asked him to, and was comfortable with performing Sit or Down while on the Place object and remaining there until released or given a new command.


I'm so proud of the progress Charlie has made so far, and his successful off-leash training today is a great display of his learned skills being put to use. Safe environments like this are a great way to set him up for success and let him truly shine! He seemed to be very confident, calm, and happy to train with me today, which shows the progress he has made in his self-confidence and the trust we have developed together. He also got lots of compliments from people at the mall about his good manners and skills in training, and many people wanted to come say hello and give him praise and affection! Charlie was definitely excited and eager to receive attention from all the nice people, though he was able to contain his excitement so that he could behave politely during greetings by holding the position asked of him and not jumping up on people. Great work today Charlie!



 

Pupdate 9/9/2023





Today was Charlie's last full day with me, so we spent the day putting all of his learned skills to use to have a great day together! We visited a local park where he had a fun time playing and relaxing in the grass, and then we took a trip to an outdoor mall to spend some more time practicing his commands around various distractions. While at the park we did keep him on leash due to the presence of other dogs in the area, though we were able to keep some distance from the other dogs, which helped Charlie feel calm and remain neutral to their presence. He did glance in their direction from time to time, though he was not overly concerned about them and did not react negatively towards them. The outdoor mall had no other dogs around, so we were able to safely practice his commands both on and off-leash, and Charlie did an excellent job! He was happy to focus on his training, and did not become distracted by anything around us. He was able to perform any command asked of him with ease, and was always reliable and consistent with following instructions.


Charlie not only excels in his obedience and manners while out in public, but he has also learned to apply these learned skills while at home as well! He had many bad habits when he first came to me, such as chewing on things around the house, going potty while indoors, excessively barking, and much more. With careful supervision alongside small changes to his daily structure and routine, we have created solutions to these issues! Constant supervision while at home allows us to catch any bad behaviors the moment they begin, so that they can be immediately interrupted and replaced with good behaviors. For example if he began chewing on furniture or other item he was not supposed to, he was interrupted and given an appropriate item to chew on, such as a treat or toy. If he began having a potty accident indoors, he was interrupted and quickly brought outside, then encouraged to go potty while outdoors. If he began barking excessively, he was interrupted and encouraged to remain quiet and calm. By remaining consistent with this, he has begun to understand right from wrong, and what behaviors are successful and rewarding for him versus what isn't. Making it a point to highly reward good behavior every time communicates what we want from him, and encourages him to be well-behaved. Similarly, if bad behaviors are consistently unsuccessful and unrewarding, he becomes discouraged from doing them, and as a result, he is more likely to make good choices that lead to better outcomes for both him and the people he lives with. During periods of time when he is unable to be monitored, keeping him in the kennel is a great way to keep him out of trouble and encourage him to unwind and relax. As he progresses in his future training, more trust can be given to him to make good choices even while unsupervised, though in the meantime it is crucial to remain as consistent as possible to ensure these good habits continue to develop.


Over these past two weeks, Charlie has learned and grown so much, and I am so proud of him! When he first came to me, he was a very easily distracted pup with lots of bad habits like pulling on the leash, ignoring commands, jumping on people, and displaying bad manners both at home and in public. Since then, he has made such amazing progress in his training and has transformed into a disciplined, well-behaved pup who can listen and follow instructions in just about any environment or situation! He has also gained so much confidence in himself and has overcome a lot of fears and hesitations that he once struggled with. He has mastered the skills needed to safely enjoy the fun and freedom that comes with being allowed off-leash, provided he is in an environment away from other dogs where he can safely be off-leash. While he is just beginning his journey to overcoming his dog reactivity, he has made great progress! With consistent training, desensitization, and socialization, he is sure to continue on the right track. He has become very reliable with all of his commands, and can now walk beautifully in the Heel position, always Come when called, and can remain in stationary positions with ease! He has learned how to ignore distractions in his surroundings, and understands the appropriate time for play and fun versus when time for focus and work. He has also developed fantastic manners both inside and outside of the home, and is now fully potty trained as well! I'm so grateful to have been a part of helping Charlie learn and develop into the best version of himself, and I am positive that this little bundle of joy will have a very bright and happy future ahead with his family as a loving, well-behaved canine companion! Great job Charlie!



 










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