Chewie | German Shepherd | Tujunga, CA | In- Training
Meet Chewie! He is a 1-year-old German Shepherd from Tujunga, CA, here for our 1-week Board and Train Program. Chewie is a big friendly pup who loves to greet new people! So much so that he tends to greet them with a big jump and hug. Given Chewie's size, this can be problematic as he can easily push people over, such as his dear grandma. Jumping to greet is simply not good manners. His size also makes it difficult to take him for walks. Chewie pulls to each destination, excitedly barks and lunges to greet new puppy friends. Inside the home Chewie has the habit of barking and jumping at everyone who comes through the door. He’s managed to push doors open and startle guests. Chewie means no harm to anyone; he simply hasn’t quite learned proper boundaries and etiquette. This big boy is ready for some training, we hope you enjoy following along throughout his journey!
Upon picking up Chewie we spent some time at the park to further get to know each other and evaluate his knowledge of training. He really tried to pull me around the park many times, barked at other dogs and was quite distracted in the grass. It seems that Chewie is more likely to bark at dogs who have higher energy or simply look at him, giving him any attention. He was interested in the tiny humans playing in the playground and pulled towards them. But did not make any attempt to bark of lunge.
When it was time to load up into the car, he was quite hesitant. At first Chewie only placed his front two paws up. After a few repetitions he jumped into the back all on his own! He made attempts to get to the front seats but settled down after some time. During the car ride he did salivate but did not whine or bark.
Once we arrived home, he walked in comfortably and sniffed around familiarizing himself with the surroundings. Chewie was apprehensive of the kennel space and going into the crate. After just a couple of tries Chewie more easily walks into his crate. Today will be kept light and easy to provide Chewie with a smooth transition.
Today marked the commencement of Chewie training journey with us! Ensuring the wellbeing of our furry trainee, we opted for a cool and shady spot in the backyard, keeping in mind the prevailing heat conditions. Today we introduced his Come to Sit command, also known as his Recall. A solid recall for all canines is an important aspect of training to ensure a pup’s safety. During this command we start with Chewie at a distance from us. Utilizing the 15ft leash helps create that distance while being able to help guide him with leash tension. Chewie was fitted with a prong collar to help shape the behavior. We immediately will wean him off this additional tool! When we ask Chewie to Come, we want him to come to our right-hand side, loop directly behind us, ending in a seated position on our lefthand side. Once in this position we can then ask him to Heel, Sit (for an extended amount of time) or Break! (His release command). Please note that we do not use “stay” as a command. We simply repeat the last ask (in this case Sit) to remind him and/or if he preemptively breaks command.
When canines are released with Break! we like them to become excited and run over to us. But there is a balance as to how that is done. Break! gives us an opportunity to provide Chewie with extra love and praise. His response emphasized the necessity to work on refining Chewie manners during his training tenure with us. If Chewie decides to greet us with an open mouth, jump, or push us, that praise must cease to avoid rewarding the undesired behavior. We immediately follow with Off! and leash tension. (Off is our general ‘do not do’ command) The moment he stops, we can go back to the exuberant affection being provided.
We introduced him to the Heel and Place command. By utilizing both a prong collar and an E-collar, we guided Chewie through the foundational steps of these new commands. Our training method involved a series of turns to help Chewie understand the necessity of following our lead, with the prong collar providing upward pressure and the E-collar giving gentle stimulations as teaching aids. Despite being his first encounter with the Heel command, Chewie didn’t do terrible. He did, however, show some resistance, but easily follows through with tools provided to him.
Later in the evening, Chewie worked on the Place command. He too responded well to this new skill! Most canines will attempt to push boundaries from time to time. It is important to stay consistent and ensure an appropriate follow-through with each task. Please listen to the audio for today’s video!
Food note: Chewie does not seem to enjoy his food all that much, generally speaking. The last couple of days it took quite a while to eat, and he wouldn’t eat all of his food. Today we wanted to try something different to ensure that Chewie is receiving all his nutrients while training with us. Of course, we kept in mind his sensitive tummy to ensure we weren’t going to cause an imbalance. We simply used our personal dogs fish oil, lightly coated his kibble, and Chewie absolutley loved it! The great thing about this is fish oil poses many benefits for a canine’s skin and coat. Chewie seems to have dry, itchy skin and this will definitely provide him with some relief. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me directly!
We had a major breakthrough of teaching Chewie the Down command! There were trials and tribulations, but we persevered and accomplished our goal!
Upon arriving at the park, Chewie's focus immediately went towards the other canines nearby. We immediately followed up with Off and walked back and forth before really jumping into training. But every moment is a training moment and training opportunity! Following an acclimation period Chewie didn’t mind the dogs at a distance. We are still working on managing his reactivity in closer proximity. So far, we’ve had some success in mitigating the barking some but there is still room for lots of improvement. If the other canine is of calmer energy, Chewie responds much better compared to a canine of high energy.
Chewie worked on Heel and Place with different people to see how he responds to human variety. Chewie presented some resistance throughout the session, showing signs of reluctance. Due to Chewie's size, there's a natural delay in his Heel, Sit, Down, and Place but his sluggishness was more pronounced today. Once he did get on Place, convincing him to Sit proved a significant challenge. Chewie also had a tendency to break command frequently and prematurely.
Consistency is a key foundation in all aspects of Chewie's life. If we allow shortcuts to be taken, he will continue to do so more and more often. Resulting in our pups listening less and less. We must push through those boundaries and end each training secession where we have the upper
Today commenced with a focused session in the driveway, where we were reinforcing all Chewie's commands. Each day may pose a new challenge with Chewie. Taking 5 minutes to work in the driveway before going anywhere makes a big difference in his mental state and overall consistency.
Later in the day we ventured off to Lowe’s to work on all of his commands in a cool, distraction-filled environment. When we got there, we walked him around to get his legs moving and to get him conditioned to the environment around him. Letting the pups get acclimated to new environments is vital. During the acclimation period we still ask Chewie for the Heel command as we do not want him reverting to pulling us around. His heeled around the store very well. Chewie held his Extended Sits and Downs. Only getting up once, and that was most likely due to the loud noise of the shopping cart going towards him. Chewie's Place command in this new environment was adequate, although he demonstrated a certain reluctance to adopt a Down position on the Place object. This typically is due to lack of confidence or potential resilience being shown from the canine. Either way, we work him through any of these inhibitors to show him it’s not so bad!
Today, we embarked on a challenging training session at the Brea Mall with Chewie to assess his reactions amidst high-intensity distractions, including new faces, strollers, and children.
When we got there, he was almost immediately overwhelmed by his surroundings and was pulling and panting. Then we had to walk him down a set of stairs and he also expressed a lot of uncomfortable behaviors about that too. He was super low to the group and was refusing to go down the stairs. Chewie could benefit from more outings in public like malls, shopping, and farmer market like areas.
Once we got downstairs, it was less busy, and Chewie seemed to be able to handle his surroundings a bit more. His Heel was tight and seemed relatively focused. He managed to hold his Extended Sit and Down without breaking command. He also Placed on a fountain with lots of people walking buy and admiring his obedience.
Despite these strides, we encountered a minor setback when two small dogs hidden in a stroller barked at him, prompting Chewie to startle and react towards them. However, upon a subsequent encounter, now with prior knowledge of the dogs' presence, Chewie exhibited commendable focus and refrained from engaging with them.
Chewie had the opportunity to work around many dog distractions today. As you can see in his video, he did such a great job! He was able to briefly greet (sniff) other pups after some time and did so in a calm and respectful manner. Now the important note, (if it hasn’t already been mentioned), is Chewie's reaction is largely based on the other canine’s energy and overall boundaries. All of the canines were being appropriately managed by their humans and were not barking, lunging, etc. themselves.
In any instance, Chewie is not allowed to hyper fixate on any canine at any time. Nor is he allowed to pull or rush to greet a canine. Allowing these behaviors can set a reaction in Chewie or cause another canine to react to him. Resulting in Chewie reacting back to the dog. It all is about managing the situation and Chewie to the best of your abilities. It definitely takes time and patience, but it can be done!
He’s been doing great in working with other people as you can see, we had a fellow trainer work with him today. The idea is Chewie needs to understand that he is to follow the lead of the designated human, regardless of whomever is working with him. Now an important key is everyone must be on the same page with the rules, boundaries, and commands used. If not, Chewie will have inconsistencies in his behaviors, and you will find yourself battling him more often.
We continued to work on Chewie's Door Manners and Food Refusal while with us. We ask Chewie to sit/down and wait before going in/out of any and all doorways. Even if the door is left open. This will also prevent Chewie rushing out to the door and into the street. If at any point Chewie tries to be the first one through the door, call him back in, close the door, place him in a Sit/Down and try again. Continuing this practice will ensure Chewie understands he cannot cross through doorways without being invited through. Even when someone is coming to the door to deliver or hand off anything.
For Food Refusal we would like Chewie to leave any food on the ground alone. This really applies to human food as he may ingest something he isn’t supposed to. Traditionally we do Food Manners where we have a canine hold a Sit/Down while the food is being prepared and served. Chewie had no issues with this to begin with.
Everything Chewie has learned during his training program is transferable to the home, in public, with different people, any type of environment really!