Coco | Pitbull Mix | La Habra Heights, CA | In-Training
Meet Coco! A sweet and playful one year old Pitbull mix from La Habra Heights, CA has joined us for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Coco was recently rescued during a storm, and now has come to us to work on a few behaviors before she goes back to her forever home! She struggles with excessively pulling on the leash, nervousness in new environments (especially when near loud noises or unfamiliar objects), nipping whenever overly excited, and an overall mind of her own, as she can be a bit bossy at times. Over these next Two Weeks Coco and I will build a strong foundation for her training, providing plenty of exposure to new environments, as well as build her confidence to help her be the be best pup she can possibly be! Stay tuned for her Two Week Transformation!
Coco and I spent the day with each other getting familiar with each other as we got her settled in to her new temporary home. We strolled around the block letting her soak in her new environment and sniff around before we practiced some crate training. Coco was not comfortable enough with taking treats yet as I put a couple inside the crate. I then fed the leash through to the other side of the crate as I applied leash pressure towards the crate, while I backed the crate in towards me, inviting her to come inside. It definitely took some time, but Coco eventually went inside. We will begin to work on some new commands tomorrow!
Coco and I started our day by introducing her to a few communication tools such as the 3.25 mm Herm Sprenger Prong Collar and e collar. The prong collar is used to guide Coco with directional changes of the leash. I apply leash pressure in the direction I want her to go and the second she follows the path created for her, I turn that pressure off. Any time I apply leash pressure, I apply stimulation from the e collar as well. Coco at first resisted the leash pressure. Once I marked and praised the few steps she took in the direction I wanted her to go, she began to understand how to turn the pressure off. She still resists every now and then, and when she does not want to work, she lays down, rolling over trying to seek attention. It is important to have her continue to work, then only praise her when she complies. Coco did not have much interest in the treats today. This may be due to her not feeling 100% comfortable yet. I also noticed as I was cleaning the backyard with a shovel, she was very fearful and avoided me. I gave her her space but continued to clean with it to help desensitize her to being near it and see that there is nothing to be afraid of.
I then introduced Coco to Come to Sit which is the action of her coming around behind me to Sit on my left hand side ready to Heel. She was a natural at this and learned quickly that all of the attention was given to her on my left hand side. This is how I begin to build value with Coco in a specific position. I Cued Coco’s name frequently,praising her when she offered me her attention. This is called the name game and is a great game to practice around distractions to build engagement during training.
As the session continued, Coco demonstrated more fluency with her Sit, offering it more quickly than before. Good work Coco!
Coco and I took a trip to the beach today where we focused our work on conditioning her to the e collar, while we practiced our Heel, Come to Sit, and Extended Sit. Coco has improved with her Heel, following the guidance of the leash and e collar stimulation paired together quite well.
Since today was the first day we spent together in a busy environment, I was able to evaluate how she works/adapts in a new setting. Coco’s biggest distractions were other dogs, and large objects that move with wheels. She was quite overstimulated when seeing a dog walk towards us. I popped the leash in the opposite direction and cued Heel. After a few leash pops and stimulation from the e collar, she stopped pulling and Heeled by my side. We will now focus our work near other dogs to help desensitize her as well as teach her impulse control.
We then practiced her Extended Sit as kids and dogs ran by her, which Coco was able to hold for up to 30 seconds which is a good start while in a busy environment .She held her position quite well until an ice cream cart passed by us, which then triggered Coco to release herself and avoid it. I worked her through this, until the cart went out of sight. Now that I know what Coco is unsure of or overstimulated by, we can focus our work on proofing her commands near this stimuli.
It took Coco about 20 minutes in her new environment before she appeared more confident and ready to work. After we Heeled around the mall to expose her a bit, we then worked on introducing her to Extended Place & Down. Place is a great command to use to build confidence in a dog, create a calm state of mind, as well as prevent unwanted behaviors from happening. It can be used essentially on any elevated surface. I recommend purchasing a dog cot to be able to send her to Place at home and work on house training. It can also be transported wherever you take her. Having something familiar to her in an unfamiliar place helps her acclimate to her surroundings much quicker.
After some encouragement, Coco performed Place and was able to hold it for up to a minute long. We will continue to add more duration to this command, as well as build distance between us while near more distractions.
Coco and I went to a local trainers house today to work on her Place paired with Down. I introduced her to the Down by cuing Down with my palms facing the floor along with utilizing leash pressure in a downwards motion. I rewarded her for the first few she did immediately, then began to have her wait longer for her reward to improve her duration of holding the Down.
Once she demonstrated consistency, we worked on adding distractions, such as other dogs. Coco was very interested in the other pup, struggling to hold her Place command as the dog walked around her. I began to cue her name, looking for any eye contact she may offer. After some time, she checked in with me which I marked with a Yes and rewarded. I then let her sniff and approach the other pup briefly. Coco has a lot of puppy energy and is not really aware of her own size. She can come on quite strong when approaching other dogs, which can initiate negative interactions with other dogs. This may due to her wanting to assert dominance during interactions or may be simply due to her simply not knowing how to interact in a proper manner. Working on her impulse control will be the primary focus moving forward, to desensitize her to stimuli that triggers her to become overstimulated, such as other pups.
Today Coco and I had the opportunity to work on proofing all of her commands near distractions while utilizing minimal leash pressure. Initially I helped her out with guidance of the leash, then began to let her figure it out for herself while I use more visual cues to help her Come and Sit on my left hand side when called. Today was the first day Coco was worked when near certain triggers, one of them being children which I noticed as they walked by us and she wanted to approach. Coco is used to receiving a lot of attention which does not help her over stimulation when she sees new people pass by. I worked her through this by utilizing stimulation of the e collar with slight leash pressure towards me. She began to resist and threw a tantrum because she did not get what she wanted at that moment. After I cued her to Sit with pressure upwards, she decompressed and was able to work again.
I included a video of Coco’s reaction to another dog. She demonstrated a highly aroused state that was difficult for her to work through. We will keep working on desensitization to other pups and build her drive to work.
Coco and I went on a trip to the outlets today! There was quite a lot going on, as we Heeled past reactive dogs, crowds of people with kids running around, and loud noises which Coco was nervous around. She was very alert of her surroundings, and had no interest in treats which is a sign of stress. We had a pack walk around the outlets, working on our Heel. She tends to try to take the lead when a part of the pack. I cued her to Heel and popped the leash, making frequent turns, until she stayed by my side. After a few turns, she was able to match my pace, instead of the other dogs.
Coco receives a lot of attention when out in public, which gives us plenty of opportunities to practice her Greeting Manners. Coco seems to be unsure of certain men, and loves women. A slow introduction is best to people that Coco seems unsure about. Adding a positive interruptor (like a treat or playtime)in a questionable situation for Coco helps change her perspective into a positive one, making it a more enjoyable experience for her.
We then utilized a 15 ft leash, creating distance between us as I walk to the end of the leash during her Extended Sit, Place and Down. She is now fluently performing Down, as I pair it often with Place. She was able to hold position for a minute and a half today which is halfway to our goal!
Coco and I have been utilizing a 15ft leash to increase distance between us for all of her commands as she performs her Extended Sit, Down and Place for a minimum of two minutes, which is the goal that she has been able to reach while near moderate distractions. She has improved with her fluency for all of her commands, yet needs help with leash pressure at times when working in a new environment. At times when Coco does not feel like working she protests by rolling over or laying down. It is important to work her through this then give her a break later, after she has performed the task requested of her. If we stop having her work when she protests, she will learn that she will have her way with that pushy behavior. Pushy behaviors like tantrums, open the gateway to other pushy behaviors in the future, such as demand barking or nipping, which is why it is so important to have her follow through with it. We take frequent breaks during our training sessions that require a lot of repetitions, to prevent Coco from proceeding to repeat this behavior.
Now that she knows all of her commands, we will emphasize our work on proofing her commands and work towards building fluency while near stimuli that triggers her to become overstimulated/reactive. This will determine ultimately if she is a good candidate for Off leash training or on leash training.
Coco and I spent the day at the park to continue to work on everything she has learned as well as further assess how she will respond to other pups she hasn’t met before while training. There were plenty of distractions to work near today as we practiced most of our work near the children’s playground since Coco’s biggest triggers are children and dogs. When Coco sees a new dog, she becomes so overstimulated that nothing else is of interest to her until she has been around that dog for some time. If I stimulate her or pop the leash, she resists at first then eventually stops when she knows she will not have her way. The amount of resistance to the e collar and leash pressure during a reactive episode is not as excessive as before, but still makes it difficult to trust that she will follow through with remaining consistent with her commands if she is Off Leash and new or reactive dogs are present.
When we see a dog coming our way, we make a 180 turn together as I cue Heel to let her know we are changing direction. Changing direction while Heeling in a circle formation helps diffuse the situation as well as grabs her attention much more quickly. After practicing this repetitively with multiple dogs passing by us, she eventually was able to hold her Sit for up to a minute and Heel right by my side with those dogs right across from us!
Coco and I worked on all of her commands near quite a lot of dogs, which is a big trigger for her. They were all within close proximity which was a test for Coco as I worked her through her reactivity. As you can see in the video, when I first introduced Coco to the Place cot, she was quite hesitant to perform Down. I reset her then cued Down again which she then responded to quickly. I rewarded her every so often when she remained calm while all the dogs worked near her. Today was the first day that Coco checked in with me multiple times while dogs were near which I marked with a big yes.
We then came across a reactive dog, which is a lot for Coco to handle. She will lunge towards the dog that is just as overstimulated as her, and attempt to be very pushy when walking. If she pushes up against me or jumps on me, I correct it with a pop of the leash as I take my space back and continue to work her. We make frequent turns together until she appears more relaxed, not attempting to lunge or release herself. Working while many dogs are near us will continue to help Coco learn how to follow through with her commands as we work towards pushing past her threshold gradually.
Coco and I began to prepare her for her final video while we practiced all of her commands in the middle of all the foot traffic at The Block. I gave her a little extra guidance with the leash and e collar stimulation in the beginning of our session, as she was very excited to be there. We had a pack walk with all of the other trainer’s dogs around the outlets. She has improved with not trying to take the lead while walking next to the other pups.
Coco receives a lot of attention and has done great practicing her Greeting Manners with friendly strangers. I remind her to Sit every now and then when she seems more excited than usual, which has helped her check in with me during her Sit. She is now able to hold her Extended Sit and Down for a minimum of two minutes, at a distance of about 10 ft. We will keep working on adding more distance between us for her commands as well as expose her to new distractions.
Coco and I ventured out to The Block of Orange Outlets as we filmed content for her final video. I noticed before we left the house, there were small traces of blood on the floor which indicates that her menstrual cycle has started. She did appear swollen in that area this past week, so we will finish up filming the last of her content today as she will need rest for the next few days while boarding.
Once we arrived to the outlets, we Heeled around the Outlets together exposing her to her environment as we released some energy. She appeared a bit more tired today than usual which may be due to her cycle starting. We took multiple breaks which allowed Coco to work for a little longer as we worked on her Extended Sit, Place and Down for a minimum of two minutes.
Coco’s confidence has improved. While we were at The block there were plenty of loud noises. Initially she was a bit unsure of these noises but checked in with me instead of pulling away from the noises. I praised Coco and continued to work her through this. By continually exposing Coco to these noises, she will become more desensitized to it, which gives her the ability to work through stress instead of shutting down. Great job Coco!
Coco has learned boundaries, not jumping on the door to open it anymore. She has learned that when she sits and waits patiently, the door will open. If she gets up, the door closes on her. The door is an important threshold to remain consistent with so Coco won’t have a habit of being the first one out.
After Heeling together around the neighborhood and working on her Manners, we played together in the backyard with the tug of war rope. She is learning her size now, not attempting to jump on me nearly as much as she used to, and if she tries she responds to Off quite quickly. Playtime is a great outlet for Coco to release her energy, it also helps establish a healthy bond. Since she is a very energetic pup, this is highly recommended.
Coco and I had the opportunity to work on her reactivity towards other pups while we took a stroll at the park today. Her threshold for remaining consistent while dogs are near, is at a distance of about 30 ft. After Coco has had a chance to acclimatize e to the dogs near her, she improves and that threshold lowers to about 15 ft which is an improvement for her.
While dogs are near, I work on engagement with Coco. Engagement is important when working with reactive dogs. Utilizing classical conditioning, I have added a positive interruptor for Coco when she checks in with me while triggers are near such as other dogs. I recommend taking tasty treats whenever out and about with Coco. If she offers you her attention after noticing a pup, mark it with a yes and reward her. You will begin to notice her engagement during training will gradually improve. By remaining consitent with this, she will naturally start to check in for guidance when she notices stimuli that excites her.
Coco had a relaxing day today as we played a bit in the backyard as we worked on her manners during playtime. When Coco gets over excited her biggest challenge has been being able to relax on cue. I utilize Place during playtime to redirect her and prevent jumping. This has helped her significantly with controlling her impulses and turning off that excitement on cue. When Coco gets very excitable, I recommend having plenty of Place cots to send her to which will help her relax. Elevated cots are best for the hot summer days. I also recommend a 3.25 mm Herm Sprenger to walk Coco with. If the prong is used correctly, it will give you much more control while walking with her and prevents pulling.
Coco and I spent our day together working on all of her commands as we strolled around the neighborhood. It is best to never make it a big deal when you come and go so Coco doesn’t see it is a big deal either. Crate training also greatly helps with preventing separation anxiety, especially when at home with Coco. Periods of time alone throughout the day helps prepare her for time apart.
Coco has overall become more confident, can hold her Place and Extended Sit for a minimum of two minutes, and can Come to Sit from about 15 ft away. I recommend constantly taking Coco to new environments. Desensitization to new places will only further improve her training. She is a loving girl who needs a lot of guidance, structure and leadership to thrive and follow instructions. She has come a long way and we can not wait to show you what she has learned. Thank you for trusting me with Coco!