Dax | Bernese Mountain Dog | Los Angeles, CA | In-Training
Meet Dax! A One year old Bernese Mountain Dog has joined us for our One-Week Board and Train program along with a few extra days of boarding. Dax has come to us to work on a few behaviors such as learning how to walk nicely on a leash, especially when other dogs are present as he often pulls heavily towards any dog he sees, in an effort to initiate play. Dax only comes when called whenever he feels like it, ignoring his name frequently. He excessively barks whenever he hears the doorbell ring, or the mailman, and will continue to bark until he sees who it is. When he is out and about in a new environment, he appears anxious not knowing how to relax on his own.
Over this next week Dax and I will begin to build a solid foundation for his training, as we venture out to new places proofing his commands near plenty of distractions. We will incorporate structure and clear communication to help Dax be the best pup he can possibly be! Stay tuned for his One Week transformation!
Dax and I spent the day familiarizing ourselves with each other as we strolled around the neighborhood. He explored his new surroundings both inside and outside of the house, sniffing around and meeting the other pups through the fence. He had a very neutral response towards the other dogs, not caring much to interact as he sunbathed, receiving plenty of belly rubs. We then worked on some crate training which he was resistant to at first. After guiding him towards the crate multiple times, he followed the leash straight into the crate as we got him all settled in to his new temporary home.
Dax and I spent the morning taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Although he hasn’t been introduced to any communication tools yet, we began to work on building a foundation for his Heel utilizing leash pressure. Heel is the action of Dax walking on my left hand side, turning when I turn and sitting whenever I stop walking. He should be checking in with me frequently, not stopping to sniff around. He is free to do as he pleases when I cue Break. Anytime I change direction with Dax, or change pace, I cue Heel as I pop the leash in the direction I want him to go. He is learning to follow my lead, as well as the guidance of the leash.
Once we got back home we played with the flirt pole as he hung out with me in the backyard. At first he didn’t show any interest in it, but after I became energetic with him he matched my energy running around chasing the toy.
Dax and I spent the day playing with each other before we began to work on introducing him to another board and train pup that I have, Nala. Dax was very relaxed around Nala giving her space as they briefly sniffed each other. He sits on cue and responds to his name quite well. I do leave the slip lead on him whenever we are out in the yard or outside of the house, so if there is ever a time he chooses to ignore me, I am prepared to guide him with the leash to follow through with his Extended Sit until he is released with the cue Break.
Dax and I started our day by introducing him to a few communication tools such as the slip lead and e collar. The slip lead is used to guide Dax with directional changes of the leash. I apply leash pressure in the direction I want him to go and the second he follows the path created for him, I turn that pressure off. Any time I apply leash pressure, I apply stimulation from the e collar as well. Dax at first resisted the leash pressure. Once I marked and rewarded the few steps he took in the direction I wanted him to go, he began to understand how to turn the pressure off. Every now and then he sits facing the other direction so I correct this by repositioning him with guidance from the leash to Sit the same direction as me. He is learning to follow my lead much more frequently.
I introduced him to Come to Sit which is the action of Dax coming around behind me to Sit on my left hand side ready to Heel. He was a natural at this and learned quickly that all of the good stuff came to him when he Sat on my left side. This is how I begin to build value with Dax in a specific position. I Cued Dax’s name frequently, rewarding him when he offered me his attention. This is called the name game and is a great game to practice around distractions to build engagement during training. A focused dog is a dog that is ready to work!
Dax and I took a trip to the park today! We explored our surroundings as we Heeled together making frequent turns, having him Sit whenever I stop walking. We emphasized our work on his Extended Sit, and Come to Sit utilizing a 15ft leash. After many repetitions he demonstrated consistency with holding his Sit for up to a minute and a half long, which is almost at our goal!
After working on what he has already learned, I then introduced him to a new command, Place. Place is great to use to help create a calm state of mind, builds confidence in a dog, prevents unwanted behaviors, and can essentially be practiced on top of any elevated surface. Dogs are naturally more confident while on elevated surfaces. I recommend purchasing an elevated dog cot to practice with both inside and outside the house. Having something familiar for Dax to Place on while adapting to an unfamiliar environment helps bridge the transition much more quickly.
When practicing Place with Dax, I chain the commands Place and Down together to help him voluntarily offer the behavior without much guidance needed from me. Dax enjoyed this and fluently performed this behavior repetitively. We then built duration with this as he held it for a minute long. Now we will begin to build distance, and duration for his commands as we improve his commands near daily distractions.
Dax and I took a trip to the park as we worked on all of his commands while near plenty of other pups. Dax has become fluent with his commands, performing the first time I give a cue. He showed some interest in the other dogs while they were near us, but followed my lead quite well when I cued Off then reminded him to Heel with a pop of the leash.
We have greatly emphasized our work on building his drive to jump onto new surfaces, as the first few days were a challenge for him to jump into the car or jump onto Place. I tap into his playful side as I encourage him to jump with a lot of energy and guidance from the leash. Dax fed off my energy and jumped over the obstacles in the playground, as well as jumped right into the crate! I marked this with a big Yes and offered him plenty of love.
Now that Dax has demonstrated confidence and fluency with commands we will begin to film content for his final video very soon! Great work Dax!
Dax and I ventured out to the beach where we began to film for his final video! We got our work done just in time before it began to pour rain. Dax always receives a lot of attention while we are out and about, and is learning to work through it! Whereas before, he would often default to seeking attention whenever someone acknowledges how cute he is, which is quite often! I cue Off to Dax whenever anything seems to capture his eye during training. If he needs help with offering me his attention, I then pop the leash in my direction along with light stimulation which he responds well to.
Dax is able to hold his Extended Sit, Down and Place for a minimum of a minute and a half. He checks in with me frequently during his Heel as we desensitize him to working near new distractions daily.
Dax has improved significantly with his Heel, checking in with me whenever I cue Heel, whereas before he would often have a mind of his own. He is much more patient when exiting his kennel and the house, not bulldozing his way out of there. When he is in his kennel I remind him to wait as I open the door which he responds well to.
Dax no longer hesitates to jump onto Place, appearing much more motivated and confident while training. I cleaned out his ear which was quite dirty on one side. He kept scratching at it while training which is why it has been our routine to clean it out with the solution as I wipe it down afterwards. This seemed to help him, since he hardly scratches now. I will keep monitoring this to ensure he isn’t uncomfortable.
Dax enjoyed a fun day of proper socialization with the pack as he welcomed a new member, Buster! I introduced them both to each other through the fence first, to read how they responded to each other upon meeting. They instantly hit it off, already initiating play after only a few sniffs! I then had them hold their Sit before releasing them to play with each other. Every now and then Dax can be quite vocal while playing, attempting to bark at the other dogs to initiate play. Excessively barking in another dogs face is not a proper way of initiating play, so I cue off and pop the leash to stop Dax from continuing this. He stopped immediately and sat upon request. I then had him Place & Down while the other pups ran around. This was not an easy task for him at first, as he wanted to join them. He worked through this then eventually holding his Down for up to two minutes before being released to go run around with the pack!
Dax and I spent our day together working on all of his commands as we strolled around the neighborhood. After about 10 minutes his anxiety gradually mellows down which is a very big improvement as before it took him up to an hour before he seemed somewhat relaxed in new environments. We emphasize our work on impulse control, as Dax can be very excitable when leaving the house or crate. It is best to never make it a big deal when you come and go so Dax doesn’t see it is a big deal either. Crate training also greatly helps with separation anxiety, especially when at home with Dax. Periods of time alone throughout the day helps prepare him for time apart.
Dax has overall become more confident, can hold his Place and Extended Sit for a minimum of two minutes, and can Come to Sit from about 15 ft away. I recommend constantly taking Dax to new environments. Since he can be an anxious boy at times, desensitization to new places will only further improve his training. On leash greetings with other dogs are never recommended, as that will only create more overstimulation upon seeing new dogs. Dax can now check in with his handler when other dogs are present, which was not possible before.
He is a loving boy who needs a lot of guidance, structure and leadership to thrive and follow instructions. He has come a long way and we can not wait to show you what he has learned. Thank you for trusting me with Dax!