Meet Diesel! A one year old German Shepherd who has joined us for our Two-Week Board and Train program. Diesel has come to us to work on a few behaviors such as jumping on the table to steal food whenever he has the chance, pulling on the leash, and nipping while being handled. If Diesel is out in a public setting and cats or small animals are near, he begins to react. He is also not a fan of loud noises, and will often bark whenever caught off guard.
Over these next two weeks Diesel and I will be visiting plenty of new places, as we introduce him to new commands. We will be implementing plenty of structure, along with clear communication as we expose him to new sights, smells and sounds with the ultimate goal of being Off Leash! Stay tuned for his Two-Week Transformation!
Diesel and I had the opportunity to spend time together strolling around the neighborhood, as he explored his new surroundings. After our walk, we got him all settled in to his new temporary home. We practiced crate training which is a work in progress. He is learning to follow the directional changes of the leash towards the crate. We will begin to introduce him to new commands tomorrow!
Diesel and I started our day by introducing him to a few communication tools such as the herm Sprenger prong collar 3.25 mm and e collar. The prong collar is used to guide Diesel 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. Diesel at first resisted the leash pressure. He was also initially very overstimulated upon seeing other dogs near us. Once I marked and rewarded the few steps he took in the direction I wanted him to go, changing direction frequently, popping the leash to guide him, he began to understand how to turn the pressure off. He still resists every now and then but is learning to follow my lead.
I introduced him to Come to Sit which is the action of Diesel 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 Diesel in a specific position. I Cued Deisel’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. As we spent more time at the park together, his motivation to work grew, and he consistently ate the treats. Whenever he was too excited near the other dogs, he refused any treat offered to him. He is slightly reactive, yet over time worked through it. We will keep working on desensitization to help create a more neutral response to other dogs.
Diesel and I took a trip to the park today where we had the chance to work on his Heel, Extended Sit, Come to Sit, as well as build engagement during training. When I call his name, he now checks in with me.
Diesel can be a bit anxious upon arriving new places, eager to exercise. We start our sessions with a long Heel around our new environment, making frequent turns together which he has improved with. He is learning to match my pace, as I cue Heel whenever there is a change of pace or direction. Clear communication on structured walks is important. He is expected to stay on his handlers left hand side, attentive to where the left leg leads. Once he is released with the cue Break, he is free to do as he pleases, for example sniffing or potty breaks. If I stop walking he is expected to Sit.
We have focused a lot of our work on his crate training as well. He is able to enter the crate on cue with slight leash pressure towards the crate, now not resisting like he did before. I place his favorite treats like his pig ears inside of it occasionally which continues to help build a positive association.
Diesel and I started our day with building duration for his Extended Sit as well as built fluency for his Come to Sit. 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 Diesel to Place on while adapting to an unfamiliar environment helps bridge the transition much more quickly.
When practicing Place with Diesel, I chain the commands Place and Down together to help him voluntarily offer the behavior without much guidance needed from me. Diesel 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 between us for his commands as we improve his commands near daily distractions.
Diesel and I spent the day together practicing his Extended Place, Sit, Heel, and Come to Sit. We took a trip to the beach as we Heeled around the pier, passing by several kids,bicyclists, dogs, skateboards, birds, etc. This was a lot for Diesel to take in initially, he was anxious, panting heavily. After about 15 minutes of Heeling he appeared more relaxed, sticking by my side not needing as much guidance from me. Diesel struggled at first with performing the Down, not following the leash downwards or my visual cues. He was overstimulated, not showing much interest in treats. Once he was exercised for a longer period of time, he eventually stopped fighting it and performed Down a few times, yet still took his time. We will continue to work on building fluency with his Down, both inside and outside of the house to build a solid foundation for fluency.
Diesel was able to Place on new surfaces, as dogs passed by him, some were even reactive. Diesel was not bothered by this, holding his Sit the entire time!
Diesel and I ventured out to the beach where we had the opportunity to focus our work on his Down as well as other commands such as Heel, Come to Sit, Extended Sit, and Place. Yesterday while at the beach, Diesel was very overstimulated, struggling to perform Down on top of new surfaces. Due to this, I tried a different method for his Down, having him perform it on top of something he is more familiar with and comfortable with, an elevated Place cot. Diesel took well to this, performing Down without any hesitation. He was so comfortable, he held Place for up to four minutes today which is a record for him!
With more practice, his fluency should continue to improve as we practice on top of different surfaces in new environments.
Diesel and I spent the day working towards our Off Leash goal as we began to drag the leash while I cued him to perform all of his commands such as Come to Sit, Heel, Extended Sit, Down and Place. I set him up for success by starting our session first utilizing leash pressure. Then when he gains consistency, I begin to drop the leash and cue Heel, changing directions as he follows where my left leg leads.
Since we are utilizing less leash pressure, he is left to problem solve and figure out how to follow through with his commands, without much guidance from me. If needed, I help him out with footwork, visual cues and a few leash pops in the direction I want him to go.
When I left it to Diesel to figure out how to follow through with his commands, he became a bit frustrated while vocalizing. I helped him out by guiding him when he was too unsure of what to do next. After I stepped in a couple of times to help him follow through, he gained consistency with his recall, Coming to Sit by my side more confidently. He matches my speed while Heeling now, automatically sitting when I stop walking. Great job Diesel!
Diesel and I started our day with working on his Food Manners. He is expected to hold his Sit or Down while being fed. After the food bowl is placed on the floor, that is not his cue to get up. His cue to eat is when I release him with the Cue Break. Although tempted, Diesel was able to hold his sit while I eventually went out of sight.
We then went on a walk around the neighborhood today shortly after where we proofed his commands some more. Diesel is now able to perform his commands with or without a leash. At times he can become overstimulated while training, vocalizing while performing his Come to Sits or Heel. We play together often when he’s on break to help him release his pent up energy or frustrations. We will focus our work moving forward on proofing his commands with more distractions, distance and duration.
Diesel and I had the opportunity to proof all of our work near other dogs, which has been Diesel’s biggest challenge yet. Upon seeing new dogs he can become quite overstimulated though will follow through with his commands with extra guidance from his handler. Whenever we arrive somewhere new, we focus on exercising, to help meet his exercise needs. We dragged the leash as we Heeled around the park, passing by the other dogs. Anytime he veered off track from his Heel, I stopped walking and called him to Come then Heel with stimulation of the e collar. By repetitively having him correct his position, he began to automatically correct his Heel whenever I reminded him.
We utilized a 15ft leash as I called him to Come to Sit on my left hand side. Diesel did great with this, hardly needing any guidance of the leash. Once we practiced Place on an unfamiliar surface, Diesel was unsure of this, resisting to jump on. I guided him with the leash upwards onto the bench. After I put my foot on top of the bench, he felt comfortable enough to jump up. We practiced this repetitively until he fluently was able to jump up all on his own. Good job Diesel!
Diesel and I had the chance to solidify the foundation for his Off Leash skills today. We emphasized our work on his impulse control, Heel, and Come to Sit on my leaf hand side. When Diesel is overstimulated, his biggest challenge is controlling/regulating his emotions. We focused on teaching him how to turn off this over arousal by holding his Extended Down while in Place. He has a high prey drive so I used the flirt pole as a distraction while he held his Place command. Once I released him with the cue Break, we played with it until I cued Off. If he continued to go after it, I stimulated him with the e collar which helped him follow through with going straight to Place. Diesel’s fluency has improved, as we Heeled around the backyard, not using any leash pressure.
Diesel and I took a trip to the beach where we worked on all of his commands as we heeled under the pier, dragging the leash near plenty of distractions. We passed by plenty of dogs, as I kept Diesel busy Heeling by my left hand side. He did great with most of the dogs that past us, except when one big Alaskan malamute who was lunging towards him caught his attention. Diesel became quite aroused but followed me as I turned the opposite direction stimulating him to Heel with me. During these times, Diesel portrays a pushy behavior which can lead to him redirect nipping if the situation isn’t diffused by walking and creating a bit of space from his trigger. Bigger dogs tends to be Diesel’s trigger to become over aroused during training. Due to this I recommend only having Diesel off leash in more secluded areas such as large parks, and hiking trails, where there aren’t many dogs near. Diesel can work through this but we must be mindful of his threshold, as every dog has a limit. We will slowly keep pushing past his threshold more and more as he shows me his is ready.
Diesel has learned boundaries, not jumping on the door to open it anymore. He has learned that when he sits and waits patiently, the door will open. If he releases himself, the door closes on him. The door is an important threshold to remain consistent with so Diesel won’t have a habit of being the first one out. It is a great way of maintaining mutual respect in your relationship, as he now understands everything is on his handler terms, not his own.
After Heeling together around the neighborhood and working on his Manners, we played together in the backyard with the flirt pole which he loves! It is a great outlet for him to release his natural prey drive. I have been introducing Diesel to the other pups through the fence everyday this week. We have been training with them on the other side of the fence as well to build a solid foundation for his training before we work on any socialization moving forward. Since he is a very energetic pup, this is highly recommended.
When I took Diesel out of his kennel this morning, I noticed he has a hot spot under his neck area. I did switch his collar to a biothane collar yesterday, which he may be sensitive to as he seemed to be scratching excessively overnight according to my Whistle GPS & Health device. I applied neosporin on top of it and stopped him whenever I seen him scratch excessively. I will continue to monitor this until he goes home.
Diesel and I filmed the last of the content needed for his final video today as we worked on everything he has learned over these last two weeks at the mall, off leash. We passed by other dogs, and since they were not reactive towards Diesel, he was unbothered, staying by my left hand side, Heeling the entire time.
It is important to remember that Diesel is not the kind of dog to back down from a reactive dog, so having him on a leash is recommended when near other unfamiliar dogs.
Diesel practiced Greeting Manners as he said hi to friendly new people. Whenever he says hi to someone new, I communicate to them to only pet him if all four paws are on the floor. If he releases himself, the petting stops. Calm energy is best when petting him, as we always want to promote calmness.
Diesel does great with me putting on his collars inside of the kennel, not attempting to bite at all. If I put his collar on while he is outside of the kennel, he becomes overly anxious, and starts to nip. When I put on his collar, I first put on a leash or slip lead preferably (slip leads give us more control). This allows us to pop the leash upwards to get Diesel to Sit. Once he Sits, I reward him as I show him the e collar. I then slowly bring the e collar close to his neck, rewarding him again for allowing me to come close. After the second reward I then tie the e collar fully around his neck. Once I secure the e collar on him I reward him one last time. This is called the Oreo technique. If we reward before and after an event that a dog is not fond of, we will gradually shift their association from negative to positive. It is important to only reward if he is allowing you to come close to his neck area. If he is being nippy, correct each nip with a pop of the leash upwards as you cue off firmly. He has improved with this, yet needs constant communication to continually show him what is acceptable and what is not.
Diesel used to also nip when I would crate train with him. He would throw himself to the floor in protest, nipping at my hand if I tried to grab him. When we began to crate train, I always had the leash on him, to guide him straight into the kennel as I cued Crate. He eventually followed this, and now can go inside of the crate on cue without the leash. If he tests this, I stimulate him with the e collar, pointing to the Crate until he enters. I then offer him a reward inside the crate if he enters the first time I request it.
Diesel absolutely killed it while filming his Final video at the mall, performing everything requested of him fluently, which I included a preview of. We emphasize our work on distance away from each other and setting boundaries at thresholds such as doorways, when exiting the crate, or when giving food as he can be a pushy pup if not constantly provided structure. It is best to never make it a big deal when you come and go so Diesel doesn’t see it is a big deal either. Crate training also greatly helps with separation anxiety, especially when at home with him. Periods of time alone throughout the day helps prepare Diesel for time apart.
Diesel has overall become more patient and in control of his impulses. He 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 Diesel to new environments. Since he can be a nervous boy at times, desensitization to new places will only further improve his training. 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 Diesel!