GiGi | Basenji | Glendale, CA | In-Training
Meet GiGi! She is a 13 month old Basenji from Glendale, CA here for our Three Week Board & Train Program! GiGi is a curious, playful and very intelligent girl, that sometimes has a stubborn streak. She is a Basenji, which is considered to be an "ancient" breed and are often more "cat-like" than some more commonly known breeds. Her primary goals during her stay are to work on her leash walking and also build solid obedience while off leash, general manners around the house, the neighborhood, with her family, and with visitors. She's a super smart girl but can have a very independent personality. Over the next few weeks she will learn that working with her trainer/handler is very fun and rewarding and how to follow through with her commands while off leash! Stay tuned for GiGi's three week transformation!
GiGi and I spent the day getting to know each other, it was a rainy day so we did our sessions indoors. We did lots of bonding through playtime and worked on her engagement, which is just learning to focus on me. We did lots of place work and also worked on her downs. I kept our obedience short and fun and that left GiGi wanting to come back for more! Tomorrow we will start working more outside in a new environment so she can work on building her skills all around! She’s a super fun dog to work with!
**Unable to upload video due to technical difficulties. Below is a link to GiGi's video Pupdate:
GiGi and I had a fun and long day of training in a new environment. We had the chance to meet up with another OLSC trainer at Hunt Park in Riverside, CA which had lots of distractions to offer from other dogs, to kids playing, to landscapers with loud mowers and even a pretty active skatepark. We worked on lots of engagement around different distractions, which is GiGi learning to focus on the person that is holding the leash and be paying attention so she can be tuned in to all of her training cues and obedience behaviors. Doing multiple sessions per day but keeping them short and fun in the beginning and gradually building up seems to be the best course of action for GiGi as it’s easy to get her to want to engage when she is having a bit of fun and later I can start to teach her to hold duration between her fun breaks. We worked on lots of heeling and loose leash walking around the park and GiGi is learning that when she feels pressure on the leash that it’s just me trying to communicate with her and she should look to me for direction when she feels the pressure from the prong or slip lead, and with that pressure being paired with the e-collar is what will lead her into successful and reliable off-leash obedience!
We also worked on recalls away from dog distractions. GiGi LOVES other dogs so this was a bit of a challenge for her but she quickly picked up that coming back to me is very rewarding and over time she will be able to recall away from any distraction and run back to her handler with excitement. In addition, we worked on her sits and downs with a bit of duration that we will build on in the coming days and weeks.
Overall GiGi is adjusting and doing very well so far. As she progresses she will start to have brief playtime with other dogs that are safe and social given that she does well in her sessions, her puppy play time will be apart of her big reward at the end of the day! And that will lead to us doing obedience in the yard while other dogs are out. It’s fun for GiGi and also a great learning opportunity for her as well!
GiGi was a bit of a slow eater yesterday evening, but I left her bowl in the crate with her for a bit and she did eventually eat all of her food and today she is eating and accepting treats and has had great potty habits so far! She is adjusting well and showing more of her playful personality!
Today GiGi and I did all our sessions at home around different types of distractions. I’m working on building her duration and confidence where I can control the level of distraction and gradually increase the difficulty before heading out into more uncontrolled situations in new environments. Showing her how to create success in her training. In her pupdate video you can see that there is some luring being used but I am quickly fading away how much lure and reward GiGi needs to be successful. Basenji’s are very intelligent but can definitely be aloof and stubborn so it’s important they find training rewarding and worth while in the early stages to have the most lasting success.
I used various different types of distractions, from the tennis ball & skateboard to my own dog Jasper and GiGi was able to problem solve and work well through every challenge.
We took a field trip to Riverwalk Dog Park today, they have a small fenced in agility course with an A-Frame, Dog Walk, and a few jumps and it’s a great place for confidence & trust building and just generally to have some fun in a safe environment. The dog park is spilt into two sides and the side GiGi and I were on was separated from the other dogs so we had the entire agility space to ourselves. But with lots of active dogs being right on the other side of the chain link fence it offered an amazing opportunity to work with some distractions and practice some off leash engagement. GiGi’s favorite obstacle was the A-Frame, once she figured it out she had lots of fun going up & over back to back!
We also did lots of e-collar work today. Working in a small space, free of distractions she had a chance to work on some easy obedience like sit, down, and place while working on pairing the e-collar and learning to understand exactly what’s being communicated when she feels it. This is the beginning of getting into reliability of leash with little GiGi.
GiGi came along with me to run some errands today and we stopped at a local store. We practiced loose leash walking and of course lots of engagement. GiGi did great ignoring all sorts of distractions including shopping carts, kids, and people trying to get her attention. We did some dropped leash obedience in one of the less active aisles and GiGi did great with her Come to Sit command, some dropped leash heeling and holding her down while I walked about 10-15 feet away from her. She’s responding nicely to the e-collar and doing great getting into the tail end of week one!
GiGi is doing great building duration in her positions around different distractions. Our primary focus today was maintaining the heel position as I changed speed and direction and really understanding what it means to heel and how to find the proper position. She did great on our neighborhood walks and got into some dropped leash obedience and holding her downs as people, kids and dogs were out and about.
We went to a local pet store today and I am so proud of GiGi for how well behaved she was and how she responded to her obedience! We are getting into the part of her training where we are really starting to pull away from using treats but she still get something called a variable reward which is a good treat that comes periodically throughout maintaining good behavior.
While we were at Elliot’s for Pets we worked on lots of engagement, heeling, sit and down stays, come to sit and lots of confidence building around all the sounds because they happened to be stocking shelves. Everyone was very impressed with how well behaved GiGi was for a little dog and some of the staff wanted to give her a treat, I asked if they didn’t mind giving GiGi one of her own treats because she has allergies and they were happy to. GiGi absolutely LOVES all of the treats that her family sent she’ll do anything for a piece of her jerky treats!
90% of GiGi’s obedience today was dropped leash with the e-collar. The 10% we didn't have the leash dropped leash was when we initially came into the store but it didn’t take very long for GiGi to get into a good groove. Overall she is doing excellent coming into her second week and we should definitely start intro into off leash behaviors during this week!
This week we’re working towards removing most of our food reward and also the prong collar so that GiGi learns to rely on the communication from the e-collar. We worked on her basic commands like sit and down that she has a great understanding of while on leash, and started to gear more towards her being able to complete these behaviors without relying on leash pressure and instead relying on communication from her e-collar.
GiGi is a very strong minded pup so there are times that she decides it’s not in her interest to work for or with me and she will do things such as bite the leash or make excessive noise in an effort to fight the obedience. For example, GiGi did not want to maintain her down and when I walked over to use the leash to help her back into position she bit my hand. In these moments I stay calm and consistent with what I’m asking and GiGi is really starting to put the pieces together that working with me actually is rewarding for her and she learns to create success for herself. Which is why I believe that for GiGi, intermittent rewarding is still good for her learning process. She does not rely on treats to listen but when she believes it pays to do the work she has a much better overall learning experience and expression in her work.
Throughout this week we’ll continue to remove leash pressure and become more reliant on the e-collar in different environments and levels of distraction.
Today we’re continuing more e-collar work with sit, down, come to sit and send to place. We also started working more on her “under” and she seemed to have fun picking up that up. We also worked on lots of duration on place as well as threshold and food manners. It’s going to be raining for the next few days so we’ll start working on lots of work indoors and indoor areas like Home Depot & our local mall.
After having a couple of e-collar sessions at home and around the neighborhood this morning, I took GiGi to our local mall to get some public training done. Often times I’m training by myself so it’s difficult to get a good angled video of GiGi while also paying close attention to her and training her all at the same time. Today would’ve been a great day to have assistance with video because GiGi did outstanding throughout our entire time at the mall (about 20 minutes) and she stuck by my side the entire time, held her extended downs, recalled almost perfectly every time & ignored lots of distractions.
There was a family there who recognized her breed and said that they’ve had a few Basenji’s in their family. They were super surprised and happy to see GiGi in training and one of them even said “I thought these dogs couldn’t be trained!”. It was a great opportunity for GiGi to practice some greeting manners, she loves people and can get a little excited when she meets new friends. She was very calm and polite and had a bit of hesitation when I recalled her away from all the praise she was getting but after a few seconds she made the great decision to come back to me so I gave her a nice treat for being such a good girl.
Overall it was a great training day and after some initial push back from GiGi, she was very stubborn the first 2-3 days transitioning from leash pressure to e-collar. She is showing a big change in her training attitude and understanding of her obedience and her handler engagement has made a complete turnaround from when I brought her home a week and a half ago.
There have definitely been some bumps in the road with this smart and stubborn girl but through consistency and clarity we can see that she is picking things up and I can start to venture out into much more distracting environment.
It was raining pretty hard today so we did lots of e-collar and place work around the house. GiGi is a primitive breed and although she is very smart she is very stubborn and will often do things to try to herself out of training whether it be by biting the leash, excessive whining when nothing is happening, and even as far as trying to bite me a few times. So today in addition to our other sessions we also worked on showing GiGi it’s never okay to try and bite even when things aren’t going the way she wants. Which is when the behavior primarily shows. Also because of GiGi’s breed she needs lots of consistent repetitions of the same behavior, more so than other breeds, in order for her to understand that she has to be compliant with her obedience all of the time and everyone in her life should hold her accountable for her behavior because she will look for any opportunity she can to get away with things. Being very clear and consistent is the key to GiGi’s progress in training.
GiGi and I did some training at Home Depot today, she struggles with holding her positions like sit and down so we did lots of duration work around different distractions. There were lots of people in the store wanting to baby talk and pet GiGi and she’s very social so she struggled at first with greeting manners but got into a groove pretty quickly. We also did lots of place work and e-collar work at home.
GiGi is responding very well to the e-collar. We took a trip to target today and did lots of place work and e-collar work at home. Sticking to a consistent and clear routine is working very well for GiGi. A high level of structure and clarity while also keeping training motivational and fun is what seems to be the best trick to help GiGi retain what she learns. She’s started doing place work sessions while having other dogs roaming free around her and she’s learning to work through her biggest distractions and stay handler engaged. GiGi has been a tough cookie to crack at times due to her inherently stubborn nature but she is making good and very consistent progress with each repetition.
Today we went out to a local outdoor outlet to get some work in an indoor/outdoor environment. GiGi is a little sensitive to the rain so being able to work in a somewhat covered environment while outside helped her get over not wanting to sit and lie down in water. We did lots of reps of her basic behaviors (sit, down and come to sit) outside while heeling around light crowds of people.
We went into the Levi store and I did some “shopping” around with GiGi. We worked on more duration in her down and using only the e-collar to communicate with out any leash pressure. You can also see that I’m removing a lot of my food reward here and relying mostly on verbal praise. I don’t expect perfection from GiGi, she gets 2% better everyday and retains what she learns the day before for the most part, and for a dog like GiGi that is great progress. She’s finding enjoyment in staying engaged with me and is doing better each day at ignoring things that spark her interest, she is very very social and loves everyone but she’s learned that staying with her handler is the most rewarding place to be and that makes ignoring distractions a cake walk 😎.
Anytime GiGi sniffs the ground or shelving I hit the black stimulation button on her e-collar and she will immediately pop back into attention. Her heeling picture is getting more clear everyday and she’s able to hold downs while I am walking away and out of sight.
We also did lots of greeting manners today and recalling away from or past distractions.
Today we worked on lots more of send to place. Holding place with heavy distractions in very close proximity. Also, heeling around heavy distractions and in tight spaces. Working these behaviors is a controlled distraction environment initially is the key to creating a successful picture when the environment has distractions that you cannot control. I used my personal dogs, Fava, a young GSD, and Rizz, my young Bully who is crated in the background, as demo dogs during this session. GiGi also went on a walk with resident old house dog Sage and even when Sage would break her heel, because Sage can do whatever she wants 😆 GiGi would still be rocking and rolling right in her heel position! She did a good portion of her walk with Sage off leash with the e-collar and my neighbor commented on how great she was doing.
We’ll spend this week continuing to increase distractions and hold GiGi to a high expectation.
GiGi PASSED HER CGC today! Or should I says CGiGiC 😆💕 We got a chance to train in multiple areas including a local park and Home Depot with the help of another Off Leash SoCal trainer GiGi got in some great dog distraction work and showed that she was able to pass her CGC with flying colors. Parts of the exam included sitting calmly to greet both a strange person and dog. A 20 foot recall past distractions. A long sit and a long down. Holding a down with the handler out of site and staying calm while a stranger (the evaluator) holds the leash while the handler is out of site, and lastly heeling through a crowd. GiGi was a rockstar today and I’m very proud of her!
GiGi is now into off leash behaviors with solely the communication from the e-collar. We are no longer using treats during our out and about sessions and she’s able to greet dogs and people respectfully, patiently and calmly. We’ll spend the weekend really tightening up her skills to prepare her to go home this coming Monday. I introduced GiGi to my great aunt when I went to visit her and she absolutely fell in love with her and GiGi loved her too she was heeling with her just because she wanted to 😆
GiGi rocked it off leash today! She was pretty much with me all day running multiple errands at different locations with different levels of distraction. When we went to the first store on our list, which was Lowe’s, it took about five minutes or so for GiGi to get into a good groove. She was a little distracted, not my anything in particular just not as engaged with her heeling and obedience as I would’ve liked her to be. But, I just stayed consistent with her e-collar stimulation (black S button) when she would move out of her position I hold or continuously tap that stimulation and she typically pops back into position. She seemed to get the message after just a few minutes and was nearly perfect for the rest of the day.
Out and about GiGi is no longer highly stimulated and distracted by things that used to be triggers for her to get excited and cause her to break positions. She did great with her automatic sit when I stop and placing on multiple objects. We also worked on her “under” out and about and she did very well.
Although GiGi shows a great understanding of her commands she is a very headstrong dog and will take opportunities that she can to be defiant so it’s important to always hold her accountable and reinforce every behavior we ask for with either the leash and/or primarily the e-collar.
GiGi comes with me on a lot of the dog friendly errands that I run throughout the day. She is very reliable with her obedience.
Although GiGi understands and follows through with her obedience behaviors it’s going to be very important to always maintain our consistency with our training tools (e-collar) to make sure GiGi knows she has to be obedient 100% of the time because if she is given opportunities to blow off her commands then she will. Holding her accountable for what we know that she knows is key to her lasting success.
I’m proofing GiGi’s obedience in very high traffic areas, she has come incredibly far in this past three weeks and she has the skills to continue to build on her strong off leash foundation to create an even more reliable pup.
As you can see in today’s pupdate video, although GiGi is not perfect she is able to maintain her down with a lot of hustle and bustle going on around her and needs very minimal encouragement to do so. Even when she does get the urge to break her position it’s always her first thought to come right back to me. I simply encourage her to maintain the behavior I asked and do not release her fully until she’s able to do so successfully. Being consistent during these times when GiGi is the most challenged is where learning happens! For both the pup and handler. We learn to trust that our dogs can handle these types of situations and that we can trust ourselves to guide them through it.