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  • Writer's pictureOffLeash SoCal

Golden Retriever Training | Poppy | Long Beach, CA

Poppy, a Golden Retriever from Los Angeles, CA went through the Balanced Canine Training SoCal Board and Train Program. Poppy was trained by Jose Ayala in Compton, CA.


Meet Poppy! She is an eighteen month old Golden Retriever who has joined us for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Poppy is here for basic obedience, jumping to greet, and leash pulling. She came to us knowing commands but is easily distracted by people and other dogs, so she has a little trouble following through. When wanting to interact with people, Poppy has a tendency of pulling towards someone, and when close enough, she will jump to say hello. Over the next fourteen days, Poppy will be working on her behavior and be set up for success, with hopes of becoming a well mannered pup. Check in to see her progress!


Poppy and I spent the afternoon getting to know each other. We drove out to a local park and went for a walk to establish a bond. While on our walk, Poppy was interested in the grass smells, and would move from left to right. To keep her from doing so, I introduced Poppy to heel, which consists of having her walk with me on my right side. Anytime Poppy would try to move towards my left, I made a u-turn to keep her on my right. If she pulled away from me, I would stop, walk in the opposite direction, and guide her back towards me with leash tension. She was distracted by a family walking by and wanted to interact, but with the use of her e-collar, I asked Poppy to sit, and she was able to follow through. She still needs more practice with her heel, and we will continue working on it by applying it on every walk we go on from here on out. She is adjusting very well to her new home for the next two weeks, and I am very happy to have her as we begin this journey towards success.


Poppy and I worked on place today. It consists of having Poppy getting onto an elevated object and remaining there in a sit or a down. It can build confidence in a dog, and be of great use when guests are over, or if there is a knock on your door. Poppy has an understanding of place, but still needs a little guidance to help her follow through. By using leash tension to assist her into getting on, Poppy was able to place her front paws on the object, which I rewarded with praise and a few of her treats. To help her get her back legs on, I got onto the object myself and her follow me. She did very well and learning how to place on her own. She still needs assistance in maintaining her position, but we will continue to work on it when we get into distance and duration.


Poppy and I worked on her recall which is known as come to sit. This consists of having Lucy come towards my left, wrap around behind me, and sit on my right. To teach Poppy I used leash tension and a high value reward treat, her favorite, carrots. With leash tension, I guided her to come towards my left and wrap around behind me, and rewarded her with her carrot when she sat on my right. Once I saw consistency with Poppy, I only rewarded her with food every other rep, and just used verbal praise instead. She is doing much better with her heel, as our morning and evening walks have helped, and she does very well sleeping through the night in her crate. She has adjusted very well into my home, and enjoys running around in my backyard.


Poppy and I worked on down today. It can be the most difficult to teach considering it being a submissive position to a dog. Poppy knows what it means, but she has trouble maintaining it. To recondition down with Poppy, I used her carrots as her reward. I began by asking her to go into a down position. Once she followed through, I immediately rewarded her with a carrot and released her with a “break.” Then, I began to gradually increase the time Poppy remained in the down position before giving her a treat. I only rewarded her when she maintained the down position for the desired duration. I will continue to repeat this process with Poppy, and remain consistent so she can continue improving and following through. By remaining positive and making it fun, it will motivate Poppy to keep performing the desired behavior, thus achieving great results.


Poppy and I drove out to a local park and worked on all of her commands. We practiced them with no treats and in a public area with minimal distractions. She was having trouble remaining in a sit when working on place, as she would sit up in anticipation of what I was going to ask next. When that happens, I reset Poppy back into position, and remind her to place verbally. Once she was able to follow through, I praised her with a “Good girl Poppy,” before asking her for a come to sit. Her down still needs a little more conditioning, as she tends to crawl a little forward sometimes. Now that Poppy has more of an understanding of her commands, I will begin to take her into more public settings, and gradually increase the amount of distractions.


Poppy and I have been working on distance and duration with a long leash. We have been working in increments of five seconds for every foot I step back. One foot back is five seconds, two feet back is ten seconds, three feet is fifteen, and so on. Poppy does very well remaining in her stationary positions, but there are instances in which she comes out of them on her own. When this happens and I am about six feet back, I reset back to five feet with Poppy, and keep repeating it until I see consistency. Once she is following through with her duration, we keep moving forward with distance. We worked on it in a public area with minimal distractions, and she did really well working through it. I will continue practicing with Poppy, as I visit more public settings, and gradually increase the level of distractions.


Poppy and I continued to work on distance and duration, but I decided to take her into more of a public setting, and challenge her with distractions. We began with a walk around the shopping center so that she may adjust to her surroundings. She did very well, but would try to get ahead of me at times, so to keep her from doing so, I used the e-collar stim, verbally reminded her to heel, and helped Poppy follow through. During walks, when she is doing a good job, I occasionally give her praise by saying, “Good heel Poppy,” or “Good girl, good heel.” These verbal praises motivate Poppy and encourage her to perform the behavior we are asking. She did very well, and with week one coming to a close, I look forward to begin week two with some leash dragging exercises, to prepare Poppy for her off leash experience.


Poppy and I began working on some leash dragging exercises in enclosed areas like my backyard and front yard. Once I saw consistency with Poppy following through, I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Throughout our walk, Poppy was distracted by the grass smells and would try to veer off to sniff. To keep her from doing so, I worked her through it by reminding her to heel, and gave her a carrot as a reward for remaining next to me. She did very well and ignored other dogs that were barking behind their fence. Her come to sit needed a little more conditioning as it was her first time practicing it without leash tension, but I am working on having it cleaned up. Training Poppy with her leash dragging on can help in off leash preparation by teaching them self control, improving their responsiveness to commands, and building their confidence and trust in you as their owner. It allows for gradual freedom while still maintaining a level of control, setting a foundation for off leash training in a controlled environment.


Poppy and I worked on her leash dragging a little more, and continued to clean up her come to sit. She needed a little reconditioning, and after a few repetitions, Poppy was following through. Earlier in the day here at home, Poppy and I worked on her stationary positions, and was having trouble remaining in her down as I walked around. To keep her from getting up, I walked around her from a short distance, and rewarded her with carrots when she worked through it. Gradually, I kept increasing my distance, reminded her to down verbally, and achieved great results at the park. Poppy knows what to do but likes to challenge me at times, which is normal, but it is up to us as owners to recondition unwanted behaviors, and continue setting our pups up for success.


Poppy and I got to spend some time with her sister Birdie today. They were very excited to see each other, as they were able to interact with one another. After their interaction, Birdie’s trainer and I took them for a walk together to release some energy and have them both in a calmer state. Once they were relaxed, I began a session with both of them by working on their come to sit. Initially, when both Poppy and Birdie would wrap around behind me, they would bump into each other. After a few repetitions, they both figured out a way to not bump into each other, as Poppy would wrap around more inside, while Birdie would wrap around Poppy on the outside. Although they need a little more practice, they are understanding the concept and following through. Teaching their recall this way is beneficial, as it helps them maneuver around each other onto your left and right side without confusion, and it automatically places them into position to begin your heel with both ladies on opposite sides.


Poppy and I drove out to the beach and met with Birdie. We went for a walk so that they adjust to their surroundings, and to release some energy. Once acclimated, I worked on some offleash conditioning with both Poppy and Birdie at my side. They did really well working around different distractions consisting of people, dogs, and bikes. Despite that Poppy and Birdie do distract one another at times, they also work really well together. Their come to sit continues to improve, and today was the first time these ladies worked on it off leash together. Poppy has remained consistent and has shown that she is capable to be off leash, therefore, she will be working this way for the remainder of her program, in preparation for her final.


Poppy and I have been working in her greeting manners. Initially, she would have trouble remaining in a sit anytime someone approached her to say hello. She would almost immediately sit up and try to jump on them. Throughout her program, I have been practicing with Poppy by asking her to sit before I greet her. If she would come out of it, I would stop petting her and ask her to sit again. With time, Poppy began to understand what I was asking, and was able to follow through. Now, when someone asks if she can be greeted, ask Poppy to sit, and as she is approached, remind her to sit. If she gets up, kindly ask the greeter to take a step back so that you may reset Poppy. Repeat the process as needed, and once she is able to be greeted properly, release her with a “break,” and reward her with praise for a job well done.


Poppy and I have been working on her door manners. In the beginning of her program, when I would ask Poppy to sit before I opened a door, she would sit. As soon as I opened it, she would get up and try to be the first one through. Anytime that would occur, I would close the door, reset her back into position, and repeat the exercise. Once the door was open, she remained in her sit, but would immediately get up and walk through once I took a step forward. To keep her from doing so, I implemented the distance and duration five second increment process, and Poppy began to understand the concept. By remaining patient and consistent, Poppy has made great progress by achieving her two minute goal, and can now wait patiently by an open door, waiting for my cue to go through.


Poppy and I pieced everything that she has learned together with distance, duration, and distractions earlier this week. She has done very well, and received many compliments on her good looks and her good behavior. She has learned so much in just a short amount of time, and I am proud of her results. Poppy is capable of learning so much more, as long as her training remains consistent and repetitive. Always remember to remain patient with her if she challenges you, and most of all, make it fun and keep it positive, so that Poppy stays motivated and encouraged to perform her behaviors for you.


Poppy has completed her Two Week Board and Train Program and is ready to come home. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity in being her trainer, and for trusting me while she was under my care. We had lots of fun together and became great friends. She was a great co-pilot, and I am really going to miss her companionship. Her final video will be coming soon, but in the meantime, here is a sneak peek at Poppy working on her food manners, as well as a picture of her trip to the groomers. Thank you Poppy!



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