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  • Writer's pictureJose Ayala

Gracie | Golden Retriever | Valley Village, CA | In-Training

Meet Gracie. She is a one year old Golden Retriever who has joined us for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Gracie comes to us for basic obedience, leash pulling, and jumping to greet. The goal for her is to be able to go on hikes, being out in public, help manage stress for her owner’s clients, and a solid Heel and recall. Over the next fourteen days, Gracie will be working on her behavior and be set up for success, with the hopes of becoming a well behaved pup. Check in to see her progress!


Gracie and I spent the afternoon getting to know each other. She was quite hesitant and nervous around me which is normal behavior as she sees me as a complete stranger. We went for a walk throughout the park to establish a bond and she was pulling heavily on her leash. To correct that behavior, I introduced Gracie to Heel. It is a technique that consists of having her walk next to me on my left side. Anytime Gracie pulled away from me, I turned around and walked in the opposite direction, and at the same time I used leash tension to guide her back towards me. It is still a work in progress, but throughout her Program, Heel will be applied on all walks that we go on.


Gracie and I continued to work on Heel today. We go for walks in the evening and walks in the morning. This morning, Gracie was falling behind on our walk, and would occasionally jump on me as well. I introduced her to the E-Collar and she responded well to it at a low level. We worked with other trainers and their dogs who served as a distraction during our walk, and even though she was a little distracted, I was able to have her remain in a Heel with leash tension. Gracie is making progress and will continue to improve with consistency and repetition.


Gracie and I worked on Place today. Place is a useful technique for managing a dog's behavior and can also help build their confidence. By teaching Gracie to remain in a Sit or Down on an elevated surface, I am providing her with a specific spot to go to when guests are over or when she needs to remain in one place. This can  be helpful in situations where Gracie might be prone to jumping up on people or getting into mischief. Dogs are very adaptable as they can learn new behaviors with repetition and by keeping it positive. By using little to no leash tension throughout our training session, I was able to help Gracie feel comfortable and confident in her new surroundings.


Gracie and I have been working on her recall which is known as Come to Sit. It consists of having Gracie come towards my right, going around behind me, and sitting on my left. This technique was a little difficult for her to learn, as she would either stop behind me, or come towards me and try to go between my legs. To correct her behavior, I used leash tension as guidance to have her come towards my right. I would then take a step forward and guide her towards my left as she looped behind me and had her Sit as she followed through. Many repetitions were done with a few breaks, but Gracie is understanding what I am asking and continues to work through it.


Gracie and I have been working on Down. This technique can be difficult to teach a dog considering it being a submissive position and it can make a dog feel vulnerable as well. To teach Gracie, I had to earn her trust and have her open up to me a little more since training began. Once she was comfortable enough, I asked her to Place on an elevated object and began using leash tension as guidance to bring her down. Initially, Gracie would come out of it and would at times stiffen up and not do it. Anytime she made an intent to go down with leash pressure, I would loosen the pressure and reward her with praise. It took time and patience, but with repetition, Gracie is now following through.


Gracie and I have been making progress with our walks. Our morning and evening walks have helped tremendously, and the improvement she has made show great results. Her leash is now feeling weightless and we are now enjoying loose leash walking wherever we go. We also began to practice her Down in a public setting to help her work through distractions. She was having a little trouble with it, as she would immediately come out of it whenever I tried to step away. There was also an instance where Gracie sat up as I was moving around, but I was able to place her back into position and have her hold it a little longer. This behavior is expected considering it being the first time she works on this exercise in a public area, but by remaining consistent, Gracie will begin to catch on and follow through.


Gracie and I worked on her stationary positions with distance and duration today. She does really well with her Sit and is improving on her Down. There are a few instances in which she comes out of her position to come to me. To help her with that, I moved back one foot at a time with five second increments. One foot back is five seconds, two feet back is ten seconds, three feet back is fifteen and so on. When she follows through, I release her with a “break” and reward her with praise. Gracie is still working on it as she is almost up to one minute, and we will continue to practice in order to have her reach her goal. 


Gracie and I spent the day at home today. She got some exercise and playtime together with her buddy Sheeba who is also in training. They enjoy each other’s company in the house and love running around the yard. Socialization is very important for dogs, as it helps them develop good behavior and communication skills with other dogs and people. Regular playtime and interactions with other dogs can also help prevent boredom and promote mental stimulation, which is important for a dog's overall well-being. We ended the day with a cookout and had some dinner outside.


Gracie and I went out for a walk around my neighborhood today and worked on her Heel with her leash dragging. Throughout the day I worked on it with her in the backyard and she did pretty well. Gracie did get ahead of me a few times but by reminding her to Heel, she gets back into position and continues on our walk. We also worked on cleaning up her duration Sit since she does have a tendency of coming out of it and following me when I step away. For the next few days, Gracie will be working with her leash dragging in order to prepare her for her off leash experience.


Gracie and I drove out to a local park and I felt pretty confident about having her practice off leash with minimal distractions in the area. She did really well but still needed some cleaning up on her recall. Her stationary positions are coming along pretty great, and she does great on her Heel as well. Gracie will continue working with her leash dragging in a more public setting with more distractions, but it will not be long, as she is just about ready to be completely off leash.


Gracie and I have been working on her Door Manners. She is understanding that she is to wait in a Sit or Down position whenever we approach a door. Once I open the door, if Gracie comes out of her position, I will proceed to close the door and repeat the process as needed until she follows through. I then step foot outside the door and have her wait until I let her know that it is ok for her to come out. It took some repetition and practice, but by remaining consistent with Gracie, she was able to achieve her goal.


Gracie and I have been working on her Greeting Manners. She has learned that she is to remain in a Sit whenever she is approached by someone that wants to say hello. It is important to have Gracie not come out of her position when being greeted. If she does sit up, one must immediately stop giving her attention until she is on all fours, otherwise she will be receiving praise for not following through. It was difficult for her to do so in the beginning of her training, since she would come out of her Sit whenever I stepped away and would want to jump on people on her own. We worked on it by resetting Gracie anytime she sat up, and her progression has shown that she can successfully be greeted without her jumping on people.


Gracie and I worked on her Final today and she put on a great performance. Everything she has learned was put together and I am proud of the progress she has made these past two weeks. She adjusted well to her surroundings, did great around different distractions, and received many compliments on her good behavior throughout our walk. Here is a clip of Gracie showing off what she can do. Enjoy!


Gracie has completed her Two Week Board and Train Program and is ready to come home. It was a real pleasure having her in my home for the last fourteen days and she will truly be missed. I want to thank you for trusting me with Gracie while under my care, and I am very grateful for the opportunity in being her trainer. She was a great companion and we became great friends. Thank you Gracie!

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