Guinevere | Standard Poodle/Irish Wolfhound Mix | Laguna Hills, CA | In-Training
Meet Guinevere! She is a 2-1/2 year old Standard Poodle/Irish Wolfhound mix from Laguna Beach, California who is here for our Two-Week Board and Train program. When Guinevere's family adopted her, she had a large open wound on her face and she would flinch when anyone would try to pet her. While Guinevere knows how to sit and lie down, she cannot hold her commands and has fear based aggression towards new people and dogs, and will lunge and bark at both. Over the next fourteen-days we will be working on Guinevere's basic obedience and socialization around people and dogs. Stay tuned for her transformation!
Guinevere walked with two different trainers and next to two other dogs. When the first handler approached in front of me, Guinevere lunges towards them. I told everyone to freeze and we redid the approach. This time the handler came from the side and Guinevere was not reactive. Positioning is very important when handling Guinevere. She did well next to the male husky but had eyes on the intact female shepherd. When we approached the van she wanted to rush back in her crate. Her aggression is just to move what scares her away, but her intent to bite, which we saw at drop off is real.
In the morning I had Guinevere in the run with a one-year-old male golden retriever who new dogs typically like to play with. He isn't pushy and has a puppy energy about him. Guinevere was a bit apprehensive at first and kept him at bay, trying to stay close to me. I moved away from her each time she tried to attach, as I know she can guard her handler. After a while she did sniff him a couple of times but generally had no interest in interacting. In the afternoon I brought in a 4-month-old puppy who is bouncy and confident. Guinevere avoided him even though the puppy tried to engage. Nothing bad about the interaction, he was just too much energy for her. In the pet store she did fairly well but did bark at one woman. My goal is to get the attendant to give her a treat by the end of her two week stay!
This morning Guinevere socialized off muzzle with Kobe, a 2-year-old intact male staffordshire terrier who is very playful. She was hesitant to interact with him at first but his persistence paid off and they were soon bouncing around the yard. They interacted for 45-60 minutes and then took a break before engaging again in play. Guinevere doesn't seem very motivated for her food but she did take the Real Meat Dog Food I gave the dogs as treats while she was in the dog run. She layed in her crate with her bowl of food untouched until I added some freeze dried raw topper to it. When I brought the bowl back she started eating immediately. Guinevere is quiet in her crate but barks if I walk out of the house. When she does demand bark, I say, "quiet" and tap the black button on the left side of the e-collar at a low level and she settles down. In the afternoon I introduced "come to sit" and "place" using a Kuranda dog bed. She caught on quickly but sits with her rear-end away from me, so I'll use a wall barrier to help straighten her position.
Guinevere socialized with Kobe in the morning, and with two four-month-old puppies in the afternoon. She is not afraid of dogs and has canine communication skills. Guinevere acts much like other doodles I've met who have grown up during covid and were not socialized with people and dogs. She just happens to be 100 pounds and has learned that by barking and lunging at things she's uncomfortable with, it's guaranteed to move them away from her. When I have let other trainers work with her, who are confident leaders, she transitions just fine. If someone stares or stands facing her it's too much pressure. This will send her into defense mode, which we want to avoid, so it's important to have people approach from the side. Based on what I see in the dog run, where she will bark if left alone, and around new handlers, trying to turn to me for safety, Guinevere doesn't know how to be independent. Initially, she also whined and barked if I walked out of the room after being put in her crate.
Guinevere and I worked on her commands next to the chicken and duck coop. The birds were out while we worked on place, down, extended sit, come to sit, and break, and Guinevere would fixate on them while on place. I used the "off" command and the e-collar to stop the fixation. While Guinevere knows how to sit and lay down, she cannot hold those commands, especially with distractions around. She is also over aroused at being released. When I ask for a down, she is pushy and tries to cross in front of me, which I do not allow with a dog that shows any kind of reactivity. When she does this, I may take a step forward and use my arm as a barrier between us as I point to the ground while saying "down". The good thing is she's very motivated to work for me, but the inability to hold commands and over arousal with being released is typical of the doodles I've worked with. Slowing them down, making the release less exciting, and ensuring these dogs follow through with commands is essential.
Guinevere and I went down to The Strand to work around distractions. She did really well in the busier environment and was able to walk close to people and dogs without having a negative reaction. She struggles with holding a sit or down, but I’m very happy with the progress she is making around people. I was able to introduce her to a friend today and she did well!
Guinevere and I worked on her commands in a busy park in Temecula. She did great in a very distracting environment! We were able to pass people, children on bicycles and scooters, other dogs, and she was relatively calm. When she goes into a down but isn’t fully relaxed with her hips to one side I help her.
Guinevere and I worked on her commands in Old Town Temecula. We stopped at a park and walked past a busy shopping area. She did really well! Her biggest challenge in meeting people is the leash handoff. She tried to go after them at that point, but if the person doesn’t react she gets over it really quickly and is very friendly.
Guinevere and I went back to The Strand to work on her commands. Her tail was neutral, level with her back, or lower, the entire session. She's much more relaxed in public, but will still eye people who make eye contact with her. Guinevere understands the "heel" position, but sits facing towards me unless I'm using a wall barrier or curb barrier to ensure she sits straight. When I had another trainer handle her, she did not turn towards them on the sit, but tried to face me. It seems she attaches to people and that's where her attempt to guard them comes into play. I had a friend help me figure this out by approaching Guinevere from the side, and there was no reaction, and then again from the front, and the only reaction that happened was when the leash was handed off. Guinevere was muzzled and barked and jumped towards his face while he remained neutral, and once they were two steps into the walk, she was wagging her tail in a neutral position and rubbing her muzzle playfully on his leg. Guinevere demand barks at times, and doesn't know how to be independent of her handler. What I've found with dogs manifesting similar behaviors is as they're handled by more and more people, the more resilient they become.
Today we went for a hike and to a park to focus on Guinevere's extended sit, down, and come to sit. She is doing better holding her sit and down in distracting environments but will occasionally break position to try and come to me. When she does this, I say "no" and take her back to where she was and put her into the position. She isn't eating all of her food but gladly takes the pieces of Fresh Pet that I use in training. Guinevere might be holding out for this smellier food! She is not great with all female dogs, and has gone after my dog, so I had them go for a walk together. Guinevere also tried to guard the water from her. These behaviors aren’t out of fear but could be out of a dislike of intact dogs of the same sex.
This morning I had Guinevere in the dog run while I taught place to one of the four-month-old puppies. Guinevere was completing the behaviors I was asking for along with the puppy. She wanted to earn some Fresh Pet! Ha! In the afternoon we went to Temecula to expose her to a new environment where we would encounter people, dogs, and birds. She did well as long as someone doesn't approach abruptly or stares directly at her for a length of time.
In the morning we did a training session to work on her extended down around other dogs. I used Guinevere's breakfast to reward her. She was motivated to work and ate everything! I had two other female dogs in the run with her also practicing place and their extended down. At first, Guinevere would avoid going to place (the elevated cot) if one of the other dogs was already on the cot, but I used the leash to help her work through the avoidance and rewarded with kibble. It didn't take many repetitions for her to choose going on the cot when asked, especially when she saw the other dogs also being rewarded for the behavior. Guinevere did a good job with discrimination and only came to me when called, not when another dog was released. Her focus and engagement is much better, and she's doing a better job of ignoring distractions. On walks she has not lunged or barked at other dogs since the day she arrived. For the most part she keeps a neutral tail and follows my lead. Late morning we did more obedience on my property but I used a rubber ball on a string to reward her. Guinevere was very motivated to go after the toy but had no "out" and tried to retain possession of the toy. When playing with toys I always play with rules. The dog has to complete the obedience command to be rewarded with a toss of the ball. In the afternoon we went to a shopping area and worked on come to sit, heeling, and her extended sit and down. She was a little nervous in the beginning but settled into the work and focused on what I was asking of her.
Today we worked on her come to sit, heeling, and extended sit and down at the park while children played on the playground behind us. Guinevere showed good focus and engagement! After a couple of repetitions she started picking up on the pattern and would try to go to place without being released. When she would attempt to break the heel position I would say "no, heel" and tap the black button on the left side of the remote while we walked past the location where we practiced the cue. It took a few more repetitions but she soon started to wait for my cue to go to place. Overall, Guinevere is doing well in her program. Guinevere does not consistently eat all of her meals, but that may not be a bad thing as you can now see her hips so she may have had some extra weight to lose.
Guinevere and I worked on her final video at the beach, and here’s a preview of it! She completed all of her commands and was able to pass people and dogs. Two small dogs were barking at her towards the beginning of our walk, and while her tail was wagging in their direction, she was able to stay in a heel position and continue walking without engaging with them. Proud of the progress she has made around dogs in these two weeks!