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  • Writer's pictureJose Ayala

Henry | Shepsky | La Cañada Flintridge, CA | In-Training

Meet Henry! He is an eight month old Shepsky who has joined us for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Henry is here for basic obedience, leash pulling, jumping to greet, playful nipping, running out of open doors, and digging. The goals for Henry are to have a good recall, since he does not come when called, and to walk properly on leash. He is easily distracted while on a walk, and does get fixated on people and other dogs around him in a non-reactive way. Over the next fourteen days, Henry will be working in his behavior and be set up for success, with the hopes of becoming a well mannered pup. Check in to see his progress!


Henry 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. I used his treats to let him begin to understand that positive things come from me. During our walk, he was very distracted by the grass smells, and if someone was behind us, Henry would keep looking back as we moved forward with our walk. To keep him from doing so, I made myself more interesting by rewarding him with his treats, as well as verbal praise to keep his attention away from the distractions in the area. I introduced Henry to heel, which consists of having him walk beside me on my right side. We practiced with a slip lead on, in which he responds to very well. When Henry would pull away from me, I would turn, walk in the opposite direction, and use leash tension to guide him back towards my right. There was a moment in which Henry decided that he was not going to work anymore, and went into a down in the grass. By applying leash tension in my direction, I was able to correct Henry’s behavior, and continued working on our session. He still needs more practice, so I will be applying heel on every walk we go on for the remainder of his program.


Henry and I have been working on place. Place consists of having Henry getting onto a designated object and remaining there in a sit or a down. It can be of great use if there is a knock on your door, and it can also build confidence in a dog. To teach Henry, I introduce him to the object, and by applying leash tension, I guide him into getting on. He was a little hesitant initially, and would not want to do it, so I climbed onto the object myself and had Henry follow me. By trusting in my leadership, Henry was able to place, and we continued with a few more reps until I saw that he was comfortable. Once I saw consistency in Henry, I stopped getting onto the object myself, and would only use leash tension to help him on. There were a few times in which he stopped, but by making the running start approach, which you saw at pickup to get him into the crate in the car, I was able to motivate Henry in following through. By teaching Henry place, it helps him learn to settle down in a specific location, which is useful in situations like having guests over. By continuing to practice place with Henry as we move further along, it is going to help improve his focus and self control, as he learns to remain in a designated area despite the distractions around him.


Henry and I worked on his recall which is known as come to sit. It consists of having Henry come towards my left, wrap around behind me, and sit on my right. To teach Henry, I used his treats and leash tension to have him come towards me. Once he gets closer to my left, I take a step forward to guide him behind me, apply leash tension to have him go around, and reward him once he follows through and sits on my right. He still needs more practice, as he sometimes sits off to the side, but he is doing very well understanding the concept. The goal for Henry is to be reliable off leash, and by learning come to sit, it will allow Henry to have more freedom while still being under your control. Knowing that Henry can have a good recall, it provides peace of mind and allows you to enjoy activities together. It can strengthen the bond between you and Henry, as it requires trust, communication, and positive reinforcement. Overall, it is a valuable skill that enhances their safety, freedom, and relationship with you.


Henry and I have been working on his down. It can be one of the most difficult commands to teach since it is a submissive position. To teach Henry, I started with him in the sit position, used his kibble as a lure by holding it in front of his nose, have him follow it towards the ground, and apply leash tension as needed to guide him into a down. He was a little hesitant initially, as he would stiffen up his front paws or try to sit up. Anytime that happened, I reset Henry back into position, and repeated the exercise. I took my time with Henry, and rewarded him anytime he made an intent to go into a down. After a few repetitions, Henry followed through and accomplished his down. By remaining patient when teaching down, it can help build trust between you and your pup. It shows them that you are calm and in control, which can make them more receptive to learning from you. Since they can sense our emotions, it is important to avoid frustration when teaching our pups something new, so it can lead to a positive learning experience.


Henry and I drove out to a local park and worked around people distractions. We went for a walk around the park so that he may adjust to his surroundings, and to release some energy before our session. He is making progress during our walks, as he does not fixate on people and dogs like he used to. He will look if they are coming in his direction, but will not engage, nor will he look back after they pass by. If it does happen, I remind him to heel, or give him a verbal “off,” along with e-collar stimulation, and get Henry back on track. He was being a little stubborn today with his recall, but I was able to work him through it with repetition. We also worked a little more on his down, and he did really well remaining in position as people and a bicyclist passed him by. Now that Henry has learned all of his commands, we will begin working with a longer leash, as I begin to work on distance and duration with him.


Henry and I worked on distance and duration with a long line. To teach Henry, we practiced by having him sit, and used five second increments for every foot I stepped back. One foot back is five seconds, two feet back is ten seconds, three feet is fifteen, and so on. Throughout our session, he was doing really well until I got five feet back. When he would sit up at five feet, I reset Henry back into a sit, and went back to four feet. Once I saw more consistency, I went ahead and moved back five feet, and released him with a “break” for following through. Using a long leash allows you to give Henry more freedom while still maintaining control over his movements. This can be useful in open spaces or around distractions where you want to ensure that he stays safe. By practicing distance and duration with a long leash, it can help strengthen obedience and improve Henry’s recall skills, which was one of his main concerns coming into his program. It allows me to gradually increase the distance between Henry and I while still being able to guide and redirect his behavior as needed.


Henry and I continued his distance and duration conditioning by adding distractions. I always begin our sessions in a low distraction environment such as my backyard, and gradually increase the level of distractions as Henry progresses. Consistency and patience are key to achieving success in practicing with distractions. It helps Henry learn to focus on me despite the surrounding environment. This can improve his self control and ability to ignore distractions. He did really well and maintained his stationary positions as people walked on by. With week one coming to a close, I look forward to week two, as Henry prepares for his off leash conditioning.


Henry and I began working on leash dragging exercises at a local park. He did very well with his heel, as he remained at my side throughout our walk. What he did have trouble with was his come to sit. Since it was his first time working on it without leash tension, it took him some time to figure it out. When Henry would come towards me, he would stop at my left side, or he would stop in front of me. To work him through it, I guided him with leash tension a few times, and once I saw consistency, I loosened the leash tension until I was able to drop it and have Henry do it on his own. It still needs a little cleaning up, but he is doing better. Henry and I will continue to work with his leash dragging, but I will be adding in distractions the next couple of days.


Henry and I met with other trainers and their pups whom assisted us by serving as a distraction, as Henry continues to work on his leash dragging exercises. We began with a walk throughout the park so that he may adjust to his surroundings, and to release some energy in the process. Once warmed up for our session, I brought Henry around the other pups in a heel and asked him to go into a down. Once in a down, I had one of the trainers walk around Henry with his pup as I remained at a distance. Henry did really well, and has made a big improvement on his fixating by not looking in every direction. I was also able to work on his recall, which has gotten better, as I no longer assist him with leash tension to come towards me. He is responding well to the e-collar and will begin working off leash sooner than I thought.



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