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  • Writer's pictureJose Ayala

Homer | Golden Retriever | Camarillo, CA | In-Training

Meet Homer! He is a seven month old Golden Retriever who has joined us for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Homer is here for basic obedience, leash pulling, jumping to greet, and playful nipping. He is known to counter surf and to take food from kids when he can reach it. He likes to jump on almost every person passing by when in a walk, and is easily distracted. Over the next fourteen days, Homer will be given the structure that is needed and be set up for success, with the hopes of becoming a well behaved pup. Check in to see his progress!


Homer and I spent the afternoon getting to know each other and I also introduced him to Heel, which consists of having him walk next to me on my left side. We went for a walk around the park to establish a bond. Throughout our walk, Homer became easily distracted with people, grass smells, and ducks in the area. He began to pull heavily on his leash, so I stopped, let him get to the end of it, and gave him a little tug back towards me. He responded to it and came my way, but he would still try to pull away. As he continued to get ahead of me, I turned, walked in the opposite direction, and gave him leash tension to guide him back towards me. By maintaining repetitive u-turns, Homer began to pull a little less and is starting to understand what I am asking. It is still a learning process, but Heel will now be implied on every walk that we go on from here on out.


Homer was introduced to his recall today which is known as Come to Sit. It is a technique that consists of Homer coming towards my right side, going around behind me, and sitting on my left side. I worked on it by using leash tension as guidance to help him understand what I was asking. He would initially stop once he came to my right, but with my assistance of taking a few steps forward, I was able to get Homer to wrap around me and Sit on my left. Once he understood the concept, there were a few times that Homer would try to lie down rather than Sit. I correct his behavior by pulling up on his leash anytime he makes an intent to go down. Homer is still learning, but the more we work on it, the more he follows through.


Homer and I worked on Place today. It is a technique that consists of having Homer getting onto an elevated object and remaining there in a Sit or a Down. It can be of great use whenever guests are over, or if there is a knock on your door. I began to teach Homer with a low level object, and he did very well getting onto it with no hesitation. We worked on it a few more times, and once he fully understood, we moved on to an object that was a little higher. Homer did have a little trouble with this one, but by using leash tension as guidance, I was able to work Homer through it. Place also builds confidence in a dog, and the more we work on it, the more confident this little guy becomes.


Homer and I drove out to a local park and continued to work on what he already knows. He is very bright and quite the fast learner. He is doing very well with his recall and his Heel is making good progress due to our morning and evening walks. Homer also continues to build his confidence with our placing exercises. Since he is doing well in low level distraction areas, I am going to increase the level of distractions by exposing him to a much more public setting in the coming days. Homer has adjusted well here at home, and enjoys running around in the backyard.


Homer and I drove out to the beach today and worked on exposing him to a more public setting. He did very well adjusting to the environment around him as he worked around different distractions. He remained next to me throughout our walk, and did really great with his recall. I also worked on a duration Sit with a little distance, and Homer did very well maintaining his position despite the distractions all around him. There were not many dogs in the area during our session, but I will continue to bring Homer out to more public places and work him around other dogs.


Homer and I have been working on Down. It is one of the most difficult behaviors to teach a dog considering it being a submissive position. To teach Homer I used an elevated object for him to Place on, asked him to Sit, and used leash tension to guide him towards the ground. While giving Homer leash tension, I used kibble in my free hand as a lure for better assistance. Since he knows “Shake,” he thought my hand signal meant exactly that, and would try to give me his paw for the first few reps. It took some time with consistent repetition, but Homer was able to accomplish his Down. Teaching this technique requires patience, so it is important for the pup and yourself to avoid frustration. Even the slightest intent is a big reward. Take it step by step, and do not hesitate in taking breaks in between these sessions.


Homer and I worked a little more on his Down as I continue to bring him around distractions. Throughout our initial session, Homer was having trouble going into his Down, and was a little hesitant. He stiffened up his paws and became a little nervous. To help Homer relax and get him to a calm state, we walked in “calming circles,” which means walking around in circles to ease Homer’s nervous state. We then proceeded to restart our session, and had another trainer with her pup assist Homer by serving as a distraction. He did really well around the other pup, and did not pay him any mind. Homer followed through with his Down, and he now knows all of his commands. In the coming days, Homer will begin to work with a fifteen foot long line, as I introduce him to distance and duration.


Homer and I are working on distance and duration with a long line. When asking him to Sit or Down, he would almost immediately come out of it as soon as I tried ti walk away. To correct this behavior, I began working in five second increments. One foot back is five seconds, two feet back is ten seconds, three feet is fifteen and so on. Anytime I took a foot back with Homer remaining in position, I released him with a “Break,” and rewarded him with praise. He is very intelligent and caught on to the concept quick. As of now, I can have him hold his position from six feet. He continues to progress, and I will keep practicing with him until I can reach the end of the long line without him getting up.


Homer and I spent the day at home. We went out for our daily walk and he does very well with loose leash walking. We also worked on his stationary positions a little more with the long line, and I am close to reaching the end of it without Homer coming out of his position. I had a cookout with guests over, and anytime Homer made an intent to jump and greet, I corrected his behavior with a verbal “Off,” and he was able to follow through. We ended the day with dinner in my backyard and some playtime with his buddy Whiskey. With week one already closed, week two will consist of having Homer work on leash dragging exercises as he prepares for his off leash experience.


Homer and I drove out to a local park today. He did very well adjusting to his surroundings throughout our walk and we began working on his behaviors with his leash dragging. He was having some trouble with his Heel, as he would get ahead of me, but by stopping and recalling him back towards me, Homer was able to work through it. We will continue to work this way and bring him around higher levels of distraction, to feel confident enough to remove his leash and work without it. Homer still needs some practice, but I am working on it to have it cleaned up.


Homer and I have been working on his food manners since day one of training. He had quite the trouble initially, as he would come out of his Sit as soon as I placed his bowl down. There were a few times that Homer would go from a Sit into a Down, and begin to crawl towards the bowl. To correct his behavior, anytime he made that kind of intent, I would pick the bowl up, reset him by asking him to Sit or Down, and repeat the process. It took some time, but consistency remained key, and Homer began to follow through. He is doing much better now and has achieved his two minute goal.


Homer and I have been working off leash in my backyard since it is an enclosed area, and he is doing very well. Today we drove out to a park and put his off leash skills to the test. He did a good job with all of his commands and was very well behaved around people in the area. His Down needed a little more conditioning but after a few reps, Homer was able to follow through. He is now ready to keep working off leash as he prepares for his Final, as it will be the main focus for the remainder of his Program.


Homer and I met up with other trainers today at a local park and we worked around different dog distractions off leash. He did really well around them, and can remain in a stationary position anytime they pass him by. He was also able to work in sync with his buddy Whiskey despite the distractions around him. By remaining consistent with Homer, I have been able to work him through a lot, and I am very proud of the progress he has made. Remember to always remain patient when working on his behaviors, and repeat as necessary when he is not following through. Homer is very bright, and he is capable of learning so much more.


Homer has completed his Two Week Board and Train Program and is ready to come home. It was a real pleasure to have him with me these last two weeks, and I want to thank you for trusting me while he was under my care. I really enjoyed working with him and I am going to miss his companionship. He was a great co-pilot and such a playful bundle of energy. He attracts attention anywhere he goes, and is always complimented on his good behavior. Thank you Homer!


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