King Bubba | Rottweiler | Altadena, CA | In Training
King Bubba is a 1 year old Rottweiler from Altadena, California who is joining OffLeash SoCal's One-Week Board and Train Program to work on his pulling and general obedience. He is just a young pup and figuring out how strong he is, so the goal for Bubba is to give him boundaries that he respects consistently with all people. He is friendly and has experience with training already so we want to continue on that right track and give him the balance to maintain good behavior despite any distractions. I will be spending time working with Bubba in a number of locations around a wide variety of distractions so he has the experience necessary to make good choices. Stay tuned for his One-Week transformation!
Today is all about diagnosing Bubba's unique characteristics and figuring out what direction to move in training. Bubba is a strong young dog and he will pull and try to assert himself by using his size. He is friendly and seems genuinely happy to see people but his excitement and joy are a lot to handle. Generally speaking for dogs like Rottweiler's there is sometimes a bias against them that makes their behavior look more nefarious than it really is. Specifically if the dog were to happily run up to someone who misinterpreted, he might be perceived as a threat. Because of this percieved danger it is important to give Bubba all the tools necessary to control himself and regulate his desire to interact. Going forward the concept is: the wrong thing is hard and the right thing is easy. In order to encourage the dog to do the right things we reward them with praise and affection and in order to discourage the wrong things we are going to introduce and shape Bubba's behavior with an e collar. The e collar is meant to communicate with the dog but never to "punish". We want to be able to send a signal that the dog will respect despite whatever level of arousal they may be in but not to the extent that we make training unpleasant. The use of praise and affection for good behavior must always balance and compliment any boundaries that we create. When the dog honors the boundaries we can praise their good efforts! Remember it isn't all about telling the dog they were wrong but rather more importantly we are showing them how to win by working with us.
Today I introduced leash pressure and the e collar to Bubba. He actually did very well! He is a strong young dog but if we can channel his energy into properly motivated obedience you will find he uses his strength to police himself rather than be unfair to the handler. Of course there were some hiccups but overall Bubba understood the concept that pressure comes on when he is out or position and pressure goes away when he is in position. The e collar stimulation was paired in timing with any leash pressure with the ultimate goal being to make the two one and the same in Bubba's mind. We don't want to muscle Bubba into obedience but rather guide him utilizing our tools to get the most effective leverage and our praise and relationship to offer the most satisfying reward. Bubba craves interaction and affection and if we keep in mind any and all affection is his pay check, we must consider when we are paying him for not doing anything. I don't recommend not to love on the dog but rather use the reward of a cuddle while watching a movie to ask the dog for some obedience. When we want to interact and relax together inserting a quick 5 minutes of obedience beforehand makes the dog connect relaxation and the reward of family with his good behavior. Work can be play if we structure the routine accordingly! Remember Bubba does want to please his family but he also has so much strength and that is very exciting for him. So long as we make the reward worthwhile and the process to earn it easy to understand, Bubba will choose to seek those rewards we offer rather than look for any trouble in the form of pulling on the leash or throwing his weight around for example.
Today Bubba and I worked on the commands "sit" and "down" as well as "Come to sit". Bubba's obedience background makes this all a breeze and ultimately I am able to focus on his attention span and making the behaviors he knows more automatic and fluid. I have spent the majority of our time laying the groundwork for heeling nicely at my side and using the positions to reinforce that he is grasping the concepts quite fast. The "sit" and "come to sit" have the same final picture as a "heel" for the dog. Meaning he sees us to his side and knows the best place to be with the most rewards and happy feelings is by our leg. Utilizing this positive reinforcement enables us to hold him accountable when he does pull or get out of line. Bubba's pulling is mostly puppy curiosity and I think with consistent effort and aiming for 1 percent improvement every day we will see him realize his full potential and be well mannered long after going home. Remember dogs aren't robots and their emotional life affects their work, so praise often and as much as possible for a job well done so Bubba can continue to make good choices for himself purely out of seeking his own rewards. Making it a self motivated behavior means he will desire to continue the work rather than desire distractions. Good luck!
Today Bubba and I worked on his obedience skills around distractions at the Home Depot. He was able to maintain his positions without getting nervous or uncomfortable but he did try to get away with laziness a few times. Remember to stay on top of whether the dog has initiated a position change or you have. Don't allow the dog to begin laying down and then say "down". The dog needs to wait until they are released from the previous obedience or given a new command. Bubba does have some nervousness around cars and when we are working on his heeling/loose leash walking at my side he will sometimes get confused about what position I need him to return to when I reinforce the "heel" command with e collar stimulation. If and when he doesn't remember where to come back to I just ask him to "come" and then reset him to continue once he gets to the right spot. Dogs do need help sometimes and Bubba is only a year old so do remember to encourage and praise the dog for his good efforts using your voice but don't offer affection or physical touch until he does the job completely.
Today Bubba and I worked on the extended down and place. We want to be aware of adding duration, distance and distractions to our behavior in order to proof it against breaking in public. For Bubba the strongest desire is to return to the handler so add distance and duration carefully. If you notice a certain distance the dog likes to break at, bring the distance in a little closer and reward before moving further along. The same goes for duration--if the dog can't wait a certain length of time shorten it until it can and then add time back in. We want the dog to progress by achieving repeated success 1 percent better every time. Remember to experiment with the variables and gradually make them more challenging. The goal is ultimately to be able to ask the dog for behaviors around whatever level of distractions we come across and have them perform them without any arguing mistakes but dogs arent robots and dogs do make mistakes. If Bubba has the kind of trouble where it becomes obvious he doesnt know what to do next, do reset him. But if Bubba is merely lagging and going slowly or straining to smell something instead of maintaining a position we want to hold him accountable. When he lacks knowledge we help and when he lacks control we reinforce.
King Bubba and I filmed our Final video today at Santa Monica Pier. He did obedience around new distractions and with large crowds of people around him. Bubba still needs consistent practice moving forward. He is strong willed and wants to explore new places but also easily startled and he needs more exposure to new and different environments with obedience as a baseline of control in order to make him more comfortable and confident. The obedience isn't a matter of controlling the dog via force but rather a system of communication in which you both have a shared understanding of each other's role to play. The dog wants leadership and guidance but rejects unfair control so we must always reward the dog for good behavior to the extent that they better perceive your control as being fair and reasonable. With experience and time they realize the best course of action is to just comply and not argue when you use any reinforcement for a command and the best way to get there is by deliberate practice during daily walks and making the obedience second nature. Today Bubba handled all of his obedience like a pro and we shot our Final video without any trouble.
Today I wanted to spend some time with Bubba working on the obedience and showcasing the various ways he may try to avoid stimulation rather than actually working. When the dog is seemingly itchy out of nowhere and scratching their neck after stimulation they are trying to brush it away without actually following it. The same goes for nuzzling your leg, rolling on the ground, head shaking and etc. We can use our leash to counteract these behaviors to an extent and help guide him into the position again using leash pressure in conjunction with our stimulation. Remember he is not a robot and his emotional state will fluctuate and his ability to tolerate the collar will be dependent on his mood. We don't want his mood to dictate the rules of life but at the same time it is good to be aware so we don't get too frustrated or confused when the dog makes mistakes or is being lazy. Good luck!