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Koda | Husky | Pasadena, CA | In-Training


Meet Koda! He's a two-year-old Husky from Pasadena, California who is here with us for our Three Week Board and Train Program. Koda is a sweet and lively pup with some general knowledge of basic commands, but he is very easily distracted by his surroundings and often struggles to maintain the focus needed to reliably listen to what is asked of him. He is easily overexcited, and has some bad habits such as jumping on people and excessively barking. He also loves to use his strength and large size to pull heavily on the leash while walking, making walking with him a challenging task. Koda also struggles with dog reactivity, and often will try to bark, lunge, and pull on the leash towards any dog he sees. Over the next twenty-one days, we will be working to improve his obedience, discipline, and manners to set him on the right track to becoming a well-behaved pup both on and off leash! Stay tuned for his transformation!


 

Pupdate 2/26/2024



Today Koda and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other! After his pickup, we took a trip to a park where we worked to begin developing a trusting relationship between us, as this will be important for his training going forward. Koda definitely warmed up to me quickly, and was very sweet and enjoyed getting love and attention from me! It was raining out, but Koda didn't seem to mind this at all! He generally seemed happy and eager to explore around the park, though he did appear very distracted by everything around him. The park wasn't super busy today due to the rainy weather, but we did encounter a small number of people, other dogs, and small animals that helped serve as distractions and help us get an idea of Koda's responses to different stimuli. He took particular interest in any other dogs that were visible in the area, and did end up reacting to any that got within about a hundred feet of us. It would quickly progress from a stiff stare in their direction, to barking, lunging, and pulling on the leash in an attempt to rush up to them. He seemed frustrated once reaching the end of the leash and being prevented from getting to them, but once we created some distance away from the trigger he was able to calm back down and go back to his usual self. I also noticed he was rather suspicious of some people we saw at the park, and would become a bit tense and intent on staring them down as they walked by. It's unclear if this was due to what they were wearing, as most people were wearing hoods and holding umbrellas, or if he was just unsure of them in general. When we first arrived at the park we were using a flat collar and regular leash, but Koda was pulling excessively which made walking with him especially challenging due to the slippery wet ground, so we did end up switching to a slip lead which reduced his pulling significantly as it allowed more effective communication with the leash.


After taking some time to explore the park and assess his general behavior while in public, I began testing his knowledge of basic commands to help me get an idea of his starting point and what areas of his training may need some extra attention. Koda seemed to have some understanding of the Heel command, though he was very inconsistent with performing it. Sometimes he tried to pull on the leash as hard as he could in an attempt to get wherever he wanted to go, and other times he would stick beside me for a short amount of time before becoming distracted by something and wandering back off. Similarly, his recall for Come was also quite inconsistent but he seemed to have some understanding of the command. When called, he would usually completely ignore both his name and the Come verbal cue. Sometimes he would eventually make his way over to me after being called several times, but he was not interested in staying near me and would always immediately wander back off again. Koda also seems to understand Sit as he was able to perform it a few times for me, but for the most part he seemed uninterested and stubborn about performing it, and would even ignore leash pressure in an attempt to guide him into the position. He was unable to perform the Down command at all when asked, though after being at the park for a while he did end up plopping down and relaxing in the down position on his own accord, which is a good sign that he is at least comfortable with the position while in public! Koda was also unable to perform Place or Under, and seemed uninterested in climbing up onto or beneath any objects he was prompted to.


After we had a chance to get to know each other at the park, it was time to head home and get him settled in! Koda was able to climb into my car and enter the kennel without any issue, which was a great display of Car Manners! Whenever he is to travel with me in a car, he will be secured in a kennel to ensure his utmost safety. We will also be using a kennel while at home for sleep or if he is otherwise unsupervised. He was very good during the car ride home, and calmly relaxed the whole time. Once home, Koda quickly settled in and made himself right at home! He played with some toys, sniffed around, and has already found a new favorite spot where he can relax and look out the window. During dinnertime he was a bit excited and did bark at me a few times while preparing his meal, but he was able to hold a Sit for at least a few seconds while I set his bowl down in front of him which was good. After he finished eating, he did put his paws up on the counter to see if he could sneak anything else to eat off the counter, which is something we will work on discouraging as we improve his Food Manners. A while later, we went for a quick evening walk around the neighborhood which he seemed to enjoy! We will typically be taking walks around my neighborhood every day in the mornings and evenings during his stay with me. We'll definitely need to work on his Door Manners however, as while getting ready to start our walk, Koda wanted to run full speed out of the door the moment it was opened, which is not a good habit for him to have. Overall, Koda seems to be settling in nicely, and I'm so excited to begin this training journey with him!


 

Pupdate 2/27/2024







Today Koda and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This provided a great opportunity to work on Koda's dog reactivity, and teach him to remain neutral to the distractions they present. The other dogs were all calm and focused on their own training, which created a controlled environment to begin addressing this issue. We did have to keep a good distance away from the other dogs at first, as Koda was very fixated on them and did react to some of them upon first seeing them by barking and trying to pull towards them. I encouraged Koda to stay calm, ignore the dogs, and focus on me, which he gradually seemed to understand was more rewarding than fixating on or reacting to the other dogs in the distance. Over time, he seemed to calm down significantly and we were eventually able to make our way closer to the other trainers. We were able to get him to the point where he could be within about fifteen feet of another dog without reacting at all, which is great progress for him! He did have some mild reactions to other dogs when they got a bit too close for his comfort, and he would give off a low growl and lick his lips, which is dog language for "stay away, I need space!". So we did make sure to advocate for his space and keep him at a comfortable distance away so that he did not feel the need to escalate the matter beyond just minor warnings. We will continue working on this whenever possible to help him feel more comfortable and at ease around other dogs by continuing to create positive experiences around them. During our training session, we focused on improving his understanding of leash pressure, introducing the e-collar, as well as introducing the Heel and Off commands.


Pressure is a fundamental tool used in teaching basic obedience commands. The idea is that whenever pressure is applied, it is used as a reinforcer and paired with a command. The pressure then remains present until Koda follows the pressure and the command being asked. The moment he follows through, the pressure immediately turns off and a reward is given. Koda seems to enjoy verbal praise, physical affection, and treats so these are all great ways to reward him and encourage the behavior we want from him. However, treats will become increasingly rare as a reward as he progresses in his training, as we do not want him to become dependent on them to perform commands. Based on his behavior yesterday, it was clear he didn't fully understand the concept of leash pressure, as he often tried to ignore it or pull against it. So today, we spent a good amount of time focusing on teaching him what leash pressure means, and how to turn off the pressure once it's applied. This was done by walking around and making various directional changes, and teaching him to follow the guidance. After a while of practicing with this, he did much better and began showing a good understanding of leash pressure, and was able to be guided with very minimal leash pressure needed. We utilized a prong collar during today's session at the park, and this was a great tool to help him quickly understand the concept of leash pressure as it discouraged pulling and provided clear communication and guidance. Once he understood the leash pressure, we began adding in a new form of pressure from the e-collar stimulation. By pairing these two forms of pressure simultaneously, he will come to understand that they have the same meaning. With time and practice, he will become conditioned to the e-collar which will allow the leash and e-collar to be used interchangeably, and eventually allow the opportunity to begin training with the e-collar only, without the need for a leash! Overall Koda wasn't quite sure what to think of the e-collar at first, but did seem to catch on quite quickly that it was being used to communicate with him, which is good to see! Be sure to check out today's video, as it is an in depth tutorial explaining the e-collar.

Koda is easily distracted and often struggles to maintain focus whenever in a public place as he tends to become fixated on his surroundings. Moments like this are a great opportunity to implement the Off command. The goal for the Off command is for Koda to stop whatever he is doing, and focus on his handler. This is a very versatile command, similar to "no" or "leave it", and can be used in various situations, such as to interrupt fixation on distractions, barking, jumping on people, eating or sniffing things he's not supposed to, or any other behaviors that are undesirable or inappropriate at that time. The Off command when paired with leash and e-collar pressures allows me to interrupt the behavior and get him to focus on me so that he is in a better mindset to listen for upcoming instructions. Once the Off command is given, it's beneficial to immediately follow it with another command such as Sit, Heel, Come, etc. Once his focus is regained, asking him to focus on a task will help keep his attention away from what initially distracted him or caused the undesirable behavior. Koda has shown great progress in understanding the Off command so far, and it came in handy a lot today to help redirect his attention away from the other dogs.

Another command introduced today is the Heel command. Heel is an important concept for Koda to begin improving early on in his training, as his strong pulling while on the leash can pose dangers to his handler, himself, or others in the area if it is allowed to continue. The goal for the Heel command is for Koda to be able to follow directly alongside his handler on their left side at their heels, and maintain that position while walking unless released or given a new command. This precise positioning takes a lot of practice to master, but it will effectively eliminate pulling on the leash or veering off in different directions, and allow his handler to take the lead on walks instead of him trying to pull them around wherever he pleases. To introduce this command, I kept the leash short but loose, and ensured he stayed on my left side in roughly the Heel position as we walked. If he began to veer off or pull ahead, leash and e-collar pressure were applied, and the verbal command Heel was given. When walking in the correct Heel position, the leash was loose, no pressure was applied, and lots of praise and rewards were given to create value in this position. He did struggle with Heel a bit at first, but as we practiced more, his previous training seemed to kick in and overall he did a very good job for his first day practicing this with me! We'll need to work on this every day to ensure this skill continues to improve so he can easily be walked regardless of the distractions around.



 

Pupdate 2/28/2024


Koda and I worked around the neighborhood and at a local park today. The park ended up being pretty quiet today apart from a few squirrels around, but we encountered some great distractions while working around my neighborhood, including other dogs, people, bicycles, and other types of distractions. Koda's biggest distraction today was the other dogs, but the Off command was effective in interrupting and and preventing his reactive tendencies. Koda isn't quite at the point where he can safely walk past other dogs on a narrow sidewalk, so whenever we encountered another dog we would either step far off to the side if there was room, or just cross to the other side of the street. He seemed to appreciate the distance kept from other dogs today, and by staying proactive and diffusing situations before they escalated, we successfully avoided any major reactions today! Giving Koda a task to focus on when other dogs were nearby seemed to help a lot, as otherwise he would default to fixating which left unchecked could turn into reactive behaviors such as lunging and barking. For today's training, we focused on teaching Koda Come to Sit and Come to Heel, as well as continuing to work on his Heel and Off commands.

The Come to Sit command is an important command to introduce early on in Koda's training journey, as this will be one of our main forms of recall. Developing a solid and reliable recall is important for any pup's obedience training, though this will be especially important for Koda to learn if he is to be allowed off leash in the future. The goal for Come to Sit is for Koda to come directly to his handler when called, then circle around from their right side and finish the command with a Sit on the left side facing forward. While Koda has some general understanding of the Come command already, he was largely unreliable, as he often choose to ignore what is being asked of him and was quick to run back off after approaching. When performed in its entirety, Come to Sit ensures that he not only comes when called, but also requires him to Sit beside his handler and not leave that spot unless released or given a new command. We introduced this command by first working on teaching him to Come when called by guiding him and getting his attention using the leash and e-collar paired with the verbal cue "Come". Once he followed the guidance and approached me, the leash was used to guide him around to my left side, where he was then asked to perform a Sit. As we practiced more, he began to rely less on the leash pressure to grab his attention and guide him, which is a good sign of progress and understanding! With each successful repetition, I made sure to reward him with lots of praise and affection, to build up a positive association with the command and the act of coming to me when called. He seemed to pick up on the act of coming to me and maneuvering around to my left side pretty quickly, however one issue I noticed is he has a tendency to take a big step backwards before settling into the Sit position. This would often cause him to end up sitting a bit too far behind me, so this is something we'll need to spend some time working on to improve. Come to Heel is another form of recall, however instead of coming and sitting, the goal for this command is for Koda to come when called and begin walking alongside his handler in the Heel position. It's important to distinguish this command from Come to Sit, as while they are both recall commands, they each require a different action, so the verbal cue for this command will be "Heel" instead of "Come". We began practicing this by standing a few feet away facing away from Koda, and as I took a step toward I invited Koda to get up and follow me in the Heel position by prompting the Heel cue and tapping my leg as a hand signal, then we would proceed with the Heel as usual. Koda caught onto this command pretty easily, and with a bit of practice he was able to be called into the Heel position from about five feet away, which is a great start! As we practice more, we'll gradually begin adding more distance between us so he can learn to perform this command even when his handler is far away from him.



 

Pupdate 2/29/2024






Today Koda and I took a trip over to the Santa Monica Pier, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This was a great location to provide Koda with exposure to a large variety of distractions, ranging from crowds of people, loud music, food, birds, other dogs, and more. Overall he did a pretty good job here despite the busy environment! He did get distracted quite easily and sometimes appeared slightly overwhelmed by all the commotion, but the Off command worked very well to help him stay focused and on task, and he seemed to appreciate being given a job to focus on. We were able to get within about five feet of the other trainer's dogs today without Koda reacting to any of them, which was great to see! It did help that the other dogs were all calm and focused on their own training, which seemed to help Koda feel more at ease around them. Koda did have one small reaction towards another dog today, but it was towards a stranger's dog who began barking at him as they walked by. In response, Koda got a bit worked up and did vocalize a bit but he did not try to lunge or move towards the other dog, which was good to see. Once given the Off command and Heeled in the other direction, he quickly forgot all about the dog and happily focused on his training without further issue even as the dog continued barking behind us. During our training today, we focused on adding in two new commands, Place and Down, and we continued working on the other commands he has learned so far, including Heel, Sit, Come to Sit, and Come to Heel.


The goal for the Place command is for Koda to jump or climb onto a designated object, such as a bench, a bed, or other object with defined borders, and hold a stationary command while remaining on the Place object until released or given a new command. We introduced this command at home today with a dog cot as our place object, which is a low, slightly raised surface that is easy to climb on and off. Koda is already familiar with relaxing on this object in his own time, so this was a good first object to begin practicing with. We introduced this command by using some leash pressure to guide him onto the object while giving the verbal Place cue, which he quickly picked up on. Once he seemed to understand the behavior, we began pairing leash pressure with e-collar stimulation as additional reinforcement and communication when needed. He did a great job with this command at home! When it came time to work on this command at the pier, we practiced with a wider variety of Place objects, including different kinds of benches and seating areas. Koda showed great confidence with this command at the pier today as well, however some of the more narrow objects were a bit tricky for him to balance on, as he can be a bit clumsy at times. We will continue practicing this command with different objects in a variety of environments to improve Koda's balance, confidence, and overall skills with this command!


The other command introduced to Koda today is the Down command. The goal for the Down command is for Koda to lay down completely when asked, and remain in that position until released or given a new command. Koda has some knowledge of this command already, but was previously very inconsistent about performing it when asked and almost always needed a food lure to get him into position. To begin working on this command, we used leash pressure and physical guidance to guide Koda into the Down position while the verbal command was given. We used treats during the first few repetitions, but quickly weaned them out and replaced the lure with a hand signal and the reward with praise! After some practice, Koda was able to perform Down without needing to be physically guided or lured into the position, and was able to Down when asked with the verbal cue paired with e-collar stimulation as reinforcement when needed. We practiced Down on different surfaces and objects, both at home and at the pier. He was a bit more consistent about following through with Down while at home, but overall he did a great job at the pier considering the large amount of distractions around. We kept the duration for this command pretty short at first with lots of breaks and praise, as this helps make the training fun and rewarding to help him develop a positive association with this command without the constant use of treats. As we continue to practice this we will continue increasing the duration gradually so he can learn to remain in this position for extended periods of time.



 

Pupdate 3/1/2024



Today Koda and I visited a local park, where we practiced his commands around distractions such as people, children, bicycles, scooters, soccer games, small animals, and other dogs. Overall he did a pretty good job about staying focused and on task, and seemed to enjoy his time at the park today! There was even a very brave squirrel hanging out by a tree near where we were practicing during today's video, and while Koda did want to look at it from time to time, he never tried to chase after it or let it distract him too much from his training. The other dogs were a bit distracting for him at times, but he did not have any major reactions towards any we encountered today. He did whine a bit when one dog passing by us play bowed and barked at him playfully, but when asked to Heel in the other direction Koda had no issue disengaging and focusing on his training. Another big distraction for him today was the grassy fields, as he often was tempted to sniff around and explore the scents around the park. When asked to perform a command we want his focus to be on his training rather than his environment, so in these moments the Off command was used and he was reminded to stay on task. We made sure to give Koda plenty of breaks to use his nose and enjoy his sniffing adventures, which helped make his breaks that much more fun and rewarding! Since Koda's leash pulling has reduced significantly and is much more responsive to leash pressure, we have switched out the prong collar to a trusty slip lead, which provides more gentle pressure while still allowing clear communication from the leash.


Koda was introduced to the Under command today. The goal for Under is for Koda to climb fully underneath an object, such as a desk, table, chair, or a bench, and have him perform Down while underneath it and remain there until released or given a new command. Since Koda is a large pup, selecting an object with enough room for him to comfortably and completely fit underneath is important to his success with the command. We introduced Under by using some leash pressure and a hand signal to guide him underneath an object before asking for the Down. Treats were offered during the first few repetitions to help lure him under, but he quickly lost interest in them and ended up catching onto the command quickly enough to remove the need for treats altogether. Once he understood the command, we began implementing the e-collar paired with the leash pressure, which Koda responded very well to. Once he followed through with the command, he received a break shortly after and lots of praise! He did sometimes stick out from under the object a bit, and needed to be slightly repositioned so his whole body was beneath it, but overall he seemed to grasp the concept pretty easily and after only a few repetitions was eager to perform under when approaching an object with enough room for him to perform it. He seems to enjoy this command, and has shown a lot of confidence with it! We will continue practicing this command with different kinds of objects in different locations, as well as work on increasing the duration of this command so he can learn to hold it for extended periods of time.


While at the park we also continued working on all of Koda's other commands around the various distractions present. Koda did a very good job with his Heel overall, and was not trying to pull on the leash at any point during our visit. He understood that once the Heel command was given, he needed to position himself beside me on my left side, and remain there until told otherwise. There were a few instances when he would begin falling slightly out of position if he started getting distracted by something, but by making lots of sudden turns and stops he understood to focus more on where I was so he could maintain the correct positioning alongside me. Koda did well with his Come to Heel as well, and seems to be catching onto this command pretty easily! He also did well with his Come to Sit, and he has started to get really good with the maneuver around to the left side with little to no leash pressure needed. When distracted, he would sometimes need to be called a second or third time before he followed through, but in these moments the e-collar was often enough to catch his attention, so the leash usually wasn't needed to physically guide him to me. He still does have a tendency to take a step or two back before settling into a Sit, but after spending some time focusing on this he did make some progress and began doing this less frequently. Koda's Down was good today, but he sometimes was a bit stubborn with this command and occasionally needed to be asked a few times before he followed through with it. As more time passed he did begin to feel more relaxed at the park which allowed him to perform down easier. We did not end up needing any food lures for Down today and the e-collar was typically effective as reinforcement when needed, but occasionally some leash pressure was needed to guide him into position. Koda did well with Place overall today, and was willing to Place on a variety of different objects around the park without much issue. Since we focused on introducing Under today, he would sometimes initially anticipate Under instead of Place and try to go underneath the object instead of jumping on top of it, so we'll need to spend some time in the upcoming days to help him differentiate between these two commands so he can perform the specific behavior being asked of him.



 

Pupdate 3/2/2024







Today Koda and I visited a local shopping strip, where we continued practicing each of his commands around distractions. This location had an increased amount of distractions to work around, such as groups of people, other dogs, food and smells from nearby restaurants, and lots of loud noises from the busy nearby street. Overall Koda was a bit overwhelmed by his surroundings upon first arriving, though he did great about ignoring distractions when asked with the Off command, and he adjusted quickly to the new environment. After just about five minutes of walking around here, he seemed much more relaxed, at ease, and focused on training.


Koda once again did a great job around one of his most challenging distractions, other dogs. At no point did he become hyper fixated on other dogs, and no reactions occurred even in challenging situations such as dogs barking at him. We were successfully able to train within relatively close proximity to many different dogs today, and Koda did a good job staying focused on commands given to him despite their presence nearby. When the sidewalk was wide enough, we worked on Heeling past other dogs which Koda did a great job with! When the sidewalk was a bit too narrow to remain a comfortable distance away from another dog, we practiced stepping off to the side and having Koda hold a Sit or Down while I stepped in front of him to advocate for his space and act as a physical barrier. This is very important, because if Koda does not feel that he can trust his handler to advocate for him, when he feels his personal space is threatened by a dog he will attempt to take matters into his own hands by reacting and making poor decisions. We've been working hard to teach Koda to remain neutral, and show him that he can trust his hander to advocate for him and deal with situations like this when they arise so he does not have to. He's been making great progress in this regard, and he seems to truly appreciate when he can relax and feel safe as a result of our developed trust and bond, removing the need for him to react in an attempt to defend himself or preserve his personal space. Koda is now at the point when other dogs who are around and minding their own business are typically not an issue for him anymore, and apart from a glance in their direction he does not take much notice of them and is easily able to divert his attention away when asked. Dogs that are barking, pulling towards him, or otherwise behaving poorly or erratically still pose some challenge for him as they are very distracting, but he is learning that the best course of action is to stay calm, do his best to ignore them, and focus on his obedience commands.


Koda did a very good job with his Heel today, and was very attentive to his positioning in relation to me as we walked around. When we first arrived he was a bit unfocused and would sometimes try to lead ahead slightly, though after warming up to the environment along with some gentle reminders when needed, he had a much easier time remaining in the Heel properly. He was able to Heel consistently with very minimal to no leash pressure needed today, which shows great understanding of the command! Whenever occasional adjustments did need to be made, he was responsive to the e-collar, verbal cue, and hand signal as reminders to correct his positioning, allowing for the leash to remain mostly unused. Koda also did great with his Come to Heel and Come to Sit today, and was very reliable about coming straight to me when called and following through with the respective command asked of him. He also did a lot better about not taking several steps back before going into a Sit, which allowed him to Sit in the correct position for Come to Sit more consistently. Koda also did well with his Down, and was able to perform it anywhere when asked without needing a food lure or leash pressure. Both his Place and Under commands have shown good progress as well, and he is beginning to catch on to the differentiation between the two commands, learning to pay close attention to which one is being asked of him instead of assuming which one it will be when approaching an object with either possibility, such as a bench with room for him both on top and underneath. He did sometimes need light leash pressure for guidance when working with a brand new object, but after a few repetitions he quickly understood how to perform either command with said object without needing the extra guidance.



 

Pupdate 3/3/2024




Koda and I visited an outdoor mall today, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. This location a contained a variety of common distractions, such as groups of people, other dogs, birds, and food. Overall Koda did an excellent job staying focused, and in moments where he did become distracted momentarily, the Off command was effective in helping him to refocus. When other dogs were around we as always made sure to stay proactive and take steps to help Koda stay calm and focused on training, and once again he experienced no reactions today!


Koda did a great job with Heel today, and seemed calm, focused, and happy to follow my lead as we walked around the mall together. We were consistently able to walk past most distractions without Koda losing focus or falling out of position, which was great to see! He made some minor mistakes here and there, but was always quick to correct himself when prompted. He also did an excellent job with Come to Sit and Come to Heel, and was always quick to recall to me and perform the command asked of him. He made some minor mistakes occasionally such as laying down instead of sitting for Come to Sit, but overall he was pretty consistent! Koda did great with his stationary commands as well, and was able to perform Sit, Down, Place, and Under whenever prompted. One focus of our training today was improving Koda's ability to hold these stationary commands for longer periods of time, and adding an extra challenge by having me move around him while he remained in position. Whenever he did break a command before being released, he was immediately asked to return to position to remain consistent with our training, as we want him to understand all of his commands come with an implied "stay". The goal is for Koda to be able to hold a stationary position for at least two minutes at a time, and wait in the position asked of him until released or given a new command. When distractions were present around, Koda averaged about thirty to forty five seconds before he would start becoming less reliable about holding positions. When distractions were minimal to none, he was typically able to hold positions for around one minute as he was more focused. Towards the end of our session Koda also started to get a bit tired, which made holding a Sit a challenge for him as he would want to lie down after a short time. We still held him accountable for his Sits whenever he broke position even if it was to lie down, but we did keep it fair for him and set him up for success by keeping the duration for Sits shorter and asking for Down instead of Sit whenever possible once he was feeling tired.


While at the mall, we encountered some nice people who were impressed with Koda's fantastic obedience skills, and wanted to come say hello to him, which was a good opportunity to work on his Greeting Manners. He loves getting attention from people, but he came to us with a habit of getting a bit overexcited when greeted which sometimes lead to poor behaviors. Koda is a large dog, so behaviors like jumping to greet is not only impolite but also dangerous as he could accidentally injure someone. The goal for Greeting Manners is for Koda to remain calm, collected, and polite while greeting people, whether it's by someone he knows or if it's someone new. Before a greeting takes place, we first ask Koda to focus on holding a stationary command, such as Sit or Down, which helps to keep him calm, as his focus is instead directed to holding the position. If he breaks position or begins behaving impolitely during a greeting, the greeting will pause, and he will be asked to refocus and return to the position asked of him. When practicing with someone new, it's important to inform the person or people that Koda is in training, and that they can help him learn by only petting him when he is following instructions, stationary, and calm. Giving him attention or praise when he is over-excited, barking, jumping up, or otherwise behaving impolitely will result in those behaviors becoming encouraged, which would be detrimental to his progress. By ensuring all praise and affection are reserved strictly for when he is holding the position asked of him and behaving calmly, we can work to encourage good behavior we want from him. Koda and I have been practicing greeting manners daily at home, and also whenever a good opportunity arises while out in public when someone new wishes to greet him. He did such a good job today, and was able to greet several people calmly and politely. While he was definitely excited, he expressed his joy through kisses and tail wags rather than trying to jump on anyone.



 

Pupdate 3/4/2024







Today Koda and I visited the Santa Monica Promenade, where we practiced his commands around a large amount of distractions. Despite being a Monday afternoon, the promenade was fairly busy, with lots of people, other dogs, and a variety of other distractions around such as birds, food, traffic noise, and loud music. Overall Koda did a fantastic job today staying calm and focused despite the busy environment. He did especially well around all the other dogs we encountered today, and he did not react to any of them. Some dogs he would stare at for a few moments but could easily redirect his attention elsewhere when asked, and some dogs he hardly seemed to take notice of at all and did not need any prompting to ignore them. This is already such an amazing and drastic improvement from where he was just last week, and we are so proud of Koda!


We began working on an advanced variation of Place during our training today, called Send Away to Place. The goal is for Koda to not only be able to jump or climb onto an object when asked, but be able to do so without his handler walking all the way up to the object with him, and instead have him be able to be sent to the Place object from a distance. Before introducing this advanced command, it was important for Koda to first have a solid understanding of Place as a basic command, which over the past couple of days he has begun showing great confidence and understanding with! Before practicing a Send Away to Place with a new or unfamiliar object, it is helpful to first introduce him to it by doing a couple regular repetitions of Place from a close distance so that Koda is comfortable with it and understands where we want him to go. Today we were able to practice with a distance away of around three or four feet, which he seemed to be comfortable with. We did try a few repetitions with me being a bit further away than this, but when I was too far he would often get confused and needed me to step closer and ask for the command again for him to follow through. Over the next few days, we will be working on gradually increasing the distance in which he can be sent to Place objects from.


Koda did a very good job with his Heel today! During the first minute or two of walking around after first arriving he tended to walk slightly ahead of me as he seemed excited to explore the new environment, but after a few reminders he quickly settled into a more focused mindset which allowed him to engage with me and maintain his positioning with ease! We were able to Heel past many types of distractions, with only occasional reminders to adjust his positioning were he to begin falling slightly out of position. Koda also did an excellent job with both Come to Heel and Come to Sit, and he seems to have really gotten the hang of these commands! Whenever he was recalled, he was always quick to come right to me to perform the command asked of him, no matter what happened to be around us as a potential distraction. Koda's stationary commands are also coming along very nicely. We will need to work some more on his duration overall, but good progress is being made each day we train. He did especially well with Under today, and was always happy to crawl beneath any object he was prompted to and relax in the cool shade beneath until released or given a new command. When in an Under, he didn't seem to pay much attention to distractions around us, and was even able to ignore several dogs as they passed by just a few feet in front of him. He seems to feel very safe, secure, and calm when underneath an object. He did pretty good with Down overall today also, and was able to hold the position even with plentiful distractions around for over a minute consistently. Sit was a bit more tricky for Koda to hold, as he was more prone to breaking this position either to stand up when he was feeling excited by something or to plop into a down when he was tired of sitting up. He typically averaged around forty five seconds before he would become tempted to break the Sit, so we'll need so spend some extra time focusing on improving his duration for this command.



 

Pupdate 3/5/2024her



Today Koda and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The mall wasn't overly busy today, but still had a great amount of distractions to train around, including groups of people, other dogs, birds, food, and music. Koda started off the visit a bit distracted but quickly settled into a more focused mindset. He did become slightly distracted from time to time after this point, but the Off command helped him to refocus immediately. He experienced no reactions towards other dogs today, and did a great job ignoring them whenever they were around us. Koda also got to say hello to some nice people who were impressed by his obedience skills, which made for some great opportunities for practicing Greeting Manners. He was a very good boy today and did not try to jump on anyone or behave impolitely.


One of our main focuses today was practicing his commands using as little leash pressure as possible. Koda being able to perform all of his commands without the use of leash pressure will be an important aspect to conquer before he can be transitioned to off-leash training, so this is a goal we have steadily been working towards to during his training. When a verbal command is given, he is first given a "freebie" where no leash pressure or e-collar is used to reinforce the command, and he then has the choice to follow through with the command or ignore it. If he ignores it, then each time the command has to be repeated after the freebie, it will be reinforced with the e-collar stimulation until he follows through with it. In earlier days when he was still new to the commands, we also paired the stimulation with leash pressure, though now that he has a good understanding of the commands we are slowly using less leash pressure, and giving him more chances to problem solve and follow the command using only the e-collar as reinforcement. By reserving the use of the leash pressure only for when he truly needs it, we can get him used to the concept of following commands without always relying on the leash for physical guidance, and instead use his knowledge and skills with the command to carry out the behavior being asked of him.


Koda did very well with his Heel today, even with the almost complete absence of leash pressure. We kept the leash loose and long, which gave him plenty of room to make mistakes and decisions about his positioning without influence from the leash. Despite the extra freedom, he almost always chose to stick directly beside me in the Heel position once the command was given. At no point did he ever fully leave my side, and only needed minor adjustments to his positioning on occasion. He didn't seemed to rely on leash pressure at all for his Heel, and as very focused and responsive to the verbal cue, hand signal, and e-collar. Koda also did good with his Come to Heel and Come to Sit, and was able to perform both commands without leash pressure nearly every time. There were just a couple times towards the end of the session when Koda was feeling a bit tired and lazy, and he would need to be asked a few times for his recall, sometimes with a slight amount of leash pressure, before he would get up and come to me when he was relaxing in a comfortable spot. Koda did great with his stationary commands today as well, and was able to perform Sit, Down, and Under all without any leash pressure. He did well with his Place and Send Away to Place too, but there were a few times when he would need slight guidance from the leash, especially when practicing with a brand new object he's never Placed on before. At times he would try to Under instead of Placing when asked, and need a bit of help from the leash to show him where to go. We also used small amounts of leash pressure occasionally for Send Away to Place, as a small nudge in the direction of the object seemed to help him follow through more consistently when working with gradually increasing distances. We'll also need to work on Koda's rear end awareness and overall balance skills as well, because he does have a tendency to start slipping off or positioning himself partially hanging off objects when working on Place.



 

Pupdate 3/6/2024






Today Koda and I visited a local park to continue his training with a focus on practicing with minimal leash pressure. We managed to avoid the worst of the rainfall today, but the poor weather managed to deter all but the most determined park visitors, so there weren't a ton of distractions to practice around at the park. There were a good amount of people and dogs around my neighborhood during our morning and evening walks however, so we did get some good training around those distractions today. Koda didn't seem to mind the wet weather today, and seemed to enjoy the slightly cooler weather!


The mostly empty park did allow for a great opportunity to practice Koda's skills with the leash dragging during training in a quiet and safe environment. Having the leash drag alongside him is a great way to simulate off leash training while still having it readily available should it be needed to guide him. He didn't seem to notice or mind the fact that I was not holding the leash during training today, and was able to stay focused and follow commands as usual. He also did a good job about following through with commands on the first ask, but when reinforcement was needed the e-collar was effective to communicate to him and encourage him to focus back on training. We also had plenty of fun utilizing the big open field to run and play around in during breaks, and Koda seemed to really enjoy having the park to ourselves! Koda's Heel was pretty consistent today, even when we practiced with the leash dragging! He never tried to leave my side or wander off despite the physical freedom to do so. His recall for both Come to Sit and Come to Heel were both very reliable, and we were able to practice these commands from increased distances today without any issue. Even when he was fifteen feet or more away from me, he always chose to come right to me and perform the command asked of him once prompted. At no point during recall commands did he need any guidance from the leash. His stationary commands were also very good, and he was able to perform any position asked of him, including Sit, Down, Place, and Under all with the leash dragging without it being used to guide him. We did need to pick up the leash and provide some light leash pressure occasionally during Send Away to Place, but the more we practiced the less he seemed to rely on this assistance. He was able to hold any position asked of him for two minutes or more today without breaking position, which was great to see! Towards the end of our session he did begin to tire out a bit and did struggle to hold his Sit for the whole two minutes, but once he was at this point we helped set him up for success by asking him to Down instead of Sit when having him hold a position for longer than a minute or so.



 

Pupdate 3/7/2024



Today Koda and I visited a park, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions while using no leash pressure. There were a good amount of distractions present during our visit, including groups of people, children, small animals, and other dogs. The other dogs were as usual Koda's biggest distraction today, but apart from the occasional momentary loss of focus, he did a great job around them and never had any reactions towards them. He would sometimes whine quietly or be intent on staring at them, but by interrupting this with the Off command we were able to prevent this from escalating and keep his attention away from them for the most part. There was even one instance where there was a dog excessively barking nearby, and apart from a few glances in their direction he did not let this major distraction get the best of him! While Koda's dog reactivity has improved drastically within our time together so far, it's still a good idea to take the precaution of keeping him on leash when around other dogs for the time being so we can ensure his safety and the safety of others. During today's training we implemented a long leash, which is another great way to simulate how Koda might behave while off leash while still having a physical tether should it be needed. By holding onto just the end of the leash and having the rest of it loose and dragging along, we can provide Koda with up to fifteen feet of physical freedom during training. In order for leash pressure to be applied, Koda would have to move more then fifteen feet away from me, which he never did. He actively chose to remain beside me for essentially our entire visit here, and the only times he was more than a foot or two away from me was either during breaks or when he was asked for a stationary command while I created distance from him. While on breaks he was allowed to venture out using the full length of the leash, but he was mindful of it and never tried to pull on it. Once he reached the end of the leash he understood to yield to it and not proceed in that direction until the slight tension was relieved.


Koda did a great job with his Heel overall, though he was prone to slight errors in his positioning when a major distraction such as another dog was nearby. He never attempted to run off or fully leave my side, though there were times where he would lose focus and begin falling behind or drifting off a bit. Despite this Koda was always quick to correct himself the moment he was reminded to Heel, and never needed any leash pressure to assist him. Koda was also very reliable with his Come to Sit and Come to Heel, and almost always came right to me when called the first time and without needing any leash pressure to guide him to me or to position himself for the command asked of him. When he was distracted by something or other, such as when a dog was nearby or if he was sniffing around during a break, he would sometimes need to be asked again with the e-collar as reinforcement, though this was always successful in grabbing his attention getting him to follow through with the command. Koda did a great job with his stationary commands today, and was able to perform Sit, Down, Place, Under, and Send Away to Place all with very minimal errors! He was able to hold his positions for around two minutes pretty consistently, even with distractions around or while I was at a distance away from him walking around. Every now and then he would break a command for a split second, but was quick to realize his mistake and return right back to position and hold it until released or given a new command. The stationary command Koda struggled with the most today was Sit again, as he did get tired out pretty quickly and would try to default to a Down instead of a Sit sometimes, but with a reminder or two he understood to perform the Sit when asked. As always we were fair to him and did not ask him to hold a Sit for extended periods of time once he was physically tired. Koda also had an occasional tendency to stand up and reposition himself a few steps away when asked to Down, which is something we will work on cleaning up so that he does not get in the habit of doing this.


On another note, I've noticed Koda licking and chewing on his paws a lot lately, and they seem to be itchy for him. This is a habit he has shown since day one, however during the past day or so I've noticed an increase in this behavior. One common cause of this could be allergies of some kind. He has only been eating the food and treats provided to me for him, and I have not been using any kind of products on his skin or fur, so if allergies are to blame it is likely environmentally related such as grass or pollen. I have been working to keep his paws clean and dry, and interrupting any excessive paw grooming behavior when needed so he does not further irritate his skin. I'll will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates if it worsens or does not improve.



 

Pupdate 3/8/2024






Today Koda and I took a walk over to a local park, where we practiced all of his commands without leash pressure. The walk to the park included some areas of busy streets, which provided lots of great distractions to work around on the way there and back. The park itself wasn't super busy today, but there were still some good distractions around such as people, children, squirrels and birds, as well as the occasional other dog. Koda did a great job staying focused and on task today, even when major distractions such as other dogs were around us. Once again, no reactions towards any dogs today!


We utilized the long leash again today, and for most of the session we were able to train with it dragging along remaining completely unused. The only time the leash was held onto was during our walk along the busy street on the way to the park and back, or whenever other dogs started getting close to us, which was done solely as a precaution and thankfully it never proved to be needed today! Since Koda was very focused and calm during our training, he was great about following through with commands without any need for leash pressure or physical guidance. He did exceptional with his Heel today, and this continues to be one of Koda's strongest commands. He was happy to follow my lead during our walks no matter what was around us, and on the occasion a minor adjustment needed to be made he was quick to correct himself without relying on the leash at all. Koda's recall commands were also consistent today, and he was very attentive to where I was at all times. He seemed to always have an eye and ear out, ready to listen for a recall cue to come right to me, either while practicing other commands or while he was out exploring on a break. Koda's stationary commands were also reliable today, and he did a great job with each of them. He was able to hold any position asked of him for at least two minutes, even with distractions present around us. On very rare occasions he would get up and recall himself to me before asked to, though this only seemed to happen when I was quite far away from him, which lead Koda to want to get up and come closer to me. While the goal is for him to not break commands at all, the fact that he would always chose to come to me if he happened to break command is still better than him wandering off instead! Koda also had a few instances when he confused Under and Place, but by repeating the command an emphasizing the hand signals and verbal cue for the specific command asked of him, he was able to perform each of them with less confusion after a few repetitions. For Send Away to Place, Koda was able to perform this command on a variety of objects from a distance of around six feet away. Some objects were more challenging for him than others, but each day Koda has been making great progress with his balance and coordination which allows him to have an easier time performing Place. Also as an update to Koda's paw licking, this behavior seems to be lessening slightly which is good! I've been keeping a close eye on him and preventing him from chewing or excessively licking, which he seems to now understand is not a desirable behavior as he has not been continuing to do it compulsively.



 

Pupdate 3/9/2024



Koda and I visited a shopping mall today, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions with the leash dragging. The mall had a good amount of distractions present, such as groups of people, music, and smells of food. We did encounter a small number of other dogs at the mall, however they were each calm and well behaved, and Koda didn't pay much mind to them since we kept our distance. Overall Koda did a great job staying focused during our visit here, and seemed to quickly adjust to the new and unfamiliar environment. When first entering he was interested in sniffing and looking around, but after just a minute or two he seemed to settle down and was eager to perform his commands.


Koda overall did a great job with his commands today, even with the leash dragging along remaining completely unused. He once again did not seem to notice or mind that I wasn't holding his leash, and was able to follow through with all of his commands without any leash guidance needed. He has been making great progress in his gradual transition to off leash training, and should be ready to begin working without a leash soon! He also hasn't had any notable reactions to other dogs for over a week now, which is great to see! However he still has an occasional tendency to fixate on other dogs, and needs constant close supervision to ensure any fixation is quickly interrupted and his attention is redirected away before the situation escalates. Doing this appropriately and effectively has so far had great results in preventing reactions. This will be especially important to keep in mind when considering if an environment or situation will be suitable for off leash activities with Koda. Locations with an abundance of other dogs likely will not be the best choice for him to be off leash at, especially so if the other dogs are not calm and well behaved, or if there is not ample space to create distance away from them if needed. While at the mall, Koda did a great job with his Heel and happily stuck right beside me as he followed my lead around the mall. He was able to remain in position very consistently, and only needed occasional reminders to tidy up his position, which he was always quick to do without needing the leash. Koda also did great with his Come to Heel and Come to Sit, and was able to perform these commands cleanly and reliably around distractions and while I was at a good distance away from him. Koda's stationary commands were also good today, and he was able to perform Sit, Down, Under, Place, and Send Away to Place all without the leash and with little to no mistakes. He was able to remain in stationary positions for at least two minutes consistently, even with distractions passing by around us and while I was at a distance away from him. One command we spent a bit extra time practicing with was his Send Away to Place, as we want to continue building up the distance in which he can reliably be sent to place on an object. We attempted from around eight feet away today, but this seemed to be a bit too far for him and he would tend to get confused and end up stopping and coming back to me instead of placing. He was most consistent when I was around five feet or closer to the object he was being sent to. Koda also will still occasionally get Under and Place confused when first working with a new object. One thing that has been helping him distinguish these two commands is bending down slightly for Under, and standing straight up and putting a foot on top of the object for Place. We will continue working on these commands and gradually wean out the need for these extra signals, as the goal is for him to be able to perform them with just a verbal command and hand signal.



 

Pupdate 3/10/2024






Today Koda and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions with the leash dragging. The mall had a fair amount of distractions present, including groups people, music, and food. We also visited a restaurant patio at the mall for a lunchtime snack, and Koda was very well behaved here as well! He got several compliments from nice people about his impressive obedience skills and calm behavior.


We encountered a small number of other dogs at the mall today, and several more around my neighborhood during our usual walks. Koda did not react to any of them and had almost no issue keeping his focus on training. Since he remained calm and collected, we were able to carry on training with the leash dragging without me needing to pick it up at any point. We did still make sure to keep some distance from them to ensure he could remain comfortable and calm, which Koda seemed to appreciate. There was one dog which barked a few times when it saw him, which prompted Koda to respond with a quiet whine, but he quickly refocused and was able to Heel away with me in the other direction.


Koda continued to perform well with each of his commands without any leash pressure today. He was able to Heel with nearly no mistakes, and happily followed my lead anywhere we went. He was able to perform Come to Sit and Come to Heel with consistency as well. The only notable issue was with Cone to Sit towards the end of the session when Koda was starting to get tired, as he would sometimes try to Down instead of Sitting and needed to be asked to sit back up to reposition himself. Despite this his positioning was very good and he always came right to me and to my left side. Apart from holding his Sit towards the end of the session, Koda did great with all of his stationary commands and was able to hold each of them for over two minutes reliably. He even held his Under while we were at the restaurant patio for over ten minutes which was very impressive! This continues to be one of his favorite commands, and he always seems happy to crawl under any suitable object and relax underneath it until released, even with tempting distractions such as food or passing people.



 

Pupdate 3/11/2024



Koda and I visited a local park today, where we focused on working around lots of dog distractions. This park had an abundance of other dogs, which provided an excellent opportunity to train around his most challenging distraction and continue working on his dog reactivity. Overall Koda did a good job with his commands for the most part today even with all the dogs around, though he definitely had some tough moments where he struggled to focus. He had a few moments where he would begin fixating, and he did have a few mild reactions where he could vocalize or whine at other dogs for a couple of seconds and needed to be asked to Off. There was also one instance when he had a moderate reaction and took an abrupt couple of steps towards another dog that had come rushing towards him while we were Heeling along the other side of a fence, but with an Off correction using the leash and e-collar, he immediately stopped and disengaged, and once distance was created he completely ignored the dog and Heeled with me nicely again. Even during these moments of reactive behavior, Koda never became out of control, and was still able to listen and follow instructions when provided with clear and consistent reminders. We ended up keeping him on leash during our visit here due to the large amount of other dogs, but we were able to practice a bit with leash dragging when the situation allowed for it.


We started off by staying on the outside of the park, where Koda and I were separated from the other dogs by a chain-link fence. This provided us with a physical barrier while still having full visibility of the other side, which allowed us to safely get close to other dogs to work on his distance threshold. Some of the dogs at the park were off leash with poor recall skills, so having this barrier was important in keeping him safe when using them as a distraction within close proximity if they happened to take an interest in him and try to approach him. There were lots of dogs running around and playing in the field, as well as dogs walking with their owners along the path directly on the other side of the fence. At first, Koda was extremely interested in the other dogs and did struggle to keep his attention away from them, especially the ones that were close to the fence, trying to approach him at the fence, or were running around in the field. We practiced a lot of Heel along the fence, as keeping him in motion seemed to help him stay focused and calm. We tried to stick as close to the fence as possible, but when needed we made sure to step away a bit to create distance so that Koda did not react. After working along the fence for a while Koda seemed to calm down a bit, and became less fixated on the other dogs even if they were close by, allowing him to Heel and perform other commands with the leash dragging without issue.


Later in the session we ventured inside the park, and began working more on his stationary commands and recall with the dogs as a distraction. We found a good bench that had a clear view of the dogs in the field, and was along the pathway so other dogs would occasionally pass by with their owners. In the event another dog attempted to approach him or invade his space while in the park, I put Koda behind me and used myself as a physical barrier to advocate for his space and keep the dog away and at a comfortable distance. Koda once again seemed to understand this action and appreciated me dealing with the situation instead of him having to. We practiced a lot of Send Away to Place with this bench to continue building up his consistency with increased distances, as well as working on his Extended Place. He was able to be sent away to place from a distance of around ten feet today, which was impressive! He sometimes was a bit clumsy and would start partially slipping off the object, but he was able to reposition properly when asked. When in stationary positions Koda struggles more to ignore other dogs, as he is not physically moving around which more easily allows for fixation unless it is constantly interrupted. Having him on a Place object versus on the ground seemed to help him a bit with staying calm, and discouraged him from breaking position due to the clear boundary of the borders the the object presented. To end the session today, we spent some time sitting on the bench together, while encouraging him to remain calm and neutral as he observed our surroundings. If he began to fixate on something for too long or begin getting worked up over it, the Off command was given and he was rewarded once he disengaged. I brought some of his kibble along for this session, and used it as an extra reward when he was displaying the behavior we want from him. This method is a great way to expose Koda to these types of distractions in a beneficial way, as it helps him reconfigure the association he has with other dogs, and shift his feeling about other dogs from something negative to something positive instead. By the time we were getting ready to leave, Koda was at the point where he was able to calmly view other dogs even as they passed by along the path in front of us. He even began automatically disengaging when seeing another dog to check back in with me for a reward, which was really good to see!



 

Pupdate 3/12/2024







Today Koda and I visited a Petco, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. This was another great opportunity to work on his behavior while around other dogs, as this is a popular destination for people to visit with their pups. There were also plenty of other distractions around, such as toys, treats, people, shopping carts, and small animals in enclosures. As expected, Koda's biggest distraction was the other dogs we encountered, however he had no reactions towards other dogs today! He did try to fixate on some of the dogs he saw, but we were able to interrupt this by using the Off command and having him refocus on his commands, being sure to reward him as soon as he disengaged. We did keep him on leash while at the store due to leash regulations. We had the leash completely loose during all times of our training today, and it was not needed for any guidance or communication.


We started off the session while in the parking lot outside of the store, where we were able to begin warming up his obedience commands while at a good distance away from any other dogs walking past or into the store. The very beginning of training sessions is usually when Koda is most likely to be distracted and unfocused, and hence more prone to fixation and reactive behavior. As such, beginning the session in a more open environment was helpful in helping him settle into a focused mindset before proceeding into more challenging areas of the location where we would be in more confined areas with other dogs. At first Koda would tend to fixate on every dog that walked past, but after having seen around two or three dogs walk by while being encouraged to remain neutral to them, he was able to mostly ignore them as they walked through the parking lot and into or out of the store. After some time had passed Koda was showing very focused and calm behavior, and we were able to enter the store with him maintaining this positive mindset! We were able to walk past other dogs that were in nearby aisles, as well as have Koda remain in stationary positions as they passed by without any issue, as we remained proactive and kept him engaged with me instead of allowing him to fixate. Koda did a very good job with his Heel, and was consistent about remaining in the correct position beside me as we walked around the store, and never attempted to leave my side even when walking past distractions such as through the treat or toy aisles, or past other dogs. He was occasionally tempted to sniff the ground as there were likely lots of interesting smells along the floor, but with a quick reminder of Off he was able to refocus and refrain from letting the scents distract him from the Heel. Koda did great with his recall commands today as well, and was able to perform these commands without any issues. Koda also did great with his stationary commands today, and was able to perform and hold Sit and Down anywhere around the Petco easily. We also found a good spot to practice Under, and as usual Koda was very comfortable with this command as well. There weren't many suitable objects to practice Place with at the store, but we did find a bench outside which worked to practice Send Away to Place and extended Place with, and Koda did a solid job with this as well.


 

Pupdate 3/13/2024



Today Koda and I practiced all of his commands at home and around the neighborhood. Our morning walk was pretty quiet and not many people or other dogs were around, so we started the session off with leash dragging and after a quick warmup he was feeling focused and confident, so we went ahead and took off the leash to work on his off leash training! He did very well with this, and did not seem to notice or mind the absence of the leash, performing all of his commands and behaving exactly as he would if the leash was on. Our evening walk had more distractions around, with more people and dogs out and about. So long as we kept some distance from the other dogs, Koda was able to easily maintain his focus and were able train off leash during this session as well! There was even a dog who barked at him from across the street, and apart from a glance in their direction and a few grumbles in reply, he did not react further to this major distraction nor make any attempt to break command to approach the barking dog. Koda is not only excelling with his skills and manners while out in public, but he has also made huge transformations in his behavior inside the home as well! House manners are something we have been working on little by little each day since day one. Even seemingly mundane day-to-day tasks can provide excellent opportunities for training! These manners include areas such as Food Manners, Door Manners, and Car Manners, which are showcased in today's video. The goal for Food Manners is for Koda to calmly hold a stationary command while his food is prepared and set in front of him. He is then asked to remain in that position until he is released before he can get up and eat his food. In the early stages of his training he was prone to jumping on me, barking loudly, and trying to counter surf when anticipating food, and would sometimes try to rush to the food bowl the moment it was set down even if it meant knocking me out of the way to get to it. As he progressed in his overall obedience, he quickly replaced these bad habits with good manners, and learned to be polite and patient even when faced with very tempting distractions such as food directly in front of him! He now does very well with his Food Manners, and he is able to control his excitement and patiently await the release command before digging in!

Another area of manners we have been working on is Koda's Door Manners. The goal of Door Manners is for Koda to hold a stationary position while near a door and remain there until released or given a new command, such as Come or Heel. He is asked to hold the position at the location asked of him, and not break the command even if the door is left open, if someone is knocking on it, or if people walk in or out of it. This practice prevents impolite and possibly dangerous behaviors, and teaches important boundaries. Reshaping Koda's manners was one of his tougher challenges, as he came to us with poor habits such as trying to escape or run through through open doors, shoving past people when walking through doors, or rushing over to jump on people who enter through the door. With daily practice, Koda has made great progress with his manners related to doors, and understands to follow instructions no matter what distractions the door may create. He has great manners with every door in my house now, including bedroom doors, the backyard door, as well as the front door. After Koda has been asked for a stationary command, a door can be left wide open, people can walk in or out, and he understands not to get up or walk through the doorway unless given permission to, and when invited he can walk nicely through the doorway without shoving through or trying to rush out. I can even leave his sight completely and walk outside without him feeling the need to get up and follow me!


Having good Car manners makes transporting Koda easy, safe, and as hassle-free as possible. The goal for Car Manners is for Koda to be confident and able to jump into the car when prompted without needing any physical assistance. Once in the car, the goal is for him to willingly enter a kennel when asked, and settle in calmly for the ride. Koda came to us with pretty good car and kennel manners, however there was room for improvement! One focus for these manners was teaching Koda to wait patiently while the car door was opened for him, and await the Place cue before jumping in, as he was sometimes a bit too eager and would try to rush into the car the moment the door was opened just enough for him to fit through. Car Manners have also been a great opportunity to add in more training with the Send Away to Place command.



 

Pupdate 3/15/2024





Today Koda and I took a trip to Santa Monica! We met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups, and practiced all of his commands both on and off leash. We visited both the pier and the promenade, each with their own unique sets of distractions to train around. Koda was quite popular today, and he got lots of compliments about his good manners, behavior, and obedience skills! He got to say hello to a lot of nice people, and he displayed excellent greeting manners with every person he met. Overall Koda did a great job here today, and a clear difference can be seen between his first visit with me versus today! He was very reliable with his commands, and generally was very calm and focused.


The pier was our first destination, it was the more challenging area we visited today. It was very busy, with large crowds of people, flocks of birds, loud music, and lots of other dogs. We began the session on leash to give him some time to warm up the the extremely busy environment. There were a few dogs that barked at and tried to approach Koda while we were at the pier, and while this certainly caught his attention, he did not have any major reactions to them, and was able to shift his attention away from them when asked without continuing to fixate. As always I made sure to advocate for his space, and this seemed to reassure Koda. Still, there were moments when he seemed a bit overwhelmed at times, so we opted to keep the leash on him while at the pier to ensure his safety and success. He still did a great job with all of his commands while at the pier, and while some minor mistakes were made here and there that were easily corrected, he did a great job staying neutral to his environment and following commands overall.


After a short break to give Koda some time to unwind, cool off, and rejuvenate, we made our way over to the promenade. This environment was a bit quieter, but still had plenty of distractions around. Koda seemed to feel a bit more relaxed here, and had almost zero trouble with any of his commands. We started the session on leash at the promenade as well, but Koda's calm and focused demeanor and eagerness to perform his commands allowed us to soon transition over to leash dragging, then onto off leash training all without any issue. We also spent a lot of time around the other trainer's dogs here, and Koda had no issue staying neutral to them once he had the chance to see them from a moderate distance and become familiar with them first. It seemed to help that the other dogs were all ignoring him and focusing on their own training, which encouraged Koda to do the same. After a short period of time, Koda was able to be around the other trainer's dogs within a close proximity even while off leash without showing any reactive behavior or signs of being uncomfortable. There were some other unfamiliar dogs walking around the promenade also, but Koda seemed to have no interest in them and we were easily able to maintain distance away from them.



 

Pupdate 3/15/2024



Koda and I visited a mall today, where we practiced all of his commands off leash around distractions. The mall had lots of people walking around, alongside other distractions such as music and food. There were a small number of dogs we encountered while in the mall, but they were all well behaved and minding their own business, and Koda did not have any interest in them nor did he have any reactions towards them. He did have one small reaction today, but it was towards a random goose that we encountered in the parking lot! The goose charged at us while we walking to the mall, and Koda's initial impulse was to bark at it and prepare to lunge at it, but he quickly stopped himself as soon as the Off command was given, and he followed my instruction to sit behind me while I dealt with the goose and shooed it away. Koda was then asked to Heel with me away from the goose, and apart from a quick glance back in it's direction to make sure it wasn't following us, he recovered from the situation very quickly, shook off his nerves, and happily focused right back on me as we walked away together confidently. We ended up seeing what appeared to be the same goose later when heading back to the car to leave, and Koda did not pay any attention to it and thankfully the rude goose did not try to charge at us again.


Koda did an excellent job with all of his commands today, and we were able to film some great content of him while at the mall that will be used in putting together his final video, so be sure to check out today's video! Koda started today's session off strong, and he was immediately very focused and calm while in this environment, despite it being brand new to him. We started off the session on leash, but after only a minute or two he proved it to be unnecessary, so we went ahead and removed it to practice all of his commands off leash. There was an indoor and outdoor section to this mall, and he did great in both areas. He was slightly more prone to becoming slightly distracted while in the outdoor area due to all the interesting smells on the ground, but overall these moments were rare and the Off command was successful in reminding him to stay focused when needed. The indoor section was a bit busier with lots more commotion and people around, but Koda paid no mind to this and remained very neutral to the environment throughout the entire session. He also got a ton of compliments from people at the mall, and several people stopped to watch him train or ask to pet him! Koda seemed to love the attention, and was a very good boy during greetings.


Koda's Heel was exceptional today, and this is definitely one of his strongest commands! Once given the verbal cue, he was always happy to follow alongside me exactly in the Heel position without issue. Every now and then he would begin to drift ever so slightly out of position, but with a reminder of her verbal cue he was always able to correct himself immediately and not need another reminder for good periods of time. Despite all the distractions around us, Koda remained very engaged with me, and was always very aware of his positioning in relation to me, allowing him to easily follow my lead no matter what. Koda's Come to Heel and Come to Sit were also both essentially flawless, and he was always able to come right when called and performed the command asked of him expertly, even while I was at a far distance from him or if distractions were around us. Koda also did very well with Extended Down, Extended Under, Extended Place, and Send Away to Place. It was a bit of a struggle to find an object to have Koda perform Under with due to his large size, but we did manage to find an area with small tables and chairs that Koda was able to mostly fit underneath, and as always he was happy to perform this command and hold it for however long was asked of him. The only command Koda had any trouble with was Extended Sit, which was not really his fault or lack of obedience. The floors inside the mall were just a bit slippery for him, and he found it difficult to remain in a sit for the two minute goal as his paws would start to slide out from under him and he would end up in the Down position. During the beginning of the session he would try to fix himself to stay in the Sit for as long as he could, but towards the end he was feeling a bit more tired and would just allow himself to slide into the Down. We did however find a small area with carpet inside of a store, and Koda was able to hold his Sits there without breaking the command for at least two minutes, though it did seem to take some effort for him to hold it for that long simply due to fatigue. We made sure to give him lots of love for all of his amazing work today, and he got to have a nice long break to relax afterwards!



 

Pupdate 3/16/2024





Today Koda and I spent the day putting all of his learned skills to use to have a great last day together! We visited a local park and a cafe patio, and Koda had a great time at both locations! At the park, we practiced all of his commands off leash around various kinds of distractions, and he did a great job with everything! There were a couple of other dogs at the park, but we found a nice area at a good distance away from them so Koda paid them no mind. He had no issue with any of his commands, and seemed very eager and focused while training. He also got lots of fun playtime to run around and sniff to his heart's content, without the hassle of a leash! We played some fetch, and he really loved this game, and always came running over to me with the ball to hand it right to me every time.


After we'd been at the park for a while Koda did start to tire out, so we took a trip over to a cafe where he enjoyed his time relaxing in the shade under my table. He was a very good boy here as well, and calmly rested under the table without worrying about anything in his surroundings, including when plates of yummy food passed by or when other dogs walked along the nearby sidewalk. He remained in the position asked of him for well over ten minutes without needing reminders. He was so calm, he looked just about ready to take a nap! When it was time to go, he did a big stretch and happily heeled with me back to our car to continue the fun, training, and relaxation with me at home.


Koda has made such an amazing transformation in these past three weeks, and the differences in him are truly night and day! He came to us with frequent and severe dog reactivity, stubbornness, and major leash pulling issues. He struggled heavily whenever he was in a public or unfamiliar place due to his tendency to immediately become distracted and overstimulated by everything around him. He has since learned to stay calm, focused, and neutral to his surroundings even in the most busy of places. He has made massive strides of improvement with his impulsiveness and tendency to react towards dogs, and has learned to trust his handler to deal with situations rather than feeling the need to react negatively when encountering triggers. Overall he has gained a lot of confidence, obedience skills, and discipline, and is now a very easy going and well mannered pup who is a breeze to take on walks and a joy spend time with. His acquired obedience skills and good behavior now allow him to safely enjoy the freedom and fun that comes with being off leash when in appropriate environments! While he may seem like a whole new dog, he is still the same goofy, loving, and playful pup he always has been, and with his new obedience skills, he is even more of a joy to be around and take with on all sorts of adventures! Koda has truly been such a pleasure to train and share my home with, and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to help this good boy become the best version of himself! With his amazing intelligence and eagerness to learn, the sky is the limit for this pup, and I know he has a very bright future ahead of him wherever life may take him! Good boy Koda!



 























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