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  • Writer's pictureScott Hansen

Kona | German Shepherd Mix | Torrance, CA | In-Training

Meet Kona! Kona is a 15-month-old German Shepherd mix from Torrance, CA. Kona has joined us for our Two-Week Board and Train Program! Kona comes to us knowing a few commands but is inconsistent. Kona is here to work on her recall, manners around kids, greeting manners, and being attentive to her owners. Over the next 14 days, Kona will be working on structure, consistent obedience, and becoming an even greater pup! Stay tuned for Kona’s 14-day transformation!


Pupdate 3/12/23

Today Kona came home to her home away from home for the next two weeks! I introduced Kona to my family including the little ones. Kona also got to meet and hang out with Ms. Toji, my german shorthaired pointer. Kona and I went on a walk around my neighborhood. This is Kona's one "free" walk while we build rapport and she gets comfortable with the neighborhood. Tomorrow we will hit the training full speed ahead.


Pupdate 3/13/23

Today Ms. Kona and I loaded up and headed over to Whittier Narrows in El Monte, CA. We met up with our fellow Off-Leash trainers and their pups. We focused on the "heel" and "sit" today as these are the cornerstones of the training going forward. Ms. Kona will perform "heel" everywhere we go and be expected to "sit" for almost everything as well. I started Ms. Kona with the pinch and e-collar today. The pinch collar didn't last very long. Ms. Kona was fine with just the e-collar and flat collar. Ms. Kona was around a 10 today which is good. Ms. Kona was fine around the other pups without much issue. Overall good first day of training!



Today Ms. Kona and I headed over to Rynerson Park in Lakewood, CA. We got out nice and early before the rain came rolling in. Today I worked with Ms. Kona while on the slip lead. Yesterday, we didn't really use it so today was her first day getting used to it. We continued to reinforce the "heel" and "sit". I also introduced and worked on her "place" command. Ms. Kona seems to be taking well to the training. Her "heel" is looking good. We even tried a few "come to sit" with her and she did well with this task as well. The obedience task I have left for her is "down" and she will have learned everything she needs to be successful in this program. Ms. Kona did show a little bit of avoidance behavior when we attempted to walk by two other pups, she went into the grass and laid down. I gave her a second and then we kept on trucking. Once I encouraged her to come back to the "heel" she was fine and we went past another pup just to make sure she was good. She is showing signs of interest in all the other pups around. She is around 30-40 when she is distracted. Hopefully, those numbers will come down a little bit but there's still plenty of wiggle room available to move up and down depending on her reactivity. She showed interest in a squirrel but a well-timed "off" got her attention away and back to the task of performing the "heel".


Pupdate 3/15/23

Today Ms. Kona and I loaded up and headed over to Mayfair Park in Lakewood, CA. The rain cleared up but the weather was gloomy enough that there were not a lot of people around. This is fine as I was introducing the final two commands "come to sit" and "down". Both of these went well. I like using Mayfair Park because they have these toddler tables that have plenty of surface space for the pup to practice the down and then we quickly transition away from those to other surfaces like benches or the ground or in Kona's case, the playground jungle gym. I would definitely say "heel" is Kona's best command and "sit" is her least favorite and consistent task. She worked much better today on the slip lead. She is not ready for the flat collar as I found out while trying to load her into the vehicle before heading out. That's all good. After today, Ms. Kona has learned all the commands she is going to need for this training:

1) Sit

2) Down

3) Place

4) Come

5) Break

6) Off

From here on out we will be conducting these tasks over and over again and they are integral to greeting manners, door manners, car manners, and food manners and will be performed rapidly in my backyard or even in high distractor areas. She will be asked to perform them in quick succession. Ms. Kona gets distracted by some things like small animals, children, and some other pups. She is a little bit of an enigma on the e-collar as she doesn't like too high of levels but is not overly responsive to commands on the lower levels. I normally start her at a 25 but it seems inconsistent. I'll keep messing with it.


Pupdate 3/16/23

The sun finally decided to show up again! I took today to work on reviewing all the commands in the backyard aka my "lab". This is a controlled environment where I can start to introduce the leash dragging and off-leash work sometime in the next few days. I did switch out the regular contact points for the titanium 3/4" contact points to try to find a more consistent number for Ms. Kona. Ms. Kona is pretty tough and does not show too much adversity to the e-collar. I was able to stick around 30 for most of the training with the e-collar. Tomorrow I am going to switch to the flat collar + e-collar combination and probably my leather 6' leash to start then try my lighter nylon leash before we finish our training tomorrow. We reviewed all the commands and Ms. Kona did pretty well. I even brought out my mini-trainer to help. As you can see, Ms. Kona let my mini-me walk her and Ms. Kona was well-behaved. I tried introducing some of the leash dragging but Ms. Kona was already being pushed with the amount of obedience I was asking her. She even broke off for a few seconds and I had to use the recall by increasing the stimulation levels. This is why I practice this in my backyard. After she overcame that, she was much more responsive to the training. I didn't want to end on that note or have that be one of our last interactions in training for the day so I took some time afterward to groom Ms. Kona. It's always a good way to build rapport with the pup and we did it while she had the e-collar on so that we could continue to not only associate it with training or possibly any adversity. They are still allowed to be pups even with the e-collar on but we have it there in case we need them to behave again.

As a note, you mentioned that you had taken her on a long walk to burn off some of the energy before she came with me. I think the walks are great and good for the pup to exercise. However; we shouldn't have to rely on burning up their energy for them to behave. In fact, I want them to behave and be good pups when they have lots of energy so they are focused and engaged. When they are tired, they tend to shut down and don't want to do the training or obedience because their primal instincts to drink water, eat or rest are taking over. I try to keep an eye on when they are reaching this level because then it is time to end the training or give them a good break before resuming so that they are refreshed and engaged. If the pup is just relaxing at home, they can do this for an extended time but if there are people over or going in and out and lots of stimulation, we can't expect them to do this indefinitely. An example is that Ms. Kona should be able to wait in the down while you perform your workouts while behaving but afterward she needs to be praised for good behavior and given a chance to relieve the stress of staying in "place" for an extended period of time. This is something you will be continuing with her training when you receive her back.


Pupdate 3/17/23

Today Ms. Kona and I worked on her door manners. Ms. Kona can be a tough nut to crack sometimes. She is smart and knows what to do but its a matter of encouraging her to do it in the correct way. You can see that I ask her to come to sit and/or sit and she likes to "sit" quite a bit away from me. This is avoidance. She's like, I'll sit but I'll do it over here so you can't get me. But it is important in dog training to stay consistent and persistent in what you are requesting of the pup. If you aren't going to follow through and ensure the pup performs the task appropriately, then we shouldn't be asking the pup to perform the task. As you can see in today's video, Ms. Kona was a little resistant at first but once we got her number even lower, around 20, she was much more willing to participate. She only broke through the door once and after that it was good. But that's why I practice with the 15' attached so that I can step on it or grab it before she goes too far away. She wasn't out for a dead sprint when she went out the door, she actually went to my vehicle like we were going to go somewhere. No worries, we just reset and tried again. I also had Ms. Kona perform the "down" on the floor because I understand that each house doesn't have a dog bed at each door so I wanted to ensure that she would stay on the "down" even if there wasn't a dog bed there. She did great!

Next, we went for a nice walk around the block. We used the flat collar and my 15' lead with the e-collar. Well to be fair, the 15' was attached to her flat collar but I let it drag while we walked around the entire block! This is great because we are one step closer to going off-leash! Ms. Kona's "heel" was great. If she would get a little ahead of me, a simple "ah, ah" would get her attention enough to get her back into the appropriate position. She is coming along well now that we have a good place with the e-collar numbers. Today she was mostly around a 20 and sometimes down to a 10. This is good news as its effectiveness and repetitions have started to become meaningful to Ms. Kona. This makes learning a lot easier and makes communication with her a lot clearer.


Pupdate 3/18/23

Today Ms. Kona and I headed over to Los Cerritos Center in Cerritos, CA. Ms. Kona did a fantastic job! My favorite part about today was that Ms. Kona was operating at about a 10 with the titanium contact points attached. Then she was really responsive and did well with the leash dragging. I was really proud of the progress she has made. She is even finally performing the "sit" even without the e-collar on. She has been a little reluctant to perform this task for some reason but now she's starting to show signs of willingness to perform the task. I am pleased with all her progress up to this point. She didn't shy away from anything today. I even left her in the middle of the mall floor. It was too slippery for her to stay in the "sit" so I had her switch over to the "down" and she hung out there people checked her out for being such a good pup. Great work today Ms. Kona!


Pupdate 3/19/23

Today Ms. Kona and I loaded up and headed over to Rynerson Park in Lakewood, CA. Today we focused on practicing the "load-up" which is going into the vehicle. Then we worked on her coming out of the vehicle.

After that, we headed out to the rest of the park to perform our off-leash work. I would say we did about 80% of our day off-leash! Woohoo! This is only 7 days after I picked her up from you and she's doing off-leash work! Her only real trouble areas right now are the "sit" and extended "sit". This is something we can definitely focus on over the next week. Great job so far Ms. Kona!


Pupdate 3/20/23

Today Ms. Kona and I stayed home to focus on her "come to sit" and try to get her to do it off-leash. This seems to be her toughest command. But before we practiced that, I had my tiny people help me out with her training. You mentioned that you enjoyed seeing it and wanted to see Ms. Kona socialize with the tiny people so I had two eager little ones help me out. As you can see, Ms. Kona did absolutely amazing with the little ones! We did do the "heel" with the leash while I controlled the e-collar. Just keep in mind that Ms. Kona can still get amped up and try to put her paws up or pop up when you give her excessive petting, or praise, or if she's been given the "Break!" command. A simple reset to the "sit" or "down" position will be more positive than an "Off!" but also don't be afraid to use the "Off!" whenever you feel she's getting too amped up. If I have to use "Off!" for anything, I will praise her behavior when she stops performing the unwanted behavior and then ask her to do something I know she knows how to do such as "heel" and then praise that as well. This way she is getting a lot more positivity than adversity or guessing what I want her to do. This is a good time to remind you of my pup training formula:

Stimulus+Response = Consequence

The stimulus is something like "Sit"+ Stimulation(e-collar). Ms. Kona should "sit". Then the consequence is twofold, no more stimulation, and praise for her good behavior. Both of these are enablers of wanted behavior. However; if she doesn't "sit", then it's a negative consequence of applying the stimulation again and a more firm "sit" until the wanted response is given. Then we release all the pressure that our body, voice, and e-collar are giving her as input and we go back to praising her wanted behavior. All of this happens quickly and timing is very important. We will put all this into practice during the turnover!


Pupdate 3/21/23

Today Ms. Kona and I practiced in the house. Of course, it was pouring rain all morning and as soon as I finished her training the sun comes out! This was fine though because I do like to do one session in the house so that they understand all the rules and new obedience tasks are in play everywhere including in the house. Ms. Kona is doing quite well! I am pleased with where she is at. Her "come to sit" just needs a little refining but overall she understands. The theme today was persistence and consistency. It is important to stay persistent when requesting the pups to perform a task. And stay consistent with practice and obedience. Ms. Kona did not want to do a few things today but I used my body positioning and the stimulation to get here to perform the task. We performed the entire session with the e-collar. She knows that when the e-collar is off she can do whatever she wants without consequence so be wary of asking her to perform obedience tasks and we have no way of having a positive or negative consequence for her disobeying. If she gives us wanted behavior without the e-collar definitely praise it and give reinforcement but if we are asking to "heel" and we have no leash or e-collar and she breaks off, there is no way for us to give a meaningful consequence.

Today Ms. Kona heads over to Mr. Mike's house where she will continue her training! Ms. Kona is doing well and is almost ready to go home!


Pupdate 3/22/23

Kona spent the day working with Sheena and Mike at Home Depot. She is very sweet, but it was quickly learned how her energy with her needs to be kept low. As soon as your energy and excitement go up, she becomes very excited and starts pawing and nibbling. When this happens a firm but gentle “off” does the trick.

At Home Depot she wasn’t fazed by any of the sounds or the new environment. Kona is quite hesitant about placing on new objects but as we continue to push through that boundary, she does well. Sometimes she decides to Down instead of Sit when asked. We are also working on cleaning up her Come to Sit command as she likes to turn to face you. She likes to target your hands, so the trick may be keeping your left hand directly on your hip. Which helps her sit a bit closer to you. Kona had no issues switching her new temporary home.


Pupdate 3/23/23

We made a trip out to the Santa Monica Pier today to work out some rather new and unusual distractions. Kona worked on all their obedience commands both on and off leash. In new areas especially in high distraction environments, we always want to keep the leash on until you and your pup are 100% confident in this environment. Specifically you (the handler) are confident in your abilities to manage your pup.

Kona was a bit overwhelmed, which was expected. It took a good warmup before we took the leash off. While the leash was off, we were vigilant in reminding them of the command at that given moment. This eliminates them veering off, walking up to say hi to others, chasing birds and eating stuff off the ground. With less distractions you may not need as many reminders but that depends on the pup! They are not robots and just like us, they may let curiosity get the best of them or simply need a little bit more assistance. Overall, it was a successful outing and took a much needed long nap when arriving home.


Pupdate 3/24/23

This morning Kona went on a walk to Starbucks and enjoyed a pup cup! She initially was testing her abilities to walk on a leash without an e-collar. It did not go all too well as Kona knew she could push her boundaries more. Pups are smarter than we give them credit for! The e-collar tool is a great form of reinforcement and it makes our lives easier as we simply click a button instead of having to tug on the leash. Keep in mind that without the e-collar on don’t expect much of her obedience-wise. Although, when we let her out in the front yard she does great without the e-collar on. We don’t ask her for obedience but she makes no attempt to go to the street or get into things she isn’t supposed to do. Note: Mike’s home has a longer-than-yard space, so there isn’t as quick/immediate access to the street.

Kona seems to make friends with all pups. Sometimes she may come on too strong to a new dog but takes correction well (from the canine) and respects their boundaries. She’s had a blast playing with the chocolate lab Oso.


Pupdate 3/25/23

Today Kona and I reviewed her commands in the lab which include food manners (food denial), car manners "load up", and door manners. Ms. Kona is receptive to all the training and obedience. We just have to be persistent and consistent with her. As a reminder here are the commands he has learned: 1.) Sit/Extended Sit 2.) Down/Extended Down 3.) Place/Extended Place 4.) Heel 5.) Off! 6.) Break! 7.) Door Manners 8.) Food Manners/Food Denial 9.) Car Manners 10.) Greeting Manners Please keep in mind that the training that Ms. Kona has received is a foundation. All obedience and training can and will diminish without practice and reinforcement. You will have to set new boundaries over the next few weeks and remember to be consistent and persistent with Ms. Kona.

Ms. Kona was happy to be back home with Ms. Toji and my other board and train. She had a good time tearing up all the toys with them. They were quite vocal with each other. Ms. Kona had a great time hanging out with the other pups. We can't wait to show you what she has learned tomorrow.


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