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Kona | Labrador Retriever | Westlake Village, CA | In-Training

Meet Kona, a two-year-old Labrador Retriever from Westlake Village, California! She's here with us for our Two Week Board and Train Program! This sweet and playful pup has some general knowledge of a few basic obedience commands, but she is very easily distracted by her surroundings and often struggles to maintain focus when in public environments. She loves people and other dogs, but she easily becomes overexcited around them. Kona tends to pull heavily on the leash while walking, and has a habit of jumping all over people when greeting them. Over the next fourteen days, we will be working to improve her manners and obedience to set her on the right track to becoming a well-behaved pup both on and off leash! Stay tuned for her transformation!


Pupdate 1/28/2024

Kona and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other after her pickup! We spent some time at the park together, where I tested her knowledge of basic commands to gain an understanding of what her starting point will be, as well as get an idea of what areas we may need to focus on in her training going forward. We worked to begin developing a trusting relationship between us, which will be important for her training going forward. She seemed happy to spend time with me and explore around the park together, though I noticed she was quite easily distracted by her surroundings, which seemed to impede her ability to listen or follow through with what was asked of her. The park was super busy today, with tons of distractions all around which understandably was very exciting for her!

Kona was sometimes able to perform Sit when asked, though despite having an understanding of the command, she often needed to be asked several times before she followed through with it, if at all. If she eventually listened and sat, she was typically quick to lose focus and stand back up or walk away after a couple of seconds. She was able to Come when called sometimes, though again despite her understanding of the command, she often chose to ignore her name and the recall command the first several times she was called, especially if she was distracted. Kona didn't seem to have any understanding or interest in performing Down, and overall seemed too distracted and excited to lay down or relax at all. Kona did not seem to understand Place at all, and was not interested in jumping or climbing onto any objects around the park, even low, easily accessible objects. She was also pulling on the leash a lot and veering off in different directions as we walked, and didn't seem to understand the Heel command. Her interest and focus were fully on her environment, and when given freedom with the long leash, she usually chose to wander away from me to explore around rather than stay near or walk beside me.

After we'd spent some time together at the park getting to know each other, it was time to head home and get her settled in! Kona had no trouble jumping into my car, however she was extremely hesitant about entering the kennel in the car and appeared to be scared of it. Whenever Kona is to travel with me in a car, she will be secured in a kennel to ensure her utmost safety. We will also be using a kennel while at home for sleep or if she is otherwise unsupervised. Kona appears to have some past trauma related to kennels, so we will need to spend some time working on this with her to help her feel safe and stress-free anytime she needs to be inside one. It took some time, but with plenty of treats, reassurance, and patience, I was able to guide Kona into the kennel and secure her for the ride home. Once inside, she seemed to relax a bit and ended up lying down quietly for the ride home without issue. At home, she quickly settled in and made herself at home. She sniffed around the room, played with some toys, and found a comfy spot to relax and look out the window. She happily ate her dinner, although she did try to jump on me and rush to her food as soon as it was visible, which is something we will work on! I tried putting some of her food inside the kennel to see if it would entice her inside, but she was only interested in eating what she could reach by the entrance without fully stepping inside. We will continue spending time reconditioning her to the kennel and helping her build a positive association with it throughout the evening. Overall Kona seems to be settling in nicely, and I'm excited to begin this training journey with her!


Pupdate 1/29/2024

Kona and I worked around my neighborhood today, where we focused on improving her understanding of leash pressure and introducing the e-collar. We started her training journey by teaching her two important new commands, Come to Sit and Off. Our morning session was quieter, with fewer distractions around, which provided a nice calm environment for Kona to learn in! Our evening session around the neighborhood was filled with many more distractions, as this is a popular time when my neighbors like to get out and enjoy the outdoors. There were lots of other dogs out for walks, people, bicycles, strollers, cars, and other kinds of distractions around in the evening to test Kona's focus during training. Getting her used to distractions is an important aspect of her training, so we will often be looking for different kinds of distractions to work around in our environment. Going forward, we will be training around this neighborhood during our walks together daily, in addition to whatever other locations we may visit that day!

Pressure is a fundamental tool used in basic obedience training. The idea is that whenever pressure is applied, be it from a leash or an e-collar, it is paired with a command to communicate, guide, and reinforce the desired behavior. When pressure is applied, Kona needs to problem-solve, follow the guidance, and perform the specific behavior being asked of her. Once she follows through with what is being asked, the pressure immediately stops and a reward is then given! Kona loves physical affection, verbal praise, and sniff breaks, so these are all great ways to reward her! Leash pressure is the most basic form of pressure, due to the clear directional guidance it provides. Since Kona was used to wearing a harness normally, she was accustomed to ignoring the sensation of leash pressure, as it was easy for her to pull against it. We utilized a slip lead today during training, which is a great tool for teaching the concept of leash pressure, as it provides clear communication when pressure is applied which discourages pulling or ignoring the sensation. We practiced some simple exercises by applying leash pressure, encouraging her to follow it, and rewarding her when she did! She caught onto this easily enough, and after a bit of practice she seemed to understand that pulling against the leash was not rewarding, and that following its guidance was the better option. The next step was to introduce the e-collar, and help her become familiar with the sensation so that we can begin opening the doors for communication with this tool as well. By pairing the stimulation from the e-collar simultaneously with leash pressure, she will come to understand that these two forms of pressure have the same meaning. With time, we will eventually be able to use these tools interchangeably or in place of one another, which leads to the opportunity for training and adventures without the need for a leash! While she has a ways to go before she can be allowed off leash, she caught on very quickly to the e-collar and is making great progress in understanding it! I've included a tutorial on how to use the e-collar in today's pupdate, so be sure to check that out!

Come to Sit is an important command to begin practicing early on in Kona's training journey. Having a solid recall is important for any pup's safety and obedience training, though this will be especially crucial for her to master if she is to be allowed off leash. The goal for Come to Sit is for Kona to come when called, approach her handler's right side, circle around their back, and finish with a Sit facing forward on the left side. She is asked to hold this Sit until released with "Break", or given a new command. This ensures she not only comes when called, but also that she remains stationary until told otherwise, which will be a common theme among all of her commands, as they each come with an implied "stay". The Come to Sit maneuver when completed in its entirety also sets her up to be in the perfect position to begin walking in a Heel, which we will begin working on tomorrow! We introduced the Come to Sit command today by combining the verbal command "Come" with leash and e-collar pressure if needed as reinforcement to grab her attention and guide her towards me. Once she came over to me, she was then guided around and to my left side where she was asked to perform a Sit. With each successful repetition, I made sure to give her lots of praise and reward to build up a positive association with the command and the action of coming to me when called. She'll need some more work with this command before she is consistent with it, though for her first day with this command, she did a great job!

Kona is often easily distracted and struggles to maintain focus, as she is very interested in her surroundings even when being asked to perform commands. Moments like this are a great opportunity to implement the Off command. The goal for the Off command is for Kona to stop whatever she is doing, and focus on her 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 she'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 us to interrupt the behavior and get her to refocus so that she 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, Come, Heel, etc. Once she stops whatever behavior she was doing, asking her to set her focus on a task will help keep her attention away from what initially distracted her or caused the undesirable behavior. Kona has shown good progress in understanding the Off command so far, and with each repetition, she seemed to be quicker to respond and refocus when prompted. However, more work will need to be done in various situations before she is fully reliable with the command.


Pupdate 1/30/2024

Today Kona and I visited a local park, where we introduced a new command, Heel! We also continued practicing with the Come to Sit and Off commands. The park wasn't overly busy today, but there were still some common distractions around, such as people, children, occasional dogs, and small animals such as birds and squirrels. The grassy fields also served as a good distraction, as Kona loves to sniff around in the grass. Overall Kona was quite distracted despite the relatively calm environment, especially by the grass, however she is making good progress in understanding the Off command.

Heel is another important concept for Kona to begin developing early on in her training, as her strong pulling while on the leash can pose dangers to her handler, herself, or others in the area if it is allowed to continue. The goal for the Heel command is for Kona to be able to follow directly alongside her 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 her handler to take the lead on walks instead of her trying to pull them around wherever she pleases. To introduce this command, I kept the leash short but loose, and ensured she stayed on my left side in roughly the Heel position as we walked. If she began to veer off, pull ahead, or otherwise create tension on the leash, leash and e-collar pressure were applied, and the verbal command Heel was given until she returned to the desired position. During Heel, her sole focus should be following her handler's lead, and as such she needs to remain neutral to and ignore her environment, which means no sniffing or otherwise becoming distracted. When she did become distracted, the Off command was used and followed up with a reminder of Heel. She eventually began to grasp the concept, stopped trying to pull as much, and instead learned to follow my lead. 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. We practiced making lots of turns as well, which helped to keep Kona engaged and focused on her positioning. As she gets better with this command, she will have an easier time staying in the Heel position without as much guidance needed, and will need to be given reminders less frequently. Overall she did a good job today and seemed to catch on pretty quickly, though more work will need to be done before she can Heel reliably, especially around distractions.

While at the park we also continued working on Kona's Come to Sit command. She overall is doing well and seems to be getting better about coming to me when called! When she was focused, she was often able to come with only the verbal cue and hand signals used. When she was a bit distracted by something, she sometimes needed to be asked again with the e-collar as reinforcement, though she rarely seemed to rely on physical guidance from the leash to get her to come to me, which is a good sign of understanding and progress. She also seems to be making some progress in becoming familiar with the maneuver around to my left side as well, however she is still pretty inconsistent with this and often needs physical guidance to position herself correctly. She sometimes would come to me but then stop or get distracted and need to be guided through the rest of the maneuver. We practiced adding some duration and distance to the Sit command today as well. The goal is for Kona to be able to hold stationary positions such as Sit for at least two minutes while her handler is at a distance of around fifteen feet away from her. During today's training, Kona was able to hold the Sit position for around thirty seconds consistently, while I was at a distance of around five feet away, which is a good start! Anytime she got up before she was released or given another command, she was asked to return right back into the Sit. Doing this consistently teaches her that breaking the position before being prompted is not going to be successful or rewarding. We will continue gradually adding distance and duration to this command, as well as practicing around different distractions to improve and test her abilities!


Pupdate 1/31/2024

Today Kona was introduced to two new commands, Place and Down. We also continued to practice her other commands, including Sit, Heel, Come to Sit, and Off. We began our training session at home and around my neighborhood, where the distraction levels were minimal to provide Kona with a calm environment to learn in. Once she showed understanding of these new commands, we took a drive over to a local park, where we continued her training with a higher amount of distractions present. The park was pretty busy today, with lots of people, children, sports games, dogs, and small animals. Overall she did a pretty good job of staying neutral to her environment, and responded well to the Off command when reminders were needed to stay focused on her training. She also seems to be developing a good understanding of the e-collar, and responded very well to the stimulation when paired with leash pressure and verbal cues.

The goal for the Place command is for Kona to jump or climb onto a designated surface, such as a bench, a bed, or other defined object, and hold a stationary command while remaining on the Place object. This command is useful not only for while out in public places, but also while at home, as it encourages Kona to remain calm and stationary regardless of her environment. We introduced this command today with a dog bed as our place object, as Kona is already familiar with this object and is comfortable with climbing onto and relaxing on it in her free time. Kona was happy to climb onto the dog bed when provided light leash pressure for guidance, and was comfortable with performing Sit once on it. After a few repetitions, Kona quickly began to understand what was being asked of her when the Place command was given without needing any physical guidance. At the park, we practiced Place with a few different objects, including a tree stump and a low, flat bench. She needed a bit of leash pressure to guide her onto these objects during the first few attempts, but with a bit of practice she seemed to warm up to the idea of Placing on them when asked. When distractions were present around, Kona did become a bit stubborn at times and needed some extra reinforcement from the e-collar, but she was eventually able to follow through, even if it took a few asks. We kept the duration for Place pretty short today, and only asked her to stay on a Place object for up to around twenty seconds before releasing her, to keep the training fun and engaging.

The other command introduced to Kona today is the Down command. The goal for the Down command is for Kona to lay down completely when asked, and remain in that position until released or given a new command. To introduce this command, we used leash pressure, physical guidance, and occasional food motivators to guide Kona into the Down position while the verbal command was given. She did try to resist the guidance at first, though using treats sparingly as a lure and reward throughout the process helped grab her attention and motivate her to follow through with what was being asked of her. Once she followed through and laid down completely, she received lots of praise followed by a break shortly after. As we continue to practice we will gradually increase the duration so she can learn to remain in this position for extended periods of time, along with her other stationary commands of Sit and Place. She was able to perform Down both at home and at the park, however at the park, she was a bit more distracted and sometimes needed to be asked a few times or given some assistance to get her into position. She was able to perform Down on a variety of surfaces today, including the floor at home, sidewalks, pathways, grass, and Place objects.

I'd also like to provide an update on Kona's kennel training. At home, Kona is warming up to the kennel more and more, and is now comfortable spending a couple of hours inside of it without any issue. She doesn't always want to go in when asked however, and usually needs some gentle guidance or a food/toy lure to get her inside. Still, this is good progress and is much better than how she reacted to the kennel on day one, as she was seemingly terrified of it then and refused to approach it or even look at it. While it still may not be her favorite thing ever, she is not putting up as much of a resistance when asked to enter it. Every day we are working to help her continue building a positive association with it, by going at a pace she is comfortable with, and keeping the process as fun, relaxing, and stress-free as possible. We still have a ways to go with Kona's car kennel training however, as she is still very reluctant about entering the kennel in the car. We have been practicing loading up several times every day, even on days we don't drive anywhere, to help her get used to the process. At this point, I need to physically lift her and place her into the kennel as she refuses to enter it on her own, and is not interested in following a food or toy lure inside. If I try to guide her in with the leash, she plants her feet, protests heavily, and flails around, so we have been avoiding doing this to not cause her unnecessary stress. Once inside she is calm and quiet, and she is able to exit the kennel politely once released, but getting her to enter the kennel is still a challenge for her and will need more work.


Pupdate 2/1/2024

Kona and I visited a Home Depot today, which was a great location to practice all of her commands around new types of distractions while staying out of the rain! The store wasn't overly busy, but did have a good variety of distractions present such as groups of people, shopping carts, and noisy machinery. Kona was definitely excited to explore when we first arrived, and was quite distracted by everything around her. She struggled to pay attention to her commands at first, but after we spent some time walking around she became more familiar with the environment and had an easier time focusing on her training. When the Off command was used, she did a good job refocusing on the tasks being asked of her.

We practiced all of Kona's commands today, including Heel, Come to Sit, Place, Sit, and Down. She did a solid job with Heel overall, though during the first few minutes after arriving, she needed many reminders not to pull on the leash or lead the walk, as her excitement made it difficult for her to concentrate on her positioning. Once she had calmed down a bit, she did a pretty good job of following my lead throughout the store and was able to walk past different kinds of distractions. When reminders or adjustments were needed, she was sometimes able to correct herself without needing any physical guidance from the leash, which is a sign that she is starting to get the hang of this command! Kona struggled slightly with Come to Sit today, and was sometimes stubborn with the maneuver and positioning. She did good about coming to me when called which is important, however she would sometimes stop or sit out of the correct position, and need physical guidance to ensure she followed through with the rest of the command all the way around and to my left side. When in less distracting environments Kona has been doing quite well with Come to Sit lately, so her struggle today seemed to be more of a lack of focus rather than lack of understanding.

Place was another small challenge for Kona today, as all the objects we practiced with were new and unfamiliar to her. None of the objects were difficult to physically reach, but she needed consistent guidance and plenty of encouragement, as she was quite hesitant at first. Once she had successfully Placed on an object a couple of times, her confidence grew significantly and she became more comfortable with each repetition. Still, she had a few stubborn moments with Place today even after she was comfortable with the objects. When she didn't want to listen, she would plant her feet and turn her body away from the object in an attempt to get out of having to perform the command. When this happened I would reposition her and ask for the command again, reinforcing it with the e-collar and some physical guidance. Allowing her to ignore a command or behave stubbornly to get out of doing something would reinforce poor obedience, so we always need to stay consistent in her training. Kona did a really good job about holding her Sit today, and was able to remain in a Sit for around two minutes with mild distractions around, which is great! If something very distracting were to pass by, such as a loud cart or a person walking by making noises at her, she would occasionally stand up, but by reminding her to hold the Sit she became more reliable with holding it and less prone to breaking the position. She was able to perform and hold Sit anywhere around the store, including on Place objects. Kona was also able to perform Down when asked anywhere around the store without needing any treats, though sometimes she needed light guidance from the leash to get her to follow through with it if she was a bit distracted. More often than not, she was able to perform Down with just the verbal cue and a hand signal! She was able to hold the Down position for around thirty seconds today, which is a good improvement from yesterday!


Pupdate 2/2/2024

Kona and I visited a local shopping strip today, where we practiced all of her commands. This environment provided a variety of distractions to test her focus around, including groups of people, other dogs, bicycles, and car noises from the nearby street. Overall Kona did a good job of staying focused, and seemed to be feeling quite confident and calm despite the new environment and busy surroundings. Upon first arriving, I gave her some time to familiarize herself with the area by sniffing and looking around which seemed to help her feel more at ease. Once we began training, she did sometimes become distracted by her surroundings from time to time, particularly when passing by restaurants or interesting scents along the sidewalk, though she was able to refocus when given the Off command. She did a very good job today about staying neutral to her environment and ignoring passing distractions.

Kona has continued to make great progress with each of her commands, and was able to follow through with everything asked of her today! We spent some time focusing on improving her ability to hold stationary positions for extended periods of time when around distractions. She was consistently able to hold Sit, Down, and Place for at least one minute and a half today, even while distractions were present around her. Her stationary commands came in handy when large groups of people, other dogs, or big strollers were present along the narrow sidewalk, as it allowed us to step off to the side and have Kona wait patiently in the position asked of her until they passed. Some people even made noises at her or baby-talked to her as they walked by, and while this did excite her, she understood not to get up from her position. Kona also showed a lot of confidence with performing Place today, and when prompted she was able to jump onto many kinds of objects today without any hesitation or stubbornness.

We also continued to work on Heel and Come to Sit, and she did great with these commands overall! Whenever the verbal cue for Heel was given, Kona was able to find the correct positioning at my side and understood to remain in that position until told otherwise. Her positioning did sometimes need to be slightly adjusted if she began drifting off a bit or walking slightly too far ahead, though she did not try to pull on the leash at all. She was able to correct her positioning and maintain the Heel with very little physical guidance from the leash today, allowing the leash to remain completely loose for most of our practice. Kona did a much better job with Come to Sit today, even with plentiful distractions around. Upon hearing the command, she always came directly to me regardless of what was going on around us, and was oftentimes able to complete the maneuver in its entirety with little to no physical guidance. She did sometimes sit slightly out of the desired position, though when asked to correct herself she was typically able to do so with very minimal leash pressure needed, instead focusing on my hand signals and body positioning for guidance.


Pupdate 2/3/2024

Today Kona and I took a trip to an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of her commands. It wasn't super busy today, but there were still some good distractions to train around. There were some groups of people walking around, a few other dogs, birds, and also scents from nearby restaurants. Overall Kona did a good job with staying focused and on task during training. Every now and then she became distracted by something or other, though she was able to refocus when prompted. The distractions she seemed to struggle the most with were people who talked to her or made noises at her in passing, as her friendly, people-loving nature made it difficult for her to ignore them. She was a bit excited when we first arrived at the mall, but quickly adjusted to her environment and actually seemed to become a bit bored after a while, especially if we spent too long working in the same area. She would sometimes lag behind during commands and need a bit of extra enthusiasm and reinforcement to keep her engaged and up to pace.

While training, it was clear to see that her progress with her commands is coming along very nicely! She showed an excellent understanding of the verbal cues, hand signals, and e-collar stimulation when used to communicate with and guide her. With this in place, the next step in our training journey is to help Kona become consistent and reliable with all of her commands, even in the absence of a leash. So today, we practiced her commands with a long leash, which can be used to simulate being off-leash and provide her with additional physical freedom to make her own choices and problem-solve, while still having her safely tethered in the event the leash is needed. When asking for any command, we first give her a "freebie" by using only a verbal cue and a hand signal. If she does not follow the command on the first ask, then the e-collar is used to provide reinforcement. She was typically able to respond and perform commands on the first or second ask, though if she seemed to be confused or couldn't quite figure out what to do after several asks, only then we would apply slight leash pressure for physical guidance. By specifically reserving leash pressure for only when she truly needs it, we can encourage her to focus and use her knowledge of the commands instead of relying on the leash to physically move her through it. Eventually, this will lead to the leash becoming unnecessary during training, and allow it to either hang completely loose and unused, or be removed entirely! We have been gradually weaning her off the need for physical guidance for the past few days now, but today we specifically focused on using the leash as little as physically possible to help prepare her for the upcoming transition to off leash training!

She was able to perform Sit, Down, and Place all without the leash being used at all today, and did not need any leash pressure to ensure she remained in the position either. She was also able to hold each position consistently for around a minute and forty-five seconds today, even with some distractions passing by around her. We practiced creating some additional distance between us as she held her positions, and she didn't seem to mind me stepping away or walking around her while she stayed in her position. Kona also did well overall with Come to Sit even without leash pressure used, and she never needed the leash to grab her attention or guide her over to me when called, even when I was at a distance away from her. Usually, she would come immediately upon hearing the verbal cue, though if she happened to be distracted by something else, the e-collar stimulation was always able to reinforce the recall. Upon getting to me, she was often able to complete the maneuver around to my left side for a Sit all without any physical guidance, though she did sometimes Sit a bit crooked or too far away. When this happened, I asked her to reposition herself by repeating the command with e-collar stimulation and emphasizing the hand signal to guide her where I wanted her to be. More often than not, she was able to correct her position on her own, and did not need the leash to guide her into position. Rarely, there were some instances where she couldn't quite figure it out and needed light leash pressure to show her the way. Taking small steps backwards as she approached, and then taking a few steps forwards as she circled around seemed to help her through the command a bit, but we will be working to reduce the need for this as she gets better with the command.

Kona did well with Heel today! She never strayed too far from me even when given ample freedom with the long leash, and was able to walk alongside me in the Heel position with relative ease. She was able to Heel past distractions today with very little issue. The only time she broke her Heel due to a distraction was when a woman walking by made some kissy noises at her and said "Good girl!!" in an excited tone, which Kona took as an invitation to go say hello to her. Despite her excitement, Kona was able to stop herself immediately and Sit when asked, and did not try to follow the woman as she passed by. One struggle we encountered with Heel today was that sometimes Kona began to lag behind when she was feeling bored with the environment. When moving to new areas of the mall Kona was more engaged with me and eager to follow my lead, however if we spent too long walking in the same area she would lose interest in Heel and try to follow me more loosely behind me rather than directly next to me. She would sometimes catch back up with just the e-collar used, however she sometimes needed a gentle nudge or two with the leash to get her back into position. This was the only time we needed to use the leash during Heel today.


Pupdate 2/4/2024

The rain was coming down heavily today, so we took a trip over to a Petco to practice Kona's commands around distractions while staying out of the storm! The store was quite busy today, with lots of shoppers and many other dogs. There were also plenty of other types of distractions around such as shopping carts, treats, and toys! When first entering the store, she was extremely excited and even tried to pull on the leash a bit to go explore the environment. She struggled to listen to any commands properly while in the busier areas at first, so we ended up going to a quiet and empty corner of the store to get her calmed down and focused on training before proceeding. After spending a few minutes in the quiet area, she calmed down significantly and was ready to continue through the rest of the store while following commands as usual.

We spent today's training session continuing to focus on her commands using as minimal leash pressure as possible. Kona struggled with her Heel a lot during the first few minutes of our visit, and was constantly trying to lead the walk and veer away from me due to her excitement. After calming down however, Kona was able to Heel nicely with a completely loose leash. She was able to Heel past other dogs and people in the narrow store aisles, as well as walk past a variety of tempting toys, treats, and smells on the ground, all while focusing on me to maintain her positioning. Kona did pretty well with Come to Sit overall and her recall was solid, but there were still a few moments when she needed some light guidance from the leash for her to perform the maneuver correctly. She was able to perform the command correctly without any leash pressure only about half of the time today, so we'll need to spend more time practicing this so she can become more consistent with it. Kona overall did well with her stationary commands today, and was able to remain in the position asked of her for around a minute and thirty seconds consistently, even with many distractions around.

We also had some great opportunities to practice Kona's Greeting Manners today, as there were lots of nice people who wanted to say hello to and pet her. The goal for Greeting Manners is for Kona to be able to meet or greet people calmly and politely, whether in public or at home. Kona came to me with a bad habit of jumping full-force at people she was excited to say hello to, which even with her friendly intentions, is a dangerous behavior given her size as she could accidentally injure someone. As such, this is an important area of her training and is something we have been working on whenever the opportunity arises, whether it be at home with me or my guests, or out in public with new people. To help Kona learn the desired manners, we first have her perform and hold Sit or Down directly beside us, as this gives her a task to focus on and discourages her from breaking the position to jump on anyone. If she tries to jump up, any affection being given abruptly ends, the Off command is given, and she is immediately asked to return to position. When having another person greet Kona, it's important to inform them of her training and the expectations set for her, that way they can help reinforce the training appropriately. All praise, attention, and affection should be reserved strictly for when she is stationary, calm, and following instructions. If she is rewarded when behaving poorly, then the training will be inconsistent and be detrimental to her progress. Staying consistent with these manners is key to her success, as she will come to understand that jumping on people is not a rewarding behavior, and only delays or prevents her from getting what she wants, which is to say hello to people and get attention from them. Today, she was a bit wiggly when being greeted by people and sometimes tried to stand up from the position asked of her a few times, but she did a good job about not jumping on anyone.

I'd also like to provide another update on Kona's progress with kennel and car manners. At home, Kona is now able to enter the kennel when asked without needing to be physically guided inside, which is fantastic! However, Kona is still struggling heavily with her car kennel manners, and is not yet at the point where she is willing to enter it when asked. She is also starting to be a bit stubborn about jumping into the car at all, as she knows she will be asked to enter the kennel inside. We have still been practicing car load up every day, and trying out different tricks and tools in an attempt to find something that works for her. We have tried using different toys, treats, and even tempting human food such as cheese or deli meat to get her to enter it, but nothing has worked as of yet and she still refuses to enter it no matter how tempting the lure is. The e-collar has also proved ineffective, as she will simply ignore the sensation and the communication being attempted with it. Using a leash to guide her has not been successful either, and she will still try to throw a fit and flail around. As of now, she still needs to be physically picked up and placed into the kennel to get her inside.


Pupdate 2/5/2024

Today Kona and I stayed out of the rain by visiting an indoor shopping mall! This was a great location to practice all of her commands around a large amount of distractions. The mall was pretty busy today, with plenty of people, children, strollers, and even some other dogs. Kona was definitely excited when we first arrived but after just a minute or two of walking around she was able to settle down and focus on her training without issue. She did a very good job with staying neutral and ignoring her surroundings today, and didn't seem to become distracted by anything in particular. She was a bit nervous taking a ride in the elevator, however after being exposed to it a few times and reassuring her throughout the process, she seemed to gain a lot of confidence and was no longer feeling nervous. We also had some more opportunities to practice Greeting Manners today, and Kona was a very polite girl and did not try to jump on anyone! We also spent some extra time practicing with Car Manners, and she did put up significantly less protest, but still has a ways to go before she will be able to enter the kennel without any physical guidance.

Kona did a great job with her Heel today overall, and she was able to follow my lead with very minimal to no leash pressure needed. We even practiced a bit with having the leash drag on the floor during Heel, and for the most part she stuck right beside me despite having full physical freedom to wander off. Practicing with the leash dragging is a great way to simulate how Kona might behave while off leash, while still having it handy in case she needs some physical guidance. She didn't seem tempted to walk ahead of me, and did a pretty good job about matching my pace as we walked. She sometimes would veer slightly too far to the left, leaving a bit of a gap between us, but she was able to correct herself and tighten her positioning when asked. She also occasionally tried switching over to my right side instead of staying on the left. During leash dragging Heel she did occasionally need me to pick up the leash and guide her again, though as we practiced more this became increasingly rare and by the end of the session the leash was mostly unused for Heel. Kona also did a very good job with her stationary commands today, and was able to perform and hold any position asked of her consistently for around two minutes, even with distractions around! We also practiced dropping the leash during stationary commands, as I am confident that Kona will not break position and wander away or towards distractions. I was able to create a lot of distance between us while she held her positions, and she understood to wait where she was asked to even if I walked away from her. The only time she was tempted to break position was when I sat down somewhere, as she seemed to take this as an invitation to come over to me. However after doing a few repetitions of me sitting down while she held her position she came to understand that she needed to stay where she was no matter what I was doing until she was released or given a new command.

The command Kona struggled with the most with the leash dragging today was Come to Sit. She was actually able to perform the command pretty consistently without any leash pressure, but only while I was holding onto the leash. She seemed to notice when I wasn't holding the leash, and tended to perform the command incorrectly if it was on the floor instead of in my hand. She was still great about coming to me whenever I called her which is always important, however when I wasn't holding the leash she would often make mistakes or perform it incompletely and need me to pick it back up for her to follow through with it. We ended up spending a good portion of today's training focusing purely on improving her Come to Sit, so she can become more consistent with it even without the leash. The clip of our Come to Sit practice was taken towards the beginning of our session today, and as you can see she performed the command pretty well while I held the leash without me really needing to use it to guide her, but if the leash was on the floor she would struggle to follow through. After some more practice, she got a bit better about performing the maneuver while the leash was on the floor, however we'll need to continue practicing with this before she is fully reliable with it and ready to be off leash.


Pupdate 2/6/2024

Today Kona and I took another trip over to an indoor mall to work on her training around distractions while staying out of the rainy weather. The mall was quite busy again today, with a variety of distractions all around. Despite this, Kona seemed to feel quite calm and confident in the mall's environment today, and didn't have much trouble staying focused on her training. This was the same mall we had visited yesterday, and this seemed to help her feel more relaxed as she was familiar with the environment. She did get slightly distracted from time to time, such as when a small dog barked at her or when passing people made noises at her, however she was easily able to redirect her focus back onto the task at hand whenever the Off command was given.

We spent today's training session focusing on practicing her commands with the leash dragging whenever possible, and working to clean up her positioning for Heel and Come to Sit. Kona overall did a very good job with her Heel today, and we were able to walk around every area of the mall with little to no issue all while having the leash dragging. Whenever she began to veer off or fall out of position slightly, she was able to correct herself when asked without needing any physical guidance. Overall she was very focused on me and engaged with me regularly even when walking past tempting distractions. She also did well with her stationary commands of Sit, Down, and Place, all without the leash being needed. She was able to perform and hold each position asked of her for about two minutes, even while distractions passed by within close proximity or while I was at a distance from her. She was slightly unsure about some of the place objects we practiced with today, such as a bench that had holes in it, but after a quick introduction with some extra reassurance, she gained a ton of confidence and was able to perform Place on them without any issue. Kona also made some good progress with her Come to Sit, and seemed to rely less on the leash today. She still made mistakes pretty often, but was a bit more consistent about being able to correct herself without me needing to pick up the leash for her to follow through with the command. She was better about performing Come to Sit when I was closer to her rather than further away however. When I was within about six feet of her when giving the command, she was pretty reliable about performing the entire maneuver. However, when attempting to recall her from ten feet or more away she often would end up stopping in front of me, approaching from the wrong side, or otherwise performing the command improperly. She still was able to come right to me when called no matter how far away I was, but we'll need to spend some more time cleaning up her positioning for Come to Sit when working with increased distances while the leash is not being used.

Kona also made some big steps in the right direction with her car kennel manners today! She was consistently able to jump into the car on her own without hesitating which was good, and when asked to go into the kennel she didn't freeze up or try to resist, and was able to walk inside with only a gentle nudge in the direction of the kennel. Ideally we want her to be able to enter the kennel without any physical guidance at all, however her behavior today was a huge improvement and is a win in our book! We made sure to reward her a ton with lots of praise and some treats with each repetition to show her that this is the behavior we want from her. We'll still need to keep working on this every day to help her continue improving with these manners, but it's looking like this was a positive turning point in her progress!


Pupdate 2/7/2024

Today we took advantage of the pause in the heavy rain to get some outdoor training in at a local park, where we practiced all of her commands. The park wasn't super busy as the weather was drizzling on and off, however there still were still some groups of people, children, other dogs, a few small animals, and of course the grassy fields full of interesting scents. Overall Kona did a good job of staying focused and on task while training, and she did a good job about staying quite neutral to her surroundings. The biggest challenge for her seemed to be not getting distracted by scents along the ground, however after a few reminders she understood to save her sniffing and exploring for break times only. Kona didn't seem to mind the damp weather, and had a really fun day at the park!

We started off today's session with the leash dragging, and she did a very good job with this! We ended up not using the leash at all for about an hour of training, so we went ahead and took the leash off to continue the session completely off leash! The big open field was a good first location to put her off leash obedience skills to the test, as it is a safe environment away from any dangers or major risks such as busy streets. Kona did an excellent job while working off leash, and understood to always be listening for any commands that might be given, as well as not to wander too far from me even while on breaks. She checked in with me often, and was very responsive and quick to follow instructions. When distractions were present she was still able to follow through with commands quite consistently, only making a few minor mistakes here and there that were easily corrected. She seemed to really enjoy her off leash freedom during breaks, and had so much fun running around, exploring, and playing without the hassle of a leash!

Kona did a great job with Heel today, even while off leash! She was able to Heel alongside me around any area of the park, including past the playground with children running around, past some dogs playing fetch, and even while walking around on the grass with many interesting scents. She did fall out of position slightly now and then, however was always able to correct herself and tighten up her position when prompted. Kona also did a solid job with her stationary positions today also. She was able to perform Sit, Down, and Place anywhere around the park without issue. We practiced some more with adding extra distance between us as she held commands, and teaching her to stay put even if her handler is away from her. Kona overall did a good job about holding her positions for extended periods of time, easily being able to reach periods of two or more minutes. She did occasionally break position or stand up before being asked, but this only happened about twice over the course of several hours of training so overall she was pretty consistent! We also spent a good amount of today's training focusing on Kona's Come to Sit command. She showed a lot of improvement with this today and was much more consistent about performing the maneuver and sitting in the correct position without the need for a leash. We practiced some more with adding extra distance and distractions for Come to Sit. We practiced this both by recalling her from stationary positions, as well as after giving her a break, allowing her to wander off a bit and sniff around, then recalling her for Come to Sit. This sets her up for real life scenarios, as it's important her recall is reliable no matter when or what she may be doing when called. She did a very good job about always coming right to me whenever I called her no matter what, and while she sometimes needed to reposition herself for the specific positioning, she did a great job overall!


Pupdate 2/8/2024

Today Kona and I visited an outdoor mall where we continued practicing all of her commands off leash around distractions. Kona did fantastic work today, and was very enthusiastic about her training! The mall was full of all kinds of distractions, but she was unbothered and performed all of her commands excellently with very minimal mistakes. She was even able to ignore major distractions while training, such as people calling to her and dogs barking at her. Kona also got lots of compliments on her great obedience skills, and she got to say hi to lots of nice people. She further impressed them with her polite Greeting Manners, and did not try to jump on anyone! She seemed to really enjoy all the attention she got today and had so many tail wags and kisses to give! Kona is not only excelling with her skills and manners while out in public, but she has also made huge transformations in her behavior inside and around 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.

The goal for Food Manners is for Kona to be able to hold a stationary command while her food is prepared and set in front of her. She is then asked to remain in that position until she is released before she can get up and eat her food. Kona often gets excited about her food, and in the early stages of her training she was prone to jumping on me when anticipating food, and rushing 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 she progressed in her overall obedience, she quickly replaced her bad habits and learned to be polite and patient even when faced with very tempting distractions such as food directly in front of her! She now does very well with her Food Manners, and she is able to control her excitement and await the release command before digging in! We have also been practicing with Food Refusal, where we drop or place something in front of Kona and ask her not to eat it, and instead recall her away from it. This is an important practice for her as she came to me with a habit of trying to immediately gobble up anything within sight that even remotely resembled food, which is a dangerous habit if she were to get a hold of something she should not consume. Now she understands to not eat things even if they fall within reach of her, unless explicitly permitted to with the break cue.

Another area of manners we have been working on is Kona's Door Manners. The goal of Door Manners is for Kona to hold a stationary position while near a door and remain there until released or given a new command, such as Come or Heel. She is asked to hold the position at the location asked of her, 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 teaches important boundaries, and prevents impolite and possibly dangerous behaviors such as trying to escape 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, Kona has made great progress with her manners related to doors, and understands to follow instructions no matter what distractions the door may create. She has great manners with every door in my house now, including bedroom doors, the backyard door, as well as the front door. After Kona has been asked for a stationary command, a door can be left wide open, and she understands to not walk through the doorway unless given permission to, and when invited she can walk nicely through the doorway without shoving through or trying to rush out. I can even leave her sight completely and walk outside without her feeling the need to get up and follow me. Having proper Door Manners is also a great way to set Kona up for success with in-home Greeting Manners as well, as she is prompted to hold the position asked of her and discouraged from breaking position to begin jumping on or barking at anyone who enters or approaches the door. This allows her some time to calm down before greetings, which will go a long way in ensuring she can politely conduct herself.

Car manners have by far been the most challenging aspect of Kona's manners training due to her extreme hesitation and refusal to enter a kennel. With lots of daily practice, positive reinforcement, and building her confidence and obedience up, we are happy to share that Kona has finally overcome this challenge! She has completely shifted away from her negative association with kennels, and is now happy and willing to enter the kennel on her own when asked, and is comfortable with settling in for car rides or rest time at home. She no longer needs any physical assistance or lures from treats, and can easily and confidently jump into the car and enter the kennel on cue. She seems to finally understand that loading up into the car always leads to an enjoyable experience, as she gets lots of praise, and gets to enjoy a trip to exciting locations for training and fun! At home, Kona now enjoys settling down for naps and rest time after a long day of training, and understands the kennel as a safe and relaxing space rather than something to be feared or dreaded. Even if Kona does not use a kennel in her regular life at home, this is still an important fear for her to have overcome, so if she ever needs to be in a kennel for any reason in the future, it will no longer be an issue for her. We are so proud of Kona and her progress with her training in every aspect!


Pupdate 2/9/2024

Today Kona and I visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame! This was a very busy location, and provided a lot of great distractions to practice Kona's training around. We also met up with some other trainers from OffLeash SoCal, which provided some great opportunities to work in close proximity to other dogs, as well as practice her Greeting Manners. There were also many crowds of people, other dogs, food, music, and other distractions. We did keep her on leash while near the busy street, as there were lots of fast cars moving by, but we did practice with the leash dragging when in appropriate areas away from the street. However even while on leash, Kona behaved very well and performed all of her commands wonderfully without needing the leash to guide her at any point, allowing it to remain loose and unused throughout our training! She did a great job about ignoring distractions when prompted, and was able to stay focused and on task throughout our visit.

Kona did a very good job with her Heel, and happily followed my lead as we walked through crowds of people, and invitingpast food stands, and many other types of distractions. She understood exactly where she needed to be when the Heel command was given, and only needed occasional reminders to adjust and maintain her positioning beside me as we walked around, all without needing the leash to physically guide her. Kona also did a great job with her Come to Sit, and was able to perform the command reliably no matter what was going on around us. Even with the leash dragging and not being used, she was able to perform the maneuver around to my left side with little to no issue. Every now and then she would sit slightly crooked, but was able to adjust herself and sit correctly facing forward when asked.

Kona also did very well with her stationary positions, and was able to perform and hold Sit, Down, and Place with little issue for over two minutes pretty consistently. Her biggest challenge today with this was ignoring passing people who made noises at her or talked to her while she was holding stationary positions. If not reminded to hold position when this happened, she would sometimes break position and try to approach them due to her very friendly and excitable nature making it hard for her to ignore such a tempting and inviting distraction. She was able to remain in position despite these types of distractions about seventy five percent of the time, but every now and then it would be too exciting for her and she would stand up out of position. However she was always able to ignore them when the Off command was used, and go right back into the position asked of her.


Pupdate 2/10/2024

Today Kona and I spent the day putting all of her learned skills to use to have a great final day together! We started the day by visiting an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of her commands around distractions and got some great footage of her that will be used in putting together her final video! Be sure to check out today's video for a sneak peek of this! She did a great job with all of her commands here, and was very focused and quick to perform anything asked of her no matter the distractions around us. Kona also got to say hello to lots of nice people while we were here, and she was very polite and friendly with everyone she met. She was able to show her excitement with lots of tail wags and kisses rather than jumping on anyone! Kona was also very calm and well mannered while she joined my boyfriend and I for lunch at the mall, where she happily relaxed in the Down position by our table while we ate. She didn't try to beg or steal food, and was neutral to everything going on around her.

After the mall, we took a trip over to Santa Monica, where we walked along the pier and headed down to the beach for some fun! The pier was extremely busy, but Kona maintained her composure and happily followed my lead as we made our way through the crowds without any issue. When we got down to the beach Kona was very happy and excited but was still able to follow through with anything that was asked of her. When given a break from training to go have fun, Kona enjoyed running around, playing, and rolling around in the sand! She wasn't too interested in the water, and the waves seemed to spook her a bit, but she didn't mind walking through some puddles of calm water. She did try to take a few sips of the salt water but once the Off command was given she understood not to do this again, and I made sure to give her plenty of fresh water whenever she needed it. She was able to perform all of her commands as usual despite the fun and exciting environment, and her recall was super solid even when I called her during her zoomies around the beach. Kona seemed to really enjoy her time here, and by the end of our visit she was all tired out and ready for a long nap! She got a quick grooming session once we got home since she was a bit sandy, and she was a very good girl while I rinsed her off and cleaned her up.

During her grooming, I noticed a few small scratches inside one of her ears, which were most likely caused by her scratching herself as this is a habit of hers sometimes. I made sure to clean them up and apply a small dab of ointment to help them heal. Kona doesn't seem to notice or mind these little scratches, and they'll likely heal up on their own within a couple of days.

Kona has made such an amazing transformation in these past two weeks, and the differences in her are truly night and day! She came to me with very little knowledge of anything obedience related, and struggled heavily whenever she was in a public place due to her tendency to immediately become overexcited, overwhelmed, and overstimulated by everything around her. She has since learned to stay calm, focused, and neutral to her surroundings even in the most busy of places. Kona also replaced many bad habits with good manners and polite behaviors, and no longer is a leash-pulling, jumping, always overexcited kind of dog! Her acquired skills and good behavior have allowed her to finally be able to safely enjoy the freedom and fun that comes with being off leash, which opens the door for training and fun times without the hassle of a leash! While she may seem like a whole new dog, she is still the same goofy, loving, and playful pup she always has been, and with her new obedience skills she is even more of a joy to be around and take with on all sorts of adventures! Kona has 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 girl become the best version of herself! With her intelligence and eagerness to please, the sky is the limit for this pup, and I know she has a very bright future ahead in her continued training journey with her family!



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