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Leo | Golden Retriever | Santa Monica, CA | In-Training

Meet Leo, a five-year-old Labrador Retriever from Santa Monica, California! He's here with us for our Board and Train Program, where we will be working to improve his obedience and manners. This sweet and playful pup has a good foundation when it comes to obedience commands, as he had been through a board and train program with us earlier in his life. However, he still tends to become distracted by his surroundings and sometimes struggles to maintain focus or follow through with what is asked of him. He is friendly with other dogs and especially loves meeting people, though he tends to get overexcited when around them which leads to some poor behaviors. He sometimes will pull on the leash, jump on people, and break commands to approach and greet strangers. Over the next seven days, we will be working to touch up his obedience skills and manners to set him back on the right track for success both on and off leash. Stay tuned for his transformation!


Pupdate 6/9/2024

Leo and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other after his pickup! We spent some time at a park together, and I tested his knowledge of basic commands to gain an understanding of what his starting point will be, as well as get an idea of what areas we may need to focus on in his training going forward. We worked to begin developing a trusting relationship between us, which will be important for his training going forward. He seemed very happy to explore around the park with me, though I noticed he was quite easily distracted by his surroundings, which seemed to sometimes impede his ability to listen or follow through with what was asked of him. There were lots of squirrels at the park today, which seemed to be the biggest distraction for him.

When testing Leo's knowledge of commands, he was able to perform Sit when asked, though he sometimes needed to be asked several times before he listened and followed through. He also was prone to standing up out of position after a few seconds, and struggled to stay still in his Sit when distractions were around. He was also able to Down when asked, though he sometimes mistook the hand gesture I used as me asking for his paw, so he would often paw at me several times before performing the Down. Once again he struggled to hold his Down position and would tend to break it before asked to. He was able to Place on some benches around the park and showed a lot of confidence with jumping, though he was a bit wiggly sometimes would decide to jump down before asked to. Leo was generally pretty good about coming when called, but when he was distracted he often needed to be called several times before he responded. Leo seemed to have a good understanding of Heel, though when he was distracted he needed a lot of reminders to stay in position, as otherwise he would begin drifting off to explore and walk where he pleased instead of beside me. Leo did well with the Off command overall, and seemed to understand what was expected of him when the command was given, though there were some times when the command needed to be used repeatedly before he listened and disengaged from the undesired behavior.

After we had spent some time testing his knowledge and bonding, we jumped into our first proper training session! We covered each of his commands and began establishing the ground rules for training that he will be held accountable for throughout his program with me. He did a fantastic job overall, and his performance was extremely impressive for the first day of a board and train program! We focused on improving his duration for commands and increasing his reliability with following through with commands when asked. We also introduced the e-collar that we will be using for his program, and he immediately understood the communication effectively. He is already conditioned to using an e-collar, so this was a familiar process for him.

When it was time to head home, Leo had no trouble jumping into my car, and entered the kennel right away when asked. Whenever Leo is to travel in a car with me he will be secured in a kennel to ensure his utmost safety. At home, he quickly settled in and made himself right at home! Later in the day, we got ready to head out on our first walk around my neighborhood. We will be taking walks around this area every day so getting him familiar with the environment will be helpful going forward. I noticed he was very eager to begin the walk, and would tend to stand up out of his Sit and try to walk out ahead of me instead of waiting patiently until given permission to exit through the door so we will need to work on this. He was a good boy on his walk though and seemed to remember our training from earlier at the park. At dinner time, he happily ate all of his food, though he was a bit excited and struggled to hold his sit for too long before released to eat his meal, so we kept the duration of his wait short for today. He seems to be settling in nicely, and we are so excited to continue this training journey together! I've also added in a tutorial for the e-collar system that we will be using in Leo's program, so be sure to check out the tutorial video!


Pupdate 6/10/2024

Today Leo and I visited a local shopping strip, where we practiced each of his commands around increased distractions. This location had a variety of distractions around, including groups of people, other dogs, bicycles, food, and loud noises from the nearby street. Overall Leo was very focused today, and ignored most distractions automatically without me needing to remind him.

The biggest distraction for him today was people who stopped to talk to us or that wanted to say hello to him. Leo seemed to easily ignore people who were just passing by around us without issue, but if someone stopped near us he would divert his attention to them. This would create a lapse in his attention on his commands, and he would tend to break them more frequently than he would in other situations. However by holding him accountable for his obedience, this began to occur less frequently. Anytime he broke a command, he was returned right back to it, which with repetition discouraged him from breaking the commands again. The Off command was also effective in helping him divert his attention away from people when needed, and with some reminders of proper greeting manners he was also able to hold his positions while people approached us and even pet him! Occasionally he would stand up momentarily, but was able to correct himself as soon as he was remined and return back to the position asked of him. We will continue working on this to help him achieve better focus, obedience, and manners in greeting scenarios. Leo did an exceptional job with his Heel today, we practiced this command a lot as we did lots of walking together. When we first began our walk he was a bit distracted and would sometimes fall out of position slightly, but after a few minutes of warming up he began to effortlessly Heel alongside me and pay very close attention to where I was at all times. He was able to Heel past all kinds of distractions, all with a completely loose leash! We also practiced leash dragging during our morning and evening walks, and he had no issue Heeling with me in this environment even without the use of a leash. Leo's Come to Sit was pretty good today also, and he was always quick to recall to me anytime he was called. He sometimes would sit slightly out of the proper position, but was able to correct himself when prompted without physical guidance. Leo did well with his stationary command of Sit, Down, and Place, but these seemed to be his weakest commands today. He was great about performing them when asked, however his ability to hold them will need some work. When distracted, he would tend to break his stationary positions more frequently, and would need to be asked to return to the position. Depending on the distraction levels around us, his average time ranged from ten to thirty seconds before he would stand up out of position. When working around less distractions however he was able to hold them for over a minute consistently. Improving this area of his training will be one of our main focuses for his program.


Pupdate 6/11/2024

Today Leo and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups. We practiced all of his commands, and the other dogs and trainers were great distractions to test Leo's focus commands. We began the training session on leash, but he quickly proved it to be unnecessary so we transitioned to off leash training for the remainder of our visit. Overall Leo did a fantastic job staying focused and on task even with lots of other dogs and people moving around him, as well as while around more tempting distractions like squirrels and birds! Whenever he began to lose focus, the Off command was very effective in helping him to refocus. Leo also got to have some fun today playing fetch in a big field at the park, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself! He especially loved rolling around in the grass, and even with the ball as a distraction he did great with his recall and other commands. Leo's Heel was one of his strongest commands today, and he did an exceptional job sticking right beside me no matter how fast or slow I walked, how many turns I made, or what kinds of distractions were around us. Even with full off leash freedom, he always made good choices and stuck right beside me when the command was in use. His Come to Sit was reliable today as well, and his recall was fantastic. We practiced recall from large distances and around distractions, and he always knew to come right to me when called. He would sometimes try to sit in front of me instead of at my left side, but he was easily able to correct himself when prompted. Leo ended up doing a solid job with his stationary commands as well, and was able to remain in position pretty consistently, however compared to his other commands this is still his weakest area. With most distractions and situations Leo was able to meet the goal time of one and a half minutes for his Sit, Down, and Place commands without issue. However something that he struggled with a bit in the beginning was staying in these positions while other trainers were giving commands to their dogs within earshot of him while I was at a distance from him. For example if Leo was asked to hold a position and I moved a distance away from him, if another trainer was asking their dog to Come, Leo would get up and go do a Come to Sit for that trainer. If another trainer asked their dog to Place on an object, Leo would get up and go Place on the object. There was even a time when a trainer was Heeling with their pup past him, and he got up and began Heeling alongside them and their dog. While we love his enthusiasm and eagerness to perform commands, it wasn't the desired behavior we wanted from him so we used this as a learning opportunity for him. This seemed to be more of an issue with Leo getting confused about who was talking to him vs who wasn't, rather than him being disobedient. We worked on this by staying close to him and using the Off command any time he began to show an intention to break the command I gave him while another trainer was talking to their dog. Leo quickly caught onto this and understood to ignore the chatter and other commands being used around him, and to instead focus on me only as I was his handler. After a few repetitions of this, I was able to create distance between us during his stationary commands again, and he stayed focused on me and the command that he was asked to do even as other trainers worked with their pups around him.


Pupdate 6/12/2024

Today Leo and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions while off leash. The mall was pretty busy when we visited, with lots of people, other dogs, and other kinds of distractions. Leo did a fantastic job staying focused during our training, and was able to work off leash without any issues despite the numerous distractions around us. Leo did great with his Heel as usual, and was able to Heel very nicely alongside me as we moved around the mall. He always kept a close eye on my positioning, and was able to adjust himself in relation to me even as I made unpredictable movements such as sharp turns, sudden stops, or moving through crowds of people. Every now and then he would slightly fall out of position, but he was very quick to correct himself as soon as he was reminded. His Come to Sit was solid as well, and he was always quick to come right to me when called. There were a few rare instances when he would try to sit in front of me instead of at my left, but after a reminder he was able to correct himself. One of our main focuses for today's session was his stationary commands, so we spent a lot of time working on improving his reliability with holding commands for longer durations. When we first arrived Leo was sometimes a bit impatient and would need a reminder or two to stay in position, though after training here for a bit he improved significantly and was able to remain in his positions without issue for over a minute and a half with ease. Towards the end of our session he did start getting a bit tired and would sometimes struggle to hold his Sit as he wanted to lay down instead, but we made sure to hold him accountable when needed, and made sure to be fair to him when considering the durations he was asked to hold the Sit position so we could continue setting him up for success. Leo also got lots of compliments from nice people while we were at the mall, and his impressive obedience skills gained him lots of admirers! Some people were interested in greeting Leo, so we used this as another opportunity to incorporate this into his training program by using them as a distraction while he held his stationary commands. We want Leo to be able to hold his positions even if someone approaches him or his handler, if his handler is talking to someone, if someone is talking or making noises at him, or if someone is petting him. Before coming to me this was an area he would sometimes struggle with so we have made it a point to spend some time practicing this. I'm happy to report that today Leo did an exceptional job with greeting scenarios, and was very polite, calm, and obedient every time we practiced. I was able to walk up to people and chat with them, have people approach to chat with me, have people walk by and coo over Leo, as well as have people come over and pet him. All the while, Leo was not tempted to break his position, and understood what was expected of him. He seemed to really enjoy all the attention he got today! As always, before allowing anyone to interact with Leo, we first ensure they are informed of his training and the rules that go along with it. This helps to ensure that any interactions he has is helping to reinforce his training and continue working towards the goals we have for him.


Pupdate 6/13/2024

Today Leo and I visited the Santa Monica Pier, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions while off leash! We also met up with some other trainers and their pups, and with their help we captured some great footage of Leo performing his commands that will be used in putting together his final video, so be sure to check out today's pupdate for a sneak peek! The pier was extremely busy, with plentiful distractions all around. There were large crowds of people, many other dogs, birds, food, music, and other distractions around. Despite the busy surroundings, Leo seemed to feel very at ease and had no trouble focusing on his commands. He was very eager to train and seemed to have a great time overall! We even put Leo to the test by having the other trainers try to distract, call, and talk to Leo while he was in stationary commands, to see if he would be tempted to break command and approach them. Despite their best efforts, Leo was unfazed and did not leave his position which was fantastic to see! This even happened organically with random passerbys, as lots of people who saw him wanted to baby talk him, compliment him, gesture towards him, or stop and chat with me. Even when this happened, Leo managed to ignore them and did not seem tempted to break position to approach them. We also practiced greeting manners today as we had some friendly people who wanted to pet him, and Leo once again displayed great manners and calmly held his position as he was greeted without any issue. Leo did a great job with his Heel, and no matter what kinds of distractions were around us, he stayed glued to my side as we walked around the pier. He needed very little reminders to maintain his positioning, and overall did a very impressive job! Leo's Come to Sit was also good, and his recall was exceptional. As soon as the command was given, he always came straight to me. When we first arrived he would sometimes try to sit in front of me instead of at my side, but with a few repetitions of holding him accountable for his exact positioning, he was able to perform the command correctly with no issues. Leo's Extended Sit, Extended Down, and Extended Place were all fantastic today, and he had no trouble performing any of them anywhere he was asked to. Once given the command, he understood to wait there calmly and patiently regardless of his surroundings, until he was either given another command or released with the break cue.


Pupdate 6/14/2024

Today Leo and I visited a shopping mall, where we practiced all of his commands off leash. The mall had a decent amount of distractions to train around during our visit, but as expected Leo was not phased by anything we encountered and did a wonderful job staying focused and on task the entire time! As usual, he was very eager to please and work on his commands, and seemed to enjoy our visit to the mall. Leo's Heel was great, and once given the command he understood to stay right beside me no matter what, and hardly needed any reminders to do so. He showed great focus and attention during his Heel, and checked in with me frequently by providing eye contact and other engagement. Providing Leo with verbal praise and occasional head scratches while Heeling seems to be a great way to reward him and motivate him to keep up the good work! Leo's Come to Sit was also very reliable, and he always came to me right away when called. Similar to yesterday he would sometimes try to sit in front of me instead of at my left during the first few repetitions of Come to Sit, however with some practice he remembered to complete the command properly each time. Leo did fantastic with each of his stationary commands today, and was able to perform Sit, Down, and Place anywhere asked of him with zero issues. Once asked to hold a command, he was very reliable about holding his position and did not once break a command before asked to. He was able to hold any of his stationary commands for at least two minutes easily. When asked to hold a stationary position for a longer period of time, we opted for the Down command since this seems to be most comfortable for Leo. We ended up visiting a cafe while at the mall, and he happily relaxed in the Down position by my feet for well over ten minutes without him becoming tempted to break position at all. He was able to ignore food, other dogs, and people passing by around us. We even had a few admirers stop by our table and chat with me about him, and he understood not to get up or approach these people as he was focused on holding his Down position instead.


Pupdate 6/15/2024

Today was Leo's last full day with me, so we spent the day putting his skills to use to have a great day together! We visited a park, where we practiced each of his commands off leash around distractions. As usual, Leo was a very good boy and had no issues with his commands or behaviors. He also got to spend some time training alongside another board and train pup, Coco, and he did a great job working around her despite the distractions she caused. After our training session, we spent the rest of our visit playing fetch, exploring, and having fun at the park! Leo is not only excelling with his skills and manners while out in public, but he has also made great transformations in his behavior inside the home as well! House manners are something we have been working on every day since day one. Even seemingly mundane day-to-day tasks can provide excellent opportunities for training!

The goal for Food Manners is for Leo to be able to 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. He had some prior training in Food Manners before coming to us, but overall it was a bit inconsistent, and his duration was quite short. He was able to hold his position for a couple of seconds, but his eagerness to eat would cause him to break position before told to, so this needed some work. As we practiced his training each day, he quickly learned to be polite and patient, and his ability to hold positions even around very tempting distractions such as food improved drastically!

Another area of manners we have been working on is Leo's Door Manners. The goal of Door Manners is for Leo 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 teaches important boundaries, and prevents impolite and possibly dangerous behaviors such as trying to shove through doorways or walking through open doors without permission. Leo had some prior training with these manners as well, but he often attempted to test these boundaries and try to get away with poor behaviors. With daily practice, Leo has made fantastic progress with his manners related to doors, and is able to consistently follow instructions no matter what distractions the door may present.

Leo has made such an amazing transformation in this short week! He came to us with a good understanding of his commands overall, however he was sometimes inconsistent and unreliable with following through. He tended to get distracted and overexcited, which caused him to have a hard time staying focused in certain situations. Since then, he has drastically improved his impulse control, patience, manners, and reliability with commands! He is still the same goofy, loving, and sweet pup he always has been, and with his improved obedience skills, he is even more of a joy to be around and take with on all sorts of adventures! Leo 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 intelligence and eagerness to please, the sky is the limit for this pup. I will surely miss his wonderful company, but I know he has a very bright future ahead of him with his family! Good boy Leo!



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