Lucy | Husky/German Shepard Mix | Alhambra, CA | In-Training
Meet Lucy, she's a five-month-old Husky/German Shepard mix from Alhambra, California! She's here with us for our two-week board and train program, where we will work on teaching her basic obedience and manners, as well as provide potty training. She is a sweet and curious pup, but does not have much knowledge of any basic commands yet and has a short attention span which causes her to be easily distracted. She tends to pull on the leash, and sometimes will jump up on and nibble at people when she is feeling playful. Lucy is also known to steal shoes, play in the trash, and dig under fences. She also suffers from separation anxiety, and will sometimes cry or get into mischief when left alone. Over the next fourteen days, we will work on improving her discipline, obedience, and confidence to set her on the right path to becoming a well-behaved pup both on and off leash. Stay tuned for her transformation!
Lucy and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other. After picking her up, we spent some time playing and walking around the park. I tested her knowledge by seeing what she knows, and getting a feel for what areas of her training we may need to focus on going forward. She seems to have some understanding of the sit command, and was able to sit a few times when asked, but it was not super consistent and sometimes chose to ignore the command. She wasn't able to hold sit for very long either, and quickly got back up if I stepped away from her. She didn't appear to understand the down command, and was not able to perform a down when asked. I also tested to see if she had any knowledge of the place command by bringing her to a seating area and encouraging her to jump up on the bench, but she was more focused on smelling the floor and didn't have any interest in jumping onto the place object.
I used the long leash to give her lots of room to explore, and tested to see if she could walk in a heel or respond to a recall command. She wasn't able to walk in a heel, and was often at the end of the leash trying to pull me every which direction. However, she did seem to have some understanding of leash pressure which is a good sign. Whenever she got too far and hit the end of the leash, she would pull a little bit but often turned back to look at me, waiting for me to follow. When asked to recall, she didn't seem to understand what was being asked of her, and would continue walking away or choose to smell and explore the environment rather than come to me. She did come over to me when some leash pressure was applied, though more often than not she would come to my general area and then immediately wander off again.
After getting home, I got her settled into her room and she seemed to be pretty comfortable with her surroundings. We played with a few toys and I gave her a treat to chew on, and after settling down she chose to curl up on her blanket inside the kennel for a nap. Despite not having much prior crate training and a tendency to cry when left alone, she was very calm and quiet and was able to relax and take a nice nap by herself. Once she woke up, I took her for a walk around the block to introduce her to the neighborhood streets and allow her to become familiar with the area. She also went potty outside during the walk, which is a great start to her potty training journey.
While on the walk, I utilized some light leash pressure to better communicate with her, and she was able to walk with little to no pulling on the leash once she began to develop a better understanding of what I wanted her to do. I made sure to reward her whenever she engaged with me, which encourages her to focus on me and check in with me often. I also made lots of turns and stops, which caused her to have to keep an eye on where I am and where we were going. This is a great way to introduce her to the concept of the human being the leader, instead of her leading the way by trying to pull wherever she wants to go. She did still get distracted a lot, and stopped or veered off to sniff grass and trees often, but would leave it and follow along when she realized I wanted her to stay with me as we walked. This is only her first day with me, so I'm not looking to have her walk in a perfect heel just yet. Though by beginning to address her pulling issues and building up her engagement and focus on me, we are setting up the foundations for getting her to walk beautifully in a heel position as well as begin working on other commands for her training.
Today Lucy and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups. We continued working on building engagement, patience, and discipline as we walked around the park and tested her focus around various distractions like other dogs, birds, new people, and grass. She was a bit distracted by her surroundings and was very eager to explore, but she was able to maintain enough focus to listen to me when I asked her to do something. She mostly just wanted to stare at the birds and other dogs, but would still check in by looking back at me regularly which shows we are making progress in her level of engagement with me.
I began introducing the e-collar stimulation today as well, by pairing it with leash pressure and verbal commands. She seems to have a solid understanding of leash pressure now, and knows that when she feels the leash pressure she needs to pay attention and follow through when I am asking something of her. The same principle is applied when using the e-collar, and the goal is to be able to eventually wean off leash pressure altogether and replace it with the e-collar instead. This will open up the opportunity for training such as loose leash walking and eventually off-leash training. Even though today was only her first introduction to the e-collar, she caught on very quickly and was responding very well to it when paired with the leash pressure to help guide her.
When we first arrived at the park she was pulling on the leash a lot and was very excited to explore the park, and she had a tendency to veer off suddenly whenever something caught her interest. To help her understand that I didn't want her to continue doing this, I kept the leash short and applied leash pressure along with the e-collar stimulation whenever she moved far enough away to cause tension in the leash. She understood the corrections, and began walking alongside me momentarily, but would often quickly forget and start pulling again so she needed to be reminded often and brought back to where I wanted her over and over. She was very quick to problem-solve though, and after only a few minutes of this training, she understood that she could not only avoid the leash and e-collar pressure by not pulling, but also receive lots of praise and reward when she walked nicely alongside me in a heel position. Once she wasn't pulling anymore and was able to remain in a heel position without constant correction, I allowed some more slack on the leash. This allows her the opportunity to either choose to stay by me in a heel position, or make an error and break the position. Even with the extra room on the leash, she was able to walk very nicely in a heel, allowing the leash to be loose as we walked and only needing to be directed back into a heel every now and then. This is amazing progress to see so early on, which shows she is a very smart pup and a quick learner!
We also worked on adding some more duration and distance to her sit command today. Since she already has a basic understanding of sit, it's a good position to begin working on to build up her patience and confidence for holding stationary commands. We started off small today to provide more chances for success, and slowly increased the duration I asked her to hold a sit, up to around thirty seconds. Yesterday she could barely hold a sit for more than a second or two before getting back up, so thirty seconds probably seemed like a long time for her. Despite this, she did a great job and understood that if she got up from her sit, I was consistent and would always make her sit back down again. Once she understood she needed to hold the sit, I began taking a step or two away from her to create a small amount of distance. The first few times she got right back up and tried to follow me, but after a few repetitions she understood that she needed to stay where she was even if I moved away a couple of feet. Whenever she held the sit until I gave her the release command, she would receive lots of praise which encourages her to follow through with what is asked of her. The goal is to eventually have her be able to hold a sit and other stationary positions she will learn in the next couple of days for at least two minutes while I am at a distance of around fifteen feet away.
Lucy and I spent today working on introducing her to the come to sit and place commands. I began by introducing both of these commands at home with minimal distractions, and as she began to understand them more we moved the training outdoors to continue practicing with slightly more distractions. Overall she did a great job at maintaining focus, and was able to learn the commands quickly once she understood what I wanted her to do. We also continued yesterday's training by working more on her heel positioning, as well as adding more duration to her sit position. The come-to-sit command, as shown in the video, is the recall command we use. The goal of the command is to have her be able to immediately come when called, approach my right side, circle around my back, and end with a sit on my left side. We teach her in this way so that when she successfully completes the maneuver, she is in a perfect position to begin walking in a heel. Since the maneuver and positioning for this command are brand new to her, I guided her with steady leash pressure to help her understand where I want her to go. I am starting off today being only a couple of steps away from her, but as we continue to practice this more, the distance will gradually be increased so we can get her used to being recalled from further away. She's showing some improvement about listening and coming to me when called, though will sometimes ignore the command and try to walk away or focus on distractions instead. Often times when she does come to me, continuous leash pressure is needed to guide her, as otherwise she will stop in front of or behind me, or try to walk away again. Towards the end of the session, she was sometimes able to perform the entire command with little to no leash pressure, but more work will need to be done before she can do this consistently and reliably every time.
Lucy was also introduced to the place command today, where she is instructed to jump or climb onto an object such as a bench, a bed, or another type of seating area, and then asked to hold a stationary command such as sit or down. Since she is more familiar with the sit command, I started her off by only asking for a sit while on a place object. I introduced the command by asking her to place on a bed inside my home. She knows the bed is comfortable and safe, and is familiar with climbing onto it. By practicing with something easy like this, we can increase her understanding of the command and have greater chances of success when introducing her to brand new place objects. Once she was able to consistently perform place on the bed and hold a sit, we continued the training at a park where we could introduce her to a few new types of place objects like picnic areas and benches. She was a little bit unsure about some of the objects at first, and needed some extra encouragement and some leash pressure to help guide her up onto the object. After a few more tries she did eventually hop onto a bench and sit down when asked, though she struggled to hold the position and tried to stand up, move around, or jump down frequently. After putting her back into a sit a few times, she began to understand that even though she was on a new surface, she still needed to hold a sit when asked. Many more repetitions of the place command will be needed to get her more comfortable and consistent with it, but today was a good introduction to it and she has made wonderful progress so far!
Lucy and I spent our time training both at home and at a park today. I introduced her to the down command at home, since it can be difficult for some dogs to do on command due to it being an instinctively submissive and vulnerable position. To better her chances of success, we began working on this command while in a comfortable, distraction-free environment so that she can focus and learn easily. She didn't understand what was being asked of her at first, and needed some guidance, leash pressure, and encouragement to get her to lie down when asked. Once she got into a down position, she was rewarded with lots of praise which she quickly caught on to, which lead to her performing the down position more willingly when asked. After many repetitions, she began to show understanding of the verbal command and hand signal, and was able to perform a down with minimal to no physical guidance needed. However, she did struggle to hold the position for more than a few seconds and needed to be regularly reminded and reinforced to stay in the down position. Towards the end of the session at home, she was able to hold a down for about 30 seconds, which is a good start! After a short break, we headed over to a local park to continue working on each of her learned commands in a slightly more distracting environment. She did a great job with walking in a heel, and was able to remain in position and follow alongside me with a completely loose leash for the majority of the time. We practiced making various turns as well, and she was easily able to focus on where I was going so she could follow along in a heel even as I walked and turned in unpredictable patterns. We worked on her come-to-sit as well, and she is doing much better about coming right to me when called, though she will sometimes delay for a moment if she is distracted and is focused on something else. She also still needs more practice with the maneuver of approaching my right side and ending in a sit on my left side. She can sometimes complete the command with no leash pressure needed, but often will need a little bit of guidance with the leash to remind her where to go and where to stop for a sit. As she gets more familiar with this command, she will have an easier time remembering where to go, and be able to focus on the hand signals for guidance instead of needing a leash.
While at the park we also worked on adding some more distance and duration to her sit and place commands, as well as tested to see if she could perform a down while in a more distracting environment. She was a bit more confident about jumping onto place objects today, and was oftentimes able to perform the command with no leash pressure needed as she was able to understand the verbal command and hand signal used to direct her. Once she was on the place object, I asked for a sit and practiced taking a few steps away and having her hold her position. We also practiced getting her to hold a sit on various other surfaces like on sidewalks and grassy areas. She did break her sit position a few times when she got impatient or distracted, but after being reminded to hold it she understood and was able to hold a sit wherever I asked for about a minute while I was several steps away. I also tested her memory and focus by asking for a down, and she was able to lie down when asked, though did sometimes need a bit of guidance. She managed to hold a down for around twenty seconds, before she would try to squirm around or get back up. As we continue to practice, she will learn to be more comfortable and patient while holding each of her stationary commands, even for long periods of time or while I am at a distance from her.
Lucy and I visited the Santa Monica Pier today, where we worked on each of her commands in the busy and distracting environment. There were crowds of people, other dogs, lots of birds, and many new smells and sounds. Despite the high amount of distractions, Lucy was able to maintain a good amount of focus and performed each of her commands when asked. She did need a little bit more leash pressure today than usual to keep her focused and help guide her as we practiced her commands, especially when we first arrived, but that is to be expected due to the high amount of distractions present. After she warmed up a bit and was able to get in a good mindset to focus on training, she did wonderfully and was able to do everything I asked of her with little to no leash pressure needed. She was able to stick by my side in heel position as we walked through crowds of people, and did a great job at recalling for come to sit. I also introduced her to some new place objects, and she was easily able to jump onto them and hold stationary positions. She did need some guidance and leash pressure to get her into a down position at first, but after some more repetitions she was able to down with only a verbal command and hand signal needed. We continued to work on adding duration and distance to her sit and down commands, and she was consistently able to perform and hold both commands for over a minute while I was several steps away at the end of the standard-length leash.
She is also doing great in regards to her potty training, and she has had zero accidents inside the house, kennel, or elsewhere. I have been consistent about taking her out to go potty at least every five to six hours, and she has reliably been able to hold it every time. She's learning to go potty when she is asked, and is beginning to understand the difference between outside play time, training time, and potty time. She does seem to be more comfortable going potty while in my backyard though, and only goes potty while out on walks on occasion. While on walks she often prefers to just smell the grass or play in it rather than go potty, even if encouraged. She also seems to have a favorite corner of the backyard she regularly chooses to go at, and will almost always go right to that spot when I ask her to go potty. This can be a good habit to continue once she is back home with her owner, as having a designated potty area outside would not only make cleanup easier but also provide a consistent routine for her to follow which motivates her to go potty when encouraged there.
Today Lucy and I worked on each of her commands in an outdoor shopping strip in my city. This area provides a lot of great new distractions to practice training around and get her used to, like passing cars, loud buses, and yummy smells from restaurants. There were also crowds of people and lots of other dogs out on walks here. She did get a bit distracted a few times by certain noises and smells, but was able to ignore them after being reminded of the "off" command and asked to focus back on me and our training.
The off command is the general term we use to communicate that we want her to stop whatever she is doing, similar to "leave it" or "no". Once she stops the undesirable behavior, it's helpful to then give her a new command to ensure her attention remains away from what caused the behavior in the first place. This is useful for when out on walks and she gets distracted by a smell, or if she gets hyper-focused on and/or tries to move towards an animal like a bird, squirrel, or another dog. The off command is also used whenever she gets too excited and tries to jump up on people or playfully bite at them. She understands that when she is told "off" she needs to stop whatever she is doing, and instead direct her focus back to me so she can follow the next instruction given.
As we walked along the street and around various shopping plazas, we focused on practicing her heel, come to sit, and other commands with a loose leash. She has a good understanding of the e-collar now, and as long as she can maintain focus she needs no leash pressure to help guide her. She still needs to be regularly reminded to heel as we walk though, as she will sometimes start to walk a bit too far ahead or veer off to the side a bit, but this will become less frequent the more we practice. Once she is reminded with the verbal command and e-collar stimulation, she will usually fall back into the proper heel position on her own without needing to be physically guided with a leash. Though every now and then she does get a bit too distracted, and will struggle to listen to the verbal command and e-collar alone, occasionally needing light leash pressure to help guide her. Her reliance on leash pressure is becoming less and less common, and as we continue to wean off leash pressure in the coming days, she will be encouraged to pay extra attention and use her problem-solving skills to perform commands without the physical guidance of a leash. She is learning quickly, and is on track to being able to walk and perform commands while completely off-leash!
Lucy and I visited an outdoor shopping mall today, where we continued to practice each of her commands around distractions. Today we focused on adding more distance between us as she holds her stationary commands, which puts her obedience, patience, and confidence to the test. She is getting better at holding stationary commands for longer periods of time while I am close by, so I began adding some extra distance today by switching out to a longer leash. The long leash I use is fifteen feet long, which is the distance goal we will be working towards over the coming days. I first asked her to hold a position such as sit or down, then took several steps back and rewarded her when she held the position. Over many repetitions I gradually increased the distance to be around ten feet away, which seemed to be the limit she was comfortable with for today's session. She was able to hold sit, down, and place for over a minute while I stood and walked around at about ten feet away. Whenever she broke the command to get up or follow me, I would bring her back to the spot I asked her to stay at, ensure she got back into the position, and then stepped back to the original distance I was standing at. By being consistent with this, she will learn that when I ask her to do something I am going to hold her accountable for it and ensure she follows through with it. Lucy is a young pup, and is still learning to have confidence, focus, and patience, but as we continue to practice these skills she will learn to hold commands for long durations even if I am not right beside her.
I also introduced her to a few new place objects, most of which she jumped onto with no hesitation or assistance needed, but she was a bit unsure about one of the benches since it was not a flat solid surface like she is used to. She did need some extra encouragement at first, but managed to hop onto it easily after a few repetitions. However, she didn't want to stay on it for very long, and would often break position to stand up or jump down before I asked her to. After practicing with this specific place object more, she became more used to it and was able to hold a sit or down when asked. She had an easier time holding positions on more comfortable surfaces though, and was easily able to hold both sit and down for over a minute on various place objects.
She was also able to perform a down on command today, and didn't need any leash pressure to guide her at all, which shows she is getting the hang of the command and understands the verbal command and hand signal. Though sometimes she did try to throw a bit of a tantrum when asked to down if she didn't feel like it, and would try to squirm around or bark before finally giving in and laying down. With more practice, she eventually understood that behavior would not get her out of having to lie down, and was able to consistently lie down on command without making a fuss. With the progress she has made, she has proven it is possible for her to perform any command I ask with no leash pressure needed. Over the coming days, we will continue working on adding distance and duration, and testing her focus around distractions with each of her commands, ideally with no leash pressure being used. This will cause her to have to keep her focus so she can remember her commands and listen to what I am asking of her even without the added guidance of a leash being used.
Today Lucy and I spent today working on each of her commands in different areas around my city, and tested her progress so far by asking her to perform each command with no leash pressure used to guide her. After working through each of her commands, come to sit and down seemed to be the two commands that she needed some extra practice with today. She is doing well in performing each of her other commands without leash pressure, though could still use some more practice working around distractions to improve her focus as she does tend to easily get distracted.
When light leash pressure is applied for come to sit, she's easily able to perform the command nearly perfectly every time. Though once the leash pressure is removed, she seems to forget where she needs to go, especially when she is distracted and struggling to pay attention to what I am asking of her. She understands that she is being recalled and will usually come right to me when called, though will sometimes stop in front of me, run right past me, or end up sitting in front of or behind me instead of on my left side. To work on this while keeping leash pressure on track for being weaned off, we focused on encouraging her to pay more attention to my hand signals and foot positioning to guide her where she needs to go. By reinforcing this behavior, she learns that focusing on me and the cues given to her will lead to a positive outcome. I kept the distance between us short for the recall at first to improve her chances of success, and after many successful repetitions I would take a step or two back and continue working at the increased distance before gradually increasing it again. By the end of the session, she was able to perform come to sit with no leash pressure needed, and from a distance of a little under ten feet away. She also got a lot better about remembering to finish with a sit on my left side, though sometimes would sit a bit further away than I would like. Ideally, I want her to finish every time with a sit directly at my left side, with her ears at my leg so that she is in the proper position to begin walking in a heel. She has made good progress, but more practice will be needed to clean up her positioning as well as improve her consistency and reliability for this command when no leash pressure is used.
Lucy has a good understanding of the down command, but oftentimes will protest a bit if asked to lie down, especially if she still has a lot of energy and wants to be up and moving around or exploring. When asked to lie down, she will sometimes try to walk away, jump up on me, whine, bark, or try to nip at my fingers. This kind of behavior can be common in dogs, where they throw a bit of a tantrum with hopes that they will get out of having to do the command by discouraging the person training them and having them give up on asking for the command. If they are allowed to act out and get away with not following directions, it further reinforces this bad behavior. Though she is quickly learning that behavior like this does not work with me and is no longer a viable option as it does not get her what she wants. By being consistent in ensuring she follows through with what is asked of her no matter how she acts, she is learning that protesting is a waste of energy, and that more favorable results can be achieved by following through with the command instead. Any time she was able to lie down without protest, she was rewarded with lots of praise and pets. She was eventually able to reliably lie down when asked without protesting, though this is something we will need to continue focusing going forward on to ensure this behavior does not return.
We also worked on greeting manners today, as we had some friends and family over for the Easter holiday. Greeting manners are important, because as she continues to grow in size it will become more of a danger to those around her if she is allowed to get over-excited and jump up on or nip at people when she is meeting them. Plus no matter the size of dog, it's not acceptable for them to jump on people or put their mouth on them as it is rude and impolite. To practice these manners, I had Lucy hold a sit position before allowing someone to approach her, which causes her to have to focus on holding that sit and refrain from being tempted to break position by jumping up. Overall she did a good job, and was able to meet everyone while holding a sit and didn't jump up on anyone even when she was very excited to say hello and get pets from them. Though there were a few times after the initial greeting when she had been released from her sit command that she tried to jump up to get attention from them, so I had to remind her of the off command which she quickly understood and stopped what she was doing. I asked my friends and family to only pet her and give her attention while she was calm and was not trying to jump up or playfully nibble on anyone, which helped her understand that rude behavior only lead to her being ignored, which is not what she wanted. Once this was clear to her, she was able to have a great time getting love and attention from everyone while behaving in a polite manner.
Today Lucy and I visited a local park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! We continued to work through each of her commands around added distractions. We also had some of the other trainers work with her, to improve her ability to be handled by and listen to other people besides just me. Practicing commands with different people also helps to prepare her for when she goes back home, where she will need to be able to follow instructions from her owners instead of only listening to me.
She had a bit of a rough start at the park today, and was very distracted by the grass, other dogs, and people around her. She was also being very stubborn for the other trainers and me, and tried to ignore the commands and e-collar by whining, pulling on the leash, barking, and protesting. We worked her through this tantrum by being firm and consistent with what we asked of her, but she did need a bit of leash pressure to get her to perform commands such as heel and come to sit properly. While working with the other trainers she was also a bit clingy, and was trying to come back over to me whenever they were working on her commands together while away from me.
It’s important to work her through these moments of stubbornness and protest, as I know she has a good understanding of each command and is able to perform them, but has moments like these where she will try to refuse and test her trainer to see if she can get away with disobedience. By never letting her get her way by acting out, she will begin to understand the dynamic that has been set for training and these outbursts will become less frequent over time. With continued training, her confidence will also grow and she will learn to be calm and focused around different environments, distractions, and people.
She did eventually calm down as the session continued, and she began to behave like her usual self once she entered a better mindset to focus on her training and obedience. We made some more progress with added duration and distance for her stationary commands, and we continued practicing commands while around distractions. She did try to smell the grass here and there while walking in a loose leash heel, but managed to leave it alone and focus on her heel positioning when reminded. She was also able to perform and hold sit, down, and place on command with no leash pressure, and held these positions for about a minute and a half while I was roughly ten feet away. She did a good job with holding these positions even while there were other dogs and people walking by her, but she did try to sniff and eat the grass a couple of times when in a down position. Her come to sits could still use more work, as she does still have the tendency to sometimes sit in the wrong position, though she is showing improvement in coming consistently when called.
To update her potty training journey, she has been doing a wonderful job with this and has yet to have any accidents while in the house or kennel. She has been able to wait until brought outside to go potty, and is consistently able to hold it for around six hours. She still seems to favor the backyard when it is available, but will also go potty when outdoors in grassy areas when she needs to.
Lucy and I visited another park today, where we continued to work on each of her commands with a loose leash around distractions. There were lots of other dogs, little kids playing, and squirrels and birds at the park. Despite all the distractions, she did a wonderful job with paying attention to me whenever she was asked to do something. She seemed to have a much easier time focusing today, and did not protest at all when asked to perform her commands. We spent some extra time focusing on cleaning up her come to sit since this is a command she has been struggling with lately. She was able to complete the command with no leash pressure while I was standing about ten feet away, though if I was any further away she got a bit confused and would frequently make mistakes. Since ten feet seemed to be her limit today, we worked with this distance and did many repetitions to work on her positioning. She knows to sit on my left side and consistently is able to do so without needing leash pressure, though she sometimes sits too far away and needs to be readjusted so that she is sitting properly beside me.
She did try to pull on the leash a bit and walk ahead of me when we first arrived at the park since she was very excited to explore the new environment, but after we walked around for a bit and got her warmed up, she was able to focus on me and walk very nicely in a heel with no leash pressure needed. Since she was doing well with this, and we were in a safe area away from busy streets and other potential dangers, we practiced working on her heel and come to sit with the leash dragging on the ground. She did a great job with this, and was able to keep up with me in a heel position as we made various turns, sudden stops, and moved at different speeds as we passed by various distractions in the park. Though there were a couple of times when she suddenly got distracted by something and would veer off and start to walk away, and needed to be recalled back to me. Thankfully she never went more than a few feet away, and always came right back to me when called, though ideally we do not want her to break the heel command unless given permission to do so with the release command. We will continue working on heel and her other commands with the leash dragging while we are in safe areas, to prepare her for the transition of working completely off leash. While she eventually will be able to be off leash in busier areas, it's best to practice first in low-risk places until she is more reliable with her commands and can be fully trusted not to run away or get into dangerous situations.
While at the park we also worked on all of her other commands, focusing on cleaning each of them up and increasing distance and duration. She is quick to perform a sit, and is very reliable with stopping and sitting exactly when and where the command is given. While she was able to perform a down without any resistance today, she's not as quick with it and does delay slightly or move around a bit before settling into a down. Ideally, we want her to drop into a down position when and where she is asked to, so I further reinforced this by doing many repetitions of this command and only giving praise when she was able to lie down on the spot when asked instead of delaying by moving around first. She did pick up on this quickly, and with some more practice she was more consistent with performing a down correctly and holding it until released or given a new command. We also worked on place some more by asking her to jump onto and hold a position on various objects and seating areas. Certain objects such as wide flat benches and platforms she will jump onto easily with zero hesitation, though some objects she seems to lack confidence in, and needs to be asked a few times or given extra encouragement before she will jump up. The more new objects she is introduced to the more confident she will be, so anytime we go somewhere I ask her to place on many different objects to expose her to a wide variety. She is also now able to hold each of her stationary commands for roughly two minutes, which is the goal we have been working towards. She does still need some more practice with distance though, as she will sometimes get uncomfortable and clingy if I am more than ten feet away, and will occasionally break command to move closer to me.
Lucy and I spent today practicing her commands with no leash pressure as well as working on her manners both inside and outside of the house. Overall she did great work today, and has shown fantastic progress in her focus, discipline, obedience, and understanding of commands. We started the day training in a residential area of my neighborhood, where we could safely practice working through each of her commands with the leash dragging along the ground and not being used. There were some distractions such as squirrels, birds, dogs, and people walking by, but she was able to ignore them and follow through with any command I asked of her. She didn't stray off or walk away from me today while practicing heel, and knew to stay right by me even if I was not holding onto the leash. She could use a bit more work on her left turns though, as she sometimes does bump into my leg if she is not paying close enough attention to where I am leading her. She was able to perform sit and down when asked, and was able to hold both commands for about two minutes. We practiced adding some extra distance, and she was able to hold her stationary positions while I was about fifteen feet away which is the goal we have been working towards! We worked on come to sit as well, and she did much better today about sitting in the proper position and was overall much more consistent with the command.
After the successful session in the residential area, Lucy and I took a trip to a busy outdoor shopping mall, and continued working on her commands with an increased amount of distractions. The mall is adjacent to a busy street with lots of speeding cars, so for her safety, and to comply with the mall's policies, I held onto the leash but let it hang loose and did not use it to apply leash pressure at any point. With the progress she has made, she no longer needs a leash to direct her where to go and what to do, and instead is able to understand and follow the communication from the e-collar, verbal commands, and hand signals. Despite the added distractions of the shopping area, she did a great job and was able to follow through with everything I asked of her. We also stopped by a dog-friendly restaurant to meet up with some friends, and sat on the patio to have lunch. We practiced greeting manners before heading to our table, and she did a good job about being calm and polite as she met my friends and the restaurant staff. Once at the table, I had her hold a down on the floor by the table we sat at, and she was able to stay there and hold the position for a little over five minutes. There were some dogs close by at other tables, but Lucy was able to ignore them for the most part. She did get a bit excited when one dog barked and play bowed at her, and Lucy got up and wanted to go over and play with them but immediately came back to me and got back into a down beside me when asked. By asking her to control herself in situations like this, it teaches her that there is a time and place for playtime, and that she must contain her excitement to remain calm and polite in places like this.
After heading home for a break, we continued to work on her house manners. House manners include general behaviors such as waiting patiently for food or at doorways. This is something we have been working on little by little every day since she arrived, as day-to-day inside the home provides lots of opportunities to reinforce good behaviors and work on obedience training. During feeding times, I have her hold a sit or down and ask her to wait there patiently as I prepare her food and set it down in front of her. She is then expected to hold that position, and wait until given the release command before she can get up and eat. During the first few days home with me, she would sometimes jump on me or get right up in my space while I made her food, and she was oftentimes impatient about waiting and struggled to hold position for more than a few moments before trying to rush to the bowl for a bite to eat. By working on this every day and gradually increasing the duration I ask her to wait, she is now at the point where I can ask her to hold a sit or down for around two minutes before I release her to eat her meal. This practice ensures she will be polite during mealtimes, and teaches her patience and discipline. Since she can be picky with her food and was known to sometimes refuse to eat, this also helps to encourage her to eat more, as mealtime becomes more exciting and rewarding for her since she has to work for it.
Door manners is another area of training we have been working on since day one, as when she first arrived she had the tendency to push past people when walking through doorways, and would be tempted to run out the front door if it was left open. By practicing door manners, it helps to establish important boundaries and helps her to understand that it's not okay to push through doorways to get past people or to run through them without permission. This not only keeps herself safe from possible dangers associated with running away out front doors, but also keeps others safe so she does not accidentally knock anyone over while trying to rush past them to get out first. We practice this by having her hold a sit or down at a doorway, and teaching her to wait there until she is given a new command such as come, heel, or is given the release command. She now has a good understanding of what is expected of her, and is able to hold a sit or down beside a doorway and wait there until she is invited to walk through it. This applies even if the door is wide open, if I am out of her view, or walking in and out through it without her.
Lucy and I made another visit to the Santa Monica Pier today, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! There were lots of great distractions here to test her focus, such as large groups of people, loud music, other dogs, and birds flying by. Despite the busy and exciting environment, Lucy was able to keep her focus and perform all of her commands perfectly. Since she did such a great job today, we were also able to record some great footage that will be used in putting together her final video!
We practiced each of her commands at the pier, starting with the leash dragging along the floor. She did a wonderful job and was paying close attention to me and everything I asked of her. It was clear that she no longer needed the leash at all, so we went ahead and removed it so we could continue training without it getting in the way. She stuck right by me in a heel as we walked, and was able to follow alongside me as we weaved through crowds of people and around obstacles. She was also able to perform sit, down, and place with no hesitation or protest, and had no problem holding each stationary command for over two minutes while I was fifteen feet or more away from her. She was also very quick and reliable with her recall, and was able to perform come to sit with consistent positioning at my left side each time. We also had some great opportunities to practice her greeting manners, and each time she met someone new she was able to politely hold a sit as she was greeted.
To update on her potty training, she has been doing very well with this and has yet to have any accidents! As of right now, six hours seems to be her limit for how long she can hold it, though as she gets older she will gradually be able to hold it for longer periods of time. It's typically around the six hour mark that she will begin sniffing around and whining, which seem to be the indicators that she uses to communicate when she has to go potty. She understands the term "go potty", and once asked to do so she will begin sniffing around outside looking for the perfect spot in the grass. She still seems to favor going in the backyard, and tends to stick to the same corner of the yard to use each time. She will go potty outside while on walks if it has been a while since she last went, though more often than not she seems to prefer to wait until she can use the backyard instead. She sometimes does need extra time as she likes to sniff around a lot first, and will often have to urinate a few times before she fully empties her bladder. This is common with puppies, as they are still learning how to control their bladder and understand when it is empty. So it's important to be patient and give her the time she needs, because if she is brought back inside before she is completely finished it can lead to accidents. This is another aspect of potty training that will improve as she gets older.
Lucy and I spent some more time today focusing on perfecting each of her commands while off-leash. She has proven to be reliable and consistent with everything I ask of her, even while at locations with high amounts of distractions such as the Santa Monica Pier. More practice around different types of distractions is always good though, and working on her commands and obedience training every day will ensure everything she has learned thus far will be retained as she continues to grow.
Today we visited a local park that allows dogs to be off-leash, where we could practice her training around distractions such as other dogs, people, grass, and small animals like birds and squirrels. The grass seemed to be the biggest distraction for her today, as she was very tempted to sniff the grass, which was especially noticeable while we were working on heel. While she was still able to keep up with my pace and follow along as she did this, it does take away from her focus so it's best to discourage that behavior and reward her only when she is fully focused on me. She also sometimes likes to look at other dogs and animals when they're nearby, though she remembers to check in with me often, and shows an incredible amount of discipline and impulse control as she does not run off to approach or chase them. She performed each of her commands very well while off-leash, and showed no hesitation or protest when asked to do something. We worked through each of her commands, and she was held to a high standard as she is very familiar with the training and knows what is expected of her. If she made a small error such as her positioning being a bit off, she would have to do it again properly before she would be rewarded with praise and affection. This helps encourage her to perform the commands properly each time on her first try.
After working through each of her commands, we spent some time playing fetch in the open field. She had a blast with this, and had a great time chasing and retrieving the ball without the fuss and restriction of having a leash attached. She did very well with recall, and knew to come straight back to me every time I called her even if she was very far away. We also practiced having her sit and wait to be released before she could go chase it after it was thrown, which helps her work on self-control, obedience, and listening skills.
Today was Lucy's last full day with me, so we put to use her obedience skills to have a great day together! We visited a park to play fetch and practice her commands off-leash, and walked around the city visiting fun dog-friendly stores. We practiced each of her commands off-leash in different environments, each with its own unique distractions to work around. Some of the indoor locations did require her to have a leash on, though we were given the go-ahead to have the leash drag along the floor as we worked on her training. Lucy did very well with all of her commands, and was able to maintain sharp focus for the majority of the day, and had no problem listening and following through with everything I asked of her. She was able to walk very nicely in a heel, perform come-to-sit, as well as hold sit, down, and place for extended periods of time.
The most distracting location for her today was the Petco we visited, as there were lots of exciting things there like toys, treats, other dogs, and many interesting smells and sounds. Overall she did a good job despite all the distractions, but she did veer off a few times while walking in a heel to go sniff around while in distracting aisles such as near the toys or dog treats. Whenever that happened, I reminded her of the off command and asked her to return to heel position, and she would immediately leave the distraction and return to the proper positioning. She also had a great time getting to meet the store's employees and customers, and was very polite during greetings. Some of the employees had yummy treats for her also, and she was eager to show off her obedience skills in exchange for a small snack. After we worked through all of her commands here, I took her down the toy aisle and gave her the release command, allowing her to pick one small toy to play with and bring home. She picked a little duck toy, and happily carried it to the front counter so we could buy it.
Lucy's training is truly paying off, and she has made such great progress during our time together. She has learned how to be disciplined, obedient, calm, and polite both inside and outside of the home. Now that she has developed these new skills, the frustrations and chaos that were once present in daily life have been given a solution. The days of pulling on a leash, inability to follow instructions, jumping on people, and having potty accidents inside are now in the past. She is now quick to respond and follow through with whatever is asked of her, and is able to explore the world both on and off-leash in a safe and enjoyable way for her and the people in her life. She has also made it through the entire fourteen days without a single potty accident, and has been very consistent about communicating when she needs to go, as well as holding it until it's time to go outside. Her overall progress over these last two weeks has been outstanding, and I can tell she has so much potential for a bright future ahead with her family as a well-trained pup!