Max | Goldendoodle | Azusa, CA | In-Training
Meet Max! A two year old Goldendoodle has joined us for our Three-Week Board and Train Program. Max has come to us to work on a few behaviors such as reactivity towards cars, other dogs and certain humans, separation anxiety, jumping excessively for attention, and pulling heavily on the leash. Max lacks confidence which may be where his reactivity stems from. He was a Covid pup so he did not receive much exposure at a young age to new environments.
Over these next three weeks Max and I will venture out to new places as we work on proper socialization, creating mutual respect in our reationship as we build his confidence. He will learn to follow clear communication, as we provide plenty of structure & boundaries to help him be the best pup he can possibly be. Stay tuned for his Three-Week-Transformation!
Max and I spent the day getting familiar with each other as he got settled into his new temporary home. He explored his new surroundings, and was a little playful even showing interest in playing with the toys. Max went into the crate with ease, as I guided him into it with leash pressure. We will begin to introduce him to new commands tomorrow!
Max and I started our day by introducing him to a few communication tools such as the slip lead and e collar. The slip lead is used to guide Max with directional changes of the leash. I apply leash pressure in the direction I want him to go and the second he follows the path created for him, that pressure is turned off. Any time I apply leash pressure, I apply stimulation from the e collar as well. Once I marked and rewarded the few steps he took in the direction I wanted him to go, he began to understand how to turn the pressure off. Max loves affection and enjoys working for some chin scratches!
I introduced him to Come to Sit which is the action of Max coming around behind me to Sit on my left hand side ready to Heel. He was a natural at this and learned quickly that all of the good stuff came to him when he Sat on my left side. This is how I begin to build value with Max in a specific position. I Cued Max’s name frequently, rewarding him when he offered me his attention. This is called the name game and is a great game to practice around distractions to build engagement during training. A focused dog is a dog that is ready to work!
Max and I emphasized our work on his Extended Sit, and Come to Sit. After many repetitions he demonstrated consistency with holding his Sit for up to a minute and a half long, which is almost at our goal! He is quite fluent with everything asked of him so far, performing the first time I cue it. As we Heeled around the block together, we came across a few reactive dogs. Max was reactive to this, attempting to bark however it was not excessive. Once I cued off with a pop of the leash, as I made a 180 turn to diffuse the situation, he followed my lead. We practiced calming circles as we Heeled making frequent turns. After working through this, we were able to pass by the reactive dogs with some added distance from this trigger of his. We then Heeled past other dogs which were much more calm, and Max did great! He checked in with me as I called his name, which we will keep practicing together. The goal essentially is for Max to begin to voluntarily check in with his handler in the presence of his trigger, to prevent any future reactivity.
After working on what he has already learned, I then introduced him to a new command, Place. Place is great to use to help create a calm state of mind, builds confidence in a dog, prevents unwanted behaviors, and can essentially be practiced on top of any elevated surface. Dogs are naturally more confident while on elevated surfaces. I recommend purchasing an elevated dog cot to practice with both inside and outside the house. Having something familiar for Max to Place on while adapting to an unfamiliar environment helps bridge the transition much more quickly.
Max and I practiced his Heel, as walked around the neighborhood and backyard together. His walk has improved as he follows leash pressure quite nicely. I noticed while we were practicing his Come to Sit he sat in an outwards position, facing me. The goal is for him to Sit facing the same direction as me, close to my left hand side. We worked on this by utilizing the wall at home as a barrier to keep him close to my side. After many repetitions, Max began to Sit facing the same direction as me. If he sat a little behind me, I took a few steps forward to guide him forward.
We then worked on Max’s Down command. Max tested this a few times, offering a half way down. He is expected to rest his elbows completely on the ground or cot. After some leash pressure in a downwards motion with stimulation of the e collar, he followed the directional change of the leash. I reset him when he was discouraged by walking in a circular motion before trying again. This helps him decompress, and offer the behavior more quickly. We will keep practicing plenty of repetitions to help build fluency!
Max had an eventful day of practicing proper socialization as we introduced him to a member of the pack at home, Dax. Since this was Max’s first interaction with a new pup, we took it slow by having them say hi through the fence. This was about their third time interacting through the fence throughout this week, appearing ready for the next step! I had them Sit before releasing them to say hi to each other on a loose leash for better control. It is important not to add unnecessary leash tension during interactions, as leash tension can create stress between dogs while interacting. After a few sniffs, Max offered a few play bows as they began to run around the backyard together.
After releasing some energy during playtime, we took a stroll around the neighborhood where we practiced Max’s Come to Sit, Heel, Extended Sit and Down. We are beginning to emphasize our work on his Down command since this is what he tests the most, especially when out in unfamiliar places. Max displays signs of anxiety, panting heavily while licking his lips if he does not want to perform a behavior. By teaching him to settle Down on command, he will begin to learn how to shut off this anxiety and listen to his handlers guidance. Dogs that suffer from anxiety often suffer from reactivity as well. By focusing on providing plenty of structure and leadership, Max’s stress should subside.
Max and I took a trip to the park where we worked on his Heel, Extended Sit, Place, and Down as we passed by plenty of distractions. The biggest distraction for Max was other dogs, and wildlife. Upon seeing a duck, Max attempted to run after it as he lunged very quickly. I popped the leash backwards towards me as I stimulated him with the e collar at a level that was about 5 levels higher to grab his attention quickly. He stopped immediately and Sat, however his attention remained on the duck until I stimulated him cuing Off.
Now that I was able to see his reactivity towards wildlife firsthand, we will emphasize our work near wildlife to further build his impulse control, as I will implement firm boundaries near these triggers of his.
We then worked on his Down command which he is now fluent with! No longer testing it as he did the other day. Since we have fluency, moving forward we will add more duration, distance and distractions as we proof his commands.
Max and I spent the day working on his Come to Sit, Heel, Place, Extended Sit and Down with the leash dragging. By utilizing less leash pressure, we are relying more on visual/verbal cues, and footwork. The first few repetitions of our session, we used leash pressure to set him up for success as we began to drag the leash, once he demonstrated consistency. He followed my lead quite well, as we made frequent turns. Max is beginning to check in with me more frequently, especially when playing the name game. We will continue to work towards our Off Leash goal as we introduce him to a few new commands moving forward.
Max and I ventured out to the park where we proofed the commands he already knows such as Come to Sit, Extended Sit, Place, Down, and Heel, with the leash dragging. As we Heeled with the leash dragging around the park, we followed the wildlife, testing Max’s impulse control. I used higher levels on the e collar when near the ducks, to help grab Max’s attention. Although he was interested, this time he did not lunge towards the ducks. I called Max’s name to help him focus, as we Heeled making frequent turns by them.
We practiced Place on different surfaces as we began to build distance. I Sent him away to Place about 6 feet away from the bench. At first he needed some guidance up onto the bench, but as we continued to work on this, he was more excited to jump onto this new surface.
Once we brushed up his commands, I then introduced him to a new command, Come to Heel which is the action of Max catching up to me from a distance to Heel on my left hand side. He did great with this, not needing much guidance from me. Excellent work Max!
Today Max and I had the chance to proof all of his commands near plenty of new puppies! This was great practice for Max to work through any reactivity. Max absolutely killed it, not pulling or barking at the other pups as they were in close vicinity to us. However, the one time another pup barked, Max fed off that energy and attempted to bark. I corrected this Cuing Off with stimulation of the e collar, which stopped him in his tracks. He checked in with me frequently, and even performed with the leash dragging.
I then introduced Max to a new command, Under. Under is a great command to use when out in public with Max. He is expected to lay down under any surface we choose, such as chairs or benches until released. I guided him under the bench as I fed the leash through the bench, applying leash pressure until he followed. Max did not resist much, and learned very quickly how to crawl underneath to perform Down. Towards the end of the session he was able to perform this without guidance of the leash, relying solely on verbal and visual cues!
Max and I spent the day proofing his commands near other trainers and their pups while at the park. We Heeled together, as we practiced his Extended Sit and Down while other dogs circled around him. Max was able to hold his Extended Sit and Down, as they passed him. Down is a submissive position for him, which is why I cued it often when near other dogs.
While seeing Max engage with other dogs, he has displayed a very dominant personality. He does not allow other dogs sniff his rear end, and will correct them if they do not give him his space. He does enjoy playing with other dogs, and has initiated play, however will not submit to any dogs during playtime which can be problematic when interacting with other dogs. Due to this, I recommend keeping Max’s interactions very short with other dogs, and never on leash as the leash creates unwanted tension.
When interacting, he should be Off leash in an enclosed environment with a dog that you know and trust. He does well with submissive dogs, however it is not recommended for him to interact with dogs that are just as dominant as him.
We then worked on Under, which he can now perform without guidance from the leash. As we keep weaning him off leash pressure, he is demonstrating more and more that he is ready to be Off Leash!
Max and I emphasized our work on counter conditioning his reactivity towards other dogs today, as we Heeled around the park as a pack with the other pups. Max is very aware of his surroundings, and is learning that he does not need to alert bark excessively for every sound he hears. We will keep working on desensitizing him to new sounds and sights, which will help him overcome the need to bark at unfamiliar objects. He no longer barks at the other dogs while in the crate, or while on walks. Every now and then he will bark at loud noises, however he is now able to work through it, responding to Off the first time I cue it.
As we keep building a strong foundation for trust in our relationship, Max looks to me for leadership and structure instead of reacting due to insecurity. I never allow Max to fixate on anything that may trigger him to react, such as unfamiliar people or dogs. If he begins to fixate, I cue his name to grab his attention. Once he looks my way, I mark it with a Yes as I reward him with affection. This is called the name game, which is the key to conditioning him to check in with his handler for guidance, to prevent reactivity.
Max and I proofed his commands as we dragged the leash, Heeling as a pack with the other pups. He has significantly improved with his obedience near other dogs, as we have emphasized plenty of our work near those triggers of his. He checks in with me voluntarily and on cue, as I call his name frequently.
Max can hold his Extended Sit, Down, and Place for up to two minutes as distractions are near. He is a very alert pup, however day by day his anxiety especially when near other dogs, is decreasing. By remaining consistent with clear communication, and applying structure in one routine daily, Max is following my lead quite well. He is a very sweet pup and although he isn’t food motivated, affection motivates him quite well!
Max and I ventured out to the mall where we went on a pack field trip. As we explored our new environment, Max did great while Heeling next to the other pup Apollo. Max is a pup that can co-exist with other dogs, however is selective with who he decides to interact with. It is important to read his body language and respect Max’s preference, as we do not want to create unnecessary pressure on interacting before he is ready. As long as they are respectful of Max’s space, he does great working near them. It is our duty as Max’s handler, to create a safe space for him. If we must body block other dogs from invading his space to prevent a negative interaction, then that is what should be done to keep experiences with other dogs positive at all times. As long as Max feels safe with his handler, he will no longer react towards other dogs.
Since Max felt safe while working near these other pups, he did not feel a need to react and reliably Heeled by my side, coming when called on cue.
Max and I have focused our work on dragging the leash for all of his commands moving forward. He has significantly improved his Come to Heel and Come to Sit from distances of 10 ft or more. He Heels by my left hand side consistently, checking in with me frequently, responding to his name on cue.
When near big distractions, it is important to communicate as much as possible to Max to help him navigate through these scenarios. If we can focus his attention more on his handler and less on his environment , we can prevent reactivity and unwanted behaviors such as pulling. The name game has helped Max overcome anxiety in environments, and has helped build trust in our relationship. I included a video from our trip to the mall yesterday!
Max and I began our day by working on his Under command at home, with different surfaces. We utilized a chair which was smaller than usual for Max as we have only practiced with bigger benches. At first Max was very skeptical of this only laying down next to the chair. After I fed the leash through the other side of the chair and guided him with slight leash pressure, he eventually followed my lead and crawled under the bench. We kept it short and sweet until he was consistent, as I began to ask him to hold it for more and more time. By the end of the session, Max didn’t need any leash guidance to perform Under.
Once we brushed up his Under command, we ventured out to the mall where we had the opportunity to proof his commands in a more crowded environment. Max did well with this, checking in with me frequently and staying by my left hand side.
Max and I proofed everything he has learned over the past few weeks, while training at the park near the other trainers and their pups. Max has significantly improved with his obedience near other dogs. As long as other dogs are respectful of Max’s space (which is our job as his handler, to make sure he has a safe space to work in) Max follows my lead and trusts that I will not let anything happen to him. If there is a reactive dog present, trying to invade his space, I put myself in between him and the reactive dog as we begin to practice calming circles with frequent 180 turns. Calming circles help diffuse the situation, and redirects Max’s attention back onto his handler.
As Max and I heeled around the park, we worked on his Send away to Place, Come to Heel, Come to Sit, Extended Sit and Down, with added distance. Max has remained consistent, and is ready for Off Leash work!
Max and I had an eventful day of training at the beach as we began to prepare him for filming his final video. There were plenty of distractions while at the beach, such as crowds of people, skateboards, bicyclists, and even reactive dogs. We encountered a reactive dog while at the beach today, and Max did amazing! He did not react at all to this dog, as he looked me to for leadership with what to do next. By holding Max accountable for every unwanted action, and giving him an alternate behavior to perform such as Heel or Place, we diffuse the situation and prevent unwanted behaviors from reoccurring.
It is important to realize that reactivity can stem from a place of insecurity in a dog. We must not react before Max even has a chance to react. Being proactive instead of reactive (meaning giving Max a job to do before he even notices a dog is nearby) is essential in preventing Max from being reactive. If a dog is not given proper structure or guidance in a scenario they feel unsafe in, they will take matters in their own hands in hopes of scaring away whatever it is they are unsure of. Often times the leash creates added tension to an already nervous pup, which causes them to feel trapped, with nowhere to escape. We can use the leash as a communication tool to guide Max, instead of pulling him into a state of uncertainty. If he is off leash, we must rely on the e collar stimulation paired with verbal cues and praise to coach Max through this. By remaining consistent and applying clear communication, Max will be set up for success in these scenarios, as he will feel more confident with following clear instructions from his leader.
Max and I spent the day filming content for his Final video as we proofed his commands off leash at the beach! He was consistent with staying by my side, turning when I turn and Sitting when I stop walking.
He was Sent Away to Place as distractions passed by him, Coming to Heel on cue. Check out a preview of his final video!
Max and I Heeled around the neighborhood today as we made our way towards the local park. Max does well with following my lead, and checking in with me frequently. We encountered a reactive dog today which Max at first was stimulated by. I was able to grab his attention by redirecting his attention towards me with a 180 turn and stimulation of the e collar as I cued Heel in a firm tone. Max responds well to 180 turns when in the presence of a trigger. He can now regulate the emotions he is feeling and check in with his handler. It is important to note that continued work near dogs is crucial to the further development of his skills. As long as he has a job to do until he is released with the cue Break, he will continue to perform. I included a picture of him practicing his Greeting Manners at the beach the other day as well. Consistency is key!
Max has learned boundaries, not jumping on the door to open it anymore. He has learned that when he sits and waits patiently, the door will open. If he gets up, the door closes on him. The door is an important threshold to remain consistent with so Max won’t have a habit of being the first one out.
After Heeling together around the neighborhood and working on his Manners, we played together in the backyard with the other pups. Playtime is a great outlet for Max to release his energy. Since he is a very energetic pup, this is highly recommended.
Max and I started our day with working on his Food Manners. He is expected to hold his Sit or Down while being fed. After the food bowl is placed on the floor, that is not his cue to get up. His cue to eat is when I release him with the Cue Break. Although tempted, Max was able to hold his sit while I eventually went out of sight. We also worked on his Off command by utilizing bacon as a temptation for him. He is expected to Come to Sit and ignore whatever is on the floor to Come when called.
We then went on a walk today shortly after where we proofed his commands some more!