Nala | Goldendoodle | Castaic, CA | In-Training
Meet Nala! An excitable, loving 5 month old Goldendoodle from Castaic, Ca has joined us for our Two-Week Board and Train program. Nala comes to us to work on a few behaviors such as jumping when overly excited, possessiveness over her owners which results in aggressive behavior towards other dogs especially her brother Buster, and overall consistency with commands as she often has a mind of her own. Over these next two weeks Nala and I will build a solid foundation for her training, implementing clear communication as we introduce her to new commands. Stay tuned for her Two-Week Transformation!
Nala and I had the chance to become more familiar with each other as she explored her new surroundings. She was unsure at first but after walking around she acclimated quite well and went into the crate with ease. We got her all settled in and will introduce her to new commands tomorrow!
Nala and I started our day by introducing her to a few communication tools such as the slip lead and e collar. The slip lead is used to guide Nala with directional changes of the leash. I apply leash pressure in the direction I want her to go and the second she follows the path created for her, I turn that pressure off. Any time I apply leash pressure, I apply stimulation from the e collar as well. Nala at first resisted the leash pressure quite a lot. Anytime I popped the leash in a certain direction, she grounded her feet into the floor refusing to walk. When she did walk, she often preferred to walk on my left hand side, which may be what she is accustomed to. We worked on counter conditioning this habit. I made frequent turns with her and encouraged her to walk with me. Once I marked and rewarded the few steps she took in the direction I wanted her to go, she began to understand how to turn the pressure off. We still have a lot of work to do for her Heel as she is still resistant, either stopping in her tracks, or lying on the floor in protest. It is important to work her through this so she knows the tantrums do not get her what she wants. We are working on small increments of Heeling, as we slowly raise the criteria for her Heel.
I then introduced her to Come to Sit which is the action of Nala coming around behind me to Sit on my right hand side ready to Heel. She was a natural at this and learned quickly that all of the good stuff came to him when she Sat on my right side. This is how I begin to build value with Nala in a specific position. I Cued Nala’s name frequently, rewarding her when she offered me her 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! We will keep working on counterconditioning her habit of walking on the left hand side as we gradually increase our expectations for her Heel.
Nala and I took a trip to the park today! We explored our surroundings as we Heeled together making frequent turns, having her Sit whenever I stop walking. Her Heel has improved, as she now doesn’t stop to plant her feet in the ground nearly as much as she did before. At times she can fall behind or begin to walk behind me. This may be due to a lack of confidence, as Nala’s body language can appear a bit uncertain towards her environment such as new people that walk by us. A man passed by us wearing shades and a hat, which may be an unfamiliar look to her as she barked at him until I cued Off as I popped the leash upwards. When she barked at him she avoided him, which leads me to believe her barking was more so fear based. We will begin to expose her to environments with more crowds as we gradually build her confidence through desensitization and plenty of structure to lead her through these scenarios.
We then emphasized our work on her Extended Sit, and Come to Sit. She was able to Come to Sit at a greater distance today, yet at times would stop in front of me or try to go in between my legs. I corrected with a pop of the leash to help her Come around from behind me to Sit on my right hand side. After many repetitions she demonstrated more consistency with holding her Sit for up to a minute and a half long, which is almost at our goal!
After working on what she has already learned, I then introduced her 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. One cot for Buster and one for Nala. Having something familiar for Nala to Place on while adapting to an unfamiliar environment helps bridge the transition much more quickly.
When practicing Place with Nala, I chain the commands Place and Down together to help her voluntarily offer the behavior without much guidance needed from me. Nala enjoyed this and fluently performed this behavior repetitively. We then built duration with this as she held it for a minute long. Now we will begin to build distance between us for her commands as we improve her commands near daily distractions.
Nala and I took a trip to Home Depot today which was a step towards proofing her commands near loud noises, crowded areas, and forklifts driving around the store, passing right by us multiple times. Initially this was a lot for Nala to take in, as she appeared a bit unsure of her environment with her tail low, almost tucked in. As we walked a few times around the store, working on her Heel, recall, and Place paired with Down, she began to build confidence. I marked and rewarded her for any eye contact she offered me, especially when near stimuli that she was unsure of, such as the forklift and loud paint machine. Although unsure, she checked in with me when I called her name, and held her Sit for up to two minutes which is our goal!
Nala Heeled by my side fluently, no longer trying to veer off to my left side as she did before. She continuously walks next to me now, not stopping in protest. We then worked on her Place on different surfaces today. She needs some encouragement when attempting to Place on new surfaces, but after some help the first time, she jumps on excitedly ready for the next cue, which is Down. Great job Nala!
Nala and I took a trip to Santa Monica Pier as we exposed her to a very distracting environment on the pier. There were loud carts passing by us continuously with smelly food, music with strong bass radiating from the speakers as dancers performed, an array of dogs walking around, and cars driving on the pier making unfamiliar noises due to the wooden planks on the floor of the Pier. Nala was not a fan of the cars driving right past us, avoiding it as she was very unsure of this new noise level. I popped the leash with light stimulation of the e collar to encourage her to keep walking and work through it. The worst thing to do in this scenario of uncertainty is to stop walking and pet her or lift her up. Dogs often find it reinforcing to be timid if they are constantly held or pet when they are scared. We want her to work through this, by providing leadership, cuing what to do next. After a few leash pops, she continued to Heel by my side. We will continue to desensitize her to loud noises, as that seems to be her biggest fear thus far.
We then worked on her Come to Sit, Extended Sit, and Extended Place at the park shortly after where she did great! She hardly needs any guidance of the leash, following through with everything that is asked of her fluently. She has demonstrated that she is now ready to begin dragging the leash as we work through her commands in new environments.
Nala and I had an eventful morning at the beach, as we explored our surroundings together with the leash dragging. We began our work on the outskirts of the beach, where minimal distractions were present. As she demonstrated consistency, we then moved our way closer to the playground where kids were running around screaming, dogs were walking by us, and balls were being thrown around as people played catch.
Nala’s biggest distraction today was the water coming towards us from the shore. As the waves got bigger, she was nervous, hesitant to stay near it. I coached her through this as I reminded her to Sit, asking for her attention by playing the name game. Once I got her attention I marked it with a Yes and rewarded her. We practiced classical conditioning which is the action of pairing two stimuli together, in order to create a desired response from Nala. In this case, after she saw the water moving towards her I paired it with the action of her checking in with me. By doing this repeatedly Nala will be conditioned to check in with her handler whenever she is unsure of her environment. This creates trust in our relationship, as she understands her handler is her leader, and there is no need to be nervous.
We then worked on Nala’s Place command paired with Down. Nala can get tired quite quickly, which is why we are working on improving her endurance for training everyday. Once she is tired, I still ask her to follow through with commands, then provide a break shortly after. Towards the end of our session she needed help with Placing a few times. After I worked her through it I was very proud of her for powering through this and completing her tasks. Excellent work Nala!
Nala and I continue to work on improving her commands as we add duration, distance and distractions to her environment. Nala has remained very consistent with staying by my side, even when she is on break! She checks in with me now when we are near stimuli that is unfamiliar to her as she holds her Extended Sit, Down and Place for a minimum of two minutes.
After a successful training session, we then went back home where she was able to socialize with my other board and train pup through the fence, Dax. I will slowly introduce them to each other, as Nala appeared interested in interacting with him but at times can be unsure of other pups upon approaching.
Nala and I started our day with working on her Food Manners. She 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. Her cue to eat is when I release her with the Cue Break. Although tempted, Nala was able to hold his sit while I eventually went out of sight. We then worked on food refusal where she is expected to not go after any food that is put out in front of her. In this case I utilized hot dogs and ham as temptation for her. Nala did great with this, holding her Place until I called her to Come to me.
Nala and I had the opportunity to Heel around the park together, as the leash dragged the entire time. Every now and then while we are Heeling, I take a few steps back to test what Nala does. Whenever I step away, she immediately repositions herself back by my side ready to Heel. We practiced in motion Sits which Nala was not able to do before as she always wanted to follow me if she saw me walking away when I cued Sit. Now she is able to Sit as I simultaneously walk away from her.
She is able to consistently hold her Extended Sit, Down, and Place for a minimum of two whole minutes. Nala Comes to Sit by my side from a distance of 30ft or more which is a new record for her. As we walked around the park we found new surfaces for her to Place on. There was a bench with holes on it which Nala was unsure of. I help her out with this by putting my foot on top first which helps her feel more comfortable with jumping on. After a little guidance she jumped onto Place with no problem, laying Down until released with the cue Break. Excellent progress Nala!
Today Nala and I proofed her commands both on and off leash while at the park today, as many dogs were present. While she was waiting to be worked, she was sharing a coupler wire with my other board and train pup Dax. She was doing well, as I walked away from her multiple times while I was training. Once Dax became a bit excitable, Nala snapped at him. I cued Off as I grabbed Nala which prevented her from redirecting on Dax. She stopped immediately which is good, however this demonstrated to me that she can be impatient with other dogs, yet will respond quickly to being corrected. Once I corrected this, she then laid down patiently next to Dax till it was her turn to work.
Nala held her Extended Down, Sit and Place as the other dogs worked around her. She checked in with me frequently and stayed by my side as we Heeled around the park, practicing her recall from distances of 15 ft or more. We will begin to film content for her Final video tomorrow, as she demonstrated she is ready!
Nala and I ventured out to the beach today as we worked on everything she has learned so far both on and off leash! She absolutely killed it today as she fluently performed what was asked of her. We practiced place quite often on new surfaces to keep building Nala’s confidence. She needs help at times learning rear end awareness when Placing on smaller than average surfaces. I help her balance herself by moving her legs into position to help her support her full body. She picked up on this quickly, not needing any help from me as she performed place completely off leash. Excellent work Nala!
Nala has remained consistent with her commands as we proof them in new environments. She is much more confident in noisy environments, offering eye contact frequently. She previously had a habit of veering towards my left hand side while Heeling which may had been what she was accustomed to. She now stays on my right hand side, stopping when I stop, turning when I turn as my right leg takes the lead. She can come when called from distances of 15 ft or more while in busy environments.
Now that she has demonstrated fluency no matter the environment, she is ready to begin training with her brother Buster as we solidify their commands together!
Nala and her brother Buster both had the opportunity to take their CGC test today, which they both passed! They Sat politely for petting, did well with grooming manners, (however at times Buster needed a little reminder to not puppy nip which he responded well to), Heeled by my side, and Came when called. I was able to walk away from the both of them to test their separation anxiety. They both looked for me yet did not make a big deal by crying or excessively whining.
After taking the CGC test we strolled around the park, working on their Come to Sit and Heel. At first when I called them to Come, they had trouble figuring out who would go on the inside or outside as they looped around me. They clashed heads, and stopped behind me. I corrected this by grabbing Buster’s leash, to guide him to go around Nala and Sit on my side. After multiple repetitions and plenty of guidance from the leash, they stopped clashing as they worked together to Sit on both sides.
Once we got home I introduced them to the other pups at home. They interacted well with the other pups, chasing each other around until they were all tired.
Nala and I spent our day together working on all of her commands as we strolled around the park. We emphasize our work on her recall and Place command while working with Buster as well. They have begun to understand how to position themselves by my sides.
To prevent separation anxiety moving forward, It is best to never make it a big deal when you come and go so Nala doesn’t see it is a big deal either. Crate training also greatly helps with separation anxiety, especially when at home with Nala. Periods of time alone throughout the day helps prepare her for time apart.
Nala has overall become more confident, can hold her Place and Extended Sit for a minimum of two minutes, and can Come to Sit from about 15 ft away or more.I recommend constantly taking Nala to new environments. Desensitization to new places especially while near loud noises, will only further improve her training. She is a loving girl who needs a lot of guidance, structure and leadership to thrive and follow instructions. She has come a long way and we can not wait to show you what she has learned. Thank you for trusting me with Nala and Buster!