Pharoah | Shepherd Mix | Valley Village, CA | In Training
Pharoah is a two year old, mixed shepherd dog, who is joining OffLeash SoCal to work on his rude behaviors of jumping on people and otherwise excited greetings, as well as his more recent development of dog reactivity. We will address these behaviors as well as give him some new, more productive behaviors in the form of obedience in a structured routine. Often times rambunctious behavior can be simply alleviated by giving a dog a task to perform instead and by having a job to do, you can hold them accountable in a fair and understandable way while enhancing your relationship . Stay tuned for Pharoah’s Two-Week transformation.
Pharoah is a young excitable dog who needs some boundaries. The main goal for my training will be to first establish a healthy focus on the handler in the form of rewards that engage the dog in play. When we are first showing our young pups that we are valuable as a reward, it is important to keep in mind how in love with motion that dogs truly are. By becoming more active in our displays of affection by moving our arms, and moving around by walking faster or running to any extent , and having a more excited tone of voice, we can ensure that we are a more interesting target of their attention than anything else in the immediate environment. When we present to the dog a focal point, that they can pay attention to instead of various distractions, and then expose them to those distractions periodically, we can enhance their ability to focus on us throughout any circumstance.
Today, Pharoah and I went to a local park with some fellow trainers in order to work on distractions and exposure to dogs. It was interesting for me to see his level of commitment when it comes to his interest in other dogs. I certainly do notice that he pays too much attention to other dogs, and I wonder if the circumstances might have to include another reactive dog as well who is already maybe threatening him or giving him a posture that is uncomfortable, because other than his extreme interest, he didn’t harbor any aggression or otherwise negative behavior. Today I introduced pressure from a leash and a prong collar in order to shape the obedience. The goal is to be able to move away from the prong as a transitional tool and graduate to the stimulation of an E collar, but first I must shape all of his behaviors using the directional information that a leash provides so that the transition to an E collar is seamless and without confusion.
Today, Pharoah and I worked on introducing the E collar. While doing so, Pharaoh showed me some reactivity. It is important to stay the course and not allow a temper tantrum to throw us off track. If a dog being emotional disrupts the training experience, then they all have been successful. Allowing a dog to be successful with a temper tantrum is one of the ultimate rewards for bad behavior. Going forward is important to not tolerate Pharaoh acting out either by unnecessary vocalizations, or throwing his weight around and pulling on the leash. You’ll see in the clip from today that Pharoah made an attempt to nip me in the arm. This was purely emotional, and I do not feel like he was being aggressive at all, but it is important to respect the ability for a dog to even by accident cause injury and this is why it is so important for us to monitor and control our dogs’ behavior.
Today, Pharoah and I were able to graduate away from the use of a prong collar, and to the use of a flat collar in conjunction with E collar stimulation. This is significant because Pharoah has so much reactivity when it comes to a prong or in general leash pressure. Pharoah is starting to figure out that the E collar stimulation is not necessarily something to be concerned about, but rather a signal that he needs to figure out how to turn off. When I give him stimulation, I am creating a moment for him to problem solve, and not only that I have shown him precisely the answers to all of the questions that I propose over and over again in advance. By fairly giving the dog enough background and conditioning to figure out the answer when presented with the tough questions we are creating a more confident and comfortable dog in new environments and around stressful distractions. This is because the challenge of having to focus on the handler and the task at hand becomes so rewarding in and of itself that they are able to respect the boundaries that we put in place in other contexts with new information. For Pharoah I want to see him continue to grow and so I am holding him accountable and pushing him past his limits where he normally wants to throw a temper tantrum and at the other end is a more confident dog that I am glad to see start to emerge.
Today Pharoah and I worked on heeling, duration in positions, and his come to sit with the leash dragging. We worked on everything using only a flat and an e collar. Pharoah is becoming less emotional and more motivated when we work. The important factor is not the tool we are using as much as the enthusiasm in our body language and our voice when we praise him. Pharoah is capable of self regulation but he needs opportunities to practice. When we create moments for our dogs to “fail” in a controlled manner, we can actually help them succeed more often. When we experience distractions and are able to regain focus, the reward that follows should be larger in proportion to the level of distractions.
Today, Pharoah and I worked on place around some mild distractions. This was a brand new environment and a brand new area to place on with people walking by and occasionally dogs and bicycle riders as well. Pharoah is improving quite well when it comes to how he responds to E collar stimulation, and generally doesn’t take things personally anymore. We will continue to refine his obedience, as well as reward is increasingly positive mental state.
Today, Pharoah and I worked on all of his obedience thus far around my neighborhood. It is important to keep in mind that training does not need to be a special phenomenon or a specific event. In fact, it is best when training is incorporated into everyday life as a new language for communicating with your dog. Remember that before Pharaoh came to training he struggled with pulling and paying attention to the handler, and thus far while he still has some room to grow and more progress to be made, rest assured that he does pay attention to the handler and he is concerned about whether or not he is doing the right thing. As we continue to encourage Pharoah in the right direction, it is important to not only reward him for a perfect finished product, but also for every best effort that he makes so in the event that he does struggle with something or succumb to a distraction remember that we are looking to create opportunities to reward our dog rather than rely solely on reinforcement.
Today with Pharoah we continue to work on refining his heeling technique. It is important to keep in mind that all dogs are not going to behave the same in all scenarios and that no dog is a robot. During today’s training session, Pharoah felt a little overwhelmed, and tried to grab a leash and play tug-of-war with me. Ultimately, the goal is to transition off of the leash as soon as possible and he has been able to drag it very consistently. However, in moments where he is feeling stressed or tired, and he wants to go do his own thing he will avoid working. Today I worked on holding him accountable for that behavior and that pattern of wanting to be avoidant when he is feeling a little bit overtired by walking around until he was ready to quit and asking him for just that one percent further exertion. Despite having a moment of disobedience and frustration in the end, Pharoah was able to put it all together and perform the obedience very nicely without any further stress all while dragging the leash.
Today Pharoah did very well working without my direct guidance from the leash. I was able to ask for behaviors with my commands and body language rather than use the leash to help show him where to be or what to do, even with distractions. Now moving forward I will focus on subtracting the leash entirely and rewarding his best efforts. Pharaoh is a gentle soul and he loves to play so my main means of reward has been an exciting game. Interact with him and move around and he is a very happy dog. The best policy for the remainder of training as well as his life is to be consistent and strict about boundaries but offer endless love and support along the way. He benefits from verbal praise and encouragement more than the average dog and it is never a bad idea to talk to him and tell him what a good job he does while he is doing it!
Today we were able to work off leash. When increasing duration for obedience behaviors aim for only a few seconds at a time, increasing after every successful repetition. If we are slow and steady our dogs will become solid in their behaviors and not lose focus. Time is our constant ally! If it is a rushed process the details can become muddy very quickly, so remember when frustrated or overwhelmed the best policy is the take our time and focus on the basics. If a farther distance is difficult to manage then make it shorter that you are away and build on that success. Boundaries help us to maintain our momentum but progress requires positivity and praise. Reward the dog!
Today Pharoah did very well working off leash. Sometimes he might make an error or drift out of position but when I have to remind him he works well at regaining his proper place. He has a tendency to vocalize when he is happy, upset and anything in between so it is important to read his body language as well as his voice when we use our stimulation so we can accurately gage his mood and how he is receiving the stimulation.
Today Pharoah and I went to the Santa Monica pier with some fellow trainers, and worked around new distractions. Pharoah has been doing very well with his obedience however, the intensity of the distractions and the size of the crowd was a bit overwhelming for him. We only have a few more days left but with that time I feel confident that we will be able to showcase all of the good work and the progress that Pharoah has made. Remember that dogs aren’t robots and can have off days just like people. Try and try again!
Today Pharaoh and I worked on relaxing while another reactive dog was present. It is important for dogs to experience being adjacent to distractions while they are in a calm and relaxed state of mind. We want them to be clear headed and thinking rather than reacting so practicing finding calm in new places around a variety of sounds and sights etc will increase a dog’s tolerance to stress and help them to remain calm when we need it most. Remember training dogs means being aware of their emotional state and we want to help them find the right balance in their lives between calm and attention without putting unfair expectations on them in a given moment.
Today Pharoah and I worked on break and jackpots. We want our dogs to be motivated by rewards and when we give our dog a break, it is important to always add value to the interaction. Be animated and excited with your voice and body language. Pharaoh is a sweet dog and he values interaction with people so putting an emphasis on play and games being personal will reinforce focus on the handler as well as be tremendously valuable to him.