top of page
  • Writer's pictureOffLeash SoCal

Rhodesian Ridgeback | Cleo | Oxnard, CA

Cleo, a Rhodesian Ridgeback from Oxnard, CA went through the Balanced Canine Training SoCal Board and Train Program. Cleo was trained by Megan Cameron in Studio City, CA.

Cleo came to Balanced Canine Training SoCal with varying behavioral issues, including pulling on the leash, squirrel chasing, jumping up when greeting, counter surfing, generally not listening to commands, and barking at strangers. Balanced Canine Training SoCal was successful in transforming Walker into a well-managed pup.


Introducing Cleo, the lively 12-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback hailing from sunny Oxnard, California. This lively pup is embarking on a transformative three-week board and train program. Cleo's journey with us begins with a clear goal in mind: to refine her behavior and elevate her interactions with family members, particularly the children. With her boundless energy and love for play, Cleo has the potential to shine even brighter after this comprehensive training experience.

Cleo's endearing enthusiasm sometimes leads to challenges in distinguishing playtime from other situations. During her time with us, we're committed to addressing these issues head-on. We'll be focusing on essential cues such as staying in the sit , and down command, ensuring Cleo learns to respond promptly and reliably. Additionally, we'll work on curtailing her habit of jumping on people and nipping as a form of play. By guiding Cleo through structured exercises and positive reinforcement, we aim to channel her energy into well-defined behaviors that align with her family's expectations.

Be sure to check back to witness the incredible strides Cleo will make during her three-week boarding and training adventure.


Pupdate 8/13/23

Once I brought Cleo home, it was time to kickstart her training adventure. Our first move was to introduce her to the kennel setup in the living room. This spot is going to be her safe haven, where she'll get the hang of house manners and find her own cozy corner.

Starting off on the right foot is key. Cleo seemed curious but cautious, checking out her new digs. I'm aware that she might settle in and things could shift a bit, but establishing those house rules right from the start is essential.

After the kennel intro, we ventured out for a walk around the neighborhood. It wasn't just any ordinary walk, though- we practiced heel every step of the way. As we continued our walk, it was clear that she was grasping the learning process quickly. Of course, I understand that there might be moments when her excitement gets the better of her, but I'm fully committed to guiding her growth and ensuring she internalizes the lessons. Tomorrow we will go a lot harder and take it to the park to introduce her to all the cues.


pupdate 8/14/23

Today marked Cleo's first full day with me, and our training journey continues. Focusing on heel and walking, I introduced her to the rules of walking beside me. Being new and a bit timid, Cleo surprised me with how well she listened and followed cues during our heel exercises. While she occasionally needed gentle leash reminders to sit and heel correctly, her timid nature meant I showered her with praise and love after each successful attempt.

During our walk, we encountered some barking and reactive dogs. Cleo initially showed interest, but with my guidance, she remained confident and composed. Using the cue "off," I redirected her attention whenever she wanted to engage with the other dogs. It was impressive how quickly she grasped the concept, as she smoothly passed the next few dogs we encountered.

Of course, we'll continue to work on this skill throughout the three-week board and training program. After our morning walk, we headed home, where I fed Cleo and allowed her to relax on her cot in the cool AC of the evening. Later, as the sun goes down, we'll embark on another walk to further practice heel and sit cues. Cleo's progress so far has been promising, and I'm looking forward to the growth and achievements that lie ahead in our training journey.


Pupdate 8/15/23

Cleo and I had a productive day at the park, training alongside other dogs and their trainers. She recalled the behaviors I've been instilling in her and behaved well. Surprisingly, she took a nap around other dogs, showing maturity and control. Later, we worked on heel, place, down, and sit cues, aiming to strengthen her leash manners and connection with me. My goal is to maintain an enjoyable and adventurous training experience for Cleo while building her trust and excitement towards me.

(Note: Despite being provided with sufficient potty breaks, Cleo is still urinating in her kennel. This behavior will be closely observed to maintain her sanitary conditions and ensure her mental, physical, and emotional well-being with minimal stress.)


Pupdate 8/16/23

Continuing from yesterday, in the midst of the hot weather, Cleo got to enjoy a refreshing bath that she seemed to enjoy as it refreshed her. Then Cleo enjoyed a long walk and then dinner.

Cleo's appetite remains consistent, an indicator of her overall well-being. The following day dawned with a trip to the park, where we engaged in reinforcing her training cues. "Heel," "come to sit," and "place" were the focus of our session.

While Cleo is familiar with these cues, there are times when she appears less inclined to follow them. My goal is to bring her to the point where she walks by my side with her tail held high, truly enjoying our time together. Although we haven't reached that stage yet, there's undeniable progress. Her tail, once timidly tucked between her legs, now finds a place midway up, a testament to the trust that's gradually building between us.

On another note, I've recently realized that Cleo's potty training isn't entirely complete. Despite ample opportunities to relieve herself outdoors, she sometimes defecates inside or mid heel. In response, I've decided to extend her potty time to up to 10 minutes per potty break, ensuring she has every chance to understand the command "potty." It's a process that demands consistency and patience, and I'm determined to see her succeed. Along with that, I will throw her a huge celebration when she potties outside to make sure she’s excited about potty time.

Looking ahead, my plan involves reinforcing her good behavior with positive affirmation and perhaps a treat or two (or many). It's all about creating a connection between her and I! Stay tuned for more updates on our adventure together!


Pupdate 8/17/23

On our early morning park adventure, we focused on reinforcing essential cues like 'sit,' 'place,' 'heel,' and 'down.' Our bonding time included playful tricks that added a delightful touch to our interaction. Cleo embraced the activities the best way she could and enjoyed herself. On the other hand, her laid-back nature shone through as she preferred lounging and sleeping most of the time. Despite the park being filled with other dogs, Cleo showed minimal interest in them. A few instances of jumping and barking occurred, but our swift reminders about behavior expectations helped guide her by firmly

reminding her of the "off" cue. Cleo's wonderful and sweet personality continues to bloom, even with her display of calmness.


Pupdate 8/18/23

Continuing from our previous day, we spent it bonding, offering belly rubs, and sharing cuddles. Cleo's reluctance shaped our activities, so I tailored the day around her preferences to ensure her comfort and contentment. Our training sessions were broken into small segments, allowing Cleo to engage at her own pace. During these times, I focused on teaching her the "down" command and showered her with praise and belly rubs when she succeeded.

Back at home, Cleo took a rest and encountered a few tests. I left out a trash bin with tempting food items, but she didn't show much interest and behaved respectfully. I also heated up some food to fill the room with enticing aromas, but Cleo remained uninterested. Her well-behaved nature shone through even in these situations, and her comportment continued to impress.I had my roomates walk in and out of the house and she remained calm. I also heeled with her up and down the stairs and she remained by my side. Although she isn't perfect in every area in heeling she did well today!


Pupdate 8/19/23

Cleo and I started our day with a short and invigorating walk, tailored to her preference for a manageable stroll. Followed by training, which started a bit bumpy due to Cleo's initial reluctance but I remain determined to conquer this challenge together. My goal is to transform these exercises into enjoyable activities, fostering her willingness through treats, praise, and an element of fun.

After our walk and training, Cleo engaged in a brief game of fetch that she didnt fully embrace, but her excitement showed as she energetically chased the toy around. Following this burst of activity, she needed some rest and took a nap. Later on, Cleo enjoyed some free time around the house, sticking close to me as I moved about. Even though she accompanied me, she showed a lack of appetite when offered her breakfast. I remain optimistic that with patience and the right approach, Cleo will warm up to these activities and gradually become more enthusiastic. The next few days It will rain, so we are preparing to have bond building exercises indoors in hopes that we can add in distractions next week. Stay tuned for more!


Pupdate 8/20/23

Today, we aimed to beat the rain for our morning walk. However, Cleo had different plans and seemed uninterested in going out. When she lags behind me, it's her way of showing disinterest. So, we headed back home and decided to practice some cues in the front yard. Around 7 am, the rain started, and Cleo promptly returned inside.

Now that Cleo has grown more comfortable with me, I'm focusing on testing her manners. I set up faux trash bins with food to gauge her response, and I even had breakfast next to her. Surprisingly, she came over to the table but only sniffed the air before resting on her cot. It's evident that she will prefer human food over dog food anyday. So, this indicated that she's passing these tests and behaving just as I expect her to at home.

Moving on to indoor activities, we engaged in short-range fetch. Her excitement led her to jump on me, but I corrected her promptly. These moments might not be perfect, but they offer excellent training opportunities. During the same session, her excitement still got the best of her, yet she managed to restrain herself from jumping.

After a break, we resumed with cues like "down," "sit," "come," and "heel." Cleo moves at a slow pace, and she's still adapting to the concept of accountability. I firmly believe that consistency will play a crucial role in her progress.


Pupdate 8/21/23

Today's session with Cleo was a true breakthrough! She impressed me by following all cues energetically and demonstrating a clear understanding of my instructions, even though occasional reminders were needed. Her heeling progress is almost near perfection, and I'm excited for the tremendous changes I anticipate this week. On another note, Cleo encountered a distracting cat during our training, which provided an excellent opportunity to address distractions. Cleo did exceptionally well by working through the distraction, and this experience will undoubtedly contribute to our progress.

Ironically, in the evening, when we commenced again, and she was in an environment that she was more comfortable in (my home), Cleo displayed a bit more "unwillingness". It's clear to me now that she is a different pup at home then she is at the park. For the remainder of this week, we will be splitting our training exercise (half at home and half at parks) to make sure we target her willingness to cooperate.

*note: after the video, I asked her to break and she went to the grass to nap. She is truly one of kind and the perfect sleeping companion.


Cleo Pupdate 8/22/23

Continuing from where we left off, Cleo's day started with a bit of resistance to cues, but with persistent efforts, she began to listen and engage. Consistency remains vital in fostering her cooperation, as initial bumps often smooth out over time. Our outing to the West Covina Court, featuring a library and charming park, provided ample chances for distractions. Despite a shaky beginning, Cleo managed to do well and navigate through the day admirably. Her extended stay and extended down cue were extended to about 1.5 minutes and she did amazing. Stay tuned for more!


Pupdate 8/23

This morning, we started early and began with a brisk walk for Cleo. Our training session followed our usual pattern, starting with a bit of resistance and encountering a few challenges along the way.  However, Cleo displayed a clear understanding of the cues. Despite her initial unwillingness, I'll need to ensure I hold her accountable. During these moments of Cleo displaying any unwillingness to follow through it is crucial that we as the human continue to persevere in completing the task at hand.Later today, we plan to head to the park for a more vibrant environment, armed with treats in the hopes of boosting her mood and willingness. We plan to come across many small pets to test her behavior and manners around them. Stay tuned for further updates.

(Notes: after our morning session Cleo placed herself on my roomates yoga mat, and also threw herself on the floor to protest my efforts in training)


Cleo Pupdate 8/24

Our day began early with a trip to the West Covina Library. Our focus was on practicing essential cues with Cleo. While starting with the leash is often necessary, over time, she grows comfortable with being off-leash. It's heartening to see her initial resistance give way to cooperation through patience and dedication. The "under" cue remains a work in progress, even as she  seems to have a preference for lingering beneath picnic tables and chairs. Nonetheless, her eventual commitment to following through is something that requires patience. It’s come to my attention that sometimes Cleo needs a more firm cue, rather than one in a “Mickey mouse” voice, which is my common go-to voice. Stay tuned for more!


Cleo Pupdate 8/25

Today’s adventure lead Cleo and I to the Monclair mall, where we decided to practice with distractions. Cleo's uniqueness shines through, as she defies the typical traits of a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Unlike her counterparts who love exercise and are known for their working abilities, Cleo prefers to spend her time lounging and taking it easy.

Given Cleo's one-of-a-kind nature, our training sessions have often faced challenges. It's been an ongoing journey to spark her interest and enthusiasm for obedience training. Despite encountering hurdles when she loses interest, today, after a training session, we took a leisurely stroll through the bustling mall. Our goal was to observe her behavior around crowds, especially children, ensuring she refrained from jumping on anyone.

We also engaged in drills designed to overly excite Cleo, followed by opportunities to display her calm demeanor and good manners. This provided valuable insights into her behavior and response to varying stimuli. While Cleo might not fit the conventional mold of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, our efforts to train and encourage her are paving the way for a unique and rewarding companionship.


Cleo Pupdate 8/26

Cleo's adventure started with an extended walk, allowing us to focus on our training goals. We took the opportunity to practice greeting strangers with proper manners, a task Cleo handled well. Off-leash for the entirety of our walk, she responded flawlessly to cues, showing  how far she's come.

However, one challenge persists—Cleo's lack of confidence with the "under" cue. It's clear that she feels uneasy and unsure during this command. As her guide, my responsibility is to help her feel secure. I'm dedicated to finding ways to address this discomfort and build her confidence over time.

Cleo's growth remains a source of pride, demonstrating the progress that can come from consistent training. While not every step is flashy, each one, including the challenges, contributes to our shared journey. I'm excited to witness her continued development and to share updates tomorrow where we showcase her talents via video. Stay tuned!

*Note: please take a moment to enjoy Cleo's beautiful smile, as it has brought me tremendous joy in our short time together.


Pupdate 8/27/23

Cleo and I delved into a day of polishing her heeling skills and impressive manners in the picturesque setting of a regional park. “Place" “down” “sit” commands and navigating through busy areas became our training ground, and I must admit, Cleo's performance was nothing short of impressive.

Amidst the tranquil backdrop, a few squirrel-chasing impulses and the excitement of other dogs crossed Cleo's path, but she swiftly snapped back to her well-learned manners. Her journey towards mastering self-restraint is a work in progress, requiring the occasional friendly reminder.

Our attempts at different cue sets were met with the scorching heat wearing Cleo down. Recognizing the need for a change, we let her soak in the beauty of her surroundings, saving cue mastery for later that day. Tomorrow's plan involves shifting our practice indoors, providing an air-conditioned environment that will allow us to fine-tune every cue. This controlled environment will undoubtedly nurture Cleo's growth as she continues her path to becoming the poised and perfect pup she's destined to be.

Note: around 5pm, it cooled at we went back to training. She did OK with her cues but when it came to "under" she was a complete diva. Although she's done this before, and was offered plenty of treats, she refused to follow through "under"( to the point where treats weren't enough of a bargaining chip). When I was told how "adimant" ridgebacks could be, I didn't quite understand it. I do now! Either way, she's a delight to be around and we will keep being patient and consistent with her.


Pupdate 8/28/23

Today's blog continues with Cleo's progress. She's been doing well with understanding the "under" concept, which was initially challenging due to her persistence. Positive reinforcement, consistency, and accountability have been instrumental in her improvement. Our efforts are paying off, as she's now performing the task on her own. We're also dedicating time to exposure training with outside dogs. While Cleo initially wants to approach them excitedly, she's showing better manners after being corrected.

I'm thrilled that Cleo has come a long way from being a leash puller and is responding better to cues. I hope that by the time she goes home, she'll have undergone the complete transformation we all wished for. On a different note, I noticed some small spots on her legs. It's unclear whether she got them at the park or in the past few days. After inspection, there doesn't seem to be any lesion, but as a precaution, we've cleaned her kennel, treated her feet with antifungal solutions, and applied Neosporin. It's possible that she scraped herself at the park while practicing the "under" cue. Cleo's health and safety remain my top priority, and I'll continue to monitor her closely.

*note: the last photo is from 8/15. Her feet seem to have dark sports which indicate early forming of these spots. Again, I will closely monitor this and apply any updates.


Pupdate 8/29/23

Cleo and I experienced an eventful day. We had a great time at the park and then had the pleasure of visiting Mike, the owner of Off Leash SoCal. Both Mike and our manager Sheena warmly welcomed us into their home to introduce Cleo to playful children. With Mike's guidance, we organized exposure training to address Cleo's initial concerns, including jumping and biting around kids. Today's training brought us closer to our goal, and Cleo demonstrated impeccable manners while interacting with the children, as you can see in the video. Later, Sheena tested Cleo's energy levels, and although Cleo initially playfully engaged with her arm, Sheena promptly reminded her of the expected behavior. Cleo responded positively, and we're optimistic that her progress will continue once she's back home.


Pupdate 8/30/23

Over the past day, evening, and today, we've dedicated our focus to refining Cleo's extended cues. I aimed to assess her in a dynamic setting, surrounded by high energy, kids, and other dog walkers. Currently, we expect Cleo to exhibit consistent Off Leash reliability. Our primary objective now is to fine-tune all her cues before her departure. Despite encountering a few hiccups and distractions, Cleo's performance is truly commendable. While she initially displays some hesitation, she gradually becomes more at ease and responsive.


Cleo Pupdate 8/31/23

(please hear audio in video)


Pupdate 9/1/23

Last night, Cleo and I attended a city event where she had the opportunity to be fully Off Leash. Many people were enjoying their meals, accompanied by their dogs and children. Navigating through the crowded space, Cleo remained impressively in control, right by my side! Her exceptional manners drew admiration from everyone around.

As the morning sun greeted us, Cleo and I were up early. We started our day with a short walk, during which I made sure Cleo stayed engaged and close by. After about 10 minutes, she slowed down, so we decided to head back home for a quick break.

Our day then shifted to obedience training. Despite Cleo already mastering most of the cues, I felt it was important to refine her skills. Like any other day, we began with a bit of resistance and stubbornness, but we persevered. I cheered her on and kept the training sessions exciting.

Throughout the day, we kept things simple and short, ensuring Cleo's continued success. Her hard work paid off as she earned rewards, including some well-deserved lounging time on her cot in the comfort of the air conditioning.

(Note: Although off leash reliable, city regulations require leash. Photos will often have a leash in them, although not used)


Pupdate 9/2/23

Today marks Cleo's last day with me, and our day began early as we aimed to beat the rain, although luck wasn't on our side. Nevertheless, we decided to fine-tune her manners - focusing on car etiquette, mealtime etiquette, and general behavior. Since it's our final day together, I wanted it to be filled with fun and excitement, even though we opted to stay indoors to avoid wet grass due to the rain.

Cleo spent most of the day relaxing on her favorite cot, savoring the comfort and warmth indoors. We also dedicated some time to obedience training, just to ensure she hadn't forgotten what we've worked on during these past three weeks. Cleo has been an absolute joy to have, and I'm elated that she's returning home, where she can showcase the remarkable transformation she's undergone during her stay with me.

It's always tough to say goodbye, but knowing Cleo is going back as a well-mannered and transformed pup makes it a bittersweet farewell.



bottom of page