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  • Writer's pictureScott Hansen

Riley | Wire Fox Terrier | Encino, CA | In-Training

Meet Riley! Riley is a 7-month-old Wire Fox Terrier from Encino, CA. Riley has joined Off Leash for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Riley is a sweet young pup who is here for structure and obedience. Riley doesn't recall when at the dog park and loves to pull on the leash when on walks. Riley comes to us not knowing very many commands. While with me, Riley will also have her potty training reinforced for a more consistent schedule. Riley is going to get a lot of exposure to distractions, she's going to visit a lot of places with me while interacting with humans young and old as well as socializing with other pups. Stay tuned for Riley's 14-day transformation!


Pupdate 5/7/23

Today I brought home Ms. Riley. On the way back home from picking up Ms. Riley, I stopped at my local park to see what Ms. Riley knows. It was as you would imagine, a lot more investigating than listening. That's ok! Today is usually a stressful day for the pups as they get acquainted with the new environment. After our stop at the park, I brought Ms. Riley home to meet my pack. Ms. Riley was checking everything out and seemed to be doing well. I gave her a chance to relax while my dog run fence was being repaired. I then introduced her to the other pups.

Tonight, I will take her on her one "free" walk around my neighborhood so that she can get familiar with all the sights and sounds that will be around. Tomorrow we will hit the ground running as I introduce the e-collar and start her on her Off Leash journey!

As a reminder, I attached a few photos of Ms. Riley's ears. I'll keep an eye on them to make sure it doesn't get worse or irritated. I'll be sure to contact you immediately if anything changes with them.


Pupdate 5/8/23

Today was the first official day of Riley's training. To say that it was off to a rough start would be an understatement! Ms. Riley is quite the stubborn pup. I introduced the e-collar and she wasn't too worried about the regular model so we're going to roll with that one. Once I figured out her level, I tried to take her on a walk around the backyard. And that was an interesting one. I don't think I have ever had a pup just stop using its back legs. It reminded me of the parent dragging their toddler who is having a tantrum out of the store. It's not that big of a deal but it was quite an interesting way to start our training. I gave up on the flat collar and e-collar for working on the "heel" for a minute as that's not a good way to learn. Compulsive training works for some dogs and other dogs it is counter-active. Not that I won't continue to try to use the leash pressure, but Ms. Riley is going to take some out-stubborning. I switched over to the "sit". She did ok with this one. What was interesting is that I put her in a "sit" and then tried to do the "Break!" and she wanted nothing to do with it despite my over-the-top antics. I went and retrieved my slip lead to see if that would give me any different results. It didn't! But she never moved while I went inside and obtained it. She stayed in the same spot! Boy, Ms. Riley is stubborn! I then tried to pick up my pace and move quickly to not give her a chance to slow down and lock her legs. She was keeping up better but as soon as I stopped, she anchored down again! Ms. Riley is a prime candidate for the pinch collar. I will introduce this and work on it tomorrow. The e-collar, the slip lead, and learning new tasks within 24 hours of moving to a new place is a lot of stress on a pup and they all take it differently. All this is ok, one of my main mottos is to be persistent and consistent. We will get there, once we get over the hump and get her buy-in I hope the training will smooth out after that.


Pupdate 5/9/23

Today Ms. Riley and I headed over to Rynerson Park in Lakewood, CA. Today was a lot better than yesterday for sure. I used the pinch collar today to try to get more buy-in from her and I was able to get it. I think the combination of the pinch collar and the outside was more motivating for her. I used the edge of the grass as a guideline for her to stay on the pavement. It was grass, Riley on the edge of the concrete, and then me. This way I kept her off the grass and right next to me with nowhere else to go. Once I got her to participate in this then I was able to do a long walk. I was able to work on her sit more consistently as well. By the time we were done with her long walk around the park, she was stopping and sitting whenever we came to a stop. This was really good progress from her and I didn't want to push it too much. I did reset her a few times with the come-to-sit motion and she was doing well with this reset. I even gave her a little leash dragging "heel" after walking for a few minutes. She didn't even know I had dropped it.

Ear note: Her ears are looking the same as when I picked her up.


Pupdate 5/10/23

Today I introduced Ms. Riley to her last few commands now that I have a little bit of buy-in from her. It's nowhere near where I would like it to be at this point but one of my motto is to stay persistent and consistent with the pups. So we will keep going and keep pushing Ms. Riley. You can see that she starts to get it and then she gives up on herself. As a trainer and you, as the pup parent, can't allow that. She is saying that she simply does not want to do something. Not wanting to do something and not being able to do things are two different things entirely. Ms. Riley is in the former. She is perfectly healthy and capable of all the things I am asking of her. What I need is for her to understand that despite her attempts at resisting, she is not going to get relief from the discomfort until she performs the proper command. I might try to use a little bit of her raw food that you sent over to win her over completely if I keep getting this level of resistance. We don't like to rely on treats, especially a dog on raw food, because then you'll have to have them everywhere you go. She is perfectly capable of understanding the commands and listening.

After the video you see today of me just trying to get her to buy in, we practiced her "place", "sit" and "down". I even kept working on the "come to sit". I was using a shorter leash because it gives me more control. This is all about a struggle over control and Ms. Riley is learning that she doesn't get to do everything she wants whenever she wants. We are making progress!


Pupdate 5/11/23

Last night Ms. Riley and I headed over to Rio San Gabriel Park in Downey, CA. We worked on reviewing all her commands. She is still a little unsure of the commands. She has generalized the "heel" to being grass, her, and then me. Now I need her to generalize the "heel" to be next to me. We swung by the dog park area and there was one of them empty. I wanted to see how it would go with her recall as you stated this is one of your biggest concerns. Well, it didn't go well! I will keep working on it with her. She still can be stubborn and give up. I even got to take a few pictures of her at dusk and you can see the light function of the e-collar being utilized.

Today we worked on being a good pup around the house. She has had no accidents at my house. I think the diet change of adding the pumpkin is what made her a little irregular prior to you bringing her but I have seen no significant signs of not being able to hold it for long periods of time or accidents or any negative behavior. She does bark when she needs to go outside and is willing to go straight to the door. I haven't had to do anything special for her at this point.


Pupdate 5/13/23

Today Ms. Riley and I headed over to Hacienda Park in La Habra Heights, CA. We met up with our Off Leash SoCal's Training Manager. Ms. Riley spent the day training with Ms. Sheena. Ms. Riley was receptive to Ms. Sheena and impressed me by showing off what she knew. Ms. Riley had no problem showing off some of her stubbornness as well but Ms. Sheena was consistent and persistent in what she asked of Ms. Riley and Ms. Riley was doing well. Ms. Riley can become easily distracted and combined with her stubbornness she is completely ignoring the one asking her to perform obedience tasks. It's a little bit of avoidance behavior as well call it. She's avoiding eye contact and using her body to ignore us so she doesn't have to follow through. Because of this, we moved her e-collar over to the opposite side so that when we have to go up high enough to get her attention she will be looking at us for guidance. Then we immediately lower the level back down and have her perform the obedience task. This is going to be the trick when we work on the recall is getting her attention to us so that she can't ignore us anymore.


Pupdate 5/13/23

Today Ms. Riley and I headed to Rio San Gabriel Park in Downey, CA. We worked on all her commands but the main focus was coming to "sit", extended "sit", extended "down" and loading into and out of the car. Yesterday, when Ms. Riley was working with Ms. Sheena, we switched from pinch to flat collar for half the day. So with that in mind, another goal of mine was to work on the flat collar today so that we can get ready to work off-leash. She did ok with the flat collar. Ms. Riley is very stubborn. She will get all the tension in the leash for no real reason and then that creates push and pull. As soon as the tension and stimulation are released, then she performs the task. As you can see in the load-up car manners, she started off with a lot of leash tension but by the end, she was performing the task with little tension if any at all. Good job today Ms. Riley!

Potty training note: Ms. Riley still hasn't had any accidents. We fed her at 0700 today, she was let back out for a few hours, then when I took her to the park for training, she pooped around 1145am. The poop was small blackish-colored poop. We have been feeding her the pumpkin and fish oil pills and there isn't any indication that either one is upsetting her stomach or causing excessive potty breaks.


Pupdate 5/14/23

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers in your life including Ms. Riley's fur mama!

Last night, we headed over to a local carnival to see how Ms. Riley would do around all the distractors. There was a lot going on by the time I walked over there with her. She actually did well despite all the distractions. I even had my mini-trainer work with her. Ms. Riley was willing to let her walk her on more than one occasion. She was pulling a little bit which was to be expected in such a stressful environment. Low-level stimulation was enough to get her attention or even a quick "sit" reset would get her back to working normal. We didn't stay too long as I didn't want to overwhelm her and I wanted it to be a positive experience. You can see in the video, that once we were further away and walking home, Ms. Riley was much better behaved even with my mini-trainer walking her.

Today, we will focus on more backyard activities and maybe introduce off-leash work depending on how attentive she is being.


Pupdate 5/15/23

Today I finally let Riley conduct some off-leash work. You requested an update on her recall. I started the video by having her on the flat collar and no e-collar. As you can see, that wasn't very successful. She ran to the door and to the fence gate to the dog run. She ignored me. As you know, Ms. Riley has been quite stubborn. I will say that unfortunately for you and me, Ms. Riley is a lot more receptive to the higher tone of a female's voice. I can only get my voice so high(my last American Idol tryout didn't go so well), good thing I am a dog trainer! With that in mind, the more excited and as high as we can get our voices to go motivates Ms. Riley a lot more. Her stimulation levels are usually pretty low and I find if I have to go too high, I could use my voice and get more cooperation out of her. So as you can see in the video, I went ahead and put the e-collar on and although she didn't recall right away, with enough stimulation and encouragement from me, she found her way back. This leads to my secret dog training formula:

Stimulus + Response --> Consequence

What does this mean? This mean's that when I ask Ms. Riley to "Sit" + low-level stimulation (that is the stimulus) then her response should be a proper "sit" (her response). If she performs it correctly, then we cease the stimulation and any leash pressure, and now her positive consequence is that we say "good girl" or give her a little rub of her neck or tummy. Now if we give the same stimulus (verbal "sit" + low-level stimulation) and she decides not to do the "sit" then there has to be a negative consequence. The consequence can be a "tsk"+"sit"+leash pressure up(we are starting the formula over and giving her a new stimulus to provoke the wanted response) until she performs the actual "sit" or even more stimulation. As soon as she performs the proper response, we release all pressure from the leash, stop administering stimulation and give her a positive consequence or reward for doing it correctly which would be more rubbing of the belly or neck. There is a thing such as too much positive reward which can lead to breaking the commands as well. Ms. Riley is pretty good about not breaking and isn't overly excited like some pups when given praise so praise her for all her good(wanted) behavior in the highest voice you can muster!

Note: Ms. Riley does have some redness around both of her armpits. I am thinking it's from the increased time outside and the warming up. I know she mostly lives inside with you guys. I have been trying to balance her playing outside and being inside so she doesn't feel left out with the other girls. Her ears look a lot better, the scabs are coming off and the color is returning to a normal ear color. No bad odor or anything coming from her ears and it doesn't appear to be affecting her in an adverse way. I have been mindful of her skin and have been checking her regularly.


Pupdate 5/16/23

Today Ms. Riley and a momentous day. I had forecasted this day but I just wasn't sure when it was going to happen. Ms. Riley has now given in to my persistent and consistent game plan. It has paid off after all. Not only is Ms. Riley performing well, but she is also quickly improving every day and every session. On top of that, I think she actually really likes me again! This is great news all around! A few things to note, Ms. Riley will still attempt to do her own thing but she is responsive to the stimulus of the e-collar. Without being able to hold her accountable for unwanted behavior i.e. no leash or e-collar attached, she will get away with whatever she wants. As you see in the video today, I put the leash back on her as soon as she messed up the come to "sit". There is no longer any excuse for her to mess this up. You can also see that we worked on her door manners, loading into and out of the car. The name of the game from now until Saturday is more, more, more. Now that she has a solid foundation in a low-stress environment, we will up the distractions again and make sure that her "heel" and recall are nice and consistent.


Pupdate 5/17/23

Today Ms. Riley and I headed out for our first off-leash expedition in a public area. We went to Rynerson Park in Lakewood, CA. Overall, a pretty good experience. Ms. Riley understands the e-collar and to perform something when even the lowest level stimulations are applied. The only thing that is a little off at this time is that her "heel" is so generalized to the edge of the sidewalk that she will visually go to the edge, even pull over there to be in what she thinks is the correct spot. I spent a lot of time walking around in the grass as well and she was good at being in the correct position but as soon as we got near the sidewalk she would bee-line to the edge. Now, this shouldn't really be a problem for you on your walks but I'll keep working with her and trying to get her to understand that the edge is not the only place to be when we "heel". This is called generalization and it works for us and against us sometimes. I used this tactic to teach it to her and due to things like the law of primacy which talks about the first way you learn something, it kind of gets stuck in your mind that way and you have to work really hard to unlearn it if you learned it incorrectly. So once again, Ms. Riley has taken that route, and it's ingrained in her mind so that requires a lot of counter-conditioning and reps in the different positions. Lastly, she did wander off or was in the incorrect position a few times but she was willing to return and didn't bolt off. If she does wander off or looks overwhelmed, remember, giving more stimulation isn't going to help the situation and we should probably ease off of it and use our super high voice and call her back with low stimulation so that she understands and wants to come to us.

Skin note: Left armpit area seems to have cleared up, and ears are still looking much better, only issue right now is still some redness in the right area. I will keep an eye on it and ensure it doesn't bother her too much. She's still willing to practice and head outside when it's time for potty breaks. This weather is all over the place with being cool, humid, or hot and that might be irritating the folds and creases on her.


Pupdate 5/18/23

Today Ms. Riley and I went to Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, CA. We worked around a lot of distractors and around a lot of people. We met up with our fellow Off Leash trainers and their pups. Overall, a really good day for Ms. Riley. At times she will break off or go in the wrong direction because she is anticipating where I am going to go. Nothing a little tap on the hip and a "Riley, Heel" can't fix. Using the stimulation is important when that doesn't get her attention but as soon as we have it, we want to use that high-pitched voice and encourage her to come back to her proper position. Only, two more days until you get her back! We can't wait to show you how much she has leveled up her game!


Pupdate 5/19/23

Today Ms. Riley and I headed over to Los Cerritos Center in Cerritos, CA. We reviewed all her commands around a lot of distractors. Ms. Riley did really well and I am super proud of the progress we have made. As a reminder here are all the commands she has learned during her board and train:

  1. Sit/Extended Sit

  2. Down/Extended Down

  3. Place/Extended Place

  4. Heel

  5. Come to Sit

  6. Off!

  7. Break!

  8. Car Manners

  9. Door Manners

  10. Food Manners

  11. Greeting Manners



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