Rosie | Boston Terrier Mix | Lynwood, CA | In-Training
Meet Rosie! A one year old Boston terrier mix has joined us for our Two-Week board and train program. Rosie comes to us to work on confidence building (especially when in new environments), loves to tear apart furniture whenever left alone due to her separation anxiety, jumps whenever seeking attention, and barks/growls at anything she is unfamiliar with in hopes of it going away.
Over these next two weeks, Rosie and I will emphasize our work on building a solid foundation for her training while we expose her to plenty of new environments, implementing proper socialization as we work through her anxiety to help her be the best pup she can possibly be. Stay tuned for her Two-Week transformation!
Today Rosie and I became more familiar with each other as she got settled in at my house. She took some time to warm up to me, appearing timid with her tail tucked in and ears pinned back. She explored the front of my house as we walked around the block, exposing her to her new environment. She then slowly began to approach me on her terms as I gave her space. By the end of our little stroll, she was seeking affection and is a very sweet pup! We will keep building a bond before we get started on some obedience tomorrow!
Today was Rosie’s first time in a public setting with me which allowed me to evaluate how she responds to different triggers of hers. She warmed up to me and seeks reassurance from me which is great, however she is not a fan of new people approaching anywhere near her. She would much rather avoid people altogether. She became so nervous the first few times, that she urinated as soon as another person came near her.
She shows teeth and growls out of fear. Now that I have seen her response to people and dogs, we began to introduce her to a few communication tools such as the slip lead and e collar.
The slip lead is used to guide Rosie 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. Rosie at first resisted the leash pressure. Once I marked and rewarded (with tons of love since she was not receptive to treats) the few steps she took in the direction I wanted her to go, she began to understand how to turn the pressure off. She still resists every now and then but is learning to follow my lead. I Cued Rosie’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. She is expected to check in before anything which conditions her to trust her handlers guidance. We then Heeled around the whole park together which is the action of Rosie walking on my left hand side, checking in with me, matching my pace as she makes frequent turns with me. She is expected to Sit whenever I stop walking. Rosie did great with this, staying by my left hand side following the guidance of the leash. Once it was time to go home, we worked on confidence building by motivating her to jump in the car and into the kennel. After a few warm ups she matched my energy as I guided her into the car. She had fun with this as she jumped in and out more and more confidently each time! Great progress Rosie!
Today was a day of socialization as I introduced Rosie to the pack back at home. I wanted to see how she responds to both new dogs and new people. She seems to be quite neutral initially towards other dogs. She will approach and allow them to sniff her. As time passed she eventually played briefly with Maui the Bernedoodle that I have. After playing a little she mainly followed me around, seeking attention. I try not to shower her with attention too much, especially when she demands it. I provide extra affection to her when she is working mainly, which helps her motivation to work.
Rosie is responding to leash pressure quite well, not resisting as much as yesterday. Her Heel has improved significantly, and she is beginning to check in with me. I then introduced her to Come to Sit on my left hand side. By applying leash pressure towards me and backing away from her, she felt invited to come to me and eventually Sit next to me ready to Heel. I give her frequent breaks which helps with decompressing her stress when we are out and about. It is important to have that structure with her when walking. Heel means she is expected to stay by your side, not sniffing around and stopping as she pleases. Once she is on Break, she is free to do as she pleases within reason.
Rosie and I ventured out to the park where we exposed her to new people, dogs, and smells. Rosie at first was very distracted by the kids running around, trying to pull towards them during our Heel. When she pulls one direction, I turn the opposite direction she wants to go. This helps redirect her, as well as teaches her that pulling is not rewarded.
Today was the first day that Rosie was comfortable enough to take treats which is huge! This allows me to now work on counter conditioning, creating more of a positive association utilizing classical conditioning, to help her overcome her fears of the world.
We explored our surroundings as we Heeled together making frequent turns, having her Sit whenever I stop walking. We emphasized our work on her Extended Sit, and Come to Sit. After many repetitions she demonstrated consistency with holding her Sit for up to a minute, which is halfway to 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. Having something familiar for Rosie to Place on while adapting to an unfamiliar environment, helps bridge the transition much more quickly. We then built duration with this as she held it for a minute long. Great job Rosie!
Rosie and I ventured out to the beach today. This was a great way to expose her to a new environment and work on socialization. There are quite a lot of distractions at the beach that startled her. Crowds of people and loud noises from bicycles made her skittish, as she was very avoidant at first. After some time, she loosened up enough to begin to Heel next to me. I didn’t apply too much pressure on her, as my main goal is to build her confidence and make sure she does not shut down.
Once she became comfortable enough to Heel consistently, we worked on her Place command. She did great with this and didn’t need much encouragement to jump onto a new surface, however she did struggle to hold position. We worked on short increments of time, then worked our way up to 30 seconds consistently. This was a lot for Rosie to take in, so I was very proud of her for performing despite her severe anxiety.
Rosie and I took a trip to the Del Amo mall! There were plenty of distractions to work her through, with the biggest ones being others dogs and large crowds of people. Rosie needs a lot of encouragement along with extra communication while working through her anxiety. Guiding her with leash pops in the direction I want to go, as well as marking her good behavior with the word Yes helps motivate her to work . It takes her about 30 minutes to become comfortable enough in her environment to take treats. Until then, her rewards are affection, which she loves!
She had the chance to work with another trainer briefly. After working with him for some time, she warmed up to him and allowed him to pet her. She even took a treat from him! Great job Rosie!
Today Rosie and I focused our work on introducing her to the Down command. Since this is a very submissive position, it is not an easy task for an anxious dog. We began to work on this in an environment she is familiar with first, to help her learn at a quicker rate. Once we solidly that foundation at home, we can then raise the expectations and have her perform this in an unfamiliar environment with distractions present.
I had her practice Place a few times and waited to capture her perform Down on her own. Since most dogs feel comfortable on an elevated Place cot, it makes it that much easier to capture and reinforce the behavior she performs naturally. After I captured it a few times and marked it, I began to request it from her on cue. I cued Place then Down with my palms facing the floor. If she needed the help, I applied slight leash pressure downwards as I gave the signal. With a lot of patience, she eventually stopped resisting and rested her elbows. I praised her then repetitively practiced this with her until she became more fluent. We have some work to do but she has caught on to this command and is beginning to voluntarily offer down much more frequently than before. Teaching an anxious dog to settle down helps tremendously with helping them regulate their emotions.
Rosie spent her morning playing with the pack. She has really come out of her shell and seems to enjoy playing with the other pups. This took her a few days to get accustomed to. Socializing with a pack helps build her confidence and will prevent her fear of the outside of the world from escalating. It is recommended to only socialize her with dogs that you know and trust. It only takes one traumatic experience with another dog to set her back into a fearful state. Making sure that playtime is monitored, and energy is reciprocated from both dogs is essential in creating a great experience for them both.
We then began to train, emphasizing our work on her Down command paired with Place. At times Rosie begins to test the Down by resisting the pressure of the leash. Once I changed the levels of stimulation on her, she responded more quickly. After a few repetitions, she began to learn that she was in charge of the stimulation of the collar. As soon as she follows through, the stimulation stops. We then built distance between us for her Down. I walked to the end of the leash then came back to mark her good behavior with a Yes. She knows she is free to go when I cue Break.
During training, my brother came in and out of the backyard which triggered her to bark defensively. I cued Off and stimulated her with the collar for not responding to the Cue. She stopped barking and then sat. Rosie seems to be territorial when she is in a familiar place. We will continue to work on Greeting Manners with slow introductions to new people to help desensitize her and build a more positive association with new encounters.
Rosie had an eventful day of proper socialization with her pack as well as new people. We went on a trip to the park where we worked on her obedience, as well as worked her near big distractions/triggers. She was very interested in the other dogs that were by us as we worked on her Extended Sit with added distance, Come to Sit, Place & Down.
After working on her obedience, I let the leash drag as she went to greet a few other trainers. I rewarded her for approaching all on her own. She then went to approach multiple times as I gave the other trainers a few treats. I lured her towards the trainers and after a few tries, she took treats from both of them! After plenty of repetitions she warmed up to them, seeking affection. This was a breakthrough for Rosie. We will keep working on building positive experiences for her to keep gaining that confidence. Great job Rosie!
Rosie and I went on a trip to the outlets today where we had the opportunity to proof her commands in a vey crowded area. We worked on classical conditioning which is the action of exposing and intentionally creating an experience with her trigger that would allow Rosie to generalize good things to happen instead of negative things. I use a positive interrupter at her threshold to create a positive association in the presence of the trigger. Until she start doing it on their own without the reward then we begin to move closer.
We then Heeled around the outlets together for about 10 minutes before we began to work on Place with Down, Come to Sit, and her Extended Sit. Rosie is very hyper vigilant of her surroundings, often fixating on people she is unsure of. She is particularly not a fan of kids and their high energy levels. As you can see in the video, she was approached in a very sudden way by a child. She became very defensive and growled while lunging. I popped the leash upwards while applying stimulation at a higher level to help grab her attention and correct the barking. I also put myself in between and told the child to not approach. She had a hard time working through that so we decompressed as we walked together to diffuse the situation. After a decompression walk she was then able to hold her Extended Place with Down command up to two minutes which is our goal! Teaching an anxious dog like Rosie to settle Down, especially when near her biggest triggers, is how she learns to work through that temporary discomfort and trust her handler.
Rosie and I took a trip to the mall to prepare her for her Final video. After we took a stroll around the mall, she became more acclimated to her surroundings and stopped shaking, yet was still very hyper vigilant. She appears to be more comfortable in open spaces. If we are in very close quarters of crowds of people, especially kids, she begins to panic. I work her through this by making sure I am always in between her and whatever is coming our way. It is best to not let her fixate on anything for too long. When she does this she is loading up to react. To interrupt this, I call her name and stimulate her at a very low level. This helps her focus on her handler and prevents her from reacting to anyone she is unsure of. She began to check in with me more as we walked in and out of stores in the mall. Anytime she checked in with me on her own, I marked it with a Yes and rewarded her as well.
She was able to Come to Sit when called, hold her Place with Down for two minutes, and Sit while I was about 10 feet away from her. Building distance between us requires confidence from Rosie which she is improving on everyday!
Rosie absolutely killed it while filming her Final video today at The Cerritos Mall! She had about 15 minutes of preparation time before we began to film around this moderately distracting mall. Rosie was excited to be at the mall, as I noticed for the first time ever, her tail was held high and wagging as soon as we arrived! Normally her tail would be tucked in completely, as she would nervously shake for an entire hour before acclimating to her new environment.
She happily Heeled with me as we explored her new environment. Crowds of people are Rosie’s biggest challenge to train near, as she is a very anxious pup when near people with high levels of energy. When training near her triggers, the most essential goal to keep in mind is maintaining eye contact. We play the name game whenever she is holding position. By keeping her engaged with me, she is less worried about her surroundings, and more focused on training, which is key! As you can see in the video, I do not allow her to fixate on anyone for too long. She may glance, but not stare. If she ignores me when I call her, I stimulate her with the e collar at a low level which is usually at level 3. This breaks her fixation, and helps her follow through with what is requested of her. She held her Extended Sit, Down, and Place command for up to two minutes. She reliably comes when called and no longer pulls when walking. Amazing progress Rosie!
Rosie and I had the opportunity to work on her Greeting Manners today with a family member who did well with taking directions on how to help Rosie feel comfortable with being approached. I communicated to her to hang out with us for some time, while completely ignoring Rosie. This took place outside of the house, in a more neutral area. Dogs are more territorial when they are at their home. To prevent territoriality, it is best to introduce Rosie to someone new in a neutral area, then bring that relationship back home.
The rules were don’t look, don’t touch, don’t talk to her. Just be near Rosie and let her tell you when she is interested. It took Rosie about 5 minutes before she began to approach her, sniffing her. When Rosie approached to sniff, I marked it with a Yes and rewarded her for the interaction. She began to sniff multiple times, as she became more comfortable with this new person in her space. Eventually her tail came completely out, as she began to wag her tail. A high tail that is wagging continuously, is a happy pup! Once she displayed more relaxed body language, I then gave her the okay to pet Rosie. Rosie enjoyed this as I talked her through it, telling her she was doing a great job. Once we went back into the house, Rosie welcomed her with lots of kisses!
Potty training for Rosie has been great. She has only had accidents when someone approaches her before she is ready. It is our duty as her handler, to protect Rosie from people that come on way too fast to her. Especially kids, as they often run up to her thinking it’s okay. This is where her fear of kids stems from. I always position Rosie on my side, putting myself in between her and traffic. If she can be leaned up against a wall to prevent unexpected scenarios from happening with people, I highly recommend doing so. She needs someone to advocate for her in order to succeed. There have been plenty of times while out in a busy environment with Rosie, where I have had to body block people from trying to pet her without asking. By doing this, and putting myself in between her and that person, she does not react negatively as she feels protected. As long as Rosie knows we are her protector and leader, she will continue to feel confident in busy environments.
Having a consistent schedule for her meal times, and removing the bowl when she is done eating is essential in being able to predict when she will need to go on a potty break. She eats at 8 a.m and 5 p.m. after each meal she goes into the kennel, until I bring her out to walk her to the grass as I tell her to go potty. If she has gone, then she gets free roam. If Rosie has not gone potty, she should not have free roam of the house. Accidents often happen when a dog has too much freedom. The kennel helps greatly with creating a consistent potty schedule.