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Sky | Border Collie | Los Angeles, CA | In-Training



Meet Sky, he's a five-month-old Border Collie from Los Angeles, California! This sweet and energetic pup is here with us for our Three Week Puppy Board and Train Program, where we will work on teaching him basic obedience and manners, as well as provide potty training. He doesn't have much knowledge of obedience commands yet, and has a short attention span which causes him to be easily distracted. Sky also experiences some separation anxiety, and tends to bark excessively when alone. He also comes to us with some undesirable behaviors, such as jumping on people and furniture, pulling on the leash, and eating things off the ground. Over the next twenty one days, we will be working on improving his obedience and manners to set him on the right path to becoming a well-behaved pup. Stay tuned for his transformation!

 

Pupdate 7/7/2024

Today Sky and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other at the park after he was dropped off with me. He quickly warmed up to me, but was generally much more interested in exploring around rather than focusing on me. He was very interested in birds, squirrels, other dogs, people, and soccer balls, and would often try to pull towards them or stop and stare at them.


While at the park, I tested his current knowledge of commands to get an idea of where his starting point is and what areas may need some extra focus going forward. He would sometimes Come to me when called with enough excitement to motivate him, but it always took several asks before he responded, and once he got to me he was quick to wander back off again. When asked to Heel, he didn't seem to recognize the command at all and was almost always at the end of the leash attempting to walk wherever he wanted to go. He seemed to understand Sit, however he was very inconsistent about following through with it. If he did Sit, he would always stand back up and start walking away after a second or two. He wasn't able to perform Down on command, but he did seem to enjoy relaxing in the shade on his own accord. I also asked him to Place on some low, easy to reach objects, but he didn't seem to understand what was being asked of him. He would sometimes put his two front paws up on the object, but seemed to lack the confidence to jump all the way up, even with plenty of encouragement. He didn't seem to have any understanding of leash pressure either, and would often ignore or try to pull against the leash when pressure was created.


After our time at the park, it was time to head home and get him settled into my home. He wasn't able to jump into the car on his own, but was comfortable with being picked up and placed into the car. He also didn't have any issue with going into the kennel within the car, and happily went inside with some gentle guidance and settled in for the ride home, which is a great display of Car Manners. Anytime Sky is to ride in a car with me, he will be secured in a kennel for his utmost safety. He will also be in a kennel at home during nighttime or any other time he is unsupervised. This will be a useful tool in his potty training journey as well, as pups are instinctually discouraged from going potty inside their sleeping area. Upon arriving home, he had some time to explore around and become familiar with his new environment. When I offered him some food he jumped on me a few times and was a bit impatient for his food, so we will be working on improving his Food Manners. We will also be setting up a feeding schedule, which will help make his potty habits more routine and predictable. Later, we went out for a walk around my neighborhood to let him go potty and become familiar with the area. When exiting the house to start our walk, Sky kept trying to run out the door as soon as it was opened, so we will also be working to improve his Door Manners to make sure he can respect the boundary a doorway creates as this will help keep him safe. During the walk, he went potty several times in some grassy areas, for which he was heavily rewarded to encourage the good behavior. Starting tomorrow, will be taking walks around the neighborhood multiple times daily to work on potty and obedience training. After our walk, he was put in the kennel for a nap, but once I was out of his sight he began loudly barking and vocalizing. It took him around an hour until he finally settled down enough for a nap. We will be working to improve this, as one goal is for Sky to be calm and comfortable with spending time in the kennel and not feel anxious that he is alone. Overall he seems to be settling in nicely, and we are so excited to begin this training journey together!



 

Pupdate 7/8/2024





Sky and I worked on his training around my neighborhood today. The neighborhood was pretty quiet in the morning hours with not many distractions around, which was a good time to begin introducing Sky to his training as the calm environment encouraged focus and learning. Closer to the evening hours, the neighborhood got much more lively, with lots of people, dogs, bicycles, and other kinds of distractions out and about. We made sure to give Sky lots of breaks during training, to let him enjoy sniffing and playing around between training, which helps keep training fun while also serving as a reward for good behavior! Today we focused on introducing him to the concept of leash pressure, along with the Come to Sit command. Pressure is a fundamental tool used in teaching basic obedience commands. The idea is that whenever leash pressure is applied, it is paired with a command. The pressure then remains present until Sky follows the pressure and performs the behavior or command being asked of him. The moment he follows through, the pressure immediately turns off and a reward is given. Yesterday, whenever the leash was used to apply pressure, he would firmly resist it, try to pull in the opposite direction, and made no attempt to turn the pressure off, so it was clear he didn't quite understand the concept of leash pressure just yet. He also seemed to mostly ignore pressure from a flat collar or a slip lead, so we practiced with a prong collar today which is a very helpful tool to both discourage pulling and help him develop a clear understanding of pressure through precise communication. We spent a good amount of time focusing on teaching him what leash pressure means, and how to turn off the pressure once it's applied. We practiced some simple exercises by applying leash pressure, encouraging him to follow it, and rewarding him when he did! He learned that trying to resist it was not successful or rewarding, and that simply following the directional pressure and paying attention to what I was asking of him was very simple and rewarding! After a while of practicing with this, he did much better and began showing a good understanding of leash pressure!

Come to Sit is an important command to begin practicing early on in Sky's training journey, as having a solid recall is important for any pup's safety and obedience training. The goal for Come to Sit is for Sky to come when called, approach my right side, circle around my back, and finish with a Sit facing forward on the left side. He is asked to hold this Sit until released with "Break", or given a new command. This ensures he not only comes when called, but also that he remains stationary until told otherwise. The Come to Sit maneuver when completed in its entirety also sets him up to be in the perfect position to begin walking in a Heel, which we will introduce tomorrow. We introduced the Come to Sit command today by combining the verbal command "Come" with guidance from the leash to grab his attention and guide him towards me. Once he came over to me, he was then guided around and to my left side where he was asked to perform a Sit. With each successful repetition, I made sure to give him lots of praise and rewards to build up a positive association with the command and the action of coming to me when called. He'll need some more work with this command before he is consistent with it, though for his first day with this command, he did a good job!


Sky's potty training is going well so far, and he hasn't had any accidents in the kennel or in the house. During the daytime, I've been taking him outside every couple of hours and encouraging him to go with the "go potty" cue, which he seems to be understanding. He goes almost every time we go out for a potty break. We will be working to establish a potty schedule that works for Sky, and each day we will be very gradually increasing the amount of time in between potty breaks so he can learn to hold it for longer periods throughout the day without having accidents. We also spent a good amount of time working on his kennel training last night and today, as he does seem to have a habit of barking and whining while inside his kennel when I am not within his view. The goal is for him to be calm and quiet while in the kennel, and understand it as a safe and relaxing place for him to spend time in independently. An important factor in this training is to not give him attention or let him out while he is being noisy, as this will reinforce the bad behavior. He seems to be gradually catching on that vocalizing while in the kennel will not be rewarding or allow him to come out sooner, but more practice will be needed until this issue is resolved completely.



 

Pupdate 7/9/2024

Today Sky and I visited a local park, where we practiced two new commands, Off and Heel. We introduced these commands in the morning while walking around the neighborhood, where the distractions were a bit lower. This helped him to have an easier time relaxing and focusing on learning. In the evening, we walked over to the park to continue practicing his commands around slightly more distractions. The park was not super busy today, but there were some common distractions around such as people, dogs, children, and small animals. Sky did become distracted at times, but overall did a pretty good job with his commands.


Sky is often easily distracted, as he tends to focus on his surroundings even when asked to perform commands. Moments like this are a great opportunity to implement the Off command. The goal for the Off command is for Sky to stop whatever he is doing, and focus on his handler. This is a very versatile command, similar to "no" or "leave it", and can be used in various situations, such as to interrupt fixation on distractions, barking, jumping on people, eating or sniffing things he's not supposed to, or any other behaviors that are undesirable or inappropriate at that time. The verbal Off command when paired with leash pressure allows us to interrupt the behavior and help him to refocus so that he is in a better mindset to listen for upcoming instructions. Once the Off command is given, it's beneficial to immediately follow it with another command such as Sit, Come, Heel, etc. Once he stops whatever behavior he was doing, asking him to set his focus on a task will help keep his attention away from what initially distracted him or caused the undesirable behavior. Sky has shown good progress in understanding the Off command so far, and with each repetition, he seemed to be quicker to respond and refocus when prompted. However, more work will need to be done in various situations before he is fully reliable with the command.


Heel is another important concept for Sky to begin developing early on in his training. The goal for the Heel command is for Sky to be able to follow directly alongside me on my left side, and maintain that position while walking unless released or given a new command. This precise positioning takes a lot of practice to master, but it will effectively eliminate pulling on the leash or veering off in different directions, and allow his handler to take the lead on walks instead of him trying to pull them around wherever he pleases. To introduce this command, I kept the leash short but loose, and ensured he stayed on my left side in roughly the Heel position as we walked. If he began to veer off, pull ahead, or otherwise create tension on the leash, he was given some guidance with the leash and the verbal command "Heel" command was given until he returned to the desired position. During Heel, his sole focus should be following his handler's lead, and as such he needs to remain neutral to and ignore his environment, which will definitely take some practice to accomplish. He sometimes struggled to ignore distractions around us, but he eventually began to grasp the concept, stopped trying to pull as much, and instead learned to follow my lead. When walking in the correct Heel position, the leash was loose, no pressure was applied, and lots of praise and rewards were given to create value in this position. We practiced making lots of turns as well, which helped to keep Sky engaged and focused on his positioning. As he gets better with this command, he will have an easier time staying in the Heel position without as much guidance needed, and will need to be given reminders less frequently. Overall he did a good job today and seemed to catch on pretty quickly, though more work will need to be done before he can Heel reliably, especially around distractions.



 

Pupdate 7/10/2024




Today Sky and I began our training session at home, where we introduced two new commands, Place and Down. Once he made some progress with these commands, we moved outside to train around the neighborhood with more distractions present. We encountered distractions such as dogs, people, cars, strollers, bicycles, and small animals like birds and squirrels. We continued working on each command he has learned thus far. Overall he did a good job with his training today, and is making good progress with his commands.


The goal for the Place command is for Sky to jump or climb onto a designated object, such as a bench, a bed, or another object with defined borders, and hold a stationary command while remaining on the Place object until released or given a new command. We introduced this command at home using a familiar object, a dog cot. He is comfortable climbing onto and relaxing on the cot in his own time, so this was a good object to use and help set him up for success. We used some leash pressure to guide him onto the cot while giving the verbal Place cue, which he quickly picked up on. After a few repetitions, he quickly picked up on what was being asked of him and was able to Place with minimal to no leash pressure. We brought the dog cot outside to continue working on Place around distractions, and he did well with this also. We then practiced on a variety of objects we found outside, such as rocks, low walls, and a small bench. He was a bit hesitant about some of the objects as he seems to lack confidence about jumping onto objects too high to climb onto, but with enough motivation and encouragement, he was able to follow through. We will continue practicing this command with different objects in a variety of environments to improve Sky's confidence and overall skills with this command!


The other command introduced to Sky today is the Down command. The goal for the Down command is for Sky to lay down completely when asked, and remain in that position until released or given a new command. To begin working on this command, we used leash pressure and physical guidance to guide Sky into the Down position while the verbal command was given. Occasional food motivators were also useful in luring, rewarding, and building a positive association with the position. He caught onto this command quickly, and was able to perform it both indoors and around the neighborhood without much trouble. We practiced Down on different surfaces and objects, including on the floor, sidewalks, grass, as well as place objects like the dog cot. We kept the duration for this command pretty short at first with lots of breaks and praise, as this helps make the training fun and rewarding. As we continue to practice this we will continue increasing the duration gradually so he can learn to remain in this position for extended periods of time. We will also continue adding in more distractions so he can be reliable with the command in any situation or environment.


Sky's potty training is going very well so far, and he has yet to have any accidents while indoors. He understands the go potty verbal cue, and seems to be doing well with the routine we have in place. He does need to be monitored closely right after having meals or large amounts of water, as he will begin sniffing around and looking for a spot to potty within about ten minutes of food or water consumption. As soon as he starts displaying this behavior, he is immediately interrupted, taken outside, and asked to potty which he happily does. Sky is also making good progress with his kennel training, and has been able to sleep throughout the night or for periodic naps during the day without excessive vocalizing even while I am out of his sight. He will sometimes whine or bark a few times right after I leave his sight, but he is getting quicker about settling back down and relaxing independently.



 

Pupdate 7/11/2024


Today Sky and I visited the Santa Monica Promenade! This was a great location to practice all of his commands around different kinds of distractions. The promenade had an abundance of distractions, including crowds of people, other dogs, food, loud music, and lots of birds. Sky was definitely a bit overexcited when we first arrived here, and needed some time to adjust to the busy environment. We spent some time walking around, and as time passed he seemed to settle down a bit and have an easier time focusing on his training. The Off command was effective in keeping him from getting too distracted by his surroundings, but he sometimes needed to be asked a few times before he was able to break his fixation depending on the type of distraction we were encountering. Overall Sky did good with his Heel, and generally stuck beside me pretty well as we walked around. He would sometimes try to lead ahead of me, but with a reminder he was able to reposition accordingly. We will need to work some more on his turns, as he sometimes isn't paying quite enough attention to where I am going and ends up falling out of position when I turn away from him. Sky's Come to Sit was pretty good overall as well, and he seems to have a pretty good understanding of the command and was usually quick about coming right to me when called as well as finding the correct position beside me. Sky did well with his stationary commands also, including Sit, Down, and Place. He was able to perform each command without much trouble, but his duration will still need some work before he is able to reach our goal time of at least two minutes for each position. He was prone to breaking his stationary positions before asked to, so whenever this happened he was immediately asked to return to the position at the original location asked of him. This helps to reinforce the behavior we want from him, and continue working on the concept of an implied "stay". Whenever he was able to hold it until asked, he was rewarded with lots of praise! He typically averaged around thirty seconds of holding a command before he would be tempted to break position. He seemed to struggle the most with the Down command today, but with some more practice he was able to hold it for about as long as his Sit.



 

Pupdate 7/12/2024





Sky and I visited a local shopping strip today, where we continued practicing each of his commands around distractions. This location provided a variety of distractions to work around, such as people and dogs along the sidewalks and lots of noises from the busy street nearby. Sky was very distracted by his surroundings at first, though he was able to regain focus more reliably today, and seemed to have an easier time ignoring distractions when asked with the Off command.


One notable thing is that he did seem to be quite scared of the loud noises buses made, and would often break positions to try to hide or get away from them. So this was a good opportunity to expose him to this distraction and help build his confidence by overcoming his fears. We found a bench to sit at together where lots of buses passed by. Anytime one drove past or made a noise, he was given some positive reinforcement in the form of verbal and physical praise and/or a treat, which helped him to develop a more positive association with this distraction. He is a smart boy, and quickly learned that he didn't need to be scared of the buses because even though they were loud, nothing bad happened, and instead good things were given to him! By the end of the session, whenever we encountered a bus he would calmly observe it for a brief moment, then direct his attention to me to check in and eagerly await his reward. Sky is doing well with his commands overall! He's developing a good idea of where he needs to be when the Heel command is given, and he is paying more attention to his positioning in relation to me as we walk. He sometimes gets distracted and falls out of position, but he is gradually beginning to need fewer reminders and guidance for him to maintain it. Sky's Come to Sit is also progressing nicely, and he's always quick to come right to me when called as well as maneuver himself for the sit at my left side. He sometimes sits a bit crooked, but we will work on cleaning this up in time. He did well with his Sit and Down commands today, and seemed comfortable performing them. He was able to hold his positions for about one minute today, even while distractions were present, which shows great progress for him! He sometimes needed a bit of extra encouragement and guidance when working with a Place object that was either unfamiliar or needed a small jump to get onto, but with some extra help he was able to Place on any object asked of him. One method that helps him a lot is to lead by example and step onto the object while encouraging him to follow.


Sky had one small urine accident in the house today. He had drunk some water and then was playing around with a toy and suddenly squatted and began having an accident on the floor. He was likely feeling just a bit too excited and playful, and had a lapse of impulse control in that moment. He was quickly interrupted, and brought outside to go potty in an appropriate area which he happily did. Apart from this, he has been doing very well with his potty training and has been consistently going potty outside on command without issue.



 

Pupdate 7/13/2024



Sky and I visited an outdoor mall today, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The mall wasn't overly busy, but still had a moderate amount of distractions including groups of people, other dogs, food, and birds. Overall Sky did a good job staying focused here, and warmed up to the new environment fairly quickly. There were a few times when distractions got the best of him, but he was able to refocus when prompted with the Off command.


His Heel command was pretty solid today! He checked in with me frequently, and provided great engagement with me as we walked around. He will sometimes test the boundaries of how far ahead he can walk however, so it's important to constantly be watching him and adjusting him accordingly so the proper positioning can be reinforced. Making lots of sudden turns was helpful in ensuring he was always paying close attention to his positioning, and he did great with his turns overall today. Providing lots of verbal communication and praise also helps to keep him motivated and engaged during Heel, as he will start to get bored and lose interest if his handler is too quiet. Sky did well with his Come to Sit overall, and while some small mistakes were made here and there he was always eager to come right when he was called and was able to improve his consistency with the command the more repetitions we did. He did well with his stationary commands today too, and while he would sometimes lose focus and break a command momentarily, he was able to return right back to it when reminded. This is another instance where frequent verbal reminders and praise help to keep him from losing interest in the command. Sky did good with his Place command and showed a lot of confidence overall. With new objects he was sometimes a bit unsure, but as you can see in the example in today's video, after just a few repetitions he was quickly able to perform the command easily with no hesitation even with an unfamiliar object.


Sky's potty and kennel training continue to progress very well! He had no accidents today, and continues doing well with gradually increasing the time between potty breaks. He can sleep soundly in his kennel for about eight hours overnight without any whining or needing any middle-of-the-night potty breaks. Throughout the day, he's consistently able to wait around four hours between potty breaks, not counting after meals or significant water intake. After eating or drinking, he'll still need to go out fairly quickly, but after that break, he has been good to wait patiently for several hours until it's time to go out again. He is able to go potty on command, as well as enter his kennel on command. He seems to understand the kennel as a calm and safe space for him, which is great to see! He still has a lingering habit of barking in his kennel, but it's now only if I step out of the house, whereas it used to be any time I was out of his view even if I was still in the house. He is gradually learning to settle down quicker and seems to understand that barking when I leave does not solve anything or yield any results, so he is doing it less and less. We have been doing training exercises where I am working to desensitize him to the sound and sight of me walking out of the front door, and any time he remains quiet he is rewarded which is also helping him progress! Ensuring he has plenty of physical and mental exercise throughout the day also helps him be able to relax in the kennel successfully.



 

Pupdate 7/14/2024





Today Sky and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around heavy distractions. The mall was very busy due to the weekend, so we had numerous distractions to practice around, including crowds of people, lots of children, other dogs, strollers, bicycles, food, and more. Sky did appear to be a bit overwhelmed by it all when we first arrived, so we spent some time warming up in an area that was slightly quieter before moving into the more busy areas. While working in the busy areas, he definitely needed lots of reminders to focus on his commands, but overall he did a good job! We also spent some time training alongside his buddy, Teddy the cavapoo, who is also staying with us for a board and train. They usually spend most of their time playing together at home, so training around him was a good way to test his focus and obedience around a new kind of distraction.


Sky did well with his Heel overall and was almost always in the correct position at my side as we walked. Every now and then he would lose focus and begin falling out of position, but he was able to correct himself with a reminder and a small amount of leash pressure. Sky did well with his Come to Sit for the most part, and did a good job coming to me when called as well as finding the correct position by my side with little to no assistance from the leash. His Sit, Place, and Down commands were all good, and he was able to remain in his positions for a little over a minute consistently. Sky's potty training and kennel training continue to come along nicely, and he has had no more indoor accidents. He seems to be getting better with his impulse control when it comes to potty training. He seems to be more reluctant to go potty while indoors, and instead of suddenly going the moment he feels the urge to go, he has been spending more time pondering the decision by sniffing and pacing around, which is good as this gives us more time to identify his need and take him out before an accident can occur. Once outside, he is always quick to go potty as soon as he is prompted to.



 

Pupdate 7/15/2024



Today Sky and I visited an indoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The mall wasn't super busy, but we still had a good amount of distractions to practice around, including groups of people, other dogs, music, and food. Overall Sky did a very good job staying focused, and whenever he did begin to lose focus the Off command was effective in regaining his focus.


Sky did well with his Heel overall, and was able to maintain his position with good consistency. He would sometimes lose focus when passing by major distractions, but he was quick to regain focus and give me his full attention once prompted. His Come to Sit was also good, and he was always able to come right to me when called as well as finding the correct position beside me when called.


We spent some extra time working on his stationary commands today, as he would tend to break his position if I walked behind him. When he broke command, he would tend to turn around to face me or attempt to move closer to me. The goal is for him to be able to remain in his Sit, Down, or Place regardless of where his handler is. He would also tend to break positions to investigate distractions, such as a group of people walking past us. We continued to work on the concept of an implied stay, and after more repetitions, he began to be more consistent with holding the position asked of him.



 

Pupdate 7/16/2024



Today Sky and I visited a Petco, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The store had a variety of distractions to work around, including people, other dogs, treats, and toys! Sky was a bit overexcited about the new environment, but after spending some time walking around and training he began having an easier time staying calm and focused. The biggest distractions for him were mainly the toys and treats in the store, so we spent some extra time working in these distracting aisles and focusing on his impulse control. He did great with his Heel overall, and generally did well with sticking beside me even and while we passed by numerous different distractions. He would sometimes try to veer off slightly towards something that caught his interest, though with a reminder he understood to shift his focus back onto the task at hand. Sky did well with his Come to Sit overall, and while some minor positioning mistakes were made on occasion, he did well with his recall and was able to perform the command correctly on the first try more often than not. He did good with his stationary commands as well, and while he would sometimes break positions due to a lack of impulse control around distractions, he was quick to return to the position asked of him when reminded.


While at the store, there were lots of nice people who were impressed with Sky's obedience skills, and wanted to come say hello to him, which was a good opportunity to work on Sky's Greeting Manners. The goal for Greeting Manners is for Sky to remain calm, collected, and polite while greeting people, whether it's by someone he knows or if it's someone new. Before allowing someone to approach him, we first ask Sky to focus on holding a stationary command, such as Sit or Down, which helps to prevent over-excitement, jumping, or other impolite behaviors from occurring, as his focus is instead directed to holding the position. If he breaks position or begins behaving impolitely, he is immediately asked to refocus and return to the position asked of him. Before the greeting takes place, it's important to inform the person or people that Sky is in training, and that they can help him learn by only petting him when he is listening, stationary, and calm. Giving him attention or praise when he is over-excited, jumping up, or otherwise behaving impolitely will result in those behaviors becoming encouraged, which would be detrimental to his progress. By ensuring all praise and affection are reserved strictly for when he is holding the position asked of him and behaving calmly, we can work to encourage good behavior. Today Sky did a good job with polite greetings for most people he met, and while he would sometimes break position momentarily, he did not try to jump on anyone and was generally good with managing his excitement levels.



 

Pupdate 7/17/2024



Today Sky and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This was a good opportunity to work on his commands within close proximity to dog and people distractions. This park was also located across the street from a gun range, so there were lots of loud noises in the distance while we trained. Sky was a bit distracted by the other dogs but was able to keep his focus around them with some reminders of the Off command. The bigger distraction for Sky today was the loud noises, as they scared him quite a bit at first. We had to spend some time working to get him desensitized to this new noise, and gradually he began to be less frightened by it. At first he would constantly look towards the direction of the sound and was hesitant to perform his commands while the sounds occured, though by the end of the session he was calmly relaxing while the noises could be heard which was good to see. Sky did well with his Heel overall, and while the noises would sometimes impact his focus during the beginning of the session, he got a lot better about it the more we practiced. His Come to Sit was also pretty good, and while some mistakes were made occasionally, he was able to correct himself when needed and perform the command correctly. Sky did well with his stationary commands for most of the session, but during the beginning he was struggling quite a bit due to the noises. He would struggle to Sit, Down, or Place on command, and would often need leash guidance to follow through. When he got spooked he would tend to break his command before asked also. Though once he was no longer feeling nervous about the noises he was able to perform his commands with minimal to no leash pressure as usual, and hold his commands for well over a minute without a tendency to break the position.


Sky's potty and kennel training continues to come along well! He has had no further accidents indoors, and continues to do well with the potty routine we have in place. We also practiced using his "go potty" cue on different surfaces apart from grass today, as we want to get him comfortable going potty regardless of the area he is in, which may be useful should he ever need to potty on surfaces such as dirt or concrete. He ended up being slightly more hesitant to potty on surfaces that weren't grass, but he did eventually go which was good to see! He has been doing great in his kennel, and continues to spend time in it quietly without vocalizing. He will sometimes whine quietly if I leave the house while he is in the kennel, but it's usually only for a minute or so before he settles back down again.



 

Pupdate 7/18/2024






Today Sky and I visited a local park, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The park was pretty busy when we visited, with lots of people, children, other dogs, bicycles, sports games, and other kinds of distractions around. Sky was a bit overexcited when we first arrived, but after some time spent training he began focusing on his commands very well. One major distraction for Sky was a basketball game being played, as he was very interested in the ball that was bouncing around and being tossed, and all the people running around after it. He struggled to keep his attention off this game at first and was inconsistent with his commands due to this, so we spent some extra time working around it until he decided it wasn't that interesting after all and that focusing on his training was much more rewarding. Another distraction for Sky that he struggled with was a child riding a toy electric bike around the pathway. The bike made a loud whirring noise as it was being ridden by, and it moved pretty quickly, both of which seemed to be factors that made Sky feel a bit nervous whenever it got near. When he first saw it, we were walking along the path and Sky broke his heel, tucked his tail, and tried to run away from it. After seeing this reaction, we decided to spend some time getting him desensitized to this distraction and helping him to overcome his fear. We found a nice bench along the pathway to sit at together, and we spent some time letting Sky observe the child on the bike from a place where Sky could feel safe and comfortable doing so. Each time it passed, Sky got rewarded with affection and praise, which helped to create a new, positive association with the once-scary distraction. Very quickly, he got to the point where anytime he would see it, he would look briefly at it and quickly return his attention back to me in anticipation of a reward. Sky is a very smart pup; seeing him learn and perform a brand new desired behavior in response to stimuli he was once scared of is very impressive!


Sky did great with his Heel overall, and while he did sometimes try to lead ahead, making sudden turns and stops was effective in keeping him engaged with me and emphasizing the leadership role his handler holds. Sky is at the age in his life when pushing boundaries and testing their limits is commonplace, so setting this strict expectation for Heel is important to ensure he understands that Heel is a time to follow, not lead. Sky did great with his Come to Sit, and was always very eager to recall right to me anytime he was called. He would sometimes come running to me a bit too quickly however and would crash into my legs before stepping back, circling around, and finally sitting beside me. While this isn't quite what we want, we do love his enthusiasm! We made sure to reward him whenever he was able to perform the command correctly, and when he made mistakes like this we would have him repeat it until he did it properly to continue shaping his understanding of the command. Sky did great with his stationary commands today, and was able to perform and maintain Sit, Down, and Place all with little to no issues. The only notable struggle he had was when I walked behind him as he held a Sit, he would sometimes quickly stand up and reposition himself to turn around and face me. While it's great he would go right back into position, the goal is for him to stay exactly where he was asked to without getting up for any reason unless released or given a new command. So when this happened I would have him turn back around and stay in the Sit as I practiced walking around him again, and made sure to give him extra rewards when he successfully stayed in position.



 

Pupdate 7/19/2024


Today Sky and I visited an indoor mall, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The mall had a significant amount of distractions around, such as crowds of people, food, music, and some other dogs. We also met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups, which provided an additional level of distractions. Overall Sky was pretty excitable when we first arrived, and struggled to pay full attention on his training. He did eventually calm down however, and gradually began devoting more attention to his training which drastically improved his reliability and consistency with commands.


Sky did well with his Heel overall, though similar to yesterday we had to spend a good amount of time simply walking around in circles and making all kinds of directional and speed changes to help him pay attention to his positioning. He was rather testy with the boundary today, and despite having a good understanding of the command he would often try to lead ahead and need a reminder to follow his handler's lead. Tempting distractions such as crowds of people or food would tend to make him lose focus, so providing lots of verbal communication and praise along with frequent leash guidance was helpful in keeping his attention on his handler rather than on distractions. His Come to Sit was great, and he was always good about coming when called and finding the correct position beside me. His stationary commands were also good, and he didn't have much trouble performing Sit, Down, or Place anywhere he was asked to. He also did well with holding his stationary positions, and while he did occasionally break position when a distraction got the best of him, he usually remained in the position until released or given a new command. The slick tile floors also posed a bit of a challenge for his Sit command as he would sometimes slide into a Down, but after some more practice this became much less frequent and he learned to adjust himself accordingly so his paws did not slide down.


Potty training with Sky continues to come along very well! No further accidents have occurred inside my home, and he is consistently able to go potty outside anywhere he is asked to. Apart from directly after a mealtime or significant water intake, he can wait for around five hours during the daytime without needing to go potty, and is able to sleep for eight hours overnight without needing any breaks. He is also doing great with being quiet in the kennel, even if I completely leave his sight or exit the house.



 

Pupdate 7/20/2024





Today Sky and I visited a park, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The park had a variety of distractions around, including people, children, dogs, and lots of small animals. Sky seemed quite confident while at the park, though was a bit excited by all the interesting surroundings, especially in the small animals or children running past. When he began to lose focus however, the Off command was effective in helping him to refocus. Sky did well with his Heel overall, and was generally pretty good about staying beside me as we walked. He would sometimes try to lead ahead or veer off when he lost focus, but was able to correct himself when reminded with the verbal cue and leash pressure. His Come to Sit was great today, and he did well with always recalling to me as soon as he was called and almost always was able to position himself correctly on the first try with little to no guidance needed from the leash. He was still very enthusiastic about his recall, though seems to have learned to slow down before circling around so he doesn't run into my legs. Sky's stationary commands were very good today, and he had no trouble performing Sit, Down, or Place anywhere asked of him. He showed great confidence with his Place especially, and never hesitated to jump onto any object he was prompted to, even objects that were unfamiliar or higher up than he is used to. Sometimes he wouldn't quite make it on the first try or fall off due to a lack of balance, though this never discouraged him and he was always eager to try again until he got it right! It's great to see his confidence and coordination skills improving each day!


 

Pupdate 7/21/2024



Sky and I worked along a sidewalk near a busy street today, where there were lots of loud cars, motorcycles, and buses driving past. This created a lot of noise distractions, which is something Sky has had some notable struggles with as they tend to distract and sometimes even spook him. There were also some people, other dogs, strollers, and bicycles that passed by us, which were also good distractions.


Overall Sky did a good job with his Heel, and was able to pay a solid amount of attention to me as we walked which allowed him to easily make turns with me while maintaining his position. When he began to lose focus he would sometimes fall out of Heel slightly but with a reminder he was able to correct himself. His Come to Sit was also pretty good for the most part, but when something was making him feel uneasy, such as a loud noise occurring nearby, he would sometimes struggle to position himself correctly and would need to be asked to repeat the command and guided through the maneuver. His stationary commands were decent, though when he was nervous or distracted he would sometimes break his position and need to be asked to return to it. The longer we trained at this location the better each of his commands got, as he began to have an easier time ignoring the various distractions as he gradually became desensitized to them.


Sky's potty training continues to go very smoothly, and he has had no indoor accidents at all. He is also much less likely to begin looking for a place to potty while inside, and hasn't been prone to sniffing or circling around unless we are outside in an appropriate area. He is easily able to go potty outside anywhere he is asked to, and doesn't seem to have any hesitation about going on grass, pavement, or dirt. He's been consistently holding his potty during the daytime for at least five hours without issue. His kennel training is also going very well, and he has been very quiet and calm whenever he is in his kennel.



 

Pupdate 7/22/2024





Sky and I visited a park today, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups. This park also was nearby a busy street, and there were some traffic noises like loud cars and busses passing by. Overall Sky did pretty well with the level of distractions present at the park, with his biggest struggle being containing his excitement when close to the other dogs. His first thought when seeing another dog is usually to play, so working on his impulse control was helpful for him to understand when it's time to focus on work versus when it's okay to play.


Sky did pretty well with his Heel command today, and generally always stuck beside me in the proper position as we walked. Every now and then he would veer off to try to sniff another dog or something along the ground, but was quick to reposition with a reminder. His Come to Sit was very good, and he was always quick to recall as well as finding his positioning beside me. Very rarely, he made small mistakes with his positioning, though when asked to reposition he was able to do so easily.


His stationary commands were decent, and around lower distractions he was able to consistently hold his commands for at least two minutes, which was impressive! His puppy brain does tend to lose focus when something interesting passes by however, such as a dog or person walking within close proximity, so giving him lots of verbal reminders and praise during these moments were important to encourage him to stay focused and in position. Without constant reinforcement, he would tend to lose patience and stand up to investigate the distraction, and would need to be asked to return to position again.



 

Pupdate 7/23/2024



Today Sky and I took a walk to a local park, where we practiced all of his commands around distractions. The route we took brought us along a busy street which provided plenty of noise distractions, and the park itself is also located along this busy street so this was a good addition of distractions along with the usual park surroundings. The park also had lots of squirrels, birds, some other dogs, people, and children. Sky did a good job with his commands overall, and while some minor mistakes were made here and there, they were each easily correctable and often times did not reoccur once a reminder was given. We spent some extra time practicing near the playground, as there was a group of kids playing with a remote control car. At first Sky seemed scared of the car and the noises it made, and he would tend to break commands to try and run away from it, even when it was pretty far away and behind a small fence. We used our usual method of getting him familiar with the distraction and building up a positive association with it. Pretty quickly he no longer seemed to have any fears about it, but instead his nervousness was replaced with excitement. He wanted to play with and try to chase it, and struggled to keep his attention off of it, so we then had to spend some more time getting him to ignore the distraction and not let it rile him up. After some time doing this he understood that the car was not a toy for him, and that staying neutral to it was more rewarding for him. We also spent some time playing around the park, and teaching Sky how to quickly transition from play mode to work mode. Sky is a very playful and energetic pup, so playtime is an important factor to meet his requirements for physical exercise and mental stimulation. However there is a time and place for playtime, so we have been working to differentiate between the two and build in a sort of "off switch" when it is needed for him to be calm and focused. We achieve this by encouraging high excitement play, getting him to chase me and run around and have fun, then asking him for a command to get him back into work mode. He struggled with this a bit in the early stages of his training, but he is getting much better about snapping out of play mode and settling back into a working mindset once he is given a task via command. This is also a good time to work on his jumping habits, as during normal circumstances Sky never tries to jump on me, however when he is very playful and I actively am hyping him up, he will sometimes forget this rule and try to jump up. So we have been working on breaking this habit by interrupting the jump with the Off command, pausing play/affection briefly, then resuming once he has all four paws on the ground again.


Sky's potty training continues to go very well, and no accidents have occurred. We have been focusing on gradually increasing the time between potty breaks, and we are now up to around five hours during the daytime. In the morning he will have his breakfast first thing after waking up, followed by a potty break immediately after. After he has had time to digest his breakfast, we go for our morning walk and training session. Towards the end of the walk, I offer him water and he usually drinks a significant amount, so before we head back inside I prompt him to go potty again. Once back inside he shows no attempt to go potty indoors but a close eye is kept on him as always. After lunch, around five hours later, we go out for another potty break. Around five hours after this, he has dinner followed by an evening walk, training session, and potty break. Before bed, we'll go out for one more potty break, then he is good to sleep throughout the night until the next morning.



 



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