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  • Writer's pictureJose Ayala

Sophia | Pitbull | Burbank, CA | In-Training

Meet Sophia! She is an eighteen month old Pitbull who has joined us for our Three Week Board and Train Program. Sophia is here for basic obedience, leash pulling, jumping to greet, and food possession. She sometimes lunges at joggers and bicyclists passing her by and does not properly walk well on a leash. She will also be working on socialization with people, so that she may be approached and greeted without reacting. Over the next twenty one days, Sophia will work on her behavior and be set up for success, with the hopes of becoming a well behaved pup. Check in to see her progress!


Sophia and I spent the afternoon getting to know each other. We established a bond by going for a walk at a local park. The walk we went on when I picked her up helped her as she was not pulling like she was initially. She still veers off to the left a little but with a little leash tension, I am able guide her back towards me, and that’s how I introduced Heel. This technique consists of having Sophia walk next to me on my left side. She is making progress and I will remain consistent with it by applying it on every walk we go on from here on out.


Sophia and I drove out to a local park today and continued to work on her Heel. I also introduced her to the E-Collar and she responds well to it at low levels. We met with other trainers as well, and worked on a little meet and greet exercise. She did very well and was really friendly as she was approached and greeted by the trainers. She also did well around other dogs and did not react at any of them. As one of the pups got close, Sophia ignored him and showed no signs of reactivity. Dogs are about energy, and sometimes a person’s energy can make a dog react. Sophia remained friendly and very approachable. I will continue to socialize her more throughout the rest of her training program.


Sophia and I worked on Place today. It is a technique that consists of having Sophia getting onto an elevated object and remaining there in a Sit or a Down. It serves a great purpose whenever guests are over, and it can also build confidence in a dog. To teach Sophia, I would walk her to the object I would like her to Place on, and use leash tension as guidance to help her up. Considering her size, we worked on low objects that she can easily hop onto. Initially, Sophia would only place her front paws on the object, so I assisted her by lifting her back legs to have her fully on. Once she understood the concept, during the next few reps, she would climb onto the object instead of hopping on. After a water break, we practiced a few more times, only this time we would have a running start, and Sophia began to follow through.


Sophia and I worked on her recall today which is known as Come to Sit. It consists of having Sophia come towards my right, go around behind me, and sitting on my left. Sophia had an understanding of the concept but it was not the same approach that I was trying to teach her. She would either come to my right and sit, or she would come to my left and sit. I made the transition by luring her with treats as she went around behind me, and rewarding her whenever she followed through with a Sit. Sophia does stop behind me at times, but we are making progress the more we work on it.


Sophia and I worked on Down today. It is a difficult technique to teach a dog considering it is a submissive position and it can also make a dog vulnerable being down on all fours. To teach Sophia, I used treats to lure her towards the ground. We practiced on a Place object considering her size to make it a little easier on the both of us. I would begin by asking her to Sit, and then guiding her towards the ground with treats, but she would immediately come out of her Sit and would sometimes jump off of the bench we were working on. Sophia was being very stubborn, but with time and patience, with breaks in between to avoid frustration, she was able to follow through.


Sophia and I drove out to Venice Beach today and exposed her to many more dog and people distractions. She adjusts well to her environment and was very excited throughout our walk. Due to being easily distracted by everything around her, Sophia was having trouble with her Heel. I had to keep reminding her with leash tension and the use of the E-Collar to work her through it. What really distracted her and got her attention more were skateboards and bicycles. Sophia would try to go after them but not in an aggressive way. I plan on taking her back to continue working on desensitizing her with hopes of having Sophia not react anymore.


Sophia and I went back to Venice Beach today and she did make some progress. She was still a little excited but I was able to control her a little easier with the same leash tension and E-Collar stimulation approach. Sophia did much better around bicycles and walks past them without a reaction. What she was still having trouble with was the skateboards. Instead of trying to go after them like she did before, she would just turn her head and focus on them which would almost stop our walk at times. By telling her “off” and guiding her back towards me with leash tension, Sophia still needs a little more work, but she is making good progress.


Sophia and I have been working on her food possession. Initially, she would give me a side eye and a low growl with her hackles up. Throughout her training so far, I have been hand feeding her so she can understand that nothing negative comes from feeding her. Sophia is doing much better and does not react or show aggression towards me when I am feeding her. I can now stand close to her and also praise her while she is eating. I can also place the bowl on the ground and pet her as she eats knowing that Sophia will not go into flight mode. She has made a big improvement and I will continue this process throughout her training.


Sophia and I spent the day at home today. We went out for our daily morning walk and had breakfast shortly after. She enjoys spending time in the yard where she runs around and plays with her tennis ball. She shows no aggression while playing and she lets me remove the ball from her mouth as we continue play. We get in as much playtime as we can, and I enjoy watching Sophia have a little fun.


Sophia and I worked on Send Away to Place today. It is a technique that consists of having Sophia Place on an object, but instead of leading her towards it, I ask her to Sit, I stand from a distance, and I point to the object while asking her to Place. We began with a short distance and only increased it whenever she was able to follow through. There were a few instances in which Sophia went behind me and then hopped onto the object, but by resetting her and working on a few more reps, she is now understanding the concept.


Sophia and I worked on Send Away to Place a little more today and she had some trouble following through due to the distractions around her. She was being very stubborn and did not want to listen during our first initial sessions. A lot of resetting and redirection had to be done but Sophia was eventually able to work through it. I also worked on her duration Down while other trainers and their dogs served as a distraction. She did really well around them and I will keep increasing my distance by using a long line with hopes of having her maintain her position while I stand at approximately fifteen feet away from her.


Sophia was introduced to Under today which is a technique that can be of great use for outdoor dining and even park tables. It is the opposite of Place, so instead of getting onto an object, Sophia will go Under an object. She had a little trouble distinguishing Place from Under due to her already knowing Place, but with a few sessions and repetition, Sophia is understanding what I am asking and is making progress the more we practice.


Sophia and I worked on her Under a little more today and she did pretty well given the amount of distractions all around her. It did take her some time to get acclimated to the environment around her, but once she got accustomed, she did great throughout our walk. Sophia was also introduced to what is known as Come to Heel. This technique consists of having Sophia walk towards me from a stationary position and go into a Heel as she catches up to me. She also worked on her Extended Down in which she came out of, but by resetting her and asking her to Down again, I was able to work her through it.


Sophia and I had a beach day today and I took her around a skatepark to work on desensitizing her around skateboards. Initially, Sophia would make an intent to run towards them, but she did really well at keeping her composure and not try to make a run for them. She was a little distracted but not like she was before. She is improving at being around them, and she has gotten a lot better with bicycles. Throughout our walk, she ignored the bicycles that passed us by. With week two coming to a close, I will begin working on some leash dragging exercises with Sophia, in order to prepare her for her off leash experience.


Sophia and I went out for a walk around my neighborhood today and worked on her Heel with her leash dragging. Throughout the day I worked on it with her in the backyard and she did pretty well. Sophia did get ahead of me a few times but by reminding her to Heel, she gets back into position and continues on her walk. We also working on cleaning up her duration Sit and Down, since she does tend to go into a Down rather than a Sit most of the time. Sophia also had trouble with her recall and would stop behind me at times, but by taking a step forward and guiding her around with my hand, I was able  to get her to follow through.


Sophia and I drove out to a local park and worked around people and dog distractions. She did very well throughout our walk around the park and she did not make an approach to people that were walking past us. We worked on her Send Away to Place with another dog placing on the same bench and Sophia did great maintaining her Sit. She also worked on her Extended Down with other dogs serving as a distraction, and although she did come out of it the first time, I was able to reset her and work her through it without the use of her leash.


Sophia and I have been working on Food Manners throughout her Training Program and she has made a big improvement. Initially, I could not get close to her without her reacting towards me and being possessive with her food. I began to hand feed her day by day and I was eventually able to place her bowl on the ground and keep a short distance without Sophia reacting. It took time, patience, and consistency,  but I am now able to pet Sophia while she eats.


Sophia and I have been working on her Greeting Manners. She has learned that she is to remain in a Sit whenever she is approached by someone that wants to say hello. It was difficult for her to do so in the beginning of her training, since she would come out of her Sit whenever I stepped away and would want to jump on people on her own. We worked on it by resetting Sophia anytime she sat up, and her progression has shown that she can successfully be greeted without her jumping on people.


Sophia and I have been working on Door Manners since the day I brought her home. Anytime I opened a door, Sophia would always want to be the first one to go through. To help her into not doing so, I would ask her to Down when we approached a door. Once in a Down position, I proceeded to open the door, and made sure Sophia remained in her position. When I opened the door, every time she sat up meant the door would close, and the process would repeat itself. Once she understood what I was asking, I began to increase time and distance to keep her in a Down longer, which led to Sophia achieving her two minute goal.


Sophia and I did a little shopping today at a local shopping center and she was great throughout our walk. She continues to thrive in her training and continues to do great around distractions as we worked on all of her commands. Sophia is very intelligent and can be capable of so much more as long as the training is kept up with consistency, time, and patience. She received many compliments and was also praised on her good behavior.


Sophia has completed her Three Week Board and Train Program and is ready to come home. It was a real pleasure working with her and I am very thankful for having the opportunity to be her trainer. I want to thank you for trusting me with Sophia while she was under my care. I enjoyed her companionship and she will truly be missed. We became great friends and I am looking forward to showing you what she has learned. Thank you Sophia!


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