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Stella | Mixed Breed | Los Angeles, CA | In-Training



Meet Stella! She's a two year old Mixed Breed pup from Los Angeles, California who is here with us for our Two Week Board and Train Program. Stella is a super sweet pup with some general knowledge of a few basic commands, but she is very easily distracted by her surroundings and often struggles to maintain the focus needed to reliably listen to what is asked of her. Stella is a rescue and had a rough start to life, so she experiences anxiety, fear, and a lack of overall confidence in most situations. She also has some trouble going potty outside sometimes due to these issues, so potty training is another aspect we will be focusing on. Over the next fourteen days, we will be working to improve her obedience, confidence, and manners to set her on the right track to becoming a confident and well-behaved pup both on and off leash! Stay tuned for her transformation!

 

Pupdate 12/3/2023



Today Stella and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other! After her pickup we spent some time at the park together, where we worked to begin developing a trusting relationship between us, as this will be important for her training going forward. She seemed happy to meet me, though she seemed nervous and unsure of what to make of the situation once she realized she was going to be left with me at the park. She displayed some clear signs of stress and anxiety, such as a tucked tail, pinned-back ears, and excessive panting. Stella was hesitant about walking further into the park, and often tried to run back and hide under the picnic bench where we first met. With a bit of time and reassurance, she seemed to calm down a bit, but was generally still nervous and was easily spooked by any sudden movements or sounds within our surroundings. She was also too nervous to take any treats, but she seemed to enjoy physical and verbal praise as a means of reassurance and reward. After taking some time to explore the park and assess her general behavior while in public, I began testing her knowledge of basic commands to help me get an idea of her starting point and what areas of her training may need some extra attention. Stella seemed to have some understanding of the Heel command, though she was very inconsistent with performing it. Sometimes she was determined to pull on the leash in an attempt to get wherever she wanted to go, and other times she was very clingy with me and followed very close behind me as we walked around. Occasionally she would walk alongside me when asked to Heel, though she was usually quick to revert back to either pulling or hiding behind me. Similarly, her recall for Come was also very inconsistent but she seemed to have some understanding of the command. Sometimes she would rush to me as soon as I created distance or called her as she didn't want to be away from me, and other times she completely ignored the command and any attempt to get her attention or get her to come to me. Stella either didn't understand the Sit command or didn't feel comfortable with performing it, as she was not able to Sit when asked at any point while we were at the park. With some physical assistance by lightly pressing on her rear, I was able to get her to Sit for a few moments just long enough to snap a few pictures, but she was not keen on staying in the position for more than a couple of seconds. She was unable to perform the Down command when prompted either, and even after being at the park for a good amount of time, she never settled down enough to want to relax and lie down on her own accord. Stella was also unable to perform Place, as she was extremely hesitant and lacked confidence about jumping or climbing onto any objects around the park, even objects that were physically easy to reach. After we had a chance to get to know each other at the park, it was time to head home and get her settled in! Stella was hesitant about jumping into my car at first, though when given some extra encouragement and a bit of physical assistance she was able to climb in. Whenever Stella is to travel with me in a car, she will be secured in a kennel to ensure her utmost safety. We will also be using a kennel while at home for sleep or if she is otherwise unsupervised. Stella is not kennel trained, so properly introducing the kennel is very important to help her feel safe and stress-free anytime she needs to be inside one. She was initially very scared of the kennel in the car, though we took our time and allowed her to thoroughly investigate it while rewarding her, which seemed to reassure her that it was not something scary. With time, she was able to take a step or two into the kennel, and with some gentle guidance, she stepped fully inside willingly. Once inside she seemed to calm down even more, and was able to lie down and settle in for the ride home. Once arriving home, we gave her some time to become familiar and comfortable with her surroundings as she did seem a bit unsure about the new environment. She took some time to warm up to the new place, though eventually she relaxed and was able to explore the space calmly. I offered her some food, though she didn't seem interested in eating just yet. I will continue offering her food throughout the evening and see if I can entice her to eat by adding some of her treats or warm water to her kibble. We will also continue working on introducing her to the kennel tonight, and help her build a positive association with it so that she can be comfortable spending some time inside when it's time for bed. She has a ways to go before she is fully settled in, though so far she is doing a good job of adjusting to all these new changes!



 

Pupdate 12/4/2023








Today Stella and I took our first steps on her training journey, and continued working on building trust and helping her feel as happy and comfortable as possible, as she is still feeling a bit unsure about her new situation. She is beginning to feel a bit more comfortable inside the home, though she still has a ways to go before she feels fully at ease. She spent some of today hiding underneath a bed, though she did eventually come out after some gentle reassurance. Today's training was focused on introducing the Heel command and the e-collar. Since inside is where she is most comfortable, we began our training session at home, to set her up for success with learning. Once she began to get the hang of the command, we took the training outside and had a few sessions working around quiet areas of my neighborhood. Outside, there were a few distractions here and there, such as occasional cars driving by, and people or dogs strolling around, but we tried to stick to the quietest areas possible to not overwhelm Stella.


Pressure is a fundamental tool used in teaching basic obedience commands. The idea is that whenever a command is given, it can be paired and reinforced with a form of pressure, such as from a leash or e-collar. Once applied, the pressure remains until Stella follows the command being given, and the moment she follows through the pressure immediately turns off and a reward is given! Stella seems to enjoy verbal praise and physical affection, so these are both great ways to reward her and encourage the behavior we want from her. Before introducing the e-collar, we spent some time improving her responsiveness to leash pressure, by teaching her that simply following the directional pressure and paying attention to what I was asking of her was very simple and rewarding! To properly introduce the e-collar, it's very helpful for Stella to first have a solid understanding of leash pressure, as this is the most simple form of pressure due to the clear directional guidance it provides. Once she understood the leash pressure, we began adding in a new form of pressure via e-collar stimulation. By pairing these two forms of pressure simultaneously, she will come to understand that both forms of pressure have the same meaning. With time and practice, this will allow the leash and e-collar to be used interchangeably, and eventually allow the opportunity to begin training with the e-collar only, without the need for a leash! I've also included a tutorial explaining how, why, and when to use the e-collar, so be sure to check that out!


The goal for the Heel command is for Stella to walk directly beside her handler on their left side, and remain in that position until released or given a new command. This precise positioning takes some practice to master, though with time Stella will learn to follow her handler's lead on walks, and not constantly try to pull ahead, hide, or veer off in different directions while walking. We introduced the command by keeping the leash short but loose, and using the verbal Heel cue as we begin walking. We built value in the desired position by frequently rewarding her whenever she was walking directly beside me. If she began to fall out of position, leash and e-collar pressure were applied to help her refocus and guide her back into Heel. While at home, Stella quickly picked up the command pretty quickly, and was able to follow alongside me with relative ease without needing much guidance. Once we moved outside, Stella was given a bit more of a challenge due to her fear of being outdoors. Initially, she was very clingy and stuck directly beside me as we walked down the sidewalk, which was good for the Heel positioning however she seemed very nervous as her tail was tucked and she was shaking a bit. We made sure to take frequent breaks to give her some time to take in her surroundings while giving her reassurance which seemed to help a bit. After some time she did seem to settle down slightly, though she would sometimes freeze up while we were walking, and cower while refusing to move forward. There didn't seem to be anything specifically that triggered this behavior, as it would happen randomly even when in a completely calm and quiet area. I worked her through this by guiding her to me with the leash as I continued walking forward, which prompted her to unfreeze and return to my side. There were also a few moments when she tried to run ahead and pull on the leash, though this mainly happened when she was spooked by something and wanted to get away from it. When this happened I guided her back to me and reminded her of the Heel position, and she seemed to understand not to continue pulling.


Stella still hasn't had any drive for food, and has been struggling to eat her meals so far. I was able to get her to eat a small amount last night before bed by mixing her kibble with some warm water, though she only took a few bites before refusing to eat any more. I left some of her food out for her overnight in case she wanted to nibble on it, though she didn't touch it at all. I tried mixing some water in with her breakfast again this morning, though she wasn't interested in eating. We went on several walks today in hopes the exercise might help work up an appetite, though this didn't seem to have much effect. I was able to get her to eat a small amount again tonight by mixing a small amount of wet food/meal topper in with her kibble, but she only ate a tiny amount before completely losing interest. I will continue offering her food throughout the night in hopes she will eat a bit more! Her potty training is going okay so far, and no accidents within the house, however she didn't want to go potty during our morning or afternoon walks. In the evening before the sun began to set, we went on another walk, and this time we brought my personal pup, a poodle named Star, along for the walk. Stella was introduced to Star earlier today and they got along very well and were friendly and polite with one another. Star is a bit old but she loves her walks and goes potty several times during walks, so with Star as a role model Stella seemed to relax a bit and was able to go potty during our evening walk together. Stella also seemed a bit more confident while outside with Star, and wasn't quite as skittish and nervous as she had been during our earlier walks. While Star won't always be present during our walks as we do need to focus on Stella's individual training, it was interesting to see the differences in Stella's behavior when around a calm, confident dog.


 

Pupdate 12/5/2023



Today Stella and I worked on her training around my neighborhood and at a local park. We continued practicing with the Heel command, and introduced two new commands, Come to Sit and Place. The neighborhood was a good place to warm up and begin her training, and as the day progressed we made our way towards a nearby park to work around a few kinds of distractions. The park was on the quiet side, though there were a few minor distractions present such as some kids on the playground, people walking around, and some small animals such as squirrels. Stella's new friend Star also made a guest arrival at the park for a portion of our training, and Stella was definitely happy to see her! This provided an additional distraction, as well as a slight confidence boost when Star was nearby. However she did tend to become more anxious when we moved away from Star. Stella overall did seem nervous from time to time, especially when at the park, though we were able to work her through the moments of panic she felt, and giving her tasks to focus on through training seemed to help her stay level-headed. She also did well with Heel during our training today, though she did have a few moments of anxiety and stubbornness. She would sometimes freeze and refuse to move, or jump in the air in an attempt to get free of the leash. This seemed to happen both at seemingly random times as well as in response to certain stimuli such as a loud noise or moving in a direction she didn't want to go in. We worked her through this with some extra reassurance and consistency in what we were asking of her, and with time this behavior occurred less frequently.


The Come to Sit command is an important command to introduce early on in Stella's training journey, as this will be our main form of recall. Developing a solid and reliable recall is important for any pup's obedience training, though this will be especially important for Stella to learn if she is to be allowed off leash in the future. The goal for Come to Sit is for Stella to come directly to her handler when called, then circle around and finish the command with a Sit on the left side facing forward. When completed in its entirety, this command ensures that Stella comes when called and does not wander off immediately after, as well as sets her up to be in the correct position to begin walking in a Heel. We introduced this command by first working on teaching her to Come when called by guiding her and getting her attention using the leash and e-collar. Today Stella was feeling a bit clingy, so creating distance to recall her from was tricky but we were able to accomplish it by having her Sit, taking a few steps away, then recalling her for Come to Sit. She was always quick to Come when called while practicing this, so long as she was calm and not feeling scared by something. If she was spooked by something she would need to be asked a few times before she snapped out of it and came over to me. Once she was doing well with coming when called, we introduced the rest of the command by guiding her through the maneuver around and positioning her on the left side for a Sit. She was able to follow my guidance quite easily, and after a few repetitions needed very minimal leash pressure for her to position herself correctly. She did however consistently need physical guidance to get into the Sit position as she was often reluctant about performing it on cue, but with more practice she seemed to more clearly understand the verbal Sit cue. She was able to stay in the Sit position for about ten seconds, though was prone to breaking position quickly if I moved away too far, too suddenly, or if something around us spooked her. We stayed consistent in ensuring she remained in the Sit until released or given a new command to build her reliability with staying in the position asked of her.


The Place command was not one we had initially planned to practice today, but during a break I walked over to a bench to go sit on it myself, and she jumped up to sit beside me! I rewarded her for this and decided to use the opportunity to associate the act of jumping onto an object with the verbal cue, Place. The goal for the Place command is for Stella to jump or climb onto an object with defined borders, such as a bench, a bed, or another object, and have her remain on that object in a stationary position until released or given a new command. Once she was on the bench I first rewarded her for simply standing on top of it, and she seemed to gain some confidence from being on the elevated surface. She eventually decided to Sit on her own, which I rewarded and encouraged. We sat together on the bench for a few minutes, simply observing our surroundings, and she seemed to relax a bit and settled into the Down position on her own, which I rewarded her for to communicate this is good behavior! She stayed calmly in the Down position on the bench for several minutes, which was great to see! After some time I got up and used the break cue to invite her to get up with me, and she jumped down off the bench. I then asked her to Place on the bench again, and she was confident with jumping back onto it and Sitting when asked. I tried asking for a Down, though she was not willing to do this so I did not push her further, as today just the Sit was good progress! She wasn't quite as willing to hold the Sit for an extended period of time when actually asked to Sit versus her choosing to Sit on her own, though she generally was able to stay Sitting on the Place object for about thirty seconds consistently without trying to jump down or stand back up. We continued doing repetitions of having her jump on the bench and perform a Sit, and she seems to have developed a good understanding of the Place command while practicing with this particular bench. We will continue working on this command using different objects, to continue building her confidence and ability. We will also work on the Down command starting tomorrow. Stella has still been struggling to eat her food, and while she is making progress about feeling more comfortable at home, she still seems a bit too nervous to eat her usual meal amount and needs a lot of extra encouragement to eat. She appears to be scared of eating out of the bowl, so I have been hand-feeding her or placing her food onto a mat instead which seems to help her feel more inclined to approach and try the food. I've also been mixing her kibble with various other foods like chicken broth, meats, treats, etc. to encourage her to eat, though generally she doesn't seem interested in eating regardless of the add ins. Placing her food in an area where she feels safest does seem to help a bit, and with our kennel training she has come to see the kennel as a place she can go to feel safe and secure, so feeding her inside the kennel has been helping slightly. She ate a small amount this morning, and was able to eat a good amount of her food late tonight just before bed time. It's still not as much as she should be eating, but hopefully we will have more luck with her appetite tomorrow.



 

Pupdate 12/6/2023




Stella and I visited a park today, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This was a good opportunity to practice Stella's commands with some additional distractions around. The park wasn't overly busy, though apart from the trainers and their dogs, there were some other people, dogs, children, and the occasional small animal. Overall Stella was a bit nervous about the new environment, but she didn't seem to fixate or become distracted by any of these kinds of surroundings. She hardly paid any attention to the dogs or people, and was able to stay neutral towards them without much effort. Stella's good attitude towards the dogs made her a great candidate for helping the other trainers' excitable pups with their own training, and Stella seemed happy to participate by practicing her commands near them. The only distraction that seemed to get to her was when there were loud noises, such as someone closing a car door in the nearby parking lot. This tended to startle her and cause her to feel uneasy for a few moments, but she was quick to recover with some reassurance. There was also a moment when a stranger's small dog got free of its owner and came rushing up to us looking to pick a fight with Stella. Thankfully, she was seemingly unfazed by this encounter and allowed me to step in front of her and keep the dog away from her until its owner retrieved it. It's always important to advocate for your pup's space, especially if a not-so-friendly dog comes rushing over. While this small dog was not a real threat to Stella, doing this builds trust and shows her that she can safely remain neutral in situations like this, as her handler will protect her and advocate for her space when needed.


Before we made our way to the park, we spent some time in the morning introducing the Down command while at home. The goal for the Down command is for Stella to lie down completely when prompted, and remain in this position until released or given a new command. Down is often tricky for anxious dogs to perform on cue, as it is an instinctually vulnerable position. As such, introducing this command and building her understanding of it in a quiet and familiar place was key to setting Stella up for success. We introduced this command by practicing on a comfortable bed that Stella is familiar with. Once she was on the bed, we paired the verbal cue with some leash pressure and physical guidance to guide her into the Down position. Once in position, she was immediately rewarded and given a break shortly after. She seemed to catch on quite quickly, and after a few repetitions she no longer needed physical guidance to perform Down on the bed. We then practiced Down around some different areas of the house, including on the floor, in the yard, and on different place objects like a dog cot. She was a bit more hesitant about performing Down on these surfaces, though with some practice she seemed to get the hang of it and only needed occasional guidance. We gradually added duration to this command, and reinforced the concept of the implied "stay", which applies to all of her stationary commands.


While at the park we mainly focused on her other commands, though we did practice a bit with Down to test her skills in a public place. As expected, she was much more reluctant to perform Down while at the park, and consistently needed physical guidance when practicing on the grass, pavement, or other areas around the park. Stella also still struggled with holding a Sit in these areas, and frequently would pop out of position and needed to be reminded to return to the Sit. However, Stella seemed much less hesitant about performing Down and Sit while on Place objects that she was comfortable with. She offered Down willingly several times while practicing Place, and she seemed content with remaining in the position for an extended period of time so long as no major loud noises occurred and I remained close by to her. She was also very good about remaining in a Sit while on Place as well. We spent a good amount of time on a bench together, encouraging her to remain calm and stationary as we viewed our surroundings. This helps to desensitize her to the environment, and helps her learn to relax even while in public places. Stella generally seems much more confident while on an elevated surface, which is something we can use to aid in her confidence-building journey!


Stella's appetite seems to have improved a bit today, and she ate more than half of the food offered to her in total. She still needs a bit of extra motivation and steps to get her eating, though she seems to be making progress in the right direction and is no longer outright refusing to eat. Stella's potty training is also going well so far, and she has yet to have a single accident inside. She has been comfortable going potty in my yard when needed, though we've been making an effort to build her confidence with going potty while in more public places as this is the main thing she struggles with in regards to her potty training. She was able to go potty both this morning and evening outside while on walks around the neighborhood. My neighborhood has a few spots where other dogs frequently go potty at, so I've been making it a point to stop at these areas and encourage Stella to sniff around while telling her to "go potty", which sometimes encourages her to want to potty there also.




 

Pupdate 12/7/2023






Today Stella and I visited a park, where we continued working on all of her commands. The park had a good amount of distractions present, though not enough to make Stella feel too overwhelmed. She mostly ignored the people, children, other dogs, and even the flocks of birds. Stella did however get spooked here and there by loud or sudden sounds such as the birds splashing in the water, fallen leaves crunching underfoot, or music playing. She was not a big fan of bicycles or strollers either, and also got scared by a flag waving in the wind.


We made sure to work her through these moments of fear and anxiety she felt, and gave her opportunities to investigate the trigger and reassure her throughout the process so she understood that it was not something she needed to be afraid of. With the flag for example, she was terrified of it at first and fought desperately to get away from it by cowering and pulling on the leash in the other direction. We created some distance from it and allowed her to view it from a distance she was comfortable with. After a few minutes, she seemed more curious about it than afraid, and gradually she worked up the courage to approach it and investigate it up close. After giving it a few sniffs, seemed to understand it was not something scary, and after that point we were able to walk and practice commands around the flag without her become distracted or nervous around it! We spent a lot of time today focusing on confidence building and exposure training like this with various triggers, which seemed to help her a lot!


We spent a good portion of today working on Heel, as there was a nice trail that went around the lake which was a great place to do some walking. Stella started off a bit rocky with this command and needed lots of reminders and guidance at first, as she was very prone to suddenly freezing in place, jumping in the air, or trying to pull away from me whenever she was feeling nervous. However, during our second lap around the lake, she began calming down significantly and greatly improved with her Heel. She was still very aware of her surroundings, but she began engaging with me more frequently and paying attention to her positioning beside me. She was able to walk in the Heel position for good chunks of time without needing any reminders or guidance from the leash. By our third lap she was happily strolling alongside me, remaining in the Heel position with ease! We also spent some extra time practicing Stella's stationary commands of Sit, Down, and Place. Stella did very well with Place again today, and generally seemed confident and comfortable with jumping onto and performing stationary positions while on a Place object. However she still struggled with performing and holding Sit or Down while not on a Place object. Even in quiet areas of the park, Stella was hesitant and antsy and needed consistent guidance for her to perform the position asked of her. She also struggled to hold the positions for longer than a couple of seconds, and needed to be guided back into position repeatedly. She seems to understand the commands now, though appears to lack the confidence and calmness needed to be reliable with them currently. Stella overall did well with Come to Sit today, and was often quick to come right to me whenever I called her, however she was a bit clingy again today so creating a distance of more than a couple feet to recall her from was a challenge.


Stella appears to be feeling more comfortable at home now, and her appetite seems to be more stable which is great to see! I have been adding some wet dog food to her kibble with some warm water, and this seems to be doing the trick and enticing her to eat. Stella also seems to be gaining a bit more confidence about going potty outside during the daytime. She didn't want to potty at the park, but once we got home we took a short walk around the block and she was able to go potty when prompted in a grassy area.



 

Pupdate 12/8/2023



Today Stella and I visited a local park, where we continued working on each of her commands around distractions. The park had a variety of distractions present, ranging from people, dogs, children, soccer balls, and small animals. Stella arrived at the park feeling quite timid, flighty, and unsure, though after some time walking around together she seemed to relax slightly and take on a more curious approach to her surroundings. I encouraged her to sniff around before we began training, which seemed to help her familiarize herself with the environment. Since Stella enjoyed sniffing and exploring today, we made sure to take frequent breaks to allow her to do so as a form of reward. However during training, she would sometimes be tempted to start sniffing around again, which was a good opportunity to utilize the Off command. We don't want her to become distracted when asked to perform an obedience command, as it will lead to her breaking the command due to the lack of focus.


The Off command is the general cue given to Stella when we want her to stop whatever she is doing, and focus her attention on her handler and her training. This command is similar to "leave it" or "no", and can be used to interrupt a wide variety of behaviors, such as sniffing, fixating, jumping, barking, or when she is otherwise doing something we don't want her to do. It is helpful to follow up the Off command with another command, such as Come, Heel, or Sit. This helps her shift her focus away from whatever caused the behavior, and also keeps her attention focused on something else such as performing a command. Using the Off command consistently and encouraging an alternative behavior is a great way to teach Stella what we like and what we don't like, and reduce the frequency of unwanted behaviors. This is something we have been practicing organically during her program, and she seems to have a good understanding of the command. When the Off command is given, she is usually quick to stop what she is doing and refocus on me, ready to listen to what is being asked of her.


We also spent some more time working her through the fears and anxiety she felt due to various objects, sounds, and other stimuli. When something specific scared her, such as the noise the leaves made when rustled, or walking past a fire hydrant, she would be very nervous around it at first and be unable to follow commands reliably as she was constantly in a flight or freeze mode. However after exposing her to the trigger in a controlled manner, reassuring her, and giving her the time she needed to process it, she would become desensitized to it and learn to ignore it. We had to follow this process many times today with many different triggers, but each time she was able to overcome her fear and eventually was able to perform her commands around the park with little to no issue even around things that were once terrifying to her.


Stella did a great job with her Heel command today, and once she was warmed up to training and comfortable with her surroundings, she was able to follow directly beside me without needing any leash pressure! We kept the leash loose and gave her some extra slack, to allow her to have the physical freedom to make her own choices and potential mistakes to use as learning opportunities. Despite the extra space to move away from me, she actively chose to focus on me and remain in the Heel position, making only minor mistakes here and there which she was quick to correct when reminded. She still did have a few moments when she would freeze or try to dart in a random direction if she was spooked by something, but she was quick to snap out of it and return to position when prompted. Stella seems to enjoy the Heel position now that she understands it, and she seems to feel more at ease when she can play follow-the-leader instead of having the pressure put on her to decide what direction to move in. Stella did well with her Come to Sit, and seems to have the maneuver down! She sometimes needs to be repositioned slightly if she ends up sitting crooked or too far away from me, but generally she seems to understand what is expected of her. Stella did great with Place as usual, and was confident about jumping onto any object I asked her to. She was also easily able to perform Sit and Down while on a Place object, and was able to remain in the position asked of her for at least one minute consistently. Stella also made some good progress with her Sit today while not on Place, and more often than not was able to Sit without needing me to apply pressure on her rear to guide her, which is a good step in the right direction! We encouraged her to focus on the verbal cue and used the e-collar with some light leash pressure if she needed reinforcement. She was also a bit more consistent about holding Sit today, and averaged about thirty seconds before she would become antsy and want to stand back up. Stella however was unable to perform Down anywhere besides on a Place object today despite having a decent understanding of what she is being asked to do. She protested heavily, and resisted all forms of pressure and guidance, and needed consistent physical guidance to maneuver her into position. Once in a Down, she was quick to pop right back out of position the moment the guidance ceased. We will need to spend more time building her confidence with this command before she can perform it reliably.



 

Pupdate 12/9/2023





Today Stella and I visited a local shopping strip, where we continued working on all of her commands around distractions. The busy street nearby provided lots of noise distractions to practice with, and there were a decent amount of people and other dogs walking along the sidewalks, as well as the occasional bike or stroller. Stella was able to ignore the people and dogs without any issue, though she was frequently spooked by loud noises from cars or buses, and was very nervous around the strollers, bikes, and other objects that were scary to her. Stella did adjust to the environment slightly over time, though overall she seemed overwhelmed by everything, and needed lots of reassurance throughout our visit.


Stella did okay with her Heel today, though she regularly needed reminders and reassurance as we walked around, as she was very prone to suddenly become spooked by various things around us. She would sometimes freeze in place, or suddenly try to dart off in a direction away from whatever scared her. She sometimes tried to pull on the leash a bit also, though once she felt tension in the leash she was quick to slow her pace and return to Heel without continuing to pull. Stella also tried to switch over to my right side a lot, and needed to be reminded to remain on the left side. When she wasn't feeling scared of something, she was however able to follow along in the Heel position nicely, and was able to correct her positioning when asked without needing the leash to guide her. Despite the busy environment, Stella did very well with her Come to Sit today, and was always very quick to come right to me, circle around, and Sit on my left side without needing any leash pressure at all. Stella also did great with her Place command, and was able to jump onto any object I asked her to with ease without any guidance needed. She was a bit hesitant to perform Down while on Place today, though she did well with Sit and was able to hold the position asked of her as distractions passed by around us. She sometimes would stand up if a loud sound occurred such as a car honking, though this was rare and Stella tended to remain in position through most distractions. Stella was also able to Sit while on the ground today without needing any physical guidance, though she struggled to remain in position for longer than about ten seconds before feeling the need to stand back up, so she frequently needed to be reminded to return to position. Stella was as usual unwilling to perform Down while not on a Place object, and protested strongly if she was asked to. I want her to have a positive association with this command, so I did not push her further for this command when she showed clear signs of discomfort at this location.


After some time at the shopping strip, we decided to head back to our neighborhood and continue working on her commands in a less stressful environment. After spending a few minutes in the quiet areas, Stella quickly calmed down from her frantic and nervous state, and was able to perform all of her commands with relative ease. She did great with Heel, Come to Sit, Place, and Sit. She did struggle slightly with Down while not on a Place object, though she was eventually able to perform it willingly after spending some time practicing it on a grassy lawn on a quiet street. We have been practicing her commands around the neighborhood on a daily basis, so this environment is becoming more familiar to her and less scary overall, allowing her to stay calm and focus more easily on her commands.


We also spent some more time working on some behaviors while inside the house. Stella is now much more comfortable within my home and is generally calm and relaxed, however some things still trigger her anxiety. For example, during the daytime if I grab the leash or e-collar, try to put it on her, or try to walk through the front door with her, she becomes anxious and will either freeze up or run and try to hide underneath the bed in hopes of avoiding having to go outside. At night, she doesn't seem to have as strong of a reaction to where she wants to flee or hide, but she will sometimes become slightly tense. We have been working to recondition her feelings towards these triggers, and help her come to see them as something fun, rewarding, and safe rather than something she needs to protest or escape from. We have been practicing repetitions of these tasks and rewarding her each time, and she is slowly but surely making progress in the right direction. Her kennel training is also going well, and she seems to be taking a liking to the kennel for the safe place it creates, which is a healthier alternative for her as a place to go when she wants to unwind and feel secure as opposed to hiding under the bed. Her potty training is also going well so far, and still no accidents have occurred. She has gradually begun to feel more comfortable going potty when taken out on walks around the neighborhood, and she has a few favorite spots she frequently chooses to go at. We have developed a good routine that seems to be working for her, and now that she is eating more regularly, a predictable schedule can be formed.



 

Pupdate 12/10/2023



Today Stella and I visited an outdoor mall, where we continued working on all of her commands around distractions. The mall wasn't overly busy, though there were some people walking around, a few other dogs, birds, music, and various other noise distractions. Stella overall seemed a bit nervous when we first arrived, though after spending some time walking around she seemed to relax a bit and was able to enter a good mindset for training. She did however get spooked by some things here and there, which we worked her through as usual. One example of this was when we passed by a store that had a mannequin out front, which had a flowy dress that blew slightly in the wind. When we first went to walk by it, Stella panicked and tried to run away, then cowered in fear and refused to move towards it or even look at it. We created some distance from it, and after a few minutes she became more curious about it than scared, and eventually, she was brave enough to approach it and sniff it. She seemed to realize it was not going to hurt her, and after that point we were able to walk past it without her flinching or trying to run away from it. She was also scared of the yellow wet floor sign in the video, though after going through a similar process she quickly overcame her fear and was not worried about it anymore.


During our training session, we focused on practicing all of her commands with as minimal leash pressure as possible. Regardless if Stella is on or off leash, we want her to be able to perform all of her commands without needing constant physical guidance or leash pressure to ensure she follows through with commands. Since she has a good understanding of all of her commands at this point, this is the next step in advancing her training, and allowing her to prove her skills! Using minimal to no leash pressure allows her the chance to problem solve when given a task, and use her knowledge of the command to perform it rather than always relying on us guiding her. When asking for a command, we always give her one "freebie", where we simply say the verbal cue paired with a hand signal. If she follows through with it, great! If not, then we proceed to ask the command again, this time pairing it with the e-collar as reinforcement. If needed, she will be asked multiple times with slightly increasing e-collar stimulation until she follows through with it. If after several attempts she is still unable to follow the command due to being scared, confused, or otherwise too distracted, only then will the leash be used as a final measure to help her. By reserving the use of leash pressure only for when she truly needs it, we can encourage her to pay more attention to the verbal cues and e-collar, and begin to prepare her for the transition away from using a leash.


Overall Stella did quite well with her commands today, even with the lack of leash pressure. She did great with Heel in particular, and very rarely needed any guidance from the leash to help her maintain the proper position. She also did great with her Come to Sit, and never needed the leash to guide her towards me or for the maneuver into the Sit. She sometimes needed to be slightly repositioned if she sat a bit crooked or out of position, though she was usually able to adjust herself without physical assistance. Stella did need leash pressure a few times for Place today, but only when working with objects she was a bit nervous with, such as a bench that had slots in it. She was very confident with the flat benches, though the slotted ones were a bit scary to her so sometimes she needed light guidance to encourage her to jump up during the first several attempts with the object. Stella was able to Sit without leash pressure most of the time, though every now and then she would need some gentle guidance to grab her attention if she was feeling nervous. While practicing Sit on the ground, she would sometimes tend to spin around and face backwards, or towards something interesting around us instead of sitting parallel to me. When this happened, I would ask her to reposition until she faced the correct way and was not staring at the distraction. We practiced adding more distance and duration to the Sit command, though this is something Stella is still struggling with due to her nervous and clingy nature. We also spent some extra time working on Down today. She is not quite ready to perform the command without any leash pressure as this is a very tough position for her, though we continued practicing as normal and gave her a freebie, followed by the e-collar, then leash pressure and physical guidance to help her into position. I made sure to reward her heavily anytime she was in a Down, which continued working to help her build a positive association with the command.



 

Pupdate 12/11/2023




Today Stella and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This was another great opportunity to test Stella's focus while around other dogs and various other types of distractions, and overall she did great! Stella was able to maintain a calm and neutral behavior towards all the other dogs today, and was very polite and friendly with the other trainers as well. Stella generally didn't seem distracted by too much while at the park, though she did need a bit of time before she began to feel more comfortable in the new environment. When we first arrived she was as usual quite timid and jumpy, though we stayed at the park for several hours and as time went on she gradually began to feel more at ease. The park was directly across the street from a fire station however, so there were a few instances when the fire trucks would come out with the sirens loudly blaring. This scared Stella the first time she heard it, and was looking for a place to run and hide to until the noise stopped. The next time around I made sure to provide some extra reassurance, and she seemed to realize that the sound was not any kind of danger, and every time she didn't seem quite as phased by the sirens any time after this point.


We spent a bit of time working on Stella's Greeting Manners today with the help of the other trainers. Stella may be a shy pup, but she does love people and sometimes can get a bit overexcited at times causing her to jump up. Jumping to greet is not a behavior we want to encourage; it can be a dangerous habit as she could accidentally injure herself or others in the process. The goal for Greeting Manners is for Stella to remain calm and stationary whenever being greeted by someone, whether it is someone she is meeting for the first time, or when saying hello to someone she already knows. Having her hold a stationary position during greetings is a great way to keep her calm and on task, as she is encouraged to focus on holding the position asked of her. If she does try to jump or otherwise behave impolitely, the Off command is implemented, and the greeting will be put on pause until she calms down and returns to position. When practicing with new people, it's important to inform them of Stella's training before they approach and greet her, as we want to keep her training as consistent as possible. By reserving the fun, praise, and rewards she enjoys strictly for when she is behaving the way we want her to, we can encourage the desired behavior and discourage the impolite ones in order to form good habits and manners! These manners are something we have been working on daily at home whenever I greet her, and she has quickly come to understand that she is not to jump on me no matter how excited she may be to see me. We have also been practicing out in public when given the opportunity, such as if a nice person or a friend wants to come say hello to Stella. Today, Stella did fantastic with greeting the other trainers, and was very sweet and polite with all of them! She did sometimes stand up out of the position asked of her, but she was able to return to position, and never tried to jump on them.


During our training today, we continued focusing on practicing all of her commands with as little leash pressure as possible. We rarely needed to use the leash to guide her today, and the only times it was truly needed was during her occasional nervous episodes. We utilized a long leash today as well, which allowed her even more freedom to make choices, problem-solve, and learn from mistakes. Overall she did a great job today with her commands and I am so proud of her! She had a few hiccups here and there when things got overwhelming for her, as she would sometimes freeze up or try to flee from certain stimuli such as the sirens, but for the most part she was very focused and on task with her obedience. She did great with her Heel, and apart from a few times here and there, she was easily able to follow directly alongside me with the leash completely unused as we walked around the park and past various distractions. She did sometimes need to be repositioned for her Come to Sit, as she would occasionally try to sit on my feet or in front of me, though generally she did well and came right to me when called in most situations. Stella excelled with Place today, and was confident about jumping onto any object I asked her to. She also made some good progress with her Sit today both on and off of a Place object. She was able to Sit when asked without any leash pressure or guidance, and hold the position for over two minutes! She was not always perfectly consistent with it, as if she was feeling anxious she would tend to pop out of position here and there, but lots of improvement was made today and she was more reliable than ever with this command. Stella also made huge leaps with her Down command today, and with some extra practice she was able to Down when asked without physical guidance or leash pressure, even while not on a Place object! During the first hour of our training she sometimes tried to protest the command a bit and needed some guidance, but after more repetitions she improved drastically. Once in a Down, she was usually good about staying in position until she was released or given a new command, even for extended periods of time of over two minutes. She seemed to feel slightly vulnerable at times, though she was generally much more comfortable with Down than she ever has been!


On another note, Stella's potty training is still going smoothly! She's consistently been able to go potty while outside during the daytime around my neighborhood. She also went potty once at the park while we were taking a break from training. We seem to have found a good routine that is working well for Stella, and her potty habits are becoming more predictable about when she will need to go each day.



 

Pupdate 12/12/2023





Today Stella and I visited a mall, where we continued practicing all of her commands around distractions using minimal leash pressure. This mall was quite busy today, with lots of holiday shoppers, crowds of people, and various other distractions. The outdoor section of the mall was a bit less crowded, but there was music playing from many speakers throughout the area, which was another challenge for Stella today.


When we first arrived and during our first walk around the mall, Stella was very anxious and struggled to focus on any commands reliably. She was easily spooked and was very hesitant to follow commands she typically does well with while in quieter environments. After about half an hour Stella still remained very on edge, so we took a break and headed back to the parking lot where she could decompress and relax a bit. We practiced her commands around the parking lot for a while, and slowly worked our way back towards the mall. Once back at the mall, we began training in the least busy areas possible before slowly making our way into more distracting areas. This seemed to help Stella warm up to the training at her own pace, and allowed her to comfortably adjust to the gradually increasing level of distractions. It was a slow process, but eventually Stella was able to maintain decent focus and reliability with her commands even in moderately distracting areas. She was still easily spooked by various noises, movements, and objects, though she seemed quicker to recover from these moments of panic than she had been earlier. Whenever there was something specific she was scared of, we used the opportunity to continue building her confidence and help her overcome the fear she felt. She never seemed to fully relax at this location, though with time she did adjust and feel less overwhelmed overall.


Early on in the training session, Stella struggled with her commands, and was unable to perform any of them without consistent physical guidance and leash pressure. She often tried to pull on the leash to walk ahead of me or to move away from distractions, and was persistent about ignoring the Heel command when cued. When using the long leash and not applying any tension, she would use the full length of the leash and continue trying to move away from me despite the Heel cue being used. Stella was able to perform Come to Sit, though she sometimes needed to be asked a few times before she followed through with what was being asked of her, and sometimes needed some leash pressure for the maneuver. She was able to Sit with some guidance, though was unable to remain in position for longer than a second or two without standing back up due to her anxiety. Stella was not keen on performing Down either, even while on a Place object. The only command she seemed to do okay with was Place, as she was always eager to jump onto a raised surface for the slight confidence boost it provided, though she seemed to want to stand on the object instead of holding a stationary position. During the later portion of our training, Stella did better with Heel and generally had an easier time sticking close to me as we walked around the mall with minimal to no leash pressure needed. She did make small errors here and there, but was calm enough to understand this and correct herself when reminded to Heel. She did better with Come to Sit also, and was able to perform the command without needing any leash pressure. She was able to perform both Place and Sit with ease as well, though her duration only averaged about one minute before she would begin feeling antsy and want to stand back up. Stella struggled with Down at this location even towards the end of the session, though she was able to Down on Place without much issue.


 

Pupdate 12/13/2023



Today Stella and I visited a park, where we continued to work on her commands and confidence building. The park was a bit busy today with lots of people, dogs, children, and small animals, though Stella didn't seem too overwhelmed by the distractions they created. She arrived at the park feeling a bit nervous and unsure, though she quickly warmed up to the environment and was able to easily focus on her training. We used the long leash, and continued working on each of her commands using as little leash pressure as possible, and Stella did a fantastic job overall! She was consistently quick to respond and follow through with commands, and seemed relaxed enough to not protest or break commands due to anxious feelings. She did still make a few mistakes here and there, but she was able to correct herself when asked and overall was eager to train today! Stella did of course get spooked by certain things here and there, though she never tried to run away, and was quick to recover and overcome her fears.


After the park, we headed home to spend some extra time focusing on Stella's behaviors at home. Having good manners at home is always important, and generally Stella is well behaved at home, but she did come to me with a few bad habits which could be improved upon. House manners are something we have been working on little by little each day since day one. Even seemingly mundane day-to-day tasks can provide excellent opportunities for training! These manners include areas such as Food Manners, Door Manners, and Car Manners. The goal for Food Manners is for Stella to be able to hold a stationary command while her food is prepared and set in front of her. She is then asked to remain in that position until she is released before she can get up and eat her food. Stella is eating more consistently now that she is comfortable in my home, however she still doesn't have much of a drive for her food and oftentimes needs a bit of extra help to get her eating. Feeding her by hand or placing her food on a flat surface has seemed to be the best way to get her to eat. She also seems to enjoy working for her food while at home, and will eat portions of her food in small servings as "treats" for performing her commands, which is another great way to sneak in some extra training each day! Despite her slight lack drive for her own food, she would still sometimes try to investigate food that was not hers, such as if I was cooking food for myself, feeding the cats, or if I dropped or placed this food within her reach. This is not a good habit to have, as there is a chance she could eat something that is unhealthy to her, not to mention it's never fun to have your pup try to steal your food! To improve this, we have been working on Food Refusal as well, which is where we teach Stella to avoid eating things she's not supposed to unless specifically given permission to. This is showcased in today's video, where we used some tasty hotdogs as our distraction food, and had Stella wait in front of it, then when released have her walk past the food and come straight to me instead of eating the hotdogs.


Another area of manners we have been working on is Stella's Door Manners. The goal of Door Manners is for Stella to hold a stationary position while near a door and remain there until released or given a new command, such as Come or Heel. She is asked to hold the position at the location asked of her, and not break the command even if the door is left open, if someone is knocking on it, or if people walk in or out of it. This practice teaches important boundaries, and prevents impolite and possibly dangerous behaviors such as trying to escape through open doors, shoving past people when walking through doorways, and rushing over to jump on or bark at people who enter through the door. Stella caught on quickly to the expectations for her surrounding doors, and has made great progress with her manners related to doors! Stella's main struggle was that she came to me very scared of going outside, so getting her to even approach the main door willingly, let alone walk through it, was a challenge. With lots of work on reconditioning her attitude towards going outside, she has since improved drastically with this. She still isn't always super excited to go outside during the daytime, but she no longer tries to run away, hide, or refuse to move through the doorway when prompted to. When it's darker out Stella seems less anxious about going outside, and is usually a bit more eager to go through the door, which is a great time to practice her impulse control and work on boundary setting with the doorway, teaching her that the rules still apply even when she actually wants to go out!


Having good Car manners makes transporting Stella easy, safe, and as hassle-free as possible. Since Stella and I travel in the car almost every day, this is another area of her training we have been practicing organically during her time with us. The goal for Car Manners is for Stella to be confident and willing to jump into the car when prompted without needing any physical assistance. Once in the car, the goal is for her to willingly enter a kennel when asked, without needing to be physically guided inside. While she was initially quite scared of the kennel in the very beginning, we were able to help her overcome this and Stella is now able to enter the kennel on her own when asked, and is comfortable with settling in for car rides or sleep time without protest or severe anxiety. Stella has also overcome her fears and hesitations towards jumping into the car, which was something she definitely struggled with for the first several days with me. She wasn't the biggest fan of car rides, so oftentimes she would freeze in place and refuse to approach the car, let alone jump into it on her own. At first, we had to pick her up completely and place her into the car, but with time and practice, she eventually showed interest in jumping in by herself! She would often just get her front paws up on the car, and need some help getting all the way up. She also would sometimes try to jump all the way up on her own but struggle to make it successfully, so we've made a habit of either parking against a curb or setting down a place cot for her to use as a boost to make the process easier for her.



 

Pupdate 12/14/2023





Stella and I took a trip to an outdoor mall today, where we continued working on all of her commands around distractions using minimal leash pressure. We made sure to start off her training in a quiet area before making our way into the more busy parts of the mall, to help Stella acclimate to the new environment. This seemed to help a lot, and by the time we made it into the busiest areas of the mall Stella was focused, calm, and able to do great work with her commands! While not quite as busy as the mall we visited on Tuesday, there were plenty of distractions present here, such as groups of people, other dogs, and music playing around us on the speakers. Despite the somewhat busy environment, Stella didn't appear overwhelmed or overly stressed. Instead, she seemed quite happy to be here, and was feeling relaxed enough to sniff around, explore, and even wag her tail from time to time which was really great to see! We did need to use the Off command from time to time if Stella tried to wander into the landscaped areas to sniff while we were actively training, but for the most part she understood to save this behavior until the Break cue was given.


Stella did exceptional with Heel today, and was able to follow directly alongside me as we walked around the mall without needing any leash pressure whatsoever! She was able to make sudden turns and stops with me, and could Heel past a variety of distractions without losing focus. I thought perhaps she was just in a clingy mood, though I was able to create distance from her for other commands which shows she was also comfortable being away from me when the situation called for it. She did fantastic with Come to Sit today, and was always very quick to come right to me when called, circle around, and Sit on my left side. Every now and then she would Sit slightly crooked, though by taking a step forward and prompting her to reposition again she was able to correct herself without needing any leash guidance She was able to peform Sit, Place, and even Down, all with relative ease today, and held each position for over two minutes while I stood about five to six feet away. I was able to create slightly more distance of about ten feet away at times, though if something happened to spook her while I was further away she was more prone to breaking the position than if I were closer by. She did struggle a bit with Down while on the floor which was to be expected, but after practicing this for a while she did eventually follow through without needing physical guidance, which is a huge deal for Stella! We made sure to give her lots of love for her great work today!

We also had some more opportunities to practice Stella's Greeting Manners today, and overall she did a great job! There were lots of nice people who were impressed with Stella's obedience skills, and wanted to come say hello to her. Stella was usually happy to greet anyone and everyone, though she was hesitant to allow people holding shopping bags to get close to her, as she seemed scared of the bags. I made sure to advocate for Stella and ask people to set down their bags before saying hello to her so she could feel more comfortable, which Stella seemed grateful for. We also made sure to inform anyone greeting Stella that she is in training, and to only pet her or give her attention when she is calm and in a stationary position. She didn't try to jump on anyone today, even when people were baby-talking and petting her excitedly. She instead showed her excitement with tail wags! She did sometimes stand up out of the position asked of her, though as soon as she did that the petting would stop, and she seemed to understand the correlation between these two things, which encouraged her to stay in position throughout the greeting until she was released.

To update on Stella's potty training, she is still doing very well! No accidents, and she is getting more and more comfortable going potty outside during the day both around my neighborhood and in public places. She seems to understand the cue "go potty" and once those words are said she will start sniffing around and go if she has to. I've been taking her out specifically to potty after she's woken up and had breakfast in the morning, again in the afternoon, and once more before bedtime after she's had her dinner. This routine seems to be working well for her, and she has had no trouble waiting several hours in between breaks during the day without issue, as well as sleeping through the night without needing to go out in the middle of the night. When she does need to go potty while we are inside at home, she usually will look towards the door, and stare at me expectantly until I take her out. If we are out in public and she has to go, she'll often start sniffing around persistently, even when the Off command is used. She's usually pretty good about the Off command, so her persistence is often a sign she has to go potty. We'll then find a grassy or other suitable area for her, then ask her to go potty there, which she typically will do if she has to go. On another note, Stella seemed to have a better appetite than usual today, and finished all of her breakfast and dinner. I gave her a bit of extra food today since she still seemed hungry after her usual meal amounts.



 

Pupdate 12/15/2023



Today Stella and I visited a mall, where we continued working on all of her commands around distractions. This is the same mall we visited a few days ago where Stella struggled heavily with her commands, so it was time to revisit and test her skills again. Amazingly, this time around Stella did such a good job! It was decently busy again, so we made sure to take it slow and allow her time to adjust before venturing into the busier areas which helped her immensely. There were some crowds of people, loud music, and many other distractions, but overall Stella didn't seem to mind it much, and was able to stay level-headed and calm throughout our visit. We were able to film some fantastic footage of Stella performing her commands here that we will use in putting together her final video, so be sure to check out today's video for a sneak peek!


We used a bit of light leash pressure sparingly during our warmup around the quiet areas of the mall, but Stella quickly focused in on her training and soon no longer relied on the leash for her commands. We did go ahead and keep the leash attached for her safety at this location due to her skittish nature and occasional tendency to flee when scared. She did have a couple of brief moments where something would spook her causing her to flinch or shy away, though today she never tried to fully run away, hide, or completely freeze and refuse to listen to a command, even when something nearby was scary to her. She seemed to recover quickly from these moments, and was able to overcome her fear of any sound, object, or other stimuli that made her nervous. For the majority of our training session, the leash hung completely loose and unused! With Stella's great obedience and understanding of commands and behavior expectations even without leash pressure, I believe she could safely be allowed off leash in certain environments. Until she has gained more confidence however, it'll be best to reserve any off-leash activity strictly for environments that are calm and risk free, where there are low chances of her getting spooked by something or getting into harm's way should something happen to cause her panic.


Stella did great with her Heel today, and followed alongside me very nicely as we walked around the mall together. She was a bit nervous around some of the distractions we passed, such as when walking past some particularly loud music speakers, but she understood to trust my guidance and stick in the Heel position as we passed the distraction. She was able to Heel through groups of people, past other dogs, and many other kinds of distractions without issue. She did sometimes veer slightly out of position if she began to lose focus, though with a reminder she was quick to correct herself perfectly. Stella did phenomenal with Come to Sit, and was able to be recalled from large distances of fifteen feet or more without any hesitation or delay. She also did great with maneuvering around to position herself on my left side, often doing so correctly on the first attempt without needing to be adjusted. Stella did wonderful with all of her stationary commands as well, and was able to perform Sit, Down, and Place all without leash pressure, and remain in the position asked of her for extended periods of time. When lots of distractions were around, she was also able to hold position while I was about six to seven feet away. When in slightly more quiet areas, I was able to distance myself at least fifteen feet away and move around her freely without her feeling clingy, anxious, or breaking position to come closer to me. Stella was sometimes a bit particular about where she wanted to perform Down, as she seemed to find some surfaces more comfortable than others. With a bit of practice however, she was able to perform Down without issue on any surface I asked her to without needing physical guidance. Stella did such a good job today, and we are so proud of her amazing progress so far!



 

Pupdate 12/16/2023





Stella and I visited a park today, where we practiced all of her commands using no leash pressure. The park had some busier areas, with lots of other dogs, people, and children going about their day, which served as great distractions to test her focus around. There were also some slightly quieter areas as well, which we used to our advantage for our training today! Stella overall seemed quite confident today, even when first arriving at the park. She didn't seem to feel stressed or nervous about her surroundings, and instead seemed happy and eager to explore and train! She was quite curious about her environment and wanted to explore on her breaks, but understood to stay focused while actively training! Regardless of what were doing or what was going on around us, Stella frequently chose to engage and check in with me.


While in the quieter areas of the park, we were able to have the leash dragging while training, which is a great way to test Stella's off-leash abilities while still having the leash available to grab in the event it is needed. Stella was comfortable while in the quieter areas of the park, and didn't get spooked by anything, or feel the need to flee, hide, or freeze at any point! She stayed very focused on our training, and was very quick to follow through with any commands asked of her. She also enjoyed exploring around near me and sniffing around the area while on breaks, without ever straying too far away from me. While training in the busier areas of the park where lots of distractions were present around us, we kept a hold of the long leash though held onto just the very end to provide her plenty of room for freedom and decision making. She sometimes got slightly spooked by various sounds or other stimuli on occasion, though she composed herself quickly and did not try to run off even after being scared by something, which was great to see. As usual, whenever something did happen to scare her we made a point to work her around said distraction until she could calmly be around it and overcome her fear. Whether in the quiet or busy areas, Stella always chose to stay close to me unless asked to hold a stationary position while I created distance from her during a stationary command, which she was able to do without issue.


Stella showed excellent proficiency with each of her commands today, regardless of the distraction level around us. She was always quick to listen to commands, and typically performed them as soon as the verbal cue was given. When she needed additional reinforcement, low level e-collar stimulation paired with a repeat of the verbal command was able to get her attention and help her follow through with the command. The only command she sometimes delayed slightly with was Down, as she sometimes needed to be asked a few times before she laid down completely, especially when practicing on the ground instead of a place object, or when many distractions were present around us. However, she was always able to lie down without needing physical guidance or leash pressure, and she was able to remain in position for over two minutes, similar to her other stationary commands.



 

Pupdate 12/17/2023



Today was Stella's last full day with me, so we spent the day putting all of her learned skills to use to have a fun final day together! We went to a park where we practiced all of her commands without any leash pressure. The park had some distractions present such as people, children, small animals, and other dogs, but Stella didn't seem to pay much attention to any distractions around us. This is a park we have visited before, and Stella seemed very comfortable and familiar with the environment. She never had any moments where she really got spooked by anything, and generally she appeared confident and happy as we trained and played together!


During our training session we continued having the long leash dragging, and at no point did I ever need to pick it up or use it! The long leash did sometimes get stuck on things here and there so we moved to a shorter leash and continued working with it dragging along. After some time, we eventually went ahead and took the leash off altogether, as we were in a safe environment away from any risks such as busy streets or crowded places, and Stella was behaving very well and performing all of her commands beautifully, more than earning her chance to prove her off-leash abilities! As expected, she did a wonderful job with all of her commands even while off leash, and was able to do everything I asked of her despite the lack of a leash. She did make some small mistakes here and there, but she always figured it out and focused right back on the task at hand. It's important to remember that she is a dog, and not a robot, so occasional errors here and there are to be expected. The important thing is that we can work her through it and get her back on track effortlessly!


We took lots of breaks to run around and play together, which Stella really enjoyed! We played a bit of fetch while off leash also, and while she wasn't the best at actually retrieving it, she had so much fun chasing after and playing with the ball! Her tail was wagging happily the whole time, and it was really great to see her letting loose and enjoying herself out in public without fear and anxiety holding her back. Despite the buzz of her excitement, she had no trouble following commands when prompted and having an "off switch" to settle back down whenever she was asked to. She eventually tired out from all the playing, and was content with lying down next to me in the grass. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon lounging together and observing our surroundings calmly. She even became so relaxed that she started to doze off, which shows just how far she has come with her ability to relax in public places!


We are so proud of Stella, and the amazing progress she has made during our short time together! She came to me as a very skittish, nervous pup who was scared of anything and everything, causing her to struggle to listen, focus, or perform commands in any reliable capacity. She has since learned so many new skills, commands, and behaviors, from potty training to off leash heeling, and so many things in between! Through obedience training and lots of confidence building, Stella is like a whole new dog! She's still the same sweet, loyal, and loving pup she has always been, but her new skills and outlook on life allow her to enjoy so many new experiences and adventures! She is now very well-behaved no matter where we go, and she thrives in environments that once were very scary to her! Stella still has a ways to go in her confidence building journey, though in just these two short weeks she has come such a long way! She's not quite ready to be fully off leash in extremely busy environments yet, though with consistent practice I have full faith that she will continue making huge strides towards any goals set for her. With her high intelligence and eagerness to learn, the sky is the limit for this pup! Stella has been such a pleasure to train and share my home with, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of showing her the world isn't such a scary place after all, and helping set her on the right track to becoming the best version of herself! Good girl Stella!



 



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