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Terra | Labrador Retriever | Canyon Country, CA | In-Training



Meet Terra, a nearly two-year-old Labrador Retriever from Canyon Country, California! She's here with us for our Two Week Board and Train Program, where we will be working to improve her obedience and manners. This sweet and playful pup has some general knowledge of a few basic obedience commands, but she is easily distracted by her surroundings and often struggles to maintain focus or follow through with commands when in public environments. She also likes to use her strength and size to pull heavily on the leash while walking, and has a bad habit of trying to jump on people when she's excited. Terra also displays some dog reactivity stemming from over-excitement, which causes her to bark, lunge, and pull towards any dogs she sees so that she can go meet and play with them. Over the next fourteen days, we will be working to improve her socialization skills, manners, and obedience to set her on the right track to becoming a well-behaved pup both on and off leash! Stay tuned for her transformation!


 

Pupdate 11/12/2023



Today Terra and I spent the day bonding and getting to know each other after her pickup! We walked around and explored the park a bit, and I worked to develop a positive relationship with her to help her feel comfortable and happy training with me going forward. While she warmed up to me very quickly, overall she seemed to be much more interested in her surroundings and struggled to maintain focus on me for any significant period of time. She was also very distracted any time another dog was visible in the surrounding area, causing her to quickly become overexcited and react by whining, barking, and trying to run toward them. Even with the prong collar she came to me with, she seemed to completely ignore leash pressure, and often became frustrated by her inability to pull towards the distractions she wanted to approach, which caused her to continue pulling harder on the leash in an attempt to move forward. I went ahead and adjusted the sizing and positioning of the collar, which seemed to help a bit in reducing the severity of the pulling, though she still wasn't very responsive to leash guidance and still tried to ignore it when she was very excited by something.


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. Terra didn't seem to have any understanding of or desire to perform the Heel command, and regardless of leash pressure or verbal commands given, she was determined to pull on the leash as hard as she could to get where she wanted to go. She seemed to understand the Sit command, though was very rarely able to follow through with the command when asked to perform it. If she did happen to Sit, she was very quick to break the position and was unable to hold it for longer than a second or two at a time. She didn't seem interested in performing the Down command either, and was unable to perform the command when asked. Terra also seemed hesitant about jumping or climbing onto any objects for the Place command, and was uninterested in attempting this command even on easy-to-reach objects. When testing out her recall, she would often ignore her name, leash pressure, and the Come command completely, especially if she was focused on something else. Sometimes she would come my general direction when called, however she did not stick around for more than a moment or two before immediately rushing back off or wandering away in a different direction.


After we had a chance to get to know each other at the park, it was time to head home and get settled in! Terra was hesitant about jumping into the back of my car, but was eventually able to climb in with a bit of help. Once in the car, she was also unsure about entering the kennel, but was able to enter it with some physical guidance. At home, she seemed a bit anxious and unsure of the new environment at first, but after spending some time together, playing with some toys, and giving her some kibble, she calmed down and was able to explore the new environment and become familiar with it! She did vocalize and bark a bit once I left the room, though she calmed down after a few minutes and has since found a nice cozy place to relax, and she seems to be settling in nicely!


 

Pupdate 11/13/2023





Today Terra and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This provided a great opportunity to work on Terra's dog reactivity and overexcitement, and help her learn to ignore the distraction they present. The park also had a variety of other distractions around, such as people and children, small animals, and grassy fields, though the other dogs were by far the biggest distraction for her. At first, Terra was extremely excited upon seeing the other dogs, and tried very hard to get to them so she could greet them. We prevented her from doing this, and encouraged her to disengage from them. She struggled with this a bit at first but eventually began to understand that she was not going to be playing with them, and that instead focusing on her handler was much more rewarding and fun for her. It also helped that the other dogs were focused on their own training and not paying her any mind, which encouraged Terra to do the same. We were able to get her to the point where she could be within about fifteen feet of another dog without barking, pulling, or fixating on them, which is great progress for her! During our training session, we focused on improving her understanding of leash pressure, introducing the e-collar, as well as introducing the Heel command. Pressure is a fundamental tool used in teaching basic obedience commands. The idea is that whenever pressure is applied, it is used as a reinforcer and paired with a command. The pressure then remains present until Terra follows the pressure and the command being given. The moment she follows through, the pressure immediately turns off and a reward is given. Terra seems to enjoy verbal praise, physical affection, and treats so these are all great ways to reward her and encourage the behavior we want from her. However, treats will become increasingly rare as a reward as she progresses in her training, as we do not want her to become dependent on them. She also highly values her regular kibble, so this was a great way to feed her a meal in a fun and engaging way without adding in extra calories. Based on her behavior yesterday, it was clear she didn't fully understand the concept of leash pressure. So today, we spent a good amount of time focusing on teaching her what leash pressure means, and how to turn off the pressure once it's applied. This was done by walking around and making various directional changes, and teaching her to follow the guidance from the leash. She learned that trying to resist it was not successful or rewarding, and that simply following the directional pressure was very simple and rewarding! After a while of practicing with this, she did much better and began showing a good understanding of leash pressure! In order to properly introduce the e-collar, it's very helpful for Terra to first have a solid understanding of leash pressure, as leash pressure 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 from the e-collar stimulation. By pairing these two forms of pressure simultaneously, she will come to understand that each pressure has 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! She seemed very receptive to the e-collar today, and seemed to catch on quite quickly which is great to see!

The obedience command introduced today is the Heel command. Heel is an important concept for Terra to begin developing early on in her training, as her strong pulling while on the leash can pose dangers to her handler, herself, or others in the area if it is allowed to continue. The goal for the Heel command is for Terra to be able to follow directly alongside her handler on their left side at their heels, 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 her handler to take the lead on walks instead of her trying to pull them around wherever she pleases. To introduce this command, I kept the leash short but loose, and ensured she stayed on my left side in roughly the Heel position as we walked. If she began to veer off or pull ahead, leash and e-collar pressure were applied, and the verbal command Heel was given. She eventually began to grasp the concept, stopped trying to pull as much, and instead learned to follow the guidance of the leash. When walking in the correct Heel position, the leash was loose, no pressure was applied, and lots of praise and reward were given to create value in this position. As she gets better with this command, she will have an easier time staying in the Heel position without as much guidance or pressure needed, and will need to be given reminders less frequently. Overall she did a good job today and seemed to catch on pretty quickly, though more work will need to be done before she can Heel consistently.



 

Pupdate 11/14/2023



Terra and I took a walk to a local park today, where we introduced the Off and Come to Sit commands, as well as continued to practice with her Heel. There was a variety of distractions present such as other dogs, people walking around, children playing, grassy fields, and noises from the nearby street. Similar to previous days, Terra was very distracted and excited when we first arrived at the park, though after she had a few minutes to observe her surroundings she did calm down a bit and had an easier time paying attention to me so we could begin her training session. Terra also improved a lot with her overexcitement reactivity towards dogs, and when seeing other dogs today she did whine a bit sometimes, but she did not try to rush up to them or begin barking at them, which is great progress! We also spent a good amount of time at the park just sitting down and observing our surroundings from a distance while rewarding calm behavior, which helps Terra to become more desensitized and socialized around various distractions, and teaches her that being calm and neutral in public is a rewarding behavior.

Terra is easily distracted and often struggles to maintain focus whenever in a public place as she tends to become fixated on her surroundings. Moments like this are a great opportunity to implement the Off command. The goal for the Off command is for Terra to stop whatever she is doing, and focus on her 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 she's not supposed to, or any other behaviors that are undesirable or inappropriate at that time. The Off command when paired with leash and e-collar pressures allows me to interrupt the behavior and get her to focus on me so that she 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, Heel, Come, etc. Once her focus is regained, asking her to then focus on a task will help keep her attention away from what initially distracted her or caused the undesirable behavior. Terra has shown great progress in understanding the Off command so far, and with each repetition, she seems to be quicker to respond and refocus when prompted. However, more work will need to be done in various situations before she is fully reliable with the command.


Come to Sit is another important command to begin practicing early on in Terra's training journey, as it will be our main form of recall. Having a solid recall is important for any pup's obedience training, though this will be especially crucial for her to master if she is to be allowed off-leash. The goal for Come to Sit is for Terra to come directly to me when called, and circle around behind me to perform a Sit on my left side. The Come to Sit command when performed in its entirety ensures that she not only comes when called, but also requires her to sit beside her handler and not leave that spot unless released with the Break cue, or given a new command such as Heel. By having her sit on the left side facing forward, we are setting her up for success to begin walking in Heel as she is already in the desired position for it. We introduced this concept today by combining the verbal command with leash and e-collar pressure to grab her attention and guide her towards me. Once she followed the guidance and approached me, the leash was used to guide her around to my left side, where she was then asked to perform a Sit. As we practiced more, she began to rely less on the leash pressure to grab her attention and guide her to me, which is a good sign of progress! She would sometimes try to stop or sit behind me instead of coming all the way to my left side, though she was able to follow the guidance from the leash to help her find the proper position. With each successful repetition, I made sure to reward her with lots of praise and affection to build up a positive association with the command and the concept of coming to me when called.


Terra is doing well with Heel so far, and is quickly learning the desired position to be in when the command is given. Her pulling behaviors have reduced quite a bit, and she can often follow along directly beside me with minimal leash pressure needed for good chunks of time! She sometimes does try to veer off or run into my legs, however she is beginning to understand that trying to pull towards something will not be successful, and that focusing on me and maintaining the Heel position leads to rewards! We also practiced making lots of sudden turns and stops today, which helps to encourage engagement and ensures she is paying close attention to both her own positioning and the position of her handler so that she can accurately follow along even when unpredictable movements and directional changes are made. Going forward, we will continue practicing this command around gradually increasing levels of distractions, to further develop her focus and continue to build her understanding of the command.



 

Pupdate 11/15/2023




Today Terra and I began our training session at home, where we introduced two new commands, Place and Down. Once she made some progress with these commands, we continued our training outside around the neighborhood. While at home Terra was able to show an increased level of focus, due to the environment's familiarity and low distraction levels. However, once outside Terra was as usual very excited and energetic, and she tended to lose focus around various distractions, such as other dogs, small animals, and scents in landscaping or lawns. We continued practicing with the Off command, to help improve her self-control and ability to regain focus and ignore distractions when asked. She has shown some good progress with the Off command, however when she is very focused on something else she sometimes needs to be asked a few times before she snaps out of it and returns her attention back to her training. She did bark at a few dogs today, though once given the Off command she understood to not continue this behavior.


Since Terra is often very distracted and excited while in public, we first introduced the Place and Down commands while at home, where there are virtually no distractions to take her focus away from learning. The goal for the Place command is for Terra to be able to jump or climb onto an object, such as a bench, bed, or other platform, and hold a stationary position such as Sit or Down. We introduced Place using a comfortable bed in her room that Terra is already familiar with jumping onto and relaxing on in her own time, which helped to promote confidence and learning. By using leash pressure paired with the verbal cue and a hand signal, she was able to follow my guidance and jump onto the bed when asked. She also seemed comfortable with sitting on the bed when asked as well, which was great to see! After practicing with this for a while, she seemed to understand what was being asked of her, and she no longer needed leash pressure to jump up on the Place object. Using the comfortable place object again, we then introduced the Down command. Down can be a tricky position for some dogs to perform on command, especially for dogs who often feel anxious or over-excited and struggle to relax. While on the bed, I used leash pressure and some physical guidance to help Terra into the Down position, and the moment she followed the guidance and laid all the way down, lots of praise and rewards were given! She seemed to catch on to this pretty quickly, and soon was able to perform Down while on the bed with minimal to no physical guidance needed. We then practiced Down on a few different surfaces and objects around the home, such as on a dog cot, on the floor, and on the grass in the yard, to help her become familiar with performing these commands in a variety of places apart from the bed. While she did struggle with this a bit at first, she was eventually able to Place and Down anywhere around the house that I asked her to with only minimal physical guidance needed.


Once she got the hang of both Place and Down at home, we took the training outside to continue practicing and testing her new skills in a different environment. Despite Terra's confidence with performing Place at home, she was a bit hesitant about attempting the jump onto any objects while outside, even with the dog cot we had practiced on earlier. She did need a bit of guidance and extra motivation, though she was eventually able to perform Place on the cot and a few other easily accessible objects around the neighborhood. She was a bit unsure of her footing and was hesitant to perform Sit or Down during the first several attempts. With more repetitions, she became more confident with performing a Sit, however she protested heavily against performing Down while on a place object, and needed consistent guidance to lower her into the position. We also practiced Down around some other areas around the neighborhood, such as on grass, sidewalks, or other surfaces, though Terra showed the same hesitation and protest towards the command each time. When she did finally follow through with it, she was often quick to pop back up out of position, and struggled to stay still due to her excitement from simply being outside. Wearing out some of her energy by playing together and working on Heel and Come to Sit seemed to help her become a bit less hesitant about lying down. Once she was tired and the excess energy had dissipated she seemed a bit more willing to perform Down on command and was able to hold the position for a bit longer. Lots more practice will be needed for Terra to master all of her commands, though she is on the right track and is making good progress!



 

Pupdate 11/16/2023



Today Terra and I visited a local park, where we continued practicing each of her commands around distractions. We focused on improving her overall focus and engagement with me when in public, as well as increasing her confidence with the Place and Down commands. There were a good amount of distractions present at the park, such as groups of people walking by, children running around, other dogs, and small animals such as birds and squirrels. Terra was definitely distracted when we first arrived and was very eager to explore around, though she was a bit quicker to settle down and focus today than she had been in previous days. Anytime she tried to pull in a certain direction to sniff or investigate something, we would turn around and walk the other way. Doing this consistently helped her to understand that pulling on the leash is not an effective way to get what she wants, and that instead walking nicely and following the rules leads to a rewarding outcome. While on a break, she is encouraged to sniff around and explore, though there are still rules in place she has to follow even when not being asked to perform a specific command, such as not pulling on the leash, eating things she's not supposed to, chasing after animals, barking, etc. Throughout our time here, we made sure to mark and reward anytime she checked in with me or focused on me, to encourage engagement with her handler even when there are other interesting things in her surroundings. We also rewarded calm, neutral behavior whenever distractions were present which is an important part of helping her become well-socialized.


Yesterday Terra was hesitant about performing either Place or Down when in an outdoor setting, so we spent some extra time focusing on these commands today. We practiced having her Place on a variety of different objects while at the park, and stayed consistent with rewarding her once she was able to follow through with it. We started off by using the dog cot again, and this seemed to help her remember training from yesterday as it is a familiar object. She was a bit hesitant during the first repetition using the cot, though once she successfully performed it, she was able to then Place on the cot many times after without issue. We then asked her to Place on some different surfaces, such as some surfaces on the playground and different kinds of benches. She was hesitant about performing the command with the new objects, though after a few repetitions with some leash pressure for guidance she gained a lot of confidence and was eventually able to jump onto any object I asked her to with relative ease and minimal to no physical guidance. She did sometimes stop just before jumping onto the object to sniff around it, though by using the Off command and repeating the Place verbal cue, she understood to stop what she was doing and focus back on my instruction.


We practiced the Down command around many different areas of the park, such as on the grass, on Place objects, and on the pathways. We also started off far away from the major distractions at the park, and gradually worked our way closer to them once she became more comfortable and willing to settle into the position. Terra was reluctant to perform Down at first even with low distraction levels, though with consistent encouragement and rewards, she became much more comfortable with the command the more we practiced. She really seemed to enjoy verbal and physical praise while in the Down position, as it helped to reassure her and communicate that she was doing a good job. I also used some of her kibble as treats occasionally which further helped build a positive association with this position. She did sometimes need a bit of leash pressure to help guide her into the Down, though there were a good amount of times that she was able to Down with only the verbal cue, and hand signal, as well as light e-collar stimulation for reinforcement when needed.



 

Pupdate 11/17/2023





Terra and I visited a local shopping strip today, where we continued practicing each of her commands around distractions. This location had an increased amount of distractions to work around, such as many people and dogs along the sidewalks and loud noises from the busy nearby street. Overall Terra was quite excited and distracted by her surroundings, though she was able to ignore distractions when asked with the Off command. She still did get overexcited and frustrated on occasion, particularly whenever a dog walked by and she was prevented from approaching them, though she seemed to get over it fairly quickly and returned to a more calm and focused state once some distance had been created between her and the other dog. Some dogs she seemed to ignore for the most part and was able to pass by them without much notice apart from a glance in their direction, however some dogs she took an interest in and would whine and try to pull towards them, which caused frustration because she couldn't get to them. When this happened I reminded her of the Off command, and asked her to perform a task such as Sit, Heel, or Come, as this helped to reset her and give her something productive to focus on.


We continued focusing on improving Terra's stationary commands, and working to improve her reliability with performing and remaining in each position. She did well with Sit and Place today, and seemed comfortable performing both commands with minimal to no leash pressure. She was also able to hold Sit for about one minute today, even while distractions were present, which shows great progress in her self-control and patience skills! We spent some extra time focusing on the Down position, as this is a command she has been struggling with a bit. When in slightly quieter areas of the shopping strip, Terra seemed a bit more relaxed and willing to perform the command, and needed minimal to no leash pressure to guide her into the position. When minimal distractions were present she was able to hold a Down for about one minute consistently, which is good! However, when around increased distractions, Terra was less reliable with performing Down when asked, and needed consistent guidance from the leash for her to follow through with the command. When distracted, she was also prone to breaking position more frequently, averaging about twenty to thirty seconds before she became impatient and tried to sit or stand back up. Each time this happened, I consistently ensured she returned to position, and with each repetition she seemed to become less inclined to break position even if a distraction caught her attention.


While at the shopping strip, we also continued working on her Heel and Come to Sit, both of which she has improved a lot with over the past few days! Terra is developing a good idea of where she needs to be when the Heel command is given, and she can often correct her positioning with only minimal leash pressure needed. She is starting to pay more attention to where I am walking, my hand signals, and the e-collar for guidance and communication. When in less distracting areas, Terra can remain in the Heel position with relative ease, only needing occasional reminders if she happens to step slightly out of position. When in places with a higher volume of distractions, she still does quite well with Heel, though when she finds a strong interest in a distraction she sometimes will try to pull on the leash momentarily before snapping out of it and refocusing on her position beside me. Terra's Come to Sit has also seen a lot of improvement, and we have been working to improve her consistency with recall as well as her positioning for the Sit on my left side. Terra seems to be pretty solid with coming to me when recalled, though she does sometimes need to be asked a second or third time if she is heavily distracted by something. Typically, she needs very minimal or no leash pressure needed at all to get her attention or guide her toward me, however she could use some more work on her positioning once she gets to me. Terra sometimes gets confused about the maneuver to my left side, and isn't sure where to Sit, so consistent leash pressure is often needed to guide her to where I want her for this part of the command. When she is very focused, she's sometimes able to perform the maneuver without this guidance, though her focus while around distractions will need to improve before she can consistently perform the command without guidance from the leash in any environment.



 

Pupdate 11/18/2023



Today Terra and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of her commands around distractions. This location had a variety of distractions present, such as groups of people, other dogs, flocks of birds, and smells from nearby restaurants. Despite the various distractions, Terra overall did a very good job staying focused and attentive while training. She did become distracted from time to time, though generally was quick to refocus when the Off command was given. The distraction she struggled the most with today was the other dogs, as some of the ones we saw today barked at her and got her a bit riled up. She understood not to rush towards them or bark at them excessively, though she did sometimes stare at them or whine for a few seconds before being able to ignore them again. Little by little, she is showing great improvement with her reactivity, and outbursts of barking, lunging, pulling, etc. are becoming increasingly rare when encountering another dog. We spent a good amount of time working on her Heel as we walked around the mall, and she did a great job! We practiced making lots of turns and sudden stops, which helped to keep her engaged with me and focused on her positioning. She did need a bit of leash pressure to help guide her sometimes, especially when we first arrived. However, once the initial excitement of the new environment wore off she was able to Heel alongside me with very minimal to no leash pressure needed. We also did many repetitions of Come to Sit, and practiced it around various distractions and situations. Terra has gotten quite good at being recalled from a stationary position, and is usually quick to make her way over to me once the command is given. When being recalled during a break, particularly if she is invested in a smell, she sometimes needs to be asked the command again, but once paired with the e-collar she is very receptive and understands to leave the distraction and perform the recall. She is showing good improvement with her maneuver around to my left side for the Sit as well, and seems to have a good understanding of where to position herself to complete the command. She sometimes ends up sitting slightly out of the desired position or a bit crooked, though she is able to correct herself with minimal leash pressure used. We also worked on Terra's stationary positions today, and she is making excellent progress in her skills with these commands! She was always quick to follow the Sit command whenever asked, and seemed comfortable holding the position for about a minute and thirty seconds consistently, even with distractions passing by around us. She didn't seem to rely on any leash pressure or physical guidance for Sit at any point today. Terra also did a great job with Place, and showed a lot of confidence and willingness to make the jump onto various objects around the mall, such as on different kinds of benches and other raised surfaces. She didn't rely on leash pressure to perform this command at any point today, and seemed to have a clear understanding of what was being asked of her when given the Place cue paired with a hand signal. Some of the objects she was a bit less comfortable with at first, which slightly affected her ability to perform or hold Sit or Down while on the object, though with more repetitions she showed increased confidence with her footing and balance, allowing her to remain on the object until released or given a new command. Terra overall did much better with her Down command today, and needed leash pressure much less consistently in order to guide her into the position. When on a comfortable surface, such as on a flat, wide place object or on the ground, she was usually able to Down without needing any physical guidance, even with some distractions around. When on some of the more challenging place objects she sometimes tried to protest about performing Down at first and needed some leash pressure to encourage her to follow through with it, though once she was comfortable with the object she was able to Down when asked without extra help. She was able to hold Down consistently for at least a minute and a half today!



 

Pupdate 11/19/2023





Today Terra and I continued working on each of her commands around distractions. We visited a few different locations, to continue exposing her to different kinds of environments and situations. We started the session off by taking a walk down a busy street, where lots of cars were passing by and providing a good amount of sound distractions. We then visited a Petco, where there were lots of people, other dogs, and tempting distractions such as toys and treats in the aisles. We finished our outing with a stop at the patio of a dog-friendly café, where there were distractions such as people, food, and drinks. Overall Terra did a very good job of staying focused and following through with commands, even with the different kinds of distractions present in the environment. When she did begin to lose focus or fixate on something, the Off command was successful in refocusing her back onto the training.


While training along the busy street and at the Petco, we spent a good amount of time practicing Terra's Heel, and she did a good job! She was able to follow along in the Heel position as we passed by many kinds of distractions, only needing occasional reminders and mild guidance from the leash if she began to drift off. She is much better about not pulling on the leash even when excited about something, and she understands that when pressure is applied she needs to correct her positioning. She's also more frequently able to correct her position with the e-collar stimulation alone, which is an important step in working towards our off-leash goals. We also practiced her Come to Sit and stationary commands while at along the street and inside the Petco, and Terra did great with these as well and is making good progress. At the café, we mainly focused on practicing her extended Sit and Down around distractions, and helping her become more consistent in maintaining the position asked of her until released. She was a bit antsy at first and struggled to stay still for very long, though after a few minutes she seemed to relax and settle into the position asked of her, allowing people to walk by our table without feeling the need to stand back up or approach them. She also tried to beg for the food I was eating at first, though she understood not to continue this behavior once the Off command was given.


We also had some great opportunities to practice Terra's Greeting Manners today out in public! The goal for Greeting Manners is for Terra to be able to meet or greet people calmly and politely, whether in public or at home. Terra came to me with a bad habit of jumping full-force at people she was excited to say hello to, which even with her friendly intentions, is a dangerous behavior given her size as she could accidentally injure someone. As such, this is an important area of her training and is something we have been working on whenever the opportunity arises, whether it be at home with me or my guests, or out in public with new people who want to meet her. To help Terra learn the desired manners, we first have her perform and hold Sit or Down directly beside us, as this gives her a task to focus on and discourages her from breaking the position to jump on anyone. If she tries to jump up, the Off command is given and she is immediately asked to return to the position asked of her. When having another person greet Terra, it's important to inform them of her training and the expectations set for her, that way they can help reinforce the training properly. All praise, attention, and affection should be reserved strictly for when she is stationary, calm, and following instructions. If she is rewarded when behaving poorly, then the training will be inconsistent and be detrimental to her progress. Staying consistent with these manners is key to her success, as she will come to understand that jumping on people is not a rewarding behavior, and only delays or prevents her from getting what she wants, which is to say hello to people and get attention from them. Instead, behaving politely is the best and only way to get what she wants, so with practice this will be the behavior she defaults to, even during exciting moments such as during greetings.



 

Pupdate 11/20/2023



Terra and I made a trip to a local park today, where we continued practicing all of her commands around distractions. The park had a good amount of distractions present, ranging from smells in the grassy fields, other dogs playing and walking around, as well as people, children, and small animals such as birds and squirrels. Overall Terra was a bit excited upon first arriving, but after having a few minutes to sniff around and become familiar with the new environment, she seemed much more relaxed and became eager to focus on her training. She also did much better around other dogs today, and we were able to practice her training with other dogs in the general area without her reacting to or hyper-fixating on their presence. As always, we used the Off command when needed to help her refocus, and rewarded her every time she actively engaged with me and focused her attention on me rather than her surroundings. Today we mainly focused on practicing her commands using as little leash pressure as possible. Terra being able to perform all of her commands without the use of leash pressure will be an important step before she can be allowed off-leash, so this is a goal we have gradually been transitioning to during her training. When a verbal command is given, she is first given a "freebie" where no leash pressure or e-collar is used to reinforce the command, and she then has the choice to follow through with the command or ignore it. If she ignores it, then each time the command has to be repeated after the freebie, it will be reinforced with the e-collar stimulation until she follows through with it. In previous days when she was still new to the commands, we also paired the stimulation with leash pressure, though now that she has a good understanding of the commands we are slowly using less leash pressure, and giving her more chances to problem solve and follow the command using only the e-collar as reinforcement. By reserving the use of the leash pressure only for when she truly needs it, we can get her used to the concept of following commands without always relying on the leash to physically guide her, and instead use her knowledge and skills with the command to carry out the behavior being asked of her. Terra did quite well with Heel today, even with very minimal to no use of the leash to guide her. She understood where to position herself once the verbal cue was given, and knew not to leave my side until released or given a new command. Whenever she did start to veer off or walk slightly ahead of me, she was typically able to correct herself once reminded of the command, and was very receptive to the stimulation of the e-collar. We used a long leash during training today, which is a great tool to simulate how Terra might behave while off-leash, as when held loosely it provides her up to fifteen feet of physical freedom. Despite having the physical freedom to wander off, she did not leave my side unless given permission to explore around with the break cue. We also spent some more time working on Terra's stationary commands, and overall she did a great job even without the use of leash pressure. She did need a bit of leash pressure for Down on the first try, though every time after that she was able to Down on cue without physical guidance. We worked on adding additional distance between us while she held her stationary positions, as well as continuing to add duration for each repetition. She was a bit unsure of me creating distance at first and would sometimes break position to follow me if I walked away more than ten feet or so, though with more practice she understood to stay put until told otherwise, even if I moved away from her. We spent some extra time focusing on Come to Sit today, as this seemed to be the command she struggled with the most in the absence of leash pressure. When no leash pressure was used to guide her, she was still good about coming to me when called, however she was prone to siting or stopping in front of me, on my right side, or behind me, instead of the desired position on my left. When this happened, the cue was repeated and reinforced with the e-collar, and she was sometimes able to fix her positioning and carry out the entire command, though oftentimes she did end up needing some help from the leash because she couldn't quite understand where to go after being given several chances. She made some good progress with Come to Sit today, though we will have to spend some more time working on this command specifically before she can consistently perform it without leash guidance.



 

Pupdate 11/21/2023





Today Terra and I visited a park, where we met up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers and their pups! This was another great opportunity to continue our work on Terra's dog neutrality, and improve her focus level around major distractions. Overall Terra has made amazing progress so far with overcoming her habit of overexcitement and reactivity upon seeing another dog! She was able to be quite close to the other dogs today without fixating or reacting to them, and she was able to perform all of her commands despite them being nearby. She understood that she would not be playing with or greeting them, and that she and the other pups were all focusing on their own training with their handlers. One pup was quite interested in her and was staring intensely at her, and Terra did end up barking at this pup once. However when reminded of the Off command she quickly diverted her attention back to me and did not continue to bark or pay attention to the other dog.


We continued focusing on improving Terra's ability to perform commands with as minimal leash pressure as possible. When first arriving at the park she did need a bit of leash pressure to follow through with commands properly, though as the initial excitement of the new environment wore off her focus improved and she relied less on the leash to guide her. Terra did well with her Heel, and did a good job of sticking in the Heel position once the command was given. When walking along the pathways she was easily able to focus on me and follow my lead, and only needed occasional reminders to adjust her positioning, which she was able to do without needing the leash's guidance. She did struggle a bit when walking over the grassy areas though, as she often wanted to lower her head to the grass to sniff as she walked, which would cause her to become distracted fall out of position. To correct this, each time she lowered her head to sniff, she was asked the Off command, and the Heel command was repeated and reinforced. We had to interrupt the sniffing behavior many times, though after a while she did seem to understand that she was not allowed to become invested in a scent while in a Heel, no matter how tempting it may be. We made sure to reward her with frequent breaks where she was encouraged to sniff around, which helped her understand that there is an appropriate time and place for this behavior, just not during the Heel command. Terra did a solid job with each of her stationary commands, and seemed to have no trouble performing Sit, Down, or Place anywhere around the park without needing leash guidance. She was generally able to hold each position asked of her for over two minutes, though on occasion she would try to get up before being asked to, and needed to be reminded to return to position. This mainly happened if a major distraction unexpectedly occured, such as when a man with a leaf blower started blowing leaves near us, when someone driving a loud lawn mower drove past us, or if another dog began barking at her. She didn't seem scared by these loud and sudden distractions, though she did sometimes lose focus for a short period which caused her to forget the task given to her and break the position. As always, we stayed consistent with her training and asked her to return to the position when this happened, and once reminded she understood to follow the command and not get up until released, even with the major distractions around. We spent a good amount of time working on Terra's Come to Sit as well, as she still needs some more practice with this command before she is consistent with performing it without any leash pressure. We found that taking a step or two backwards as she approaches, then taking a small step forward when she is circling around tends to help her find the correct positioning without her stopping halfway and getting confused about where to go. We also focused on emphasizing and having her pay more attention to the hand signals used, as they help give her a target to focus on as she performs the maneuver around us into the Sit.



 

Pupdate 11/22/2023



Today Terra and I visited a local park, where we continued practicing all of her commands around distractions. This was also a great location to begin testing her ability to follow through with commands without using the leash, as it was a safe location away from any major risks such as busy streets or overly crowded areas. We let the leash drag along the ground, which is a great stepping stone for the transition to being off-leash, as it provides her with more freedom to make choices, and still allows for us to grab hold of her in the event the leash is truly needed. We practiced all of her commands in an open field on the grass, which was a major distraction for Terra in itself. Apart from the grass, there were also several other dogs in the area, as well as people, children, and small animals around. Terra overall did a great job staying focused today, though when she did happen to get distracted by something, she was able to refocus when given the Off command. She also seemed to have an easier time focusing the more time we spent at the park, as our surroundings became more familiar and less exciting for her.


Practicing on the grass provided a major distraction for Terra, so her Heel command was a bit sloppier than usual as she often was tempted to lower her nose to the ground to take in all the scents within the grass. She tends to veer off or start walking ahead of me when she does this, so it needs to be interrupted so she can focus back on me and her positioning to maintain a Heel. With consistency, this habit did become less frequent, though she still did try to sneak in a sniff or two on occasion. Despite the distraction the grass provided, she was able to follow along quite well in the Heel position, even with the leash dragging along the ground not being used at all to guide her. She didn't seem to notice or mind the leash not being in my hand, and she understood not to stray too far from me despite having the physical freedom to do so. Terra also did well overall with her stationary commands of Sit, Place, and Down, and never needed the leash at any point to perform these commands. She was a bit inconsistent with holding her Sit when I created distance from her, though we stayed consistent in holding her accountable, and with more repetitions she understood not to get up and follow me even when I moved away from her. She did better with Down, and seemed comfortable holding the position even as I walked away from her or when major distractions were present.


We spent a good amount of time focusing on repetitions of Come to Sit, as this is the command she still struggles with the most when the leash is not present to guide her. She does well with always coming when called, which is very important especially now that she is being given more freedom by having the leash drag during training. However, she still struggled to sit in the correct position once she was recalled, and sometimes needed to be asked to reposition herself multiple times before she sat where she was supposed to. Since she understands the command by this point, this inconsistency is likely due to her being a bit lazy and testing to see what she can get away with. To improve this, we encouraged her to instead use her problem solving skills to perform the command, and consistently ensured she performed it properly before giving her any praise or rewards. We also brought along some of her kibble to use as treats, and once food was involved she quickly became much more motivated to perform the command correctly on the first try. While we don't want her to become dependent on food to follow through with commands properly, when used sparingly it can be a great tool to use when teaching and reinforcing training, as Terra is naturally a very food motivated pup. We used treats as a lure for a few repetitions, then gradually began weaning them out by giving them to her only after she performed the command correctly, then by switching between food and praise, slowly using the food less and less until she could consistently perform the command without food involved during the process.



 

Pupdate 11/23/2023





Happy Thanksgiving from Terra and all of us at OffLeash SoCal! Some great news, Terra's Two Week Board and Train Program has been extended to a Three Week Board and Train Program! This means we will have even more time to spend together and work on perfecting her commands, manners, and behaviors! Terra has been such a pleasure to train and share my home with, so this is definitely something added to my list of things to be thankful for this holiday! With the three-week program, she will also be learning some new advanced commands as well, namely Come to Heel, Send Away to Place, and Under. These are similar to commands she already knows, though are advanced variants and will require some practice for her to be able to perform reliably. Despite these being new commands for her, she caught onto them quickly and is doing a great job so far!


Terra and I visited a park today for her training, where we began our session by continuing to practice each of her basic obedience commands around distractions with the leash dragging and remaining unused for guidance. Overall she did a great job, and seemed confident with performing her commands despite the lack of leash pressure and the added distractions. Later in the session once Terra was more calm, focused, and in a good mindset for learning, we began introducing the new advanced commands! We did use some leash pressure during this part of the session, as it's best to provide her with some physical guidance to help her understand what is being asked of her when she is learning something new. We did however have the prong collar removed today, as she no longer seems to rely on this tool and was responsive to light pressure from the flat collar instead.


The Come to Heel command is another variant of a recall command, though instead of having her come to us, circle around, and sit on the left side, she instead comes to us, approaches our left side, and begins walking alongside us in the Heel position. Since this is a different command than Come to Sit, instead of using the "Come" verbal cue, we will use the "Heel" verbal cue to provide distinct instruction on what form of recall is being asked. To introduce this command, we had Terra hold a stationary position, then walked away a few feet and faced away from her. We then asked for the Heel cue, encouraging her to get up from the position and enter into a Heel as we began walking together. We started off with a small distance from her for today, though as we practice more we will gradually increase the distance from which she is recalled into a Heel.


The Send Away to Place command is similar to the normal Place command, though the goal is to have Terra be able to Place on an object from a distance, without her handler having to walk all the way up to the object with her to guide her onto it. We essentially want to be able to point and cue Place towards an object, and have Terra walk towards it on her own and Place on it while her handler remains at a distance. We introduced this command by practicing Place as normal with familiar objects using the "Place" verbal cue, though with each repetition slowly added more distance between myself and the place object while asking her to Place. Today, I was able to get about five or six feet away from the object without her getting confused about what to do. If I went too far away, she didn't quite feel comfortable walking by herself all the way to the object and Placing on it, and needed me to come a bit closer before she understood what to do. We will continue practicing this with gradually increasing distances to improve her understanding and reliability. The Under command is an advanced variation of the Down command, where the goal is for Terra to crawl or lower herself underneath a suitable object, such as a bench or table, and perform and hold the Down position. Since Terra is a larger dog, finding an accessible object she can physically fit underneath is important to ensure her success. We found a picnic bench that worked well for today's introduction, and throughout her training we will continue practicing with different kinds of objects to continue building her understanding of the new command. To introduce this command, we used a bit of leash pressure to guide her under the object, pairing it with the "Under" verbal cue. Once she was under the object, she was then asked to perform Down, which she seemed comfortable with. She was a bit hesitant about crawling under the bench at first, though with some more practice she understood what was being asked of her and relied less on physical guidance. We kept the duration of this command short for today to keep the training fun and rewarding, though as with all stationary positions, we will continue gradually increasing the length of duration she is asked to remain in the position.



 

Pupdate 11/24/2023





Today Terra and I visited the Santa Monica Pier! This is by far the busiest location we have gone to so far in her training program, and due to the recent holiday, it was even busier than usual. There were numerous large crowds of people, many other dogs, loud music, smells of food, and birds everywhere. This all proved to be a bit overwhelming for Terra especially when we first arrived, and she seemed a bit overstimulated and anxious as opposed to her usual excitement. She was still eager to explore, though generally struggled much more with focusing on commands when in the busier areas of the pier where the crowds were very dense. As such, we looked for places around the pier that were slightly less busy, where there were still plenty of distractions though not excessive enough to cause her stress. Before jumping into the training session, we found a place to sit together and take in our surroundings, which seemed to help her calm down a bit and decompress after our walk through the crowds. I made sure to give her lots of rewards and reassurance, and encouraged her to relax, focus on me, and not worry about the busy environment around us.


Overall Terra's performance of her basic commands was not always the best today, especially when first starting out, though the longer we spent here the more she seemed to find her rhythm and ability to enter a good state of mind for training. She did pull on the leash sometimes, especially when walking through crowded areas as she often wanted to find her own path through the crowd, though with consistent reminders she understood to stop pulling, remain in the Heel position, and follow my lead. Her Come to Sit was reliable in the recall portion which was great, though sometimes her positioning was a bit sloppy if she was distracted or feeling overwhelmed. She did however do great with her stationary positions, and was able to perform and hold Sit, Down, and Place with relative ease, even with the high amount of distractions present. She seemed a bit calmer when holding her stationary positions rather than when standing around, as it gave her a job to focus on and helped her tune out the distractions around us. We also practiced with the leash dragging in some areas around the pier, though to avoid a tripping hazard we did tend to keep a hold of the leash unless we were in a less populated area away from a walkway. We also used her kibble as treats sparingly to reward her for good performance and focus, and keep the training fun and engaging.


We spent a good amount of our training session here working on her new advanced commands, and overall she made some good progress today despite the overly busy environment. She did very good with her Come to Heel, and seems to have caught onto this command very quickly! She seemed even more consistent with performing Come to Heel than she did Come to Sit today, and she understood to come right to me when called and fall into the Heel position as we began moving. Terra also made some good progress with Under, and though she was a bit hesitant about going under the bench we were practicing with at first, by using treats she was easily lured under the bench. We gradually weaned out the treats as well, and began using them only as rewards and with increasing rarity until she was able to perform Under without relying on treats. She did well with holding Under overall, though we still kept the duration on the shorter side with frequent breaks to promote success and keep the training fun and rewarding. The advanced command Terra struggled with the most today was Send Away to Place, as she seemed to need me to get a bit closer to the place object due to the busy environment. At first she did need some repetitions of me walking her all the way up to the object, though we gradually added distance until I was able to stay about three to four feet away from the object. If I was too far away, she often became confused about what to do, and would start performing random commands such as Come to Sit or Down in an attempt to problem solve. When this happened, I would take a small step closer to the object and repeat the command until she understood what was being asked of her.



 

Pupdate 11/25/2023





Today Terra and I visited an outdoor mall, where we practiced all of her commands around distractions. We kept a leash on her in case she needed gentle guidance for some of her new advanced commands, though for most of the training we had it dragging along remaining unused. The mall had plenty of distractions present, though it was a manageable amount for Terra, and she was able to remain calm and focused without feeling overwhelmed like she did yesterday. She was still excited when we first arrived though she quickly calmed down and was ready to begin training within a few minutes.


We encountered a lot of people who wanted to say hello to Terra today, which provided some more great opportunities to work on her greeting manners. We made sure that any person greeting her understood that she was in training, and that they could help by remaining calm themselves, and only petting her while she was sitting or laying down. Most people followed instructions and Terra did a great job being polite with them, though one person crouched down and started cooing at and petting her frantically which excited Terra and caused her to break position. I interrupted Terra before she had the chance to jump on them, and we decided not to practice greeting manners with that person again. Even if the person "doesn't mind being jumped on", we still need to keep her training as consistent as possible to continue seeing progress, and allowing someone to encourage or praise bad behaviors such as jumping is not something we want to allow.


The mall also had lots of other dogs around, which Terra mostly ignored though there was a moment where a dog on a retractable leash ran right up to Terra while she was holding a sit. She responded by breaking position and play-bowing at them excitedly. While it was cute, we weren't there to play so I stepped back and recalled her to create some distance and then asked her to return to the Sit as the owner and their dog moved along. There was also a moment when a passing dog began barking at Terra, and though she did try to ignore it at first, she eventually barked back at them. She was however able to hold the position asked of her, and understood to focus back on me and immediately stop barking once given the Off command. Terra's barking, overexcitement, and overall reactivity towards dogs have all diminished significantly, though in challenging situations like these, it's understandable for small slip-ups to occur on occasion, especially in these early stages of her socialization journey.


Terra did a great job with all of her commands today, including the basic commands as well as the advanced commands. She seemed to have no issue with Heel, and was practically glued to my hip once the command was given! She did have a few small mistakes here and there when walking through groups of people, though she was quick to correct herself once reminded. Her Come to Sit was great today as well, and overall she was quite consistent with her positioning. She as usual did great with her stationary positions as well, and was able to perform and hold Sit, Down, and Place all for extended periods of time without issue. Her Come to Heel was excellent today, and she seems to have a full understanding of the command without leash pressure even when called to heel from larger distances or around distractions. Her Under was also good, and though she did need a few treats to lure her for the first few repetitions with a new object, we were quickly able to wean out the treats and still maintain consistent results. Terra's progress with Send Away to Place is also coming along nicely, and once she was familiar with the object she was consistently able to go and Place on it while I was standing a good six to seven feet away. We did try to extend this distance a bit more, though her performance was less consistent and she would tend to stop halfway and recall herself into a Come to Sit instead of following through all the way to the Place object.



 

Pupdate 11/26/2023



Today Terra and I visited an outdoor mall again, and continued practicing each of her commands around the various distractions present. Similar to yesterday, the mall had an abundance of distractions present though Terra was able to remain calm and focused, enabling her to maintain a good mindset for learning and practicing her commands. She did become distracted here and there, though overall she did great about focusing back on me once the Off command was given. We continued to work on all of her commands with the leash dragging when possible, though when working in populated areas we did keep a hold of the leash to ensure people could walk around us without having to step over it.


We made sure to keep an eye out for other dogs in the area who might run up to or bark at Terra. She has proven able to ignore dogs who are calm and minding their own business, though dogs who are behaving a bit unruly, excited, or who rush up to her can spark a response from Terra as she will want to bark at or play with them. To help with this, we made sure to proactively create distance when needed, and keep Terra's attention focused elsewhere to help set her up for success and reduce the chances of her reacting. We also got some more opportunities to refine Terra's Greeting Manners, and overall she did a great job! We made sure to always take the time to explain the training and expectations we have for Terra, before allowing anyone to approach, greet, or pet her. Everyone who met Terra did a good job of helping in her training, and as a result, Terra was able to enjoy getting lots of love from all the nice people while remaining calm and polite during the process. She did not try to jump on anyone today, which was great to see! Every now and then she would stand up out of the position asked of her, but once she realized the greeting would abruptly stop until she returned to position, she was less inclined to break the position no matter how happy and excited she was.


Overall Terra did great with her Heel and Come to Heel, and was able to follow alongside me as we walked around the mall. When reminders were needed she had no trouble correcting her positioning without needing the leash to guide her. Terra also did well with Come to Sit, and her recall was always solid and consistent. Her positioning was also good for the most part without using the leash, though she did sometimes need to be asked to correct her positioning if she ended up sitting a bit too far from the desired position. Terra did well with her stationary positions also, and was able to perform Sit, Place, and Down with ease and hold the position reliably without any leash pressure. She did well with Under too, and we didn't need to use any treats to lure her underneath the objects we practiced with today. The command we spent the most time practicing was Send Away to Place, and we worked to increase her reliability with following through all the way to the object from further distances. She was consistently able to perform Send Away to Place from a distance of about four feet without leash pressure needed, though I found she was able to perform the command from further distances when given a small nudge of leash pressure in the direction of the object.


 

Pupdate 11/27/2023





Today Terra and I took a walk to a local park, and practiced all of her commands with the leash dragging while around distractions. We normally go for a lengthy morning walk around the neighborhood to start our day, though this morning we kept it a bit shorter, and as a result Terra seemed to have some excess energy during our training session and walk to the park in the afternoon. She was generally much less focused than usual, and was quite pushy and stubborn about performing familiar commands such as Heel due to this extra energy. She also may have remembered the route we were taking as we were heading to a park she had been to before, so the anticipation of this could have been adding to the problem. Once we burnt some of this excess energy by playing around and training at the park, she was back to her normal self and was able to find her rhythm for commands again. This just goes to show how important it is that Terra is provided adequate exercise and consistent structure each day to help set her up for success in her training. During our normal walks, we usually practice both Heel and casual loose-leash walking. During Heel, she is expected to focus on me and maintain a specific position beside me at all times, and is a command we practice for the majority of our time walking to continue honing her skills. However it's also important that Terra has the opportunity to enjoy herself on walks and use her nose to explore her environment when given permission to do so, so it's key that she understands how to walk nicely even while not in the Heel position. The main rule for this casual walking is that the leash must remain loose, and she cannot pull on the leash or wander too far away. Staying consistent with this teaches her that if she wants the reward of getting to sniff around she must walk nicely, and that pulling will interrupt or end this reward and not allow her to continue until she calms down. Normally she is pretty good about this, and the moment she feels slight tension on the leash and/or stimulation from the e-collar, she understands to check in with me and slow her pace to match mine as we continue walking. On the way to the park today, she was very persistent about trying to pull me around frantically trying to sniff since she had some pent-up energy, and the busy street nearby added to her lack of focus and overall excitement. She was unable to walk with a loose leash, so I asked her to Heel for the remainder of the walk. Terra needed lots of reminders for Heel during this time, as she frequently wanted to veer off or pull ahead. She was able to correct herself without needing the leash to guide her, though she would only maintain the position for a few moments before breaking position again, and needed to be asked to correct herself repeatedly.


Once we got to the park we focused on wearing down her energy levels by running around and doing repetitions of highly physical commands such as jumping onto place objects. After some time, her energy levels were manageable so we took a short break to unwind and then proceeded with the training session practicing all of her commands with the leash dragging. She was able to Heel alongside me nicely as we walked along the paths at the park. When walking over the grass she was tempted to sniff it, though after a few reminders remembered to keep her nose off of the ground while in a Heel. Her Come to Sit and Come to Heel were both solid and reliable, even at large distances of fifteen feet or more, or when being recalled while distractions were present. She sometimes needed to be asked to reposition for Come to Sit, but generally she did well with her positioning. Terra did great with extended Sit, Down, and Place, and also made good progress with Under. She was a bit hesitant about going under the picnic benches at first as they were quite low, though after using treats for a few repetitions she quickly caught on and was able to crawl under and perform Down with ease. We also spent a good amount of time working on Send Away to Place. She was able to be sent away to place from a distance of about six to seven feet consistently, though she did need some leash pressure to guide her in the right direction when working at a distance of over four or five feet away from the object I wanted her to Place on. When practicing with the picnic benches, she also had a tendency to run to the object a bit too fast and miss the seating part of the bench, ending up on top of the table instead. She had an easier time practicing with the normal benches around the park that didn't have tables attached. On the way back home, Terra was much calmer and had no trouble Heeling or walking nicely while on a break, and the busy street didn't seem to phase her as much.



 

Pupdate 11/28/2023



Terra and I took a walk to another local park today, where we continued practicing each of her commands around distractions. We made sure to take Terra on our usual long walk in the morning, so her energy levels were manageable during our training session in the afternoon. The walk to the park was also lengthy, so by the time we arrived Terra was in a more relaxed and focused state of mind. The park had numerous distractions present, including grassy fields, people, children, and strollers, as well as many small animals and a ton of other dogs. Normally when first arriving somewhere public and distracting Terra needs a good bit of time before she is settled down enough to focus, though today she seemed ready to start training the moment we arrived! She did sometimes become slightly distracted by the other dogs if they got close to her, though she understood not to approach them, break position, or bark at them, and she was able to shift her focus away when given the Off command.


We started the session on leash, and quickly transitioned to our usual leash dragging practice. She did so well with all of her commands and shortly after proved the leash unnecessary, so we went ahead and removed it to continue her training completely off leash! Terra didn't seem to notice or mind the lack of the leash, and carried on performing all of her commands as usual. She really enjoyed being given breaks while off leash, and had a great time running around in the field and sniffing around. We tried playing fetch with a ball I brought along but Terra wasn't the best at retrieving it so it was mostly her running after it and then forgetting about it, but she had fun nonetheless. During these breaks, Terra would sometimes wander a bit far away, though she was always quick to come running right back to me the moment I called her name, which was really great to see! She also understood that she was not allowed to go running off into the crowd of other dogs that were in the middle of the field, and always chose to come to me over the temptation they provided. While I'm sure she would have had fun playing with the other dogs, one of our main goals for her training is to lower Terra's excitement and value she associates with dogs, and instead encourage her to remain neutral and ignore other dogs to prevent the overstimulated reactivity she once displayed commonly when she first began her board and train. As such, we are avoiding letting her meet or play with other dogs for the time being as it may be counterintuitive towards her progress.


Terra did fantastic with her Heel today, and happily followed alongside me without any issue despite having complete physical freedom due to being off leash. She made minor mistakes here and there, but was always quick to correct herself the moment she was reminded to. Terra also did fantastic with both Come to Sit and Come to Heel, and her recall and positioning for both commands were reliable and consistent each time! We practiced recalling her from various positions and during unexpected moments, to encourage her to always be listening and ready to perform these recall commands the moment they are given. Terra did great with all of her stationary commands also, including extended Sit, Down, and Place, as well as Send Away to Place. She made some great progress with her Send Away to Place in particular, and was able to perform the command with ease while I remained at a distance of about ten feet! On rare occasions, she would hesitate right before jumping onto the object, though once asked again she understood what to do and did not need me to get significantly closer to the object for her to follow through. Terra struggled slightly with Under at first today, though with some more practice, repetitions, and encouragement she was able to perform it with relative ease without the use of a leash or treats.



 

Pupdate 11/29/2023






Today Terra and I took a trip to a park, where we continued working on all of her commands around distractions. It did rain on and off during our visit, though on the bright side we did get to see a beautiful rainbow! Despite the drizzly weather, the park was quite busy with lots of other dogs, people, and children. There was also an abundance of squirrels, which were another great distraction to test Terra's impulse control and focus around. Overall Terra did a fantastic job with staying focused and following through with instructions, even while off leash. We did keep her on leash when we first arrived due to her tendency to be a bit overexcited when first arriving somewhere, though she was ready to train off leash after she had a few minutes to sniff around and become familiar with the environment.


Terra did great with her Heel today, and was able to follow alongside me in the correct position even as we passed by numerous distractions, such as other dogs playing fetch, children playing soccer, squirrels running past, and groups of people walking around. Some distractions would catch her attention from time to time, though she was able to refocus back on me when prompted and corrected her positioning if needed. She never tried to approach or chase after any distractions, and understood once the command was given she was not to leave my side until told otherwise. Her Come to Heel and Come to Sit were both fantastic, and she was able to be recalled from any distance and around any distraction present. If she was very invested in a scent while exploring during a break, the command sometimes needed to be repeated once or twice, but she never fully ignored the command and always chose to come right back once I got her attention with the e-collar. As usual, Terra also did great with performing Sit, Down, and Place, and was able to maintain the position asked of her for well over two minutes without issue, even with tempting distractions nearby.


The rain posed a few challenges for her training today, but it was nothing we couldn't overcome! Terra was a bit hesitant about being Sent Away to Place with objects that were wet or slippery, so we made sure to dry the object off as best we could and build up her confidence by walking her up to the object and practicing Place as normal. Once she was feeling more confident and familiar with the object, we then gradually added distance again until she could be sent away to place from at least six to seven feet away consistently. Similarly, Terra was a bit hesitant about performing Under, which may have been due to the wet floor or water dripping from the object. We did need to use some treats to motivate and reward her occasionally, and with more practice she seemed to overcome her reservations about crawling under objects. We also worked to add some more distance and duration to Under, as she was sometimes prone to breaking the position before being released if I began to move away from her. As always, we worked through this by staying consistent and holding her accountable for the position, ensuring she returned directly to Under if she got up before asked to.



 

Pupdate 11/30/2023






Today Terra and I made a trip over to the Santa Monica today, where we visited both the pier and promenade! We continued practicing all of her commands off leash around the highly distracting surroundings present. There were numerous crowds, plenty of other dogs, flocks of birds, food, and loud music, all of which served as great distractions to test Terra's skills around. We practiced a lot with Greeting Manners today as well, as there were tons of people who complimented Terra's adorable looks and impressive obedience skills. Terra did great with her Greeting Manners, never tried to jump on anyone, and was very polite with everyone she met! We also got to meet up with some other OffLeash SoCal trainers, and were able to capture some great footage of Terra performing all of her commands at the pier that will be used in putting together her final video, so be sure to check out today's video for a sneak peek! The promenade also had some holiday decorations that Terra was happy to participate in photoshoots with!


Terra has made astounding progress since our visit here last week, and unlike our last trip to the pier, today Terra was hardly phased at all by the extremely distracting environment! For her safety, we kept her on leash during the walk to the pier as we had to walk alongside some busy streets. Once we got down to the pier, we did a quick warm-up and Terra quickly proved the leash unnecessary, so we removed it and began our training session! She was able to stay focused, calm, and on task at all times, and hardly became distracted by anything, even major distractions such as other dogs and birds. Whenever she did become slightly distracted, she was always quick to respond to the Off command and understood to bring her attention back to the task at hand. She didn't appear stressed or overwhelmed at any point, and managed to control her excitement so that she could focus on her training. I made sure to reward her a lot for this good behavior, to communicate that this is exactly what we wanted from her! Terra was also very well-behaved while at the promenade, and we were able to walk and train alongside another trainer and their pup without her becoming distracted by them at all.


We practiced a lot of Heel while walking around, and Terra was fantastic about always staying right next to me and following my lead no matter where we went. We were able to walk through crowds of people and past all sorts of distractions with only minimal adjustments or reminders needed to help her maintain the position. Terra also did great with her recall, and was very reliable for both Come to Sit and Come to Heel. We spent some time at a restaurant patio at the pier, and she did a fantastic job staying in the Under position beneath the table I sat at. There were plenty of distractions such as yummy food, people walking past, and birds walking right up to her, though she ignored everything and was content to remain in the Under position until it was time to leave the restaurant. She was so relaxed, she almost began to fall asleep! She was consistent with all of her other stationary commands as well, including Sit, Down, Place, and Send Away to Place. There was one instance where she broke a command before being released, as she was holding a Down another dog ran right up to her causing her to sit up, though she quickly returned to position when prompted and did not try to play with, bark at, or follow the dog as the owner pulled it away and walked off. Apart from the fact that she broke the position momentarily due to the sudden intrusion of personal space, Terra showed great impulse control and decision making in this situation. I am extremely proud of Terra's overall performance today, and the progress she has made through training is truly paying off!



 

Pupdate 12/1/2023



Today Terra and I visited a park where we continued practicing all of her commands off leash around distractions. Terra did fantastic work today, and was very enthusiastic about her training! The park was full of all kinds of distractions, but Terra was unbothered and performed all of her commands excellently. Her great behavior was rewarded by allowing her to explore and run around the field to her heart's content! Even in the midst of her joy and excitement, she always kept an eye and ear out for any commands I asked of her, and understood to follow the basic rules we have set in place even while on break, such as not wandering off too far or chasing after dogs or wildlife. Terra also got lots of compliments on her great obedience skills, and she got to say hi to lots of nice people. She further impressed them with her polite greeting manners! Terra is not only excelling with her skills and manners while out in public, but she has also made huge transformations in her behavior inside the home as well! 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 Terra 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. Terra always gets excited about her food, and in the early stages of her training she was prone to jumping on me when anticipating food, and rushing to the food bowl the moment it was set down even if it meant knocking me out of the way to get to it. Meal times are a great opportunity to sneak in extra training every day with Terra, as she is extremely food motivated and is always eager to work for food. As she progressed in her overall obedience, she quickly replaced her bad habits and learned to be polite and patient even when faced with very tempting distractions such as food directly in front of her! She now does very well with her Food Manners, and despite her drooling with anticipation of her meal, she is able to control her excitement and await the release command before digging in! We also practiced with food refusal, where we drop or place something in front of Terra and ask her not to eat it, and instead recall her away from it. This is an important practice for her as she came to me with a habit of trying to immediately gobble up anything within sight that even remotely resembled food, which is a dangerous habit if she were to get a hold of something she should not consume.

Another area of manners we have been working on is Terra's Door Manners. The goal of Door Manners is for Terra 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 doors, or rushing over to jump on people who enter through the door. With daily practice, Terra has made great progress with her manners related to doors, and understands to follow instructions no matter what distractions the door may create. She has great manners with every door in my house now, including bedroom doors, the backyard door, as well as the front door. After Terra has been asked for a stationary command, a door can be left wide open, and she understands to not walk through the doorway unless given permission to, and when invited she can walk nicely through the doorway without shoving through or trying to rush out. I can even leave her sight completely and walk outside without her feeling the need to get up and follow me. Having proper Door Manners is also a great way to set Terra up for success with in-home Greeting Manners as well, as she is prompted to hold the position asked of her and discouraged from jumping on or barking at anyone who enters through the door.


Having good Car manners makes transporting Terra easy, safe, and as hassle-free as possible. Since Terra 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 Terra to be confident and able 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 or lured inside. At OffLeash SoCal, we ensure our dogs are secured in individual kennels while being transported in a car to ensure their utmost safety during their stay with us. Terra was not a huge fan of the kennel at first, so properly introducing it and building a positive association with the kennel was a key part of ensuring she remained happy and stress-free anytime she needed to be inside one. These efforts have allowed Terra to feel very safe and calm whenever in a kennel, either in the car or while at home. Terra is now happy to enter the kennel on her own when asked, and is comfortable with settling in for car rides or rest time at home without any protest or vocalization. Terra was also a bit lazy and underconfident when it came to jumping into the car at first, though the more we practiced this task became easier and easier, and now she loves jumping into the car as she associates it with fun trips!



 

Pupdate 12/2/2023






Today was Terra's last full day with me, so we spent the day putting all of her learned skills to use to have a great day together! We took a nice walk around the neighborhood, making sure to visit all of her favorite places, then we made our way over to a local park for more training, exploring, and fun! There were different kinds of distractions present everywhere we went, and Terra had no trouble staying focused and on task regardless of our environment.


We stayed at the park for several hours and Terra not only performed all of her commands excellently but also had a blast doing it! We practiced all of her commands off leash, and Terra did a great job with each of them. She did make minor mistakes here and there, but it's important to remember that she is a dog and not a robot! Whenever she did make a mistake, she was always quick to immediately correct herself and use her accumulated knowledge and skills to then perform the command flawlessly. During our training, she was very attentive and eager to follow through with whatever instruction she was given, and even while on break Terra frequently chose to check in and engage with me on her own accord. There were some other dogs and small animals such as squirrels running around near us, and apart from a few glances in their direction Terra didn't pay them much attention, and she understood not to chase after them even when she was on break. She really enjoyed running around and sniffing around the grass, and while she wasn't great about actually retrieving the ball for fetch, she loved running after it and zooming around happily. When she got tired she came over to me and laid down in the grass next to me, and was content to relax and enjoy our surroundings together until it was time to head home while the sun set.


Terra has made such an amazing transformation in these past three weeks, and the differences in her are truly night and day! She came to me with very little knowledge of anything obedience related, and struggled heavily whenever she was in a public place due to her tendency to immediately become overexcited, overwhelmed, and overstimulated by everything around her. She has since learned to stay calm, focused, and neutral to her surroundings even in the most busy of places. She has also overcome her reactivity towards dogs which was another major issue for her, and she has acquired the impulse control needed to sustain dog neutrality anywhere we go. Terra also replaced many bad habits with good manners and polite behaviors, and no longer is a leash-pulling, jumping, barking-at-everything kind of dog! Her acquired skills and good behavior have allowed her to finally be able to safely enjoy the freedom and fun that comes with being off leash, which opens the door for training and fun times without the hassle of a leash! While she may seem like a whole new dog, she is still the same goofy, loving, and playful pup she always has been, and with her new obedience skills she is even more of a joy to be around and take with on all sorts of adventures! Terra has been such a pleasure to train and share my home with, and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to help this good girl become the best version of herself! With her intelligence and eagerness to please, the sky is the limit for this pup, and I know she has a very bright future ahead in her continued training journey with her family!



 

E-Collar Tutorial



With Terra's upcoming turnover tomorrow, it's important to be familiar with the main tool used to communicate and reinforce the commands we ask of her. Please take the time to watch this video to get a detailed walkthrough of the e-collar system, as it provides lots of useful tips, tricks, and how-to's to set you and Terra up for successful training going forward!

 


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