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Thanos | Doberman | Winchester, CA | In-Training

Meet Thanos! He's a seven-month-old Doberman from Winchester, California, who is joining us for our one-week board and train program. He is a playful and confident pup, but does not follow any commands and likes to use his strength to pull people around on the leash. He also gets excited and likes to jump on people, which can be dangerous due to his large size. He also has some separation anxiety, and often whines loudly when looking for attention. Over the next seven days, we will be working on his obedience and manners to set him on the right track to becoming a well-behaved pup. Stay tuned for his transformation!


Pupdate 3/5/2023

Thanos and I spent some time getting to know each other at the park today, and I began introducing the come-to-sit and heel commands. It's important to introduce these commands as soon as possible, since we only have a short time together. I also introduced the e-collar today alongside leash pressure, which we will need to work on to help him understand what this new form of pressure means. At this point, he does not seem to listen to any commands reliably, and does not understand or listen to what is being asked of him even with directional pressure added with the leash.

He did come to me when called a couple of times, but much more work will be needed for him to reliably and consistently come when called. He also managed to sit with some assistance, but did not hold the position for more than a few seconds before getting back up and going back to pulling on the leash. Working on his heel was also a challenge, and is something that I will be spending a lot of time practicing with him over the next several days. He is very strong and likes to pull a lot, but I was able to grab his attention and get him to walk alongside me with minimal pulling for a few moments.

As I get to know him more, I will be able to find more ways to motivate and bond with him so that he can focus on me in order to follow commands. We got him settled into my home, and after a much-needed break for us both, we continued his earlier training in a less distracting environment. As expected, he was able to focus on me and listen better while at home with no major distractions present. As the days go on, we will continue his training in increasingly distracting environments, to build his tolerance and ability to focus no matter where we are or what is around us.

I've also noticed he is very vocal and whines very loudly when he is in his kennel, or when he does not have me in his direct line of sight. This is likely due to separation anxiety, and is something that will hopefully improve as we continue through the week.


Pupdate 3/6/2023

Today Thanos and I visited a local park, where I introduced the place command and continued to work on teaching him heel and come to sit. There were several distractions around at this park, such as lots of new people and other dogs around. He did manage to listen to his commands, though there were moments when his focus shifted toward the distractions so I had to work to get his attention back. I noticed he also displays some reactivity towards certain dogs, and can get really worked up over it. Because of this, I kept some distance between us and the other dogs today, so that they could remain a distraction, but at a safe distance for him to feel comfortable enough to train with me. I also introduced him to the down command while at home.

He quickly caught onto the place command, and was eager to hop onto and sit on any surface I asked him to. We practiced this with various seating areas around the park, and he showed little to no hesitation toward any of the objects. He seemed to feel comfortable and confident with this command, and once on top of the place object he was able to focus on me and listen when I told him to sit. After several repetitions of this, he even began to sit automatically without having to be asked.

He has shown a lot of progress when it comes to walking on a leash, and has learned not to pull me around. It's not quite a perfect heel just yet, as he's still figuring out where exactly he needs to be, but he now understands that he needs to walk alongside me on my left-hand side. He sometimes veers off just slightly to the side, or walks a bit too far behind or ahead of me, but now that his excessive pulling is not an issue, we are able to put more focus into cleaning up his positioning.

He is also beginning to grasp the concept of coming to sit, but many more repetitions will be needed to achieve a consistent and reliable motion each time. When I ask him to come, I want him to approach me on my right side, circle around behind me, and finish in a sitting position on my left side facing forwards. This way, he is in the correct position to begin walking in a heel with me if asked. So far, he will usually come all the way to me when told to come, but sometimes he sits in front of me or behind me and still needs regular reminders to help him position correctly. As we continue to work on this, the command will gradually begin to feel more natural to him and less assistance will be needed for him to complete it.

After getting home from the park he had some lunch and a well-deserved nap. We then continued his training and introduced a new command. I introduced the down command while in my home, where he can feel more comfortable learning and focusing without distractions. This command can be difficult for some dogs at first, as it is an instinctually submissive and vulnerable position, so it requires a level of trust and motivation to perform it when asked. He did need some assistance getting into the down position at first, but after a few repetitions, he caught on and began to lie down when asked. As we continue working on this, we will gradually increase the level of distractions around us, as well as work on adding distance and duration.

On another note, he had multiple potty accidents throughout the day, both in his kennel and around the inside of the house. I took him outside on walks many times where he had the opportunity to go potty but chose not to. This may be due to a lack of prior potty training, or perhaps he's just not quite comfortable yet in his new environment and waits until he simply can't hold it any longer. Apart from this, he seems to be settling in nicely to my home, and is becoming more familiar with the neighborhood. He still whines when I'm away from him, but eventually settles down and is able to relax for a time.


Pupdate 3/7/2023

Thanos and I met up with another trainer at an outdoor shopping mall today, where we practiced all of his learned commands. He was eager to train, and has shown a lot of progress since his first day with me. He was able to focus on me and follow through with his commands, despite the surrounding distractions of people passing by and the other trainer's dog. He did lose focus a few times and wanted to stare at the other dog and people as they passed, but he was able to snap out of it and focus back on me when asked.

We practiced his heel while walking around the mall and up and down the stairs, as well as worked on cleaning up his turns. He didn't try to pull on the leash today, and was able to walk nicely with a loose leash for a good portion of the time, only needing light leash pressure on occasion to remind him of where exactly I want him to be. We will be putting more focus into walking nicely up and down stairs, because sometimes he gets a little bit nervous and wants to lag behind or try to jump up them as fast as possible. The more we work on this, he will gradually become more comfortable with it and understand that the heel position applies no matter what terrain we are walking on.

He has also shown improvement with his come-to-sit, and only needs occasional leash pressure to help guide him into position. He is quickly catching onto the movement and positioning I ask of him, and is doing a good job at listening and following my hand signals. He is becoming more consistent in coming directly to me when called the first time, which shows that he is able to focus and listen carefully.

He was also able to perform a down while out in public today, which is a great sign of progress. We did many repetitions yesterday to help him understand what I am asking of him, and now that he knows what to do, it was just a matter of getting him to do it with distractions present. He was a little hesitant at first today, but after a couple of repetitions he followed through and was able to hold a down both on the pavement and while on a place object. Now that he is able to get into a down position willingly, we will be focusing on getting him to remain in this stationary position for longer periods of time, as well as increasing the distance I can be from him and the amount of nearby distractions present. This is something that will be also applied to his other stationary positions, sit and place. The goal by the end of our week together is to have him be able to hold any stationary position in a distracting environment for a minute and a half while I am several feet away.

He is also starting to understand the e-collar more, and knows that when he feels the sensation he needs to focus on me and listen to the instructions being given. This opens the opportunity to begin using less leash pressure, as ideally we want him to be able to understand and follow his learned commands without always needing to physically guide him with a leash. He seems to enjoy the act of problem-solving, as he is a very smart pup and gets a lot of fulfillment out of the mental stimulation that comes with training. He can get frustrated at times if he can't quite figure it out, so at this stage I'm still pairing the e-collar, verbal commands, and hand signals with light leash pressure to help guide him when he needs it.

Unfortunately, Thanos is also still having potty accidents. He seems to only want to go while inside the house, and will refuse to go while outside, no matter how many hours we spend going on outdoor walks, visiting grassy areas, or encouraging him to go in my yard. If I bring him to my yard and leave him there alone, he begins to whine loudly and throw his weight against and jump on the glass door, which can't be allowed to continue for his safety. He didn't have any accidents in his kennel last night, which is a good sign, but he held it during our entire morning walk and then had an accident the moment we stepped back inside the house as I was taking off his leash. He also still whines and cries loudly when left alone, even for short periods throughout the day when I step out of the room, but especially when it's time to sleep in his kennel for the night. He does settle down and sleep or take a nap after some time has passed, but will often continue vocalizing once he wakes up.


Pupdate 3/8/2023

Today Thanos and I visited a park with a walking trail, where we practiced all of his commands. There were lots of people and other dogs walking around here, which served as great distractions for Thanos to train around.

He did well at ignoring and staying calm around most of the distractions he saw, but there was one dog that he was reactive towards, and wanted to bark and growl each time he saw it. Thankfully he didn't try to pull on the leash or lunge today, which is an improvement from the previous reactivity I have seen from him. I was able to snap him out of it with the "off" command, which is the general command used when I want Thanos to leave it or stop an undesired behavior, and get him to redirect his focus back onto me so he can pay attention to the other commands being given. When I see him start to be reactive, I tell him off, reward him when he focuses on me, and then give him a command such as heel or come to sit to get his attention away from what is triggering him, which brings his mind back to a calmer and focused state. This command is also useful for working on getting him to stop jumping on people, which he is improving upon. It helps to get him into a sitting or down position when greeting people, that way he has to focus on remaining in his position and doesn't get overly excited and want to jump up. If he does try to jump, then he is reminded of off and asked to return to his position.

Today's training was focused on getting him to hold his stationary positions with increased duration, distance, and distractions. He was able to hold sit, down, and place for over a minute, sometimes up to two minutes, while I was roughly ten feet away from him walking around. Though there were many times when he broke position to come to me without being asked, so I had to bring him back to his original spot and remind him of his command. As we continue practicing this in the coming days, he will learn to be more comfortable and confident in remaining in his positions around various distractions, as we work towards him consistently holding his commands for the desired duration every time.

We also worked a lot on heel today, and focused on teaching him to remain in heel position while passing by distractions like groups of people and other dogs. He was able to walk with a loose leash for much of the time, but did need occasional reminders with the e-collar and leash pressure when he got distracted and lost his focus.

The potty accidents have been continuing, where he simply refuses to go outside no matter how long I spend encouraging him to go, and consistently chooses to go only while inside the house. Though he did manage to hold it while inside his kennel overnight again, which is a good sign. His whining when left alone has improved a bit, and I've found that giving him meals in a puzzle toy helps keep him busy and entertained so that he doesn't feel as anxious. He seems to enjoy working for his food, and puzzle toys keep his mind engaged and provides mental stimulation by allowing him to problem-solve. It also prevents him from eating too fast, which he definitely will do when given his meal in a regular bowl.


Pupdate 3/9/2023

Thanos and I visited an outdoor mall today, and made good use of the nice day before the rain began. We practiced all of his commands, and worked around distractions such as groups of people and other dogs. Overall he did a good job at maintaining focus and performing each of his commands, and he was able to hit the goal of one-and-a-half-minute durations for place, down, and sit. We will still need to continue working on getting him to be more consistent with holding these stationary commands though. Sometimes he will hold the position perfectly for however long is asked of him, and other times he will break position, which usually is because of a loss of focus due to distractions getting the best of him. Though each day I spend with him, he is showing great signs of improvement in his understanding, obedience, and his ability for working around distractions.

He is also improving with walking in a heel position, and knows what is expected of him when the command is given. He does try to test the limits sometimes, and tries to get away with walking a bit ahead of me, not enough to pull me around, but enough to where he is effectively out of the proper positioning. Usually after a couple of reminders using the e-collar and verbal command he will fall back into position and walk in a heel alongside me without any leash pressure needed. On occasion he does require some light leash pressure to help guide him though, especially when we are making turns. Since he now has a solid understanding of where he needs to be when the command is given, I do not hold onto the leash tightly, and instead allow it to run through my fingers freely, only grasping it and applying leash pressure when he truly needs it. This gives him the opportunity to choose to stay in position on his own, or to make mistakes like walking ahead so they can be addressed and corrected.

So far it seems other dogs are still the biggest distraction for him, as he has the tendency to get worked up and reactive around certain dogs. It can be hard to predict when he will behave this way, as some dogs he will glance at but essentially ignore, some dogs he will want to hyper-focus on until told off, and some dogs he will see from a distance and immediately begin barking and growling until I can bring his attention away from it. There doesn't seem to be much of a pattern either, as he has shown this behavior towards both big and small dogs, males and females, and both quiet dogs and dogs that are barking or being loud. It has become less frequent as his training progresses, and he is able to refocus on me when asked, though it is something to keep in mind.


Pupdate 3/10/2023

Today Thanos and I visited an indoor mall, where we could work in a busy distracting environment while staying out of the rain. We practiced all of his commands here, and got some great footage of his training progress that will be used in putting together his final video! There were also several other dogs at the mall today, and while some of them were a bit distracting for him, he only wanted to look at them and did not show any major signs of reactivity which was great to see. There were also large crowds of people and a lot of loud sounds and new smells, which threw him off at first and he was a bit overwhelmed by it all, but he did calm down after a while and was able to focus on his commands.

Since he now has a good understanding of his commands, hasn't been pulling on the leash, and doesn't often need leash pressure for guidance, I removed his prong collar and attempted to continue his training without it on. Though as soon as the prong was removed, he began ignoring commands and not following through with them as he normally would, and became extremely distracted by the environment. He also tried pulling me on the leash again, which made him hard to control since he wasn't listening to the verbal commands or e-collar as he normally does, so I had to put the prong back on to continue our training. As soon as I put it back on, he immediately returned to a focused state of mind and was able to perform each of his commands without any issues. The prong is rarely ever put to use when it's on him, as he is able to walk with a loose leash with no pressure applied, so the prong very well may just be a purely mental aspect for him. When he is wearing it, he knows it's time to train and focus on his work, but without it, he struggles to maintain the focus needed for obedience. Ideally, I would spend more time working on this and eventually wean him off needing to wear a prong collar, but due to the short amount of time I have with him, it will likely be a tool we will continue to use so we can focus on the other areas of his training that can be improved within this time frame.

Before we entered the mall, I made sure to spend a good amount of time encouraging Thanos to go potty at various grassy areas outside, but he wouldn't go. Unfortunately minutes after entering the mall, he had an accident while walking around inside. I was able to clean it all up thoroughly, and then took him back outside to see if he wanted to try again, but he did not. He had several more potty accidents throughout our training session inside the mall, which was unfortunate but I was able to get it all cleaned up and the mall staff were very understanding. His stool was also slightly looser than usual, which may be due to the added stress of the busy environment we were in today. I will monitor this over the coming days for any changes.


Pupdate 3/11/2023

Today was my last full day with Thanos, so we spent our day putting to use his new skills in training to have a fun day together! We went out for a nice walk and he did fantastic with remaining in a heel position with a loose leash, and was able to hold a sit while we waited at various crosswalks. We even passed by a few other dogs, and he was able to keep his focus on me and did not react toward them at all apart from a quick glance in their direction as we passed. We made our way to a local park and had a great time playing fetch with his 15 foot leash on, and he came right back to me when called every time and was eager to give me back the ball so I could throw it again. We took a break to have some lunch, and once he finished eating his food he got onto the bench beside me and held place as I sat at a picnic bench. He was very tempted to try and steal some of my food as I ate, and tried to sneakily grab some when he thought I wasn't looking, but after being told "off" he understood and laid his head down on my lap and just gave me occasional puppy dog eyes. It started to rain shortly after, so we began our walk back home and again he did a fantastic job with listening to all of his commands and walked very nicely on the leash all the way home. He didn't seem to mind the water either, and didn't let this environmental factor distract him.

After drying off back at home, we spent some more time practicing his house manners, which has been something we have worked on every day throughout the week. There are a lot of opportunities to practice obedience training and manners, even throughout day-to-day life inside the home. When he first came to me for training, he would try to barge through my legs to get past me when walking through doors, which is a bad habit, especially for a dog of his size as he could accidentally knock people over. He also had no concept of boundaries when it came to front doors, and would try to walk out on his own if it was left open. He would also whine, cry, and try to jump on me whenever I was getting ready to feed him, which often made mealtime a challenge. Throughout our week together, he has gained a lot more patience and focus, and has learned to practice good manners while both inside and outside of the house. Since he learned to hold his stationary positions in even the most distracting of environments, he naturally became much better at following commands that are given inside the house as well. For example, I can have him wait patiently in a sit or down position as I prepare his meals, and can even set it down on the floor, and he now knows to wait patiently until released before he can run over and start eating. These manners can also be applied to doorways and front doors, where he will hold the command given to him as I walk in and out of the door while it's wide open, and even go out of his sight into the front yard or in other rooms. He understands that he needs to wait until he is either told to come, or released from his position. He is able to hold these positions for over two minutes now, and with continued training to increase his patience and obedience, he will gradually be able to remain for much longer periods of time.

Overall, he has made such amazing improvements during our short time together, and I strongly believe he has a very bright future ahead of him as a loyal, patient, and well-mannered dog! He is still a puppy and has a lot of maturing to do as he grows up, but with his learned training he now has the foundations set which has paved the road for a pleasant and enjoyable training experience for owner and pup alike! Thanos is a very smart and capable dog, so the sky is the limit! Good luck, and happy training!



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