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  • Writer's pictureJose Ayala

Valentina | Labrador Retriever | East Los Angeles, CA | In-Training

Meet Valentina! She is a five year old Labrador Retriever who has joined us for our Three Week Board and Train Program. Valentina is here for basic obedience, leash pulling, and jumping to greet. She does not know her own strength and is capable of knocking a person down when jumping. Walking can be a bit of a struggle as she likes to pull on her leash and is easily distracted. Over the next fourteen days, this sweet girl will be working on her behavior and be set up for success, with the hopes of becoming a well mannered pup. Check in to see her progress!


Valentina and I spent the afternoon getting to know each other. We drove out to a local park and went for a walk to establish a bond. Throughout our walk, Valentina was pulling on her leash and became very distracted with the smells around her. To keep her from doing so, I introduced her to Heel. This technique consists of having Valentina walk next to me on my left side. To teach her, anytime she would pull away from me, I would walk in the opposite direction, give her leash tension, and guide her back towards me. It took some time as we made a lot of u-turns, but Valentina began to understand what I was asking of her. It is still a work in progress, but Heel will now be implied on every walk we go on from here on out.


Valentina and I went for a walk around the neighborhood today. I introduced her to the E-Collar and she responds well to it at low levels. Initially, Valentina was very distracted by the grass smells around her, which made her want to go and smell. I corrected her behavior by asking her to Heel and by also using the word “Off,” which is the word I use for unwanted behavior. Valentina understood what I was asking, and is making good progress on her Heel. I am now able to walk her without the prong collar you gave me during pickup. She is adjusting to her new home for the next three weeks, and she did great sleeping through the night in her kennel.


Valentina and I drove out to a local Home Depot today and worked on some confidence building. I introduced her to Place, which is a technique that consists of having Valentina getting onto an elevated object and remaining there in a Sit or a Down. It can also be of great use when guests are over or if there is a knock on your door. To teach Valentina, I walked her to the object, then guided her with leash tension to assist her in putting her front legs on. She was hesitant initially, so I had to be patient and take a few breaks in between. Once she was able to get her front legs on, I rewarded her with praise, and released her with a “Break.” To get her back legs on, I continued to use the same approach, but I helped her on by giving them a boost. We are still working on it, as she is climbing on rather than hopping on, but she is understanding the concept and following through.


Valentina and I have been working on her recall which is known as Come to Sit. It consists of having Valentina come towards my right, going around behind me, and sitting on my left. She did pretty well coming towards my right, but would initially stop when going around behind me. To help her follow through, I took a few steps forward and gave her leash tension to have her Sit on my left. She was being very stubborn with her Sit and did not want to do it, but with the use of the E-Collar, I was able to work her through it.


Valentina and I have been working on Down. It is one of the hardest techniques to teach a dog considering it being a submissive position, and it can also make a dog vulnerable being down on all fours. To teach Valentina, I placed her on an elevated object, asked her to Sit, and used leash tension to guide her towards the ground. While giving leash tension, dogs will most likely stiffen up their paws and not want to follow through with the behavior. With Valentina, she would stiffen up her paws, but once she made the slightest intent to go down, I released tension and rewarded her with praise. It took lots of time and patience, with breaks in between to avoid frustration. With repetition and consistency, Valentina began to grasp the concept, and began to follow through with her Down.


Valentina and I drove out to a local beach today and worked on Heel and recall around bicycles, skateboards, strollers and other dogs. She did really well with the distractions around her, and she adjusted very well to her surroundings. We also worked on her duration Sit, which she had a little trouble with, but I was able to reset her, and have her hold it for a short period of time. We will continue to practice on her duration in the coming days by using a fifteen foot long line. When it comes to Valentina’s medicine, she began to spit it out when I gave it to her by hand, so I mix it in with her kibble, and that is how she now takes it.


Valentina and I worked a little more on Place today. Since teaching her how to, she is still lacking confidence and would climb onto objects rather than hop on most of the time. To help her hop on, I hopped on to the object myself and proceeded to guide her with leash tension and verbal encouragement to motivate her. I began with a low level object and remained consistent with her so she would follow through. When she understood what I was asking and began to Place without my assistance on the low object, we moved on to a higher platform. I used the same approach, and after a few reps, Valentina began to hop on. We will remain working on it to keep building her confidence. By keeping her motivated, rewarding her with praise, and making it fun, it will encourage Valentina to follow through with her behavior.


Valentina and I began working with a long line to increase her distance and duration. I have been practicing with her in increments of five, meaning one foot back is five seconds, two feet back is ten seconds, three feet is fifteen seconds and so on. She does well from a short distance, but once I begin to increase it, she will sometimes come out of her Sit and make her way towards me. I correct her behavior by resetting her and placing her in the same spot. She is making progress, and I will work my way to the end of the long line with more repetition.


Valentina and I drove out to a local park and worked on everything that she knows so far with different distractions. She worked around strollers, joggers, bicyclists, and other dogs. Throughout our walk, she took an interest in people walking by us and would want to approach them to say hello. I corrected her behavior by guiding her back towards me, and also by giving her verbal cues such as “Off,” and “Heel.” Once she began following through more, I worked on her Heel with her leash dragging. She still needs a little assistance with the turns, but she does keep up with me and walks on my left side. Valentina has a lack of hearing in her right ear. Anytime I snapped my fingers by her left ear, she responded to it. When it came to the right ear, there was no response. I will be using more hand signals to keep her attention, and to help with communication.

Valentina and I worked on a new technique today that is known as Come to Heel. This is similar to Come to Sit, but the difference is, instead of going into a Sit when coming to me, Valentina will come into a Heel position when coming towards me. I will also be in motion, and her cue is when she sees me pat my left leg. I am teaching her by using the long line, which I pair with my leg pat. When I pat my leg, I give her a little tug so she can begin to understand what I am asking of her. She still needs practice but Valentina made some progress today. I have also been working on the hand signals, and she is responding well to them.


Valentina and I began working on Send Away to Place today. This technique consists of having Valentina placing on an elevated object with the difference being added distance. Instead of walking her onto the object, I have her stop at a distance, ask her to Sit, then I point her into the direction of the object I want her to Place on. To assist her in having a better understanding, I give her a little leash tug when pointing towards the object, which helps as guidance in the right direction. She is still having a bit of trouble, but with repetition and consistency, I have hopes of helping her work through it.


Valentina and I went out and worked on some leash dragging exercises in a public setting. We practiced her recall and her Send Away to Place. We began with a walk around the pier to have her adjust to her surroundings. Once I felt Valentina was comfortable within the environment around her, I dropped her leash and continued on our walk. She did really well with her Send Away to Place, but had a little trouble coming off of her place object whenever I called her towards me. Her Come to Sit still needs a little practice as she will not Sit at times, but we are working on it to have it cleaned up. Valentina and I will continue working with her leash dragging for the next few days in order to prepare her for her off leash experience.


Valentina was introduced to Under today. It is a technique that is similar to Place. The difference is, rather than having Valentina getting onto an object, she would go below it. Under can serve great purpose for outings at a park, and can also be of use for outdoor dining. I worked on it with her by using leash tension as guidance to help her distinguish both behaviors. Initially, when leading Valentina towards the object, she would almost immediately try to hop on and Place on the object. She was a little stubborn and did not want to perform the behavior. We took some breaks in between our sessions to avoid frustration, and I also rewarded her with praise anytime she made progress. Valentina began to comprehend the behavior I was asking for, and even though she still needs more conditioning, she is following through with Under.


Valentina and I spent the day at home while I did some cleaning up in my front and backyard. We enjoyed some playtime after I finished and it is one of her favorite things to do. When we first began with playtime, Valentina would jump all over me trying to get to the item that we would use to throw around. Over time, after correcting her jumping behavior, she has made such a big improvement. She will jump initially sometimes, but with a verbal “Off,” Valentina understands what I am asking. It did take some time due to the energy and excitement from wanting to play, but here she is being well behaved as she enjoys herself.


Valentina and I have been working on some off leash exercises in my backyard. She did really well, so I decided to take her out for a walk around the neighborhood. During our walk, Valentina was distracted by the smell of grass, but with the use of the E-Collar and a verbal “Heel,” I was able to correct her behavior and we continued on our walk. We also worked on her Sit and Down with distance and duration. She does well, but still needs a little more practice. Valentina’s final week will consist of mostly working off leash, in order to prepare her for her Final.


Valentina and I drove out to a local park and worked on her commands around other dogs. She did really well throughout our walk around the park and remained at my side during our Heel. What she had the most trouble with today was her recall. It took her some time to understand what I was asking as she would go to another trainer and not me, but I was able to have Valentina follow through. She did very well with her Extended Down, and remained in her position until I released her with a “Break.” Her Extended Sit needed a little conditioning initially, as she would come out of it and follow me when I began to increase distance. We worked through it by resetting her, which made Valentina follow through.


Happy Fourth of July! Valentina and I took a drive to a local park and continued to practice her off leash conditioning. We worked on her Come to Heel and she did very well responding to my cue. She was having trouble with her Send Away to Place, but after a few sessions of conditioning a little more, Valentina began to work through it. She became distracted with the dogs around her while we worked on her Down, but with a couple of resets, Valentina followed through maintaining her Down.


Valentina and I worked more on her Send Away to Place and recall today. She did very well with both exercises and continues to improve by remaining consistent. She also did well with her Extended Down as people walked by her serving as a distraction. Valentina is just about ready to begin filming her Final, and it will be the main focus for the remainder of her Program.


Valentina and I worked on her Final today. We worked on a few practice runs and she was having trouble following through. She was quite nervous with the distractions all around her, and it took some time to work her through some of her behaviors. There were a few instances where Valentina did not want to respond to my hand signals, but with the use of the E-Collar, she began to respond to them. By remaining consistent with repetitions, Valentina did well, and here is a clip of her showing what she can do.


Valentina and I have been working on her Door Manners since the day I picked her up. Anytime I opened a door, she would always try to run inside or outside, and try to be the first one in or out. To avoid Valentina from repeating unwanted behavior, I would make an approach to the door and ask her to Sit or Down before opening it. If she came out of her position whenever I opened the door, I would immediately close it and repeat the process once more. Once she understood what I was asking, I stepped into the other side of the doorway and released her with a Break. Valentina has done well with repetition, and has accomplished her goal of not running in and out of doors.


Valentina has completed her Three Week Board and Train Program and is ready to come home. I want to thank you for trusting me with her while she was under my care these last twenty one days, and also for giving me the opportunity in being her trainer. She was a great co-pilot and it was a joy having her in my home. I look forward to showing you what she has learned, and she will be missed. Thank you Valentina!


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