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Willow | German Shepherd | Wilmington, CA | In - Training

Meet Willow! An excitable 6 month old pup from Wilmington, CA who has joined us for our One Week Board and Train program. Over these next 7 days Willow and I will be working on her greeting manners, door manners, and impulse control while out in new environments. With constant exposure and proper socialization, we will be working her through her leash reactivity towards other dogs and new people. Stay tuned for her One week transformation!


Pupdate 9/4/2022

Today I introduced Willow to her new temporary home. We walked around the front of my house as well as the backyard, letting her explore and sniff around. At first she was very reactive towards the other dogs that she saw in their kennels. I changed her collar to a prong collar then began to pop the leash towards me as well as cue Off in the opposite direction. Once Willow came to me we walked around the backyard near the door so she could visually see the other dogs. I rewarded her whenever she looked to me instead of fixating on the other dogs. She slowly offered me her attention more and more. Once Willow displayed a more calm state of mind, we walked inside the room and began our crate training. Willow was skeptical of going into the kennel at first. I guided her towards the kennel with the leash then threw a freeze dried treat inside so she can have a positive association with the crate. Once I closed the door she cried so I stayed with her, rewarding her every 30 seconds she was in the kennel. She began to calm down as I placed a crate cover to help ease her anxiety.

After she ate dinner we went outside and played a game of fetch together. Whenever she brought the ball towards my direction I marked it with a yes and rewarded her. She tried to initiate the keep away game a few times but caught on to being rewarded whenever bringing the ball to me. Tomorrow we will begin introducing her to new commands!


Pupdate 9/5/2022

Today I introduced Willow to a few communication tools to help with her overall obedience. I introduced her to the E collar along with a 3.25 mm Herm Sprenger prong collar. The E collar stimulation is used to get her attention when she needs help following through with her commands. I pair the E collar stimulation with leash pressure to guide her with directional changes of the leash. When Willow pulls, I pop the leash upwards to correct her behavior and help her stay by my side. Whenever I move forward from a stationary position or turn with Willow I cue Heel. This gives her a heads up we are changing direction. If Willow turns with me I praise her, if she doesn’t I then pop the leash towards the direction I want her to go and Cue Heel again with stimulation from the E collar. There are 100 different levels to the E collar that are finely tuned for every dog’s working level. Her level fluctuates according to what she responds to. I then introduced her to Come to Sit on my left hand side ready to Heel. Willow follows leash pressure quite well, not resisting. Since she is such an excitable pup, it is hard for her to hold her Sit. It is important for her to understand that the handler releases her from any position, she doesn’t release herself. If she gets up before I release her with the cue Break, I pop the leash upwards and remind her to Sit. Towards the end of the session she was able to hold it for a maximum of 30 seconds as I circled around her. Good work Willow!


Pupdate 9/6/2022

Willow and I worked on introducing her to some new commands today at the local dog park! We worked at a distance from where the dogs were at first, letting her sniff around and explore her surroundings before starting our session. We Heeled together around the park, where we made frequent turns together. Every time I turned I said Willow’s name to get her attention, then cued Heel. If she turned with me I rewarded her and marked it with a yes. If Willow kept walking forward and didn’t turn, I popped the leash in the direction I wanted her to go. After a few leash pops, Willow understood what I was asking of her and followed my lead. We added a bit of distance between us for her Extended Sit command. Willow has displayed signs of separation anxiety, crying when I leave her sight from the kennel and repeatedly trying to follow me when I step away from her. I began to step away from her slowly step by step. Whenever I added a new step away from her, I came back and rewarded her. She learned that she gets paid for sitting and corrected for getting up before she is released. Willow was able to hold her Sit consistently for a minute today while I was about 6 feet away from her, which is definitely an improvement for an energetic pup like herself!

We then worked on introducing Willow to Place and Down. Place is used to create a calm state of mind and build confidence for a pup. At first Willow was skeptical of jumping onto a new surface. I sprinted with her back and forth towards the bench until she worked up the courage to jump onto it. Once we did this a few times together, I asked Willow for a down. I lured her with a treat at first starting from her nose then bringing the treat towards the floor with added leash pressure. Once Willow went Down I marked it then rewarded her. By the end of the session Willow was going Down with just leash pressure and I was able to wean her off the luring pretty quickly! Making sure to still reward her for performing the behavior. Good work Willow!


Pupdate 9/7/2022

Today Willow and I had the opportunity to work on all of her commands near other dogs and even had her properly socialize with another dog and person. Willow is extremely reactive to other dogs and people when she first sees them. This is due to Willow never having the guidance which taught her right from wrong. In order to teach Willow right from wrong she is corrected with a slight pop of the leash and stimulation of the E collar when she tries to lunge. If she stays by my side and begins to check in with me, I then reward her marking it with a yes. Willow needs a lot of structure to help her be the best pup she can be. As soon as we got out of the car I let her go potty then cued Heel. Her Heel has improved significantly, now being able to walk by my side even with another dog present. When another dog is present it takes her a couple of calming circles first at a distance, until she shows she is ready to gradually get closer to the other dog. Once she was Heeling with me I Cued her to go say hi to the other pup. This gave me a clearer picture on Willow’s confidence around other dogs. Willow is a bit fearful when around other dogs, not sure how to interact. She tried to hide behind my legs towards the end of the interaction, so it will be good for Willow to keep properly interacting with other friendly pups. It is important for Willow to know she gets to interact when she gets permission. The same thing goes for saying hi to new people.

Willow is learning boundaries. She is expected to stay by me at all times until released with the cue Break. It is best for Willow to stay in the Sit position when being pet to prevent her impulse to jump. In the video I Cued Off to Willow whenever she tried to invade the other trainer’s space. We have some work to do with setting boundaries and counter conditioning her habits, but Willow is definitely understanding the assignment!


Pupdate 9/8/2022

Willow and I took a trip to the beach today! We had the chance to introduce Willow to plenty of distractions. In order to help her acclimate to her new surroundings, I Heeled with her below the pier to desensitize her to bicyclists, other dogs, and crowds of people. She was very curious of her environment. With frequent turns and a few pops of the leash, Willow stayed by my side. I rewarded her whenever she would voluntarily check in with me. She then displayed a calmer posture, holding her Down for up to a minute as I rewarded her every 20 seconds. Whenever she would get up before being released, I popped the leash downwards to help her reposition into the Down. Willow said hi to a friendly couple, and held her Sit the entire time. I make sure to give Willow extra guidance during these challenging scenarios. She only says hi If all four paws are on the floor, and it is important to communicate to whoever is petting her that she is in training and only receives attention when she is Sitting and waiting patiently. Good work Willow!


Pupdate 9/9/2022

Willow and I ventured out to the Santa Monica promenade today! We filmed for her final video and worked on proofing all of her commands that she has learned while around plenty of distractions. This was a lot for Willow to soak in. Whenever we arrive anywhere new we Heel together to expose her to her surroundings and get some energy out as well. Once Willow has exercised a bit, we work her at a threshold she works best in. Whenever I see dogs approaching I create some distance between her and the dogs then Heel with her back and forth in circles to diffuse any reactivity that may be building up as she sees them. This method has worked the best for Willow, as walking it off and resetting helps her calm down and stops the lunging or barking. I also pop the leash and cue Off to correct the behavior. Willow is not reacting nearly as much and when she does it usually because a crowd of people or dogs are too close to her. She has a threshold of about 20 ft where she can work without reacting. She has done a few pack walks with other dogs. Pack walks are the best way to properly socialize Willow. There does not need to be any interaction until Willow shows she is interested in those interactions, without barking or lunging. It is also best to make sure any interactions she has with other dogs is with a dog you know and trust. As for now, pack walks without interaction is the best way to build confidence around other dogs and neutrality. Willow has been checking in with me frequently, as I reward her whenever she voluntarily looks my way. Good girl Willow!


Pupdate 9/10/2022

Willow and I started our day by Heeling together around the neighborhood. Her Heel has improved, as she checks in with me more frequently and turns with me when I turn. We have been emphasizing our work on preventing her from jumping. As soon as she is released from the crate, she would initially jump on me out of excitement. We have made it a routine for Willow to Sit by my Side as soon as she comes out . We worked on her Extended Sit and Down, which she has remained consistent with holding for a minute until released with the cue Break. Willow has learned boundaries, not jumping on the door to open it anymore. She has learned that when she sits and waits patiently, the door will open. If she gets up, the door closes on her. The door is an important threshold to remain consistent with so Willow won’t have a habit of being the first one out.

After Heeling together around the neighborhood and working on her manners, we played tug of war and fetch together in the backyard. Playtime is a great outlet for Willow to release energy. Since she is a very energetic pup, this is highly recommended. Willow is a quick learner who just needs structure and consistency to be the best pup possible! Thank you for trusting me with your pup and we absolutely can’t wait to show you what she has learned!

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