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Zelda | Bernedoodle | Woodland Hills, CA | In Training

Meet Zelda! She's a three and a half year old Bernedoodle from Woodland Hills, California here for our Three-Week Board and Train Program! Zelda is sweet, but extremely shy and nervous around new people and dogs. She's not used to new environments and tends to shut down when her nerves get the best of her. That being said, she can also be an excited and playful pup, especially at fun places like the beach! The only issue is once she gets going, she tends to not respond to her commands, or even hear them at all! Over the next twenty one days, we're going to work on building Zelda's confidence, help her with her obedience skills, teach her some manners in and out of the house, and show her how to be the best pup she can possibly be! Stay tuned for Zelda's three week transformation!


Pupdate: 3/3/2024

After picking up Zelda, we headed over to Almansor Park to get to know each other! Zelda seems very nice, however she does seem to have some extreme confidence issues and nervousness in new areas. While walking around the park, her eyes were constantly darting around and she wanted to pull away from me at every chance she got.

Once we got home, however, things took a bit of a change! I let her sniff around my house, and she seemed to settle in much more here than at the park. She also came up to me and sniffed me on her own and once she figured out that I'm nice, she started coming up to me and letting me pet her!

Zelda and I went to Almansor Park today for her first full day of training!

As we arrived, I could see she was still very nervous out in the world as she took in the sights and sounds of the park.

We started working on her Heel command first. The Heel command is when a dog walks politely by their owner's side, with their ears at their knee. It's an important command to teach as it not only helps with leash training but also establishes a sense of control and boundaries for your dog.

As we began our training session, I could tell that Zelda was still very nervous and unsure of her surroundings. She had been with me for less than twenty four hours and was still getting used to being in a new environment. This nervousness translated into occasional pulling on the leash, but I remained patient and consistent! She was especially nervous around the basketball courts, all the noise and people seemed to exacerbate her anxiety.

Gradually, I started to see improvements in Zelda's behavior. She would stay by my side for longer periods without pulling and would even start to look up at me for guidance. It was clear that she was starting to understand what I wanted from her.

It's clear to me that Zelda is very receptive to learning commands, and that her biggest challenge is going to be building her confidence! That being said, she had a great first day!

In addition to working on her commands, we also started introducing her to her E collar. This will be the main tool we use to communicate with Zelda, Especially if she goes off leash! I'm including a video tutorial of her E collar, which will be very helpful to watch.


Pupdate: 3/5/2024

Today, Zelda and I had an eventful trip to the park. We continued our training journey with a focus on her Heel command and added a new command, Come To Sit.

Zelda's Heel is still improving, and she still is willing to walk on a loose leash next to me for the most part, unless something makes a sudden movement or makes noise.

We added the new command, Come To Sit, to Zelda's repertoire today! This command is helpful when you need your dog to come to your side and sit in a polite manner. It's a slightly tougher command that requires your dog to come to your right side, walk around your legs, and sit on your left side with their ears at your knee.

Zelda, with some guidance from her leash, got the motion of this command relatively quickly. Asking her to come to my right side proved to be simple for her, then guiding her into the proper position at my left side was almost as easy.

We repeated this process several times until Zelda was consistently coming to my right side, walking around my legs, and sitting on my left side. The key here, as with all of her commands, is repetition and patience.

After a short time of helping Zelda understand the motions and what I expected of her, she was doing the full Come To Sit command for me with almost no leash tension at all.

However, despite her progress, I could still see that Zelda's nerves were getting the best of her. Every time a new dog, person or other animal walked by or a loud noise startled her, she would become anxious and lose focus. This is where patience and understanding come into play. When working with your pet, it's crucial to recognize your dog's limitations and work with them at a pace that they are comfortable with.

As stated previously, it seems Zelda is having very little issue learning her commands, but is still having trouble getting comfortable in outdoor environments, even though we have now been to this same park three days in a row. In the video, you can see me lay on my back and pet Zelda from that position. This is an attempt by me to show Zelda that this environment is harmless and she has nothing to worry about. This seemed to comfort her a tiny bit each time I did this throughout the day, but still not enough to get her completely comfortable. I also tried using her kibble, and even a few treats to help her relax, but she refused her food in any environment other than my home. It seems to me that Zelda will simply need as much exposure to the outside world as possible in order to get comfortable, which could take some time.



Zelda and I went to the park this morning before the rain, then to Home Depot in the afternoon!

Home Depot was very tough for her, as the enclosed space in addition to the various loud noises made Zelda quite nervous. As usual, however, she worked on her commands with a fairly loose leash, only having difficulty when a particularly loud cart or person went by us.

I believe advancing to a more distracting environment such as Home Depot is good for her, and hopefully the extra exposure will help her in the long run!

When we got home, she ate some more kibble, then curled up on the floor to take a nap. This was nice to see, because usually when she wants to lay down, she defaults to moving to her crate! She is clearly the most comfortable in her crate, so it was great that she felt comfortable enough to nap directly on the floor in front of me!


Pupdate: 3/7/2024

Zelda and I went to Los Angeles State Historic Park today for training!

We continued working on her Heel and Come To Sit, but added her Place and Down Commands! The Place command is great for confidence building, which is perfect for Zelda. For Place, I want Zelda to hop onto a raised object, such as a bench or cot, and remain there until I either release her from command or ask her to perform a new command. I'll mostly be using this command for helping Zelda's confidence in public areas, but we can also use it indoors using her bed, a blanket or anything else with defined borders. This can be useful if I'm cooking dinner or cleaning and need Zelda to remain in a safe spot for a little while.

She initially hesitated to hop onto various benches when asked, however, she got more comfortable jumping throughout the day. She especially seems to enjoy getting onto the place cot used in today's video!

As with most days, Zelda started off very nervous. After some training and exercise, she started to get more confident, but not quite to the level I want. Today, she got to be in fairly close proximity to some other trainers and their dogs, and did a great job working around them! Zelda didn't seem any more or less nervous around the new dogs. I'm glad they didn't give her any trouble!


Pupdate: 3/8/2024

Zelda went to Santa Anita Mall today! This was by far the most hectic environment we've gone with her, and it was definitely a lot for her.

Usually she gets a bit nervous, but has little issue with her basic commands, but here it took some time for her to even get her basic commands down. We spent a long time right at the beginning simply sitting near a popular area allowing people to pass us without asking Zelda for any commands. After several minutes of this, she started to calm down to the point where she would Heel with me and perform her other commands.

After spending most of the day at the mall, I think she was relieved when we went back to the park later in the afternoon. Even though she is progressing very slowly with her confidence and comfort level, it seems that the best thing for her is to continue to slowly push her by giving her these new experiences. In the same way that she is typically much more comfortable at home once we get back from the park, now she was much more comfortable at the park after we got back from the mall. It is a very slow process that requires a lot of time and patience, but I can see her improving every time we go out!


Pupdate 3/10/2024

Zelda and I went to Downtown Alhambra for training today!

As soon as we got out of the car, I could sense Zelda's hesitation. The loud sounds of cars honking and people talking on their phones immediately caught her attention. She managed to stay calm enough to not pull on her leash, and stick with me while walking around, however!

This place was an excellent opportunity for Zelda to learn how to cope with her nerves.

The first challenge we faced was getting Zelda to focus on me and follow my commands amidst all the distractions. I started with simple commands that she already knew, such as Sit and Heel. She listened and followed through with the commands, but her body language showed signs of nervousness. Her ears were pinned back, and she kept looking around, with her tail tucked for much of the time.

It was not just the noise that was causing her anxiety, but also the unfamiliar surroundings. So, we took a seat on one of the benches and just watched the world go by for a while. I used this time to reward her with praise whenever she showed calm behavior, such as sitting quietly or focusing on me. Gradually, she started to relax and even curled up next to me on the bench.

After about an hour of relaxation, we got back up and continued our training session. This time, I incorporated more challenging commands, such as Place and Down. Zelda did an incredible job of following my lead and staying by my side, even with all the distractions around us. I made sure to reward her with plenty of praise for every successful command.

As we walked around the area, we also came across some fountains. We took some time to sit near the fountains and then proceeded with working on her commands! Zelda didn't like the cycling spray of the fountains, but she persevered and ended up doing a great job even right next to them!

By this point, I was incredibly proud of Zelda's progress. But I didn't want to push her too far, so we headed to the park for some fun playtime.

At the park, Zelda's confidence seemed to have grown significantly. She was more comfortable and playful, even around the other distractions that gave her trouble on previous days.

Our day in Downtown Alhambra was a fantastic learning experience for both Zelda and me. Zelda is slowly but surely learning that new environments and distractions can be fun and not something to be afraid of.

It was a great day for Zelda!


Pupdate: 3/10/2024

Zelda and I spent the day at Almansor Park!

It was a little easier for her than previous days, even with several sporting events happening around the park. The loudest people were the soccer players, so we spent the most time hanging around them.

Her commands are still going well, and we started working towards her Send Away To Place command. This is nearly the same as Place, however I want her to go to a place object while I'm several feet away as opposed to walking her all the way up to it.

After quite a while at the park, Zelda was even able to lay down and take a quick nap on the fields. She's been doing much better since we started taking her to more populated areas!


Pupdate: 3/11/2024

Zelda and I spent the day at Almansor Park for training! She was a little more confident today, and we started working on her commands with the leash dragging. Allowing the leash to drag gives me some idea of how she might perform off leash while still having access to the leash should I need it. She's doing well with this so far, although we were in a very quiet section of the park while working on it. She still has work to do before she might be able to go all the way off leash, especially in more crowded places, but she's doing great so far!


Pupdate: 3/12/2024

Zelda and I went to Santa Anita Mall today for training!

I noticed she was more comfortable. She showed much less heavy breathing and tail tucking, although she still wanted to look around at everyone who walked by. She did well with her commands, except for a few times where she would stop short because someone walked too close to us. In these cases, I would help her along with the leash. Other than that, she performed her commands with almost no leash tension!

After the mall, we went to the park so Zelda could relax a little. She did well there too, and seemed very open and happy!


Pupdate: 3/13/2024

Zelda and I went to Almansor Park today to practice a new command!

The Under command is another command that requires a lot of confidence from Zelda, and it also has some practical application if you ever want to take Zelda to a dog-friendly restaurant or café. You can ask her for Under and have her perform a Down underneath your chair or table.

Zelda, with all the little baseball players and their parents around, didn't feel confident enough to go under the bench. I then asked her to simply move through the underside of the bench then rewarded her with praise on the other side. After that, it became a matter of her performing that same motion, except asking her to stop halfway through. She very much did not like learning this command, but with some consistency with both her E collar and constant praise, she ended up liking it!


Pupdate: 3/14/2024

Zelda and I went to Santa Monica Promenade today for training!

This was very much a new environment for her, and it definitely showed. She went back to showing all her signs of nervousness, but generally completed her commands!

She had the opportunity to be worked and held by another trainer today, and luckily she didn't show signs of separation anxiety from me. However, she continued to show her signs of nervousness, and had trouble completing her Down command for the other trainer.

It seems clear that Zelda needs a lot of warm up time in any location we visit, especially new places. It also has become apparent that Zelda succeeds the most when pushed a little bit through her nervousness. For example, she didn't start to become very calm at the parks until we started to go to malls, and she didn't become calm at malls until we started spending hours and hours at those malls. That being said, it isn't alarming to me that she was nervous in Santa Monica, as this was by far the most difficult environment we've been to thus far.

Overall, she's progressing slowly, but in great ways! She just needs as much time out in public as possible!


Pupdate: 3/15/2024

Zelda and I went to Santa Anita Mall today for training! We tried out some commands with her leash dragging. For her first time leash dragging somewhere other than the park, she did pretty well! It took about twenty or so minutes of warm up time before she was confident enough to perform her commands, and even then, she was a little less calm once I started dropping the leash.

Still, it was nice to see her progress towards performing her commands without a leash, even if she isn't a fan of the environment!



Zelda and I went to Wilderness Park today for training! She took several minutes to start to get comfortable, but ended up doing a great job. Our main focus for today was the Under command! She's been learning this command fairly well, but not quickly enough, so we spent a lot of time on it. What I noticed is that after she became very comfortable going underneath any given bench, she loved it so much that she wanted to go back under even if she was allowed to come out. This isn't too surprising, given her nerves and she likely feels safe and secure when laying down under a bench or similar object.



Zelda started working towards her off leash training today! That being said, we are taking it very slow in order to keep her safe! We spent a lot of time simply sitting around the park with her leash off letting her get used to the feeling of being off the leash!



Zelda and I went back to Wilderness Park today! We worked more on her Under command, but spent a lot of time showing her it is okay to come out of her shell after I release her. Last time we were here, she loved the Under command so much she wanted to stay there even after she was allowed to break, so today I made sure to reward her with lots of love whenever she moved out from under the bench when asked.

We also spent more time working on her Send Away To Place command! She is great with this command if it is a place object that she is very familiar with. When introducing a new place object, she often needs several repetitions before she feels comfortable moving away from me and going to the object. For this reason, I'm trying to have her place on as many different benches/objects as possible so she understands a new object doesn't have to be scary!


Pupdate: 3/19/2024

Zelda and I went to Almansor Park today for training! We spent most of our time working alongside another dog who you can see in our pictures from today! It made her very uncomfortable to heel and perform her other commands in close proximity to another pup, but I believe it was for the best, as she ended up performing a great double heel with the other dog! I also had her performing her Come To Sit, and Place commands right next to the other pup, which I think is doing wonders for her confidence level!


Pupdate: 3/20/2024

Zelda and I went to the park today for her training! Zelda was allowed off leash after the first thirty minutes or so of our session! She exhibited some of her normal anxious behaviors, but behaves so well most of the time that going off leash doesn't seem to be a problem in most environments. As long as I stay on top of her with her commands, she has been responding very well.

For her video today, I wanted to show one of the household manners we've been working on! For her Door manners, I'd like Zelda to respect the boundaries of certain thresholds, such as doors, fences, gates and other openings. She's been doing quite well with this so far as she'll wait when walking out of my front door. However, she still needs a little work on coming inside any given door, and also other gate openings. Coming inside seems to be more difficult for her, since she typically wants to rush in so she can spread out and nap after her long day out working! That being said, I'd still like her to work on that impulse control and hopefully help her relax in the process.


Pupdate: 3/21/2024

Zelda and I went to Santa Monica Pier today for training! This was a difficult area for her, however she ended up doing a great job after a few minutes of warm up. She was allowed off leash, and performed each command very well!

Her toughest command was the Send Away To Place command, and it took quite a few tries before she was comfortable walking to a bench without my constant guidance, but she did a great job after!


Pupdate: 3/22/2024

Zelda and I spent the day at Almansor Park! Her progress has been incredibly great at each of these different locations we've gone. She's still the most comfortable at home and at parks that she's familiar with, however she's done an incredible job even at very difficult places such as Santa Monica Pier!

For today's video, I'm showing a clip from yesterday at the pier, showcasing Zelda's off leash capabilities around some high level distractions!

She still needs a fair amount of time outside to be comfortable and consistent whether she is on leash or off leash, but you can see how far she's come very clearly!


Pupdate: 3/23/2024

Zelda and I went to Santa Anita Mall today for training! She was allowed off leash for about half the time, and did a good job throughout the day.

For her video today, I wanted to show another of her in home manners. For food manners, I want Zelda to resist the urge to eat something immediately when I put it in front of her. This can make meal times a bit easier, but it also serves as a great exercise for her impulse control in general. Practicing this can be an additional safety measure to prevent her from eating something she shouldn't, whether it is accidentally dropped in the kitchen, or something gross off the ground while we're out and about!

Zelda will be going home tomorrow, and I couldn't be more proud of how far she's come! She has mastered several commands and skills, but has also been able to safely exist in environments she was previously uncertain of, and continued to do a great job and behave wonderfully despite her anxiety! She has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I will be missing her once she goes home.


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