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  • Writer's picturecristianoffleash

Zelda | Husky German Shepherd Mix | Los Angeles | In - Training

Meet Zelda! Zelda is a 7 month old Husky/German shepherd mix coming from Los Angeles, CA and has joined us for our 2 Week Board & Train Program. Zelda is here for confidence building, proper leash obedience, and can be timid around people inside or outside when socializing. Zelda has confidence taking the lead outside but needs to understand a better way of looking at her environment and having better manners as a young pup. Over the next two weeks I'll challenge Zelda with proper training exercises to help educate her when stepping outside. Check out her progress with me as her trainer!


Pupdate 6/18/2023

Today was the first day meeting Zelda and she was very energetic when trying to engage with her. We stayed at the park for a moment trying to understand each other but Zelda had other stuff on her mind. Once we were in the car we headed back home and she was vocal inside the crate. She would often cry for random moments but would then go quiet. Once we were home I gave her time to walk and relax in front of my house before going inside. She had no issue meeting my family members but would try to lunge and go say hi to them. She met my dog through his crate but would keep her distance from the crate passing by each time as if she doesn't want to be too close to it. I placed her in her crate and she was fine going inside and barked until she fell asleep.

Once Zelda woke up she began to growl from inside the crate. I got up and the closer I got she became more alarmed. I was able to open the crate and I noticed Zelda placed herself all the way in the back. I simply walked away and waited for her to come out. She stayed in her crate for 30 minutes with the door open having no will to come out. I brought out some treats and placed them far from her crate. As soon as I did this she was very motivated to leave the crate and once she did I closed the door letting her out again. This is very common with most dogs that don't have a lot of confidence in new areas and environments.

While Zelda was outside she had no issue with me petting her around her whole Body. I grabbed our training leash and started to practice on her crate training. Zelda didn't want to go inside her crate when I asked her and signaled her to try and perform this task. She kept pulling away until she gave me one attempt to try and enter her crate. Once she did I verbally praised her and asked her to come out immediately. As she came running back out I gave her a lot of love and attention for listening and started practicing going in and out of the crate. Once we started this method she had no issue actually going in and waiting for me to break her. I'll keep her motivated with her crate so as she progresses the next two weeks, she will have a better understanding of her crate training.


Pupdate 6/19/2023

This morning I took Zelda to wilderness park in Downey to get some exercise and focus on her obedience training. Today was her first time adjusting to the e-collar which went well. When walking around the park Zelda had a habit of always trying to go towards the grass each time we would pass by it. I would keep her by an area of grass and keep her attention on me instead of trying to smell the grass. This was somewhat hard to work with at the moment since her engagement with me doesn't really exist.

I took Zelda to some benches near a pond to work on keeping her engagement with me by learning her place obedience command. I asked Zelda place for the first time and pointed up at the bench and she followed through but would keep getting off. We worked for a moment on this and she eventually was able to sit on top and wait until she was given her break. When breaking Zelda it helps notify her that she's done training for the moment and can be rewarded with praise. From this point I can walk and guide her back into obedience by walking to the bench again and asking for place again. Once she follows through we can repeat the process and educate Zelda to learn her obedience commands.

In the video above there was a child chasing ducks making a perfect distraction when dogs see things outside. Zelda's typical reaction to things running and moving excited her and she tried to jump off and chase the ducks. By redirecting Zelda with the e-collar I was able to signal to her to leave the ducks alone by saying "off". This is to not engage with something or someone when asking Zelda and after I ask her to come to me which she does with no issue. I'm able to guide her to do something else instead of trying to act on impulse. We can continue our training as usual as if nothing happened and continue to focus on improving Zelda's obedience training.


Pupdate 6/19/2023

This morning we woke up early to go for a walk since the days are starting to get hotter.

I walked Hunter and Zelda together but Zelda was very insecure to walk next to Hunter and would often stop in her tracks for random reasons. I was patient with her and kept her somewhat distant with the leash but close enough to have her maintain her walk instead of stopping. After a while she was able to get closer with us and eventually stay next to Hunter. Once we arrived home the dogs took a break having their meal of the day and training at home.

When training at home we first worked on Zelda's food manners. The goal was to have Zelda wait patiently for about 10 seconds until she's given her break. Zelda waited patiently and as I got closer to her bowl she started to growl. I redirected her with the e-collar at a low level setting and she stopped eating and brought her attention back to me. I asked her to sit and started to hand feed her small portions of her food. This way I can make her independently grab the food from my hand with ease. We worked on this until half her bowl was empty and gave her a chance to eat while I walked around her. I placed the bowl down and gave her the go to eat and walked around her with no issue. I will continue to task Zelda with a variety of situations around her food to help with her insecurities.

Later in the day I introduced Zelda to Hunter in my backyard to see how she would react engaging with him. Hunter is very nice to small dogs and female dogs who visit and knows how to properly engage with our guests. Zelda was timid keeping her distance most of the time we spent in the backyard. Eventually Hunter started to throw himself more at Zelda signaling to her that he wants to play. Once Zelda gave a response back I took my camera out and started to record. In the video above is the first interaction which leads to them playing. As Zelda started to seem more confident and had her tail wagging I would verbally tell the dogs "good job" or "yes", so they can hear the positivity I want for both of them. They played for about 10 - 15 minutes before taking another nap. We continued to work on our obedience when things cooled down worked on place & extended sit.


Pupdate 6/21/2023

This morning I woke up and Zelda had an accident in her crate while I was sleeping. She had gotten some of her belongings covered in pee and poop. I gave Zelda a shower and cleaned off some poop on her legs only. I had Hunter and Zelda walk together again and she did better today keeping a pace from the start. We went the whole hour walking and she did very well improving on walking with another dog.

Later on in the day I took Zelda to a park in La Mirada, CA to work on more obedience training. When we first arrived Zelda got energetic as always so I gave her a break first to walk around and use the restroom. Once she was done we went for a walk around the park. When we passed by the pond with ducks and geese Zelda lunged towards the birds but I redirected her and asked for her to come to me. She followed through and had her place next to my side and go into a sit before asking for her heel again to continue walking. She was fine passing by the birds this time and as we passed by people on their walks I would always talk to her and keep her engaged with me to motivate her to always keep her attention towards me while outside.

We found an area to work on place and Zelda's recall after her walk. Zelda does well following through with her place command but her recall she can sometimes drift towards any direction. When I ask for Zelda to come to me the goal is to have her circle around me and end up on my left side back into a sit. Once she does this I can continue to praise her and help educate her letting her know this is what I'm asking for.


Pupdate 6/22/2023

This morning I took Hunter and Zelda on a walk together again. She did well for half the walk but randomly started to mess around and had her roomies trying to run and play. I had redirected Zelda and asked her to heel as Hunter and I kept our pace and eventually Zelda got over her zoomies and remained back into a heel until we went back home. Zelda and Hunter had their playtime as well for 15 minutes before taking a break.

Once Zelda woke up from her nap I took the time to focus on her door manners. The first day Zelda came to my house she was right in front of the door ready to go in so we've been working on this daily and above in the video is her progress so far. Every time we practice our door manners I always have Zelda keep her position by performing a sit. Once she's relaxed and ready I'll walk slowly and ask her for her heel obedience command to start our walk. In the video above I have Zelda follow through with her door manners waiting and breaking her while the door is still open. I keep the door open but will reward her and continue to train the backyard. Once she seems more engaged with me instead of interested in the direction of the door I can ask for her heel to walk past the door. The goal each time passing any door is to walk slowly and keep Zelda at my side each time so I can praise her. She does well now but the goal is to do this offleash!


Pupdate 6/23/2023

This morning I took Zelda to La Bonita park in La Habra, CA to work on her socializing amongst other dogs. Zelda isn't always around dogs on leash so she was being vocal so I had her practice her obedience training near them. We practiced our heel and place command to help desensitize Zelda around the trainers and their dogs. This lasted about 10 minutes before she was able to settle and relax. We took the time to walk around the park for a moment and focus on leash dragging. This is to help educate Zelda and maintain heeling without any use of leash pressure. She did very well following me but was somewhat distant so I would stop myself and ask for her to heel and catch up to the side of me. Once she was next to me I would continue the walk and we could practice more!

Oso, the chocolate lab in the second picture above helped me bring Zelda's confidence up by going on a walk with us and staying next to Zelda. Zelda was hesitant to walk near Oso but with some time she gave it a try and had the confidence to maintain a heel next to Oso. We had all the dogs sit next to each other for some pictures and I had placed Zelda in the middle since she's the most insecure. She was willing to stay and even let us take pictures until she was given her break. She had no issue walking to me and I was able to praise her after.

We went to the local dog park to work on some more confidence building but at the time we went no one was on either side of the dog park. We are going to try again passing by when the dog park is packed with dogs to maintain Zelda's confidence when dogs are near her. This is Zelda's second time walking with another dog on a leash learning there's nothing to be afraid of when walking together.


Pupdate 6/24/2023

This morning I took Zelda to a park to work on her extended down and recall obedience command. When arriving at the park Zelda was overly excited as usual but asking her for her heel always gets her back into her obedience. We walked towards the dog park but again no one was there besides one dog who didn't get Zelda's attention. We went to an open grass field and worked on down and recall. When practicing her recall she's very aware at home on what to do but being outside and on the grass can make this practice very challenging. I work slowly and maintain Zelda following through around me until she ends up in her heel position. At the end of our practice she followed through without any issue and I gave her a break after to praise her for committing.

When practicing Zelda's down obedience command she has a habit of rolling over on the grass rather than the pavement. Zelda finds this very relaxing but when training she has to follow through instead of thinking it's time to play. She is redirected several times before following through for an extended amount of time. Once she let me fully walk around her I was able to mark and praise this behavior as well. We will continue to work on this and make it quality.

After our break we took our training session to the Anaheim pet & feed supply store in Anaheim. Before entering the store I had Zelda sit before entering which she did. I asked for a heel and she slowly walked in but it was very noticeable Zelda wanted to smell everything around in the store so maintaining her heel took some time before she was relaxed. When walking through the store I would take very few steps and ask Zelda for her sit to keep her engaged with me. This was working and I was able to drop Zelda's leash and walk her throughout the store. There were multiple dogs inside the store as well who would bark or stimulate when seeing Zelda. When Zelda made eye contact with a dog who whined or barked at her this started to make Zelda vocalize. Low level stims from the e-collar got her to stop and she would put her attention back on me which I was able to mark and praise. After 2 minutes she was able to remain calm and let dogs pass by even if they barked at her. This was an accomplishment today but we still have more days to work on this issue the next time a new random dog comes near Zelda.


Pupdate 6/25/2023

This morning I took Zelda and Hunter for a walk together which went well with no issues going around the neighborhood. We had multiple dogs bark at us as always and Zelda's attention was consistent with maintaining her heel. The dogs got to play after returning home for about 15 minutes before tiring out and taking a nap. Before letting the dogs nap I had both dogs practice their food manners. Before Zelda used to get overly excited trying to run around the room, barking, or play bowing before getting her bowl. Each time the bowl would touch the ground she would immediately get up and start eating. During these moments Zelda had to be redirected and learn she has to wait and be patient until given her break.

In the video above is our progress so far of Zelda waiting for her food. Most of the time we work up to 1 or 2 minutes of waiting before Zelda is released to eat. She does well but after a minute or so she often will break herself and get up or start to whine to be released earlier. I ignore these behaviors and if she gets up Zelda is redirected back into a sit or down. Once she listens I can continue grabbing things around the house and challenge Zelda with different variations of distractions. Once I'm done training I'll give Zelda her break even for her food.

We continued more house training throughout the day and Zelda has learned her boundaries to not step inside my parents kitchen. When waiting to play outside in the backyard I'll have Hunter and Zelda wait by the door that leads into the kitchen. Once I'm next to the door that leads into the backyard Zelda can sometimes step through seeing where I'm at but will walk back into my area of the house once I've noticed she messes up. After being redirected I can open the door and have them wait until they hear their break.


Pupdate 6/26/2023

This morning I took Zelda to a park to meet up with some friends from offleash with their dogs. Zelda has a lack of confidence around new dogs but once she's around them after a while she can settle and behave herself.

When we first arrived she was fine walking around until she saw other offleash trainers with their dogs. She had been throwing somewhat of a tantrum and not wanting to listen in a genuine way. She would constantly stare at the other dogs and whine. Once we started training around them Zelda was able to follow through with her obedience but needed assistance along the way. We first tried performing any obedience command but she had wanted to lay down or roll around at times. When she does this she is redirected and follows through with any command that I ask after. There are moments she's working at a normal pace but gets frustrated seeing the other dog in her presence. Zelda likes to roll over and stay on her back as well when not wanting to work. Even though this can look cute and friendly she is actually signaling to me she is over training. Redirecting her in these moments are important to keep her more engaged and on top of her obedience.

After some time Zelda was able to give me more of her attention and was making progress while working around some of the new dogs she saw today. We continued to focus on Zelda's recall which she was doing well with. In the video above Zelda is following through with recall going around my body and ending back in her heel position with sit. The more we practiced Zelda was able to improve, and perform without the use of leash pressure.

During the end of our visit Priscilla who is another trainer with offleash had a new dog named Chip with her. Chip was very energetic making Zelda feel uneasy and wanting to behave how she did in the beginning of our visit. We stayed by Chip as well working on some impulse control. Zelda did well letting Chip and Priscilla walk around her only getting up once. I redirect Zelda back into a sit to continue our practice. Once Priscilla walks away Zelda can be given her break and praised for being a good girl. We will continue to work on this each time we encounter a new dog around us.


Pupdate 6/27/2023

This morning Zelda and I took a trip to Huntington Beach, CA to train. Huntington Beach can have more people and distractions for Zelda so I wanted to see her reaction being around so many people. When we first arrived Zelda wasn't too excited and seemed very mellow walking towards the walkway along the beach. We were greeted by some girls who wanted to say hi to Zelda. I had Zelda in a sit before letting the girls greet Zelda. Zelda did well not getting overly excited but still got up from her sit instead of jumping.

When some dogs passed by us Zelda had the intention to start whining. Every time this happened I would distract her by walking around or continuing her obedience training. This wasn't always but its very noticeable once Zelda makes eye contact with a new dog. We trained each time this happened and after a while Zelda started to settle and let dogs pass by us with no issue. Zelda even let people on bikes pass by us from behind without issue. There were some dogs who barked at Zelda but verbally speaking to Zelda in these moments asking for her "off" obedience command can help keep her engaged with me.

We walked along the walkway of the beach with some of our friends from offleash and had no issue walking in our direction. I had the leash drag and Zelda had full confidence following me and even performing some obedience commands on the walkway. When we had to let people pass by us I could ask Zelda for her sit and she would follow through. Each time this happened I would still praise Zelda to help keep her confidence up.


Pupdate 6/28/2023

Early this morning the dogs had their usual walk and play time. After I wanted to focus on improving more of Zelda's house training, so we started off with door manners. This time around we only used the e-collar to focus on offleash obedience. Zelda has shown improvements in all areas of training so it's time to work offleash and continue to improve her skills.

When working in the backyard we used the side door leading out to the front of the house. Zelda can be asked to go into a down while I walk around and maintain her position. The next step is leaving her sight completely and giving Zelda complete trust. She shows full confidence in our practice while being able to continue walking past the gate in her heel. This is best to help educate Zelda in keeping a pace while walking instead of thinking of running out like most dogs do without training.

After our first practice we went inside to focus on Zelda's boundaries training. She has been able to learn with the help of Hunter, as they both have to sit before going through the kitchen door in my house to go into the backyard and play. Zelda is seen above in the video keeping her down position which she couldn't do before. Zelda had the urge to rush and run throughout the house if possible. One distraction still seems to be a problem which is loud noises. The moment Zelda hears a loud noise inside the house from something colliding or dropping she gets up and will go towards my room. Even if this happens Zelda is asked to follow through with her obedience training. This is to help build confidence with what she's timid of but even if she continues to get up we practiced until she gives me one moment of her confidence. This is when I can break Zelda and praise her with my love and attention.


Pupdate 6/29/2023

This morning I took Zelda to Santa Monica Pier for some exposure and to work on more of her obedience training. At the beginning of our visit Zelda was very calm and neutral walking towards the pier. This was around 10:00 AM and the pier didn't have too many people so it was very mellow for Zelda to train. Throughout the pier Zelda didn't have any issues performing each of the commands we had practiced. We had a family who came up to us greeting Zelda saying how well trained she was for a pup.

After training for 1 hour Zelda did well when it came to leash dragging and offleash obedience. We took a break and rested, getting water and allowing Zelda to cool down in some shade. The second time coming to the pier it had more traffic so Zelda started to become insecure with a massive amount of people around her. We continued to walk around and Zelda did maintain her heel and extended sit but each time I would ask Zelda for her recall it's as if she never practiced. Her reaction each time would be to walk in a completely different direction and look at the crowd around me. We kept practicing but this didn't work and had to put the Zelda's leash on and practice with leash assistance. I am going to continue to train her tomorrow at another beach to see if we can try to help with this confidence issue.

Later on in the day we continued our offleash obedience training at home with no issue .


Pupdate 6/30/2023

This morning Zelda and I took a trip back to Huntington Beach to work on offleash obedience training. We met up with a friend of ours who had their pup as well. In the beginning of our visit we first walked around to see how Zelda would react again having people pass by. She did very well with every type of distraction, even with dogs barking at us. Zelda would give very low whines when seeing a dog at times but verbally talking to her and keeping her engaged seems to help settle her. We also had one dog that came very close to Zelda, but she just remained calm and kept looking back at me for affirmation.

After some time had passed the walkways started to get more busy with traffic so we continued to work along the beach and see if we noticed any of Zelda's insecurities. As we did obedience training she was ok until I asked for a down obedience command. This is where Zelda wanted to give up and not want to follow through. We stayed in this spot and continued to keep trying until she was able to follow through. I was able to mark the behavior for accomplishing the task while people passed by us and we took a short break.

In the video above is our progress while being at the beach today after Zelda's had some trouble. I choose a different area this time to put her into a down. We walked up some stairs to get to our destination and I was surprised at how Zelda kept a pace with me going up these stairs instead of trying to lead. This can be confusing for some dogs who haven't walked up stairs but Zelda showed her capability to maintain a heel going up the stairs. Once we made it up I placed her into a down, even though I say down I won't say wait after. This is something I haven't taught her so just the down command is all she needs to hear until she's given her break. As I wait for about 2 minutes to break Zelda she doesn't move or has a willingness to cry. I break her and show her a lot of love and praise to help maintain her confidence she had today.

Once we were done training we took some time to stay under the shade and ate at a restaurant along the beach. I had Zelda placed into a down while we ate. At first she did not want to go down while on the side of me but if she was under my feet or near it she would follow through so I let her for the moment. Zelda and our pup friends were quiet even when two other dogs passed by us inside. We were provided extra water by the restaurant as well who got to greet the dogs but they were really tired from all the training and exposure today.


Pupdate 7/1/2023

This morning I took the dogs on their last walk together around the neighborhood and went to a gated park where I let the dogs play offleash for a small moment. We continued to walk around the neighborhood until we made it back to my house. I had Hunter go into his crate to work on Zelda's obedience training in the front of my house. We had no issues training in the front and worked on food manners after.

In the video above was our first try with no issues of Zelda breaking her position. She waited entirely for me to complete whatever I was doing at the moment. She is quietly patiently waiting for her break command while I walk through different areas of my home. Throughout the weeks staying she had her moments of being mischievous but has the will to wait without having an issue about it.

The dogs had a break and took a nap for some time and after they were well rested they were given more playtime. Zelda's play is very different from most dogs, even as a small/medium sized dog she can play rough with bigger dogs and it seems destructive and crazy but this play style between the two of them is very common. Hunter is very knowledgeable on how to redirect Zelda to not be too pushy which helps educate Zelda to better the relationship for both of them. Since we are at the end of our training she has already developed a bond with Hunter and has never had a lack of confidence being around him and training next to each other.

In the video above at the end is an interaction Zelda always had with my younger brother. Zelda has a way to show people she wants to be petted from them so she will place her paw on you alerting for pets. Zelda used to bark and be demanding when practicing with me but had to be educated on behaving in a proper manner for something so simple. Zelda has enjoyed spending time being around my brother, even doing some training with my supervision at home. The video ends with Zelda making her way closer to my brother trying to rest beside him.

Zelda has shown improvement in her confidence in most situations while performing her obedience training. She has been through most situations learning how to train and complete simple tasks to maintain a momentum of confidence while outside and socializing. Zelda has shown a lot of confidence built around strangers and people willing to greet her in a calm and relaxing manner. Zelda keeps herself engaged and wants to perform her obedience once she knows we go for our adventures outside. I'm happy to say Zelda has accomplished her goals for her two week board and train program!



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