Pal is a 6-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer from Pleasant Hill, California who attended our 3-week off leash camp. Pal belongs to a couple who have had pointers for 45 years. They got Pal at a year old from someone who was going to drop him off at a shelter and they have given him a wonderful loving home, but he did come with some baggage. Pal rushed guests barking as soon as they come through the door, bullied their smaller Cocker Spaniel and other small dogs at the dog park and he barked aggressively at the neighbor’s dog through the fence in the backyard.
Pal’s owners knew that some of his behavior were dangerous and want to get him under control before it escalated any further. He had some minor habits that they wanted to address such as running in circles around them whining when they were making his dinner. Their biggest goals were to stop him from running at people barking and barking at the back fence. They also walk him off leash quite a bit so that he can run and use a remote collar already for off leash recalls.
During camp Pal learned sit with built in stay, down with built in stay, recall, heeling, leash walking, place. Pal learned all his obedience for food rewards, which was followed by guidance with a slip lead and lastly remote collar work to create off leash reliability. Pal had a hard time sitting still so his program included a lot of long sit and down stays to practice. As an independent hunting breed, Pal would rather be finding birds than following instructions, but he did a wonderful job of changing his habits to please his handler. Pal was most enthusiastic about heeling and never stopped wagging his tail as he walked!
To stop Pal from rushing the door when guests came over, we did a lot of training to make the doorbell a cue for Pal to go to his bed. He earned rewards for staying on the bed and place was also reinforced with his remote collar. Since Pal has the potential to be dangerous it is especially important that this command is reliable. To stop Pal from rushing the back fence we did a lot of recalls from the backyard when the neighbors were not outside, then slowly increasing the distance and distraction level until Pal could be successful even when challenging distractions were present. To prevent Pal from bullying his small housemate we had his owners redirect his behavior to a more positive task whenever he started to think about bugging her. This could be a sit or sending him to his bed with a bone. To stop him from circling his owner while she made his food, we taught Pal that he had to remain in a down stay while his dinner was made in order to earn his food, he soon became more excited to down stay than he was to run circles.
Pal came to us with the potential to hurt a guest or get into a fight with another dog. By giving him an important job to do through obedience we redirected his behavior to focusing on more positive tasks. Pal did very well with his training and enjoyed the learning process. He was incredibly stressed and insecure with guests coming over and displayed his insecurity inappropriately. With proper guidance Pal learned that guests coming over did not have to be a stressful confrontation.
His off-leash work went very well, and he made huge strides in his patience and thoughtfulness.
Pal did extremely well acclimating back into his own house. He tried his old habits a couple times but was easily redirected to something more positive. His owner is now able to walk him without being pulled around, which could result in a nasty fall. He is doing well with his work with guests and he is enjoying off leash romps at the park daily.