Violet’s family has had her since a puppy. Her owner’s mother had a littermate, and they decided to get a pup from the litter as well. Violet is fairly easy going, but has had increased anxiety in the form of excessive barking since the family moved. She would also bark and lunge at other dogs while out on walks. Given her large size, the family chose to seek training to stop these behaviors and improve her overall obedience. Ideally, her family would like to be able to take her out on walks along the busy river trail by her house, have a reliable off leash recall, and have a dog that they can take anywhere with them.
Violet already knew “sit” and “down” command prior to camp, however, was very young and energetic resulting in unreliable performance of skills with limited duration. During her 3-week camp, her obedience was fortified with positive reinforcement and transitioned to e-collar. We worked on improving her consistency and duration in commands under distraction and stress. Skills learned and practiced while in camp were: formal heel on and off leash, informal “let’s go” off leash command, sit with built in stay, down with built in stay, place under high distraction, wait at doorway and for treats/toys, no (marker for undesirable behavior, and off leash recall under high distractions. These skills were taught and reinforced through repetition and reward while increasing duration and decreasing frequency of reward, as well as incremental increase of environmental distractions. E-collar was overlaid once clear expectations and understanding of skills were developed.
One of the behaviors that we addressed was barking in the house, however the family stated that as a guardian dog they appreciated that she barked, however they wanted to be able to stop the behavior when it got excessive. She was taught a “no” command to stop unwanted behavior. She was also taught a “place” command and the expectation of quiet behavior in her crate. Any of these training tools could be utilized to stop her barking in the home and redirect her to settle down in command.
Another behavior that we addressed was barking and lunging at other dogs while on walks. Violet is young, but a very large girl, so this behavior was quickly becoming problematic. We addressed this behavior by teaching consistent expectations while on leash, as well as improving her socialization and interactions/greetings with other dogs. Violet is very friendly with other dogs, however had an inappropriate way of greeting them. Trainers took her on walks and hikes out in the community on a regular basis while at camp in order to practice the behaviors and expose her to new situations to build confidence and reinforce training. While Violet was able to stop the barking and lunging behavior when out on walks on busy trails, it is noted that she can be very timid and skittish in new and busy environments. She has a startle response (swinging around to look) to louder noises and things coming up from behind her (port-a-potty, door closing, runners coming up from behind, etc). We noted this behavior to her owner’s and stated that this behavior will decrease over time as they take her out and she gets more positive exposure with the same clear expectations of manners and neutrality to the stimulus develops.
Great job Violet!