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I picked up Blue about a week ago for my Board and Train program. He is a 1 year old St Bernard and is a VERY big boy already. When I picked him up, his owner April, who is literally half his size, gave me an entire sheet of “issues”… 17 items to be exact. This dog is HUGE and he doesn’t realize it. I will train the owners how to have a large breed dog… HUGE breed dog! There are things I can’t change or train out of him… like his size and the fact that his tail is exactly like a huge broom, the fact that he takes up my entire car, his leaning in to get hugs and the fact that his crate is the size of my bed!! He is a great dog and is amazingly smart. He has come a long way in his 10 days with me. Some of the things his owners wanted were things like walking nicely on leash without pulling or jumping or biting it, not jumping on people, instant recall, getting in and out of the car nicely, and all around manners…. He is huge remember! Not everyone wants St Bernard kisses!
When I do a Board and Train, the first few days is pretty casual. Just getting the dogs used to each other. I have my own pack of 4 females so that can always be overwhelming for dogs at first. Then I address the recall. Come is the most important command, I believe. You must be able to create and stop motion. Being able to call your dog and stopping them somewhere in between, or having them come directly to you and stop at you AND stay with you is always the first thing I teach. That way you can build a trusting bond between you and the dog. You can then start off leash walking or hiking so your dog can run around and be a dog with you feeling 100% confident that you can instantly get him/her back. So I worked that with Blue for a few days and he picked it up quickly. I really find that if dogs see the potential fun they could be having if they listen and learn fast, they are driven to do so!
After the recall, the remaining commands are stopping motion usually. Most important is will your dog do them around distractions? Will your dog sit nicely while you are talking to someone? Will your dog stay in a certain position or in a certain area until told otherwise? That is what I taught Blue next. To sit and stay seated, to lie down and stay down and to “place” (boundary command) and stay there.
Blue is doing fantastic and we just went on a great hike with out a leash. He now has the total understanding of what I am asking of him. He can stop and go when asked, he walks next to me nicely without any tension in the leash and he is polite and gentle and realizing his size! It is such a joy for me to see the end result of my Boarding programs. I take Blue home on Wednesday and know the owners will be so excited to see him. He is a true joy and now can be trusted to be a great, well behaved dog. The key is that his owners continue all I have taught him… time will tell! I’ll miss him!
See pictures of Blue in my gallery