A Day in the Life: Olive’s Successful Training
My name is Olive! I am a 5-year-old German Shepard Mix. I love jerky, handfuls of hot dogs, and my new puppy sibling, Arthur! I wanted to tell everyone about my journey that started when I first came to Wagsworth Manor a year and a half ago. Back then, I was very nervous and skittish around new dogs and humans because I had a few bad experiences with other dogs before I was rescued by my loving forever family. I am so happy to tell you about how I became a confident, happy, and outgoing pup.
My Training Process
Before I first came to Wagsworth, my mom and best friend, Kelsey, shared that I looked very uncomfortable while passing by other dogs or people while we were on walks. On my first day at Wagsworth, I had a big private, grassy yard to play in all by myself. I had a hard time enjoying it though. When the team noticed I was uncomfortable, they asked Wagsworth’s trainer, Chris, to come over to check in with me during my playtime. He noticed I was very nervous, and I would try to get away when dogs in other yards would come up to greet me from the opposite side of the fence. I tucked in my tail and pinned my ears back. I tightened the corners of my mouth and avoided looking at the other dogs before I tried to move away from them. Chris saw how uncomfortable I was around other dogs, and he knew that he could help me.
A few days later, I began weekly private training sessions with him. His goal for my training was to build my confidence through baby steps and tiny gains. Some days, we would go for a nice walk on a loose leash and do a few rounds around all the different fun areas at Wagsworth. There were always lots of dogs and other people around. I got used to being casually near other dogs while feeling safe walking with Chris.
Other days, we would focus on learning lots of neat tricks. My favorite was “touch”. Chris first taught me to touch my nose to his palm when I was right in front of him. Then he started making it a little harder for me. He would tell me to “touch” even when I was across the room or an object was in between us. I was a super smart pup and figured it out super quickly! I always felt so proud and accomplished whenever Chris gave me a treat for doing the trick correctly. He started giving me an amazing treat called jerky. I think that jerky might be the best food in the world, and I always worked extra hard to get my tasty reward!
There was also lots of chill time in between walking around and learning tricks that Chris and I would use to play together in a huge grassy yard. We had so much fun every training session, and I was always so excited to see him each week. As I slowly got more comfortable being around other dogs from a distance and more confident in my amazing ability to do tricks, Chris began combining the two. Two months into our training, we focused on playing tricks with other dogs on the opposite side of the fence to help me get more comfortable with their presence. It made me feel better to be around other dogs when it was a fun game where I knew I could earn my delicious jerky reward.
Then we worked on parallel walking alongside several dogs that were playing together during Group Daycamp on the opposite side of the fence. Before I started my training, there was no way I would be comfortable walking so close to so many dogs. My training with Chris had slowly taught me that it wasn’t so bad being around other dogs, especially all the nice ones at Wagsworth.
For several months, Chris continued with baby steps and slow and steady reinforcement to help me feel confident and comfortable with being a more outgoing pup. He was very patient with me and always so encouraging! A year into my training, I was even able to do the trick “go say ‘hi” to new dogs in nearby fenced areas without being afraid. I had come a long way from when I would have rather run and hid from any dog on the other side of the fence instead of going to meet them.
My parents also recently adopted a new puppy brother for me named Arthur. Thanks to my training, I have had the confidence to feel safe and be welcoming to my new family member. I still come into Wagsworth to see Chris every other week. I am now learning all sorts of new tricks such as “sit-stay”, “recall’’, and the “running come” game. Arthur is also coming to Wagsworth soon for Chris’s S.T.A.R. Puppy Training Class. I hope he learns all of the cool tricks I did, but that he doesn’t like jerky, so there’s more for me.
If you have a dog similar to me who is very uncomfortable around people or other dogs, I highly recommend calling Wagsworth Manor! It feels so good to be able to live life without the fear that I had once had. I’m so happy knowing people and other dogs can be a positive interaction in my life thanks to all the time Chris and my mommy put into helping me!