When we first met the family and Sunny, the 4-month-old golden retriever, we talked about all of their issues and goals! They would like to be able to take her into the hospital as an emotional support animal for the daughter, who has had three major brain surgeries! But Sunny is very sneaky, loves to steal things, pull on the leash, and jumps all over everyone when she is overstimulated!
Their trainer, Nelson, started by working with the harness that they have been working with, and it sure was tough! But, they were able to get the parents to heel with her. When they went inside, they talked through and practicing corrections for naughty behaviors like jumping and counter surfing. After the first lesson, she was EXHAUSTED!!!
When Nelson arrived for lesson two, the family quickly sat down with Nelson to discuss how Sunny has been doing for the past week! She is still going after the cat food on the counter and stealing things when no one is looking, but walking with her is getting MUCH easier! They focused on walking during their time, and by the end of her session, he was able to get everyone to walk her, including the girls. When they all returned from the walk, they came up with a game plan for working the door, and she crushed it!
It has been about a month since we have trained with Sunny and her family! Sunny’s heel walk is a dream and even Mattie, their little girl who lives with a disability, is confident enough to walk her herself! They have made great strides as Sunny is no longer taking food from the counters, but cat food is a hard habit to break! Sunny has also been waking everyone up before dawn, so Nelson talked through how to push that back a little so that the mom can get some more sleep.
The third lesson turned into a mini Bootcamp! Sunny knows her commands with rewards but doesn’t comply without a lure, so Nelson took her for a long workout! He was able to teach her corrections for every obedience command, and she ended up doing very well! But, boy, she certainly can be very stubborn at times!
Today Sunny and her trainer, Nelson, worked on incorporating her family into her every-day training!! They worked on ensuring all family members were using the proper commands and that she would listen to everyone. It’s no surprise that Sunny likes to prioritize people over others, so Nelson had to make sure they got her caring about everyone. The recall command was tougher, especially when outside and around her favorite toy, so they practiced getting her past the distraction!!!
Sunny’s recall ability made a huge improvement from last week! Her family put in a lot of work and were able to crush that goal! However, food distractions were a completely different story, and today they focused on exactly that! Sunny has a thing for cat food, so they filled a bowl and put it on the floor. First, they worked on her leaving the bowl alone by working on boundaries with it. After that, it was time for mom to try! She used a carrot, as that is one of Sunny’s favorite treats, and she crushed it. But that was not enough for us. They also wanted her to be able to walk around the distractions. We worked on her recall while her food was present, and boy, it was a struggle at first! But, after a few failed attempts, she was coming to everyone and not dashing for the food. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
This week Sunny and her trainer, Nelson, had some big plans to head out on the town. Over here at Suburban K9, socializing is a huge part of our training process! Conditioning dogs to not become over-stimulated when around other dogs and people is HUGE! Unfortunately, Sunny is not too familiar with managing her excitement when over-stimulated, so they went to a local shopping center to work around all the hustle and bustle. By the end of her lesson, Sunny was able to hold down-stays and walk amongst people, as the respectful lady we all know she is.
This week’s lesson was also a bit of a field trip for both Nelson and the Family! They took Sunny out to the arboretum in Barrington, IL. They enjoyed looking at the stores and meeting new people! This was the opportunity to get the family involved in socializing and training. Everyone wanted to say hi to Sunny and it was PERFECT! She truly is turning into the perfect dog for the family!
This week Sunny went on another field trip, but this time her family got to stay home!! Sunny and Nelson attended a group training session with other Suburban K9 trainers and their “clients”! They had a great time working on her socialization and obedience with the other dogs around, serving as excellent distractions! This group training was a perfect test to ensure her listening skills held up in real life-like situations. Sunny had a ton of fun playing with the other dogs, and she sure did work hard!
Unfortunately, the daughter passed away due to complications of her disease. Suburban K9 was honored to have helped her and her puppy, Daisy, as much as we could. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lauren’s family during this difficult time!