Thursday, December 20, 2012

14 Weeks: Training - Day 2

I remember the first dogs I ever crated to help house train them.  One was a German Shepherd puppy named Gypsy and the other was a Cocker Spaniel puppy named Scamp.  Both were purchased at the same time.  Gypsy was bought from a backyard breeder and was sickly and needed to go outside every 20 minutes to relieve herself.  Scamp was purchased from a local pet store that specialized in Puppy Mill puppies.

My housemates at the time were my partner, my ex-husband and our combined children; five of them.  The first night I placed the puppies in their respective crates after sending the kids off to bed, my ex-husband headed downstairs to his room and my partner went to bed.  I told them I would deal with the puppies.  Both puppies rattled their tiny tin cups against the bars of their jail cell protesting their innocence and screaming for a lawyer; I played Diablo on the computer next to their crates.

Gypsy quieted first, after almost 10 minutes of protest, and fell asleep until her body woke her with her need to go outside.  Scamp continue to protest and at one point both my partner and ex-husband came to see why I wasn't dealing with his screams.  I explained that he couldn't come out until he was calm and like any toddler whose been put to bed after an eventful day, he was protesting due to sheer exhaustion.  It took him 20 minutes to quiet and then he slept until 2 AM and simply whined twice to let me know he needed out.  I would open their crate, give them a soft rub of the jaw or muzzle and then quietly close the crate every 10 minutes; I simply didn't remove them from the crate until they'd calmed down.

For the next two months I sat up with both puppies and waited for their bodies to wake them and tell them they needed to relieve themselves.  I would quietly remove them from their crates, take them outside and let them urinate and/or defecate and then return them with gentle, calm praise back to their crates.  Both dogs not only grew up with no fear of their crates, but were the best house trained dogs I ever owned.

Yesterday was a busy and full day for Emma.  She was over tired and over excited when bedtime came.  She didn't potty on our last trip outside and wanted to play in that same frantic way a toddler does when they don't want to go to bed.  I went through the shutdown routine for the household and quietly put her into her kennel for the night.  With Max and Attitude stretched out on my bed, Dieter tucked away in his crate and the cat hiding (she still hasn't forgiven me for the foreign invader in her house) I finished up with brushing my teeth and taking my night pills to the sounds of tin cups raked against bars and emphatic protests of innocence.

I settled on the bed and turned on a Castle to watch while I waited for her to settle in.  I watched the time and would have gotten up and given her a bit of reassurance if she needed at the ten minute mark, but she didn't last that long.  The protests changed from Prison Riot loud to Teenage Pout in less than five minutes and Teenage Sulk by ten minutes.  I knew then, if I got up and gave her attention we'd reset, so I let her have her occasional Toddler Fit and waited a bit longer.  By the end of fifteen minutes she was sound asleep. Thankfully I didn't have other people in my house telling me to quiet the puppy; just three dogs who ignored her along with me and slept through the ruckus.

At midnight her body woke her and she whined at me.  I waited a bit to see if it wasn't a "I had a bad dream whine" but instead a "I have to pee" whine.  There is a difference, as I learned from my very smart Gypsy years ago.  Once she realized I would react to her movements in the crate she would fuss at me for a few minutes when she "had a bad dream" and expected freedom.  Once she realized I wouldn't fall for it she would stay quiet through those moments and would only alert me to when she needed out.  Emma is smart like Gypsy was.  Emma would quickly pick up a bit of fussing or whining or protesting could free her and her lovely crate behavior would end.

She fussed at me for several minutes, which told me this was a "I need to pee" whine and I quietly removed her from her crate, carried her outside and put her down.  Once she urinated I picked her up and carried her back into the house and put her back in her crate.  There was a brief whimper of protest, then she curled up and went back to sleep until 6:30 AM when my alarm went off.

Since she had such a busy day yesterday I have decided she needed a quiet day today.  I am working on Level 1 behaviors from Sue Ailsby's Training Levels: Steps to Success book.  In the morning I pick two of the behaviors to work on for a split lesson, two more for the mid day lessons and finally the last two for the evening lesson.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is starting to truly understand Zen now.  Since she didn't eat well yesterday, she woke today ravenous and ready to train.  She used half of her breakfast for Zen this morning.  Her nose bop behavior chain is developing, but she's still showing a bit of uncertainty with the whole lesson, so I am not correcting it until she understands the basics of the lesson.

She's very excitable and jumps up on people a lot.  During our training she would jump up and put her face in mine, or hug my arms or hang on me; my solution was to wait her out and click for her feet touching the floor.  Emma has not figured out why I am clicking when she jumps down, but she's starting to hang on me less and focus more on the lessons the more I do this.  This is a form of Zen; it's people Zen and she needs to learn that as well.


Emma is now throwing sits at me.  We practiced Sit while on leash while I was seated today.  She quickly got the concept and would throw the Sit after getting her kibble I tossed on the floor.  Since I could see her about to sit I started saying the word as her bottom was going down.  Emma is now practicing the cue Sit whenever we go outside, when she greets a person and any other time I can while not formally training. Emma has a good basic understanding of Sit.

Emma is also using Sit as a default behavior.  Whenever in doubt, Sit!  It's a wonderful thing to see and a clear sign it's something she has in her toolbox already.  I have started teaching a default Sit when greeting people to prevent her from jumping on them.


Emma is uncertain about the down hand cue.  I have lured her a couple of times and then tried the cue without a lure and switched back and forth until I could see she was thinking and working out the cue.  She started to throw herself to the ground once she started to get the cue.  I ended the lesson when she appeared tired.  Emma will need to continue to work on the hand cue at this time.

The evening down lesson was a disaster.  Emma was ready for a lesson, wanted the food, but was playful and distracted.  Attitude, Dieter and Max were all hungry and came in to sit with us and work on getting food also; this was too much of a distraction for poor Emma.  Then, to make life harder on the poor girl, Victoria came out of hiding and tried to join the clicker party!

I tried to send everyone away, get Emma's focus back and recover the lesson - but alas, all was lost.  She and I are not communicating well on the Down cue and I think I may have to take her into the office with the door shut and work with her without any distractions at all to accomplish this lesson.

Tomorrow we'll focus a bit more on Down and try different ways of convincing the other dogs to stay away while I train her.

Come Game

Emma enjoys the Come Game and is starting to offer turns to me before I make noises to catch her attention.  She understands treats will be between my feet and is getting better at chasing and finding treats I toss across the floor.  She enjoys the game, but has only played the one person version.  This weekend I will ask the family to re-teach her the Come Game from the beginning with two people in the house and build up her recall skills.

Emma still has no recall at this time, but she's starting to notice when I make noises at her and look at me when playing.

Name Game

Emma enjoys the name game and is starting to look at me when I say her name.  I have set aside 20 kibble which are used solely for saying her name and giving them to her.


Emma is a foot first dog!  She loves to use her feet.  She was bopping my hands with her feet, and then putting her paw there and holding it.  If it wasn't for the fact I was working on nose targeting I would have ended tonight with a perfect High Five.  Maybe tomorrow evening we'll just work on a trick to teach her and teach her a Shake and High Five in the evenings.  She does love to offer her feet!


Emma had four visitors today.  My neighbor and her daughter came by after breakfast to visit.  Emma enjoyed meeting them and they helped me teach her Four on the Floor rules.  They would not give her any attention until she was seated and had all four feet on the floor.  If she jumped up on them, they turned away from her and stopped paying attention to her.  Once she put her feet on the floor they turned back to her and praised her.  It is a lesson she needs with all people at this time, since she is a jumping expert.  Though cute at 14 weeks of age, it will not be at 6 months or later.

The second two visitors were strangers who came to give me a pamphlet.  I put her on lead while I spoke to them through an open door and had Max in a sit beside me.  She was curious, but calm while I spoke to them and didn't try to leave my side to greet them.

Emma - Level 1


Emma will need to work on Come Afters for all behaviors. I have enrolled Emma in a Puppy Kindergarten class which will start at the beginning of the second week of January.  I look forward to her first group class.

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