Thursday, December 27, 2012

15 Weeks: Training - Day 5

Max and Dieter meet Sam and Meli
after Emma played with them.

Photo by Cherie Ekholm
When I started training Max a friend of mine, Amy Twitchell, pitched in and helped with his training.  She listened to what I needed when I needed a second person for any part of the levels training and would do exactly what I needed and would enjoy herself doing it.  She helped Max learn someone could sleep in my bed with me and it was okay.  We were like sisters and would lay laughing and giggling over jokes in bed like two sisters would when growing up.  She was my best friend, my sister from another mother and my inspiration for almost 30 years and today I was informed by her son Wesley that she passed away in her sleep last night.

It was 8 AM and I was just starting our day after an hour of enjoying a good snuggle with Ms. Emma after a wonderful night and her waking me up at 7:00 AM.  I was about to get her breakfast and start her training when the call came and my world crashed around my ears.

Emma found herself in a home of grief and frantic phone calls.  My son Walter had spent the night and woke to my crying out from the bedroom that Amy had died.  He went into his own form of grief and shock and watched as the dogs began racing around trying to figure out what was happening and Max move close to me and lean in to me.  A moment later I called my son Wayne and lost all control as I told him.  Ten minutes later Wayne burst through the front door and wrapped me in his arms and let me cry on his shoulder for almost 20 minutes.

It was afterwards that Wayne guided me into training the dogs and talked to his sister.  Rachael had been called by Walter, by my request, and told her.  She too was devastated and needed as much support as I did.  Amy had been like a mother to my children all of their lives and their loss was as deep as mine. Wayne said I was doing better with the distraction of my dogs and later told me that the dogs were helping me to recover.

Max has all day been very close to me and very protective of me.  He's wanted more contact today than he normally does and has been a fantastic support.  I actually, as a result of the news I received today, been unable to focus on anything more complicated than Zen with Emma and thus she's had little training today beyond that.

I had planned the night before for a play date today for her and contacted the person who was bringing her dogs and said to please bring them.  Emma simply didn't know or understand that something tragic happened in our home and a play date would be a good distraction for me and give her something productive to do toward her service dog training today.

Cherie arrived with Meli and Sam, two Bichons, and lunch.  Sam, who has a history of being reactive and nervous with other dogs, was fine with Emma while she was on lead and thus we let her off lead with him in the yard.  He was very comfortable with her (he also has a history of being good with puppies, go figure) and after her first nervous reactions to meeting yet another new dog she gained confidence and raced around the yard with them, though she didn't directly play with them.

After her play time was over, I put her in the house and brought out Max and Dieter to see if Sam would be okay with them.  He was remarkably comfortable with them and thus we introduced them to Attitude.  After that we all went inside and Emma curled up by my feet while Meli tried to spark Attitude and Max tried to spark Cherie.

The visit went very well and we even got in some training with a lot of dogs around Emma.  She enjoyed her time and took a hard nap after everyone left.

The only other training I got in with Emma today was capturing Sits while I was standing.  She's offering them more often, but I haven't yet shown her the hand cue for Sit while I am standing.  What she doesn't know yet is it is the same hand cue as Sit when I am sitting.  How surprised she'll be when she realizes she already knows it.

Tomorrow Emma will spend most of the day with me and then go back to her owners for four days.  She will end her day with me by going to the vet office and get her final puppy shots.

Today's Training:


Emma has started to figure out she doesn't need to touch my hand first to get a click for Zen.  She still has spots where she mugs my hand and we move back to the beginning and quickly work up to the next stage as she proves she's regained her control.  We worked up to my holding a closed hand before her nose for a count of 5 and then randomly worked on waiting for the click up to a count of 5 several times.  After she showed her self control was improving I opened my hand and let her see the treat and clicked for her not trying to take it from my hand.  We got to a count of 2 with an exposed treat several times.

I worked Zen with both Max and Dieter while Emma was un-tethered and found her personal self control for waiting for the treat ended when I tried to give the precious treat to another dog.  She was mugging, licking, jumping on my hand each time I tried to give a treat to another dog.  I decided it was time to work on a version of group Zen.

I started with Max and Emma.  They were close enough their paws were touching and their noses were almost touching.  I held the treat out in a closed fist and Emma mugged my hand.  Max waited patiently for Emma to pull away thinking, "I know this game" and when I clicked I treated both dogs.  In short order Emma and Max were doing wonderful treat in Closed Fist Zen.

Mind you, the treat was her kibble for breakfast, but she was so hungry she would have eaten cardboard if I had given it to her.  After we finished with Max, Emma practiced the same lesson with Dieter.  We had to again go through the mugging, licking and jumping process, but it was shorter and she was giving wonderful Zen with Dieter as well.

After that I fed Attitude some of her breakfast by hand while I turned away from Emma.  We did this until Emma had finished half of her breakfast and I saw she was tiring.

Emma has progressed nicely on the Zen lesson, but we are doing a lot of Chutes and Ladders with Zen right now.  If she touches my hand when it's open we return to Closed Fist Zen.  If she licks my hand when it's closed we go back to Pull Away and get a Click Zen.  Each rinse and repeat on the Zen lesson has strengthened her Zen skills and her overall ability to control herself in her daily life has taken another leap forward.

She's able to wait while I open the door and get permission to go out most of the time.  She is able to allow another dog out or in without rushing the door most of the time.  She can wait patiently while I work another dog for short periods and her her overall ability to wait for something has improved.


I mostly captured Sits today.  I was talking with a friend on the phone and waited for Emma to sit and then toss a treat so she would have to get up and get it.  I finished the second half of her lunch this way.  I captured Sit off and on all day long while I was standing with her rewards being either her kibble or a bought of affection.

Emma is offering Sit as a default behavior at least 70% of the time now.

Four on the Floor

Emma loves people and when she looses her brain she jumps on people and mugs them.  Though cute at 15 weeks of age, it will shortly stop being cute when she's 50 pounds.  The standing rule here is no affection if she is jumping and to turn and walk away when she does.  Her jumping continues, but her self control is improving.  To get the attention she wants she'll stop herself and sit when she realizes she won't get any affection until all four feet are on the floor.

Emma got to practice a lot of Four on the Floor today.


Today Emma got to meet Walter, Wayne and Cherie as well as two dogs, Meli and Sam.  Emma did not jump on Wayne when he arrived; this is remarkable since we only practiced zero jumping on Wayne one other time and she seems to have remembered today.  She tended to jump on Walter some, but quickly stopped and sat when he gave her the stop hand sign.  She lost her mind for a bit with Cherie, but with the stop hand sign gained control and would sit and then run off.

She was worried about meeting another new dog today, but quickly recovered and then played while they were in the yard.  When she's in play mode she tends to do a running jump and bang into people's legs.  I will work on her not doing this as we continue our outside play.

With the extra activity today and the side by side training, Max and her are improving their relationship.  Max last week didn't want her touching him, but this week doesn't flinch if she brushes under his chin or poke his nose with hers.  Though he doesn't want a lot of contact with her, he's learned she's not going to burn his fur off and is beginning to start some play behavior with her.  It won't happen for a few more weeks, but soon he and Emma should be playing together according to mutually agreed upon rules.

She's accepted that Attitude doesn't want to play and is very gentle and careful with her.  Attitude has set the rules of appropriate interaction with her and Emma has read them and agreed to them.

She's stopped jumping on Dieter and is trying other types of play to engage him. Dieter is setting his rules of play, but hasn't decided he'll play with her yet.  She did see Dieter have way to much fun playing Butt Bump and Poke Your Ribs with my Nose with Meli and has since tried a bit of that play with Dieter.

Dieter, by the way, totally enjoyed Meli's play style and played for almost 30 minutes with him.  He was tail wagging and happily playing the entire time!  Nice to see.

Emma - Level 1


No comments:

Post a Comment