Friday, December 28, 2012

15 Weeks: Training - Day 6

Emma and Max watch Victoria
as she sits just outside the office.
Emma has not had any formal crate training, so when bedtime arrives I pick her up and carry her to her crate and place her in it.  She has started to recognize our bedtime routine and starts to wind down as I lock doors, turn off the TV, shut down the lights and herd the dogs into the back bedroom.  She follows me around and watches my every move during this routine.  She's noted Attitude climbing the stairs to my bed and Max collapsing on his bed and Dieter standing before his crate, but she's not made the full connection that the fun day she's had is over.

Last night I opened Dieter's crate door and told him "Bedtime" and he hopped right in.  The moment she saw this she scurried out of the bedroom and went to sit before my recliner in the living room.  She doesn't want to be scooped up and crated and it's her only way of announcing the fact.  She does this a lot when something she doesn't enjoy happens.  She walks away and bounces just out of my arm length to avoid the unpleasant event happening; be it bedtime or grooming.

I don't call her to me, since I want her to happily and willingly run to me when I call her name or use the cue Come.  Instead, I deal with the toddler racing around the house yelling "no no no" as I try to capture her and wrangle her into bed for the night.

These first two weeks with Emma are short weeks due to holidays and I decided any formal crate work during the week would not be done.  She hasn't even learned shaping behaviors yet and until she gets the idea that what she does with her body makes me click, she won't get that she can interact with an object she's not interested in and get a food reward.

So, last night, after the house was shut down and the adult dogs had gone to their respective beds, I followed a tiny black ball of fluff through my house and finally captured her and carried her into bed.  I heard a huff of air as I locked the door and after several minutes of silence she gave me three sharp barks to protest the imprisonment of Emma.

She woke today at 7:30 AM.  I was not surprised by the late wake up call.  I had kept her up until almost 11 PM and had fed her whole 1/2 cup meal of food 15 minutes prior to bed to encourage a late start today.  Why?  I was exhausted from crying and grief and had a grief headache and wanted nothing more than a wake up call when the sun was shining and I had slept soundly for a few uninterrupted hours.

This morning she learned that she needed to wait for me to okay her exit from the crate.  That simple stop at the crate entrance made a huge difference at the door.  When I took an over the top, bouncing and clawing excited puppy and a running and wooing German Shepherd to my front door with a dancing and spinning Standard Dachshund in the mix the entire crew promptly sat at the front door and waited for me to open it and give them permission to exit.

She jerks when the door first opens, but now stops herself and looks up to me for the okay.  She can hold herself in place for a total of a count of one before all hell breaks loose and she tries to rush the door, but it's better than the running over the back of the German Shepherd and launching off the head of the Dachshund dash she used to take.

After that I had my morning coffee in the bed with the dogs curled around me and Emma discovered for the first time bed covers growl.  Dieter loves the morning routine of go out and potty and return for a curl and cuddle in Mom's covers on the bed.  Max enjoys a good ole fashion stretch out between the 9 pound grumpy lump by my pillows and the 15 pound lump coiled by my feet.  He learned the very first night in our house that those lumps growl and snarl and even explode into Dachshunds if you jump on them and he's very careful to spot and avoid them when he joins us on the bed.  Emma has not figured out the Dachshunds are under the covers.

She stepped on Dieter and put her full weight on him with her front feet and he growled under the covers.  She promptly stepped back in surprise and then sniffed the lump and started to paw and pounce on it.  Max to the rescue this morning.  He barked at her and told her to knock it off and she left Dieter alone after that.  A moment later she stepped on Attitude's lump and jumped back as it growled and then came and flopped against me.  Today, Emma discovered living creatures are under blankets and they don't like being walked on.

When I went to shower I crated her.  She's not old enough to be left unattended with three dogs and a cat and a house of stuff she shouldn't be in.  She protested briefly, but settled for the shower and waited quietly for me to let her out when I was getting dressed.  Her ability to wait for a reward, in this case freedom, has greatly increased.

She's a funny dog who loves to flop and paw with her paddle feet and I discovered it's time to trim those tiny nails.  She left marks on my arm playing with me and dug into my back a couple of times when I had it turned to her.  I yelped when she did this and her jumping on my back decreased, but we have a lot of work left with those feet flying and tackling humans when she is excited.

Today's Lessons:


Zen is a vital lesson to everything Emma needs to know and the most important first lesson for Emma to understand.  Zen is, as Sue Ailsby says, the foundation of civilization.  Without it she can't learn to sit for an extended period of time or do a down/stay.  She can't learn to leave food or people or anything if she can't contain herself.

Puppies are busy.  They mouth things, put their noses and paws in everything and can find trouble as quickly as a toddler can.  I agree with Sue Ailsby that if I am doing most of the work to contain and redirect the puppy she is not learning self control.  Zen teaches self control in tiny little understandable bites.

What amazes me about Zen is how it bleeds into everyday life after a tiny bite is learned.  Though dogs don't generalize well, Zen seems to be one of those few and rare cues and life lessons a dog can quickly and easily generalize.  Zen is the beginning of Leave It and the foundation of the entire Levels training program.  Emma is well on her way to applying Zen to her life.

I spoke with Emma's owner about Zen and where Zen was leading and said the cue Leave It could be used or a cue they felt more comfortable with.  The words applied to any cue don't matter.  Dana and Carol Brynes who own Diamonds in the Ruff taught their dogs Apples and Oranges for doing a spin left and a spin right.  The cue word is not the important part, but the understanding of what is being taught is.

Emma has not had the new cue "Manners" attached to her Zen behavior with the treats because she is still running up and down Chutes and Ladders with the beginning steps.  She's been introduced to the first three steps, but keeps loosing her self control and touching my hand and dropping back to the very beginning.  We may be stuck on this part of Zen for another week or more before I finally, reliably, am receiving a nose that is pulled away from my hand and can wait for a count of five before the click.  It is then, when I have 90% proficiency that I will tell her what she's been doing is called Manners.

It wasn't until I was seeing her offering over and over and over again a sit before I told her what she was doing was a Sit, and thus the same goes with Manners.  Once she has this tiny bite of leaving a treat alone in my hand, seen and unseen and knows both mean the same thing, Manners, will we move to covered and then uncovered on the floor.  Until she has that with her own kibble she will not be shown with toys, plates of food, her food dish and more.  Right now, she's figured out it has something to do with waiting for a very long second before I click and give her that kibble, but she doesn't know it in her bones yet.

But she is applying it more and more.  Wait while I make a sandwich and maybe I'll give her something.  Wait while I open the door and maybe she'll get to go out.  Wait while I change my clothes, speak to a person or feed another dog and maybe she'll get what she wants.

Emma is making that first connection in he brain that we have a contract and what the rules are within it.  She's figuring out if she gives me what I ask, she will get what she wants.  I am seeing the foundation of a life long communication start between her and I.  What a gift Zen is.

For this weekend I want her owners to work on Zen Steps 1-3 until she is proficient in them.  I want her to not touch their hand before they count to click.  If she reaches out with her nose, curl their hand away so she can't and then offer it again and if she stays away click and give her her kibble by dropping it on the floor between her feet.  Do this on a hardwood floor and a carpet.  Do it in the living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom until she can do it in all the rooms.  Do it in silence until she is 90% of the time not trying to touch their hand.  They'll know when she has it.  She gets this little dance and seems to puff her chest when she figures out what she can do to get that kibble away from you.

Once she is doing that, then build up time in one second increments.  If she touches your hand at the 1 second mark then back up and drop it for just not touching your hand the next time. If she makes it to 1 second, then go to two seconds and if she touches your hand, drop back to the start and build up again.  Keep running up and down the ladders rungs until she can do 5 seconds 90% of the time.  It is then she can learn what she is doing is called Manners!

But when they change the picture I want them to stop telling her.  When they go to opening their hand they are back at the beginning and not telling her what it is until she can wait, looking at the treat for five seconds.  It is then she can again hear that what she is doing is called Manners.  After all, it's all Zen!

Make sure everyone plays Zen with her for brief 10 to 15 kibble lessons and then give her a few minutes play break and work again on the lesson for 10 to 15 kibbles.  If she stops eating her kibble for training, don't go to something better, but stop training and give her a break and return after she's had time to get hungry again.  She'll work for her whole meal if you work in short, brief increments.


Emma is a Sit Master.  It's her default behavior.  If all else fails, SIT!  I have not paired the verbal cue with the action very much, but spent the past two days capturing sits and waiting until I can see her about to sit when she realizes that is what we are clicking for and then telling her what she is doing is called Sit.  She worked for half her breakfast that way and truly enjoyed it.  Her sit is clean and fast and she's happy to offer it.  It was about a 1/3 of the way into the Sit lesson before I started pairing the verbal with the action.  She isn't looking up to me to see the hand cue yet, but I have asked her owner to work on teaching her the hand cue over the next four days.

Emma does not have the Come Afters with Sit yet.  She hasn't been asked to Sit when I am on the floor sitting or laying down.  She doesn't understand Sit from beside or behind me yet.  She hasn't had to practice it while I was standing or sitting in my tub or on my bed.  She is in the beginning stages of the lesson, but she is doing well and will soon learn Sit does not mean you have to in front of the person to perform it.


I tried to capture Down today, but Emma was stuck in Sit, so I decided to shape it instead.  It is her first real shaping lesson with me and she was starting to experiement with me to see if I really was clicking for her movements.  I didn't have the goal of a down in mind so much as a "you mean I can move and make you click" lesson instead.  I clicked for sitting, turning her head, lifting her paw, lowering her jaw, looking at the ground, sniffing the cat and anything else she did.  After a moment she went very still and did a little jerk of her body and I clicked.  Her head snapped around and she about jumped on the kibble.  A second later she threw herself to the ground and we ended the session with several treats and a bit of play.


My friend Redd called me today and I told her about Amy.  I lost it on the phone and Redd said she would be right down.  Redd lives three houses down and so I put up Dieter in the front bathroom and tethered Emma and put Max in a sit by the front door.  After Redd got in and held me until I stopped crying I let Emma off the tether.

She lost her mind. She's met Redd before and really likes her, but she couldn't keep her feet on the floor.  Redd, bless her, insisted Emma get control of herself before she got any attention.  It lasted a whole two seconds, but it was worth every second of attention she got for it.

After that she went into puppy play mode and was playing with a toy Max had gotten for Christmas.  Max tried taking it from her, she from him and soon the two were playing take the toy.  Emma liked that game and at one point tried taking it out of Max's mouth.  This is Max's least favorite game and when he gave her the stink eye she dropped the toy.

A few minutes later she had it again and this time Max tried to take it from her.  She held on with her mouth and feet and laid on her side while he tugged her across the floor.  I could see him suddenly realize this was a bit fun and maybe the baby dog wasn't so bad.  A moment later he did his first head/nose bang on her shoulder - his way of starting play and she bound around the house in pure joy.

He's starting to play with her and she's figuring out how to play with him.  How wonderful to see.

Vet Visit

This is Emma's second time at her new vet and she was amazing.  Our first visit hardly anyone was there and Emma spent only a short time in a quiet lobby being fed lots of treats as she met Max for the first time.  She was worried and nervous on that visit.  On that visit the vet in the exam room gave her lots of treats and lots of pets and nothing painful or scary happened.

Today the lobby was a mad house.  One dog was in such pain it would scream and yowl off and on.  One was a 4 month old Coon Hound (very handsome boy) whom we sat next too and she nose touched with.  One was a very frightened Golden who had his back to the world and was cowering against his owner.  One was a braying Beagle who was far to exited about breathing.  Max settled at my feet and put his head down and Emma curled up in my arms and completely relaxed as she accepted affection from the lady with the yowling dog.

Her owner arrived and when I said, "Mom's here" her head snapped around and she got all wiggly in my arms.  She went to her Mom and relaxed, sniffing Max off and on and ignoring the chaos around her.  Her body was relaxed, her head up, and her confidence showing.

After the family with the Golden left before being examined a woman with a grumbly Boxer came in.  Emma was a bit worried at first, but after a glance at Max and seeing that her Mom and I were not worried, she settled on a chair between us and almost fell asleep before her exam.

The exam itself went fabulous.  She was relaxed and interested in the vet and the procedure   Since she had marked me up pretty good playing on the bed this morning I suggested we remove the tips of her claws so she wouldn't hurt her boy this weekend.  The vet pulled out liver cake and had her Mom feed it to her while she clipped her nails.  Emma barely noticed her nails were being clipped and munched on liver cake the whole time.  After her nails were done another liver cake was produced and she got her shots without a single negative reaction.

As we chatted she laid quietly on the table and watched us with total interest.  She hadn't minded the solution shot up her nose for one of her vaccines and didn't fight to hard on the de-wormer she was fed.  The vet said she could get off the table and we set her down.  At one point I looked down and she was laying quietly with her head down behind her Mom in a perfect mimic of Max laying with his head down behind me.

When we exited the exam room the place was packed with braying and barking dogs who were attempting to strike up a chorus.  Emma remained alert, interested and relaxed during the bark off.  She ignored the vet cat who jumped up a few inches from her and didn't mind the transfer from her Mom's arms to mine as the bill was paid.

Max, on the other hand, tucked under me and started to show stress signs.  Our last visit with Attitude had resulted in a Rottweiler attacking him in the lobby and the bark off was more than he could handle.  He had been fine earlier, but this chaos was more than his system was ready for.  I had the vet tech quickly pull out the liver cake and we stuffed his face for a few seconds and he relaxed.

Emma has strong positive associations with the vet office and enjoys her vet visits with little to no stress.  I am very happy to see that.  Since we mentioned to the vet she is a service dog in training for a child a de-worming schedule is set for her.  It was also mentioned that the family likes to travel and she's been placed on flea/tick/heartworm prevention.  Washington and Idaho do not have heartworm, but Oregon and other states do.  Since they travel, a pre-emptive strike now as a young dog is best for Emma and the vet thanked us for informing her of their travel habits and Emma's job.

Emma is off to a great start and I am truly amazed by her.  Max, a high strung dog by nature, would not handle some of the ups and downs Emma does as well as she does at her age.  On the other hand, Max has learned to handle stress by relying on my protecting him.  Their shared training is helping both dogs and Max is learning to chill with Emma while Emma is learning confidence from Max.  What a great relationship these two are sharing.


Emma is a confident puppy who quickly recovers from situations that make her unsure.  She has learned to trust me and enjoys her time at my home as much as she does at her owner's home.  Tethering her to me for a few days and having her follow me around has increased our bond and her ability to follow my lead.  It is clear she loves to learn and to play and though we don't always get a lot of new training in, she is learning constantly.

I use an electronic cigarette and have dropped it several times around her.  She has seen me ask Max to retrieve it for me and hand it to me.  Today I dropped it twice and she went to it, picked it up and carried it to me and put it at my feet.  Though she's not formally trained to retrieve, she is learning how to retrieve and bring things to me by watching Max.

She learned the cue "House", which means to go into the house, by following Attitude, Dieter and Max when I cued them.  She has learned to sit at the door and wait for release by mirroring them.  She's learning not all dogs play the same and is starting to ask "how do you play?" when she approaches a new dog.  She's learning basic dog manners from my three and as long as they are appropriate, I let them tell her when she's gone to far.

Max tends to get a little wound up when trying to start play, since he's not sure if he really wants to play  or just keep her from me, so when he gets too far on his GSD speak with her, I separate them by calling him over and giving him a bit of affection and then her a bit of affection.

She's becoming an operant dog.  She's learning through positive methods that she can communicate with me and I with her.  It's an amazing process to watch happen and I am enjoying it very much.  What amazing creatures dogs are.

Next week Emma and I will start our field trips and testing out of steps within the Levels book.

Emma - Level 1


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