Wednesday, January 2, 2013

16 Weeks: Training - Day 7

Emma at 15 Weeks old
Emma returned today with her head up and her tail wagging.  She's adjusted well to being transferred from my home to her owner's home each week and her confidence has grown as a result.  She was excited to be back and ready to start once we settled in after her owner left.

She was groomed over the four day weekend.  The report was she did very well with the grooming and was okay with her nails being dremeled and her face being shaved a bit.  Her eyes are easy to see and her beard is shorter and more manageable.

Max is a bit jealous of the short fuzz ball that is taking up a lot of my time during the day.  Over the four day weekend I maintained the morning and evening training sessions with the first half of his meal, which helped tonight when I worked on L3 Retrieve with him.

The change in Emma's self control over the weekend is amazing.  Her owner's continued the work on her Levels training during the weekend and Emma has gained a level of self control I could only wish my previous pets had at her age.  I tested her on Zen Level 1: Step 1 and she passed! I was so pleased to see she finally understands the basics of Zen and can offer the simplest of self control.

I continued to work adding time until she consistently waited for a count of five before a click.  I then started again with her being able to see the treat in my hand and I loved the "You can't fool me!" look on her face.  She worked all the way through Level 1: Step 3 with me today.

I worked a bit on Level 2: Step 1 with Emma on Zen and found her understanding of Level 1 Zen helped her to quickly understand the treat covered on the floor was again a Zen lesson.  She worked up to seeing the treat uncovered on the floor for a count of 2 for ten treats before we ran out of steam.

She has not completed Level 1 Zen though.  She has worked on Steps 1-3 and Step 5, which is learning it from other hands in new locations.  Between her owner's working with her and my working with her, she's quickly figured out that Zen is Zen no matter who is asking for it.

Step 4, which is where Emma is now, is learning that food in her dish also can also mean Zen.  Tomorrow I'll test her out of Step 2 by testing it cold like I did Step 1 today, then work on Step 4 with her.  On Friday we'll test out of Step 3 and continue working on Step 4.  I will continue to review, quickly, the previous steps to help cement them in her mind, but I am now adding Zen to all aspects of her life.

I had to run to the vet today to pick up medication for Attitude.  I knew a round trip would take approximately 1 hour and so placed Emma in her crate and left her for the 1 hour trip.  Emma's self control and increased confidence meant she was growing ready for short periods of being left in her crate while I run an errand.  When I returned she was wagging her tail and quiet.  She was excited, but not frantic, but the moment I opened the crate door she shot out.  I expected this and captured her, put her back in the crate, leashed her, asked for a sit and once she waited for a few seconds with clear self control released her from the crate.  This is crate door Zen and she quickly caught on.  It doesn't mean she'll wait calmly next time I open it, but with time she'll wait for permission to exit if I am consistent.

She sits on verbal cue now 90% of the time and has learned to wait for permission to leave the door, though excitement can lead to her shooting out the door like a bullet.  When Walter came over she slipped past him as he was shutting the door and shot out.

She sits and waits for release at the front door 50% of the time now.  I don't expect perfection yet; she's only been working on this here and at her owner's for two weeks.  Sitting at the front door and waiting to be released to go out is vital to her safety.  At my home my yard is 100% fenced in, so running out my front door doesn't risk her life, but at her owner's home the front door opens on an un-fenced yard.  Without the ability to control herself and not rush the door she risks running out into traffic, not only at her owner's home, but anytime she is working and staying at a hotel or other lodging.

It is clear her owner's worked hard on Down as a hand cue and after a bit of experimenting on my part I found the magic movement of my hand that she understood and saw some beautiful downs.  She does down with me both sitting and standing and throws herself into it with great excitement.  Like her sit, her down is quick and happily offered.  She does not have a verbal cue attached yet.  I suspect a few more days of working on her throwing downs at me and I'll be able to start telling her what she is doing.

Her owner mentioned she doesn't recall well yet, which I had expected.  I worked tonight with a one-person Come Game and found she quickly turned back to me for the reward between my feet, so once I saw her turn and start to me I would say, "Emma Come" and click as she quickly returned.  Her speed is increasing and she's starting to show signs she understands the cue.  At one point she wanted to stop for a drink of water, but chose to come to me instead.  She got several rewards for coming to me when I called.

Her owner's also mentioned that they have been letting her out without putting her on lead to potty.  I had to explain why it is vital at this young age she earn her playtime in the yard.  As a working service dog she'll need to be able to both urinate and defecate on lead and on command so they can quickly get to their day when traveling.  If she, like Max, cannot defecate when on lead, then they'll be stuck trying to find safe locations to let her off lead so she can go and waiting until she's ready to go once released instead of going when cued.

I have been religious about making her go out on lead and doing her business once we had the great poo break through.  She earns her romp in the yard after a meal by doing both jobs.  If she only pees on each time outside when I know we are close to a defecation time, I don't release her until she does defecate on lead.  Once she quickly does both jobs when she needs to do both, then she'll be able to start going out off lead and cued to go to the bathroom.  Right now, she'd rather play than do all of her business at once; that won't work when she's a service dog and traveling.

Today's Lessons:


Emma has gained such self control since she's grown to understand the first steps of Zen.  When I offered her lunch kibble to her she quickly sat back and made eye contact with her chest thrust out.  I was very pleased and clicked.  We worked up slowly to a count of 5, which she was doing just fine with until Victoria, our cat, stuck her nose on my hand.  Emma lost control and had to try it too and I worked group Zen with Victoria and Emma together and worked back up to a count of 5.

Each time Emma lost control in the process of working Steps 1-3 was because Victoria tried to steal her kibble.  I have to admit, Victoria is a fantastic distraction, since I could see Emma quickly adjust and progress with her interference.

Later when I worked Max I was flat out amazed by Emma's self control between last week and this week.  Last week she couldn't help herself, the moment she saw me move to give a kibble to another dog she was mugging my hand; this week I wasn't mugged once.  She jumped up a couple of times and inspected what I was doing, but for the most part she sat close to my feet and watched Max train.  Part of this change is age; most of it is the continued and consistent training she is receiving between both households.

This evening, after filling her tummy with her own meal, she sat between all three of my dogs while their dishes were on the floor and ignored them.  It is a huge difference from the puppy that was eating every morsel she could stuff in her mouth last week.  Part of this was a full tummy.  Part of it was the Zen training she's received.  Part of it was age.  Part of it was modeling the adult dogs who practice food bowl Zen each meal.

For Emma, Zen is becoming a life lesson.  She's learning to wait to exit her crate, leave the front door, get a kibble, watch a dog get a kibble and more.  She's learning that waiting will get her what she wants and she's learning to communicate with us.

Her owner told me that she's fighting so hard to keep four on the floor when people come over.  I can see she's fighting hard for that self control and know it will come with time.  Tonight when Walter came in she fought again for control so she could greet him.  She is learning if she wants attention she must wait with four feet on the floor for it.  Again, Zen touches her life and she's learning the lesson.

In short order people will be commenting on how amazing she is for her age, all because she learned to be civilized through Zen.


Emma knows Sit when facing me and on verbal and hand cue.  She knows it on and off lead.  She knows it when I am sitting and standing.  She is now learning it when I am turned slightly away from her.  Tonight we practiced by my facing my recliner so she couldn't get in front of me.  I used the verbal cue and watched as she moved to see my face and then sit.  She worked the clock around me; first she was at 11, then 10 and so forth.  We ended with her at 6, which was directly behind me.  We had a big party because Emma offered Sit on cue when she couldn't see my face!

Emma will spend the rest of the week learning Sit when I am on my back, on my belly, on my bed,  in my tub and anywhere else I can change the picture and fully explain what Sit is.  Emma will also start to learn sit outside on the porch and slowly work her way to outside of the fenced yard and in the street over the next few weeks.


Emma understands Down when I am sitting and standing when I use the hand cue.  She only understands it when I am facing her and won't be introduced to a new picture until I can add the verbal cue.  Emma is not throwing downs as an option in her toolbox, so she hasn't learned it well enough to have the verbal cue attached.

Come Game

Emma has learned the one-person Come Game.  She looks between my feet for treats and chases treats up to 10 feet away from me.  She automatically turns to return while still chewing and has increased to a quick trot back to me.  She is not yet running to come to me and is still feeling her way around the game.  Tonight I have a partner to work the two-person Come Game.

Emma does not understand coming to a person when called yet.  I can use the cue "Emma Come" when working with her alone because she is offering an automatic return during the game, but will not use the cue until she is automatically running between both people to get the next treat. 

Tonight Emma had a break-through with the Come Game.  I placed myself about 8 feet from Walter after putting Dieter in the front bathroom, Max outside and allowed Attitude and Victoria to be in the room.  Emma started moving between us as we made kissy noises and whistles at her and calling puppy puppy to her.  She was bouncing and running between us and twisting herself almost in two wagging her tail as she did.  Then she turned away from me before Walter could catch her attention and ran back to him!

We ended the came calling "Emma Come" and she'd snap her head around and race to us.  Attitude got mad at her in the middle of this game and snapped at her, so I put her up in the office to finish the game.  Victoria was a great distraction.  Emma ran past her, over her and around her to get to us as Victoria tried to sneak a kibble from between our feet.  Victoria was at one point or another in the way and though Emma would poke her with her nose as she went by, she didn't stop coming to the next person who had a treat.

I slowly stepped back one step at a time until Emma was racing 10 feet between two of us when we called.  Emma has moved to a new level of the Come Game!  Congrats Emma!


Emma is a targeting monster!  What a wonderful, powerful, purposeful touch she does with her nose.  She touched my hand each time I offered it, so I tested her on the next steps.  Emma does Target both high and low and takes three steps to touch my hand!  What a smart girl!

I started on two touches for one click and though a bit confused (I am getting the "Hey!  I touched your hand!" look) she got the idea and offered it. We'll work a bit on that step until she touches my hand twice with confidence!

She also touched a wooden spoon with her nose tonight and touched Walter's hand when I pointed to it.  She's got the idea and should be working Level 2 of touch soon!


Walter came to visit today.  He has been helping with the two-person parts of Emma's Levels training and she's grown to enjoy his visits.  Emma gained control of herself and kept four on the floor only after Walter turn his back on her and started to walk away.  Once Walter was in the house and she was not hyper excited, Emma was able to keep her feet on the floor.

Walter ordered pizza today and Emma had a delivery person arrive at the door.  She sat and allowed Walter to exit the door to deal with him without rushing the door.


Emma's owners said they can see that Emma has started to communicate with them.  It is an amazing moment when you realize the puppy you are working with understands you.  She has learned so much in the past two weeks and her confidence has increased with each lesson.  Her head is up, her tail waving and she's curious about everything.  She sits with her chest thrust out and her body proud.

Her owners noted a bit of nervous behavior with young visitors.  She became frightened at first, but recovered.  I told them it was expected and as long as she has a good experience after a minor fright she would be okay.  She's in a fear period right now and looks to her humans to see if she should be worried.  If they don't give her reasons to worry, she'll come out of this fear period stronger and bolder than when she entered.

Since she has her puppy shots completed, she can now start her public access training.  I plan this week to take her to the Big R and work on entering sliding doors.  We will not enter the building this week, just work on going into the entry and do a basic command she knows well and exit with lots of treats.  The entire goal is to make the experience positive and empower her for future work in stores.

Since I am taking these slow steps with Emma, I will take the same steps again with Max so she can watch him and model herself after his calm reaction to new environments.  Going to the vet and the bank for the first time with Max helped her understand that she was safe and shouldn't be worried.  With Max as a model for sliding doors she should be able to handle them without too much worry.

I plan on our full week next week to make two field trips to two new stores to continue her public access work.

Level 1

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