Thursday, January 3, 2013

16 Weeks: Training - Day 8

Emma1 6 weeks old at her owner's home
right after her visit to the groomers.
After only a brief, "I can't believe you shut the door" in her crate last night, Emma slept soundly until 7:30 AM when Max woke us all up with his insistent demand that I get up and put him out.  Dressed in my pajamas, heavy jacket and slippers I stood in the middle of my yard as Max, Attitude and Dieter roamed the yard looking for their special spots (apparently all of Attitude's are on my ramp) and watched as Emma quickly urinated on lead and then finally after over 16 hours of being in my home decided she could once again defecate on lead. I let her off lead for the first time since her arrival and she rushed around for a moment and then urinated and defecated a second time.  Full baby!

When my oldest son was a toddler we adopted a German Shepherd puppy which we named Max.  She was my second German Shepherd and my second Max, and at 10 weeks we'd take her on walks with us and Patrick would end up carrying her for the last half of the walk.  We were using a rope horse lead for her leash at the time and once we returned from our walk, Wayne would take her lead and race up and down our lawn.

Our yard was not fenced at the time and as both toddler and puppy raced for the front edge of the yard I would call out to Wayne, "Yard!" which meant for him to turn and run back into the yard and away from the street.  Max the Second was trailing the length of the lead behind him and as he turned and started back she was not yet at the edge of the yard.  He would pass her and she'd reach the end of the yard and the end of her lead and would be pulled back toward him.  In short order if I called "Yard" Max the Second would abruptly change direction and return the way she came.

At the end of the toddler/puppy run I would call to Wayne "House" and he'd pull the puppy along with him and bring her into the house.  Was it any wonder years later I had several dogs who knew "Yard" meant they'd reached the distance I would allow them to run away from me and they'd turn to return to me and "House" meant to run into the house?

Attitude changed what "Yard" meant when she would refuse to go into the yard to go to the bathroom, but "House" has remained a cue in my home.  Early on Emma heard me say, "Okay kids, House" and the three adult dogs would all run to the front door and wait for me to let them in.  Max the Second's legacy lives on through a long line of dogs - she taught Shadow, who taught Gypsy, who taught Attitude, who taught both Dieter and Max the Third (my current Max).  Attitude, Dieter and Max have now taught it to Emma.

This morning as Attitude stood shivering at the front door ready to head in I called to the other three dogs, "Okay kids, House" and watched as Emma spun and raced up to the front door to wait for me to let her in.  It happened again when we were out alone when Max was off playing at the local school ground with Walter.  I called, "Emma, House" and she raced me to the front door.

Modeling, which is one dog teaching another dog a behavior, can have both positive and negative impact on a dog's learning process.  Emma has learned that all dogs must wait at the front door in a sit, even if the door is open, and wait for the magic release cue.  She's learned that when I say, "Okay kids, House" it means to rush to my front door.  She's learned when I say, "Let's go" as I am leaving the bedroom and am preparing to gate it off (so she doesn't learn cat boxes are tasty)  that she is to turn and leave the room ahead of me.  But she could, if I wasn't paying attention and working with her, learn to bark at any noise she hears, bark constantly at the front door when someone knocks and to bark incessantly outside.  I have been rewarding her quiet to encourage her to ignore that behavior and it's worked so far.

Today has been a full day for Emma.  My son Walter is visiting to help with the two-person recall and do some chores around the house.  Though I had planned a field trip, the day didn't happen the way I wanted and thus it didn't happen.  Still, the day was not a bust and Emma got some fantastic socialization in today.

Emma 16 weeks old freshly groomed
at her owner's home
What I am seeing is a puppy who has learned to think.  She's paying close attention to me and the adult dogs who know our routine and she's picking up on what is expected to get the rewards she wants.  Sitting at the front door and not rushing it will get her outside, even if her whole body jerks because she's fighting for self control.  Offering sits, downs and Zen gets food rewards and play time.  Quickly doing her business gives her free time to play in the yard.  I can see gears working in her little brain; she's evaluating the situation and offering what she knows to get the reward she wants.  I am seeing a thinking dog emerge and I am loving it.

Today's Lessons:


Emma passed Level 1: Step 2 Zen today!  I tested her cold this morning and she gave me that, "You can't fool me" look.  She was starving and easily could have lost her mind and mugged my hand, but the lesson of waiting to get what she wants has sunk in in regards to Hand Zen.  I worked on open hand Zen this morning and worked up to a count of 5 several times without issue.

During her lesson I placed Max on a mat and would toss him a treat for each click Emma got.  I had also placed at blanket on the floor at the side of my chair and would feed Attitude and Dieter each a bite of their breakfast after each click.  At first Emma watched with an open mouth as I handed each dog their breakfast morsel and then tried to mug my hand when I offered Attitude her much smellier and softer food.  Attitude has a heart condition and is eating tubed food with a smokey scent to it to encourage her to eat.  After I went still and kept Emma from stealing the food from my hand, she backed off and let Attitude have her breakfast food.

It became a routine she was comfortable with.  I would click, give her her kibble, toss one to Max, feed one to Dieter and feed a bite of Attitude's breakfast to her. No dog mugged my hand as I offered each their own food.  For a starving, 16 week old puppy this was an amazing level of self control.  She watched each morsel with self contained interest and knew she would get a piece for herself again.  It was a lesson learned quickly in a home in which three other dogs already practiced the behavior and she found none of them were nervous or worried they wouldn't get their fair share.

When I finished the first round of her Zen lesson I had her stay seated at my feet and worked Max on Level 3 Retrieve.  As Max got a "Yes" for each take of the object I offered him I would then give him a kibble and each dog watching their own food.  Emma again showed remarkable self control by not bumping, jumping or mugging Max and I while I worked with him.

On the next round I gave each dog who was waiting a kibble or bite of food on every other click.  Emma liked this game and was fully involved in the training.  Max, who was training Mat behavior, was fully involved and enjoyed the training also.

On Max's turn with L3 Retrieve I once again offered the waiting dogs a kibble or bite of food on every other "Yes".  Emma again showed remarkable self control and waited her turn.  She's learned that if she is patient she will get a reward.

On our last round it was every third click or Yes the food reward was given to the waiting dogs.  Emma also managed to contain herself during this.  This is a huge change from the dog Eight Training Days ago who couldn't contain herself in regards to her own food.

Her last Zen lesson was with the bowl itself.  It is the first stage of Food Dish Zen, which she will be up to doing by next week, and she once again gave me that, "You can't fool me" look.  Though her Zen is not generalized yet, she is understanding the basics and it won't be long before she will start to recognize Zen in other contexts.

I am not using the verbal cue yet, not until I have her all the way through Level 1, but her owners are introducing it and soon we'll have her recognizing what "Manners" means.

Tomorrow I'll test her on L1:S3 (Level 1: Step 3) Zen and see if she passes.  She is close to passing Level 1 Zen!


Once again I practiced Sit while standing and turning away from her.  She still needs to see my face to perform the action.  With the number of visitors today I was unable to do more than practice by turning and facing walls or furniture that prevented her from standing in front of me.  When my daughter was visiting I practiced Sit and Down while Rachael was in the room as a distraction.  Emma performed both without hesitation.

Emma is at the stage of learning Sit from different pictures.  The more she sees that Sit doesn't matter what direction she is facing, what room she is in, what position the person cuing her is in and what is happening around her the better she'll understand the cue.  At this point, Emma is practicing Sit until she understands it with the person facing any direction and in any position.

Emma is also using Sit in real life.  To get petted she needs to sit.  To go outside she needs to sit.  To get her leash on she needs to sit.  The last is very difficult for her.  She becomes so excited first thing in the morning or when she's just woken from a nap it is almost more impossible for her to stay in a sit for more than a micro-second.  At this point, I am taking my time to wait for her to calm herself and control herself before I clip the lead on.  It can take a long time to get her ready to go outside at this point, but the pay off in the end will be huge.


Emma is not offering Down as an option in her toolbox yet.  What this means is Down is not fully understood.  She's starting to understand it and is showing an understanding of rising from a Down to a Sit and a Sit to a Down.  She is also showing she understands a Down from a standing position, but I can see she has to think about the cue a lot still.  Once she no longer has to think about the hand cue she'll start to offer Down as an option for gaining a treat.  Until then I will refrain from using the verbal cue.

When Emma offers a Down it is without hesitation.  She has a sense of humor and will rear up and paw the air before doing a Down sometimes and when she figures out what the cue is when confused will do a whole body jerk and throw herself into it.  She's a funny dog with a happy disposition and enjoys her lessons.

I suspect by next week she'll be offering Downs to get rewards.


Emma enjoys Target.  She is ready for the verbal cue and I have attached it to touching my hand.  She has passed Target L1:S4 today.  I would put my hand down and say, "Touch" and after she slammed her nose into my hand repeat the command and get a second purposeful touch, at which point I would click and treat her.

We started working on Target L2 with a wooden spoon, a credit card, my e-cig case and a Pepsi bottle.  She willingly and purposefully touched each item.  I will start teaching her to close a cupboard door tomorrow.


Emma has really progressed these past two days with the Come Game.  I placed Max on his Mat with the Manners Minder and once again started at 8 feet apart from Walter.  I took one step at a time to a distance of 11 feet tonight before she grew tired.  She ran happily between us and quickly turned when we made kissy noises, whistles and called Puppy Puppy to her.  The moment I saw her spin and turn to come back to us I started using her name and would say, "Emma Come" and she would race to us.

Emma enjoys this game and tonight ran between us with all three dogs in the room.  She ignored the other dogs and they let her play the game without too much interference.  The Zen lessons they've all received during her stationary training has paid off for her moving training.

Both Max and Dieter parked on the Manners Minder, which delivered treats to them regularly while Emma ran between us.  Anytime she didn't turn to look at us when we called her name we went back to using kissy noises, whistles and calling Puppy to keep her response to her name sharp.

Emma is still working on Come L1:S2, but she's starting to truly understand the game and enjoy it. She lasts for only two or three minutes maximum.  Right now she's good with Walter and I, but will need to practice with more people and more locations to truly understand the lesson.

I will try to film Emma's progress tomorrow and show her working all sections of her training.


Today my daughter Rachael, who is visiting from Texas, came to see me.  Emma also met Walter, Wayne, Jeremy and Jennifer.  On each visit I put her leash on and stood on it until she stopped trying to jump on people.  Jeremy, one of Rachael's brothers, recently had knee surgery and couldn't handle Emma jumping on him, so it was very important she keep her feet on the floor.  All visitors respected the rule that she had to be on the floor to get attention.  Emma, once over her over excitement when first meeting the company, was able to be off lead and visit with her feet on the floor.

Emma enjoys meeting new people and truly enjoyed Jennifer.  She would sit against her leg and let Jennifer pet her as a reward.  Emma's self control when meeting new people is improving, but we still have a lot of maturing to do before she has full control of herself.


Emma is in the game.  She loves to play and works hard for her kibble.  She is lasting longer on each training session with increased focus.  Her ability to control herself is increasing, though when she gets the puppy rips she tends to jump on the adult dogs or people around her.  She is, by nature, a bold and confident dog and enjoys playtime.  One of her favorite games is to take toys away from Max or tug with Max.  Max, on the other hand, does not enjoy tug with other dogs and tends to find her stealing his toys annoying.

She is working out how to play with Max and tends to ignore his barking, butt bumping, nose nudging bouts of annoyance when she gets too wound up.  She has learned he doesn't like her in his face, but tends to get too excited to not jump in his face.  He has learned I will let him work on setting his own rules as long as he's not aggressive or pushy about it.  Today he had a huge bark and butt bump session with her when she got the rips in the house.  After several minutes he calmed and she settled between my feet.  I asked him if he was certain she got the message and he leaned into me.

Their relationship and friendship is starting, but it is a slow process.  It will be several more weeks before the two of them have sorted out everything and I watch them closely to ensure things don't get out of hand while they develop their relationship.  She likes Attitude, but sees her as another puppy a lot of the time.  Attitude gives her a clear "don't mess with me" message and Emma is learning to respect Attitude.  She tried today to just lick her ear and sniff her face, but Attitude doesn't want any of that yet and told her to go away.  It is the same way she acted with Max when he first moved in and was all energy and bold nose probes.

Dieter, whose had a back injury, has established she is not to jump on him.  She used to follow him around, but has recently started to ignore him.  When Max first moved in he would put his paws on Dieter and pull back on him; it took Dieter chewing him out and pulling some chest hair for Max to recognize he couldn't play with the tiny boy dog that way.  Today Dieter and Max play together, but it took several weeks before they worked it out in the beginning.

I expect by summer the whole group will have worked out the hows and whys of play together and be a functional group.  Right now, they are working out who is allowed what and when.  A normal and healthy group interaction and Emma is learning a lot about dog body language and what is okay to do with a dog that doesn't know her well.

I will setup play dates with age appropriate dogs for her next week and let her get her puppy rips and play out with them.  Meanwhile, I am watching a puppy learn how to interact with varying health and age related relationships with the other dogs and doing so with great confidence.

What she doesn't have is the same level of curiosity that Max does.  Max puts his head in everything.  When Rachael visited over the weekend while Emma was away, he put his head in her suit cases and coat.  Emma doesn't do this.  She will look at something from a distance, but not approach until she's certain it's not a monster.

When I introduced Max to the crate the first thing he did was poke his head into it.  Emma won't even look at it.  The soft crate is setup in the kitchen, but Emma won't even sniff or explore it.  Shaping her to the crate will take time and having her without a curious dog or cat involved.  Her lack of curiosity may be age, but it could be a personality trait and one I will have to work with differently than Max.  Where I was spending most of my time redirecting Max out of my fridge, cupboards, dryer and other locations, I may be directing her into them instead.

Today she found a band-aid on my finger and tried to gently remove it.  This is good and I will work with this level of curiosity to guide her into removing clothing and opening things.  She will go to things that drop and explore them and I did have to tell my daughter it was okay for her to do so.  She was not afraid of the Manners Minder when it beeped and checked it out.  She simply has a softer and different personality from my bold and curious German Shepherd.

Overall, Emma's progress is amazing and I am impressed by this tiny pup.  She's a sweet and gentle girl that makes my big lug look like a ruffian.  I am enjoying training her and look forward to our first five day week together.

One final note: I list training days by the number of days I have personally worked with Emma.  She receives training at her owner's home when she visits and they are doing a fantastic job of maintaining and progressing her learning.  Though I have worked with her for 8 days now, she's actually had 18 days of training total with the two four day weekends she's spent with them and two days prior to coming to me for her first day at my home.

I was supposed to get some reports on her weekend training, but have not received it yet.  I have setup a Facebook page for her called Raising Emma in which I have made Cheryl, her owner, a moderator of the page as well.  They can, if they wish, post updates, pictures and videos of Emma when they have her on that page.

Level 1

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