Wednesday, January 9, 2013

17 Weeks: Training - Day 11

Emma's favorite toy at my house.
Today I tested Emma again and am happy to announce that Emma has passed Level 1 Zen, Sit and Down.  She still needs to work on Level 1 Come and Target, but she is very close to passing them also.  We'll continue to review Level 1 behaviors in as many new locations as possible to strengthen her understanding of them, but she has officially entered into Level 2 behaviors.

She is teething with a vengeance today and I decided to stop her lessons around noon and give her as many toys to chew on as I could.  She enjoys the soft toys, but needs something a bit more substantial while she brings in her adult teeth.  She has a toy from her owners that she enjoys chewing on and found some of Max's toys that have ropes on them, but spent most of the day with Max's Christmas gift, a penguin stuffy that has squeakers in it's feet.  For a majority of the day I heard squeaks and head shakes as she played with it.  On more than one occasion I was followed through the house with it hanging out of her mouth.

Emma's collection of toys.  Except for the tiny teal toy,
she pilfered the rest from Max's collection.
This evening before I left for class I noticed she has lost her first baby tooth.  One of her lower canines has fallen out and her gums are swollen.  This is a difficult time for a puppy.  They spend a large portion of their day chewing on anything that helps the teeth come in and eases the pain of the process.  Thankfully this process doesn't last long, though it may seem that way by the time she is through.

Tonight was her first puppy class.  I had arranged for Walter to watch Max while I was out, but realized this was not an advanced class, but a puppy class and thus Ms. Emma doesn't attend the first class.  Instead I had Walter watch her and took Max with me to the class.

Her class is small.  There are a total of four puppies in the class, all ranging from 3 months to 6 months of age.  A very sweet Chocolate Lab, which was invited to the first class as a demo puppy, a Springer Spaniel and a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  It will be a fun class.  I am hoping the small class will help Emma focus on the lessons in class, but still give her a nice introduction to other dogs.

Next week Emma will attend her first class.  It's a late night class and will leave me exhausted afterward.  As much as I enjoy getting Emma's blog updated each day, Tuesday's blog posts will be posted on Wednesday until the class is over.

Today's Lessons:


Emma has passed Level 1 Zen.  She will either lay just outside of my kitchen, right behind my feet in the kitchen or on the fall side of the kitchen and watch me.  She does not attempt to jump up on the counters and when something drops she doesn't try to take it.  She has seen Max, who lays close to me while I work in the kitchen, ignore dropped items and followed his lead.  Modeling once again played a big part in her learning this rule.

I will, as needed, teach her where the barrier for staying out of the kitchen is.  Max, Attitude and Dieter have all learned where to lay when I don't want them in the kitchen with me, but Emma has not been shown.  I plan on showing her once she's comfortable with my stepping away from her while she's in a sit or down.  Until then, I will be careful of where she is while I am cooking and reward her giving me space and not rushing for goodies on the floor.

I have begun Level 2 Zen with brief early morning reminders of the first steps of Level 1 Zen.  I have worked Zen in two of five rooms in my house, but am aware she's worked it at her owner's home also.  Her understanding of Zen is stronger because she gets lessons in locations other than my house and with different people than myself.

She is still mugging the treat on the floor at this point, so she is working Level 1: Step 1 of Zen.  Victoria, who has not had a lot of Zen training, is getting a crash course.  The moment the treat is on the floor and unattended she believes it's hers to eat.  I will have to work Victoria through both Level 1 Zen and Group Zen to ensure she doesn't stall Emma's learning.


Emma worked on coming to me for good things all day.  She needed to approach me for her lead to go on to go outside or to get a pet, treat or toy.  She tends to walk away and sit at a distance when she's uncertain of something or doesn't want to go somewhere.  To encourage her to come close enough for me to touch her and touch her collar I have been saying her name and offering her rewards for coming to me.  If she doesn't come to me when I say her name, I make kissy  noises or call puppy puppy to her and make myself exciting by offering "play" behavior.

Her willingness to come to me, even if she's uncertain I may put her in her crate or a room has improved.  Her rewards were primarily life rewards such as praise, affection, play or toys.  I will continue making coming to me a highly rewarding behavior and work on the Come Game when my son visits each week.


Level 1: Step 4 of Target asks for the dog to touch a persons hand twice for one treat.  Emma has passed that Step, but the Come After asks to reteach the dog all of the steps again with them targeting your foot.  I am working on Target Level 1: Steps 1-4 again with my foot.

I sat down with Emma and put my foot up for her to touch.  Since she's not fully figured out shaping yet, I clicked for any glance, movement toward or accidental brush of my foot.  The funny thing was Max recognized the lesson right away and walked across the room and planted his nose the top of my foot and glanced at me through the sides of his eyes.  I laughed, gave him a treat and then had him lay next too me while I worked with Emma.  Off and on through Level 1: Step 1 of Target to foot Max would reach up and touch my foot with his nose.

Emma started to understand fairly quickly.  Though she doesn't fully have the concept, she was making purposeful touches to the bottom of my foot.  We quickly and happily worked through 1/4 cup of food on foot target.

Level 1: Step 5 of Target asks to teach the dog to move around via targeting a person's hand.  In the end this will make teaching her loose lead walking easier, but right now she's still trying to figure out why she's needing to move so much to touch my hand.  I got her to move halfway around me with my hand in small increments, but can see her offering me all of her other known behaviors, which means she's thinking but not fully connected the dots with this lesson.

I will continue working on moving her with my hand via Target.


Emma has passed Level 1 Sit.  She understands to stop and sit at a door, with a hand cue on and off lead and with a verbal cue on and off lead, and to sit at an open door.  Though sitting at an open door is not default, she doesn't attempt to rush through an interior or exterior door and will sit on cue and remain seated even with the door open.

I started Level 2: Step 1 of Sit.  This step asks that the dog remain seated while you walk five feet away.  This is a step that has a hundred or more tiny splits in it and begins adding the first part of duration to the Sit behavior.  Today I worked on her sitting before me and my moving my body while she remained seated.

I started with trying to simply walk around her.  Slow, careful movements on my part were paid heavily for each time she stayed seated.  I was able to get about halfway around her before she broke her sit.  I kept placing her in a sit and starting again from where she stood up from.  In the end I was able to walk around her once.  We had a big party and ended out lesson there.

She is now learning she can continue to watch me without having to stand and turn to face me.  We worked through half of her breakfast to get around her, but she was clearly understanding each part of the lesson.  I will continue working on walking around her and then slowly start adding the beginning of distance to her sit.  It will happen one step at a time and with lots of rewards for success.


Emma has passed Level 1 Down.  She is able to do a down with me sitting and standing on a hand cue and verbal cue, she is able to do a down on and off leash and she is earning rewards with downs during the day.  She is now offering Down as a tool in her toolbox.

She has started Level 2: Step 1 of Down which calls for a 10 second duration.  This will be added slowly by counting each second and rewarding it.  If she pops up anytime during her duration I will drop back to the beginning and explain from 0 to whatever seconds she can last.  She is a quick learner and has a high threshold for waiting for a click, so I am hoping this first duration exercise will go well for her.

Lazy Leash

Emma began Level 2: Step 1 Lazy Leash today.  This lesson will teach her to move into pressure placed on her collar.  She will learn that if her collar is tight it is her job to loosen it by moving to the side the collar has tightened.  In order to start this lesson with as few distractions as possible I took her into my front bathroom.

She's uncertain about that room, since it's not one I have asked her to enter before, so I lifted her up and carried her in and then let he explore the room while I sat on the closed throne.  I gave her lots of praise and affect, since at first she was unable to take treats and praised and talked to Max who wandered in and out of the room with us.  In short order her tail was wagging and she was able to eat treats.

I am working only to one side for this lesson right now.  I am holding the lead, close to the clasp, in my left hand and applying a small amount of pressure.  I waited for any movement that moved the clasp and moved toward the clasp side and clicked it and rewarded her.  She was soon able to lean toward the clasp and release the pressure.  I will work different sides each lesson, but remain on a single side per session until she fully understands the rules of the game.


Over the weekend I asked Emma's owners to make her crate available and play crate games with her.  Hide treats in her crate and play games that encourage her to go into her crate.  I see they did as I asked and I have seen Emma enter and remove toys or items from her crate on her own several times already.

I am leaving her crate door open when I go into the bedroom where it is and do anything in there.  Normally this room is gated off to prevent cat box raiding, but when I am with her I am encouraging her to enter her crate by making it available.

She has been entering and stealing toys from her crate for two days now.  I am very happy with this behavior.  I praise her and ask her what she has and make a big fuss over her find.  She is enjoying the attention.

When I placed her into her crate for the night I got no protests and little resistance   She is not ready to "load up" in her crate just yet, but she's starting to see her crate as a good place to go. In the morning when she's ready to wake up she's learned to make a huge fuss.  It's the "let me outta my room" teenage bellow.  It is enough to wake the dead.

I ignore her while she's bellowing in her crate.  I get up and take care of my first needs (which include a cup of coffee) and wait for her to quiet.  Once she's quiet and calm in her crate I open it and block her exit, thus teaching her again that she can't just rush out of her crate without my permission.  I am giving her a count of two once she gives me a sit and then giving her a release cue.  I will slowly build up duration, but right now want a default wait for permission before I work on any more duration.

Emma will continue to work on crate manners and learn good things happen around her crate.

Special Events

Walter dropped by for a visit today and Emma quickly gained control and stopped jumping on him.  He did not give her affection until her feet were on the floor and she was seated.  I am going to work on her maintaining her seat on the floor when someone bends toward her; it's a bit too exciting right now and she looses her mind when this happens.

Since she is teething we spent a large portion of the day practicing known behaviors and letting her work on sore gums.  She enjoyed long periods of play time in the house, a good run outside and from wrestling with me.

She and Max are trying so hard to play together.  She enjoys him and lays close to him whenever she can and he's trying to figure out how to engage her in his type of games.  It's a process and they are working it out.  The whole "I want to play now" can be very noisy in the house and I only interfere when Max get a bit too riled up.

She's stopped trying to engage Dieter or Attitude in play and is now offering soft licks or sniffs of their faces when they permit.  For the most part she ignores them now.

She has learned that the kitten can be fun and tried chasing her a couple of times.  The problem is, the kitten only runs so far and then turns and beats up the dog after it.  Emma quickly learned sniffing, licking or nudging the kitten is okay, but chasing the kitten results in sharp feet.  She stopped chasing her after "catching" her only two times.

Max models relaxing while I work on the computer.
She's learning from Max to curl up in the office with me and relax when I am working on the computer. I schedule her nap times for mid-day and she's able to take them without complaint when I need to work in my office.  She enjoys curling up on my feet and sleeping or quietly chewing on a toy close by.

Unlike Max, she has an off switch and can calm quickly.  I work on teaching her how to enjoy play periods and sleep periods according to the activity level in the house.

She is curious about objects on the floor and picks them up and carries them around.  I have been examining what she has and if it is dog safe returning it after giving her much attention and appreciation for what prize she has.  If it is not dog safe or something I don't want her to chew on, I give her a proper chew toy or a treat and praise her for finding things for me.

She has taken hold of my slippers only once to chew on.  I was sitting next to her when she found them amongst the toys and quickly traded a high value treat for them.  She has since left them alone and only selects toys to chew on - since they are what I pay the most attention too at this time.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Complete 5 5 Complete  Complete 
Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 1 0 1 1 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 1 1 0 1 0
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 0 1 0 0 0


  1. Who is Victoria? I can't remember seeing her name before this post.

  2. Victoria is my 8 month old cat. She was adopted when someone in my neighborhood threw her into my yard at 8 weeks of age after they gave away all of her siblings and her mother. She was 8 weeks of age, 1.6 pounds in weight, had an eye infection and upper respiratory infection when she arrived. I spent two months socializing her and integrating her into my home with the dogs. Her story can be found at: