Thursday, January 10, 2013

17 Weeks: Training - Day 12

Emma at 17 Weeks enjoying play time.
Emma woke me at 7 AM throwing her "I want outta here" teenage fit again.  I ignored her while I took care of my needs and got my first cup of coffee.  I stood by the crate sipping it until she fully calmed and then waited a beat longer and finally opened her crate.  She laid in her crate waiting for release!  What a smart girl!

Later I was once again throne bound when Ms. Emma discovered a small, hard cat toy ball and picked it up.  Unfortunately, it is a toy I don't want her to play with since it is small enough to choke on.  Instead of calling her name or cuing Manners as she went to dash out of the bathroom, I said, "Hey?  What'chya got there?"  She quickly turned and brought the toy to me.  I took it from her mouth, proclaimed how cool it was and how much I liked it and then gave her the only reward I had on hand (other than affection) - a empty roll of toilet paper. She was thrilled with her new prize and took it to Max's bed and promptly chewed and shredded it.

Today I brought her food dish into my bathroom and worked on Level 1 Zen.  I worked all four steps of Level 1 Zen quickly with her and then started on Level 2 Zen.  As I was working Victoria poked her nose in and started to steal the treat Emma was trying very hard not to touch herself.  I put my finger on the treat and waited for Victoria to pull back and clicked and treated both her and Emma at the same time.  It took about five clicks before Victoria stopped trying to steal the covered treat.  Not sure who I was training Level 2: Step 1 Zen too this morning, but Emma did a very good job of not stealing a treat when Victoria was involved.

I did most of the morning training in the bedroom.  We worked on Level 1 Sit and Down on the bed while I laid on my belly.  She was beside me and offering both Sits and Downs on a new surface.  It was a wonderful start to a new day and I enjoyed it a lot.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 of Zen.  She is trying very hard with the new concept that she can see a treat on the floor and must leave it alone.  After first she mugged my fingers as I covered the treat on the floor and once she pulled her nose away and I clicked I would slide the treat to her.  It took only a couple of times of doing this for her to offer the same Zen behavior she showed when the treat was in my fist.

I then briefly removed my hand and covered it the moment she moved to snatch the treat up.  She gave me this, "HEY!  You mean I have too look and not eat?"  It wasn't long before I could set the treat down and not have to cover it and she would do a little dance with her feet as she lay close to the treat and then she'd look at me.  It was then our invader changed the game yet again.

Victoria moved in around us and tried to steal the treat.  I was in the bathroom on the closed throne with Max laying behind Emma, Emma laying against the tub and Attitude and Dieter sitting next to Max watching the training session when Ms. Victoria came in and tried to steal the kibble on the floor.

I had to put my finger on the kibble and wait for Victoria to pull her nose and paws away from it before clicking and then sliding one kibble to Victoria and one to Emma.  We did this for several kibble until Victoria was staying away from the kibble when it was covered.

I don't like feeding Victoria too many dog kibbles.  Though a few won't hurt her, too many will eventually lead to blindness.  There is not enough protein in dog food for a cat and a cat whose primary food intake is dog food will eventually go blind.  Victoria is on moist and dry cat food for her primary meals, but she occasionally sneaks a dog kibble during training.

Since she's so interested in joining our training I will have to bring out some of her kibble and let her have a 1 to 5 ratio of dog kibble to cat kibble.  This will keep her from filling up during the day on the wrong food and continue her health.

Victoria is doing well with the first lesson of Level 2 Zen and will continue to work it until she can see a treat set on the floor without moving toward it.  At this time, I am not using her verbal cue "Manners" with this lesson until she understands this is the same concept.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Zen.  I started by teaching her that my feet could move without her standing up.  When I moved my foot she jumped up and I realized I would need to split this concept a bit thinner.  I started by shifting my weight, then moving my shoulders and finally moving my foot.  The rate of re-enforcement was high and she was very engaged.

I managed to step half away around her before she stood to turn and face me.  For a dog it is a very difficult concept to understand that a human can walk around them and they can watch them without moving.  At first the moment the human is anyway from 1/4 to 1/2 way around them they jump up and turn to face the handler.  A young dog first learning sit still believes that sit means facing the person and thus stepping around her helps her understand she doesn't have to face me to remain seated.  It is also the first step to walking away from her.

It took us five minutes before I was able to stop with her facing directly away from me and I could step around her the rest of the way.  I then walked around her for the first time while she remained in a seated position.  She hasn't figured out how to turn her head to the other side to continue watching me as I cross behind her, but she is learning she can remain seated while I move directly beside her.

Later, while talking with my Mom on the phone, I worked on walking around her again.  This time it went faster, but she still tends to jump and spin to face me.  I am helping her understand she can turn her head and still watch me as I move behind her, but she has not put it all together yet.  She will.

I also worked on stepping back from her and tossing her treats.  I was able to get up to five feet away from her for a second before returning to her to toss a treat between her feet.  I did this several times and finished her dinner doing this.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Down.  This step asks that she remain in a down for ten seconds.  I am working on one second increments before clicking and rewarding her for staying in her down.

Where Level 2 Sit builds distance, Level 2 Down builds duration.  She is learning she can do a down and remain there for extended periods of time before she receives a reward.  Emma's frustration threshold is low, so she is quickly worked up to 5 seconds before she started throwing other known behaviors at me to get me to click.

I will continue to work in one second increments on increasing her duration in a down.  If she becomes frustrated and starts to throw behaviors I will simply slide back down the ladder and start at zero seconds and build back up to where she became frustrated one second at a time.

Emma needs continued work on Level 1 Down in different rooms, locations and positions while she works on her Level 2 Down.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Focus.  In this lesson Emma learns to look into the eyes of her handler.  It is the beginning of the Watch cue.  I started with her just glancing to my face at first.  I had treat in my hands by my belt and would wait for her nose to tip up or her to look at my face and click.  In short order I got the first brief contact with her eyes and clicked.

By the end of the first session she was experimenting with me.  She would tip just her nose up to me and get a click or flash her eyes up only and get a click.  She was starting to offer brief eye contact by the end of the lesson.

Emma will continue working on making eye contact until she's making purposeful efforts to look into my eyes for rewards.  Once she is doing that I will begin building duration on Focus.

Special Events

Walter, my son, has been coming every week Emma is here.  He helps by watching her if I need to leave the house for an errand or with training.  She has grown to accept Walter as part of the house hold and doesn't consider him a new person anymore.  Walter will no longer be listed as a "special event" in Emma's life.

We had no visitors or visiting dogs.  Emma did get outside play time alone, which she enjoyed.  She spent time playing with toys and raided her crate several times for toys when she was allowed in my bedroom.

Field Trips

Today Walter and I took Emma to a nearby Safeway Store in which I got permission to train her at.  My family has known the employees and store manager at this store for nearly 20 years and when I spoke with the manager about training Emma to public access at their store he said she was welcome because he knew I would not rush her into walking the store before she was ready.

Since Emma has no real leash manners I will not walk her through the store and out just yet.  What I did do was take her into the entrance between the two sliding doors.  Though I won't show Max's part in the exercise, I did use Max to model entering into the store.

She watched Max and I enter the double sliding doors and saw the second set of doors open and close while Max and I worked just at the edge of the electronic eye for that door.  When I took her lead she was ready for her adventure and entered the store without hesitation.  She did a sit, but her down was distracted as she kept looking to the other set of doors opening and closing.

People passed us as we worked and she glanced at them, but didn't try to engage them.  She saw a shopping cart pass her and was okay with it also.

After our second successful trip into the entrance of the store I took both her and Max in together and past the second set of doors.  We stopped just inside the store and though she was curious, she stayed focused on me and was clearly very excited and happy with the experience.

In this case, since we are doing early lessons on how to cross into different types of doors for buildings, I am not expecting top performance on her Level 1 behaviors.  I ask her to do Sits and Downs in a new location to help cement the idea that she can do them anywhere, but I don't expect her to be perfect.  The goal of these field trips is to enter a building, have a positive experience and then leave.

Several people passed us and thought the two dogs were cute.  Emma's pure enjoyment of training in public puts smiles on everyone around us.

After we finished in the store we passed through both doors without fear or anxiety on Emma's part and returned to the van.  For the first time Emma jumped into the van right after watching Max do it.

We had two problems during this field trip - both human error.  I was pre-occupied with getting Max unhooked and Walter didn't take up Emma's lead when we arrived.  This resulted in Emma bounding out of the car after about 20 to 40 seconds after I opened the slider.  Walter quickly caught her, but we do need to work on her ability to wait to be unloaded from a car with permission.

When handing the lead for Emma to Walter he dropped it and she bolted back into the store and stopped in the entry!  It was clear at that point she was enjoying her lesson!


With Emma teething she's a bit distracted.  She is also moving into a new stage of her life, one in which she sleeps less and plays more.  After our field trip she was so wound up she was bouncing off of the walls.  I tethered her to me and made her take a nap.

She's bold and enjoys field trips.  Though at first she would be frightened when riding in the car, she's learning that car rides lead to exciting new experiences and she's no longer fearful in the car.  She enjoys going into new locations and meeting new people.  When Deva and DJ came to visit she was happy to see them and no nearly as shy as she had been with her previous dog visitors.  Emma enjoys life and wants to explore; I encourage this.

She still tends to run away from me when she doesn't want to go to bed or has a prize she doesn't want to give up, but overall she's starting to accept that good things happen if she comes to me.

I have been working on teaching her the game of tug.  Tug is a fun game dogs enjoy with each other and humans.  Tug can be used as a re-enforcer when training and a way to exercise a dog during rainy or cold days.  She is starting to get the idea its fun, but still tends to flop and shark when playing.

I would like to train her to play fetch, but that is Max's big game and she shows no interest in chasing the ball when I throw it for him.  I like a dog who enjoys a good game of fetch because it is a quick and fun way to tire them out, but I am a bit leery of having two dogs who play fetch in the house at the same time.  I may have to find another game Emma can play that will allow her to play with humans and burn energy.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed  5 5 Completed  Completed 
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

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