Thursday, January 10, 2013

17 Weeks: Training - Day 13

Emma, 17 weeks, explores her first puzzle toy.
Emma has discovered she can control humans.  It happens in every puppy's life, that moment they realize if they steal the remote or shoe that the humans will suddenly notice her.  In Emma's case when that happens (no remotes or shoes here, just cat toys) she gets a great reward for her find.  Nope, this realization in Emma's life has nothing to do with stealing prizes around my house or barking at the cat.  It has nothing to do with pouncing on the Dachshunds or riling up the German Shepherd.  It has everything to do with the morning Prison Riot coming from the crate at the foot of my bed.

All week long Emma has woke me at 7 AM with a riot of noise from her crate.  It is guaranteed to make me sit up and respond in a grumpy voice.  It is a promise of escape from the crate and a rush to the front door to use the outhouse.  What she has discovered this week is that the longer she runs the riot in the crate the longer it takes me to release her.  The first day I was able to warm a cup of coffee and sip some of it before she quieted.  The second day was half that time.  She split the time again yesterday and this morning she did the riot and promptly quieted as I got up to release her.

She's not rushing the front of the crate when the door pops open and I have added a whole two seconds to her wait time in the crate before I release her.  Then the race is on.  Max is trotting and yammering at me all the way to the front door.  Dieter, who'd been released prior to Emma, is skittering in a dance in the living room and Emma is bouncing like a Gazelle through my home.  The front door is a mix of legs and heads as the dogs mill around the door waiting for release and once Emma is on lead and all are settled on their bottoms we start our day.

I have been going full force this week and not getting to bed and asleep until late most nights.  It took its toll and this morning I woke with a raging migraine and zero energy.  I had feared this would happen, since last night I didn't have the energy to work on Emma's blog or post notes on her Facebook page.  Every so often I overdue it and use too many spoons and then need a full day of rest to recover.  Today is that day.

The problem is, when one has five animals in the house there is no true rest.  While the dogs were out, including Emma whom I didn't have the energy to walk outside this morning, I fed the cat her morning moist food.  She's convinced she must eat and eat now the moment I may be awake and will yowl at me until I have done so.

With the dogs in, I pulled Emma into the bed with me and curled around her and fell back asleep.  She was fine with that until her belly started speaking to her.  I on the other hand realized I wasn't up to even getting dressed yet.  What to do?

I fed the big boys and Attitude.  I didn't even care if Attitude left the bed for her breakfast, just that she ate.  Dieter, who has recently decided that eating his meal can wait until Attitude has finished hers in the event he might get some, lost out this morning.  He walked away from his bowl and I picked it up and put it up.  I am not playing the "waiting for something better" game with him.

With Max fed, Attitude medicated and Emma's food ready for delivery I brought her back into the bed and worked on Zen and Target.  Today's training is a combination of scheduled lessons on Zen and Target on the bed and how to self entertain when her handler is bed ridden.  She's doing well, playing with toys next to me and enjoying her day of bed training.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Zen.  Since we never did Zen in the bed before I did a brief review of Level 1 Zen.  She quickly caught on to what the game was and was quickly offering Zen when presented with my closed and then open hand.  I then started putting the treat on the blanket beside me and we worked to her not trying to take it while I covered it to her seeing it while it was exposed.

She did very well and is about ready to start building duration with this lesson.  She did steal one kibble before I could cover it, but after that really focused on the game.  On her second lesson she was stronger at the concept of leaving the treat alone when on the cover.  As she gains understanding of the game she calms down and becomes very focused.  Once I see that focus and quiet control I know I can move a bit forward with her.  The moment she becomes goofy and playful I know I've gone too far and need to back up.

Emma is doing very well with her Zen lesson and enjoyed learning it again on the bed.


Emma practiced Level 1 Sit on the bed.  She is starting to throw a default down when on the bed and I spent a lot of time to teaching her that I wanted her to stay in a sit when asked.  She is building minor duration on the sit and learning she can sit when I am in the bed leaning against the head board.  Her sit cue is solid enough she rarely gets confused on what you are asking of her in a new situation.

I spent several sessions working on Sit on the bed.

My friend Redd came over in the late afternoon, so I worked on Sit in the living room this evening to finish off her dinner.  I was able to walk repeatedly around her tonight without her breaking her sit.  She's a bit worried about my going behind her, so I will spend the next couple of days making her feel comfortable with my moving around her while she remains seated.


Emma is now throwing a Down as a part of her known behaviors.  She's comfortable with offering a down and when on the bed has learned to lay quietly next to me.  It's made it a bit harder to teach some of the other positions we are working on, but she's starting to understand when asked for a new behavior to offer it.

We worked several sessions on Down on the bed.


Emma is working Level 1: Step 4 Target Come Afters right now.  The Come After asks that Emma target my foot with her nose.  I worked on it this morning in bed by shaping her.  At first she was uncertain what she was doing to make me click, but by the end of a 2 minute shaping session she was purposefully turning her head to the right.  She still hasn't fully figured my foot is what we are working toward, but she enjoyed experimenting with her body to make me click.

Emma is also working on Level 1: Step 5 Target.  This step asks that Emma learns she can move her body to where I want it by targeting my hand.  Earlier her owner was frustrated because Emma was not understanding the cue, either hand or verbal, for stand.  I had said to wait until we had some of the Levels training under her belt and we'd get to Stand as a cue.  Today, we worked on Stand using Target.

I worked on luring her into a stand a few times, both from a sit and a down, and then slowly morphed my hand until it was a open palm facing her with my thumb up toward the ceiling and little finger down toward the bed and my fingers and thumb tight together.  It took two full sessions of working on just getting her bottom unglued from the bed, but she's now offering a stand when she touches my hand.  In short order she'll be offering Stand as a tool in her toolbox and I can tell her what it is called.

Once she understands when I put my hand out that way that she is to stand and touch it with her nose, I will then use it to move her around me and into new positions or onto new items, such as the scale at the vet office.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 focus.  Today while training she was offering eye contact as an option for her behaviors.  This is excellent progress and I will continue to reward eye contact when she offers it.

Emma is offering eye contact as a tool in her toolbox tonight.  We worked for half of her dinner on Focus tonight.  She is testing to see if I am actually clicking for just looking at me.  Later, when I was working on Sit with her she began offering Focus when she was confused about what I wanted from her.  This is a good sign and I am happy to see it.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Relax.  In this step she is rewarded for showing signs of relaxing.  Ever since Emma arrived at my house for training I have scheduled "quiet" times where all the dogs stretch out in their spots and nap.  Emma has learned through their example to nap near me when working on the computer, by my chair when I am watching TV and today to lay quiet and finally off and on nap next to me on the bed with the other four animals close by.

Her rewards for relax today have been games of tug or bitey face and lots of affection.  Emma is doing very well with Relax, but it is not on cue at this point.

Go To Mat

Emma is working Level 2: Step 1 Go To Mat.  My friend Redd dropped by for a visit and while I was talking to her I set out Max's grey mat and started shaping Emma to the Mat.  After our shaping lesson this morning Emma quickly moved to the mat this afternoon as she recognized I was clicking for her movements and interaction with something in that area.

The problem is, once I put a mat on the floor I had three adult dogs who glue themselves to the mat as well.  I had to reposition Attitude and shoo Dieter away and move Max to the side so Emma had some mat to stand on.  At one point Emma positioned herself behind Attitude and beside Max and couldn't get to the mat without moving around behind Attitude.  She watched me for a second and moved around Attitude and stood on the mat.

This is a fantastic start to the lesson, but I do need to contain the adult dogs during this lesson until I can train each one to a mat meant for them.  I will have to find "mats" for them to lay on and work each dog on their own mats for a while.

Special Events

Emma is in the game.  She wants to play the games I ask of her and tries to figure out what they are if she's uncertain.  She enjoys training and works hard for her kibble.  The difference in her behavior to Max's can be startling some days and I see I rushed Max on some of his training.  As a five year old dog Max is going to display his willingness to play differently than Emma as a puppy, but I am starting to see something with Emma I kept ignoring with Max.  I am seeing Emma offering behaviors as tools in her toolbox with quick purposeful movements.  With Max I allowed half efforts on his part and said, "That's good enough." and then continued to push forward.

Since I train Max and Emma in turns I am going to start working on Max offering with quick purposeful movements the behaviors he has.  I am not going to label them with his verbal cues and simply pay him until he's as happy to offer the behaviors that's been half way there all this time with as much joy as I see when he's truly in the game and ready to play.

Emma enjoys playing bitey face with me.  I make my hand into a mouth and try to catch her muzzle with it and avoid her boxey feet while we play.  If I catch her nose I win, if she catches my hand she wins.  It's much the same game Sue Ailsby plays with her dogs.  There are rules to the game.  She can play it when I invite it and as long as she doesn't bite down or hurt me doing the game.  The game ends if she gets too excited.

This game is important to help her learn bite inhibition with humans and self control with her mouth.  She is learning how to use her mouth with me and not hurt me.  She is learning she can paw me and not hurt me too.  She has a soft nature when dealing with her mouth and feet, so the lessons on how to handle humans has gone quickly.

The game is also a way for her to play and enjoy her time with me as a person.  Max and I play games together too and it helps with the bond.  I would recommend the owners to find a game they enjoy playing with Emma that Emma enjoys also.  She doesn't have a lot of play outlet other than toys and people right now, so I want her engaged in just silly play games when not training formally.

Redd dropped by today.  Most people knock on my door and wait for me to answer it, but a few just walk into my house.  I find it difficult to train basic door manners when this happens and it happened today.  Before I had a chance to contain the dogs and setup for a door greeting Redd was already in the door with four dogs mugging her.

Since I spent the morning in my bed, I may have missed Redd's knock.  Anyway it goes, Emma got lots of practice jumping on Redd when she came through the door because I didn't have a lead on her or was able to body block her from jumping on the company.

I need to continue working with Emma on Four on the Floor, since she tends to loose her mind when excited and automatically jumps on people when it happens.  Redd was good enough to not give her any affection or attention until her feet were on the floor and about a minute after she came into the house Emma began containing her energy and offering sits for attention.

Tomorrow Emma would normally return to her owners for the weekend, but due to their busy schedule she won't return until Saturday morning.  This will give me some extra time to work on her first Level 2 skills and really get the idea of what she is learning brewing in her mind for the weekend. This first week went very well and Emma is progressing nicely.  I am truly enjoying watching Ms. Emma learn and grow.

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 1 1 0
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 0 1 0 0 0

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