Friday, January 11, 2013

17 Weeks: Training - Day 14

Emma, 17 weeks, truly enjoys playing with toys.
At this weeks Puppy K class Dana Byrnes told the class about how he became Psycho Dad when his dogs put their noses near the edge of his kitchen counters or their feet on them when he cooked.  He explained that he would attack the counter, making a loud racket and yelling at the counter until the dog moved and then he would give the dog a treat and go back to cooking normally.  It sounds funny, but it worked for him and his dogs.

Today Psycho Mom arrived when Emma started the bark for bark sake barking.  She is picking it up from my dogs and I really don't want her learning that bad habit.  I was sitting at my desk and when she and Max began to bark because they heard a gnat fart outside I picked up a magazine and banged on my desk and yelled (a rousing "ahhhh ahhhhhhhh ahhhhhhh") until the house went quiet.  I turned to see Emma and Max sitting and staring at me with utter confusion.  At that point I gave them treats and went back to working on my computer.

It took three more rounds of barking from any of the dogs, but suddenly the house was silent for more than five minutes for the first time in months.  Why hadn't I remembered that story from our Head Start classes when Max and I started?  It would have saved me the almost 1 year of Thank You training I did to quiet them as much as they are.

I have been working on training both Max and Emma through their morning and evening meals for the past week.  Max and I had stopped using his meals to train with and with the puppy earning her meals from me I felt it was time for Max to do the same.  I knew she would progress into Level 2 quickly and so spent the first part of training Max and Emma in turns on reviewing Level 1 behaviors with him.  They are starting to understand when I finish with one the other gets their turn and I am seeing both now work harder to earn their kibble when it's their turn.

Emma is very focused on the game now and is starting to show clear signs she understands the basic concepts of shaping.  I will soon work on shaping her to an object just to shape her and let her explore and try new things to get clicks.  I am on several dog training lists and on one a woman told of her dog who'd had a stroke and that the behaviors the dog remembered after the stroke were the ones that had been shaped compared to the ones that had been lured.  The more I can shape Emma into new behaviors the better she'll be at them all of her life.

In mid December a friend of mine, Alan, had a major cardiac event that lead to oxygen deprivation brain damage.  The CT Scan by late December showed he had extensive frontal lob damage, mostly scar tissue and very little working brain tissue remained.  Technically, Alan lost his battle the night of his cardiac event, but his body hadn't stopped after it was revived 28 minutes after his heart had stopped.  Wednesday his body stopped and Alan was pronounced.

In late December I was asked to help find foster homes for Alan's two Pug dogs.  I spent the last of December and the beginning of this month working on that and finally got the Pug Rescue to step in and offer vet care and foster placement for the boys.  Today I met the woman from the rescue and tried to find Alan's home.  I got lost, go figure.  We called and for the first time got to talk to Alan's partner.

He's grieving badly and when we said we had placement for the boys he balked and hung up on us.  The lady from the rescue said she would continue to try to get the boys placed and the vet care they need; I have done all I can at this point.  It left me drained after spending so much time in the cold and driving around and dealing with the very emotional man who in care of Alan's boys.  I came home and realized I would need to force myself to step back and let what happens happen with the two Pugs because I cannot deal with the stress of this anymore after all that has happened between loosing two friends and trying to train a young dog.

Why am I saying this here?  I have video of Emma's field trip, but didn't down load it to the computer or edit it for upload to YouTube yet.  I simply couldn't deal with that and ensure I got Emma's after noon training, which had been interrupted, done.  I will post it as soon as I can.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Zen.  Today I was able to work with her at my feet in the living room.  I was able to put the treat uncovered on the floor and begin to build up duration.  Victoria, who wanted to join, was able to work on duration behaviors also today and earned rewards for not stealing Emma's kibble.

Emma was able to wait up to 10 seconds for me to click three times.  I was clicking for different duration counts from zero to 10 seconds for half of her breakfast.  Emma did not need a reminder of Level 1 Zen before starting this behavior with me, though she may need it with her owners.

Victoria was able to wait for the reward for ignoring Emma's kibble up to 5 seconds. For a cat with zero Zen skills, this was a remarkable improvement from yesterday.

I worked Emma on Zen for three separate sessions for up to 2 minutes per session.  She is able to remain in the game longer and remain focused on Zen behavior for up to half of her meal now.  Before this she would only work Zen for up to 1/3 of her morning meal before becoming bored and wandering off.  I am pleased with this progress.

Emma is ready to work on Level 2: Step 2 Zen as long as she shows she can resist the exposed treat.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Sit.  Tonight I worked on walking around her again, but this time off lead.  She finds people walking behind her very difficult and needs extra tiny tiny splits to become comfortable with it.  I am not able to break it down enough without loosing my balance, so I started moving in straight lines from her while she remained in a seated position.

I did a star like pattern from her and clicked each time I returned to her.  She was able to 95% of the time remain in a seated position and just watched me walk and return to her.  She was able to keep her seated position if I turned my back on her, which is fantastic.  She was very engaged and enjoyed the game.

Emma will need continued practice with Level 2: Step 1 Sit for the weekend before we add a distance greater than 5 feet.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Focus.  In this step she is to make a meaningful effort to look into my eyes.  I spent yesterday capturing any eye or nose movement toward my face and today waited for her to actually make an effort to look me in the eyes.  At first our click ratio was low, but she was clearly in the game and thinking of what she needed to do to make me click.  Once she got the idea it was eye contact she did a small amount of experimenting and then her click ratio shot through the roof as she offered with clear purpose eye contact repeatedly.

I worked on this lesson both with her morning and evening meals for approximately half of her food.  She was able to add minor duration during the evening training lesson.  She is not yet ready to add duration, I want to work with her more to make making eye contact rewarding, but by next week we can start adding duration.


Emma has passed Level 1: Step 4 Come Afters today.  She is targeting my foot and able to touch it if I move it high or low and will do a double touch for one treat.  She will need to practice this with more people since eventually this will morph into her removing socks and shoes and other clothing items.  The more she practices this skill the better she'll be able to target a given clothing item to aid with removing or pulling it on.

I used shaping to work on her targeting my foot.  The amusing thing is Max recognized the game and was nose bumping my foot also!  What a funny boy.  Emma enjoys shaping and clearly thinks through what I am asking of her and does a lot of "is this what you want" check ins.  She is a joy to shape and train.

Emma has passed Level 1: Step 5 Target.  I was able to walk her across my house by having her target my hand and move her from one side of me to another by having her target my hand.  She will need more practice on this, but she is clearly ready to proceed with Target and build upon what she has learned.  She will need to work on all Come Afters at her owner's home and work through Level 1: Steps 4-5 there also to really cement the lessons in her mind.

Emma has passed Level 1 Target!  Congrats little girl!

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Lazy Leash.  I am holding the lead close to her clasp and applying gentle pressure on her collar.  When she looked or moved toward the clasp I would click.  At first her little body was glued to the floor, but within a few clicks she was standing and moving to relieve the pressure.  She is at the very beginning of this lesson, but is starting to understand the rules of the game.

She needs continued work on this lesson at this time.

Special Events

Since I had to deal with the Pug Rescue today I left Emma for the first time alone in her kennel without a sitter.  She was happy to see me and in a good humor when I returned.  She has had similar care at her owner's home on Sundays when they go to Church, so she's learning how to relax and be alone by herself without worrying where her people are.

She's learning to play with Max, who is engaging her more and more each day.  Today she bumped her nose on his as she came into the master bath and he just looked at her.  She's grown gentler with Attitude and Dieter as well.  She is more likely to sniff them softly or give them a quick lick than pounce on them.

I groomed her today and she was a bit wiggly when not in my arms, so I held her and brushed her out.  She enjoyed the brushing while in my arms and let me groom all of her body.  Afterwards I gave her a quick treat and then brushed out Max and did his nails.  She was polite to Max and either sniffed him or laid nearby while I worked on him.


Emma is teething with a vengeance and my living room looks like a toy factory exploded in it.  She's full of energy about mid-day and naps nicely by late afternoon.  She enjoys playing with me and has been learning Max's play style.  Max can be a bit overwhelming, so I am still managing their play and will put Max into a sit next to me when he gets too riled up, but I am needing to intervene less and less each day.

Both Max and Emma can be in the yard now without him herding her 98% of the time.  She is able to run and play in the yard and he won't interfere with her.  She is stopping herself from jumping on him and the two Dachshunds.  She's discovered people exist outside of my fence and barks at them.  When this happens she's over threshold and I have to go retrieve her.

I can't stay out in the cold long and have to think of a way to teach her she can't bark at passing strangers.  This spring and summer will be easier when I can stay out with her longer during her free play time, but for now I will limit her free play time to however long I can stay out with her.

Emma is progressing very well, but I want to warn that the second level will seem to last forever.  She will be learning and progressing, but she's approaching her true teenage months and will revert back to the puppy who knew nothing for a short time.  I expect this behavior to happen and will return to Level 1 and rework it when this happens.  She'll come out of her teenage months stronger and further ahead than expected, but for those few short months it will feel like we are all paddling in the water.

I look forward to her first attendance at her Puppy K class next week and working again with her on her Level 2 behaviors.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed  Completed  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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