Monday, January 14, 2013

18 Weeks: Training - Day 16

Emma, 14 weeks, playing shy.  Little did she
know what she'd know only four weeks later!
Emma returned today for training.  Her owner and I met at Hunter Vet Clinic at 8:30 AM, which her owner finds convenient due to her dropping her daughter off at a local high school nearby.  I arrived a bit early, so I took Max into Hunter's lobby and did a bit of positional training with him and arranged to bring him back later in the day to get his anal glands expressed.

Max is unable to properly express his own anal glands and thus needs them expressed every two months.  I generally know this needs to be done by his acting jumpy, flighty and nervous when working.  It clearly makes him uncomfortable and a weekend training trip with him resulted in my realizing he was in desperate need for them to be cleaned.

Emma was excited to see me and settled in her crate in the van and rode quietly all the way home.  Once home I offloaded Max and then took everything else I had for Emma into the house before getting her.  As I left the van I heard one lone bark telling me to not forget her.

I let her play in the yard for a bit before bringing her into the house.  She was excited to see all of the dogs and ran about the house in pure joy of breathing.  I had already fed Attitude, Dieter, Victoria and Max, so I quickly got her morning meal (3/4 cup of food) and set about testing her.

She remembered her Sit, Down, Target, Zen and Focus lessons from last week.  Very pleased I decided to finish her breakfast with a shaping lesson.  Some of her upcoming lessons will require her trying to figure out what I am clicking for and shaping her to a new behavior.  Shaping is a method where the trainer clicks for close approximations of the final outcome.  In this case, I was going to shape her to step into a box with all four feet and then cue her to sit in the box.

I have played box games with all of my dogs and when they saw I was hunting for and found a box to train Emma with they became excited.  Dieter, the least likely to interact with a box, jumped up on the chair and watched.  Attitude, who'd only just started thinking boxes may have secret ways of dispensing treats, put her nose in it and stood for a long time staring at the box.  Max, who has had a lot of box experience, put his feet on it, nudged it with his nose, put his feet in it, picked it up and finally was leashed and put into a down beside me.

I moved Attitude to my chair and then began working on Ms. Stares A Lot.  Emma sat before me vibrating and staring a hole into my nose as she waited for the click.  After several seconds she looked over her shoulder, nose nudged my knee and threw herself into a down.  This is excellent!  She was thinking "What is it you want?"

A second later she looked at the box and I clicked.  It went uphill from there.  I had to move a couple of times to really get the box into the picture, but she started putting her nose in it and purposefully putting her foot on it and then finally her feet into it.  It was less than five minutes later I had a Labordoodle puppy standing in the box with all four feet and when I cued Sit she did!

What an exciting event!  Emma is a smart girl who is learning shaping behaviors and learning to offer behaviors when she realizes I am expecting something from her.  We well continue to play shaping games to increase her willingness to try new behaviors.

Today's Lessons:


Today Emma tested already learned behavior and spent the rest of the day practicing shaping into a box.  She quickly learned what I wanted from one angle with the box, but didn't recognize the game when I changed the picture by standing on another side of the box.  I will continue shaping lessons with her tomorrow, since my day is full with taking my mother to the doctor's for a procedure.

Shaping lessons help her learn to think and experiment with her environment.  Once she understands she can make me click by doing behaviors she'll begin each new lesson by trying to quickly learn what I am clicking for today.  This type of learning is something that stays with a dog for a life time and generally becomes the behaviors they offer first.

I shaped Max to pivot to my left side and when confused that is the first behavior he offers me.  Unlike his Sit and Down, which I taught by pushing down on his rump and pulling down on his collar, Max is more likely to offer a shake, nose touch, pivot to left and bow because they were all shaped.  Emma, who has been taught Sit and Down both by shaping (minimal) offers them as tools in her toolbox first.  She also is starting to offer nose touches and eye contact, both of which have been heavily rewarded.

Today, due to my shaping her to the box, she is starting to offer paw touches on objects and is interacting with objects.  Shaping is opening her thinking mind and giving her a clearer picture of what I want by creating a road map to the final destination of the lesson.

By the end of the week I would like to shape her to touch a post it note on a wall and this beginning lesson will have her thinking about what she can do with her body to get me to click when we get there.

Special Events

Today Emma was visited by both Redd and Ronda.  My son Walter is here also and will watch Emma in the morning when I am out with my Mom and in the evening will watch Max when I take Emma to class.

Emma is learning self control when visitors come.  Since I knew Redd was headed to my house I put her on lead and greeted Redd at the door that way.  Each time Emma attempted to jump on Redd she was stopped by the lead and only got affection after she regained her self control and had all four feet on the floor.

Ronda arrived before I could put a lead on her, but managed to keep her feet on the floor.  Ronda gave her affection when she had all four feet on the floor.


Emma passed Level 1!  Congratulations Emma!

The last item in Level 1 for Emma was Come.  Emma needed to demostrated, when tested cold, that she could play the come game between two people at 20 feet.  Tonight Ronda, whom Emma has only played the game with once before, helped test Emma.  Emma gleefully ran between us, was turning to return to the next person while still chewing and even ran past the other dogs without hesitation during the 10 round game.

Emma is now working on Level 2 behaviors!


Emma is a very intelligent dog who enjoys learning.  She is completely in the game and eager to try new things.  She's a joy to train.

Emma has recently discovered people and things are outside of my fence line.  Today she was outside when the kids got off the bus and was standing against my gate barking at them.  When my God Daughter Tiffy came to the gate to talk to me and offered her hand to Emma to sniff, Emma bolted away and barked even harder.  She's uncertain of the world outside of my fence and the people there.

I picked her up and let her meet Tiffy over the fence.  Redd, who was standing with me, stepped out of the gate and let Emma check her.  Emma relaxed and started wagging her tail and then happily ran around the yard when I set her down.  I will need to sit outside with her when the kids get off the bus and feed her treats.  I may even take her to meet the bus and kids and let her see they are friends and don't need to be barked at.

Emma is expanding her world and will soon realize not everyone is her friend or family.  It happens for all dogs and she'll be a bit leery of new people for a bit.  I will find more new people for Emma to meet and learn the people, even strangers, are okay.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step CompletedCompletedCompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 1 1 1 1 3
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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