Thursday, January 17, 2013

18 Weeks: Training - Day 18

Emma at 18 weeks visiting Pet Smart for her Public Access Training.

Another busy day was had by all.  After the exceptionally long day yesterday I was nowhere ready for today to start when Emma gave me the 'I have to pee' alert from the crate.  It was 7 AM when she stirred me from my bed.  I stumbled out and took care of her need to pee and promptly returned to my bed with her.  She's grown used to the "go out and pee and then snuggle in bed" routine at my home and quickly settled.

This morning Attitude decided Emma was not allowed the choice spot against me and pushed her out and stretched out against my spine.  I promptly fell asleep and woke around 8 AM.  Just as my brain was clearing my oldest son called my cell phone and through wheezes and gasps told me he had caught the latest plague and needed me to run to the store for him.  I told him once I took care of the dogs I would be over.

I woke Walter and he cared for Attitude and Dieter while I quickly trained Max and Emma with their food.  I worked again on Level 2: Step 1 Down with Emma and couldn't get her past 3 seconds for half of her meal.  Frustrated I told her I would finish her breakfast after I returned.

She did get to watch me work Max on Level 2: Step 1 Come Afters for Sit and Down with Max.  At one point when I had Max in a down while I took freshly popped popcorn out of a bag in my jacket pocket and ate a piece before clicking and dropping a kibble between Max's feet she was laying in perfect mimicry next to him.

When I returned I went to work on a couple of websites I work on for a company and then edited the first video I posted tonight, which was Emma's 17 week Public Access Training video.  Just as I finished it and began to publish it my friend Robin Walters called, so while I was talking to her I finished Emma's breakfast by having her do a sit or down while I moved around her.

Just as I finished that my friend Redd dropped by to use my internet.  Emma promptly lost her brain during Redd's visit and in the end I told Walter to stuff her in her crate for a nap.  Though she didn't nap in the end, she did calm down.  During the few minutes after Redd's arrival she started a play session with Max, chased the cat, jumped on Dieter, started a bark fest with Attitude and tried to help Redd type.  It was her normal nap time, but the world was in chaos in my home suddenly and I was too tired to deal with her antics and found crating her to best solution.

We then headed off for this weeks Public Access Training and shortly after our return Walter left.  As much as I love my son, I truly enjoy my privacy and finally having my house and not having someone talking to me while I am trying to do something is a relief.

We ended the night with my editing the video attached to this post and my training both Emma and Max for their evening meal.  Emma started a new lesson tonight so I have something to work on tomorrow in place of Down.  We are working on Distance, which should help her with her distance lessons for Sit and Down.

The evening ended with Emma tethered to my ankle when she again started cat chasing and dog pestering and then running through the house with yet another pilfered cat toy.  She was over tired and acting like the two year old who refuses to sleep, so I tethered her to me and forced her into a quiet period of laying next to me.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Sit.  Emma has become very strong at letting me turn my back to her and walk up to 8 feet way, which is over the distance called for in the step.  I make quick steps away from her, promptly turn and return to her before she has a chance to think about what I am doing.  Once I get back to her I click and feed her a treat and then turn and walk away from her in the next direction of the clock, working first toward 9 O'Clock and returning to 12 O'Clock if she breaks her sit and restarting.  I then work in the other direction and once she is comfortable with both work alternate sides until I find where her "worry" spot is about my getting behind her.  She is currently able to handle my betting to about 10 O'Clock before turning to face me and 1 O'Clock on the other side.  To make this clear, 9 O'Clock is on her right side (she is facing me, thus my left side), which makes 3 O'Clock on her left side.

I work alternate of walking right around her on the clock face and away from her on the clock face to help her understand that my feet moving doesn't mean her butt must move.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Down.  She is popping up from her down the moment I click, which is fine, since the click means the behavior is done, but she is also popping up if she thinks I've forgotten to click.  She's a thinking dog and is now offering behaviors if she things I am not paying for the one she is offering.

I was able to ladder up to 5 seconds several times tonight, but could not work past it.  Once I realized she couldn't handle the spot between 4 and 5 seconds without stomping her feet while still in a down, I quickly began a ladder up and ladder down routine to increase her threshold.  She finally managed to stay still to five seconds, but at that point she broke each time and then would throw sits and downs in rapid succession at me.

I believe she's becoming frustrated with the lesson and thus want to take a day off from it and work on another behavior, a moving behavior, to work off some of her puppy energy.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Focus.  This step asks only that she finds my eyes with hers.  She does offer eye contact a lot and gets paid for it with affection, treats and attention, but tonight she couldn't seem to keep her eyes steady.

I waited for her to get mad enough at me to look me directly in the eye and then clicked.  I had to do this several times, but once she started to look me in the eye she then also started to offer other behaviors, such as nose nudges, paw touches, sits and downs.  I will continue to work on this lesson until she's offering eye contact without other behaviors.


Emma is working on Level 1: Step 1 Distance.  This step asks that she walk around a "pole".  A pole is a loose concept in my home.  I spent several minutes looking for something to have her walk around and finally settled on my step ladder.  I had Max do distance first while Emma watched and then sent him to settle nearby and worked her.

I used luring to get her around the stool while I stood directly before it and then removed the treat from my hand and used a large and expansive hand motion to indicate she go around.  At first she worked solely in one direction, clockwise.  Once she was comfortable in that direction I worked her counter clockwise until she was comfortable in that direction and then alternated the two.

I had made the mistake of teaching Max only one direction and spent a long period of time teaching him the other.  He still doesn't take direction well around a pole by direction and I wanted Emma to recognize the clock and counter clockwise hand cues before I start teaching her left and right for direction.

Special Events

Emma was once again watched by my son Walter while I was away for about an hour.  He said she is very relaxed and calm when I am away and enjoys his company.  Redd dropped by to use my internet and Emma became over excited and had to be crated to calm down.  She enjoys meeting Redd and needs to be calmed by tethering or training when Redd visits.

Field Trip

Emma went on her third planned field trip today.  Walter and I both discussed what she had already done on her previous field trips and decided she was ready to go to Pet Smart.  We packed up and headed there.  Emma rode quietly to the store and was excited and confident as we entered.

There were two employees at the first checkout stand when we entered and I mentioned she would love to meet them, but needed to practice four on the floor.  The knelt down to help her with her lesson and she warmly greeted them.  She got lots of affection and praise for keeping her feet down.

We then headed into the store and went down the center aisle to the back and stopped by the groomers.  She was excited and happy.  Her tail was up and her body was relaxed.  She crossed me a couple of times to check out an aisle we were passing and even saw a flat truck with dog food bags on it and a man stalking food without fear.

At the groomers, we sat on the bench outside their door and worked on Puppy Push Ups.  A man with a French Bulldog came out and Emma politely greeted the new dog.  Her lessons from Attitude, Max and Dieter about not jumping in a new dogs face has paid off and her greetings of new dogs have been polite and appropriate.

After that we walked up the outside aisle and then across the front toward the door.  A clerk met us and asked if she could pet Emma.  I encouraged it and then told her Emma was practicing four on the floor.  Emma was happy to meet the new person.  After that we exited the store and headed home.

The whole experience lasted a whole of 10 minutes and went extremely well.  Max, who at first was shaken by walking with her and me at the same time, was in good form and is learning to work with her at my side.  He even ignored her crossing his path and touching his face, something that used to bother him.

Emma was able to focus on training and with the aid of my upbeat voice and Max's quiet confidence, handled a new and exciting location without fear.

Emma's third trip into the real world was educational and handled with maturity.


Emma is like a drop of water in Max's world.  Even a stone cannot resist the persistent drip as water slowly molds and shapes it into a new form.  Max, who never learned how to play with other dogs properly, is learning one drip at a time.  Emma adores him and constantly tries to engage him in play.  Today for the first time Walter and I watched in amazement as Max went from stiff, stilted attempts at play with Emma into a fluid few seconds of playtime.

Attitude hates it when the two play in the house and started to police the game, which put Max back into his tough guy mode and thus I stepped in and said the game was over.  I praised Max for playing nice and reassured Attitude the kids were okay.

Max, who hated other dogs always in his face, has grown comfortable with Emma poking his face and placing her feet on him.  Though they'll never be cuddle buddies, Max is learning to accept close proximity of bouncy and excitable dogs without getting grumpy and gruff about it.

Emma is learning to play in Max's style.  During the few seconds of fluid play she spun and butt bumped him.  I had to laugh at that because all of her play before had been drive bomb bounces off of his ribs or shoulders and quick nose pokes to his face.

Later, when I was in the office, Emma stood against the arm of my chair and Max moved in and did a scooping head butt of her and started another play session.  I laughed so hard I cried that time.

Max used to refuse to lay close to a dog he was new too and has recently started doing so.  Emma's incorrigible nature has loosened him up a bit and I am seeing some goofy puppy come out of him.  It is nice to see.

Emma has learned from my dogs how to read their body language and is taking that into her public life.  Her behavior in class and at Pet Smart shows she's learned to be polite when meeting a new dog.  When she first came here she jumped on all three of my dogs and rushed into their faces at high speed.  Each told her, without harming her, that this was rude and not to be done.  She has, thus, learned that not all dogs want to be greeted that way and instead uses a soft and slow approach with new dogs.  An important lesson for Emma, whether she was to be only a pet dog or a service dog.

When I asked Dana last night what he thought of Ms. Emma he asked me again how old she was.  I told him 18 weeks and he said, "Wow, she's got such self control.  She is acting more like a dog of 8 months."  What a compliment to all who work with Emma daily to help her learn how to be a dog welcome anywhere.  Emma has become a polite young lady who is learning self control.  Thank you everyone for being part of Emma learning to become a service dog.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment