Friday, January 18, 2013

18 Weeks: Training - Day 19

Emma and Attitude help me blog.
I would like to introduce to you The Spoon Theory, something my friends with disabilities understand.  Spoons, also known as energy, are limited for people with disabilities and in chronic pain.  There is only so much that can be done in a day and when a very busy day happens the person finds themselves borrowing spoons from the next day in order to complete whatever they are doing.

I used a lot of spoons on Tuesday and then borrowed yet more on Wednesday.  By late Wednesday night I was so tired I couldn't sleep, which is a terrible position to be in when you need to be up with a puppy at pre-dawn hours.  I finally drifted off at 1:30 AM while Emma slept in her crate and was awaken at 6 AM by her pronouncement that she needed to use the facilities.

I had a migraine and was staggering with exhaustion as I took her, Max and Dieter out.  Attitude, my sleeping beauty, generally doesn't get up until almost 9 or 10 AM and thus hadn't stirred with the rest of us.  I realized I was too tired and too worn out to deal with a high energy puppy and that if I fell back asleep, which I desperately wanted to, I wouldn't hear Emma as she roamed my home.  I placed her back into her crate and collapsed on the bed.

Emma woke me again at 10 AM.  I was exhausted still, but not staggering.  I still had a head ache and couldn't really focus on what needed to be done.  I knew I would need to rest for the day and realized my great plans to work on three or four of her levels material was out of the question.

I worked her for her morning meal and then let her play.  Max, who has seen me like this before, went into his low energy mode and settled.  Emma, who has not, wound up tighter than a top.  She filled my living room with toys from the toy basket and chased the cat.  She jumped on Max to start play sessions and the barking shot through my still existing headache.

I finally decided she needed a nap around 1 PM and put her in her crate after the fourth time she gleefully raced through the house after the cat right after mugging Max.  She protested and screamed and threw a fit about the idea that her play time was over.  She did finally nap, but it was a loud process.  She will need this skill in the future and I plan to instill naps in her crate on a regular basis.

Why?  If her handler ever ends up in the hospital and has to have a procedure she can't attend, she'll need to be able to stay quietly in her crate when no-one is in the room.  She is quiet in the evenings when it is bed time and again if I place her in her crate in the morning for my showers, but she knows where I am then.  It is when I am not in the room that she protests loud and hard.  I will help her understand that quiet in the crate is what we are asking for so in her future work she can be left in a room in a crate and feel safe and secure.

By evening when I would have finished her evening meal with training I was so wiped out I just fed all of the dogs and went to bed early.  Hopefully tomorrow training will be a bit more productive.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 of Zen.  She is able to see an uncovered treat on the floor and not pick it up, but needs to build duration.  She is actually about ready to pass this step, but needs a bit more practice with it.

Her class next week calls for learning Zen with objects, so I selected one of her all time favorite toys, which she is not allowed to have, and worked with that.  Why is she not allowed to have it?  It's a cat toy she can get completely into her mouth.  She could choke on it and I don't want her to play with the cat toys at all; they are there for the cat - not her.

She did well with the lesson as long as she knew it was a lesson.  I could drop it on the floor in front of her, between her feet, off her ribs, even off her nose and she would leave it.  I turned my back on her for a second after the cat knocked it down and it was back in her mouth.  We have more work to do.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Sit.  Emma was in a bouncy mood and had difficulty sitting while I moved away from her.  Because I was tired and didn't have patience to work with her I chose the end the lesson.


Dogs, like people, go through stages of development; Emma is entering a new stage of development.  She's moving from the young puppy who needed extra sleep to grow to a child who needs less sleep and doesn't have the ability to determine when she's tired.  She's active and impulsive and exploring her world.  She's moving into the difficult puppy stage.  The "what do you have now?" and "what are you in?" and "where are you going?" stage of life.  She's in the high maintenance stage.

She's still willing to please and work for her food, but she's starting the unavoidable dance toward teenage-hood. I have been expecting this and planned to work the first parts of her lessons again when she reaches her teenage months.  It's the bounding energy that all of us here will have to adjust too.

Max has become more comfortable with her constant movement.  He has always been a dog who didn't like other dogs directly in his face and would turn his head to tell them so.  If the dog didn't pay attention he'd do a soft lip curl and if that didn't work a hard lip curl of both lips.  She's learned by this subtle body language that she is not to be overly rude when meeting a new dog.  I saw that during her first class and again when on her field trip.  She's soft and gentle with a new dog she doesn't know well, unlike the black bullet that shot into Max's face when she first met him.

Attitude and Dieter are both smaller than her and she likes to stand over the top of them and poke them with her nose.  They, on the other hand, do not.  Both have told her that this is rude by correcting her.  When she met the small French Bulldog on her field trip she didn't try to stand over him, which is a sign she's learning  polite greeting behavior.

Dieter has told her, repeatedly, that running up to him and jumping on him is rude.  She's learned when meeting new dogs that they don't want to be mauled.  She's not jumping on new dogs she meets due to this experience.

Emma is an intelligent dog who has learned a lot of positive dog manners by interacting with my older dogs.  She'll carry these lessons throughout her life.  They are important lessons to help her better deal with meeting and playing with new dogs and I am glad that Attitude, Dieter and Max were able to provide them to her.

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


  1. Love reading your updates with Emma.
    *whacks with a marshmallow* But stop over spending your spoons woman!

  2. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I need to be more careful with my spoons in the future. Emma survived the first true low energy day I have had since her arrival (I am better with my spoons most times) and is doing fine today. A nice weekend without a rowdy puppy will help fully restore me.