Thursday, January 24, 2013

19 Weeks: Training - Day 23

On most days I wake with a headache.  I have accepted this fact as a part of my life and most days the headache eases within an hour of waking - most days.  For the past five days I have woken with an ever increasing headache that lasts the entire day.  It's a sign I had done too much and was both over tired and stressed.  The week before I had over extended myself and needed several days to recover, so I suspect the extended headache was a left over from my not slowing down enough.

I woke with a migraine just before Emma stirred in her crate.  The moment she heard me she gave a yelping bark and then went silent.  As I stood I found my balance was so unstable that I needed Max to help me maintain it for a second.  He stood quietly waiting for me to gain my balance while I rested my hand on his head and then headed out of the room with a typical German Shepherd half bark, half whine, half yowl.  I felt it shoot right through my skull.

I let Dieter out of his crate and then went to Emma and released her.  Emma has developed a habit of bouncing off of Max and me while barking and racing around the room before doing a yo-yo bark and bounce run to the door.  This high level of activity sets off Attitude, who barks with annoyance from my bed, causes Max to do GSD Speak with a bit of grumbling and growling at the puppy and Dieter to sound like a bag of marbles has hit the floor while he trots around me with his nails clicking.  The cat joins the fray as well, yowling at me to tell me she's starving and I've never fed her in her life.  With my head about to split I had to make a choice between screaming at all of the animals or finding a way to convince the instigator (read, Emma) to stop winding up the household.

I chose the later.  I stopped in the kitchen and faced a wall while Emma bound and barked behind me.  In short order she fell silent and I turned to continue to the front door.  She started again and I turned away from her again.  It took three rounds, but she finally decided silence would get me out of the kitchen.

Because I was running on a migraine and low energy I decided I couldn't train more than 2 items each day and will continue to focus on one or two items in a day while she is with me.  I am also training Max and by the time I finish his meal and hers I have spent almost an hour straight training in the morning and evening.  I just can't keep up this pace and thus will focus on a couple of items each day and really get the idea in her mind before introducing a new item the next if needed or continuing with something I think she needs more focus on.

By the evening my headache was raging, but not a migraine any longer.  Only problem was my back had lit on fire and I was aching all over.  A sure sign I was staying up too long and not getting enough me time.  I decided to delay this blog post until the next day as a result.  So, this is actually Wednesday's blog post and contains Wednesday's lessons.

Today's Lessons:

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Lazy Leash.  In this step she is asked to move away from the pressure on her collar.  It teaches her that keeping her leash loose is her responsibility and not her handlers.  When I take her out she will occasionally plant her butt and sit with roots embedded to China.  This skill will teach her not to do that anymore.

She is starting to get up and move away from the pressure when it is applied to her collar.  I am holding the lead close to the clasp and watching for the clasp itself to drop from a vertical to a horizontal position.  Once I see the movement I click and treat her.  She is able to do it to the right and left, but back and forward still cause her to plant her feet.  She needs more work on this step before moving forward.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Target.  In this step Emma is asked to touch a post it note when it is stuck to a wall or other object.  Emma is starting to understand the goal of the step, but tends to stall and default to a down.

Last week I was working on her duration during a down, and she seems to have gotten the idea of that lesson and is now applying it to this lesson.  In the morning when we were working on this step I found I didn't have the ability to think through how to get her to stand or sit up and continue with the lesson and felt myself becoming frustrated.  Because of that I choose to end the session and give it a break until evening.

In the evening she once again defaulted to a down, but my patience was longer and I could think enough to lure her back into a stand.  Once she got the idea I didn't want a down she did focus on the lesson and finally, in the end, touched the post it note with just enough force to shut the cabinet door I had placed it on.  Since Step 5 asks she close a cabinet door, I figured combining the two lessons would help her understand the practical use of this lesson.

Emma needs more practice with either a post it note or painters tape on a wall and other objects until she's giving solid and purposeful contact with the note with her nose.

A few times I tossed a treat to reset her when she was working Target, but she wouldn't get up to get them.  If I dropped the treat right next to her or between her feet she would eat it, but she was giving me full Level 2: Step 4 Zen without my even asking for it.  Emma has passed that step as a result.

Field Trip

Walter and I took Emma and Max to Home Depot.  Since Emma has had several trips where Max modeled entering a store before she did, I felt she was ready to solo an entry without Max modeling the behavior.  Emma entered the store with confidence and excitement.

She was able to do a sit on cue, but not a down.  She was also too distracted and excited to take treats while there.  I used praise and affection as her rewards as a result.  She got to meet a friendly stranger and enjoyed about three minutes of working in the entry of the store before I returned her to the van.

Walter and I then left her in the van while Max, he and I went into Home Depot to buy supplies to make a training tool for turning on light switches and closing doors.  The amount of time, the sounds and activity in the store would have been too much for Emma and I didn't want to flood her at this time.  She also does not have good enough leash skills to work within a non-pet friendly store at this time.

From now on I will take her solo to Pet Smart to work on Levels behaviors.  I want her to be able to walk and work in a store environment which is pet friendly before taking her for her first walk about in a non-pet friendly store.

Since I was not feeling well enough to download and edit the video of Emma's field trip I have instead attached a video demostrating the basics of teaching leash skills which are very similiar to Lazy Leash.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step CompletedCompletedCompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 5 1 2 2 4
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 2 1 1 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 1 1

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