Friday, January 25, 2013

19 Weeks: Training - Day 25

Emma visits Home Depot on her first solo run into a new location.

We end another week with Emma excited to see her owner and ready for a weekend of fun and play at her home.  She did a lot this week and made some nice progress.  I am very proud of her.

I woke ahead of Emma again today at 7 AM.  She stirred as I got up and waited quietly for me to let her out.  Once out she bounced around the house, but stayed quiet as we headed for the front door.  I am glad she's learning that quiet behavior will get her the rewards she desires.

We didn't do much today, just worked on Sit and Down during our morning and mid-day training.  I had mentioned earlier that she lost a tooth and she's starting to find chewing kibble a bit troublesome, but she's still working for her kibble.  The time between giving her a kibble and doing the next repeat is a bit extended as she works the kibble around in her mouth and tries to find a grip on it to chew it; it's actually kind of funny watching her tiny mouth working so hard and so fast to get the kibble chewed so she can earn the next one.

She enjoys the morning cuddle while I drink coffee and has finally learned to just join us in the bed and not romp and bounce and try to start a game of wrestle.  She joined me as we watched an episode of Castle and settled quickly into a ball against my ribs and slept while I played with her gums and lips on her face.  This is a prelude to brushing her teeth.  I don't want to run a brush over here gums just yet; they are inflamed with teething and brushing her teeth and gums now would actually be painful.  I run my fingers gently on her gums and rub softly, which actually relieves from of the soreness, much like rubbing a baby's gums when they are teething.  At first when I played with her face this way she would flip her head or try to chew on my fingers, but now she just lays there and enjoys the gentle and loving contact.

She's also grown more comfortable with grooming.  I have a brush designed for her curly coat which I use on her at least twice a week.  She has two hair styles I've discovered over the weeks - bead-head or puff ball.  She was in serious bed-head mode today, so I set her at my feet while I sat in the chair and groomed her.  Before when I did this and she wasn't on the top of her crate, she would wiggle and turn and nibble at the brush or my hands.  Today she stood still and allowed me to groom her legs, haunches, body and face.  I remove her collar when I groom her and make certain I get a good brushing behind her ears and along her neck.  When I finished she was in full puff ball mode.  It's so strange having a dog who has muzzle hair that needs to be brushed and is so bushy when I am finished brushing her.

The difference between brushing her and brushing Max is huge.  When I am finished with Max hair is still falling out of his coat and I have enough hair in the plastic bag beside me to knit a whole new Labradoodle.  On the other hand, when I am finished with Emma I have a tiny tuft of hair I remove from the pin brush - not even enough to knit a button!

Between her ear infection and her teething she was a bit off today and not as bouncy or excitable as normal.  By 2 PM I decided she needed to nap and went into my bedroom where her crate is.  I opened the door and she walked in without complaint.  I closed it, covered it with a heavy blanket and didn't hear a peep from her until almost 3:30 PM when she woke and made a small stirring sound in her crate as I checked in on her.  What a change from the prison riot I was dealing with for her naps.

She's also, all week long, been entering her crate without complaint for naps, my showers and her bed time.  She even pushed open the door and raided it for toys when I was doing something in the bedroom and she followed me in.  On a regular basis she enters to raid and remove her blanket, two cuddle stuffies and chew toy that she sleeps with.

She's finally ready to start working on entering her crate for training and learning the cue for going in.  She seeks her crate for comfort and play things.  It's good to see the crate is again a positive thing in her life and she's enjoying it as a place to rest, whether I am in the room with her or not.

Since we started the napping in her crate while I am in another room she's become more comfortable with my leaving the room without having to follow and know where I am at all times.  This is a level of independence a confident dog needs and I am glad to see it.

Next week will be a big week for her.  She'll enjoy a night at a boy scout meeting on Tuesday, a new group of dogs in a Head Start class on Wednesday and her first solo run to Pet Smart to work on Level 1 behaviors.

I have asked her owners to focus on Sit and Down for the weekend.  She currently believes that she must be facing her handler when she does both and needs more practice earning life rewards with down.  I asked them to work with her being comfortable doing a sit or down at any position around them - be it beside, behind or any point in between them.  I also stated I have noted that if she is blocked on one side by a cabinet, chair or wall she is uncomfortable and wants to scoot out of the tight spot.  I asked they spend a lot of time working her between them and something else to make it clear she's okay in those spaces and doesn't need to fear them.

Hopefully she'll return on Monday with the ability to transfer those lessons here and again at the Boy Scout meeting.  On Monday and Tuesday I want to focus on Loose Leash walking to make it easier to get her from one location to another.  Right now her leash skills are weak and she can't proceed beyond Pet Smart with her public access training until they are stronger and she can do a sit and down while at my side.  Once we have those skills in place we can begin walking through new locations again and extend her learning in businesses.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Sit.  In this step we now add duration to the distance she's just learned.  Emma has just begun this lesson and can only handle working up to 2 seconds before she gets up to join me.  She can handle my walking away from her at any angle, except behind her.  If you remember, I talked about working around the clock in relation to her.  I was able to walk away from 3 O'Clock to 9 O'Clock without her shifting her position and needing to turn to watch me.  At this point I am working within that range to keep her from breaking her sit and extending her time in a sit.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Down.  In this step Emma is asked to wait up to 1 minute in a down before a click.  Since we will not get a 1 minute down without a click in one lump, I am working her slowly past each point where she becomes too fussy or worried I have forgotten to click.  Today I checked the Level 2: Step 1 Down Come After which stated I was to take items out of my pocket and eat them, thus working on her impulse control while in a down.  I spent half of our practice on Down doing this and found she was not tricked by my reaching into my pocket and eating chocolate chips.

The second half of her Down lesson I worked on duration.  I was able to get to 14 seconds 2 times and did a lot of "random" clicks in between each extended down I asked for.  In truth, she never got up while I clicked and treated her - so her down is actually extending without her realizing it.

Emma will continue to work slowly on extending her ability to wait for the click while in a down.


Emma had a rough week between teething and an ear infection this week.  She had ups and downs on her energy and focus levels and needed more down time and rest to recover from her infection. I offered her plenty of play time and rest time during the week to help her heal from her infection and get in the amount of chewing she needs to bring in new adult teeth.

This period of her life will be a mix of focus and lack of interest because of the changes her mouth is going through.  Like an infant and toddler bringing in new teeth, she is grumpy and in pain from the process of bring in her adult teeth.  Thankfully it doesn't take nearly as long for a puppy to bring in new teeth as it does a human child, nor is a puppy near as grumpy about the process as an infant.  What it does mean is she needs extra time to chew and work on breaking teeth through.

The ear infection robbed her of a lot of her normal energy.  Though she is a puppy with an off switch and can settle and rest without much prompting on my part, she does have her bursts of energy where she over tires herself and can't relax.  Tethering her or placing her in her crate to rest and relax is important to help her refresh her energy reserves.

She's also in a new fear period and needs a bit of extra guidance through it to help her with new situations.  Home Depot this week was a bit exciting and frightening.  Though the entry was a "known" location, since she'd gone into many other store entries by this time in her training, the sounds and smells of Home Depot were new and a bit frightening to her.  The gentle praise while bringing her focus back to me helped her with that fear and end on a positive note.

What she is not ready for is entering and going through such a big and loud store as Home Depot at this time.  She needs to explore Pet Smart a bit more and work on her leash and basic skills a bit before venturing into a quiet store - like my local Safeway or the dollar store near me.

I look forward to next week's lessons!

Level 1
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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