Monday, January 28, 2013

20 Weeks: Training - Day 26

Max and Emma (20 Weeks) all shined up
for their big day tomorrow.
It must be Monday.  Emma was to arrive at my house at 8:15 AM so I set my alarm and woke early so I was ready when she arrived.  I fed Attitude, as normal, ahead of the two boy dogs and planned on training and feeding Max and Dieter prior to Emma arriving, but it is Monday.

The phone rang and it was my brother asking about the Nook we'd bought for our mother for Christmas and what operating system it used.  I had noticed it was well past 8:15 AM, which was the drop off time for Emma and was becoming concerned.  Normally Emma's owner calls me if she's going to be late and I had the news running in the background telling of cars spinning out of control and flipping into ditches because of the sudden freeze the night before.  I mentioned to my brother I was worried and he said I was over-reacting; except Emma's owner is generally prompt - be it arriving when stated or calling if she's running late.  I ended the call telling him I would give her a bit more time and then call her myself to make sure everything was okay.

The phone rang again and a nice gentleman captured me in a conversation about his service dog in training and wanting an eval after a bad experience she'd had which had made her a bit jumpy.  We talked about fear periods, my training philosophy and the upcoming lecture on Friday which explains a lot about what it takes to train a service dog and service dog laws.  During our conversation my call waiting kicked in and asked the gentleman to please call me back in a few minutes; I had thought it was Emma's owner, but it turned out to be another person wanting to inform me she was coming to the lecture and confirming information.

I called Emma's owner, who'd had a bad night the night before with her son, and asked if everything was okay.  She said she was running late and was about to call me when I called her.  It was now over an hour after I expected her.  I was relieved she was okay.

Emma's owner arrived 10 minutes later and we did a quick exchange of puppy and information and she headed out.  I then put Emma on her crate and had just run the ear wash through her ears and was cleaning them out when the phone rang.  It was the gentleman who wanted to setup the eval and learn more about the lecture and training in general.  We talked for a while and concluded with setting up an appointment for Wednesday.

I medicated Emma and Max's ear and scooped out their food.  It was now 10:20 AM and both Max and Dieter hadn't eaten yet, nor had Emma.

Emma (20 Weeks) still damp from her bath.
Due to the upcoming lecture and my need for her to walk with some form of control into the new location tomorrow, I am focusing on leash skills today.  I spent the morning meal (I am putting her back on 3 meals a day during training to better gauge how much I am working on a given skill) and walked her up and through the house asking for sits with her beside me.  It's a work in progress and lunch will be spent outside in the weather working on leash skills under higher distractions - even if it means we never get off of the ramp before she's worked her way through her meal and got some where with the leash loose and her in proper position.

Emma (20 Weeks) freshly groomed and puffy!
After feeding Dieter (who ate while Emma trained) and training Emma, I worked with Max on his trick for tomorrow - he's almost got it proofed and I think the kids will enjoy it.  When I finished training the crew I took Emma in and bathed her.  She needs to look sharp for tomorrow's meet and greet and there is nothing softer than a freshly bathed and groomed dog.

Emma has a full week ahead of her with a lecture, SD eval (she'll be crated for that) and new class, plus her first solo run into Pet Smart to train for up to 15 minutes on her Level 1 behaviors.  Leash work and basic refresh and remind at my house this week should balance her out nicely.

But folks, it's Monday, so take care of yourself!

Today's Lessons:

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In this Step the dog learns to keep the leash loose while standing or sitting and then when moving for a few steps.  I am working her in the house currently to keep her focus and keep the distraction levels down.  She needs plenty of experience and success at this stage in order to take it outside and to new locations and have continued success.

Emma is keeping the leash between us loose 90% of the time when working in the house now.  I was able to walk her from my living room to my hallway and turn at my bedroom door to complete the loop.

I have noted that Emma has worries about being between myself and another object.  This is something that will be a part of her life, be she a pet dog or service dog, and so I am using Level 2: Step 1 of Lazy Leash to gently coax her around between me, the gate and the wall in the hall.  As she moves to my side I give her several treats to highly re-enforce that being between me and other items is not scary and then ask for a know behavior such as Sit or Down and reward them heavily also.  By the end of our morning session she was able to do a Sit or Down without trying to scoot out to being in front of me, was able to turn and walk with two of her blocked by either me or a wall, gate or piece of furniture and maintain loose leash and stay at my side while walking.  It was a successful morning, so I am hoping our afternoon jaunt into the snow and ice will be a good start to self control when not in my home.

Our second session was after dark today.  Did I mention it is Monday?  Things went afowl with a damp Labradoodle and my need to run an errand.  By the time I returned home and she'd dried it was dark.  I am actually glad it was, the level of distractions outside were considerably less. I carried her to the street, deciding I didn't want to spend all night on the ramp trying to get to the street.

The work on teaching her to give into her collar pressure paid off.  She was able to walk by me on loose lead 80% of the time and do sits and downs mostly at my side.  She's finally figured out why I am backing up and is moving into position beside me when I do.  I am not asking for a formal heel, just her at my side and on a loose lead while we work.

We spent 10 minutes working on walking up and down the street in front of my house and she did fantastic.  When her brain fell out and she saw or thought she saw something exciting she would go to the end of the lead and I'd wait for her to turn and move to me.  I clicked and treated each success, which was a lot, and soon had a dog who was checking back and seeing where I was.

It's a start.  She's not ready for a store just yet, but she is getting the idea.  By Wednesday we can practice a bit of loose lead walking in Pet Smart and see how she does.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Tricks.  I ran her through about three different tricks to see which ones I could get out of her by Wednesday for her final class.  She did Rollover, Spin and Shake.  She gets a bit flipply and floppy with Rollover and Spin, so I settled on teaching her Shake tonight.

She understands the concept of handing her feet to people, since her owners worked on that skill for wiping them when she came in from the outside.  She tends to throw her feet at your hands or hug them with both her front feet, so I focused on re-fining which foot I wanted when I offered my right hand only.  Since she'll be meeting new people tomorrow, a cute trick to show the group of children will be nice.  She was clicked only if she gave me her right front foot when I offered my right hand.  It's a perfect hand shake.

What surprises me is how soft she is with her feet.  I have noticed it before, but her self control with her front feet just amazes me.  She would pick up her foot, turn it slightly to the side and put her paw, pads down, into my palm with purpose each time.  I began attaching the verbal cue to this behavior tonight.

I worked with her while sitting on the floor and while standing and bending over her and while sitting.  She does this trick no matter the position I am facing her, which means she understands the goal, just needs the proofing on the trick to polish it up.

I will work on this trick some more to polish it up for Wednesday and demonstrate it in her class.


Emma is heading into another fear stage and finds being blocked or doing something at my side uncomfortable.  The solution is to build her confidence and give her lots of chances at success as we work through this fear stage.

Her teething is moving along at a solid pace and she's very interested in chewing on anything that will help bring her new teeth in.  It also means her food drive is a bit down and her ability to chew is a bit askew, so when working with her outside I will use high value treats mixed into her normal kibble.  Normally she's willing to work for kibble no matter where we are, but at a stage when her mouth is hurting and her distraction levels are high, using a high value, smelly treat will help re-direct her focus and bring her into the new game of training outside.

I checked her mouth today and am proud to announce I see four brand new adult canine teeth poking up through her gums.  She has brought in most of her front teeth between them and I see the first deep, behind the canines and in the molars, chewing today.  She is starting to bring in her next set of teeth already.  She won't be teething for much longer and will feel better overall when this is finished.

I won't see a "teething" behavior again until she's 1 year old and begins bringing in her 1 year molars.  Right now she's working on the front bi-cuspids and should soon work back to the first molars in a couple of weeks.  I will be glad when teething season is over.

Level 1
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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