Tuesday, January 29, 2013

20 Weeks: Training - Day 27

Walter, Max, Emma and I at the Boy Scout meeting.
Emma was tired by this time and I asked Walter to hold her.
Well today is a big day for Emma, Max and I.  Today Emma will meet a group of Boy Scouts and help with dog safety education and disability education.  I hope she's got the hand shake down enough to show off a bit for the children.  I intend to take her dinner with us and have each child give her a treat while they reach out and touch her to pet her.  I want her thinking new people petting her is a great thing.

This morning went very well with her Lazy Leash and Tricks training.  She is advancing nicely with them, but I don't expect Ms. Excitable to keep her cool in the new location and walk like a champ on her lead.  I will use high value treats to walk her into the building and have Walter hold her while I do my lecture.

I am uncertain how old the children are, but have an outline of what I want to say.  I am going to engage them in the conversation about disabilities and service dogs and dog safety.  I will ask for volunteers to direct Max on some of his task training and participate in the trick we have worked on for the past week.  In the end, I will invite the children to give Emma a treat and pet her so she gets the experience of meeting a lot of new children.  The whole event is to last about 40 minutes total.

So, today's lesson plans are focused on Emma showing off a bit of what she's learned and Max being ready for his big day as demo dog.  I need to contact my friend Redd to ensure my props are ready and have them on board for when Walter and I leave.

What a great group of kids!  They listened well and were
very good with both Max and Emma.
I'll write up how the event went and post any pictures or video we may have once I get back tonight.

Today's Lessons:

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  This morning I worked on her following beside me in the house once again.  She's starting to show signs she knows that the goal is to walk by me and not forge ahead or lag behind.  She's become much more comfortable turning when she's blocked between me and another object and she's doing her sits and downs in blocked locations at my side without complaint now.  Her confidence from yesterday has grown considerably.

Once again, I plan to take her outside and in the street to work on Lazy Leash skills, only this time during the day.  She did very well last night and with that success under her belt I believe daytime will be a nice rise in distraction without having too much going on.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Tricks.  Since Emma was already comfortable with giving me her paw and picked up quickly I wanted her to give me her right paw when I offered her my right hand I have started working her in new locations and with new people to finalize the trick.  Emma is progressing rapidly on this trick.

I plan to work out on several tricks with her as she continues her training.  A good, playful and fun trick is always relaxing to train and work on.

Field Trip

Tonight Emma attended a Service Dog/Dog Safety awareness lecture with a troupe of Boy Scouts and their parents and siblings.  We went early to give Max and Emma time to adjust to the energy level of a large group of children between the ages of 5 and 10 years of age.  There were a few older than 10 and a few younger, but overall the average age was around 8 years of age for the children.

Emma seems to have problems with children of this age and tends to bark at them.  They seem to frighten her and I've been working on introducing her to more children of this age group to help her through that fear.  When we arrived a few of the children were already outside the building and Emma barked at them once Walter took her out of the van.  I was taking Max to a tree to let him relieve himself and called back to Walter to give her treats and redirect her.

In short order she calmed and we were let into the building.  She wasn't completely comfortable with the large number of active, running, yelling, laughing and busy children around her.  She barked off and on at the children and Walter and I both worked on re-directing her and asking for behaviors or working on LAT.

She finally stopped barking at the children and would pointedly look at them and then back to me when she realized she was being rewarded for being calm around them.  I could tell she was still nervous, but she was calming slowly and starting to just take in the busy environment.

At times she would look back and see Max calm and relaxed on his mat and give a bit of a huff and relax a little more.  She was able to, even worried like she was and with all the unbelievable activity that was happening around her, to perform her new trick with myself, Walter and two adults.  She was actually offering Shake as a behavior to gain treats.

The flag ceremony worried her a bit, so I used LAT to calm her as the flag on a long pole, carried by a child, passed us.  I again stuffed her full when they did a series of claps, screams and jumping around during the award ceremony.

Each time she became worried about what was happening she would move closer to Max and place herself between him and me so she was protected.  She never lost it so badly she was trying to flee, but she was clearly worried that this busy environment would harm her from time to time.

When I was introduced and began my part of the evening events, Walter sat asking her for sits, shakes and downs for treats.  She put her back to the room and focused on him.  From time to time I saw her shaking Walter's hand or peering at the children and back to him.

Max was the star of the night to tell the truth.  He was relaxed and calm.  The moment I laid his mat by the wall he curled up on it and remained there until I asked for him.  He picked up toys and put them in a basket.  He picked up laundry items and put them in the basket also.  He picked up a credit card, pen and a book and handed them to me.  The book I gave back to him and sent him to Walter to give it to him.

We built a training tool for Emma and Max (Thank you Redd for doing the actual construction) which is a board on hinges to simulate a door and a light switch on the other side.  I had Max "close the door" for the kids.  He was a bit distracted, looking about and sniffing things and sometimes picking up an item out of the basket instead of off the floor, but a lot of giggling told me that the group was enjoying the show.

I have known about this presentation for over a week now and spent that time teaching Max an interactive trick for the children.  He learned to sniff a container in each hand and indicate which one had the scent of mint in it.  I asked for volunteers and had about six hands come up, I picked two kids and told them exactly what I wanted them to do:

They were to hold the containers out in front of them side by side and Max would sit in front of them and then he would poke his nose on the right container.  Once he did I would say "Yes" and then the kid was to give Max a treat with their open hand, like one would give a treat to a horse.

The kids loved it.  Max's head snapped around when I said Yes and then he realized the CHILDREN were giving him treats.  He was completely involved.  Max loves kids anyway and now he was able to play a safe game with them and get a reward from them.

After the first two kids I asked for two more volunteers and every hand in the room shot up.  After those two kids did the trick with him, I said any who hadn't gone already could line up and do the game with Max.  Max repeated the trick 30 times with the kids and got a treat from each and every one of them.  He was stoked.

After that I explained that Emma was worried about them and if they could calmly line up and give her a treat also that would be great.  She took treats from the first five and then started to disengage and not take treats.  I sat with her in my lap and asked if they'd just walk by and say "Hi" instead.  The next 10 kids did and then five gave her treats and we repeated this until she calmed down.

The evening ended with applause and ending ceremonies and pictures.  I asked any children who took pictures with Emma and Max to please have permission with their parents because I wanted to post the picture on the internet.  The above two pictures were taken by a parent at the event, since my camera was acting up.  Thank you for sending them to me promptly!

The children were amazing and listened well.  I asked them questions and encouraged them to be part of our discussion on dogs.  I had Jake, who asked me to come, to hand out a Sofia Yin hand out about how to safely approach a dog and stated he had two other hand outs for anyone who wanted for their kids about dog safety also.

I truly enjoyed myself and was very pleased with how Emma recovered each time a fright happened.  She's in a fear period and tonight's event could have been distasterous without Walter's help.  He's a comfort to her and he listened well to my instructions on re-direction and reward for looking at the children.


Emma is worried about children 12 and younger.  She tends to bark at them and react with fear to them.  She needs more exposure to young children who are calm and active and see that nothing bad will happen around them.  Having Max present and being able to retreat to him when she needed helped, but she needs time to sit and observe children and become comfortable with them as humans also.

To help her with this I will seek and find places children play and she can be near without being mugged.  I will slowly build her up to greeting them and becoming more confident around them.

She's the type of dog who needs to observe from a distance before she decides if she wants to join.  She's a soft personality who can easily be shutdown if pushed too fast.  She is lucky she's being taught with positive re-enforcement, since traditional training would have quickly shut her down and killed her spirit.

Her entry into public work will be slow and at a pace that prevents her feeling overwhelmed.  She rebounded well from tonight due to the constant re-enforcement on her good behavior and safe retreat points to myself, Walter and Max.  What surprised me was she wasn't ready to meet and greet everyone there and became very reserved when we were there.  I was pleased to see her lay quietly beside me and watch the kids by the end of the event, and was even more pleased with her ability to do her Level 1 behaviors in such a busy location.

Though her loose leash walking wasn't perfect, she did try to keep her lead loose when she was able to focus.  For a young dog that is a nice accomplishment.  Emma is progressing well and I have no complaints about the wonderful, polite and quiet behavior I saw 90% of the time tonight.

Since Emma was able to perform her trick with myself, Redd, Walter and two adults in a new location, I am announcing that Emma has passed Level 2 Tricks for Shake.  I would recommend her owners to choose, plan and train a new trick to her to continue learning how to train new behaviors.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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