Saturday, February 2, 2013

20 Weeks: Training - Day 30

Emma hides from the camera.
Where did the week go?  This had to have been one of the fastest weeks I've spent with Ms. Emma.  She progressed so much this week also.  A fabulous trip to help young Boy Scouts learn about service dogs and dog safety and an amazing trip to Petsmart were just two of this weeks events.  She conquered her fear of doing a down before the front door while blocked between Max and a wall and learned a new trick which she proudly showed off in a class of new dogs she'd never met before.  She even worked her class behaviors with Max right next to her and the other dogs barking and being overly excited around her without hesitation.

In class she worked on crawl and rollover and in Petsmart loose leash walking and politely greeting a new and nervous puppy.  She enjoyed racing around the yard, playing in my raised gardens and doing fantastic recalls from one end of my property to another.  It was a busy week that flashed by us.

Her last day with us started with my waking before her and letting her out after she threw herself into a down at the front door!  I was amazed and pleased with the progress and rewarded her promptly for demonstrating her was able to overcome her fears.

We had a set back though.  She's very worried about the stainless steel bowl I switched to and while I was training her I dropped it and it clattered, scattering kibble, right before her nose.  She raced out of the room and kept her distance after that and I feared we'd lost her wonderful down at the front door.  Thankfully she didn't associate the down with the frightening event, but the bowl itself.  We'll get past this event like we have the others, but it may be slow going after such a fright.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 3 Down.  Once Emma got over the fear of doing a down between Max and the wall by the front door I decided to work on duration in that location to add even more good events with it.  I worked slowly up to 30 seconds in a down while laying between Max and the wall.

I was able to get up to 30 seconds once and 25 seconds 5 times.  She had no problem with 10 seconds and remained patient and calm while waiting for the click.  She even rolled over to one hip which said she was willing to stay in position while we worked.  I would randomly click her for staying in a down 3 times for a duration of 1 to 7 seconds and then count up to the next highest number we were working on.  She again began to show some fussiness at 20 seconds so we worked up to 20 seconds several times and then moved to 25 seconds and finally to 30 seconds.

It was at the 30 second mark that I went to get the last of her breakfast kibble out of the bowl and dropped it.  It promptly ended our lesson and sent her into hiding.  She did return to see that Max and Dieter had rushed in to help with clean up.  Both Max and Dieter are used to the sounds of things falling, even noisy things, in my house - but Emma is not.  Next week we'll start building up her confidence when something falls and ensure another accident like that doesn't shut her down in the future.

Because I had such a set back in the morning I decided to help her recover from her fears instead of adding any more levels training that day.  When I went to offer her her lunch she refused to eat when she saw the bowl.  She needed higher value rewards for looking at the bowl than kibble, so I mixed some of the high value treats I use into her kibble and at first offered only that until she was showing a more relaxed stance when seeing or touching the bowl.

She could eat kibble again when looking at it's sides or touching it with her nose, but when showing her that there was food in it, she again shrunk away and stopped eating kibble.  I slowly built her up again to being okay with seeing the inside of the bowl and ended the session by pouring the last 3rd of her lunch on the floor and setting the bowl on the ground 5 inches away.  She ate her food and ignored the bowl at this point.  I then left the bowl on the floor for her to pass as she moved through the house utnil it was time to leave.


Emma is in a major fear stage at this point.  She's just recognizing not everyone is a friend and items in her world may be scary and dangerous.  Any serious set backs now could affect her adult personality, so helping her overcome her fears is important.  The important part of helping her is not to coddle her, but give her calm reassurance and encourage her to explore and see strange new things won't hurt her.

She's doing very well with her lessons and is demonstrating extreme self control when greeting new people and playing with new dogs.  She's an amazing pup and I look forward to next weeks lessons.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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