Monday, February 4, 2013

21 Weeks: Training - Day 31

Emma adores Max and mimics him when in public.
It's Monday again!  Over the weekend my paycheck from my other job came in and I planned this morning to rush it to the bank after I took care of Ms. Emma and her morning routine.  I woke early so I could meet up with the owner and gather my charge and was promptly called at 8 AM by a person who had attended my Friday class and wanted me to help them select a dog to train.

That first phone call would be the ongoing theme for the rest of the day.  I received no less than five calls today from people wanting to talk dog and starting to train one for a family member or themselves.     I missed a couple of them because it was re-check day with ears for both Emma and Max.

I worked with Emma on her two behaviors for the week and called ahead to the vet to let them know I would be bringing in both dogs.  The vet office wasn't the madhouse this time like it was the last, but I did see some sad cases go through.  One family brought in their dog and left crying without it, another learned their dog needed an amputation and a third came in for emergency surgery for a block bowel.

Emma was in good humor again and dealt well in the lobby with all of the dogs and cats there.  She was well behaved and happy to greet everyone, until an 8 or 9 year old girl came in.  The moment she saw her she began barking and it was only with re-direction that I stopped her.  This girl was not afraid and after Emma calmed asked if she could pet her.  I encouraged it and Emma relaxed and enjoyed the girl's very gentle and appropriate petting.

Emma and Max are both healthy again.  Their ears are in great shape and their weight is top notch.  Max weighed in at a lean 79.8 pounds and Emma at a whopping 20.0 pounds.  She's tall and lanky and growing at a great rate.

After our adventure at the vet office I stopped at a local E-Smoke shop I frequent and asked if Emma could come in and visit with them.  I didn't film this visit, since it was impromptu and I was there to actually make a purchase also.  The owner gladly welcomed her and said she was welcome to continue her training by making regular visits in the shop.  I must commend this man - he's always warm and welcoming to myself and Max and was very pleased with Emma's behavior - and he's allergic to dogs. What a wonderful small business owner.  If you e-smoke, please visit the tiny e-smoke shop on the corner of Freya and Sprague.

He said the most wonderful thing when we left - he said Emma was as well behaved as Max during her visit.  How great is that to hear?!

The remainder of our day was spent working on Emma's fear of the evil metal bowl.  I set it in the middle of the living room and let her walk and play around it and waited to feed her until I knew she was truly hungry and then added a bit of Attitude's moist food (Duck and Chicken Grill from Wilderness) to the kibble and set the bowl on the floor before her.  She ate her entire meal from the bowl, though at times a bit shy about it moving along the floor, she decided her tummy wanted that wonderful smelling food more than her worry about the shiny thing she had to put her head into.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Focus.  In this step Emma is asked to hold eye contact for 2 seconds before the click.  We had spent a lot of time establishing that just making eye contact would get her a click and a treat and then very slowly built up duration until she could wait between 1/2 and 1 second before the click.  For her this was hard, but she started to get the idea and would do little head jerks and make eye contact to check her findings.  When we stopped we were up to 1 second about 30% of the time.

Today I was able to quickly remind her that making eye contact was paying and then worked up to 1 second.  I stayed at 1 second for several clicks and then did 2 seconds.  At first she could almost do 2 seconds, but her eyes would dart or she'd start to offer another behavior.  I dropped her criteria again and did repeated clicks for just glancing into my eyes and then looking into my eyes for 1 second.  She got up to 2 seconds 5 times today and 1 second 15 times today.

At one point she laid down and I cued her back into a sit to tell her that I wasn't looking for anything but her eyes moving to me.  She got the idea and settled into the behavior after that.  We will continue to work slowly to her offering 2 second eye contact up to 80% of the time before testing her.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Handling.  In this step she is asked to allow me, without fussing, to handle her face, ears, tail, feet and body.  I am in the pre-stages of handling her body for this step, so I clicked whenever my hand touched her.  She was comfortable with most touch, except when my hand, palm toward her face, moved in from the side.  She didn't flinch or react frightened, but would shift her weight away from my hand.

I spent the last half of her breakfast clicking for touching her and would off and on move my hand closer to her face and click.  In the end I was able to cup her face with my palm without her shifting her weight, but I will continue to work on that type of hand movement to make it less uncomfortable for her.

Emma will continue to work this until I can touch all parts of her body without her shifting her weight away from me or turning to see what I am doing as I touch her.

Field Trip

I stopped at a local e-smoke shop and got permission to bring Emma in with me.  She was excited at first and wanted to jump on one of the employees (not the owner), but the employee understood she was in training and gave her affection only when her feet were on the floor.  She quickly gained control of herself and began boldly looking about the room.  I had her on her harness at the time, since LLW was not the goal of this first, extended, non-pet friendly store - but instead the experience of being in a place that she couldn't actively explore.

Several patrons came in and she wanted to meet them and would pull heavily on her harness to get to them.  I did not correct her, but just held her in position until she relaxed.  She did try to jump on each of them, but never got contact because of how short I had her lead.  Her lead was not super short, but long enough to allow her to lay quietly beside me and not get to patrons as they passed us.

After five new people came and left the store and she wasn't allowed to greet them, she decided to lay beside Max and wait for me to finish my purchase.  At this point I praised her.  She did at one point see something outside of the store that was exciting and talked a bit under her breath, but overall she was very quiet and extremely polite for her first extended (20 minute) visit to a non-pet friendly location.

I did see her look at Max several times and mimic him by either sitting or laying down and being calm and quiet while I continued to discuss my purchase with the store owner.  When we went to leave the owner said Emma was a well behaved as Max (who by the way collapsed at my feet and fell asleep during my purchase).  I believe he was impressed a five month old puppy could have such self control!

He welcomed us to come back and train with her again.  Emma made a positive impression on this store owner.


It is clear now I need to take Emma to play grounds and other locations where children play and keep her under threshold while she watches them and is clicked for seeing them.  Something about young children frightens her a bit and I need to ensure she is comfortable with all sorts of people when she sees them.  I don't think she needs to meet them as much as she needs to be comfortable with seeing them.  One prime location will be on my front porch morning and evening when the school bus comes.  Over time I will work her to standing with the children at the bus stop and watching them get on and off the bus, but first she needs to feel okay with children upon sight.

She is teething again, this time molars, and her chewing has become the grand marathon of what toy can be destroyed in the shortest amount of time.  I recently bought new chews for the dogs and think it's time to take Emma chew toy shopping for near indestructible chews she will enjoy when in her puppy relaxation time.  I may have to put up all soft toys at this point since I am afraid she'll gut and eat the cloth and stuffing - which would be hard on her tummy.

Though this week we'll primarily work on Focus, Handling, Go To Mat and Target, she will be practicing her Sit, Down and Come in real life situations.  She is learning to do a sit or down as per my request at the door to go outside, recall from outside to come in and use sit or down at a distance or for a set amount of time to receive rewards when I am working around the house.  Though I am actively focused on only a limited number of items in our planned training sessions, all other aspects of Level 2 come into play in her daily life.  Communication asks the dog not be under foot when around humans, Zen is a daily factor with Attitude's high value meals and other dogs getting something she may not, Jump is used to get into the car or onto my bed, Relax is practiced during the quiet times when I am watching TV or snuggling on the bed and Crate is a daily factor for when she naps, goes to bed or I need to leave the house without her.  Though I may not talk about these items in our daily lessons, she does experience them as part of living within my home during the week.

With the onset of this week the last step of Zen, Traps and Defaults, will be a part of her daily living.  It is default to leave Attitude's food bowl alone, ignore something I lay in the middle of the room that is not for a dog and the cat has become a default Zen item also.  Hopefully we'll be well on our way to completing Level 2 Zen by the end of the week.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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