Wednesday, February 6, 2013

21 Weeks: Training - Day 33

Play with humans, other dogs and herself are vital to a
balanced and happy dog.  Emma needs playmates who'll
romp and play dog with her to help with her emotional
When I started training Max I was so goal oriented all I could see was I needed to get in so much training per day in order to reach my goal by a given time.  I got up in the morning and trained him, trained him on each break during my work day and lunch each day and ended our day with training.  I trained him 7 days a week and took him to one class after the next without a break to think and take in the lessons.  Instead of polishing each lesson we worked on in class, I got them good enough and started the next class assignment and didn't revisit and refresh what we had learned.  In the end Max seemed to forget everything he'd learned.  He dropped out of the game and disengaged from learning and I didn't pick up right away what was happening.  Max's head was full and he needed a break to think about what he'd already learned.  In his case he needed one month of no training to recover from the over-load.

I warned Emma's owners that this could happen with her also, so I built in a take-a-break day for her.  A day of rest and no new lessons, just using already known cues and a full day of being a dog.    Instead of rushing ahead to the new lesson I am working on polishing the ones she's learned and building a new lesson on already know behaviors.  It's kept her in the game and ready to learn each week when we start.

Another reason Max will drop out of the game is when he's had a very stressful event.  A weekend working at a Science Fiction Convention or going to the local Fair where there are a ton of people closely pressed together and strange sounds, scents and animals are two examples of such stressful events for Max.  When such events happen I plan a down day for him and evaluate him on the second day to see if he needs another day of rest before re-entering his normal, "boring" work environment.

Emma had two very stressful days back to back.  She went to the vet and then had a spontaneous field trip on Monday and then a very busy, active and loud class last night.  I wasn't surprised this morning when she wasn't in the game.  Instead of trying to push through and train despite her ho hum opinion of the kibble and the lesson itself, I decided to give her a day off.  Thus, today you'll see no lessons worked on.

I watched her for a bit and saw a puppy who was exhausted and sleeping a lot.  She wasn't in trouble constantly like she has been lately (chasing the cat, stealing toys, taking off with a forbidden and prized object) and she wasn't trying to engage Max or the other dogs in play.  This, for a five month old puppy, isn't exactly normal - so I got on the floor and played puppy style with her.

In short order Max joined and Attitude tried to tell everyone to knock it off.  Emma was play bowing and racing around the house, or flopping on the floor and playing batty foot with me and Max was zooming around the house also.  I played catch me if you can and who's got your nose and would calm them down and take breaks when everyone got way to wound up.

In no time she was stealing toys, chasing the cat, playing with Max and taking off with my weekly sales flyers.  She was running through the house with prized and questionable objects and truly enjoying herself.  Instead of being pulled into herself and acting slightly shutdown, she's being a puppy again.

We'll continue to play games today and enjoy our vacation day so that tomorrow we can hit the books again and continue her training.  I truly think she needs play dates with young dogs who'll play back, but I currently don't have access to any.  I hope her owners find her play buddies they can plan to take her too and let her blow off some of the pent up puppy energy she has.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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