Thursday, February 7, 2013

21 Weeks: Training - Day 34

Emma (21 weeks) sitting on her mat in her box.
It was not Emma who woke me at 6:30 AM this morning, but Max.  I woke to the lovely sound of him bringing up the doggy equivalent of a hairball, followed shortly by the cat bringing up a hairball in the bathroom.  Why a dog decides the best place to empty their stomach is in a location that is difficult to clean up afterwards I will never know, but Max decided to empty his stomach between his bed and the wall.  Upon hearing the retching of both the dog and cat and my sitting up making unkind comments of animals and bodily fluids, Emma gave me a sharp yip to let me know she was alive.

Thus, my morning started with animals and body fluids and clean up duties.  I got my morning coffee and watched everyone run about the yard for a bit before starting our day of training.  As you remember, Emma had become stressed enough to need a break in training yesterday, but this morning work with her normal cheerful puppy attitude and willingness to earn her breakfast.

Since she is at that age where she's aware not all people are family, not all things are safe and some things might actually be scary, she's become a bit of a wilting willow in my home.  Silver bowls, new ceramic bowls, the vacuum, a dropped spoon, my changing how I stand or where I train all throw her into a wilting willow pose and slinking off to hide behind my recliner or in the office.  It's a normal part of growing up puppy, but I find it tiring when I turn to work on something new and she's moved half way across the house and sat staring at me like I was about to scald her with hot water.

This calls for confidence building for Ms. Emma.  Games she can win at.  Games that make her the smartest puppy on the planet for the day.  Games that challenge her, but don't frighten her.  What to play? Shaping of course.

For three days now I've been working on building up Max's back end awareness.  Though it may sound funny, most dogs are completely clueless to the fact they have back feet.  That thing that trails behind them, wags it's tail and bumps into stuff is a completely surprise when they discover it.  There are lessons one can use to improve back end awareness.  Learning to pivot from Front to either Heel or Side positions gives them an idea they have back feet.  Having them back up steps or over a board can also help them discover their back feet.  Max had learned both of those as an introduction to his back feet, so this week I found a fun shaped box that I though would encourage him to lift his back feet to step into it and make him more aware of them.

While working this game with him for his kibble, I worked with Emma to step into and explore a box with even sides.  In her current class she'll be asked to step into and sit in a box and I started that lesson with her before she even started her Puppy K class.  I plan to expand the lesson to teach her to curl into a small ball and lay with a low profile while working in public.  I am also using the box to make her more aware of the mat I am training with for Go To Mat in the Levels Training.

Today I worked with Max, who is an expert on putting his front feet in the box, but seems to forget he has back feet.  Or he'll put his back feet in the box, but not keep his front feet in the box.  He never truly learned to "step in the box" in class and only displayed he had an idea of it when he got into my laundry basket and sat on my dirty clothes one day when helping with laundry.  It is still a lesson we return to when I want to charge him up and get him to explore and play with shaping and one he enjoys.

Right after that I worked with Emma to get her thinking about boxes.  Boxes can be fun and I wanted her to see me get a box and get as excited as Max does when he sees me with a box and a clicker in my hand.  She tends to just lay next to the box, sometimes glance at it and then look at it and maybe sniff it. It takes time to get her thinking she can interact with it and make me click - but she's starting to get there.

Our box lesson morphed into our Go To Mat lesson once I got her thinking about the box.  I took pictures today of Emma and Max and their boxes.  Enjoy the lesson plan!

Today's Lesson:

Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Go To Mat.  In this step Emma is asked simply to go to the mat and stand on it.  The criteria I have set for Emma is to have all four feet on the mat I have selected for her.  The mat I am training with at this time is a cloth bath mat which I can easily travel and is different than Max's standard mat.

I began by shaping Emma with the box.  She had shutdown the day before and didn't want to train.  With rest she was interested in eating and training and thus wanted to earn her kibble.  I set the box before me and clicked anything she did around the box.  If she looked at, walked around, sniff, sat beside, laid beside or touched the box in anyway she got a click.  In short order she was experimenting with me to find what I wanted her to do.  It wasn't long after that she got the idea that anything to do with the box got me to click.

Once I was getting her front feet into the box and her pawing or bowing into the box I worked on her getting her back feet into the box.  She quickly lifted both back feet, did a side hop and sat in the box.  Once I had her regularly stepping into and sitting in the box I went and got the mat and folded it and placed it in the box.

She was curious about the mat in the box and got clicks for exploring the mat in any way she could think of.  She soon stepped into the box and sat on the mat.  It was there she got several heavy rewards for being on the mat in the box.

I then removed the mat from the box and set it on the floor beside the box.  Emma promptly stepped onto the mat and sat.  I heavily rewarded her for being on the mat.  Each time I tossed a kibble to get her off the mat she returned and sat on the mat with all four feet on the mat.  We ended the session with Emma freely stepping onto and sitting on the mat on the floor.

This evening I reversed the process.  I placed the mat on the floor and rewarded Emma for any exploration of the mat.  In short order Emma was standing on the mat with all four feet.  At this time I am not requiring a sit or a down on the mat, just that she gets all four feet on the mat once she understands it's the Mat Game we are playing.

After half of her meal working with the Mat on the floor and her approaching it from different angles to step back onto it, I folded the mat and placed it in the box.  Emma promptly stepped into the box and sat on her mat.  I heavily rewarded her for sitting in the box on the mat and then would toss a treat in different directions to reset her.  She quickly and easily got into the box from several different angles and sat on the mat.

Every so often I lured her into a down on the mat in the box and heavily rewarded her down on the mat in the box.  Emma enjoyed her Mat Game both with and without the box today.  Emma is not ready to find her mat at distance yet, but can begin to work toward adding distance on her next lesson.

Funny Story:

Tonight, after working with Max for almost two years to get him to step into a box and sit with all four feet in the box, I got success.  After he got the idea he could put his back feet in and then pull his front feet into the box as he sat, we ended his session with the box by giving him the last of his meal as a huge break through reward.

When I went to get the pictures of Max and Emma and their box adventures I put their mats into their boxes and set Max's box down while I got the camera ready.  When I looked up Max was sitting proud as a peacock in his box! My camera wasn't obeying me and Max sat in that box for up to 3 minutes while I fussed with it.

I took his pictures, pulled up his box and pulled out Emma's box.  I have not trained Max with this box even once and when I sat the box down Max promptly stepped in and sat!  I guess he got the idea.  It took me telling him not to get in the box to get the above picture of Emma in her box!  Here are Max's box pictures.

Max steps in with is front foot to get into the box.

Brings his butt around to sit...

and sits in his box!

He sees a mat in Emma's box and steps in.  See how he's now lifting
his back feet to get into the box while his front feet are still
in the box?

Pivots in the box to get his butt in position.....

and sits!  And just encase you think he's cheating.....

all of that big butt is IN the box.


Emma is in a critical stage where she can become fearful of the world or bold as brass.  She is a soft personality who needs a little extra TLC when she's uncertain of something, but once she's recovered she is a bold girl.  Right now the world is a bit scary, so she needs exposure to lots of textures, strange people, shapes, sounds and smells to build her confidence.  She needs it in tiny bit sized bits that can build her confidence.  She needs each experience to be positive with high value treats and calm, steady reassurance from her handlers.

She is also growing into the "I don't think so" stage of life.  This is the stage where they truly begin to show their pre-teen behavior.  She's testing to see if I am serious about going into the crate at night for bedtime by hiding behind my recliner.  She tests the waters a lot right now.  As long as she continues to get consistent and fair handling from the people in her life, she'll come out of this stage a bolder and more confident dog knowing the rules applied, even when she did rebel and nothing harsh or harmful happened when she did.

Tomorrow Emma heads back to her owners for the weekend.  I have enjoyed our week so far and look forward to her new and ever changing personality next week on her return.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

No comments:

Post a Comment