|Emma, 21 weeks, sits on a mat in a box.|
Once Emma's owner left and she calmed a bit from the excitement of returning here, I began her training in earnest. Peering at Level 2 I decided this week to work on Target, Go To Mat and Crate as her focused training plan. Sit, Down, Come and other key parts of her learning will be handled as daily practice with lots of play and praise as rewards.
I selected those three because they are closely related. Target translates into Go To Mat by having Emma target the mat as the goal location for her to succeed in earning a reward. Placing the mat near and finally in the crate for her Crate lessons will help her transition to entering the crate and relaxing in it. The first goal though, no matter how focused I may be on what she will be working on for the week, is having her In The Game.
Today she was ready for a bit of Target, but not really willing to eat her kibble as a reward. Since she needs food in order to grow and she's earning her food by offering me behaviors, I stepped away from the Target lesson and just encouraged her to engage me in play for a bit. She jumped and played and pawed and nibbled at me until she was about to explode with joy and then ate the kibble I offered her! This was my goal, to get that first kibble into her to start her learning process and it worked.
It took me all last week and today to realize what the problem with earning her kibble, something she truly enjoyed when we started, is currently. She's still teething and bringing in new adult teeth. As any parent will tell you, when a child is bringing in a new tooth they are fussy, not as hungry as normal and difficult to work with when they are in pain. As we humans grow our bones slowly grow as well. There is a point in the human growth that bone growth causes just as much pain as bringing in new teeth does and the child becomes difficult because of that pain. Emma is experiencing all of this at a faster rate than a human child does.
A puppy has 28 teeth after the age of 8 weeks. Between 3 to 8 months they start to loose their puppy teeth and bring in their adult teeth; a total of 42 teeth for most breeds. In order to accommodate the larger number of teeth the puppy's jaw expands while they are teething by growing a bit wider and longer. Thus, Emma's jaw has been growing rapidly to allow for her new teeth to grow in. She's already brought in her incisors canines and bi-cuspids and is now working on bringing in molars. This process is painful and distracting to a young dog and thus, Emma's willingness to chew on her kibble as a reward is lower than when she was younger and not experiencing this pain.
In order to bring her into the game enough to work for the food she needs I am playing with her more. I got onto the floor and played Catch My Fingers and Spin the Puppy and Batty Feet with her. I got up and played Catch Me If You Can (she can) and snuggled and did anything that ramped her up enough to gain interest in food. It's tiring, but her Wilting Willow mode from last week was not seen once today and a bold and bouncy puppy got serious on her Target games today.
This week will be a short week since I am leaving town on Friday for a weekend Science Fiction Convention. Emma's owner will pick her up at my home after 5 PM on Thursday and enjoy a three day weekend with her. Meanwhile, I'll continue to work with increasing Emma's food drive and desire to work for her kibble this week.
Go To Mat
|Focus||Lazy Leash||Go To Mat||Crate||Distance|