Monday, February 11, 2013

22 Weeks: Training - Day 36

Emma, 21 weeks, sits on a mat in a box.
It's Monday again!  Emma arrived in such good spirits she practically climbed me as I held her after her owner brought her into the house.  The Wilting Willow who left my house last week was a blazing bold black bullet this morning.  It's amazing how quickly personalities in a dog can change as they grow.

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.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Target.  In this step Emma is to touch a post it note or bright tape on a wall.  I went to tape recently because Max kept poking it with his wet nose and knocking it off the wall.  Emma has not fully grasped touching tape on the wall and quickly fell out of the lesson.  I decided today to remind her of the fun Target can be and went back to touching my hand high and low and then metal, plastic and wood object high and low and moving to touch everything.  We were soon bouncing and playing while earning kibble.

We worked primarily on Target today.  She enjoys hand target and quickly played the touch the hand game with me.  I only worked on wall targeting sporadically to build her tolerance for touching the wall and build her confidence when she did.  She's just grazing the wall with her nose and side of her face right now and hasn't fully focused on the orange tape we are using on the wall.  In time she should be able to touch with purpose on the tape and we can then move forward to closing a cabinet door.

Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Go To Mat.  In this step Emma is to go to her mat from a distance.  When I placed the mat on the floor Emma quickly moved onto it, but didn't have a lot of room to be on it with a small female Dachshund sharing it with her.  I could see she was loosing her interest and again ramped her up with a bit of play and then started tossing treats and clicking for returning to the mat.  Emma quickly got into that game and enjoyed it.

Confidence Building

Emma needs her confidence built as she works through this fear period.  The Wilting Willow and tuning out of training are at much confidence issues as they are physical discomfort from her teeth. In order to build her confidence I am playing with her, taking her to places she can succeed and working on well known behaviors where her success rate is high.

She enjoys the games and truly enjoyed playing in the yard while I cleaned it up today.  She loved the tummy rubs and Batty Feet and other games I played.  She also lit up when I worked Puppy Push Ups with her while I was on the phone.  She's comfortable now throwing downs at the door and enjoys earning her time outside to play by giving me a quick down.

With her front teeth finally in, she's able to engage in some tug games, which she enjoyed today.  Tug is a fun and confidence building game that dogs enjoy.  She loved being able to tug on a toy with me while I talked on the phone with a potential client.

I will continue working on building her confidence and keeping the fun in our training.  It won't be long before she's out of this fear period and ready to face any challenge we give her.


Emma has a single minded need to chew on cat toys.  I have been keeping my room gated during the day to prevent dogs raiding the cat box and have placed the cat toys in my room, but Victoria prefers to play with them out in the living room and has not been getting near the level of exercise she has in the past because her toys are not where she likes to play.  Unfortunately, if her toys are where Emma can get to them Emma chews and shreds them and the cat still can't play with them.  I believe it's time to make it a default Zen to ignore and leave cat toys alone in the house.

Emma also has a rather annoying habit of stealing toys from hands when she can.  Tonight I was holding a ball for Max and Emma ran in and snatched it from my hand and ran off before I could even blink.  I've seen her do this to my son Walter, also and realize it's something I need to work on also.  This is, again, a Zen issue.  I need to teach her that if I have a toy in my hand and I have not given her express permission to take it, she can't just steal it from my hands.

Both of these will take me time to think through and then plot how to train and proof.

This week her confidence has improved by 100%.  She's bold and happy and engaged in the world, unlike last week.  It still astounds me how fast a puppy's personality changes from one week to the next.  I enjoy it when she's bold and confident and ready to tackle something new and look forward to this weeks lessons.

I do have to announce that Emma astounded me when my son was visiting earlier today.  Emma was in the office when my son was leaving; he stood in the doorway with the front door open and Emma came out of the office, peered around the front door and saw him standing there.  Instead of shooting between him and the door to escape in the yard, she instead turned and went to the spot I normally ask her to wait when I open the door and sat without being cued.  What a wonderful change to see!  Great job, Little Girl.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

No comments:

Post a Comment