Wednesday, February 13, 2013

22 Weeks: Training - Day 37

Emma knew this lesson in class and showed off her
rad shaping skills!
Tuesday started early with Emma making small noises in the crate and waking me at 6 AM.  I got up and let everyone out and we came back to snuggle for a bit in bed.  After a cup of coffee and warming Attitude's breakfast on the counter (moist food, she doesn't like it right out of the fridge) we set out for our day of training.

Since I knew we had class that night I planned on working on some of the basics of what we'd be working on in class, which aligns nicely with what we are working on in The Levels also.  Target and Go To Mat were on the list and I figured it was time to really ramp up the puppy and get her excited about training again.

I had extended how long each session was and suspect that extension was part of her falling out of the game earlier.  She felt a bit stressed by the training and was burning out a bit from it.  I shortened our sessions to no more than one minute at a time and would work Max for two or three minutes before I returned to working with her.  This seemed to improve Emma's overall attitude toward training.

Midway through our morning training my son Wayne came by to visit.  We chatted for a bit, cooked up some food and had a good visit.  Emma was excited to see him and had to be reminded to not jump on him.  Once she calmed she went off to play with a toy while we had our visit.

At the end of the visit Emma was laying in the office chewing on a toy when Wayne opened the front door and stood, just past the threshold on my porch with the door open.  Curious Emma came out of the office and peered around the door; a perfect door dash moment.  Instead of dashing past him, which she had plenty of opportunity to do, she instead moved to where I normally have her wait when I go to let her out and sat and watched him while he talked to me.  What a huge difference from the Black Bullet who before couldn't help but shoot out the door the moment she saw an opportunity!

When Walter came later in the day I could see Emma fighting with every nerve in her body to not jump on him and throw her butt to the floor so she could be greeted by him.  It's a sign she's gaining more and more self control!  Between not shooting out the door and fighting to keep her feet on the floor, Emma is learning to control herself.  I am so happy to see this little dog applying her lessons!

Today's Lessons:

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 of 2 feet.  She is still orienting on her mat and figuring out that standing, sitting or laying on her mat gains her rewards.  I am clicking her for getting on her mat, which is at my feet, and treating her three or four times before telling her "Free" (her release word, since using my standard release word has Max popping up from his mat when I am working with her) and tossing the kibble a short distance from the mat.

At first I toss it just far enough she had to get up and get it and on each following toss I send it further and further from the mat.  At this point she's returning to me and thus the mat from a distance after getting her kibble, next week I will work on her moving toward her mat when I am not next to it.

Emma has started to lay on the mat when she gets to it and will wait for her treat when there, but hasn't gained any duration at this time.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Target.  In this step Emma is asked to touch a post it note or piece of bright tape on a wall.  Emma has been reluctant to do this over the past few sessions and I have had to do a lot of work to build up her willingness to touch something that is not in my hand for a reward.

We started with a bit of hand target, which she knows well and is good at, to give her a starting success and moved to her touching the wall.  She's still brushing the target with her nose and not giving a solid poke yet, but we did manage to get one good solid poke with her nose during our session.  She's starting to understand that touching the wall is the goal, but not yet focused on the tape on the wall.  I will continue to work this step with her until she's confident with the idea of touching a target on the wall.

Prep Class

Emma had Prep class again.  At the beginning of each class the instructors ask us how our week went and of any concerns we have with the dogs.  When my turn came I said I was pleasently pleased that she moved out of her Wilting Willow stage from the previous week to the Bold As Brass personality I'd grown to know.  I pointed out I had one problem, which I hadn't yet resolved, which is her hiding behind the chair when it's bedtime and I need to crate her.

This behavior is not a fear behavior as much as a loud communication to me that she doesn't enjoy being in her crate.  Carol said that at one time they had baby sat a friend's dog who got "Cookies for Bedtime" (a Kong) and the dog would actually beg for bedtime when they were tired because they loved getting the high reward for going into their crate.  What a wonderful idea!  I decided Emma needs a high reward for being crated at night and thus, I dug up a Kong for bedtime, put some of her kibble mixed with Attitude's very tasty moist food into it and went to the chair where she was hiding.  When I let her smell what I had she happily followed me into the bedroom and went into her crate without complaint.  I will continue this behavior with her to build up her enjoyment of bedtime.

Class went better for both Emma and I this time.  I packed in my treat pouch some Happy Howie's Turkey Roll (chopped into tiny bits) and Natural Balance Lamb Roll (chopped into bits) and cooked chicken breast and flavored all of that with some bacon grease (very small amount) and bits of broken up bacon.  She went nuts over what I was offering and worked hard for her rewards, even with the distraction of 8 other dogs in the room.

I also planted myself away from her cousin, whom she wanted to play with when in class, and worked extra hard to keep her attention during class.  I brought the mat she'd been working with from home also.

The problem is, I am tiring out early in class, long before she is, and simply am exhausted long before class time is over.  I may have to take a nap on class days so I have the energy to work with Ms. Emma in class.

This particular class we worked on shaping our dogs into boxes!  Does this not sound familiar?  I have been shaping Emma into a box for the past three weeks off and on.  I did it when sitting and standing, in the living room and kitchen and with and without her mat.  So, when the box came out Emma already knew that the idea was to do something with the box.  I had hoped we'd worked the box enough for her to get in during class with all those distractions and sit in it and low and behold, she did!  Not just once, but three separate times!

Next week we'll work on Go To Mat from a distance in class and Loose Leash Walking!  How exciting for Emma that she'll be working on behaviors she's been practicing at home so much in a new location.

At the end of class Travis, Carol and Dana's son, and his daughter came into the room.  Emma barked at both of them.  Travis had a hat on and his daughter was a, gasp, child.  She was not the only puppy to bark at the girl.  We all let our puppies come up and meet her and rewarded them for being brave.  We'll get through this phase, but some days it seems like it'll be a long and difficult process.


I am enjoying seeing the wiggly, happy, can't believe I am breathing puppy back.  I missed her last week when she was reserved and fearful of her own shadow.  I knew it was a phase, but it was troublesome to watch - even for an experienced dog owner.  She has such a soft and gentle personality that her "reserved" stages are very dramatic, as compared to the German Shepherd puppies I have raised in the past who seemed a bit shy, but not overly reserved.  I have had only one other dog who was as reserved as Emma is and that was my German Shepherd Gypsy, who was a quiet and reserved puppy and a very soft adult dog.  For Gypsy I did a lot of games to build her confidence, which truly helped her to become a bolder adult dog and able to handle startles and loud sounds without crumbling when she finally grew into an adult.  I am playing those games with Emma now.  I play "beat the puppy" which is just acting like I am beating her while I gently place my hands on her ribs or shoulders, she eats it up and starts to wiggle to death.  As the game progresses I just make my contact firmer and ensure I am not hurting her at any point, but just get her more comfortable with a thump on the ribs or a quick rub.   I also thump her ribs and tell her she's ripe or give her a quick rub.  Emma has grown bolder with these games and today when I dropped a can on the floor by accident she startled, but didn't crumble.  I was able to give her a thump on the ribs when she came to check what happened and she took that as a sign nothing bad happened.

Tonight I had an empty paper towel roll and played "beat the puppy" by gently taping her shoulders and ribs with it.  She got all excited and wiggly and stole it from me and ran off.  It's the same games I play with Max off and on and he too gets happy playful and smiles up at me.

Tonight I watched for the Black Shark who rushes in and steals toys that Max gives me.  I placed my hands on them and let her try all she could to steal them from me and when she stopped trying to take them rewarded her with praise.  She quickly learned I wouldn't let her steal toys whenever she wanted.

I noticed during one of our play sessions that she has two blank spots on her lower jaw where her bi-cuspids are going to come in.  She's chewing hard on everything and I am about to rename her to El Destructo (a name I gave to a friend's Dachshund who destroys every toy she gets her mouth on) .  When Walter came I asked him to babysit Emma while Max and I went shopping.  I bought her three new toys - a rubber squeaky bone, a rubber squeaky ball and a new chew toy which had a hard rubber center ball with a rope tug through it (small enough for Attitude to play with).  The cost was minimal, since they are from the cheap bin at Walmart and there are several other types of toys like that for less than a dollar a piece.  These are her "destructo" toys.  I am about to put up the soft toys she's been shredding that Max enjoys and will only pull out one or two at night for Max to play with while she plays with her own toys.

I do have to say, it's nice to see Emma back to her bold self; Wilting Willow was very hard to work with.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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