Thursday, February 14, 2013

22 Weeks: Training - Day 39

Emma, 22 weeks, hides behind my recliner when
she thinks it's bedtime or something frightens her, such as
the camera in my hand.
At 3 AM this morning Emma gave me the "hey, did you forget you put me in the crate" whine.  I sat up and told her to go back to sleep and promptly fell back asleep myself.  At 6 AM I rose and woke the household.  I am aware that Emma thinks the crate is an evil contraption that keeps her from having fun with the rest of the household and snuggling with her humans, but I am just not ready for a 5 month old puppy to be rushing about my home unattended while I sleep.

She's hitting the teenage stage of life.  She's only two weeks shy of 6 months of age.  At that age the puppy decides that maybe playing the games I offer or even doing well known cues may not be worth her effort.  This is the case, I am seeing those first budding moments of rebellion.  She's whining at night in her crate in hopes that I'll fold and let her out and sleep in the bed with me.  She's pushing and testing boundaries with me and the dogs to see if they still exist.  Thus, my role as her handler and puppy raiser is to tell her that, yes, the rules still apply and her teenage moods will not prevail.

But she's also at that age in her growth that she's a lot like the defiant toddler who wants both independence and to know where I am at all times.  She's telling me in her own puppy way that she doesn't like going to bed at night by hiding behind my recliner or that she's not wanting to play my game when I am training by engaging the toys or dogs in the area instead of taking the food I offer.  I suspect I am seeing a lot more of her puppy defiance that her owners, since I spend more time with her currently than they do.  That's okay, I am ready and able to deal with doggy teenhood - I have been waiting for its arrival.

Her confidence is growing again.  I am so happy to see that.  She enjoys a good game of tug or Catch Me If You Can (she can) or "beat the puppy" which she thinks is silly.  She enjoys a good snuggle and is generally a happy, bouncy and playful young girl.  She's funny also; she enjoys a good pounce on a treat or a wiggly flop when training.

Today we worked on Crate and Go To Mat together.  I am making the crate a part of her world and not the evil thing that locks her up at night.  I brought it out into the kitchen and put her mat before it.  I left it open for the day and let her explore and play with her.  I just let the crate exist in her world and didn't act like it was a big deal that it was there.

Next week we'll work on a series of behaviors, since she's regained her willingness to train again, and see how she does.  I suspect it'll be another short week, since it's a holiday weekend and her family may want a full four days playing with her.  I think it'll be good for her and she'll enjoy the vacation from training here.  I hope she has a great weekend with her owners.

Today's Lessons:

Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 of Go To Mat.  In this step she is to go to a mat from 2 feet away.  I am working on building distance from the mat as she becomes more confident that the mat is the goal.  I started with the mat in front of her crate.  At first she wasn't sure if it was the crate or the mat I wanted her to interact with, so she did some paw and nose touches on the crate and some putting her head into or looking into the crate.  I clicked for all of that because she was also standing or or touching the mat the entire time she explored the crate.  After a bit she stepped off of the mat and looked at the crate and I didn't click.  I could see the gears working and when she looked down at the mat and I clicked she got the idea and started to interact with the mat.

We spent the first lesson of the day working for one minute increments on mat targeting.  I would work with her, give her a break and then work with Max on Focus and then give him a break and work her again.  She quickly got the idea she could sniff, touch, look at, lay on or sit on the mat to get clicks.  In short order she was quickly returning to sit on her mat or lay on it.  Each time she got on the mat she got several rapid fire click/treats and then I would toss a treat off to the side and have her chase it.

In our second session I placed the mat in the center of the living room and stood 1 foot away from it.  As I suspected, she thought being on the mat was secondary to being in front of me and laying or sitting before me.  I clicked any head motion or body movement toward the mat, which was behind her, and soon had her going to and exploring the mat.  I think, for the first time, it sunk in that the mat was the target spot that she was being clicked for.

At the end of the session I still have about a 1/3 of her food in her bowl when she got up and walked to the mat 1 foot away from me.  She had to move away from me and to the mat behind her to get on it and I clicked and gave her the remaining food in the bowl on the mat to end the session.

Emma is starting to understand the mat is the goal and that she can move away from me to get to the mat.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Crate.  In this step Emma is asked to go into the crate without luring.  I have decided to shape this behavior.  Emma is leery about the crate and the idea of it closing on her and thus won't enter the crate when I am near her.  She will, on the other hand, go in and out of her crate willingly if no humans are near it.  Giving her the choice to go into the crate at this time is our best option of turning crates into a positive location for her to be.

Today I worked on crate behavior by training Go To Mat beside the crate.  Whenever she interacted with the crate I clicked and treated her.  I was actually clicking for her being on the mat and exploring her crate, but for the first part of the GTM lesson I wanted her to feel the crate was a benign part of her lesson.

When I removed the mat from in front of her crate I focused on her interacting with and peering into her crate.  Though she never went into it, she did put her head in, paw it, touch it with her nose, look into it and even walk around it.  All of these actions got click/treats and helped her relax around her crate.

When I place her in her crate for bed or my leaving the house, I give her a high value reward, such as a Kong filled with soft food and kibble, to make the crate less stressful.  Today I had to leave to wash Max for our weekend trip and have the oil changed in my car.  I threw in kibble with soft food covering it into the crate and then gave her a Kong filled with soft food and kibble.  I placed a blanket over the crate with a small spot to peer out from the bottom and then put on the CD Through A Dog's Ear and let it play while I was away.

Emma will need a lot of high value positive rewards in her crate to improve her opinion of it.


I have accidentally poisoned one of Emma's cues.  Today when working on mat behavior I could see she was headed back to her mat and said, "Go to bed" and she immediately changed directions and went and hid behind my recliner.  Clearly the cue Bed has been poisoned for her and cannot be used for mat work.

I have chosen instead to use the cue "Hit the rack" for her going to her mat.  I do not want to use this cue until she's solid on mat behavior and offering the behavior freely.  I have also decided her cue for entering her crate will be Crate, which will not be introduced until she's freely offering entering a crate without concern about our shutting the door.

When talking with her owner I found we both said something similar when it was bedtime in our homes.  I tell the dogs, "It's bedtime" and start to go about shutting the house down and then tell them all, "Let's go bed" and head off into the bedroom.  For Emma this is the cue that I am about to stuff her into her crate and lock her up for the night; something she doesn't like.

In her owners home they tell her to either go into her "home" or "bed" when putting her into her crate.  Again, she's hearing "bed" and associating it with a negative and thus now feels negative emotions when she hears the word.  Thus, that word will not be one of Emma's cues.

At this point, I do not want to associate any other negative feelings with her cues for mat or crate therefore don't want any cues used until she's offering the behaviors freely.

I look forward to next weeks lessons and hope we can advance on her Sit, Down and Loose Leash Walking next week.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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