Wednesday, February 20, 2013

23 Weeks: Training - Day 41

Emma is a cuddle bug and loves laying on her people.
Once again Emma began fussing at me around 3 AM.  I sat up and told her to hush it and promptly fell back asleep.  For the next two hours she fussed at me every 30 to 40 minutes.  It's not the "I have to pee" fuss, but instead the "hey, did you forget the puppy" fuss.

Once up, back in the house from relieving herself and a cup of coffee in my hands, we headed back into the bedroom for our cuddle time while I worked at waking up.  On Thursday, when her owner picked her up, she mentioned they could tell Emma expected a bit of morning cuddle before starting her day, because she would go out and return and curl up on the couch with a "hey, aren't you going to join me" look on her face.  Her owner mentioned she would be sending Emma in to cuddle with her daughter first thing in the morning and I didn't think too much of it at the time, but over the weekend the impact of that choice struck me.

Emma is being trained to be her son's service dog and if she sends Emma in to cuddle in the mornings with her daughter she'll loose valuable bonding time between the two.  I am doing the morning cuddle with Emma to help her learn to lay quiet and calm on a bed in the event she'll be staying with her handler in the hospital and as part of her job when he's home.  If she's not cuddling with him over the weekends, but someone else, she'll not settle with him when it comes time for her to do so.  I would prefer she was sent to her boy in the morning so she can lay with him and get in her cuddles that way - since she's his dog and that is a strong bonding time for both of them.

Today was a busy day for me, and thus, Emma didn't get the amount of training I had wanted in.  I had two back to back evaluations for service dog prospects to do and needed after that to get a repair done on Max's harness.  I had arranged for Walter to watch Emma and decided, at almost six months, she could stay for the short time between my leaving and his arriving out of her crate.

Walter reported to me that Emma was calm and sleeping in the chair when he arrived.  She was in great spirits and greeted him warmly and then went back to taking her nap.  It was a good start on her learning to be out of her crate when left alone in my home.  With the success she had today - not getting into things she shouldn't and not having any accidents, she will spend tonight for the first time sleeping out of her crate.  I have gated my bedroom off (thus turning my bedroom into a "larger" crate) and we'll see how she does overnight outside of her crate.

Today's Lessons:

Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 of Go To Mat.  Emma knows that the goal is to get on the mat and lay on it.  Though I had not clearly explained that "laying" on the mat was part of the lesson until class last night, she's already started offering that behavior.  I am now building distance by tossing her kibble away from the mat after I tell her "free dog" to release her.  She's quick to get her treat and return to her mat.  I am now telling her what the behavior is called.

Tomorrow I'll begin adding distance again by moving away from the mat by two steps.  She currently knows to go to her mat when I am both standing and sitting.  She does not know to go to the mat unless I am facing it.


What a difference in this little dog.  She's bold and focused - something I was just beginning to see emerge when she left last week.  In class yesterday someone made a loud noise behind her and though she jumped she didn't shut down afterwards.  Today she ate from her metal bowl - which is still a bit scary when it hisses on the floor while she's eating out of it - without a lot of fear reactions.  I will have to put her metal bowl on a mat to keep her from being frightened by it moving on the floor.

This evening I had planned on training her with her dinner, but was exhausted from my afternoon adventures.  Emma curled up in my lap while I watched Castle on TV and slept with me until it was dinner time.  I again mixed a spoonful of moist food into her dry and fed her with the adult dogs.  She ate her meal without hesitation, until the bowl started moving, and showed none of the fear signs she did in the previous two weeks.

I also took her outside and walked up and down the street a couple of times on lead.  She was bouncing and excited, but paying attention to the lead most of the time.  I want to work on finishing loose leash walking with her so we can continue our field trips in new locations.  Tomorrow I'll take her with the camera to Petsmart and film working on Go To Mat and Loose Leash Walking in a new location.

Yesterday in class a girl, around the age of 8, came in while I was looking for a tug toy in the store section of the training facility.  She again barked and was a bit spooky about the girl.  I believe it's time to work with her and children again, now that we are past her fear period, and build good associations with children.

She's about to end her Prep class next week and I'll sign her up for Finishing School for her next class.  These classes have helped her focus and mature as a young dog and I feel continuing them with her will be in her best interest.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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