Thursday, February 21, 2013

23 Weeks - Training - Day 42

Emma hides behind my recliner when I bring out the camera.
It's early morning and I have five animals stretched out on my bed.  Attitude is on the far side with the blankets pulled up to her shoulders.  Dieter has burrowed under the covers by my legs.  Max is fully stretched out at the foot of the bed.  Victoria is lounging at the foot of the bed glaring at me.  Emma is curled close to Attitude on one of my pillows.  Morning in the Bales household.  Occasionally, the blankets rise and move in a slow motion wave formation as Dieter shifts his position, but otherwise, the house is quiet and I am able to enjoy a morning cup of coffee while my early morning migraine fades.

This morning started at 7:30 AM with Emma suddenly mugging my face and flopping all over me.  I laughed at her and tried to sit up, which caused a spasm of excitement from her and she threw her whole weight on my ribs and draped over me, which effectively prevented me from getting up.  The moment I stopped trying to get up she would go back into the "time to get up" mugging of my face and we'd rinse and repeat the process of trying to get up from the bed.  I finally had to tell her she needed to let me get up if she wanted me to let her out.

She was quiet and playful all the way to the door and once back in the house raced back to my bed and curled against my ribs.  When she was out I checked the bedroom.  No messes, no torn up slippers or shoes and nothing indicating she gotten bored in the night and found trouble.  We also didn't have the 3 AM whine or the every 30 minute sleep timer whine trying to wake me from the pre-dawn until I couldn't take another whining session from the crate.

I believe we can spend the rest of the week with her gated in my room at night to prevent her seeking and finding trouble while I sleep, but she's showing signs she's ready to sleep through the night without being crated.  I am not surprised actually.  She's never had an accident in her crate while here and the only two times she's had an accident in my house was the human's fault, not hers.  The first time was my missing her telling me she needed out the first week she stayed with us and the second was yesterday when Walter said he tried to get a down out of her before letting her out and she simply couldn't hold herself anymore and urinated instead.  We both agree, those two incidents were our fault and not hers and thus, I feel she's pretty reliably housebroken at this time.

When I crated Gypsy at night to housebreak her she was Emma's age when I stopped placing her in her crate and just sat up with her for a few nights to ensure she was able to control her bladder and bowels.  Emma is at that stage in development where she no longer needs the crate to keep her from making a mess in the house.  This is fantastic.

This change in how the crate is being used here means I can now take the time to actually train her to enjoy the crate before needing to ever shut the door on her again.  It means I can move it out of my room and into another room where she has all day access to it and can explore and play with it and decide for herself to nap in it if she desires.  It means I can take crate training at a pace that lets her realign her association with it and begin to see it as a safe haven before we take classes where being in a crate when not working on in class lessons is a requirement.

It also means I'll have 20 pounds of very warm and wiggly Labradoodle curled against my spine and on my blanket at night as I fall asleep.  I had to convince her last night that I was permitted to have blankets also and they could indeed be pulled over my shoulders without her weighing them down and/or stealing them.

Let the fun begin!

Today's Lessons:

Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Go To Mat.  In this step Emma is to go 2 feet to her mat and lay on it.  She's got the understanding that the mat is the goal and to sit or lay on it is the goal, but she's not fully understood that she can get her reward when I am not close to the mat.  Today I decided to place the mat before her crate and work on it while it was about two feet from the crate.  I also two a couple of steps from the mat when she showed she knew we were playing the mat game.  The video I am including with this post shows she's getting the idea, but at first still thought the game was to lay before me, mat or not.

I then moved her mat to in front of her crate and re-enforced that working with the mat was the goal.  She started to test me by placing her foot on the mat or touching it with her nose.  Since she's still asking if the mat is the goal I am clicking these behaviors a few times and then holding out for more after a few clicks.  If she stalls when I hold out for more, I just back up and re-explain to her that the mat is the goal and her touching it is what I want.

Emma is starting to show signs she understands she can go to the mat when I am not near it.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Crate.  In this step Emma is asked to enter the crate without being lured.  I have decided to shape this behavior and have started with her just looking at or being close to entering the crate at this time.  Emma is starting to understand that the crate is the goal and she can get rewards for interacting with the crate.

Tonight for her dinner I just put the whole bowl of food in her crate, about half way in this time.  The past few times I've fed her in her crate she only needed to put her head in to get her food, but this time she needed to put past her shoulders in to get to her food.  Eventually I'll place her bowl into the back of her crate for her to eat (don't ask how I'll get it out).  One whole meal in her crate will, over time, build her confidence with the crate and attach strong positive feelings with it.


Emma is leery of cameras around my face and will hide when she sees them.  I want to be able to film her without causing her stress so the below video shows Emma and I working through the "big bad camera" this morning when I brought it out.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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