Friday, February 22, 2013

23 Weeks: Training - Day 43

Emma, 23 weeks, playing with me.
Once again my day started at 7:30 AM with Emma waking me.  Instead of the flash mugging, like I got yesterday, today I got a gentle nuzzle on my nose which woke me.  She didn't go into spasms of excitement or pin me to the bed either, but instead jumped up and ran for the gate at the door and waited for me to let her and the other dogs out.  Once in we returned to my bed with Cup O' Joe in toe and settled in to watch some morning news - since I had spotted the white stuff falling from the sky.

I was about to get their training done and then take my shower when my oldest son Wayne called and asked if I would be home for a bit.  He arrived in the middle of training Emma, who had been working on Sit.  I gave up on morning training, which later turned out a good thing when my Mom arrived and visited for a bit also.  All told, Emma had an exciting morning by ending her morning training session by eating out of her crate while a visitor was present and learning again she needed to keep her feet on the floor if she wanted attention.

At Noon I packed her up with her new Service Dog In Training placard on her back and headed off for our field trip.  I left Max at home, alone, with the Dachshunds.  I was told on my return that was rude by his clearly ignoring me once I came into the house.  The great thing is, Max was okay after 50 minutes of being left alone in the house and hadn't torn anything up or damaged any part of my house.

When I trained Max I didn't train him to be alone - a skill I think all dogs, working or not, should have.  I have been working on training Emma to be alone by leaving her behind when Max and I go out for a quick errand.  As long as I know I won't be more than 1 hour or 2 at the outside, I don't arrange for a babysitter for her any longer.  If I am gone longer, I arrange for my son Walter to stay with her and keep her calm.  She can and does stay alone while I am away without having a meltdown.  She's been, this week, staying alone in the house up to 30 minutes at a time, out of her crate.

I ensure there is nothing she shouldn't get into available to her.  My bedroom, the front office and bathroom and the garbage under the counter are all closed off to dogs.  The garbage by my chair is boring with no smelly wrappers or food stuffs in it and the only things left on the floor are toys she's allowed to play with and are safe for he to have when she's alone.  She has Attitude and Dieter to keep her company at this time, though over time she will learn to be an only dog with no-one in the house.  What she knows is, if I got out of the house without her I will return to her eventually.

Max, who developed destructive separation anxiety, has been an ongoing project in teaching him to let me leave.  At first I couldn't leave the house without him slamming his body against the door or breaking windows.  Now I can leave up to an hour before he's thinking I am dead and won't return.  I am hoping by the time Emma and later his successor is trained, he can spend the day alone without panic.

Until then, if I am gone longer than an hour I arrange a babysitter for Max and will continue until he's able to spend longer periods of time between my exiting the door and the babysitter entering without panic.

But having learned the lesson of teaching your dog to be okay when he's alone the hard way, I am starting at the beginning with Emma and teaching her now before any separation anxiety sets in.  Today was Max's turn to watch me leave and Emma's turn to go with me.  There have been times when both go and I leave one or the other behind in the car, again teaching them both how to be calm when I am absent in a new location.  I find though, for both, being left in the car seems to be less stressful than at home.  Not sure why, but it is.  Right now the weather is perfect for short stays in the car when I am gone, but soon that won't be an option when the car will be too hot for their safety.

Today, Emma enjoyed playing with my son and mother and an exciting outing to a new location for her. Though she's been to the front of the Big R, she's never been in the store.  She was warmly welcomed and did a fantastic job on her field trip.  I have a short video of us working in one of the aisles I placed with the full write up below.

Emma is going home for the weekend again.  I know her owners won't have the time or energy to train her this weekend and I want to reassure them that is okay.  She can just be a cuddle bug at their home and relax with them as they deal with the stress of their loss.  I am providing a can of the moist food I normally mix into her dry kibble when I want to raise it's value for training so she'll eat for them.  They said they had a hard time getting her to eat last weekend and I suspect a spoonful of moist mixed into her meals will help this weekend.

I look forward to next weeks training.

Update:  Emma was supposed to go home today, but her owners schedule does not permit it with everything that is happening in their home tomorrow.  I will keep her until tomorrow night and then she'll return for Sunday with the family and back to me on Monday.  A third training session today and another day of lessons will be posted as a result.  Sorry for the early release on this blog post - I had thought my day was done when I posted it, but I jumped the gun.

Emma will continue to work on Level 2: Step 2 of Sit and finish her meals in her crate to re-enforce positive feelings with her crate.  More to come tomorrow!

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Sit.  In this step she is to stay in  a sit while I walk five feet away from her.  In the Come Afters she is to remain in a Sit while I walk five feet to her left and five feet to her right.  This morning I placed her in a sit and started lifting a leg or waving an arm to build up her tolerance and success when dealing with distractions while performing a sit.  She did well, but gets a bit shy when I lift my leg.  Over time her shyness about my leg lifting receeded and she got into the lesson.

As I started moving on step to the right or left or one step back she would slide into a down and I would have to recue her to a sit.  She has become comfortable using a down for duration and now finds it hard to remain in a sit if she thinks she's been parked somewhere for a while.  It will take slow and gentle reminders to convince her that the lesson is to remain in a sit while I move away from her.  Emma is doing well with this lesson and today I was able to get up to 2 feet away from her by either backing up or turning and walking away before our training was disrupted.

Emma will continue to work this step until she knows it in her bones.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In this step she is to take 2 to 5 steps beside me with a loose leash and then pause for up to five seconds without putting tension on the leash.  Emma is easily distracted due to her age and lack of experience and tends to wander to the end of the leash at this time. We will continue to work on this step until Emma can easily do it in a location with mid level distractions.

Field Trip

Emma 23 weeks Loose Leash Walking
Emma went to the Big R today with me.  I mixed moist food with her dry food and some cut up hot dogs and Howie's Meat Roll and Natures Balance Meat Roll in her pouch.  She rode to the location without fuss or moving around the car.  Emma is very comfortable riding in a car now.

At the location she waited for me to take her leash and release her from the car before exiting and stayed by my side without unduly pulling on the leash.  She walked mostly loose lead into the store.  She tended to pull forward and put pressure on her collar, so I would stop and back up until she looked at me.  We only needed to do this twice between the car and the store.

Once in the store she was curious, but not frightened.  Her head and tail were in good positions and her ears were forward, but not showing signs of stress.  She walked with a bounce that made the clerks laugh and smile at her.

We walked around to the dog toy aisle with only a few stops and back ups to reset her position.  She was taking food without hesitation and was curious about everything she saw.  Carts, PA systems noises and the sounds from other aisle didn't frighten her.

In the aisle we worked a bit on LLW (Loose Leash Walking).  At first she wanted to sniff everything, but once rewarded for looking back to me and not sniffing her nose was curbed and she focused on our lesson as best she could.

Once we finished our filming we took the camera back to the car and returned to work on walking around the store.  She greeted a couple of clerks and was curious about everything.  The sound of a train passing outside did not frighten her nor did the loud crash of a cart near us.  She was curious and a bit worried about loud thumps from the shoe section, but quickly recovered.

When we got to the live chicks section she saw a boy between the ages of 5 and 7 and didn't bark.  I was completely pleased by her not barking.  She was worried and a bit skittish as the boy yelled and bounced around, but took food the entire time we watched him from a distance.

The only problem I see is her need to go to and put her nose on everyone she passes.  She nose touched a lot of pant legs as we went or would go to sniff a passing person or a person we were passing.  I will have to work on redirecting her from such behavior on our next visit.

She grew highly distracted and tired by the end, so I will need to shorten our next visit to 30 minutes instead of 40 and leave before she's too tired and too full to want to focus on what we are doing.


Emma is technically six months old and a new age of maturity is showing.  She can do longer outings and handle new distractions with a level of calm curiosity that she couldn't even two weeks ago.  Where the loud noises or sight of children would have been too much for her two weeks ago, today she was happy and curious about her entire adventure when doing her public access work.

I suspect by the end of next month she'll be ready for her first restaurant visit, which will be a Zips or McDonald's where she'll enter with me and then leave.  The second will be to buy a coke and leave and we'll slowly work up to eating in the restaurant by the time she's eight months old.

She's also ready for working known behaviors in parking lots and other higher distraction areas - which I will start doing as the weather warms.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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