Thursday, February 28, 2013

6 Months: Training - Day 46

The training board Redd put together for training the dogs.
A light switch and a board on hinges helps me to work on
two key service dog skills.  The board will continue to grow
and change as I work on training Emma her basic service dog
Emma is sleeping through the night now that she's not in a crate.  She prefers to be close to her humans, though she can handle my being on the other side of a gate or away from the house. The crate simply had become a jail for her and removing her from it at night and gating her into my room has resolved my training issues with crates.  I will pick up crate training once again when we reach that point in the Levels.

She's full of energy and testing her boundaries with me and the other animals in the house.  She's begun to bound onto Dieter and poke her nose in his face when he's sleeping, thus causing him to growl and tell her to knock it off.  She rarely listens at this point in her emotional growth, so I spend a lot of my day telling her to leave him be and redirecting her.  She will also try to start play with Attitude or stand over here in a "tell me no if you dare" stance.  Attitude has, on more than one occasion told her to knock it off, yet again she's not listening and so my day is spent telling her to get off the Dachshund, be it Dieter or Attitude.  She's also decided to charge the cat and harass her whenever she can; again I am spending my day telling her to leave the cat alone.  Welcome to teenage dog mode!

With this new level of activity has come a new level of destruction on her toys.  I am used to having dogs who chew on, but don't rip and tear their stuffed toys.  Emma loves to rip and tear the stuffed toys.  If she isn't doing that she's chewing on a single point on the toy and removing eyes, noses or limbs from the stuffed toys.  I have put up the stuffed toys as a result, since Max loves to just chew on them and then give them to me so I can toss them to him.  These are his toys and I don't believe it's fair she destroy his playthings.

I bought toys she's allowed to chew and destroy to her hearts content.  I have a friend, Ronda, whose Dachshund DJ enjoys the same type of toy destruction that Emma does.  I bought for her a toy she was allowed to destroy, thus not destroying Max's toys.  Emma has found that toy, found the canvas interior and has pulled it out and chewed and eaten most of it.   It looks like I'll need to go to Petsmart or Walmart on payday and pick up some cheep toys for Emma to destroy.

She's also grown comfortable with the game of tug.  I have been working with her for about a month to teach this game as an interactive game she can do with her owners and finally see her understand the concept of pulling and tugging on the toy.  I bought a stuffless toy for her to tug with and bring it out for one-on-one play.  Max also has learned to enjoy tug and tends to try to join us, so I am using myself as a bridge to teach him he can enjoy a game of tug with the puppy.  It's slow going, but they are starting to tug on the toy with me as a team - I may have one arm longer than the other before this is done.

Now that she's moved into the "what are you doing now" stage of life, I am considering putting her back into Leading the Dance here at my home to prevent her from learning bad habits and improve her focus on the humans in her life.  She enjoys her playtime, but lately it's been more inappropriate play, such as bullying the Dachshunds or chasing the cat, and I want to teach her proper play and in home behavior so she's welcome anywhere she goes once she's grown.  If she continues with this wild child behavior, I will start tethering her when I work in the office (her prime time to annoy the other animals in the house) and if that doesn't resolve some of this, will tether her to me.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Target.  In this step Emma is asked to shut a cabinet door with her nose.  Today we worked again with the training board and for the first time Emma started touching the board with enough control and force to repeatedly shut the "door" on the board.  I have not attached a cue yet, but am pleased with the progression of her targeting behavior.  Tomorrow I will work on a cabinet door in the kitchen again and retrain her the basic behavior for shutting a cabinet door.

Emma now understands that the sound of the door hitting the main board is her click and when she doesn't hear it will push the door a second time and make the sound.  I removed the clicker from the equation because I want her to recognize for herself when she's shut the door.  Once she got the concept she began to, with control, push the door shut and ensure she got the sound of it hitting the main board.

She did test to see if just brushing her nose against the board or pushing it lightly would get her a reward.  Since I had several repeated successes in a row, I withheld the treat until she pushed the door all the way shut.  Emma has learned the goal of the lesson, but has not generalized it yet.

Eventually this will turn into her shutting doors for her handler when he needs her to do so.  It will also, eventually morph into other skills, such as turning on/off lights, pushing his feet or arms onto his chair and more.

Prep Class

It's hard to believe it's been four weeks since we started prep class.  Emma was one of the oldest in the class and entered it with her shy, distracted and wild five month old behaviors.  I was dealing with the beginning of teenage Emma and the height of her teething.  Though she's still bringing in teeth, she is not any longer bringing them in at the rate she was at five months of age.  She was disconnected from training, unable to sit still and I was exhausted and looked like I had never worked with her.  The difference in four weeks of class was amazing.

The other puppies in the class were in the compliant four month stage - the age where they want to do whatever you ask and can bring their focus back to their handler quickly.  Breed makes a difference in the behavior of each puppy as they move through their growth spurts.  Two of the puppies were Terriers (I believe both were Rough Coated Rat Terriers) and at very different ages and energy levels. The brown and white boy was 100% go and 0% pay attention.  The cream and white girl was calmer and more reserved, but a "hi how are ya" glance sent her into spasms of pure joy and she could in a heart beat wind up and become a whirling dervish.  The silver and grey Silky Terrier was between the two Rat Terriers in energy and focus.  The Golden Retriever puppy was almost asleep 90% of the time; a very mellow four month old who perfectly understood the concept of staying on his mat and putting his head down and waiting for direction.  Emma's cousin walked in fully focused on her owner the first day and ready and willing to do whatever she wanted; Emma was bounding around on the end of the leash, bounding on me, chewing on my hands, not taking food, not wanting to play my games - she looked like she walked into Prep with zero training that first day.

The last day was so different.  The trials and tribulations I had already gone through I heard every other owner in the room mention.  Stealing food, toys, clothes and other items in the house and racing about like wild animals.  Not wanting to work for food.  Not wanting to play in their Reindeer Games.  The brown and white Terrier, close to Emma's age, was at the "I may play if you have something interesting to do" stage she was in 2 weeks ago.  The cream and white Terrier was at the "I am deaf and can't hear you when you are 2 feet away from me" stage she was at 4 weeks ago.  The Golden was starting to get into trouble and not wanting to work for his food.  The Silky Terrier was ready and willing to work (he's slightly older than Emma, but just starting his training) and is actually at the stage she was in 2 months ago.  Emma's cousin was in the stage she was 4 weeks ago and I had to laugh, recognizing the same behaviors I worked through on that first day of class and seeing the same worn and exasperated expression on her owners face I must of had.

So, with all of that in mind, I was more than pleased that Emma not only parked on her mat, but started to put her chin down.  That she wasn't as pushy by bopping my hand and reminding me there was a puppy at her feet starving to death while I clicked for calm.  She was willing to work on loose lead walking and any other behavior we did in class.  She showed I was training her and she's coming along nicely.

She will skip a month before taking her next class, which will be Finishing School.  I think a break from classes will be good for both of us.  I am proud of her ability to pull herself together and focus and her ability to work in a group of loud and excited dogs and keep her head.  Good girl.


Emma is starting to understand loose leash walking.  She still goes past me (out of the zone) but is keeping the leash loose more than tight now.  She is starting to understand that she is to stay at my side and not become a ping pong on the leash or switch sides as we walk.  It is time to speed up her loose leash walking so when we start our next class she'll be ready for any outside training we do without tripping me.

She is a bit sound sensitive, so I am working slowly on introducing new sounds with lots of rewards and helping her  understand that sounds won't hurt her.  It will take time, but is a needed level of socialization.  I also need to introduce  more children and hats and other strange things to her world so she has a solid demeanor when in public.

It is time to up her public access outings and increase their time.  She's old enough now to learn how to work for more than 5 or 10 minutes in a building and once her loose leash walking is spot on, we'll start working on different locations.  This week I hope to take her to a loading bay at a grocery store and work on basic behaviors with her.

Level 1
StepCompletedCompleted CompletedCompletedCompleted
Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

No comments:

Post a Comment