Tuesday, March 5, 2013

6 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 51

Emma practices staying on a mat while I work.
Last night I ended our long day of being tethered to me by placing her in Dieter's crate for the night.  I had saved the last 1/4 cup of her dinner for bed time and avoided using the term bed or bed time when getting ready for bed.  Attitude, Dieter and Max recognized the process and happily fell into the routine.  As I entered into the bedroom Dieter was standing, as per his routine, at the gate of his crate waiting patiently for me to put him up for the night.  I told him things changed for the night and he could sleep with me instead, but he wasn't listening.  I had a bowl of food in my hands and I was at his crate door!

He was ready to jump through the bars of the crate to get in for what he perceived as his reward; poor baby had to be redirected three times and then watched as I put Emma in the crate and set the bowl before her.  I went about getting myself ready for bed at this point and turned to see Dieter watching the bowl in the crate with deep intensity.

Emma sat in the crate, quiet and hoping I wasn't serious.  After a few minutes she decided to eat the food while I went about cleaning the cat box and changing into my bed clothes.  Once she finished I opened the crate enough to remove the bowl and shut the door again.  I think it was then it sunk in that she was there for the night.  She didn't make a sound, but instead turned and curled into a ball in the bed in the crate and went to sleep.

She couldn't see me from the crate once I went into the bedroom.  She is in my bathroom in a wire crate and she never threw a single protest or complaint about being stuck in there.  She didn't even fuss at me at 3 AM when I used the facilities.  It wasn't until I stirred at 6:30 AM and Max whined at me that she made any noise.  I told both of them it was too early and they went quiet.

At 7 AM, when I was ready to get up, she started a low constant whine and I went about getting up, using the facilities and preparing to start my day without talking to her or addressing her until she went quiet.  It took about ten minutes, but she realized I wouldn't even look at her until she was quiet.  After about 30 seconds of quiet I went to the crate, opened the door and had her wait to be released.

She bound about my home barking at me and I promptly turned and returned to the bedroom until she went quiet.  That only took about 20 seconds and so at the 30 second mark I went about letting everyone out.

Since I reset the boundaries in my home she has improved in her behavior.  Once back in the house it was almost ten minutes of waiting by Max while he laid on his bed and they both watched me go about gathering coffee and other supplies to curl up in the bed with them before she jumped into my bed without permission.  I gently cued her to get off the bed and a couple of minutes later she did it again and again was cued off.  Only after I got into bed and she made eye contact did I cue her to join me in the bed.

The remainder of the day has been much the same.  She's not pushing boundaries with me or the other animals in the house.  She's not trying to destroy my property and since  I have locked up all of the toys except the ones I am giving her permission to have, she's relaxed and accepted that I have things under control.  I'll continue to tether her to me and work on resetting who is in charge of what in the house, but already I can feel all of the animals relax as I establish with Ms. I Am A Teenage Dog that I can and will continue to manage the resources in the home.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Target.  Today I reviewed the Target steps in the book and thought about what I could do to improve her confidence and pressure when closing a cabinet door.  Since I already have a strip of orange tape on the door for her to target, I decided to back up a step for a few touches and click her for targeting the tape, which is Step 4.

As she targeted the tape she only brushed it with her nose and though I clicked at first for touching it, I started withholding my clicks and waited until she pressed hard enough to make the door bang a bit against it's frame.  Once she got that idea, I started to slowly open the door again and have her shut it.

I think my problem with pressure and consistency is she has not had enough practice with just touching, with intent, tape or a Post It Note on the door.  Therefore, I am going to back up for a couple of days and revisit the 4th step and build her confidence with it.

With this refresh and remind training on the 4th step, I suspect the 5th step will move along quickly by the end of the week.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In Step 2 of Lazy Leash the trainer is asked to work off lead and work with the dog walking at the persons side.  The first part of this is to drop treats and continue walking until the dog is catching up and staying caught up with the person.  This is the section of this step that Emma is working on.

I find I my direct path for Emma to walk with and stay with me in interrupted by a herd of dog.  Once I start pacing the floor with food in my hand I have Attitude and Max joining the fray.  This means I will have to either send Max outside so I can work solo with Emma or work on Max's Go To Mat behavior and have him parked while I work Emma.

Attitude is a different story.  She has a heart condition and as it has progressed she's become more and more sedentary.  Her following me for a couple of minutes during these exercises is technically the most exercise she gets any more and I truly don't want to refuse her following me and snagging the rare kibble she steals.  Thus, Attitude will be a distraction while we work and build Emma's leash work.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 3 Sit.  In this step Emma is asked to stay in a sit for 30 seconds while I stand 5 feet away from her.  If you remember, I have been moving my distance from her slowly while I build her duration.  Tonight I managed to get to the 5 foot distance for up to 5 seconds several times and up to 10 seconds once.

Emma is not offering to slide into a down as often as she did before and has finally figured out that I am working on a Sit until I release her.  I will continue to work on duration with sit until Emma can easily sit and wait for up to 30 seconds when asked to Sit when I move away.

I have not added the cue, Stay, to the behavior yet and won't do so until Emma can repeatedly remain in a sit while I am at a distance of 5 or more feet for up to 15 seconds.

Come Game

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Come.  Though I haven't worked steadily on this in formal lessons, I have been building up and rewarding her recall.  This step asks that Emma recall from 10 feet away from me when I am working alone.  She will do this, but not reliably yet.

Tonight I had the rare opportunity to play the two-person Come Game with Emma.  We called her back and forth between us and worked on a Come After in Level 1, which is touching her collar as she comes up to us.  At first we just handed her the treat and touched her as she took it, then built up to taking her collar and then giving her the treat.  Where before this made her  nervous and would shutdown the game, she didn't have that issue tonight.

She was so excited to play the game she did a leap over Dieter to get to me and raced at full speed between Walter and I.  She did a great job at the game, but clearly has been out of practice and needs to work the game more when visiting her family.  I suggest they work up to calling her from different rooms around the house and have her race between the kitchen to the living room to the bedroom as each family member calls her

When starting the game start in the same room and slowly back away until everyone is in a different room and calling her randomly.  Change up the order of who calls when so she doesn't get into a pattern, so have a keyword for each person or a way to let everyone know when their turn is as they play the game.

However they decide to play this game with her, she needs more work on recall to improve it and ensure she'll come when they need to do an emergency recall.


Today I want to talk about Leading the Dance.  Leading the Dance is a problem-solving tool, not a tool to teach the dog not to jump, chew on non-toy items or stop her from racing out the door; as Sue Ailsby states, those items are covered by training.  In our case, Emma has grown into a boundary pushing teenager and needs to be given a chance to succeed and learn that she lives within a family and the family rules should be important to her also.

There are several steps to Leading the Dance and I can choose to do as many or as little of them as I want to help solve problems arising between her communication and mine.  The Dance includes tethering her to me while I go about my day, long down-stay while I work on the computer or watch TV, setting boundaries on what she has free access too and more.  The Dance is designed to refocus her on me as a leader and provider of the resources she needs and wants.

A resource is anything the dog finds of value.  I have a brand new IPad, which to me is a resource, but to Emma has little value.  For Emma resources include freedom to play Bitey Face with Max, run in the yard, food, toys and the ability to be on my bed and in my chair; the list of resources for a given dog will differ and the above list is not the entire complement of resources Emma finds of value.

I don't have the energy to use all of the tools in Leading the Dance, but I can use many of them.  I control how often she has access to food and have since she arrived at my house.  She is not free fed.  I have taken a tighter control of toys available to her and when she's allowed to have them, my affection (a high value resource), play time with Max, outside time and access to my chair and bed.  I do ask for downs just because and I do often say a rhyme or sing a song to her.  I have, since her arrival, implemented the long-down stay by my side and off and on the tether as I felt needed.

If you remember, I used a tether with her for almost two weeks when we first started together.  I wanted her to recognize I was the source of all things good and she quickly fell into that concept.  Recently she has forgotten that and is pushing boundaries as she grows.  Again, I have implemented the tether and tightened access to given resources in a way I haven't previously with her.

The result, she's calmer and not pushing boundaries in the house when released from the tether.  In no way am I expecting her to see me as some type of Pack Leader, but instead recognize following the seemingly arbitrary rules I set will result in rewards she wants, thus making following those rules worth her time and effort.  I am establishing a line of communication without force or intimidation and bringing her into the harmony my other dogs and I enjoy.

So, today Emma received brief periods of freedom in the house while under my supervision, but still spent over 80% of her time tethered to me.  As I see her boundary pushing declines, I will increase the number of resources available in her environment and if she once again becomes brat dog, I will decrease them and implement whatever part of Leading the Dance I need to improve her working with and living in my family unit.

I suggest to her owners to read that section of the book for themselves to better understand how it works and think of what parts of The Dance they can do with her while they have her over the weekends.

Since I was informed they had a problem with her sleeping uncrated and untethered in their son's bedroom, I would also suggest they invest in a cable of approximately 28 to 36 inches and attach it to the foot of their son's bed and set a bed for her to sleep on next to his bed she can easily get to on the tether.  Buy her a bone to chew on and place it on her bed for her bedtime and then tether each night in the room with him to keep her from causing problems and teach her where to sleep when she's an adult.

I will also implement the tether system for her to use here to sleep in my room and tether her on a bed during the night when I go to bed.  It won't take her long to figure out she is there for the night and settle in without issue.

Level 1

Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

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