Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 57

Emma knows how to fit in the box, but now I am trying to
get her to think outside of the box.
When I was out with Ronda on her field trip yesterday I bought a set of clippers for Emma.  Her eyes has vanished with the fur of her face and I needed to expose them so I could continue working on Focus.  I took the time to shave off the fur from the top of her nose and around her eyes so I could see where she was actually looking.

This morning I noticed that the quick job I did last night was a little crooked so I cleaned up her face and was very pleased when we worked on Focus I could see exactly where she was looking, whether I was sitting or standing myself when working with her.

It is important I can see her eyes when working with her so I know if she's paying attention to me or if she is paying attention to something right behind me or near me.  Dogs are fantastic at looking like they are watching you when in truth they are looking past you and at something of interest to them.  Eye contact, the primary skill we are learning this week, requires I see her looking me in the eyes.

She also got a bath today - since the blankets in the crate stunk and as a result so did she.  I want to take her out tonight, after Jack goes home, to work on Public Access and can't take a dog with a strong odor with me.

She truly enjoys having Jack present and when I am not working with her and it's not nap time she is mugging and playing with him.  He is so tolerant of her shark like behaviors and only occasionally tells her to knock it off by putting his foot on her back.  All of the trouble she's found before due to boredom or a need to play has become a thing of the past.  She is so tired after her romps with Jack she just collapses on my floor and snoozes.

This week has been fun and exciting for her and I believe she's going to be a tired but happy girl when she returns to her owners for the weekend.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Focus.  Today I was able to raise the criteria for Focus and add duration.  With my being able to see her eyes and her having a new dog in the house, she was able to hold eye contact with me for 1 second several times and 2 seconds at least 5 times.  Emma will continue to work on this step until I can cold test it without her breaking eye contact with me.


Today I worked on loosening Emma up a bit and encouraging her to offer behaviors when she becomes confused.  Currently she pulls from a small part of her learned behaviors to offer when she's stuck.  She will either sit or do a down and occasionally a target.  So, today I brought the box out and clicked for anything she did with it.  Once she got stuck sitting in it we worked on moving her feet and other things she could do while in the box.  She enjoyed the lesson and was more willing to offer behaviors when we did our field trip.

Field Trip

Emma and I went to Big R again today.  It was near closing and the store was loud with stockers working in aisles and vacuums running.  She exited the car without issue and waited at my side while I locked up.  It only took about a minute to get her mind into the game of walking loose leash with me and she walked loose leash and in the zone 70% of the time into the store.  Once in she became a bit excited again so I stopped her and got her to focus on walking with me.

Once in the store she again became a bit distracted, so I focused on getting her to stay with me and walk in the zone.  It was then we spotted the vacuum that was running.  She's a bit afraid of vacuums, so I spent time while the woman vacuumed about 15 feet away from us and did LAT with her until she calmed and sat by me without being fearful of the vacuum.

We then walked with her in the zone on a loose lead 80% of the time through the back of the store.  She was curious and happy to be there and quickly started watching where she was in relation to me when walking.

We got to the live chicks and ducklings and worked around them doing Sit, Down and Zen. She was amazing and didn't even try to sniff the chicks.  We then continued through the store with her walking loose lead and in the zone 90% of the time.  We exited the store with her in the zone and loose lead.  I am very pleased with her behavior.

She did try to sniff two people in the store.  One was a man passing us, which I didn't catch in time to prevent and the other was a store clerk we were passing.  I was watching the second time and backed up the moment she moved to sniff her.  When we went to pass her the second time Emma stayed focused and didn't attempt to sniff the clerk.

Emma is ready to visit new locations and continue working on Level 1 behaviors, but is not ready to go shopping when the trainer's attention is split between her and getting items.


Emma is a calmer and more focused dog now that she has an outlet for play.  She and Jack truly enjoy their time together and spend about one to three hours a day just playing together.

I do want to mention that Emma is further ahead in her training than the Levels state she is.  She has been practicing higher levels of Zen, Communication, Handling and other behaviors in her daily life, which means she'll quickly pass those behaviors when we officially focus on them.

In my home door dashing is not desired or allowed.  As a result, I teach any dog in my care the basics of waiting to be released to exit the house on cue only - even if the cue is something as simple as asking them to follow me.  I tend to put things in the recycle bin regularly and so leave the door open and expect no door dashing as I do.  I also crush cans and leave the door open with the dogs in the house so I can do it quickly and crush them.  I have recently started getting into the freezer with the door open and the dogs are expected to stay in, even when I am preoccupied and have my back on them.  All of this is Zen Level 3.

The same goes with leaving or entering a car.  They need a cue to exit or enter the van, even if that cue is my directing them by their lead with my hand.  No door dashing allowed.  All of this is for safety sake.  Emma dashed out of the van once and gave me scare at Safeway - thankfully Walter was able to catch her quickly and before harm came to her.

Emma waits for permission to enter the van, which she then does promptly with the cue Load Up.  She waits patiently for me to remove her from the van, which happens when I take her lead and tell her, "Let's Go" and will stay if I am reaching for Max and not her.

These are all items in Level 3 Zen.  Emma is doing very well on her Zen behaviors.  What she needs now is store shelf Zen and people Zen and item Zen when working in stores, which we'll continue to work on while doing her public access training.

Emma is progressing nicely and turning into a fine Service Dog in Training!

Level 1

Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

Level 3
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

Level 4
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance


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