Thursday, March 14, 2013

6 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 58

Emma continues to improve on
her loose leash walking and paying attention
to me instead of the items on shelves.
I woke the household up at 7 AM.  Emma was calm and patient when I got up and went about my morning routine.  It is so nice to have her finally adjusted to her crate when here.  I let her out and we went to explore the yard.  The warmer mornings are enjoyable and I get a chance to really enjoy watching her play and cavort about the yard.

I had expected Jack this morning, but his owner was having a high pain day and called to inform me she wasn't going into work.  We had a brief discussion about his lesson plan for the day and how, on a high pain day, to address training.  I believe this whole day together will be great for both of them.

Emma was in high spirits this morning and even let me take the scissors to her single dangling strand of hair that kept dropping into her right eye.  She'll get to go to Home Depot with me today to shop for grass seed after I have my appointment this afternoon.

I have found training with moist dog food on her kibble is not only messy but hard to deliver a single kibble or drop it so she hears it on the floor.  As a result, I have removed the moist food from her kibble when training and only add it when I give her the remaining food for the day in her bowl.

Since I was up and alert by the time the children lined up at the bus stop I grabbed her treat pouch and took her outside to child watch.  She barked when she saw them, but the moment she heard me click she turned and gave me full focus.  Amazing how focused she can be now.

We walked clear to the gate with under the breath barks but no out of control over the threshold behavior; that is until Tiffany and her new best friend started to cross the street toward us.  I told the kids to please stay away, I was working on Emma being under threshold so she would be okay with them and they stopped and backed off.  I think tomorrow I'll be able to take her out of the fence and start Level 1 behaviors with the children across the street - I just need to ensure the children don't walk toward us when I am working with Emma.

I started her training in the house and she's doing the "I don't want THAT for training" spit the kibble out behavior.  I told her that was fine, it was what I was offering today and simply stopped the training.  I figure by mid-day she'll be hungry enough to eat cardboard and accept the kibble as the reward for training today.  If not, she may find herself very hungry tonight by bedtime.  I need to reset her to accept low value foods for treats so when I bring out the high value foods they are of a value I can use in high distraction locations.

She'll not starve or suffer for a day of not getting a lot of food and will learn to accept the food offered her without becoming a picky eater.  This is an important lesson for her entire life - I have a picky eater and when she got sick I found getting her to eat became a energy draining challenge.  I do not want this for a perfectly healthy dog - Emma can learn to eat what is offered now.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 3: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is to open her mouth and take a pencil or other similar object into her mouth.  I am at the very beginning of this lesson and so am clicking and treating for any interaction with the pencil which uses her nose, mouth, tongue or lips.

She was actively working on the pencil, but not accepting the reward I was offering.  After about a minute of trying to get her to engage in the game I gave up and went to work with Max.  I will continue to work on this step throughout the day and work on getting her into the game.

I returned to working with her for a second session and after a bit of play and tossing treats around the room for her to chase she finally started eating the kibble.  She's uncertain what I want with the pencil, so she's shutting down a bit.  I will continue to work with her just touching it and accept any movement to take it as a bonus until her confidence with the pencil grows.

I did a third session with the pencil and she again was reluctant to eat until we played a bit of toss the treat.  Once she started eating we worked at just touching the pencil with her nose.  I am not using a clicker for this exercise, but a marker word so that I don't deafen her when I click the clicker next to her head.  I am using a high pitched and excited voice which has helped her become more confident with the pencil.

I took a short break with our lesson because she was a bit tired after all of the work she put in figuring out the game I was playing.  When I returned to working with her a minute or so later she was more confident with her touches and I felt more teeth and lip action on the pencil as she touched it.

I will continue working this lesson today to build up her confidence and start her on retrieving objects for her boy.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Come.  Yesterday and today the weather has been warm and comfortable for me and I was able to spend extra time in the yard with the dogs.

All winter I have worked on calling Emma into the house from wherever she is in the yard.  At first we had to use the word "Puppy" to call her, even my son would stand at the door and call "Puppy Puppy" to get her to respond.  This worked fantastic and she was soon racing at full speed to use from the base of the ramp or front yard.

As she improved with her recall using the word puppy we started by saying her name and then calling "Puppy Puppy" to get her to recall into the house.  When she was responding to her name and looking at us we'd started to say, "Come" and she'd race to us.  This all worked great if she wasn't barking at some invader in the neighborhood, which could be a local barking dog or spotting a person in their yard half a block away.

When she was like that we'd go and get closer to her, get her attention and walk her into the house.  Slowly we built distance of recall while distracted and soon could call her off a bark fest when she started and have her race into the house.

This meant, over the course of the winter, she worked steadily on Level 2 Com at varying distances.  I have a very long yard, over 200 feet, and she will recall from the front to the very back, the back to the front and anywhere in between with and without distractions.

The past two days I have called her to me from 1 to 70+ feet away from me when I was in her line of sight and out of it and with distractions and without.  Her reward is my affection, which she loves, and release to go play some more.  Emma has technically passed Steps 1 and 3 of Level 2 Come, but has not progressed because I haven't tested this in new locations at this point.  I have also not called her to put on her leash.

With the improvement of the weather I will take her to the local playground and work on recall and putting on and off her leash and slowly work her to other safe locations where she can be off lead and I can work on recall.

I must admit, with the improvement of her recall over all, she is coming to me when I want to crate her, even if she doesn't wish it, and is coming to me when I call her all over the house.

Field Trip

Emma and I went to Home Depot tonight so I could buy some seeds for my garden and grass seed for my yard.  With four dogs running through my yard, one a German Shepherd, my grass has suffered serious bald patches.  I am also starting a new grass area for the dogs to play in and need the seed to start it.

Emma was very excited when we arrived and it took a bit of work to get her into the loose leash zone with me.  Once there we worked at her pace into the store.  Anytime she became over excited we stopped and worked to get her focused on me again before continuing.

Once inside I introduced her to the cart and worked with her walking beside me and behind the cart.  It was her first time, so I spent a lot of time with high rewards and high praise to keep her focused on me and behind the cart.

She did extremely well.  She worked in tight aisles and turned with the cart.  She didn't have a lot of fear regarding the cart, though some of the items on shelves worried her until we did a bit of LAT with them and continued.

She was able to do all of her Level 1 behaviors in the store and was very appropriate with the people there.  Overall, I would say she's advancing on her public access work wonderfully.

Tonight's outing was for a total of 30 minutes.


Emma has matured nicely in the past couple of weeks.  She is calmer and more focused when working.  Her excitement when going to new places is refreshing, since her tail is waving when working in a new store.  When she is worried about something or frightened she quickly recovers and turns to me for guidance, which is exactly what I want her to do.

She is able to handle the sounds of a busy store and enjoys the adventure of exploring it and doing her behaviors.  She can keep her nose to herself most of the time, except when people are passing.  Her natural friendliness tends to drive her to greet everyone she meets.

In stores she doesn't bark or react to people, even children, any longer, but does when in the neighborhood.  Today she was able to watch children play a few houses away before we left for our field trip, but couldn't handle the neighbors being out when we returned.  It is actually a sign that she was a bit over tired and should probably do a short trip next time.

I am very pleased with her progress and look forward to next week when I can schedule more outings with her in new locations.

Level 1

Level 2
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

Level 3
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance

Level 4
FocusLazy LeashGo To MatCrateDistance


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