Thursday, March 28, 2013

7 Months: Training - Day 68

Emma after I brushed her.
There is something incredibly fluid about a young dog's personality at this age.  Emma is bold and confident one moment and frightened and bluffing the next.  She's happy and racing with pure joy of breathing one moment and skulking and hiding the next.  It's like watching an ADHD Manic Depressive in fast forward.

Today Josh, a friend of Walter's, arrived to help with yard work.  He's been helping me for a couple of years and makes getting the yard wound up for Spring and Summer so much easier.  He helps by lugging dirt where I need it, moving gravel and even uprooting gardens as needed so we can raise them and clear them out.  He's even going to lift the cement before my garage so we can finish making my new front lawn!

He arrived wearing a full beard and glasses and a hat and gloves - all very scary for Emma who was a moment before having me laugh to the point of tears as wee worked on a trick, but the moment she saw Josh she went into a rapid fire barking fit - the one that says, "This is freaking me out, what do I do?"

I called her to me and gave her a higher value treat than her kibble and sent her off to check Josh again.  In short order she was okay with Josh in the house, but once I took her outside while Josh was working in the yard she started the "Danger, Will Robison" barking.  I again began working her with high value treats - asking her to look at him and then back to me.  She quickly recovered and would off and on bark at him, but not with the same alarm she had.

By the end of Josh helping us around the yard she had completely forgotten about him.  His gloved hands and baseball cap were not scary any longer and she would race by him while playing without a second glance.  Part of that was because, while Josh was on his hands and knees I asked for Level 1 behaviors and rewarded each promptly.  Though distracted and worried at first, she was soon offering them for reward as we worked around the house in the yard - both in and out of sight of Josh.

Remember, I had mentioned there was more to socialization than just meeting people.  Emma is not used to seeing someone that doesn't look like other people in her daily life.  She's not used to hats on new men or small children outside of her family.  Though she doesn't have to meet them, she does have to be able to see them and not fall into a barking fit.  This must happen with anything new she's not sure about - socialization means teaching her how to deal with the new and unexpected and to look to and depend on the person on the other end of the leash to protect her and give her guidance.  Today she learned that she could come to me and I would keep her safe from Josh until she was able to decide he was not going to hurt her.

Today Emma learned how to look at something and look back to me to tell if that something was dangerous.

Today's Lessons:


Though Emma passed Tricks learning to shake hands, she was in a mood today and didn't want to take food at first.  I started to play with her and started to get her to roll over for food.  She was so excited about this new game she was almost throwing herself on the floor to perform the roll and would wiggle and squiggle and lick me to death.  She enjoyed the lesson very much, which was out goal.  It brought Emma into the game.

It's the moody teen thing and she's got it in spades.  She will train great for one session and on the next one act like I am trying to poison her by feeding her kibble.  Getting her to play and In The Game with me is vital to training her and if it means I drop all plans for focusing on anything else, then so be it.  So today, we work on being In The Game.


I am exhausted.  I have been spending energy like mad working with all of the dogs, making appointments and doing paperwork and ramping up the yard for Spring.  I spent a part of this morning planting new seeds in my garden - getting my potatoes, spinach, radishes, carrots, beats, corn, peas, pumpkins and beans started.  That seemed to do it for me, I was tired and needed rest when I came in.  I had trained the dogs while outside and planted seeds.

This means I need to slow down a while until I recharge.  The last time I spent too much of my time on my feet and didn't slow down I spent two days training from my bed.  I simply can't do that with 5 dogs now.  So, things will be slower with Emma and Jack and hopefully it'll let them think on and really cement what they have learned so far.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed

Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 5 2 4 3 Completed
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 2 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 0 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 2 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication

Step 0 0

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