Tuesday, April 2, 2013

7 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 71

What a busy day I had!  I had two appointments today, which meant that Emma and Jack both had to be crated while I was away.  It sounded like a prison riot whenever I left with Emma screaming she was framed and she wanted her phone call and Jack rattling his bars and demanding a lawyer.  I will have to work with both of them on being calm when left in the crate when I am not near.

I chose this morning to just feed Jack and Emma their breakfast in their bowls and skip training.  I had to groom and prepare Max for our outing and get the house setup for the day to keep the dogs from overheating while I was away.  I don't have my air conditioners in yet and on these warmer days my home rises to 80+ degrees indoors if I don't crack open windows to allow a breeze in.

When I returned at mid-day Emma was ready and raring to train.  I am starting some of her critical service dog skill training now that she's old enough and focused enough to learn them.  Today she started the first step on learning to properly work with a  wheelchair.  It won't seem so when you read the description - but I don't want to put the cart before the horse with her and screw up what could become a lovely loose lead walk with a wheelchair - be it manual or power.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Sit.  Today I tested her again on Level 2: Step 3 Sit adding the final five seconds time to her duration and she got it!  Emma sat, with the dogs milling between her and I, ten feet away from me for one minute!  Way to go little girl!

Level 2: Step 4 Sit is also completed off lead!  I can walk around Emma when she's in the yard, on the street (on lead) and in the house.  I want to work it again with her on lead and build up more locations until she's confident in this step, but she's ready to start Level 2: Step 5 Sit!

Level 2: Step 5 Sit asks for Emma to apply sit to life.  What can we think of that Emma needs to sit for?  Greeting a new person?  Waiting at the door to go outside?  Getting her leash put on?  Emma will be practicing sit as applied to real life events.

Level 2: Step 1 Sit Comeafter asks that we add walking in different directions from Emma while she sits.  If you remember, I walked the entire compass around her.  Emma has passed this Comeafter.  Emma should practice Step 1 and it's Comeafters at home with her owners.

Level 2: Step 2 Sit Comeafter asks that we work up to a 30 second sit while Emma is on a different surface.  We are working that Comeafter in the front yard on Grass and on the Ramp, which is wood and on the street, which is cement.  I will continue to build duration with new surfaces and distractions.  I will also work on her sitting for duration on an elevated surface, such as my bed to improve this skill.

Level 2: Step 3 Sit Comeafter asks that Emma keep her Sit/Stay while I step through a door.  I will work this in combination with Step 2's Comeafter.

Level 2: Step 4 Sit Comeafter asks that I walk around Emma while she has the leash on.  I have started this Comeafter and will work it in many different locations.

Emma will soon pass Level 2 Sit!


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 4 Down.  In Level 2: Step 3 Down Emma was asked to hold her down while I walked ten feet away and returned.  Emma passed that step today without blinking.  All of the Sit/Stay work we've done has built up her ability to handle my walking a distance from her and made that step very easy for her.

In Level 2: Step 4 Down Emma is asked to hold her down for 1 minute while I stand 20 feet away from her.  Today I worked her up to 20 feet distance while in a down, but no duration.  I will begin adding duration this week on her Down and continue to build her ability to handle my walking away from her on all points on the compass while she is in a down.


Emma is learning how to pivot with me when I turn.  In the attached video you'll see Max and I working on Lazy Leash Step 2 and Max pivoting with me when we turn.  At one point Max does a complete circle with me while pivoting on my left.  This skill was long and hard to teach in the beginning because he didn't understand he could move his back feet and keep his front feet in position.  Emma is now learning that same lesson.

I am starting Emma the same way I started Max.  Though it may seem I am far off the mark, you must understand I have to give Emma the tools to recognize her feet and what I want with them.  The first part of this lesson is for her to target an object on the floor with her feet.  Tonight I began shaping her to putting her feet on a rubber Frisbee I have and recognize I am clicking for foot contact on the "mark".

I got several good foot contacts, but she's frozen into offering me sits and downs and with the recent refresher course on Zen she's not chasing treats when I toss them.  I will isolate her tomorrow to work on the target behavior again and see if I can't get her more involved in the game.

Eventually, I will raise her feet up onto a book and have her keep both front feet on the book while she learns to move her back feet to turn while facing me.  Over time I will turn that into her turning while aligned with my body and then build that to turning when I am in a swivel chair and finally in a manual wheelchair and end with my power chair.  By the time we have gotten to the power chair she'll be an expect in keeping aligned with a chair when it turns left or right and staying in position when working on leash.

This will lead to her learning to walk loose lead next to a wheelchair, both manual and power, and open the door for her handler's mobility as he grows.


It looks like it's time to start working on Crate as a project with Emma.  I want her to be okay when I leave with her in the crate and not have her throw a screaming fit when I do.  This means a lesson or two a week of her and I working on my being out of sit off and on while she's in the crate, and rewarding her before her screaming fit.

She has completed Level 2: Step 1 Crate and now needs to work on Level 2: Step 2 Crate so we can build up to the duration portions of Crate and improve her crate behavior overall.  This will be a busy week for both of us!

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

Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 5 2 5 4 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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