Monday, April 15, 2013

7 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 78

Jack and Emma play in the yard.

Friday's at my house are review days with a lot of play and relaxation.  It's been a long week of learning and testing on behaviors and Emma and Jack are mentally exhausted by the time we get to Friday.  She wants to let her hair down and polish her nails and hang out with the girls.  Friday is a day in which she gets to be a dog more and a service dog in training less.

For Emma this includes long play sessions in the yard and chewing and play session in the house.  It means blowing off steam and being goofy.  For Emma it's an important part of her learning curve, because on Friday's she gets to work on the "easy" stuff and process what she learned for the week.

She loves to play with Jack and the included video shows just that.  They tell the same jokes and play the same games and truly enjoy each other's company.  By Friday in my house Jack and Emma as close to each other all day long  and touching or playing together the entire time.

That means Friday's lessons are short and sweet and the rest of the day is used for play and relaxation - a much needed part of being a service dog.  Remember, no matter how well trained Emma is now or in the future, she's a dog.  Right now she's a baby dog and needs more play time and more socialization with other dogs; Friday's gives her that much needed outlet.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 3 Focus.  In this step Emma is asked to hold eye contact for 6 seconds.  Emma was able to hold eye contact with me for a 2 second period up to 90% of the time, even with Jack nearby and other dogs milling about the house.  Because of this development, I decided to begin work on Step 3, which is for her to continue to extend her eye contact.  By the end of the day (10 sessions for 1 to 3 minutes at a time) we had worked up to 5 seconds of eye contact once, 4 seconds of eye contact 10 times and 3 seconds of eye contact as often as 2 seconds of eye contact.  What a great development for Emma.

I am working hard on eye contact right now because she's so disjointed on our outings.  Her head is snapping around, she's bouncing on and off her front feet and hitting the end of the lead repeatedly for several minutes before I can get her focus and continue with our outing.  Working on a cue I can give which will bring her focus to me and get her working on Level 1 Behaviors before leaving the side of the car will making her understand she's there to work and not play by the time we complete her training.


Emma is entering a new fear period.  I am seeing the beginning signs of it again.  When she enters a fear period she will start to refuse to work for treats and even go into an appeasement dance instead of working on a behavior when training.

Since I know this one will be short lived and not as serious as the previous fear period I will use this one to help build her confidence by taking her to new locations and giving her new experiences which will challenge her and she can succeed at.

Next week we have our second class and I look forward to her continued progress.

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

Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 5 2 5 5 Completed
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 3 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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