Tuesday, April 23, 2013

7 Months, 4 Weeks: Training - Day 84

Emma and Attitude helping me blog.
I think Emma is coming down with an ear infection.  Some breeds, such as Poodles, Spaniels and Labradoodles have what is called ear carpet, which is ear hair that grows into the canal of the ear.  It is important to pluck the ear hair regularly and maintain the ears, since they hang down and can keep moister in the canal which leads to infections.  I cleaned Emma's ears today and only one of them gave me a bunch of grim out of it, but I fear she may be getting an infection now.  She's shaking her head a lot and scratching that ear a lot.  I am watching to see if just cleaning it fixed the problem, but if not, I will have to take her to the vet and have her ears checked.

Since she will need life long care of her ears, teeth and coat, I want the family to get into the routine over the weekends of grooming her daily and plucking her ear hair and brushing her teeth.  Below I am including maintenance homework for Emma, this homework will be life long and should be something they get used to doing with her daily.

I haven't kept up on Emma's coat like I should over the weeks I've had her.  My energy levels were depleted with caring for a chronically ill dog.  Until today I hadn't realized how much of my resources I had given over to listening for and maintaining Attitude's well being.  She had gotten to the point that she rarely got up and moved unless I was training or she needed to go outside.  I had half my mind and attention on her and had for the past two years.

Whenever she got up from the chair I would stop what I was doing to see if she was seeking a drink of water, looking to get attention from me by joining the training or asking to go out.  I had the entire house on a 1 to 2 hour outside routine because Attitude needed to go out that often and it simply made sense to send everyone out with her.  I also had to listen for when she tried to return to the chair and couldn't make the jump.  It had become routine to walk over and scoop her up by her tiny tummy and aid her into my chair.  On top of that was her feeding and medication schedules.  I had scheduled my life around her - my time home, my rest times (so she could relax against me), my feeding times and everything rotated around Attitude's needs.  She was first and foremost in protecting from rambunctious puppies and wrestling dogs.

I was also working on keeping her stress levels down, of preventing her getting so worked up by storms or loud sounds or other things that frightened her to prevent what happened on Sunday, a massive heart attack.  In the end, I was a care giver of a long chronic illness and the grief, sadness, stress and depression of that job was taking it's own toll on me.  Today I woke with a sadness as I looked at her side of the bed and didn't see her tiny lump, but felt a wash of relief I wouldn't wake to her tiny dead body in my bed - one of my worst fears - that she would pass in the night and I would have slept next to her long after she was gone.

With all of that, I simply didn't have the energy and time to groom Emma daily when she was here and maintain her ears the way they need to be.  A huge part of my time, Attitude's daily care, has returned and I can now devote it to Emma's care.  I brushed her out today and found a lot of loose hair, 3 times the normal amount I get, in her coat.  This means she wasn't brushed enough over the past 10 or so days, and therefore we need to up the number of brushings to daily.  Her shaking her head and pawing at her beard and ears means she needs more personal maintenance also.  I will do my part here, but it also needs to be learned and become part of her owner's routine, so I am assigning that care to them on the weekends.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 3: Step 3 Zen.  In this step Emma is asked to wait 1 minute while I carry items in and out of the house through an open door.  Today I decided to revisit Zen Level 1 and just work on reminding her what Zen is again.  It's been a while since we worked Zen and I wanted to refresh the behavior to keep it strong.  I was working well with her when she started to scratch at her ears.  She was too distracted with her ear to really be able to train much more, so I ended our session.

A little while later my son Wayne came over and began to play Dot with Dieter with a laser dot.  Max and Emma went to wrestle with Dieter, which was causing him stress, so I changed our Zen behavior to Dieter Zen, which meant for both dogs to ignore Dieter and sit by me and let him play.  They did very well with this game.


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Communication. In this step Emma is asked to back up.  I decided to shape this behavior and worked with Emma's lunch doing so.  After cleaning her ears she stopped shaking her head and scratching at them and therefore could focus again.  She was curious what I was clicking for at first, but soon figured out it was any movement of her feet.  By the end of lunch she was taking small one or two steps backwards each time she offered foot movement.  I will continue working on this behavior with Emma.

Play Date

Jack didn't visit today, since his owner Ronda is home sick.  Jack's German Shepherd sister Deva has been fighting Pancreatis and has been in and out of hospital for the past two weeks.  Today Deva was released from hospital and Ronda, too sick to leave her home, called and asked if I could pick her up.  I agreed, but asked if I could drop off Dieter and Emma before I did.  I didn't want to leave Dieter alone for the first time this close to Attitude's death and Ronda perfectly understood.

I took them over, dropped them both off and got Deva.  When I returned Dieter was in Ronda's lap, something he normally wouldn't do when there was 6/10ths of an acre of  land to explore and sniff.  He's very down and clingy right now and my call to not leave him unattended yet was spot on.  He needs human companionship while he adjusts to his loss.

Emma and Jack did the zoomies and played Catch Me If You Can in the big yard while I was away.  Emma had fun exploring the new yard and playing with Sheba, Chautzie, Jack, DJ, Max, Deva and Dieter while we were there.  She did several recalls from long distances and explored and played for almost an hour.

This is considered an outing for this week, which ups her outings to two this week.  She did class yesterday and a play date today - I would like to take her out again, but will wait until Walter is available to be with Dieter while I am gone.  I am not leaving him unattended this week.  Walter was able to watch him and Max yesterday, which helped - since Dieter adores Walter and could curl up in his lap and soak up his affection while I was out with Emma.

Emma does well with new dogs in many locations and is proving to have excellent dog socialization.  This play date was a huge success for her.

Grooming Homework

When Emma is home on the weekends she needs to be groomed head to toe to tip of tail at least once daily.  Do this with either a rake grooming tool or a pin brush.  I use a rake, since it brings the waves out in her coat nicely.

I have worked up to rubbing my fingers from her canine teeth to her molars on both sides of her mouth without her fussing.  It is time to introduce toothpaste.  For the next two weekends use dog tooth paste on your fingers once daily and rub it on her gums and teeth with your fingers.  This will prep her for getting her teeth brushed daily.

Clear the goop from her tears from her tear ducts and just below them on her face with either your finger or a damp cloth.

Check her nails and trim them if they are getting too long.  If you are having problems seeing her toenails use an old nylon and put it on her feet and push her nails through the nylon so you can see them.  Refer to the chart below to see how to trim her nails.  I have been trimming them myself for the past few weeks and she's okay with nail trimming, but tends to pull her feet back a bit still.  Get power for stopping any bleeding in the event you cut into the quick.

Pluck her ears daily. You want to remove as much of the hair from around her ear canals as possible when you are doing this.  The roots are shallow and a gentle pull will remove the hair.  Do it as she's resting on your lap in the evenings.  Don't try to do it all in one sitting, but a little at a time until her ear canals are clear and then keep them that way over the course of her life.

Clean her ears with an ear cleaning pad to prevent dirt and other debris from building up.  You can use a baby wipe also, but don't have it too wet - moist is okay, but wet will lead to an ear infection.

This is general maintenance that she'll need for the rest of her life - so learning to do it yourself will make it easier on all concerned.

Emma should be groomed at least every 4 weeks to prevent her coat from becoming too dirty or unruly and should be kept in a working coat so she can perform her job and wear a vest without issue.


Emma is still in the "don't wanna" stage of development, though she's willing to work when in class.  She is able to do a great deal now, but tends to want to tune out of training for play.  I am changing up her training a bit to respark her interest and keep her in the game.  She's grown bored with Sit, Down, Zen and Target behaviors as well as Focus, so I am giving them a rest and just using them in daily living while I pick out Communication, Distance and Jump as a group of behaviors she's not worked much.  This change in training should improve her desire to train and challenge her enough to join the game.

She needs a bit more work on seeing new people and strange people from a distance and not becoming over-stimulated and she needs more work on loose leash walking.  I can now do that work without concern that Attitude will need me, so I can begin it by the end of this week while Dieter and Max play in the yard.

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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