Wednesday, April 24, 2013

7 Months, 4 Weeks: Training - Day 85

Emma and Attitude share my chair during nap time.
Emma was in high spirits when we work this morning.  She's not shaking her head or clawing at her ears and hasn't since I cleaned them yesterday.  I will clean them again today too, just to ensure she's not developing an ear infection, but I think she's okay for right now.  I will also brush her out again today, hopefully before the man from Pet Memorial calls to tell me that he's bringing my little Attitude back home.

Changing up her routine and adding a new item to train into it has sparked her again.  She was willing to work on backing up for Communication training and her tail was waving happily as she worked out the mind puzzle I gave her.  She's getting there.  It's not in her bones yet, but it's starting to happen and I suspect she'll be passing to the next section of Communication without a hiccup soon.

She's about to explore new surfaces this week for socialization.  On the day Attitude died we were taking my old bed frame apart.  I was actually in the bedroom when she cried out as her massive heart attack struck and rushed to her, scooping her up in the final instant of her life.  She looked me in the eyes and gave a huff and was gone - it was so fast and so shocking I hadn't realized what happened at first, then the world seemed to stop.  My Mom, brother and daughter, who were all there to help with yard work and changing bed frames, finished the job of setting up my new bed frame and hauling out my old one while I stood and stroked her tiny body for the next two hours.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because, when they hauled out the sturdy waterbed frame (which was stripping out and would soon collapse under me if we hadn't removed it) they put it in my driveway and this morning I was looking at the long boards for the side of the bed and realized they'd make a great teeter and walking board for training dogs.  I am going to setup a small "agility" run for Emma to work on walking on the boards and going through tunnels to improve her overall confidence.

I am glad to see Emma back in the training game and not scratching her ears like she had been.  I am glad to see the opportunity of using the tragedy of Sunday to continue Emma's training in building her self confidence and understanding of her basic skills and I am glad today I am not constantly leaking tears for the first time.  It's a slow week for this home - but it's still moving forward.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Communication.  In this step Emma is asked to back up.  As any good positive re-enforcement trainer knows, you don't cue the dog and then show them the behavior, but you show the dog the behavior and then tell them what it is called.  For Emma, I am using shaping to build up her back up.  Yesterday I taught her I was clicking for foot movement and then added I was clicking for backward foot movement.  We ended with Emma thinking about moving her front feet backwards, but not her back feet yet.

Today we started with Emma offering foot movement and then backward foot movement.  She was quick to move her front feet back a step and got several clicks for just that.  When I waited for another step I got our first back foot to move backward and clicked for that.  We ended with Emma very purposefully trying out backing up two or three steps to see if I was really clicking for her backing up.

She doesn't know it completely yet, but she is getting the idea and trying out side to side, forward and even spinning steps to see if they'll get a click.  Any step that results in her going backwards gets a click, so she's starting to sort out the criteria for this game.  She's learned that downs and sits won't get clicks, nor will nose nudges and eye contact - it is becoming a clearer picture for her.  Once she can take several steps backwards I will tell her what it is called.

I filmed out third session today - Emma is developing a cute foot bounce when she backs up.


Josh is visiting today to continue working on removing the slab before my old garage (which is the next big project of destruction in my yard) and came into the house to get a drink of water and tell me how sorry he is about Attitude.  Emma is still unsure of Josh and though she was quiet and waited in a sit while he came in, she suddenly lost her mind and began barking at him when I was in the office and she was alone in the living room and he was in the kitchen.  I came out and called her to me and played the Look At That game with Josh and got some good solid sits and focus out of her.

My neighbors setup a tent in their yard, less than 5 feet from my fence, and last night when she saw it she lost her mind and barked at it.  It's not the "alert" bark she does - a single bark followed by a pause and another single bark - but instead the rolling alarm bark she does when something is out of place and she's uncertain about it.  I called her to me and asked for a sit and then went with her to the fence to check it out.  It took several requests of coming away and doing a sit and returning before she began to ignore the strange object next door.

This morning she saw it again and again went into an alarm bark, but this time stopped when she saw I was on the porch and came to me and offered a sit.  She needs more exposure to changes in our environment to help her deal with strange and new things - so I will be adding and removing things from the yard for her to explore and discover as we go through this fear period.

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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