Tuesday, April 30, 2013

8 Months: Training - Day 87

Emma is learning to give this level of attention when
walking with my power chair.
Emma gets so excited when she first greets me or she first sees her owners arrive to pick her up.  She can't keep her feet on the ground, lunges on the lead to get to us and is over threshold with excitement.  It's something that also happens when people come to visit in my home.  Her efforts to keep her front feet on the floor are lost to her excitement at meeting a new person or someone she knows.  She simply can't seem to keep those feet on the ground in these situations and I have to think of what more I can do to explain to her that she needs self control, even when that excited, when greeting people.  I'll work out a plan and share it once I have a good idea of the path I'll take.

She also becomes undone with excitement when greeting the dogs first thing on Monday.  She can't believe her friends are here and she's ready to launch into a game of wrestling with Max and Jack the moment she walks in.  Part of this is not helped with the fact Jack and Max are also joining her energy and starting games of wrestling when coming into the house.  This Monday, knowing that yet again we'd have hyper excitement when she entered, I kept her on lead and worked on calming her energy down to the low roar before removing her lead.

Max got the clue I was asking for space to calm her and moved away, but Jack was putting his feet on her and engaging her in play the moment we came in.  I had to convince him and her that we were not starting a play session the moment she walked in and that she couldn't be released from her lead until she sat and looked at me.  We got there, but again, I need to work out a better way of handling this Monday morning greeting, the most charged of the week, and teach all of them to calmly say hi when she and Jack arrive.

Jack's arrival each morning starts minor play sessions with Emma engaging him before I can unclip his lead, so that too needs to be handled with a bit more structure.  Emma is more willing to wait on the weekdays that it's Jack arriving and let me deal with getting him undressed for the day and I think that is because he enters the home very calm and quiet with me.

The difference is, Jack and Emma are six months apart in age and therefore at very different maturity levels.  Though Jack is still a teenager in dog terms, he's heading rapidly into adulthood, while Emma is still firmly entrenched in hyper teen mode.  Another part is the very different personalities of the two.  Jack is, by nature, a calmer dog and more reserved in his excitement than Emma.  Emma is a boisterous ball of energy when she becomes excited and can't stop herself from wiggling and jumping when she gets that way.  Jack, as more reserved dog, only looses his mind completely when Ronda comes home - otherwise his greetings of people, even ones he knows, are quiet and polite.  They may share the Poodle gene, but they are very different dogs.

Hopefully by next week I'll have a full plan on how to deal with Emma's over excitement and help her raise her threshold so she can gain more control.  Time to sit and think and plot on this so I have a plan in place, now that Emma is at an age she can begin truly trying out new levels of self control.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 3: Step 2 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is asked to hold an object, while I also hold it, in her mouth for five seconds.  I have been slowly working on duration with Emma and finding the solution that works best for her.  Emma as worried when I held the pencil and touched her face also, so I stopped working on Retrieve until I could work out how to build her duration.

Today I decided to work on her taking a new object in her mouth she was more likely to want to hold, a  Nylabone.  She was at first curious about the object, but quickly started offering to take it in her mouth. I was starting to get some nice grips with each clamp of her mouth over the object and finally ended out session when she took it and tried to tug it out of my hand.

On our next session I brought out my power chair, since I want to teach Emma to walk with it so we can work on Lazy Leash with the power chair and later do road work to tire her out a bit and see more of the world by taking walks.  Emma is fearful of my power chair, so I rode it through the house and watched to see what she would do.  She didn't go and hide behind my recliner, but she did go into the entry and lay down to watch me.  She was reserved, but not shutdown.

I then called her to me, asked for Level 1 Behaviors and offered her food.  She refused the food, but accepted my petting her.  I kept a happy, upbeat voice and slowly turned her mind around about being near the chair.  I then took her into my lap and watched TV with her while she lay, stiff, in my lap in the chair.  After a bit I felt her muscles slowly relax and finally she laid, relaxed, in my lap.  I then took her for a ride, in my lap, in the chair and felt at first a bit of tensing of her muscles, but for a short time before they relaxed and she started to just enjoy the ride.  It was right after that she took food when seated next to my chair and we could train again.

I worked the next session while seated in my power chair.  I was getting some great grips on the object I offered her to take and she was waving her tail and engaged in the training game.  We ended with her attempting to remove the object from my hand a second time.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In this step Emma is asked to walk beside me, off lead, and stay in position while I walk around the house.  In this case I choose to use the power chair.  I will, next time, have to tether and crate Max and Jack, but Emma did come up to the chair whenever I stopped it and got a treat, which she took and ate.

After a bit she was following my chair around, curious about the fuss with both Jack and Max, and enjoyed a round of catch the power chair and get food.  Though not a perfect rendition of this step, Emma was willing to try it and found the chair wasn't as scary as she had first thought.

I ended out session by clipping the lead to her collar and slowly leading her around my living room and kitchen with the power chair lead.  Emma was perfect loose leash, relaxed about the idea and kept a good space between my chair and her without being too far away from it.  She is not turning well with it yet, but we'll work on that later.  Right now, being able to be beside it and not be frightened is my goal.

Later, when my son Walter came, I again hooked Emma up and this time she was relaxed and happy to walk with the chair.  She also showed little fear or concern about the chair when I used it off and on during the day in the house.

Finishing School

It is because of this class that Emma's Monday blogs are a day late.  In the weeks class Emma did extremely well.  Cooper, the big German Shepherd in class, came up and put his nose on Emma while she was in a sit and she didn't budge or become over excited.  She did a nice job of remaining on her mat and is now offering a lot of chin down behavior when placed at my feet.  I have been clicking for relax and generally by end of class, when she's got some food in her tummy and is over the excitement of being in the room, she has her head down and is relaxed at my feet.  I have noted it is happening sooner and sooner each class and I am pleased to see this behavior.

When Stanely, Carol's demo dog, was brought out Emma had her back to him and after a glance over her shoulder did a double take at seeing a new dog in the room she didn't know.  She remained calm and didn't break her sit.  She didn't bark or go over threshold.  She was curious, but not frightened by the appearance of a new dog in her area.

We worked on Retrieve for class.  Carol, bless her soul, answered my "how am I going to get duration?" question during class by pointing out I am not clicking for the mouth over the pencil or object, but for the pressure and quality of the grip on the pencil or object when taken into the mouth.  The more I worked on that the better her take behavior became.  I do believe I will eventually have a good grip and duration with her as I teach her that the behavior doesn't end until the click happens.


With each class Emma has taken with me she's improved on her focus and work ethic.  She is working for me very well, but she hasn't taken any classes with her owners to date.  I believe it is time for them to take her on the weekends.

In May Dastardly Distractions begins on Sunday May 12th, 2013 at 1 PM and on Saturday May 11th, 2013 Loose Leash Walking begins at 9:30 AM.  I have her penciled into Dastardly Distractions, but understand the family may not be able to do Sunday classes with her, so would suggest actually taking her to Loose Leash Walking and working on teaching her to not only walk with people out of a wheelchair but with B and his wheelchair.

Taking this class will be an outing for Emma for the week and one she can have with the family.  It will also help the family to work on taking classes with Emma and give them valuable information on Loose Leash skills and training in a fun environment.

The Loose Leash walking class is the Comebefore for Take It On The Road, a fun and active class during the summer in which the family gets to go with other Diamonds in the Ruff students to parks around the city and work on teaching Emma to walk on a loose lead in exiting locations.

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

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