Tuesday, April 30, 2013

8 Months: Training - Day 88

It won't be long before I have a picture of Emma
attending a trip to mall with me.
So, this morning Emma left the crate excited and ready to start the day and promptly hacked up some fluid.  It wasn't stress, but upset tummy.  Not sure what is making her tummy upset, but I'll watch her today and see if she continues to do this.  I just love random upset tummies - Max does this sometimes and I spend the day working on settling his stomach when he gets the urps.

Then, just when I had my back turned for 20 seconds while on the phone, she came out of the back bedroom with her nose plastered with cat litter.  It was in her beard, all over her nose and she was happy to announce she discovered cat boxes can be fun.  Technically, this is my fault.  Ever since Attitude died I haven't bothered with putting the gate up right away first thing in the morning.

My diligence first thing in the morning before her death had been due to her habit of sneaking off to my room and peeing on my bed.  She had a habit of peeing on anything cloth - beds being her favorite right after carpet.  In the end she would sneak out of the room when I was training or doing something around the house and would pee on my bed; therefore, it was a priority to put the gate up first thing in the morning.  Apparently, it still is, now that Emma has discovered the cat box.

I have been monitoring Emma's play with Jack.  Yesterday I could hear her teeth snapping together behind me while I worked in the office and then I heard Jack cry.  She's starting to play too roughly with him when they play too long and needs more breaks in her play to keep her excitement levels down.

Teaching Emma self control will aid her throughout her life.  One of those lessons is restraint - as a young dog with blossoming self control she still gets too excited when playing and can accidently hurt who she's playing with.  This doesn't mean she's being bad, just that she's like a toddler who doesn't realize punching Uncle Ben in the groin will hurt him - just that he's over-excited and lashes out with pent up energy.

To teach her self control when over-excited I will be using time-outs and asking for well known behaviors to redirect her.  I also use splitting when she's becoming to exited with a person or dog.  Hopefully, as she matures, she'll gain the self control needed to keep herself and others safe when playing.  Do remember, she's young right now and her play is not so out of control she is a danger, she's just excitable right now.  That excitability can lead to problems in the future if she doesn't gain self control - though she won't get bigger, she will get stronger with age.  She has good mouth control, but she doesn't have good control regarding jumping and stepping before people and that is how she or someone else can get hurt - either by being tripped over or tripping someone.  I am in no way suggesting Emma is a dangerous dog, just a rambunctious pup.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 3: Step 2 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is asked to hold an object in her mouth for 5 seconds while I hold it with her.  Today I clicked for solid, quality bites onto the pencil I used.  Each time I felt her teeth clamp onto the pencil I clicked and slowly started to delay the click to extend her hold.  Though we don't have a lot of time built, no more than half a second, I am starting to get a more reliable hold.

I will continue to work on this behavior so we can build up to a reliable retrieve as one of Emma's tasks for her handler.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In this step Emma is asked to wait for five seconds next to me with a loose leash and then take five steps with me with a loose leash.  Today I decided to work on Lazy Leash outside with the power chair.

Emma was more than ready for taking the chair out in the street today.  I choose a time before all the children came home and the neighborhood was fairly quiet.  She raced up to me after I got the chair out of the yard and was sitting in the opening of the gate.  I had positioned myself so I could call her to me and then hook her up.  She saw that I was just outside the gate and instead of rushing past me, ran right to my hand and let me put her lead on (the one attached to the chair) and then worked with me while I worked on shutting the gate and got the chair to the road.

She showed no fear of the chair, trotted at half and full speed of the chair and enjoyed the work.  She was able to do 20 to 30 steps between clicks at the pace we worked and stayed right by the chair and with a loose leash.  She kept her feet free of the chair when I turned, though I am turning slow and giving her a lot of information when turning still.  She was a bit distracted when working and I'll have to take her more places to work on focus when lots of activity is happening, such as the wind blowing or a child down the street riding her bike, but overall, Emma's behavior with the wheelchair was perfect.

We'll work on turning with the chair properly and continue working walking with the chair.  Emma did fantastic today!  She tired quickly though and isn't up for a "walk" just yet.  She is spending a lot of mental energy working with the chair.


Emma is working on Level 3: Step 2 Come.  In this step Emma is asked to Come when called from 20 feet away with the distractions of people or dogs which she must leave to do the cue.  I know I haven't spoken of Come much in her blog lately, but I have been using and working with Come on a daily basis.    Today, because she came at a dead run to me from the back of my property so I could put her leash on she passed Level 2: Step 3 Come and Level 2: Step 4 Come.  Since we've been concentrating on Come as being a good thing in Emma's life from the day she arrived, Emma passed Level 2 Come today and will begin Level 3 Come.

I have called her 5 feet away from me when she's playing with Jack or greeting a person, so I know she's passed Level 3: Step 1 Come, but need to work more on the longer distances in more locations.  Emma's recall is remarkable and she's truly becoming a recall queen! Though I may not set out to work Come as a focused training lesson in our days, I do work it all day, every day she's hear and now watch as she models recall for Jack, who is also learning to come to me quickly.

Emma will continue to work this behavior all of her life.


Robin and I talk almost daily about Jack and Emma and Max.  She shares her years of experience with me and her knowledge of Poodles and other breeds and their learning style.  Each insight I gain adds to my toolkit of training and has helped in getting Emma past some of her fear stages and reactions.  Emma is a soft dog with a soft personality - which is not a bad thing and will lead to her being a reliable service dog in the future, but I am used to the harder personality of a German Shepherd and find Robin's insight into Emma's type of personality very helpful.

Emma is midway through the worst of her teen months.  Though she'll still be a teen once she reaches a year old, she will be closer to her adult personality and further away from the rip-roaring puppy personality.

In the next few months Emma will be gaining her service dog skills along with her basic obedience skills and increasing her exposure to public locations.  Hopefully, by 10 months of age, she'll be ready for a sit down in a fast food restaurant and accompanying me on short shopping trips.  Hopefully by 11 months she'll be able to lay beside me long enough for a movie at home and by 12 months attend a movie in the theater.  I am hoping by 14 months she'll be up to 1 hour long trips out in public and high stimulation.

Emma is progressing nicely and her behavior in classes has been top notch.  She is starting to develop a working dog switch, which is a more serious manner when actually working as compared to just being a dog, and she's still waving her tail and happy to try new locations when we go.

The next few months will be very exciting 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 Completed Completed 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 2 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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