Friday, May 31, 2013

8 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 107

Emma has such a soft personality that stress, good or bad, can
send her for a tailspin some days.
This is Wednesday's blog.  This week has been so busy I am simply not keeping up.  I have two blog posts to write for both Emma and Jack today to catch them up and I still have several things I need to do today which will leave me with little time to do much more than make notes so I can get Jack's Friday blog written up on Saturday!

With Emma injured and Dieter injured I am running a dog hospice.  The primary goal of my care this week has been to prevent further injury to both dogs.  Dieter has re-injured his back and is in pain again and requires I take him out separate from the other dogs.  Emma's injury is also painful, but she's now as depressed or slowed down as poor Dieter.  She is young and able to ignore the injury for the fun of living.  This means I need to take her out on lead to potty to prevent her from becoming an idiot and racing about my yard and tethered if needed in the house when she gets to pacing around.

Yet both Jack and her need training, I have phone calls and consultations to make and tonight I have class.  This morning I need to run Emma to the groomers and then Max and I need to go to SCC so I can pick up a electronic copy of my transcripts so I can send them to a potential employer (I do need to make enough money to keep a roof over our heads) and run Dieter into the vet this afternoon when the clinic opens because he seems to be giving up due to pain and I want to ensure he's not in need of another Prednisone run and a longer period of forced rest.

It's been very busy just dealing with dogs and trying to get my other important business cared for that I have let the blog posts slide.  I am sorry this is happen to my followers, but I do hope you all understand.

This is Friday and this morning Emma was to excited to pee when I took her outside.  After giving her a couple of minutes to get over the excitement I brought her back into the house and crated her again.  I think that alone was a shock to her, so she sat whining at me at the crate door.  I waited 15 minutes and took her back outside to potty.  It was on this run that I saw a squirrel jump from the top of my trailer onto the branch of my Spruce tree and then shoot out the other side, down the trunk for a moment and then out of the yard and race at Cheetah speed across the road into the "safety" of my neighbor's yard.

Max was ramped up and rushing about watching the squirrel and Emma, who was taken by the excitement did something absolutely wonderful; she stayed at my side on a loose lead!  What an amazing turn of events!  I have been working on Emma focusing on her staying next to me when on lead and here she did it under an extreme distraction!  I am so very proud of her progress.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is asked to go to 3 different types of objects on the floor.  I have been working on her recognizing that an object is on the floor by my feet and interacting with it, but haven't done the full step yet.  The concept of looking down sometimes can be hard on a dog and Emma has been one of those dogs that gets locked into looking at me and not at the  floor or environment to see what she can interact with.  Thus, I broke this step down further to give her success.

Today I brought out her harness to work with.  I want her to eventually retrieve her working harness for her handler (will have to find one he'll be able to hold and have her step into and he can then secure) and so today I was working with her training harness.  For some reason, be it I was leaning forward in my chair or it was her harness or the other dogs were further away than normal (Jack was tethered and Max by the front door and Dieter crated) she went into full shutdown mode.

This has happened in the past and seemed to solve itself when Jack arrived and she could play for extended periods with him.  The running, wrestling and shared toy chewing seemed to solve some of her overall stress and she was able to do more in training sessions and handle higher training stress (positive stress, but stress never the less) and with her injury she's been restricted from all play with Jack.

I have spent half of my time with the two of them splitting them apart so they can't play and I think that stress and then the added stress of training was too much for her.  So I ended her training after she successfully managed to pick up the harness, but not hand it to me, twice and let her have the day off to play with a new toy I brought out that she could play with quietly.


Emma doesn't handle a lot of stress well right now.  It is primarily her age and her fear period she's in. She's out of the major fear period, but is in a minor one and her reaction to stress is to go into appeasement signals and shutdown on training - which includes not eating the kibble or food offered her.

The best we can do is try to end on a positive note and help her build her tolerance for stress slowly, but until then, I have to be careful not to push her too hard too fast and keep repeating this shutdown mode when she's riding close to the edge of her stress tolerance.  Things will improve when she's released to play again, but until then, we are in a balancing act to keep her from practicing shutdown.

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 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 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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