Friday, May 3, 2013

8 Months: Training - Day 91

Emma showing off her rad retrieve skills.

What a productive day.  I dedicated this week to one behavior and the result was amazing.  Today I realized that Emma felt that my payment for her learning Retrieve was not high enough, so I cut up some hot dog and cheese and added it to her kibble.  It perked her right up and she became willing to work longer and harder for the behavior.  For a bit, this behavior requires payment higher than kibble alone and over time, as the behavior becomes more fluent, she'll be more willing to work it for kibble alone.

That may also be part of the problem.  I have been working harder behaviors with low value rewards and she's been telling me that by giving me low energy responses.  It took a bit, but I got the clue.  I decided that if a bit of hot dog and cheese mixed in with kibble is what it takes, then by all means, let's do that and build up her eagerness in joining the lesson.

She's about to have her outside world change here.  I have been, over the years, making changes to my yard.  In the beginning my yard wasn't properly fenced, so when I moved in a friend and I finished the fence around the front of the property and then removed the temporary fencing that blocked the side and backyard off.  This gave Attitude and Dieter a fully fenced yard they could play in, which I had promised them.  I then removed the dangerous lean-to that was against the garage, the garbage heap behind it, trimmed the treats and started tossing grass seed out turn the weed patch my yard was into a grass patch instead.  I also added flower gardens and wanted to add a vegetable garden.  The vegetable garden didn't happen until the year I also added grass to the front yard, which had been nothing but dirt until then.  That was the year I got Max.  My final promise to Attitude was that the driveway would stop hurting her feet when she walked on it and when I began converting it to a yard also I kept that promise.

This year I intend to finish that yard, add raised beds along the fence line and fence in my vegetable garden - since one small Labradoodle seems to think jumping in and digging in my raised beds is way too much fun.  The change in the vegetable garden will be what will affect her.  She loves to run the length of my property, jump through my raised beds and then run back through them and return.  Putting a fence in her path will force a change in direction when running through my yard.

It'll be a busy spring and summer for Emma with all the construction and people coming in and out of my home to finish the projects I have set for this year.  It's taken me six years to get to where I am and I figure each year I'll have yet another big project to work on - such as removing my garage and putting a new one in and removing on tree at a time and replacing them with fruit trees.

During that Emma will be learning self control in the yard - that she can and will have given locations she can dig and others she cannot.  That she can't bark at the neighbors who'll be out and using their yards and that people walking by the house are not dangerous and can simply be watched and not barked at.  It'll be a long and fun summer of learning about the world as a whole!

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  No, you did not read that wrong!  Emma passed Level 3 Retrieve today!  Check the video I have attached which shows Emma holding a pencil in her mouth!  What a trooper this week.  She just flew through the whole behavior.  I am very pleased with her.

In this step Emma is asked to go to three different types of objects on the floor - 1 wood, 1 metal and 1 cloth.  Today we worked on the wood object.  I slowly worked Emma to taking the object in my hand closer and closer to the floor.  As the object got very close to the floor she would either paw it or lay down.  I ended up just setting the object on the floor and then clicking for putting her nose on it.  Emma did very well with this step.


This weekend work on Level 1 and Level 2 Comeafters for:

  • Target
  • Lazy Leash Steps 1 & 2
Continue Hide-N-Seek homework and build up Emma's ability to find a person on cue anywhere in the house.


Emma is doing very well and even though my day today was out of whack and we didn't get out of the house, we did get a lot done.  Next week I will work on Lazy Leash and build up Emma's leash skills so she will be ready for walks with Max and I and working on learning to enter and exit buildings with a wheelchair.  Once she's confident with the power chair I'll begin taking her out to new locations to work with it and begin truly training to work beside her handler in public.

Emma is exiting her fear period and I can see her confidence has grown again.  I do believe in the next two or three months Emma will progress rapidly and be ready to work for short periods in public.  I am very excited to see this growth in her and look forward to the work we'll do this summer.

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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