Tuesday, May 7, 2013

8 Months: Training - Day 92

DJ is visiting for the next 10 days.
Emma's week has been different than what she is used too.  Instead of being greeted at the door by Jack on Monday morning, she was faced with a new Dachshund in the house.  DJ, Jack's little sister, is staying with me for 10 days while Jack travels to Nebraska with his owner on her vacation.  Emma has met DJ before and though the two are not best friends, they are no unfriendly with each other.

Emma, a typical puppy, still likes to play dash and pounce with the Dachshunds and DJ is not up for that game anymore than Dieter is.  Though Dieter is feeling better since being placed on medications for his arthritis, he's still a 15 year old dog who doesn't want to play with an 8 month old puppy.  DJ, who is 8 years old, has previous had a broken back and yelps and plays Drama Queen whenever she thinks she might be harmed.  After only a couple of high pitched yelps when Emma did a drive by run she has become a lot more aware of the older dogs and is giving them more respect.

But with Jack away for 10 days and our normal routine a bit changed up, Emma is actually doing well.  She's adjusted to the idea my house is a 'guess whose visiting today' home some weeks when I need to watch a friend's dog.  She's adjusted to the idea of staying in Jack's crate when I leave for an errand during the day and in Dieter's crate at night for bed.  She's even adjusted to the change in our going outside every 3 to 4 hours instead of every 1 to 2 hours that Attitude had required.

Emma is learning to adapt to changing environments by watching me and learning to take her lead not from the event, but the handler.  It is nice to see this level of adjustment, it will make her future as a service dog easier on her.

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.  At this point I don't want to work with distance, but with her noticing that an object is on the floor and examine it.  I used the pencil for today.  I worked a bit on Level 3 Retrieve and then set the pencil on the floor and rewarded any exploration of the pencil.  In short order she was attempting to pick the pencil up, so I rewarded any effort she made.  She picked it up and handed it to me, though not a final and smooth retrieve, Emma did do her first targeted retrieve and I was very happy with her.  We had a small party and ended the session right there.

Over the course of the day we revisited the pencil on the floor and by the end of the day she had picked it up and handed it to me a total of 10 times.  What amazing progress.  Tomorrow I'll work with a metal object and rebuild again from Level 3 Retrieve to build her hold and willingness to hold a metal object in her mouth like I did with a wooden one.


Emma has been practicing Level 1 and Level 2 Comeafters for Zen, Sit, Down, Target, Come and Lazy Leash at home on the weekends.  I would like her to continue to work these come afters this weekend and have the family think of new and creative ways to test Emma's understanding of the behaviors.  Can Emma Sit while she's in the shower stall?  Can she sit while she's on a stool?  What about doing a down when on the bed or on top of a crate?  Can she come past treats on the floor without stopping for them?  (Cover them so she doesn't get an accidental jackpot!)  Will she come away from a toy in the yard?  Another dog?  Can she shut the cabinet door in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room?  Can she sit when you are facing the wall or mirror?  Think of new ways to test her understanding and being able to follow your cues - if she can't, don't repeat the cue, just make a note of a new spot to retrain the behavior and do so.

Continue working on Hide-N-Seek, but now when she comes to you say, "Show me."  And walk her back to B and have HIM give her the treat now.

Continue working on B cuing her in behaviors that she knows with his speech machine.

Finishing School

Emma is doing so well at Finishing School.  She barely needs a reminder now to walk beside me and not rubber neck as we go to the back of the building so she can urinate.  She is urinating on cue, even with minor distractions and for the most part quickly, though this time she wanted to sniff for a bit.  She gets a bit excited after the potty break and wants to rush ahead, but even then, one or two stops on my part resets her mind and she walks into the building without rushing ahead and on a loose lead.  She's still very busy looking about, but with experience she'll be less rubber necky and more focused when we go out.

In class she quickly settles at my feet, though it's in front of me still and not beside me like I want to build up yet, and begins to offer focus and ignore the rest of the room for the most part.  When we started this class it took 50 minutes to get her to rest her head on her feet and relax and now it takes 10 minutes.  It's an amazing level of progress and a sign she's learning to relax and wait until she's needed.

We arrived before everyone else this time and went to the kitchen in the building to talk with Stacy, one of the instructors.  She was doing good with the meeting when Carol popped through the back door and Emma got a bit barky and worried, but quickly recovered and greeted Carol.  She was about to show off her hold of the pencil and couldn't focus after the back door spit Carol up, so we went to our spot and she not only held the pencil, but also picked it up a couple of times and handed it to me.

In class we worked on walking nice out of a door and doing a whiplash look back.  In class we were teaching her with her name to look back, but I have decided that could be a mistake for a dog working in public.  What I would like to do is work on a cue for her to whip her head around and make eye contact - I may keep it simple and use the same cue for focus.  Using her name could result in her not paying attention to her handler if someone in public uses her name, even by accident, and she does a whiplash look back because she heard her name.

Emma is a star in class.  Stacy used her as the demo dog for the door behavior and she was focused and offered the same behavior she gives me at the door - sitting and waiting for a cue to exit.  She was a fantastic demo dog.  She did the door exercises with a nice walking out with me at my side like a good little service dog.  During the whiplash look back exercise I saw her offer her sit, down, chin down, eye contact, zen and even shake to get Carol to give her the treats in Carol's hand.  An amazing display of rollerdexing her behaviors to find the answer!

Emma has one more class before she's done with Finishing School.  If possible I think taking this class with the family again would be good for both the family and Emma, since it'll give her a chance to work with them in an environment she's never worked with them in before and would count as an outing for her during the week.


Emma is maturing nicely.  She's enjoying learning and starting to settle and deal with new situations better each time she's faced with one.  The moment with Carol entering and startling her and even frightening her a bit was quickly recovered from and Emma was able to focus and concentrate afterwards - which was fabulous.  She's still a teenager and the difficult months of major mental and emotional changes lay before us, but she's learning to watch and evaluate before reacting most times now.

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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