Friday, May 10, 2013

8 Months: Training - Day 94

Emma holding a pencil in her mouth.
Yes, I know I am behind on posting for Emma.  I have a part-time day job that requires my attention, though some weeks much less than others.  This week we had a major failure of  a server and have been fighting to get two critical websites back online in a timely fashion.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen - with a full hardware failure we had to wait for the hosting company to rebuild our server and salvage data from the old drives and thus I was placed in a serious holding pattern waiting for my portion of this rebuild to begin.  It meant I was exhausted by the end of the day after spending hours waiting for phone calls and replying to updates and rapid fire emails regarding the issue.

Technically I am still in that holding pattern, since the server is up, but the drive we need is not attached as a remote drive for us to review and work with.  I am spent the past two days waiting with my IPad to hear if I could start my part on website recovery, but today I can park at the desktop computer and wait since Emma went home last night so she could go to a very early morning grooming appointment.

This means this is Wednesday's blog post and Thursday's will follow shortly.  Another reason why Wednesday's post didn't arrive in a timely fashion was because Max has started a class and I didn't get home from that class until 9:30 PM.

With the warmer weather Emma is enjoying longer periods outside playing in the yard and learning basic life skills while doing so.  She's discovered other people and animals can exist in our world and outside our fence and she doesn't have to be reactive.  I spent sometime watching her play with toys or chew on bones or old corn stalks while the neighbors mowed lawns or played nearby without her even hardly glancing in their direction.  I also spent time watching her quietly sitting and watching them without barking under her breath or having a full breakdown and going into a rolling back by the fence.

She doesn't do as well if I am not in the yard with her.  The moments I step into the house to get something or answer the phone real quick have left her feeling a bit insecure and she resorts back to her barking at the neighbors or reacting to sounds in the distance.  It is not as often and with experience and slow introductions to being alone in the yard she'll learn how to feel secure - small steps - she's feeling secure when I am present, so we are halfway there.

I am also enjoying watching her nap in the yard or on the ramp and self entertaining herself.  These are solid skills that will benefit her for the rest of her life.  Learning to be happy and relaxed when outside will make times in the yard with her family easier on everyone.

While in the yard she's learning to recall from distractions and from distances.  She's learning appropriate play, such as not digging in my gardens or chewing or eating things she's not allowed to have.  She's learning to greet people at the fence and ignore cars, cats and other distractions outside of the fence.  Though I may not be clicking and treating the entire time we play outside, Emma is learning through experience and guidance on how to behave when outside and on her own time.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is asked to go to and touch three different types of objects on the floor.  I am still working Emma while she's at my feet and have not added distance to this lesson yet.  We started this lesson with a pencil and worked up to her lifting the pencil to my hand.  I have moved to a metal object and am now working on a knitting needle - but to accomplish a solid hold on different types of material, I backed up to Level 3 Retrieve.

Emma is willing to take the metal knitting needle into her mouth and clamp down on it with her teeth, but she doesn't like to hold it in her mouth for any period of time.  In order to help her with this portion of the lesson, I have been working on quality of bite in comparison to length of hold.

By the end of the day Emma was giving good bites onto the knitting needle, but showing some stress signs by lifting her paw to the needle or turning her head away from it.  When she gave me two or more stress signs I would ask for a simple cue she knew and then end our session and when we returned to training I would work on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve, which was her touching the object on the floor with her nose.  This seemed to relieve a lot of her stress and she continued to progress with the training.


Emma is not longer completely shutting down and seeking a place to hide when she is stressed, but instead offering paw touches or turn aways to indicate stress.  If pushed too far she'll start to dance and then put her back to me and shrink into herself, so I am working just below that point and building her ability to handle stress daily.  Adding a small amount of daily stress and showing her she can work through it for a tiny bit and extending the amount she can handle will aid her in her future job.

As she grows into a dog her ability to handle stress will continue to improve, as long as we teach her how to cope by introducing it slowly and within her limits.  She's maturing nicely and should soon be able to handle more stressful situations without delayed fallout when training for public access.

Since this week we went to Broadway and worked on dealing with moving traffic while working by the wheelchair, I consider that a public access outing.  Public Access is not only in buildings, but also working in busy and crowded parking lots and city streets.  Teaching her to be comfortable with traffic is vital.  Emma had two outings with me this week and will have a final one with her owners on the weekend when she starts Loose Leash Walking as a class.

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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