Tuesday, June 4, 2013

8 Months, 4 Weeks: Training - Day 109

Hale and Emma enjoy their bones in my office.
Emma went to the vet for the day yesterday to have her knee x-rayed.  I didn't pick her up until the afternoon and she spent the rest of the evening getting to know her new foster sister, Hale (pronounced Hall-Leigh).  The x-rays were excellent.  She has fantastic hip, knee and ankle joints and her bone plates are close to closing by the time she's 14 months old.  The knee she injured does not have any swelling or tears in it that can be seen and her ACL ligament is not damaged.  It looks like the ligament that attached to her kneecap was badly strained, so we'll have her on restricted activity (no running, jumping or rough housing) for another 4 weeks, but she can return to her regularly scheduled training.

Hale, a Boxer/Rottweiler mix, is staying with us short time, and to tell the truth, I am glad for that.  Right now, as I type and am otherwise occupied, she is barking and whining for attention - it's not working.

I had not intended on a foster dog, but Hale's situation turned ugly in a split second and someone needed to rescue her long enough to get her into the right home.  She had been living in a home where adversive corrections were used for any behavior they didn't appreciate.  She was also feed less than her body needed and is thus underweight and when she arrived, starving.  Because she was always hungry, she tried to take food from the 4 year old, was corrected for it in the process and the 4 year old was hurt.  They blamed the dog.

We were called and told they wanted to re-home her and we started the process of doing so.  I had a group lined up that was prepping to get her into a foster home when they called and told us she was placed in a high kill shelter because she got into a fight with the other dog in the house over food.  The other dog is also about 10 pounds too lean.  They took her to the shelter and dropped her off and we insisted they call and release her into our care.  We picked her up Saturday night with serious bite marks in her ear, face and chest and frightened and confused by the sudden loss of her home.

She has a few issues which were quickly resolved by A) showing her she could take a prize, such as a bone I had given her, and move to a different location and not have to defend it from the dogs in my home and B) she got more than enough food in her tummy.

With now three days of feeding her the right amount for her body size/weight (ideal, not current) she's relaxed about food, bones and toys and is becoming a calmer dog.  Sometimes.  Sometimes she goes into spasms of barking and whining when she doesn't want to pass another dog to get to me or she wants me to pay attention to her.  The not wanting to pass a dog can be cured by cuing the dog in her path to come to me.  The later is under construction.

She has already tried to engage Emma and Max in play, eats from her bowl only and doesn't try to take other dogs food out of their bowl while they are eating and is learning to communicate.

Emma is curious about her, but doesn't see her as a long lost sister she never knew she had.  It's a good balance between another play style and dog breed and learning to be good with new and strange dogs.

Today I started training with Emma and Hale was rewarded for watching, but not interupting Emma's training.  Hale was more than happy to let me work Emma and just get a treat for being present.

Currently, Emma and Max are teaching Hale how to relax and nap while I am on the computer or watching TV.  She's not there yet, but she's learning quickly.

Above is a picture of Hale and Emma last night about three hours after they met for the first time.  Emma decided to move to share the bed with her while they both chewed bones and Hale was okay with that because Emma didn't try to take her bone.

Next week Hale will be spayed and should finish her antibiotics and anti-imflamitories.  She'll have put on some weight, gained a few manners and learned how to do basic communication with humans before we place her up for adoption.  Hopefully by the time she's recovered from her spay she'll be in her new forever home and learning how lovely life can be.

Our preferred home for Hale is a female owner with no children or adult children and no other dogs.  She is good with dogs for visiting and playing, but would be happier as an only dog.  She is good with cats.  She is afraid of men and needs training, using positive rewards, to help her become the best dog she can be.

Today's Lessons:


Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is to go to three different types of objects on the floor.  Last week Emma went to and picked up and brought to me a pencil.  This week we are working on a spoon.  Today I spent her first lesson working on touching and taking the spoon in her mouth while I held it.  When she gives me a nice hold on the spoon I'll put it on the floor and shape her to it and have her pick it up and bring it to me (this would be Steps 1, 2 and 3 of Level 4 Retrieve).

Emma is not afraid of or reluctant to take the spoon in her mouth and gave me a small 1 second hold today.  I am very pleased with this first lesson this week.  We will continue the retrieve lessons and look at teaching another service dog skill as a break between them to keep her stress levels low - especially since she has a new foster sister.

Emma is progressing nicely with retrieve and will soon be practicing the skill in new locations with new objects to build her understanding.


This weekend work on Emma walking calmly out of the house to her potty zone.  If she pulls on the lead, walks ahead of the person or tries to charge out the door walk her back a few steps and start again.  It may take a little time the first few times, but after a bit she'll walk calmly to her potty zone and calmly back in and soon will do it, no matter how exciting, everywhere if she practices it all the time.

Play tug with a rope to build up her tug game for eventual door opening.


With the addition of a foster dog Emma is learning a new level of dog language.  Her and Jack share toys and play with them together (Jack chewing on one end and Emma on the other).  Jack is tolerant of her and lets her take toys or bones right out of his mouth and thus Emma was led to believe that any new dog coming into her world would allow the same behaviors - including taking toys right out from between their feet.  Hale is not Jack.

Today Emma learned that not all dogs share their toys or even play with the same toy at the same time as her.  Hale gave very clear communication, without ever having to do more than make a grumble, that her toys or bones were her's and not to be shared.  Emma heard her and respected her space.  This is fantastic to see.  I had feared that the high tolerance she'd experienced here would not prepare her for a dog who wasn't as forgiving - but it has and she's got fantastic dog language as a result.

I watched her test Hale's "boundaries" and find them and then give her the respect Hale asked for.  This is both a wonderful sign of maturity and self control - Emma is doing great.

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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