Monday, June 10, 2013

8 Months, 4 Weeks: Training - Days 110 and 111

Emma and Maura spent the week making friends.
This is last Wednesday and Thursday's blog posts.  I have been so slammed here that keeping up on the paperwork is near to impossible.  As of today I will have four out of five animals in my home with some sort of medical care that I need to provide; Dieter with his back injury requires regular medications, escorted outside and monitored to ensure he doesn't re-injure his back yet again (which he did over the weekend).  Emma has a knee injury that requires we keep her from running, jumping and rough housing, which means when she goes outside it is on lead and I have to monitor her behavior in the home to keep her from being a puppy when that is exactly what she is.  Both Maura (formally Hale) and Victoria today (Monday) were spayed and will need meditations for pain and kept from licking and reopening their spay incisions.  I have told Max, who was limping at his Thursday class but was fine again on Friday, that he's not allowed to join the crowd - I simply am spread too thin right now and some things need to give and sitting at a computer and writing up a series of blog posts was what gave.

Emma last week didn't do a lot of formal training, but more life in action training.  With Maura joining the family and my needing to treat her ear infection and wounds from her previous housemates attack, I found I was spending a lot of time accessing her and plotting what she would need first and foremost to have her best chance at adoption.

On Thursday my Mom came over to help build more raised beds and lay sod and my helper, a young man that comes weekly, arrived.  Emma spent the day attached to me and learned how to pay attention to me while I worked in the yard.

On Wednesday Emma worked on Retrieve again and was able to pick up and hand me a spoon, but it seemed to throw her for a loop right afterwards and she stopped trying and giving me appeasement signals.  This is to be expected.  She is in a growth phase where her moods change from moment to moment, much like a teenagers, and she'll have good and bad days when training.  The best way to handle her need for less stress in learning is to switch to a new method of learning and let her process what she's worked on.

To do this I spent all day Thursday not doing "formal" training, but training none-the-less.  I had her attached to me with a waist leash and let her follow me everywhere I went in the yard while building raised beds, digging up plants and laying sod.  Though I couldn't do a lot of the heavy work, Emma discovered that yard work meant I wouldn't be in a single spot for long.  With the release from her vet to do normal walking, I used that as a way to rebuild the strength in her knee.

During our day in the yard I would walk her around with me with frequent stops and rests, occasional placement in the house for short periods when having her next to me was unsafe, and lots of figuring out how to unwrap herself from posts and trees and other objects in the yard, pay attention to me and the leash at the same time.

It was a great day of learning by doing and Emma did great.  Hopefully, with Maura under better control and not requiring so much of my time and a warm and lovely week ahead, I should be able to get back to service skills training and helping Emma learn how to focus even under higher distractions.

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