Tuesday, June 25, 2013

9 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 117 - 121

I was starting to see this again - she's not hiding anymore and I can
see her confidence is growing with this break.  Glad we took it.

Monday - Friday

So, Monday is back!  Emma arrived excited and her owner worked very hard to keep her on a loose lead.  I see a lot of work on both our parts to curb her enthusiasm when she first meets someone she really knows.

Today is a day of practical learning again.  After a brief battle of convincing Maura that the rawhide bones were NOT to be buried in my gardens (one at the front of my trailer, the other in the big dirt mound I have for doing my patio) and getting a chew to Emma she enjoyed a quiet mid-day chew with Maura while Max did fence patrol and Dieter slept under my chair for about 40 minutes.

We are again at ground zero for her staying calm when I pick up the leash and getting it clipped onto her.  Hopefully her brain will kick in faster this week and we'll be back to working on maintaining controlled behavior when the leash is presented.

As the week progressed Emma did gain her control with the leash.  I would bend (one of her triggers for acting fearful with me) and gently pet the underside of her jaw the moment she sat and remained still and then kiss her nose.  In short order she was wagging her tail when I bent to her and I could see the "oh god" look in her eyes change "kisses!".

By the middle of the week she was working hard to stay at my side when we wandered the yard to do yard work or clean the yard of waste.  She was at first fearful of the scoop swinging over her head, which I had to do off and on to clean up a pile of dog poop, but with calm reassurance she was able to get her to relax and remain calm and confident when the scoop went over her head.

By the last couple of days of the week she was walking with her nose stuck to the ground and pulling again.  She has a hard time staying on track when walking, which is normal for this age, so I started working on her keeping her nose up and focused on me.  This improved her walking beside me and her working with me instead of just being drug along as I worked in the yard.

She is starting to get the "switch" that is needed when a leash or vest is put on her.  Right now the "working" gear for her is  her leash and I am asking, gently, for a higher level of focus and calmer behavior.  When we started this tethering to go around the yard she was bouncing all over and whiplash looking about.  She now stays mostly focused, though sometimes she goes over threshold and is a bouncing puppy at my side again.

We spent a lot of time in the yard during the week.  She enjoyed chewing on sticks, balls and bones.  She was able to lay at my side and mouth wrestle with Maura a bit and watch the neighborhood.  She's back to barking at every little sight in the neighborhood, which I think is a bit of frustrated energy build up.  She hasn't really been able to run and play since her injury and it's affecting her overall ability to handle stress and training.

I am not using treats at this time, just lots of quiet praise and life rewards (sniffing, greeting people and playing with toys) and just letting her decompress for a bit and get her recent growth spurt out of the way.

Emma left in a top of the world mood with her owner on Friday.  Friday was a particularly good day.  Emma had, for a long time, stopped snuggling with me.  It happened right after Attitude died and I suspect part of it was my own signals that I wasn't in the mood to have a dog touching me all the time.  On Friday Emma asked and received permission to be in my lap and cuddled for over an hour.  It was nice to see her seeking the attention and relaxing into it.  It'll make returning to clicker training easier when she feels a bond with me.

Emma will continue on this break from training and continue to experience On The Job training (walking on a tether, using known skills) while we just relax and reset and build confidence.

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