|Emma adores my son Walter.|
Monday - Friday
On Monday Ronda, Jack's owner and I had scheduled a public access outing with both Emma and Jack. As a result, I did no training during the day, but let the dogs enjoy a relaxing and playful day in the yard with me. They followed me about as I watered the yard, worked on the gardens, did some work on the computer and played near me while I sat on the patio and watched them.
The newer patio, by the front gate, was not done and both Emma and Jack enjoyed long play periods in the dirt that was exposed by the bricks. They would lay and mouth wrestle and then dig in the dirt and at one point were laying side by side chewing on chunks of wood.
That evening I groomed Emma out and gave her one last run in the yard before dressing her for going to Starbucks. She had eaten dinner, I had chopped up some very high value treats and she was getting a final run in the yard before heading off to do a quick in and out for an order of coffee and then sitting outside the building and watching people and traffic. In the two minutes she ran in the yard she stuck her head into a bush and covered herself in tiny round seeds, which I didn't see in her black fur, but found when I patted her head at Starbucks.
She needs to work on calm when a leash or harness is touched. When I touch one, even for another dog, she goes into a bouncing, dancing, jumping, barking fit of excitement which doesn't settle her well into working mode when we do head out. It took 10 minutes to calm her (waiting her out) before I could dress her.
Once at Starbucks she was a bit rubber neck as she looked about, but could and did respond promptly to cues. I have instilled she is to sit and wait for me to cue her into the car (Load Up), stand or sit and wait for me to cue her out of the car (Hup Up), and then she is to get out, turn to face me and sit. She has 95% of this routine down pat now. The final step, turning and sitting is still a work in progress.
It took only a moment of asking for a Sit and then a Down to get her into work mode and she walked nicely on a loose lead into the store, up to the counter and gave me a wonderful sit and watched me while we made our orders. I was giving her a high rate of re-enforcement, but I wanted to give her a "restaurant light" experience so she would be ready for many of the strange sounds in a restaurant.
She did not try to sniff items in the store, she was able to and did all of the cues I asked of her, she was focused and able to stay at my side and then walk loose lead out of the building and she was readily taking treats. It was a wonderful 7 minute intro to a food establishment.
Outside I settled her under the table by the front door and rewarded for a long down/stay (which she only got up twice in 30 minutes) and for staying quiet when people passed us. She was curious, sometimes a bit worried, about strangers, but with rewards quickly relaxed and watched the world. By the end of the 30 minutes she was resting her chin on the ground and relaxing.
We got up when we finished our coffee and did Loose Leash (LL), Sit, Down and Stay (with us walking in circles around her in both directions while in a sit or down). She was not worried by the employee who passed us four times with a garbage can on wheels and even greeted a stranger with warm friendliness. It was an excellent outing.
On Tuesday we worked on random rewards for known behaviors, all of which she did promptly and took every treat I offered without signs of stress. She played hard, rested hard and processed the previous evenings events for the day.
That evening I took her to Winco for a short but targeted shopping trip. I offered her to go to the bathroom, but she was not interested in that. She walked in with her head even with her shoulders, her tail up and even with her spin and her tail curled upward. She was focused, not fearful and didn't attempt to sniff anything. She walked perfect LL with me and though for a second was hesitant when we first entered, she quickly recovered and walked with me around the edge of the store (it was a low traffic day in the store) to the section where they keep the milk and creamer and I selected my one item I was after, coffee creamer. Emma did a fantastic sit when I asked her to at the fridge, but popped up when I opened it. I let her check the fridge and praised her for her curiosity. We then walked to the front of the store with only one small fright (an employee passed behind her which worried her a bit, but a quick sit and several treats resolved the issue). I took her to the customer service desk, cued her to target my hand so she was between me and the desk and cued a sit. She was able to do those and stayed at my feet while I paid. She left the store on a LL without signs of stress and got lots of praise when we exited the store.
I then took her to Papa Murphy's to pick up a pizza. I knew what I wanted, so spent my time focused on her while I cued her to target my hand and sit between me and the counter when I made the order. I gave her several treats for being there and then took her to the bench seat to wait for my order to be ready. I was very pleased to see her light up and offer me a perfect down with focus. She was okay with the one other customer who came in and walked out perfectly when we left.
The two outings lasted a total of 20 minutes with travel.
On Wednesday I gave her one full day off to process her Monday and Tuesday. She played and enjoyed her day off and I could see her confidence growing.
On Thursday I took her to Winco to pick up a case of Pepsi. When we entered she was walking with her head slightly above her shoulders and her tail raised above her spine and it was waving slowly. When she saw a child she moved closer to me and looked to me for direction. I asked her to Sit and then Shake while the child went into the store. When we entered the child was there so I asked for another Sit. She was being rewarded for paying attention to me when the child moved to touch her, both myself and her father stopped her and she passed without touching Emma. Emma physically relaxed and after that children in the store didn't worry her.
We used the cart this time and except for a bit of surprise when I pulled it out, she was extremely good with it. She walked through the store with fewer rewards, her head up and her tail waving slowly as we worked. She jumped a little when I put the Pepsi case in the cart, but quickly responded to my Sit cue and recovered. We waited in line this time and she was comfortable sitting or laying beside me and by the display by the checkout. When a woman started babbling at her she made a move to rush up to her, stopped herself and got loads of rewards for her self control. At one point I saw her put her head down and she relaxed completely while we waited to check out. She left on a LL and walked calmly to the car with me.
On Friday I once again let her process the events from the previous day and spent the day until she was picked up playing and napping.
Emma's confidence increased on each outing and success she had. She knew on each outing what I expected and when she was uncertain looked to me for direction and found I was paying attention was able to give it to her. She was prompt on all of her cues, and got loads of complements on her behavior in the store.
Emma is in the game again and enjoying training, so next week we'll have some light formal training sessions and start working toward retrieve training again.