Thursday, August 8, 2013

10 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Days 147-149

Now Emma can pick up items and give them to me!
I know I had stated Emma's daily blogs were restarting and I had fully intended that, but then I had a major flare of my disability and the last two weeks have been a struggle to simply get through the day without falling over in tears and exhaustion from the pain.  As a result, I am behind by almost two weeks of blog posts, which I decided, since I am just starting to see my head rise above water again, to do in two large posts to catch everyone up.

Emma, on Tuesday, got the idea that maybe what I wanted was for her to take and then hand me the pen we'd been training with from progressively lower positions.  She didn't get the idea she could pick it up off of the floor and hand it to me, but she did figure out she could reach down almost all the way to the floor and then raise her head and hand it too me.  Too many repetitions of the same behavior still made her worried she was not doing it right, so I kept the 4 training sessions we did very short and with high energy and lots of praise.  Emma thrives on praise.

On Wednesday I didn't do any formal training.  With two hard days of retrieve work I wanted her to process and work through in her mind what I wanted.  I knew she was working hard on solving the problem because she became butt puppy again and was plucking plant leaves and chewing everything in sight, a sure sign she was working out stress and solving problems.

On Thursday I got some very high value treats and the pen and worked quickly from her head up and facing me when she took the pen and gave it back to her head near the floor and taking it from my palm and raising her head to hand it to me.  It didn't give her time to think MAYBE she was in trouble or MAYBE she was wrong and suddenly I just put the pen on the floor and she scooped it up and handed it to me.  I did some big hugs and lots of loves and praised the heck out of her and ended the lesson.  I didn't revisit it again until that evening.

In the evening we went from head high to head low in two rounds and she picked up and handed me the pen 3 times from the floor.  She was happy, engaged and enjoying her hugs and kisses when she gave me the pen each time.  I then went and got a dish cloth and put it on the floor.  Smart tat that she is, she decided I must be working on Mat behavior and laid on it.  I laughed with her and then taught her to quickly take and give the dish cloth and within three rounds had it on the floor.  Emma picked it up and handed it to me 2 times.  I was over joyed and we had a huge snuggle session after that.

On Friday Emma left for her grooming and went home afterwards to her family.

The break through of picking up and handing me both the pen and the dish cloth was huge.  Emma was, without question, not fearful or worried when we did these short sessions and the day off to think and work through the earlier lessons helped her solve the problem and realize she was making me happy when she did hand me items off the floor.  What a wonderful break through.

Emma has picked up two different types of objects from the floor and handed them to me at this time.  She is 2/3 of the way through Level 4 Retrieve!  She has done a plastic and cloth item and we'll work on metal and wood next with her retrieving.  After she confident with the smaller retrieve items I am working on, I am going to start adding new shapes, sizes and weights and build up her retrieve until she can and will retrieve, on cue, items I want off of the floor or other locations and bring them.  Emma is learning her first and primary service dog task!

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