Wednesday, September 4, 2013

11 Months: Training - Day 169

No, I don't expect her to watch my every step, but I do expect
her to be aware of her leash and me and be calm when
walking with me or anyone.
Emma did not remember her calm behavior over the weekend.  I am uncertain what the break is between home and here, but there is one and I need to figure out what it is and build it up some more.  I have already asked that they not attach her leash unless she is sitting and not jumping around, building on calm behavior will take time (I am now waiting until she's not hyper vibrating, but in a slow rumble of vibration before I attach the leash) and that they pick up and carry the leash around and set it down, ignoring her bouncing excitement whenever they do.  Basically, I am asking that the charge in the leash (leashes mean good things happen in Emma's mind) is removed and it's just another object we pick up.

I have asked that they work on calmly getting to point A to point B and that they ask for calm when dealing with her.  I do know I speak with a lower pitch in my voice with less animation to keep her calm than they do and I am less animated when I am working with her.  C, her owner, is a very animated person and for Emma its like biofeedback when dealing with that level of animation.  I suspect it's time we start planning on a visit once or twice a month in their home to watch how they are working with her and communicating in both verbal and body language to help them keep her calm until Emma has developed her own internal self control.

Whatever it is, Emma was back at square one, which makes each week a repeat of the week before with little forward progress.  I was to the point of touching her leash last week and not getting more than a four on the floor body wave as she followed me about the house while I carried it.  Tuesday I touched the leash and she went into bucking, rearing and barking fits of excitement while she bounced off of my bladder again - which for me is extremely painful and I suspect for her handler, B, such bouncing, even as light as she does it, is painful also.  My goal is to have a dog who can work with a fragile and highly disabled handler without causing him pain or fear and if I couldn't use my arms or move myself out of her way I would find such behavior upsetting and even frightening, even though it is clear she has no intent to harm.

I have been a private contractor for the past two years, working from home as a web developer.  Since that job put food on my table and in the dog's bowls, kept the power on, heat or cooling going, internet/TV/Phone running and provided the treats and bones the dogs have been enjoying I have had to devote a portion of each day to working in the office.  It's a great lesson for Emma.  She learned quickly to curl up in the office behind my chair or under my desk and sleep while I work.  The same as Dieter and Max while I go into the office.  It was a modeled behavior that was well established since I have been working from home since 2008.

Originally it was an 8  to 5 job though one company that kept me hoping for 8+ hours a day.  I trained Max during my breaks and my evenings.  In 2010 that job came to an end when the contract that paid my wages was lost in a bidding war and a new company got it.  In 2011 the company that got the bid hired me to work on the projects that they'd aquired and I was familiar with.  I have been on part time work with them since then, working from home on keeping the servers running and the applications humming as a private contractor.  That contract has once again come to an end and at the end of this month the money that makes living possible comes to an end.  As a result, I put out more job applications - but it means my working from home will end.

On Tuesday I had a second job interview with a company that I really hope I get hired into.  As a result I spent the morning grooming myself and Max for the interview.  I am so glad I have built up Emma's ability to be alone long enough to let me shower without her finding trouble.  I am not a slow person in the shower.  In and out is my rule of thumb.  I am maybe out of her line of sight for a good 10 minutes at the maximum and Emma has learned to curl up on my bed and wait for me while I am.  Max curls up by the shower itself and Dieter curls up on Max's bed.  The examples they both set for her has made the transition from being crated while I shower to being gated in the room to being left unattended easier.

She's calm and relaxed when I exit the shower and can now handle my going outside of the house for five to ten minutes without getting into trouble - though I am certain I don't leave temptation laying in wait for her when I do.  I am about to buy her an x-pen to start transitioning her from being crated when I leave to being in the x-pen and eventually left to her own devices - once she's gained the self confidence and self control to not find trouble when left alone.

I then pulled out my ironing board and deployed the legs.  Emma was near me when I did this and she ducked for cover when it happened.  I laughed at her and asked her if I scared her.  Yes, I laughed.  I have done this with all of my dogs for years and it becomes the cue for "nothing is falling from the sky to crush you" for them.  The moment I laughed she moved in and checked the ironing board and then went to her spot behind my recliner (it's her "crate" when loose in the house and where she feels safest) and laid down and went to sleep while I ironed my clothes.

After that I groomed Max.  Emma, who at first hated grooming, has started to come to me the moment I sit on the floor with a brush and move in to be groomed.  She still hates her face being groomed (lots of fussing while I do), but with constant treats, kisses and praise, she's grown better about it each time we groom.  I told her it was Max's turn and laughed at her and kissed her nose.

After that I picked up her leash and boing, off my bladder she bounced.  Sigh.  It took almost five minutes, but she calmed enough for me to leash her and then it took another ten to walk on loose leash to the car.  Thankfully, that morning Robin, my friend who helps me problem solve, had called and we'd talked about the difference between loose leash and leash manners.  Emma has loose leash, but no leash manners.  We came up with a solution to solve this problem and I spent the ten minutes not so much working on keeping the leash loose, but her focused and with proper manners between the house and the car.

We spent three minutes at our destination doing the same thing.  Ronda, who owns Jack, is on vacation and agreed to watch Emma while I was out so I wouldn't have to crate her.  I dropped her off to spend the afternoon with Ronda and then headed off to do my business.

Ronda reported on my return that Emma was sedate and spent most of her time at the gate waiting for me.  She's at an age that she's noticing when people she knows well and is bonded with leave her.  Though she didn't whine or show undue separation anxiety, she did show an awareness of my departure.  Emma was curled in Ronda's lap when I arrived and the moment she heard my voice she shot out of her lap and bound to me.  I guess the little one loves me.

After letting her get past her excitement I was back, she promptly began looking for sticks and leaves to chew and was back to her confident little self playing throughout the yard.  This is not the fist time she's been to Ronda's home without me, but it is the first time I have dropped her off and left.  Normally Ronda picks her up and takes her over to her home.  This time she was shy about going out and doing her normal behaviors of exploring or chewing on things.

I let her play for a while before Ronda and I took her and Jack out to work on leash manners.  Jack is a high value reward for Emma.  She loves him, loves to play with him and walking up to him in a controlled manner is difficult for her.  We stood 20 feet apart while I worked on her walking in a calm and controlled manner to Jack and Jack worked on remaining in a stay by Ronda and staying focused.

I had to do several circles to reset her to my side the first time and second time we approached and walked away, but by the third she was ignoring the dogs looking through the fence beside us and ignoring Jack.  Jack was ignoring the dogs behind the fence and ignoring Emma.  It was a beautiful dance.

By the fourth time I went toward them I was able to walk around them and make a our way back toward my van.  We did this for five minutes getting closer in and maintaining focus on me and calm on the leash with it loose as we walked to and from a focal point.  She was on the outside from Jack for this exercise, so next time I will have her on the inside by Jack and work on even more focus as we circle them.

We then reversed it and had Emma keep focus on me and ignore Ronda and Jack while they worked on calm leash behavior.  Jack was able to go around us by the third approach and Emma did a fantastic job of staying focused on me.  Both she and Jack defaulted into a down to keep themselves under control.  We worked on this behavior for five minutes.

We then had Jack with me and Emma with Ronda and repeated the exercise for another 3 minutes each dog.  They did a fantastic job and by the time we finished both were calm, under control on the leash, and focused on their handler - no matter who the handler was.  I will repeat this exercise with Emma solo in a parking lot again this week and see if I can't get her to walk calmly to a store door from the van to the door and back with full leash manners in place.

This exercise also needs to be done by the family, so I will film what I want them to do and have them work on it this weekend with Emma to improve her self control.

This was a wonderful training session and Emma was happy and tired when we finished.

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 4 2 1 2
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 Completed 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 4 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 4 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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