Wednesday, September 4, 2013

11 Months: Training - Day 170

Today Emma passed her leash work in Levels - now she just need
My mother came over today and Emma was able to stay in a sit until she stepped into the house.  She stood, but didn't move to my Mom until I told her to go say hi, but then all control seemed to go out the window and she jumped up against Mom.  I asked Mom to cross her arms and look away from Emma, something I had been practicing with her, and low and behold Emma controlled herself and put her feet on the floor.  It took three or four times of doing so, but in the end Emma kept her feet down and was rewarded with affection from my Mom; the highest reward possible at that point.

It's still a work in progress, but I do have Emma sitting behind me when I answer the door, waiting for me to give the all clear to say Hi as a release to greet and meet the guests.  It's part of the Levels Training program - dog waits while handler talks to a person at the door.  It's in its infancy and a lot of management and focus on my part is happening and the final piece of the chain (don't freak out and jump on the guests) is coming into the picture, but I am about to put a whole behavior chain together.

This chain consists of:
  • Let me know someone is at the door (bark and come to me)
  • Go to the door with me and Sit away from the door
  • Stay seated while I open the door and talk to the person
    • If the person comes in then wait until released to say hi
      • If person doesn't want to be greeted, go elsewhere
    • If person doesn't come in wait to be released when door is shut and conversation is over
  • If person comes in and released to say hi, do so with all four feet on floor and briefly
  • Find toy or spot to lay quietly and let people visit.
It takes not only training the dog but the people.  I need to convince the people to not look her in the eye, no push away with their hand, cross their arms and ignore her until she gains self control and she has her feet on the ground and to STOP petting her and re-cross her arms and look away when she jumps up again and rinse and repeat until success is reached.

It takes time and consistency and practice for the dog to get it right and people who are willing to put up with the unruly until the dog learns.

We are getting there and I cannot thank my family and friends enough for all of their patience in this training.

Today Jack is not here because Ronda is on vacation and thus we have more time to work on "calm yourself" games.  Emma is enjoying them.  We are also working on relaxation exercises where she's asked to default to a relaxed position nearby and wait while I work.  She's doing great!

I do want to mention that Emma is already on a solid foundation with her basic skills and now I am taking them on the road and building them up even stronger, but can't go much further until I have good leash manners.  So, for as long as Emma needs it, we'll be working on leash manners.  Unless she is out on a harness she is to be calm and walking politely beside her handler.  This is to be achieved with patience and taking time to give her success.  If, for whatever reason, the person handling her does not have the time to keep her calm and on a loose lead, then don't take her or don't walk her on her flat collar.  I want a leash clipped to that collar to mean calm behavior - period.

What an amazing evening.  I had planned on a big outing with Emma tonight and at 3:30 PM we set out and went to Petsmart.  Once there I gave Emma the time she needed to stop whiplash looking about and calm down before we ever left the side of the van.  At first I just clicked for looking at cars, people, blowing leaves and anything in sight and switched to clicking for checking back with me.  Once she was calmed enough to start moving (five minutes) we spent the next three minutes walking up and down beside the van until she could walk calmly beside me.

We crossed to Petsmart doorstep and I had her sit and stay calm while people (children, adults, old, young, carts) all passed us.  She did great and managed to relax and handle the moderate traffic jam that happened.  Then we walked for five minutes up and down in front of Petsmart until she was totally calm and the went into the store.

Once in the store I started working her on lazy weaves through the displays.  At first I was clicking and treating for position and then switched to clicking and treating for sits or downs.  It was at the point I put her in a sit and walked around her I came to realize how far we'd come.  She then did a down and I walked around her in the other direction.  She didn't even blink on this.  I did a sit/stay and walked ten feet away and back and then did a sit/stay and called her to me.  She did it all without issue!

We then put the clicker up and started walking the store for the next ten minutes (now we'd been there for almost 15 minutes) and weaved through displays and all the cues she got were directional and praise for particularly hard areas, such as leaving the displays alone as we passed with her shoulder practically touching them.  She did something amazing then - when I said Left as a cue she looked left and turned left on the cue, the same with Right.  I was truly pleased!

We went into the groomers and she got worried.  We did sit and down and target and shake and played a little and left.  She was happy by the time we left and now knew she could go into a place like that and NOT be left behind, like has been happening EVERY TIME I take her to the groomers.

We then worked for a couple more minutes outside (total 20 minutes in the store, 15 minutes outside store) and I saw the next amazing thing!  She was glancing back to see where she was in relation to me!  This is advanced work on leash.  She's now aware of what the zone is and is checking to keep herself in it and not depending on my telling her when she's out!  Then she did a check, realized she was slightly too far ahead and did a gait change to reset herself back in the proper working zone for walking with me!  AMAZING!

I offered her a chance to pee and she did it too!  Woohoo!

We then went to Safeway and Rite Aid.  I did Rite Aid first and she was much calmer (it took less than 15 seconds to get her mind in gear) and walked in the zone, on a loose leash, to Rite Aid while passing Safeway.  When the automatic doors opened she tried to enter, but quickly learned I am setting the direction because I just kept going and she had to follow, not try to set our direction herself.

In Rite Aid we weaved through the displays (by now I am not using treats, just walking with her and only giving her a treat when I ask for a Sit or a Down) and worked two full aisles in Rite Aid on calm leash manners.  She was spot on the entire time and doing checks for placement and gaiting with me perfectly.

We went to work another section and ran across the demon scarecrow.  As we came around one aisle there it was - a scarecrow girl that was right in the height range of the children that most often send her scurrying for cover.  She didn't bark or freak out, but instead switched sides and kept walking.

I took her back and touched it, rewarded her for looking at it and worked her until she was able to sniff it and find it wasn't scary at all.  We walked around it, did sits and downs and targets by it and worked until she could walk beside me and by it without changing sides and avoiding it.  It took us about 10 minutes, but the confidence I saw when she finally overcame her worry about the scary scarecrow child was wonderful.

I then took her down the aisle with a whole bunch more of them, at first with me between her and them and then with her between me and them and she didn't even blink.  Mission accomplished.  She figured out they were not scary and went back into work mode - which I am starting to see more and more often when working with me in public.  We spent 15 minutes in RiteAid.

We then left Rite Aid and sniffed the grass outside of Safeway for a couple of minutes and then entered Safeway.  By this time she was no longer getting treats for walking with me, was working like a champ at my side and only occasionally getting treats for sits or downs when asked.  She was also starting to pay close enough attention to me to stop when I stopped and look up at me for direction!

We weaved through the produce section, worked the back aisles and weaved through all of the other aisles while she stayed in perfect work position at my side and was 100% loose leash the entire time.  I rarely had to circle to reset (only if she sniffed the floor or reached out to touch a passing person) and she was clearly relaxed and calm.

After that we went calmly back to the car and returned home.

Folks, she spent an hour training loose leash work with rare treats offered for walking with me and was spot on 90% of the time we were out.  Emma is well on her way to her final leash work and its like walking with air when she's in the zone leash wise!  Amazing!

Emma now needs practice, practice, practice for leash work - but she's passed all of the Levels lessons regarding leash work and is simply in the process of making it habit.  We well rework leash work for the wheelchair next.

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 Completed 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 Completed 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 Completed 0 0 0
Handling Communication

Step 0 0

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