Wednesday, September 4, 2013

11 Months: Training - Days 167 - 168

Someday Emma will learn to put her own toys away.
Emma is in that fantastic stage of doggy demon-hood.  It's starts right around 5 months of age and doesn't seem to leave until right around 18 months of age (if not later) while the dog goes through huge changes in personality, body growth and mental growth.  Their brain is actually physically growing during this time and it seems that with each new spurt in growth the lessons previously learned fly out the window.  For a while Emma totally forgot that sitting at my front door to be let out was possible - since I expected that and some of the strange behavior she's displayed, I simply worked with the dog I had each day.

On Thursday I had a dog who was more interested in play than learning.  She would sit or down for me, but she wanted to play with Jack or run the yard to find some new prize to eat in the grass.  She wasn't up to any stressful mental stimulation according to her.  This was fine, we worked on recall and basic skills such as target, sit and down for a bit.  She was convinced that she was too worn out from her exciting week to pick up any new behaviors and I was convinced she is old enough to work a bit more.

I turned a lesson into a game she could get her tiny body wrapped up in.  We played the "calm yourself game" in which any bouncing, jumping, barking or rearing up and pawing the air like Silver in the Lone Ranger would result in my paying close attention to the ceiling or wall with my arms crossed.  At first she was jumping about me and barking as if to say, "HEY!  Pay attention to ME!" but I was convinced I'd seen the face of Mona Lisa in my ceiling and was checking that out.  In a second I could hear the pattering of a body vibrating in place before me and glanced down.  The instant I made eye contact she exploded, so I went back to exploring my ceiling.  In short order she was able to hold her sit and vibrate in place as I reached down, gave her a huge yes and wound her back up.

We did this for ten minutes.  She thought it was the silliest game ever, but what I noticed was by the time I finished the "calm yourself" game, she was almost instantly going from wound to the ceiling excitement to sitting, slightly vibrating, almost calm at my feet when I now gave a slight look away.  She is fully capable of containing herself, but she needs to be taught such behavior and therefore I have started a string of games with her daily, all day, work on her getting my attention only when calm, unless I asked for her to get excited with me.

By Friday the game was working a charm.  Leashes picked up and carried around the house received a calm and wavy body and tail as I moved them around and occasionally clipped them on her.  Even waving my arms and cheering only got a couple of tiny bounces from her and then she'd sit and stare up at me and get her praise.

I asked her to pick up new things each day.  On Friday I started asking her to think about putting items into a box.  I got out a shoe box and a pair of socks and worked on her picking up and dropping the socks into the shoe box.  She loved this and was close on getting the items into the box each time.  She's not fully certain of the game yet, but the more I play it with her the better she'll get at it.  Eventually this will work into her putting her handler's clothes into a clothes hamper and picking up and putting toys away.  It will also work for throwing away garbage.

We did a lot of play for the last two days of the week, but Emma learned a lot of self control while doing so and I hope she keeps some of it by the time she returns on Tuesday.

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 0 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

No comments:

Post a Comment