Friday, September 13, 2013

12 Months: Training - Days 172 - 174

Emma picked up the sock and turned to give it to me.

Emma sat at my feet and waited to be cued up into my lap.

Emma did a paws up to hand me to sock.

On Monday I spent the day letting Emma and Jack get over the excitement of spending a day together again after being apart for a week.  They enjoyed lots of romping, Bitey Face and Catch Me If You Can games throughout the day.  At one point we curled up on the bed with Max, Emma and Jack and Jack and Emma decided it was a perfect time for a rousing game of Bitey Face.  It was actually a lot of fun and the two ended the day in good humor and very tired.


My new Baker's Shelf all setup.
On Tuesday I started to ask Emma to help me around the house.  I had spent most of Monday getting my new Baker's Shelf setup and cleaning my kitchen and floors.  It wore me out and took me most of the day to expend that energy to get a clean and organized kitchen and living room.

So, by Tuesday I was looking at laundry, bathroom and bedroom for cleaning.  Using cleaning agents, brooms, vacuums and steam mops around the dogs is as important as sitting and training a specific behavior.  Normal living with the cleaning, phone conversations, visitations and other things that happen in the home are a huge part of a dog's life and without the experience of being a part of the family and witnessing the events they miss large portions of their socialization.  Emma, Jack, Dieter, Max and Victoria (my cat) all participate in cleaning by following me about as I do my daily chores.  For Emma, she's witnessed me call Max to me and ask for help on a daily basis since she was 14 weeks old.  Now it's her turn.

I was pulling the laundry out (she's not up to unloading a dryer yet) and dropped a dish towel, a wash cloth and a bra.  Emma was playing in the yard and the door was open.  As I do with Max during the day I called her to me.  She raced up and I pointed to the items on the floor and asked if she could help.  I had pointed to the items on the floor and Emma, who was standing over them, stepped back and then picked up the bra.  This was wonderful.  She dropped it and then picked it up again and then gave it to me.  I gave her praise and pointed and said "look", which will be her clue to keep looking for items to pick up.  She picked up the wash cloth, gave it a minute shake and put it right in my hand.  I said "look" again and she picked up the dish cloth, gave it a little harder shake and handed it to me.  Each time she got praise and then we rushed to the treat jar and she got a treat for helping.

A little later I sat down to put on my slippers, which were by Emma and away from the end of my bed, and asked her to get me on.  She picked it up and carried it to me.  I then said, "Can I have the other?"  which is what I say to Max and low and behold she went back and got the second slipper and brought it to me!

I went into decontaminate my bathroom (ie, clean) and spent about an hour changing the cat box, cleaning out drawers and throwing away old stuff, cleaning the shower, counter, tub and toilet and finally combining the dregs of shampoo and conditioner bottles into a single bottle (one for shampoo and one for conditioner) so I could recycle the empties.  As I was finishing up I had one bottle that had the center curved in from air being sucked in and offered both Jack and Emma a chance to take it in their mouth.  Both did, but Emma took it completely and walked around the bathroom with a big wagging tail.  I took it back, walked her into the kitchen and handed the bottle back to her and then asked her to follow me to the recycle bin.  She doesn't have a good release yet, but we'll get it.  She held it over the bin, but didn't release.  I asked her to hand it to me and then we rushed into the kitchen to the treat jar and she got a treat.

I let her think on all the good help she did for me during the day and play with Jack until after dinner.  We then headed to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for re-potting my house plants.  She walked to the car on a loose lead and in position and she was able to get her head about her after we got out of the car in the parking lot within only a few seconds.

Once she was focused I pulled out the dish cloth I brought.  Emma's best retrieve items are cloth and I wanted to give her the best chance at success.  I dropped it and Emma, without hesitation, scooped it up and handed to me.  Not once, but three times!  Woot!

I gave her a chance to potty, which she didn't use, and as we were prepping to go into the store a Japanese woman came up and asked to meet her.  Emma has had problems with Asian people in the past - some dogs have problems with men, some with children, some with African American - for Emma it was Asian.  She tends to stop and stare when she sees them and moves close into me - a bit of fear or concern - so I was happy that we had a chance for a positive greeting.

The woman knelt down and Emma went right to her.  The woman had an accent and spoke in Japanese to her as she gently (very very gently) petted her UNDER the chin.  What a wonderful woman to know how to greet a dog!  Emma put her feet up on her for a second and checked her face and then just stood and soaked up the affection.  It was wonderful.  When we left Emma was happy, confident and not worried about the woman.

We worked our way through the store on a loose lead with only a few circles to get her refocused on me and headed into the garden center.  It was hard on her there.  The smells were very exciting and Emma struggled a bit with self control, but won the battle.

The garden center woman and I chatted a bit and as we were I dropped a dish cloth I brought - just to try out her retrieve in public and see where we were.  It landed perfectly flat - sorta like I had tossed down a mat. Emma looked at it, cocked her head and laid .  Very nice problem solving - since I didn't cue a retrieve and she clearly remembered her mat training she selected her stronger behavior and offered me something.  I was very pleased with her.

The clerk picked up the cloth, accidentally dropped it and Emma picked it up and handed it to her!  Yes, she did her first in store, in public retrieve!  Doesn't mean she's fully trained yet, but she's well on her way to doing solid retrieves in public and at home.  We are just expanding her experience and practice now.

She was, overall, in the store spot on.  She heard beeping forklifts without issue, things rattling and dropping and would look off and on, but stayed upbeat and showed no fear.  She saw moving carts (even flat carts) and didn't have a problem with them and though she was startled a couple of times she quickly recovered.  I was rewarding for prolonged downs and sits, but she was walking with very few treats - only when something drew her attention and I needed to bring it back.  She was a bit wander lust when I was looking at something on the shelf, but quickly reset beside me and was happy and confident.

I was very pleased with this visit (her second in store) to Home Depot and plan to take her back and work strictly on Level 1 behaviors, self control and leash manners and build up a bit of retrieve with her.


Wednesday was her birthday.  Emma is 1 years old!  What a milestone for her.  Her confidence is increasing by leaps and bounds and she's picking up on all the threads in her training and putting them together.

In the morning I pulled out a metal spoon and worked on her taking and holding it.  She was happy to do so and in short order she was taking it from my hand closer and closer to the floor.  The one thing keeping her from passing Retrieve was picking up metal objects and I have been working slowly with her on that portion of the behavior.  On her birthday, Emma picked up a metal spoon and handed it to me.

Wednesday was a very busy day for me.  I had to crate her and Jack twice during the day so I could run a friend's dog to the vet and later to go to an evaluation of another dog and then pick up the dog from the vet.  For Emma, my return with Chautzie marked her first time being around a dog with drains.  She was very gentle when she checked her and explored the drains (Chautzie was injured the day before and needed drains due to infection setting in) and then gave Chautzie a gentle sniff of the cheek before going off to explore the yard.  We spent the rest of the evening outside until Ronda, Chautize's owner, arrived to pick her up.

Jack had class that night, so Emma stayed the evening with Ronda and I took Jack to class.  She explored Ronda's yard and played quietly while I was away.  She actually handled my dropping her off with Ronda better than Max did, who was also spending the night with Ronda to play while Jack was in class.

We ended her birthday with a cuddle and play session on the bed after I brought her back to my home.


Thursday marked floor cleaning day.  I got up early to with the dogs and began the process of cleaning the house.  By the time Jack arrived I had a load of laundry done, the dishes put up, food out to defrost for diner that night and was preparing to clean the floors.  I fed the dogs and pulled out the vacuum and steamer (I have wood floors) and did a 100 percent floor cleaning project.

Emma used to scurry away and hide when I pulled out the vacuum and steamer, but now just sees them and calmly walks to her spot behind my recliner.  She occasionally comes to check on my progress, but for the most part just lays quietly waiting for me to finish with the floors.  He choice spot means I only  need to move her once when I am vacuuming and steaming the floors and she is out of my way.  She is not fearful of the vacuum or steamer, but she doesn't want to be near them when they are running.  I am okay with her response to both items.

Josh arrived to mow the lawn and do some chores around the house also.  Emma was barking at him, but her tail was going 100 miles an hour and she quickly got her feet under control when he came in the yard.  When he was outside of the fence all I needed to do was call her and she came to me.  She is no longer afraid of Josh or worried about his weekly arrivals.  She has no fear of the lawn mower and generally just lays in the yard while he's mowing and chews on a stick or bone until he comes to the area she's in.  She then moves to a new spot in the yard and relaxes while he mows.

As I was picking up items in the yard I called her to me to help. She picked up some crumpled foil and a few sticks or chunks of wood I needed moved.  She also helped in the house as I dropped things and picked them up also.

When I transferred the laundry from the washer to the dryer I dropped some clothes and called her to me.  She picked them up and handed them to me.  Right now she gets a treat when we finish working in a spot, but has to follow me into the kitchen to get it.  I no longer need treats on me to get her to retrieve.

My Mom came over in the afternoon to help re-pot plants in the house.  It was a huge project and at one point I had to laugh when I turned to see Emma had come in to check in on me and was staring at us, her head cocked to one side, like she was asking WHY we were abusing the plants.  I am certain she thinks we humans are strange.  We ended up using the broom and dustpan a lot during this time and Emma was cautious but not fearful of them.  I will have to use a broom around her more.

In the evening we spent time playing in the yard and relaxing.  I had been asking a lot of Emma throughout the day and she was a trooper and met my requests, but I wanted an extended downtime and playtime for her to let her process everything.  I suspected, with such a busy week learning and making breakthroughs, that she would back slide a bit and wanted to make it a minor instead of a major backslide.

That night, as I took the clothes out of the dryer I dropped 7 items.  Emma picked up all seven without any treats in between with a soft wiggly body and happy face. She was quick and responsive and is truly getting the idea of helping around with laundry.  When we finished she got three treats for being such a trooper.


And as I expected - Emma's brain is full.  Today she acted like she never retrieved before in her life.  I was not terribly surprised.  This morning I asked her to help make the bed by taking the comforter in her mouth and let her decide to pull on it.  She did and was pretty excited about that.  We had just finished a cuddle and wrestle session on the bed and she was in high spirits.

Later I pulled out a fork (remember, she's picked up a small egg spoon so far, no large silverware) and asked her to pick it up.  Low and behold we were back to the "that is too hard for me" mode; so we went back to targeting and high rewards for touching a metal object and worked to taking the fork in her mouth and almost up to a hold and carry to me for one step.  She did take the fork once and hold it for a brief period, but her body language said that for some reason she didn't want to touch the fork with her teeth again.  That's fine - this type of up and down with retrieving is to be expected and since she's so soft I can't just plow through it, but need to nudge her a bit at a time to resolve the conflict.  We'll get there.

She was the same with the glasses I introduced and worried about the basket I wanted her to put things into.  I had brought out two new things for this lesson (put items in basket) and didn't truly expect her to pick them up.  She was spot on with a washcloth, so we stuck to that once she showed me what she was willing to work with.

She walks around the basket and puts the washcloth on my knee.  She's not willing to put her head in the basket at this point.  This means I need to back further up than her picking up and holding items over a basket and clicking to get her to drop them, but instead work from her exploring and getting high rewards with her head in the basket.  We'll get there.  It's the start of another task and she's a little worried about what to do with the basket.  I'll let her think on our final lesson, exploring the basket, for the weekend and tackle the task next week.

Emma is still an adolescent dog and her confidence will wax and wane as she grows.  She's going to have strange days where something that she's normally okay with will suddenly scare her or make her shutdown for a bit.  She'll have days where she can and will do anything.  It's normal part of growing up dog.

I have several friends who have dogs close in age to Emma.  Some are a little older, others younger.  Each of us are talking about the off and on weirdness of being an adolescent dog.  Emma is smack dab in the middle of that and what she could do one day she may not be able to another.  Patience and confidence building will resolve it - as will age.

Items Picked Up on Cue so Far:

  • Slippers
  • Shoes
  • Bottle Cap
  • Dish Cloth
  • Dish Towel
  • Wash Cloth
  • Socks
  • Bras
  • Plastic L Shaped Item
  • Underwear
  • Pants Cuff
  • Rope Hanging on Fridge
  • eCig Cartridge
  • eCig
  • eCig Rubber Cap
  • Business Card
  • Paper
  • Envelope
  • Metal Spoon
  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Metal tweezers
  • Metal human nail clippers
  • Crumpled Aluminium Foil
  • Receipt (both flat and crumpled)
  • Junk Mail (flat)
  • Bedspread (she took it and pulled as I wanted)
  • Pot Holder
  • Leaf
  • Stick
  • Dried Flower Bud
  • Sticks
  • Wood Chunks
As you can see, she is well on her way to learning she is able to pick up many items and give them to me.  I am very excited by this progress.

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 Completed 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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