Friday, September 20, 2013

12 Months: Training - Days 175 - 179


Why is Monday such a hard day to get anything done?  I had the house clean, my chores for the week to keep it clean were minor, yet I found Monday to be the day I was busier than ever.  I had my paycheck from my day job come in and needed to take Chautzie to the vet to remove her drains.

I used the morning to clean up the yard, get myself ready for the day (I am now waiting to shower until both dogs in training are present to build up "being alone" and "not crated" behaviors) and prepped treats for the week.  That takes a bit of time because I can't stand long enough to cut everything up in a single run and thus have decided I require a bar stool to work in my kitchen.

As I worked around the yard and house I asked Emma for help.  She picked up clothes, toys and other items as I requested.  I am not terribly worried about her delivery when I am standing, since her handler will not be standing when she gives him items, but wanted to build up the idea that she can and should pick up whatever is asked of her.  She was happy to help and did fantastic.

I also let her and Jack blow steam and play hard while I didn't need her help.  She and Jack were looking at a long time crated with my running to the bank and taking Chautzie to the vet, so I wanted them tired by the time I left.

I left at noon and ran to the bank and then vacuumed and washed my car at a nearby car wash.  Max, who is learning how to ride in a car wash without fear, now lays quiet throughout the process and is relaxed and unconcerned by the who process.  I will begin the same thing with Emma and Jack soon.  I have the rhythm to keep them calm down now that I used it with Max and about how to fade treats - which I am now doing with Max.

They ended the day with my doing yard work and letting them play with the bones and antler (which has since been lost) in the yard.  I was watching to ensure Chautzie didn't accidentally reopen her wounds now that the drains are out.


I stared work with Emma on retrieving a bigger spoon.  She was not willing to pick it up, since it was heavier and drug a bit on the floor, so I went back to target and worked up to trying to take it in her mouth over the course of several sessions.  She was pretty solid on the target, but acts like the taste of metal is unpleasant to her.  I am not moving the spoon into her mouth, it is her choice to put her mouth over it at this time, but I can see a bit of "gag" reflex when she tries to take metal into her mouth.

By the end of the day I had one solid hold on the spoon, but we were sharing it and she hadn't just taken and held the spoon in her mouth for a short time.  She's still paw lifting when working and looking worried, which means she's uncertain she is doing right.  I am taking it slow and staying quiet while she works and she's coming out the other side of the lesson stronger each time.

She continues to work on picking up items for me and helping around the house.  She's also learning to put things into a basket, but the basket is worrying her.  I started to shape her to interact with the basket, but it is a bit worrisome for her still and I want to take it slow for her and let her think on the lessons for a day or more each time we introduce the basket to her.

We did a bit of Mat work and she was happy to play the mat game.  She enjoyed finding the mat from different angles and dropping into a down on the mat.

We did a bit of distance work and she enjoyed going around the pole and coming back to my side.  Emma loves moving games and if I mix them in with her stationary games she seems more willing to play the stationary games.


Emma is taking and holding the spoon in her mouth now, but there is a lot of paw lifting.  She is willing to walk a couple of steps while holding the spoon and handing it to me, but she's still showing signs of worry.  I decided on our lessons to have other objects than the spoon involved.  I brought out a pencil, dish cloth, ball and the spoon.  She took the pencil without hesitation as well as the ball and dish cloth.  We did targets sometimes with the spoon and take and holds other times.  She stopped doing a paw lift by the end of the lesson and was upright and more confident.

We did shaping with a box and more distance work for her active lessons.  She is a bit stuck and I need to loosen her up and let her know she can't make any wrong choices when training.  I am ignoring the paw lift, since I now recognize it as her communicating she is uncertain she is right, and just building up the number of successes until I see it go away.  The same with the head ducking and shrunken body posture - it is all communication to tell me she is uncertain and doesn't know if she's right.  She can think herself into a panic attack and thus my click speed and her level of success falls squarely on how fast we can go from one repeat to another with her being correct - and my recognizing if we are too fast and loosening the criteria to give her a higher rate of success.

The result was she was taking and holding the spoon with confident body posture and a waving tail by the end of the day.  No foot lifts, now shrunken body, no slinking slowness, but instead a proud and loud body language that said she figured out THAT part of the lesson.  Nice.

I had class that evening from 6 PM to 9:30 PM as an assistant.  To get ready for a long night I decided to take a nap between 3 PM and 5 PM.  I left Emma and Jack out of their crates when I did.  When I woke neither dog had found trouble and were in the bed with me.  This was a positive event for her, the first sign she was able to be "unsupervised" and not eat the house.  Mind you, I keep my house up so that there isn't much trouble to find - but dogs can and do find trouble you wouldn't think they would.

I packed up Max and crated Emma in Jack's crate in the kitchen for my absence.  Dieter was nearby for her and I left the TV running for both dogs.  I left at 5:30 PM and didn't return until 10:00 PM, but when I did Emma was calm, quiet and patient while I set my stuff down and brought her out of the crate.  I gave her two hours out of the crate before re-crating her for the night.  She entered the crate without issue.


We worked again on helping around the house, mat work and distance.  Emma enjoyed each of the lessons and even the shaping lesson with a box again.  I didn't do much with the spoon.  We had a solid break through the day before and I wanted her to think on it for a while.  That evening, when Ronda picked up Jack, I set the spoon on the floor and Emma picked it up and handed it to me.  She also carried it between Ronda and I and was all kinds of proud of herself.  I knew I could put the spoon on the floor when she lunged and took a solid grip on the spoon when I was holding it out for her to target while Ronda was visiting.

I then did something new for Emma.  I blocked the front bathroom, the back bedroom, locked up the garbage cupboard and shut the office off.  I picked up anything she might think to chew and put it up high and tossed out two bones and a hoof for her to chew on and left her with Dieter, uncrated, in the house for 45 minutes while Max and I went to Costco.

When I left I heard her bark and howl a bit, but when I returned she was calm, happy and nothing was destroyed in the house.  Emma did her first unsupervised, uncrated, stay at home while I run an errand and did so with flying colors.  This does not mean she's ready to do this for hours on end; 45 minutes was pushing the envelope for her, but she had shown me she was ready to start learning to be a good dog when left loose in the house.


Today we worked only on delivering a wash cloth into my lap or hands when I am seated in the wheelchair.  I wanted to see if the work we've done so far with her always having to step up and put the item in my lap or hands when I am seated had transferred.  The video above shows you how well it did.  The next step is teaching her to look and get something when I am not pointing at it or tossing it.

This weekend the family should work on Emma handing items to her handler while he's in the chair.  Socks, pencils and wash cloths should be used to build this behavior with him and let her work out the best way to get the items to him when he needs them.

We'll need to do a home visit shortly to see how Emma is doing with following his cues and responding to him.

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 3 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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