Wednesday, October 9, 2013

12 Months: Training - Days 186 - 189

Emma convincing me I want to get up and feed her.
Emma has taken off with her training.  I have been considering what we have, where we are going and what we need to proof and call "finished" to get her ready for graduation in March or September of 2014.  She could graduate as early as March (18 months) or as late as September (24 months) depending on her personal progress.  I don't want to rush her into final service work before she's emotionally ready and has a solid foundation in task training and learning which will allow her to continue to add tasks as needed throughout her working life.

Down is one.  She needs to have her down proofed for when I walk around a cart and when at a check out stand so she knows what to do and not be bouncing all over.  Sit is the same.  She needs to hold her Sit during activities and only get up when cued.  Out of sight Stay, either in a down or a sit needs to be proofed in and out of the home.  Get Help, Retrieve, Bed Making, removing clothes, working doors and lights and putting clothes in a basket or getting clothes and bringing them all need to be finalized.  We have the parts and pieces to most of those, but the biggest part is finalizing her ability to pick up anything we ask and building confidence before we get too fancy with it.

Therefore, I am taking it slow right now as she moves from bratty teen to more mature young adult and building on a foundation of retrieve.  Most of her week went that way.  Build on retrieve and work on calming behaviors.  Emma is very excitable and she needs self calming behaviors - so we are working on those too.

Which leads us to the biggest issue she has right now - self control.  When coming to me or going to her handlers or meeting people Emma is out of control.  I am putting together a concentrated plan to build on and direct that energy so she can and will control herself when greeting people and walking on the leash to something that excites her.

That is and will be a major priority for a while.  She must gain control of herself to work in public - even if she is excited to meet someone she knows.  I am also adopting a new puppy for myself and will be starting his blog shortly.  I don't want him to learn her bounce off the bladder excitement she displays, since he'll be 60 pounds by the time he's 5 to 6 months old and 80 pounds by the time he's grown.


I have been teaching Emma to put items in a basket.  When I started Emma was a bit fearful of the basket and would circle it and try to push the item she held in her mouth into my hands - even going to the extent of standing on my chest if I was on the floor so she could be "in position" to drop them.  I worked slowly, working the basket as a shaping exercise for her to look at and interact with and then worked on her targeting the basket with her nose for a bit.  I finally went back to her picking up items and held the basket at a 45 degree angle between my knees and encouraged her to put the sock I was using into it.

I saw a lot of paw lifting and appeasing body language, Emma's way of saying she's uncertain of what I want and it makes her worried.  I worked her slowly and carefully for the entire day in 3 to 5 click increments until she finally had the sock over the basket.  Once there it was a short few clicks and she put the sock in the basket.  Once that happened she understood!  It is hard to work with her when she's so uncertain and willing to run away instead of work through, but as she gets older she is more willing to work through and solve the puzzle.

Once we had that we worked the sock and wash cloth into the basket several more times.  By the end of the day she was purposely putting the sock very gently on the bottom of the basket and I had the basket on the floor.  Nice.


I have been since Emma arrived working her up to being left loose and alone in the house.  I waited until she was 12 months old before starting the bigger part of the picture for her.  When she arrived she was crated when I showered or couldn't directly watch her.  Between 4 and 6 months of age I started to let her remain loose in the bedroom, but gated her in so she couldn't explore the house while I took a morning shower.  By 9 months of age she was loose in the house during my showers, but I had picked up and put up anything I didn't want her to chew.  By 11 months of age I was picking up less items and giving her those few minutes I am in the shower.  I was also leaving her loose in the house when I went to the mailbox, to talk to someone outside or to walk around the house.

At 11 1/2 months of age she was up to 20 minutes in the house while I was in the yard and directly outside of the house.  She was not finding trouble and showing signs she was able to handle being left when I was away from home.  At 12 months of age I gated the bedroom, closed the front office, front bathroom and tied off the garbage cabinet.  I picked up everything I didn't want her to chew and left her unattended in the home for 45 minutes.  She was fabulous.

This week she managed 2 hours alone at one point, an 1 1/2 alone at another and an accidental 4 hour period without destruction of my home.  Emma is well on her way to being able to spend extended times alone in my home without issue.  She needs to have the same slow build up at her other home and the same preparation for success so she can learn to do it at any location.

We continued to work on calming behaviors by winding her up and then disengaging from her so she had to calm herself to get my attention again.  She loves that game.  We also worked on more items for her to pick up and began working on removing socks from my hands.

With the socks from my hands I was placing them on my hands very loosely and having her touch, then take and finally pull on them.  She tended to take the sock and then press it back into my hand, which I found to be very cute.  She very much has a "give it to the human" mind set.

Emma is starting to learn to help her handler undress.


I was getting ready Wednesday morning and knocked the DVD remote off of my night stand.  I made a mental note to ask Emma to retrieve it and finished getting ready for the morning.  When I was done I sat on the edge of my bed and called her to me.  I pointed to the remote and Emma pounced on it, picked it up perfectly and handed it to me.  What a fantastic thing to see!  I hadn't trained on remotes before this and was unaware she'd been picking them up at her home for a while now.  Her family later told me she picks up lots of things for them and they never think much of it since they don't realize she's never done it before.  The advantage of her having two homes is she gets loads more practice on her skills that way!

We worked on foot targeting in the evening.  I want her to become aware of the target I want her to stand on to begin her pivot training in earnest.  I have tried several ways to train her a pivot with me when I am turning in a chair, but she's confused and I am not breaking it down enough for her, so I decided to break it down even further and teach her to stand on a target and keep her front feet on it when she pivots with me.

She was so focused on retrieve that she kept trying to hand me the lid I was using.  I would put it down and she would scoop it up and hand it to me.  I finally put it down upside down and watched in amazement as she persisted on trying to retrieve it!  What a wonderful thing to see.  She is so comfortable with retrieve now she is willing to work and solve more difficult retrieves.  This means I can begin teaching her to pick up tiny or thin items like coins and credit cards!  What a break through for Emma.

She did manage to get to foot targeting and did a fantastic job.  She tested me by holding her foot just over the target and would look to me for confirmation that she was right.  It was wonderful to see her so involved in the training and so ready to learn.  She's gaining confidence day by day and I love it.


Emma left for the groomers on Friday, so we had no training.

Emma is doing so fantastic.  She is learning in leaps and bounds and she's joining me more and more in the learning process.  She's gained enough confidence to persist, even when she's worried she may be wrong, and she's over the top excited when she gets something right.  The long months of shy and nervous behavior has been nurtured and worked through with careful, positive training and she's becoming a confident dog.  She's always been a  happy one, but seeing the confidence grow in her is amazing and I am loving it.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment