Friday, October 11, 2013

13 Months: Training - Days 190 - 194

Malcolm has joined the family.  He is a 7 3/4 week old German
Shepherd puppy destined to be my next service dog.
A new puppy arrived this week.  His name is Malcolm and he's my new service dog in training.  Malcolm is an 8 week old German Shepherd puppy and the whole household is in an uproar with this little pipsqueak.  Emma is clearly uncertain how to handle a puppy that  young and has been shifting from curious to aloof to "get away from me kid" to playful with him.  She's decided he's not dangerous, but she's not sure if she wants to play with him, especially when he tugs on her tail hairs.

She's only been snarky with him once, and that was when she had a bone in my recliner and he was trying to play with her.  He was play bowing at her and jumping up into her face as she chewed on her bone and she lip curled at him.  He got the message and left, so I wasn't too worried about the interaction.

The biggest change I have seen in her is for a day after he arrived she spent most of it looking at my life I had shot her best friend.  She was very clingy and needed a lot of reassurance I wouldn't be shoving her out in the cold just to care for the baby.  He hadn't set his sleeping schedule yet, so our first day was out of whack and she needed a lot of extra loves.  By bedtime, when I gave her a new level of freedom, she decided maybe he wasn't so bad and was fine the next day.


Malcolm came into our lives at 11:30 AM.  I had called his parents owner, whom I had bought him from 2 weeks ago, and said I would like to pick him up either that day or the next.  We decided on that morning.  I promptly crated Jack, setup Emma and Max for success in the house and left to get the puppy.

I was gone for 2 hours.  I ran out and picked up Malcolm, took him to Diamonds in the Ruff to fit a collar on him and then dropped by the vet to weigh him and introduce him to the vet office while no other dogs were in the lobby.  He was stressed and shell shocked by the time I walked through the door with him at 1:30 PM.

Jack, Emma and Dieter were all into sniffing him and checking him out.  Emma did a lot of nose jabs and nips on him at first and then ran off to play.  Dieter was all butt bumps and side glances and attempts to mount him.  I protected Malcolm through the process and took everyone outside for a good run.  We spent the remainder of the day going in and out so he could potty and letting the household settle into having a new sibling.

That night as I hit a wall of exhaustion I called it a night right before 8 PM.  I took everyone out for one last time for the night (or so they thought) and then herded the crew into my bedroom.  I gated the bedroom, crated Malcolm in the crate by my bed and as Emma, who was laying on my bed watching me, started to get up to go to her crate I told her that she was fine and would be sleeping with me.

She settled on my bed as I finished getting ready for bed and waited for the expected call to go to her crate.  I know she was confused when I crawled into bed and flipped on the DVD player for Malcolm and went to sleep.  I felt her fuss and flip about for a moment beside me, slide so she was on my arm and then sit up and watch me for a moment.  She then settled in for the night and went to sleep.

At 1:30 AM we all headed out again as Malcolm woke and told us he needed to pee.  The whole household went out and peed and then went back to bed.  Emma gladly settled by me this time and went right to sleep.  It is the extension of teaching her how to be okay in the home without direct supervision and her world is again expanding.  For the next month she's sleeping in the bedroom while the door is gated.  Next month I will remove the gate and give her a chance at being a good girl for the night while I sleep.


Malcolm had a vet appointment in the afternoon for his first shots and deworming.  I worked with Emma and Jack on targeting a piece of tape on the floor.  For the first time as I trained first Max, then Jack and then Malcolm, Emma emerged from behind my recliner and asked to be trained.  This is huge for her.  She normally waits to be called and gives me appeasement signals until she knows what I am training.  I was very very pleased to see her ask to join in the games I was playing with the rest of the family.

She was confused about what I wanted with the foot targeting at first, but soon figured it out and once again was offering her foot over the target and looking at me.  She was actually shocked when I stopped the lesson the first two times.

It was during Malcolm's second lesson of the day that she sat right beside him and showed me she KNEW that lesson and wanted to play.  This too is a huge difference in her.  She's engaging me and no longer waiting for me to engage her.  I love it.

Another part of her growth is she has finally decided my keys are not lava and she can pick them up.  I set them down for Malcolm to pick up, which he promptly did, and she watched in utter surprise when I got excited for him doing so.  I had planned on training her on them again (it makes my life easier if she can pick up what I need also - when working her public access if I drop something she can still help me when Max is not present) and had been thinking of what to do to break concept into smaller bites for her.

I have my keys separated onto two rings.  One ring has my house key, Ronda's house key and Diamonds in the Ruff's door key on it with a mini-kong key fob.  The other ring has my van key, gas key and the electronic fob and a cloth fob on it.  Connecting them is a laser pointer with clip that can be easily opened and removed to separate all the key rings.  I did just that.

I had her pick up my car keys, which she did after a bit of rework on taking them closer and closer to the ground and handing them up to me.  I then worked my house keys the same way.  I then did the same with the laser pointer.  I then attached the laser pointer to my house keys and she picked them up, via the laser pointer and then attached my car keys to the whole shebang and TADA, she picked up the whole kit-n-caboodle.  What a huge break through!  By the time she picked them up the third time as a whole unit she was overjoyed with herself and bouncy happy.


What a fantastic day.  Malcolm has been a remarkably contrary puppy and at the same time easy enough to manage.  He has to chew on everything and attacks the furniture, my shoes, my pant legs and anything else he can at random and then falls over asleep for up to 45 minutes at a time.  It is during these wonderful nap times I am getting training in on the rest of the crew.

Today Emma worked on Retrieve with my keys and putting items in the basket.  We took the basket outside and I got video of her transferring the lessons in the house to the front yard.  It was great seeing her solve the problem yet again and get more and more confident with the process.

She has started the normal process of taking what she put in the basket out of the basket and handing it back to me.  I will work on that after she is very confident with the process of putting things in the basket.  Soon she'll be putting her handlers clothes in his laundry basket at the end of the day!

We once again worked my keys.  She was again uncertain what to do and I just broke the keys apart again and worked it.  It went extremely fast and she was very pleased with herself for solving the problem again.  I will slowly work her to picking them up once I drop them from a standing position.


Levels Training is now a portion of her weekly training.  Learning self control, tasks needed for her handler and how to be a good dog both supervised and unsupervised are important also.  She's developed a bark at the world problem again and I am working on her recalling and ignoring things outside of my fence.  The problem is, the neighbors have a new dog and he's not fenced or tethered and thus a threat for the whole household (according to the dogs at least).  This means I must make the unpleasant call to SCRAPS to have this dealt with.

Yesterday he met Jack and Ronda at my gate and on Monday he met me and Malcolm at the gate.  I have also noted a hole by my fence on my neighbors side where he's tried to dig in to my yard and yesterday I heard another neighbors dog screeching in pain or fear and he came running out of their yard with trash in his mouth.  As sweet as he is, I can't have this type of disruption when I am training dogs to work in public and thus, I am calling to have him dealt with and properly cared for.  Shame, if I didn't own three dogs of my own and had two visiting dogs, I would take him in a heart beat - he is a sweet dog.

With Levels being only a part of Emma's training I focus on one Level's skill a week and build on it to improve Emma's task training.  Emma is learning how to retrieve more objects, but doesn't have a cue yet her handler can use consistently.  I plan on using his eye contact with her as a mode of communication.  At this point, I am working on Focus with Emma.

Emma is settling into focus nicely.  We worked on it in a round robin training session between her, Max, Jack and Malcolm.  What I have noticed since Malcolm's arrival is Emma emploring me to pet her and pay more attention to her.  A baby dog takes alot of time and at one point she was the one getting all of the attention Malcolm is now.  Unless he's crated or sleeping I have to keep half my energy on him and she's noticed the sudden removal of my eye on her all the time.

With training she used to go behind the recliner and wait for me to call her and then emerge with appeasement body language.  Now I am finding her chin resting gently on my arm and then feel a very purposeful push of her snoot against me.  When I look she's wiggling and happy to have me turn away from the infant and back to her.  What this has done is make her desire my spending time training her that much more.  It's a lovely change in attitude and I am happy to see it.

So, when I said, "Emma's turn" and she lit up I knew she was already halfway into the game before I turned my focus on her.  She tried several things to see what I was clicking for and when she realized it was eye contact she settled in and began giving me solid and steady eye contact.  Very nice to see.

We got up to a solid 5 seconds at least 5 times and loads of 1 and 2 second to keep her focused and in the game.  She was upright and happy to play.  Her tail was waving constantly while training and she was settled and happy to be my center of attention.

Emma has decided she desires and even needs my attention and is willing to play my games to get it.  I love it.


What a fantastic day.  We worked on eye contact again and once again got lots of 5 second eye contact and loads of 1 and 2 second eye contact with her remaining steady and confident.  No appeasement signs anymore - she's all in the game.  She doesn't go behind my recliner when I grab the treats and clicker and she begs me to pick her first.  I love this change in her.

I pulled out my printed version of the Levels and peered through Level 2 to see what more we needed to work on and realized everyone in the house would need solid mat work if I am to round robin 4 dogs during the day when training.  This means they all also need excellent down/stay skills too.

I went out and got my mat that doesn't slide on my wood floors and then placed Jack and Max in a down/stay.  Emma worked while they were rewarded randomly for remaining in a down.  We got in approximately 5 minutes of running from the mat to finding the mat and heading into a new direction for the treat I tossed.  Both Max and Jack ignored the flying treats and waited for the ones I would send between their feet. Excellent.

I then placed Emma in a down/stay and worked Jack.  She watched treats roll within inches of her and didn't move for five minutes of busy activity while Jack worked on finding and being rewarded for going to the mat.  Extremely impressed with how well she's holding her stay!

I then placed Jack and Emma in a down/stay and worked Max.  Both Jack and Emma did a couple of popups, but otherwise held their down/stays.

We did this exercise twice during the day and each time Emma got faster at finding the mat and not orienting on where I was standing.  Very nice work.  I am attaching the cue as she approaches the mat and steps on it at this point - but will remove the cue again when I start sending her to her mat and away from me.

She decided that she really likes playing with Malcolm, but that she needs to be gentle when she does it.  If he gets to mouthy she holds the tip of his nose behind her canines and is even rolling onto her back so he can mug her neck.  I had to remove her collar for the game play because Malcolm kept biting it and getting his teeth stuck.  Emma is starting to put pauses into their games and doesn't need me to calm her as much when playing with him, but if the games go too long she winds up and becomes to excited and needs to be calmed.

She ended the day with over an hour of play in the yard.  She had a great week and should have a lot to think about.  Very nice work Ms. Emma!

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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