Monday, October 28, 2013

13 Months: Training - Days 200 - 204

Emma loves people.
We are on the home stretch with Emma.  She's ready to take her skills on the road and learn how to perform them in public and she's working on task training while finishing off her primary foundation skills for duration.  In order to improve her duration skills I need to increase the level of distraction and put into context in a working envirnoment.  What a journey we've been on!

She's doing better about greeting people when excited, but we seriously need to work on her keeping her cool no matter the excitement level around her.  Since she is easily wound up by voice intonation and more so when it's someone she loves, it is important to use a calm and quiet voice with her and calm and relaxed behavior with her.  As she gets older her ability to self regulate will improve, but we need to set her up for success and being calm and relaxed with her is one of the easier ways of doing so.

Though it's cute to see her bound and jump and dance when she sees her people, it will be a poor example of a working dog in public.  In order to give her the skill set with this particular issue I will have to ask family and friends to go out with me and work with her.  This will be an interesting winter of growth!


Emma at the game.  Look at how relaxed she is!
On Friday Emma's owner called and arranged for an early pickup so that they could attend a soccer game with their daughter.  With the sudden growth in her confidence and ability to handle stress I felt it was a perfect time to have Emma attend an event with the family again.  I dressed her and met Emma's grandmother at the Ruff House.  I worked with her for a moment on how to walk Emma loose leash and instructed her to please take her to the game and to keep her calm and in a Down or Sit as much as possible.  I felt Emma would do fantastic and I was so right, the pictures later posted showed a calm, happy Emma sitting at the event.  How very nice she's past her stress reactions and she's maturing into a wonderful adult dog.

I was noting last week that her destructive ways are subsiding and she's moving into a lovely adult.  I may have spoken too soon - as the week will tell.

On Monday we worked on pushing my arm up onto my leg and pivot.  She had worked a bit on both the week before, both tasks and skills she needs for her job, and I was hoping to see her mentally work through what I was asking and return stronger than before.  Not only was I pleased to see that, but that she weathered the weekend without showing any stress signs or emotional reactions like she had done earlier in her training.  Before I couldn't take her out more than once or twice for a new adventure without having a backlash of stress behaviors for the remainder of the week.  Now she can and does do many new things during the week and she is ready to do more.  Nice to see.

Emma has a natural nose nudge that she's used since she was a baby to get us to pet her.  Though I personally find it annoying, I knew it was something that would work wonderfully for many of her tasks in the future.  The trick was to curb it enough to not drive me insane and keep it intact enough to later train it for a task.  We are now training it for a task, which has once again increased the instance of her using it for attention.  It's the pay off of training a new behavior - until stimulus control is in place you'll see the behavior more the more it is rewarded.

She is already lifting and then moving my arm to my leg from the inside of my leg.  She is starting to get it more consistently from the outside of my leg.  I am not holding my hand over to the side and down very far yet, but she's getting the idea and I am increasing the amount she needs to lift and move my arm to get it in the right position.

I also worked on pivot.  I am seeing more sideways movement and she is clearly getting the idea it's her back feet doing something, but she's not certain yet if it is backwards or sideways.  She is freer in her movement and is showing a beautiful back up, which I also need to train.  Very nice.  She still has her butt out too far and hasn't yet learned to move with my desk chair when I turn it, but we are moving along nicely.


Emma loves to snuggle.
My Mom dropped by to give me a birthday gift.  Emma was amazing and kept her feet to herself 99% of the time.  She still needs to learn not to pester the company, but her greeting has improved drastically.  My family has been amazing and really worked with me on giving her a chance at success and not rewarding her jumping.  Emma really likes my Mom and it's very hard when she drops by for Emma to keep her feet on the ground.

She is still jumping, but now she's jumping up and down without jumping on the company.  It's a huge improvement and everyone says that they can see it.  She is calming faster because of it and I am happy with her progress.  If we can get that same progress and level of control with her family we'll really be making progress.

We again worked on putting my arm on my leg and pivoting.  She's doing retrieves without issues and I am starting to randomly reward her on the easier retrieves with praise and affection.  It has not reduced her enthusiasm when working with me during the day.

Since Jack was gone for the week she enjoyed a lot of play time with Malcolm.  This particular morning I had an appointment and Mom's visit was brief.  I left her loose in the house and dropped Malcolm off with Ronda, Jack's owner, for my appointment.  When I returned she was calm and happy.


Emma is learning to share her space
when she has a high resource like a bone.
She's really progressing on lifting my arm onto my leg.  She is able to lift it when it's at a 45 degree angle to my knee and hanging from mid-forearm.  Her push up and over is more purposeful and she's pacing less and focused more on the job.  Nice progress.

I also worked more on pivot and she's starting to align with the chair, but her butt is still too far out.  She is pivoting from front center to left heel up to half way and resets to start the lesson again.  She is happy and enjoying the lesson and very relaxed as I watch her work out the problem.  I can see her think and work on it and her persistence is improving each time we work.  Previously working with the chair and her sent her into hiding, now she's joining me willingly to train.  I like seeing that.

My son came over Wednesday night to help with building a cabinet for the kitchen.  Emma was wonderful with her feet and butt down when she greeted him and vibrated with excitement.  She was wonderful while we worked on the cabinet and even came in after the disaster of it collapsing and falling with a thud in the kitchen.  I had a migraine and even with my frowning and in a bad mood she was willing to be out and check on me - nice to see such confidence in her.


Emma and Malcolm, peas in a pod.
It was my birthday on Thursday and I decided to take the day off.  Emma got lots of play and free time and truly enjoyed it.  My Mom dropped by and we spent the morning putting up plastic on the windows and foam around the door frame of the front door.  At one point I looked over and Emma had a yellow streak of foam on her face.  She let me gently groom it out and went back to playing.

We had the door open because the house was roasting and the dogs were playing in the yard.  Remember I said I could leave her to play without having to closely watch her?  Well, I eat my words.  With Mr. Excavator in the family I came out my front door to find her digging for gold in my iris bed with dirt flying in a wonderful arc behind her.  I think all of the dogs have learned my sudden "Ahhhh!" means I am taken by surprise by the sight and Emma looked up with pure joy, wagged her tail and went back to digging!  Little snot!

My son came over while we were working on the windows and Emma, who was outside, lost her mind and jumped all over him.  He did great and turned away until she got control, but I have some work on transferring the behavior to any location.

We spent the afternoon putting the new cabinet together and then playing video games.  Emma enjoyed the loves she got and loved the playtime during the day.  She ended the day happy and relaxed.


Emma missed playing with Jack this week.
I had a migraine for most of the week.  It had eased up on Thursday and was gone by Friday.  I felt like the top of the world and was looking forward to the evaluation I had in the afternoon.  I worked with Emma on pushing my arm up from a lower position again and she did great.  We also worked on pivot and she did a nice job of getting even closer to me.  She went from half way to being lined up to 80% being lined up.  Nice progress for the week.

We also did a lot of cuddle and playtime.  By the end of the week I am tired and don't have a lot of energy to give the dogs anymore and Emma is sensitive enough to pick up on this and wants nothing more than to comfort me.  She puts her chin on my arm or my leg and looks up at me with this imploring expression.  For her handler this is beautiful behavior and has been encouraged since she was a baby.

I left her loose in the house with Malcolm in his crate for my evaluation and returned to a happy and calm dog.  Her caretaker picked her up at 5:00 PM.

We spent a lot of time working on getting her to the care taker without her pulling on the leash or going other threshold.  She finally was able to do so, but once with the person she lost her mind and we spent more time just calming her and talking about how to keep her calm when she finally gets to her goal.

It was a great week and I am looking forward to the next week were we start building on her skills and perfecting her task training.

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 Completed 2
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 3 Completed Completed Completed

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 Completed 2 1 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 Completed 0 4 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step Completed 2 Completed Completed 1

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step Completed 0 Completed 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 Completed 0 5 0
Handling Communication

Step Completed 0

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