Monday, December 9, 2013

15 Months: Training - Days 227 - 230

Emma on Thursday morning.  She was in need of a
good rest after her adventure the night before.
Monday - Thursday

Emma went on vacation in Seattle over the holiday weekend and spent 4 days in a hotel with her family.  For Emma this was a major event and required some time to recover from.  When I was first doing big events, like this one, with Max I would give him 48 hours downtime at home (which Emma considers my home) to process and recover.  I gave Emma that same 48 hour period after her return so she could reduce her stress hormones and realize she survived a mighty adventure without anything bad happening to her.

Her owner reported that Emma did extremely well over the weekend.  She was under threshold and not placed in a situation where she couldn't handle the level of activity.  The times they left her unattended in the hotel room they crated her and made that choice because she wasn't ready for daily breakfasts in the restaurant or going to the mall.

They were very pleased with her default wait in the van while the loaded or unloaded her handler and her behavior overall.  I was glad to have a positive report on her trip.  The only problem they had was she wouldn't poop for the entire time they were in Seattle.  It appears I will need to work on her understanding she can poop outside of my yard and their yard.

She was exhausted on Monday.  She slept most of the day and was a bit low in her body language.  I had expected that.  Max had done much the same.  By Tuesday evening she was looking at me with her head high and her eyes bright.  I smiled, happy to see it.  She was back to herself and clearly feeling better.

The only minor fallout I saw was she was more impulsive than the week before.  She was once again bolting out the door when letting her out and pushing boundaries with Dieter and even the cat.  A little redirection and a lot of cuddle helped, but she wouldn't fully recover her self control for the remainder of the week.

She spent about half the day just napping in my chair.
On Wednesday I worked with her in the bathroom on lifting the door snake up onto my knee.  She was worried about being in the bathroom at first, but once we worked through that she did a nice job of targeting and even nudging the door snake.  I need to work more on the up and over movement from the outside of my leg to my knee and then build it up on a chair and finally the wheel chair and move it from the door snake to my arm.  This behavior will be a default behavior and needs to be worked on both sides of the chair so she will lift both arms of her handler as needed.

We also worked on Left and Right again.  She is just starting to look to the left and right when I cue the behavior, but is still a bit excited about playing the game and I have to wait for solid eye contact before we can begin.  She's doing great, but I want this to be a very solid behavior before I finalize her retrieve skills.

I needed to pick up supplies at Walmart so I took Emma with me.  She was very in a great mood and showed no fear of the carts as we passed them and after only once trying to touch someone when we went by she stayed focused on me.  She walks nice with the cart, stayed in alignment with it when I turned and even backed up in alignment with it when I backed it up.  At one point she did a sit/stay while I was picking an item out of a fridge.  When we got outside I had her do a sit/stay while I walked around the cart, which she did without issue.  I was extremely pleased with her 15 minutes of Walmart during a weekday.

On Wednesday evening we went to a local feed store with Ronda and Jack.  We worked on not meeting and greeting every person she saw and staying calm when presented with a friendly stranger.  We also worked on not sniffing the merchandise.  She was able to walk with her shoulder brushing the feed bags and not sniff them.  We also worked on Sit/Stay and Down/Stay with me walking up to 10 feet away and back to her.  She did fantastic.

We spent about 30 minutes working behaviors in the feed store before we left.  Ronda asked if I was hungry and offered to take me to dinner.  I accepted and we went to a local Chinese Restaurant.  The owners niece greeted us when we entered.  Both Jack and Emma were curious about the food smells, but under control.  I explained both dogs were in training, but needed to practice working in restaurants in order to get the skills.  She was very understanding and showed us a quiet area where they would have a better success.

Jack would end up in the back of the booth and Emma at the front, just under the table.  She was uncertain about tucking under the table, but with some treats and a bit of reassurance she did as I asked.  But I could tell this was harder for her than the feed store had been.  She tried to crawl into my lap from under the table.  I gently kissed her nose and eased her back under the table and gave her a treat.  This would happen three times, but each time I could feel the muscles in her body relax a bit more.  She also offered me her paw several times, another signal she was very stressed at the moment.  I gently took it and reassured her she was safe and gave her treats for putting her feet on the floor.

Power nap.
I fed her treats for progressively relaxing under the table and soon she was in a down with her head up and alert.  She wasn't fully relaxed, but she wasn't as stressed as she had been.  The stress reaction lasted less than 2 minutes and my calm reassurance she was safe helped her recover and deal with this higher level of public access.

She did fantastic after that.  She was okay with the waitress approaching the table and even rested her chin on my foot.  At one point I felt her move under me and heard her bark under her breath. I looked and saw a family with children came into the area we were in and she was startled by it.  I could tell a major bark attack was building as the second bark was a bit louder than the first.  I reached down and put my hand over the tip of her nose and got her attention - I did not harm her, just interrupted her long enough for her to start taking treats.

She was still able to take treats (had she not been able to I would have removed her from the building), so we played LAT with the family as they settled in.  She would look at them and I would softly say, "yes" and then slip her a treat.  Soon I saw her giving minor movements of her head ("see, I looked") and looking back at me for treats.  I smiled at her and told her she was just fine and she rested her head just behind my leg by the seat I was on.

I had placed my leg so it was a bit of a block, which calmed her also.  She could see out, but had the perception I was keeping the evil world away from her.  By the end of our meal an hour and half later she was sound asleep at my feet.  She left on a loose lead and was in good spirits.

When we got home I gave her a hoof.  I wanted to see where her stress levels were to see if I was training the next day or if she needed another break to process what happened.  She was chewing so hard she was breaking pieces off, which told me she was in need of another break.  Thursday was a day of play, chewing on bones and hooves and cuddles.

On Friday she left for her grooming appointment.  She was in great spirits by the end of Thursday night and was in high spirits when I left her with the groomers.  It was a full week, even if we only did training for a single day.  Emma processed a lot of changes in her working world.

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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