Thursday, December 19, 2013

15 Months: Training - Days 231 - 235

This is Emma just before a visit to the groomer.
Monday - Friday

Emma had two very stressful weeks with a lot of public access work done and I felt it important to slow down and give her a break on public access and work on a skill she'll need for travel - entering a molded crate without fear.

Since her puppy days she's been afraid of molded crates.  I have spoken about this in a previous post and had asked for her crate from home to be brought over so we could work on it.  Her owners forgot, but that was fine, because I changed my training plan a bit anyway.  Emma, unlike Jack, doesn't transfer lessons from my home to her home as very well sometimes and the crate is one of those lessons.

I had, at my home, gotten her entering her crate without hesitation if I walked her to it, but she wasn't doing so at her home.  The crate, in different locations didn't mean the same thing and for her that was making crate training harder.

This is Emma just after a visit to the groomer.
I had the crate that Judy left, which is slightly smaller than her home crate, I could use to train here.  Instead of leaving it by my bed and working in the bedroom daily, I decided to move it into the living room.  I tucked it behind my power chair on Monday and opened the door and just pretended it was always there.

Emma was worried about it and didn't want to go near it.  As a matter of fact, she went into hiding when I brought it out, but when I didn't do anything other than that, she decided to ignore it also.  That was fine, I had done the same thing with Jack and his crate and over time he started to curl up in it on his own.  I am making her "crate" available for her to curl up in and no forcing the issue unless I have to leave or answering the door.

Since she has such a negative reaction to the crate, I decided not to work crate behaviors during the day.  This allowed her to play and rest during the day and get cuddles.  I worked with Malcolm and Jack on their skill sets and reassured her she was making good choices and asked only for known behaviors for life rewards.

Her fear of the camera is decreasing.  Nice to see.
She was shy and sulky on Monday and the same on Tuesday morning.  I expected that and just kept telling her how good she was and giving her the attention she sought.  By Tuesday afternoon her head was up and her body language was happy.  The stress was out of her face and she was showing me a dog in recovery.  Perfect.

I brought the crate out Tuesday night and put it by my chair and called her out from hiding.  She came out and I began shaping her to do anything with the crate.  She got into the game and soon was nosing the door, but was still leaning back on her hind legs and her body was tense and her head low.  She wanted to play, but the crate itself was scary.

I changed tactics and just laced the outer opening with treats and let her sneak them off.  When she got the last one I clicked and tossed the treat by the crate.  It took three more treats, but she was soon bouncy and happy to play the 101 things to do with a crate game I was playing.  I had no goal of her entering the crate, just not being afraid of it.  When I ended the game she tried to keep me playing - this was a fantastic sign.

On Wednesday we played and this time I just asked her to put her head into the crate.  This was fantastic.  She was willing to paw the crate door, nudge it with her nose, poke the crate opening, put her paws up on it and then put her head just toward the opening.  All of it got clicks because I am building confidence and entering the crate is an end goal, but not the goal.  She got her head into the crate several times before I ended the game and took a 5 minute break.  We played again and she put her head in up to her shoulders and was doing a lot of checking with me if she was right.  She was never wrong, so she was really digging the game.

She came back with a pretty bow on her collar.
We ended with me tossing treats into the back of the crate and her getting them out.  She put all of her body except her back legs in.  They were stiff and she was tense, but she kept coming out and checking in for me to toss more treats into the crate.  Fantastic!

On Thursday we played it again, but three times before bed.  She got up to her haunches into the crate and the tension was less than the night before.  She was still jumpy and quick to back out, but she did a lot of interaction with the crate and did a ton of putting her head and body up to her haunches into the crate.  We again ended with tossing treats into the crate to seek and eat.  Still tense, still worried I would shove her in, but no fearful of the crate par-say.  She wanted to keep playing.

On Friday she actually went to the crate and pawed the door and poked it to start the game.  I didn't want to play the game with four dogs trying to play it with her and simply praised and rewarded any offered behavior during the day.

When I handed her over to her dad I asked they bring out her home crate and set it somewhere that she had complete access to it all day long and not worry about her going into it.  Leave the door open, lace it with toys and treats off and on and praise anytime she chose to explore her crate, but not shut her in it or close the door at any point.  Basically, she's learning crates can be fun and not scary and we are building the foundation by not forcing her into it at this time.

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