Thursday, February 13, 2014

17 Months: Training - Days 264 - 267

Sleepy head!

Whew!  I have been mass producing blogs to catch up after the major flare in my arms.  I am going to be suffering again from this, but getting so far behind can result in my not getting you the information you seek, which is, "How is Emma doing?"

Emma is doing great.  She arrived in a great mood and jumped right into training.  I set aside 30 kibble to reward her randomly during the day for calm behavior, such as sitting at my feet instead of jumping and moving calmly through the house or stopping barking when shushed.  It is working and I am glad to see her calming faster as I reward those behaviors.

Today I pulled out a sock and put it loosely on my hand.  I she promptly took hold of it and started to pull, but not with enough force to pull it off.  After a few clicks she got the idea and pulled it free, though I saw some paw lifting.  Once I heavily rewarded the good behavior she was spot on and pulling it off no matter how much I put it on. She finally pulled it off when I had it fully and tightly on my hand.

I then put it loosely on my foot and she promptly targeted my foot and pulled.  No paw lifting this time, but still not enough pull to remove it.  A few clicks and she had it.  We got up to my sock being on 3/4ths of the way and her pulling it off in a smooth even action.

I have also been insisting she not climb on me all the time, but lay at my feet like she would if she was working.  She is getting more comfortable with this and no longer acts like she's whipped if I tell her I don't want her on me.  Her self confidence is increasing also.  I am very happy seeing this.


Emma - Tug Task Training

The snow on her back legs turned
into ice within a minute or two of coming
into the house.
Emma is working on task training now and doing such a fantastic job of it.  She has been learning some of her tug tasks, such as helping with undressing and making a bed or even opening a door.  I have worked this week on just pulling off socks and will work on jackets, pants and shirts over time.  Today I filmed what happened, so I won't be talking about the training as much as about her poor cold self.

Yesterday 3 inches of new powder fell, making my yard into a winter wonderland with the already existing snow from the past two snow falls still laying on the ground.  She came in from her outside playtime yesterday with loose packed snow in her coat, but not a lot of had packed snow.  Today the temperature went up and the snow became sloppy and sticky.  She had a hard time with the snow in her coat.

Snow balls packed into the fur around her legs, between her toes and into her pads.  She had it on her back legs so deeply that it went to the skin and she was distracted by it as it began to pull and clump into ice balls in the house.  I looked over as I was preparing to train her and saw her turned and chewing on her fur in a way that would remove huge clumps of it and hurt her.  I had to brush the ice out of her fur and then towel dry her, but even then, she was soaking wet.  Her legs and feet didn't dry between each outing, which means she has moisture against her legs for hours on end.

Jack, who recently had his coat cut, got a very tight cue on his lower legs for this very reason.  Though the fuller look is very pretty, in weather where snow, ice and water can gather in fur that takes up to 2 hours with a blow dryer to dry after a bath and then 2 hours of air drying after to fully dry, the fuller look on the legs can be an issue for keeping her dry overall.

Jack was a quick brush with a towel to remove the snow and a quick dry of his tightly trimmed feet and legs and he was dry within 5 to 10 minutes after coming in from outside.  When we were at the groomers we'd spotted pink, slightly swollen tissue in the depths of his pads from water resting there after playing in the snow and wet.  We did a major clean up between his pads to help dry them and are now working to prevent an infection in his feet.

I am worried that Emma is at risk of an infection in her feet and legs if we can't find a way to keep her dry or dry her out sooner.  I will continue to do what I can to dry her out - but even 4 hours after towel drying she was still damp against her skin.  This can't be good for her in the long run.

I am fairly certain that isn't my chair any longer.

Wednesdays are busy days here and not always a promise I will get formal training done.  Jack was scheduled to stay the day at his home, so a later start in the day than normal was a nice change of pace.  Emma, for a couple of weeks now, has been waking me by barking and setting the house off.  The week prior Malcolm had still been sleeping in his crate and Emma had access to the living room.  Twice she went out and barked at some things she either heard or saw and set the whole house off at extremely early hours.  Now that Malcolm has joined us in the bed and is learning to sleep through the night without eating the house I have the room once again gated.  Emma woke us on Tuesday by barking at something and Wednesday she did it again at 7:45 AM.  Not sure what she's hearing, unless it's the first kids going to school and the long cold winter and reduced physical exercise is finally making her batty like everyone else in the house.

I had been giving her carrots at night with the other dogs, which she took and ate, but stopped after 4 mornings the previous week being woken to her vomiting up some of the carrot in the morning.  Not sure why they do that to her, but they do appear to make her a bit urpy and I am not exactly happy to wake to her bringing up some bile in the morning.  This week, without giving her any carrots, the urping has stopped - so this is a good thing.

The other thing I faced the previous week was Emma peed and pooped in the house.  I am letting her out often and all dogs get a run outside right before bedtime, but for some reason she was having bladder and bowel control issues.  It happens with all dogs and I just shrugged it off for the week.  I am happy to report a dry week and no midnight pooping - so things are back on track with her.

Knowing I had a very trying afternoon, I reserved my energy for it.  I fed the dogs in the morning and we just enjoyed a lazy morning with me catching up on some TV programs and a little light house work.  I have a trip coming up and was considering what I would need to pack the Thursday night (which will take me most of the night) to be prepared with two dogs attending me.  I also had an expectation of Walter coming over to get the routine for this years babysitting of Dieter and Victoria and knew I needed to put together a few things for him too.

I crated Emma and Dieter when I left for a 4 hour run of appointments.  I had let all the dogs outside for a good 15 to 20 minutes before I left and let them play and run off energy and get themselves cleared out.  I gave Emma a bone they'd been working on during the week in her crate and decided to crate her in the big crate instead of the smaller one she normally crates in and put Dieter in that crate instead.  I should have reversed it.

I had a physical therapy appointment, a vet visit to recheck Max's ears to ensure his ear infection was cleared up and weigh Malcolm to find out if my increase of food had him growing on track again and a client consult.  I left at 2 PM and would return just after 5:30 PM.  When I came in the house I could smell poop and wondered which of the two dogs had an accident.  It turned out to be Emma.

She had pooped, a lot, in her crate while I was gone and sat, laid and walked in it.  I let her out and sent her outside for the time it would take me to clean up the crate and floor (poopy foot prints) and get the bathroom setup to bath her.  I then clipped her lead on and walked her into the bathroom and bathed her.  She was very unamused with the sudden bath, but there was no way I was sleeping with her that way nor sending her home that way.

The poop was a little runny so it may have been a slightly upset stomach or simply she wasn't happy being crated and she stressed herself enough to get an upset stomach and thus pooped.  I don't know.  She was happy enough when I let her out and didn't give any appeasement or stress signs at the time, so I am truly at a loss as to why she had such an accident.  Poor baby.

She was curly as all get out and damp for most of the night after that; it was unavoidable.  I can't let her stay covered in her own poop - it's not fair to her or her owners.  I was going to brush her out that night, since bathing her tightens her curls into little knots, but since I would be heading to Haute Paws Grooming the next day, I decided to ask them to show me the best way to make her coat look right after a brushing and brush her there instead.

She was in a great mood the rest of the evening and after she dried enough she wouldn't make me wet, we cuddled and she slept like a log during the night without any further incident, but it wasn't something I expected to return too.  I think from now on I'll just put her in the smaller crate where she doesn't have as much room and see if that prevents a repeat of this surprise when I return from required errands.

See ya next week!

Her curls were so tight when she woke and she looked like a little hobo with her hair all flat.  I knew I had an early morning and needed to head out to Max's scheduled grooming for my trip, so I didn't do any formal training, but instead packed up the entire household with Walter and headed out just after 9:40 AM.

Emma was happy to go and a bit surprised we'd packed up Dieter also.  Sandi and Ralph, who own Haute Paws, had invited all four dogs to come for the day while I worked on training their puppy Pi and they tormented Max with a bath and brush.  I had to look like some over taxed dog walker walking four dogs across the parking lot - Max working on my left and Emma, Dieter and Malcolm walking like a mini herd on my right.  Funny thing is, all three walked pretty much loose lead - though Emma is back to pulling again so I will need to work on that more.

Emma was happy to hang out and sniff the three Bermese Mountain Dogs (two puppies and an adult) and Lulu (a Pug) and hang out watching the activities.  I take her to the groomers once a week and drop her off and she doesn't see me for 3 days after that.  This was a visit to a groomer without my leaving - which I hope helps her relax a bit with my taking her to her regular grooming appointments.

It was a great day and I saw lots of fantastic behaviors from her that I rewarded randomly during the day.  She laid quietly watching us and being very confident and regal.  Sandi, who has met Emma previously, was highly impressed with Emma's improvement.  She could see she was calmer, more confident and relaxed.  Nice to hear!

We put Emma up on the table and Sandi showed me a better way to groom Ms. Emma.  We got her tight curls brushed and trimmed and dremmeled her nails and cleaned up her potty area a tiny bit to make her daily care easier.  She was great for the brushing, but nail trims are a nightmare for her and I had to hold her and reassure her we were not removing her feet.  Poor baby.

I had asked Sandi and Ralph to do Max as quickly as possible so I could be back in time for Emma's pick up time.  I set a two hour block aside for the family to pick her up in, and though I know they generally don't arrive at the top of that 2 hour block, I make myself available during it anyway.  I had Walter walk each dog out individually (except Max) and cue them to potty and load them in the van as we prepared to leave.  He said that all but Malcolm pottied - Malcolm had gone potty a short time before that and simply didn't need to pee.  He reported that it took Emma some time to get to business, but she did go.

She and all the other dogs, after an adventure of new people, dogs, smells and sounds were exhausted and slept on the way home.  Once here they all tanked up on water and I finally got a chance to clean up the yard.  I haven't been able to get to that job since the snow flew about 3 weeks ago.  With five dogs using .12 acre to go in, it can get a bit thick if not picked up regularly year round.  With the snow almost a foot deep at one point and the poop hidden and then a sudden thaw that left the yard a swamp for 3 days I simply couldn't get the job done until today.

I let her and the boys out with me and they played and romped in the yard while I picked up.  She was outside when her caregiver came to get her.  She was in fantastic spirits after a good romp in the yard and I watched as she walked tall and jumped in her van to head out for the long weekend.  She won't return until Next Tuesday and a long day of dog friendly public access was a good end to her week and then a fun filled weekend with her family.

I am happy to see her confidence and mental and emotional health improve so much.  She showed no fear signs all day and had a great day and I do believe she'll handle other public access situations with more confidence now.  I am looking forward to restarting that part of her 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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