Friday, March 14, 2014

18 Months: Training - Days 275 - 279

FINALLY!  She is LOOKING at the camera!

Emma normally arrives between 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM on Monday mornings. With the onset of tax season that changed to closer to 9:00 AM in the morning.  I had expected her between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM, so decided to train Malcolm just prior to her arriving and then focus on training her.  This changed when Robin called and we got to discussing training plans for both her and Malcolm and sharing brags between our dogs.  I kept watching for her owner as 9:00 AM passed and then 9:15 AM passed and finally noted their arrival at 9:30 AM.

By this time I had changed the training plan for Emma and decided she'd attend my client consult that afternoon.  Since she doesn't handle stress well just yet, I don't do formal training on public outing days and instead using the public outing as the formal training session.  Since it was a client consult in a location she'd been too once before, I knew the level of stress I would be putting her under.  It's a quiet single bedroom apartment where she's in a more home setting environment than a store type envirnonment.  This type of setting allows for longer outings due to it being low stress.

I fed her breakfast and then setup a pouch with extra kibble and hotdog for our outing.  Emma, a long time ago, stopped eating a portion of her meal when I fed her out of her bowl.  She left approximately 1/4 cup of food in her bowl each time I fed and I took it as a sign she was regulating her calorie intake, which some dogs do.  I dropped her food to 1 cup a day as a result.  She's been eating 1 cup of food a day here since then and recently I have noted her ribs and back bone are too easily felt - she's not getting enough calories and this can lead to emotional instability.  I have raised her back to 1 1/2 cups of food a day again since last week.  I noticed this week she's not as thin, but her emotional well being may still be a bit unstable until she's at weight.  Adding a few extra calories into her daily intake will be good for her overall at this point.

She is still getting over the top excited if she thinks I am taking her somewhere.  I have to wait her out until she's not jumping and barking at me before I dress her.  Once dressed she's ready to head out, but I have found her loose leash walking is completely shot - she's just not paying attention to the tension on her collar, so I will need to retrain that.  She also cannot focus when out on the leash - she's ping ponging and rubber necking when out.

When we got to my client's location she was all over the place on the leash and it took a lot of work to get her focused and walking a straight line and even then, she was pulling on the leash.  I have a lot of work to do to get her walking on a loose leash again.  Any location I take her now needs to be pet friendly because she's not walking under control and needs to be reminded how to behave when out on a leash.

Inside the building she was a little worried, but otherwise okay.  In the apartment she was in good spirits and did great demoing retrieve, shake, sit, down, settle, high five and target.  She has a hard time just laying by me in a new location and needs more work on that behavior.  We were there for approximately 2 hours in which she was heavily rewarded for behaviors I liked and did finally lay by me for up to 20 minutes at a time before breaking her down.

Our walk out to the van was again a challenge due to her leash behaviors.  Looks like I need to take her back to basics on all of that to rebuild her skills on a leash.

Excuse me, but can I have your attention now?

Today we took off from training.  After an outing I want to see how she is emotionally and today she was flighty.  No really fearful, but showing some fallout from being out the day before.  She was more vocal, tending to leap out of my lap when Max barked and fly into the office to assist and quickly hid from me or anything that worried her.  I offered her breakfast in her bowl and she refused to eat.  That alone told me she was having major fallout and needed downtime to recoup.  We'll return to training tomorrow.

Oh sure, he's willing to look at her, but not his brother.

Emma was in a fantastic mood this morning!  I was so happy to see her up and happy and engaged.  I started her on Level 2: Step 1 Communication and in short order she was backing up twice her body length and doing so on verbal cue.  I will continue to work on adding a hand cue also, but the verbal cue was what I needed to get her started in the right direction for her tug tasks.  After two solid rounds of backing up without anything in her mouth I pulled out a tug toy and had her take it and then back up.

Since she knows "Take It" as a cue (take item in her mouth to hold) and now "Back Up" as a cue, it was a quick process to chain the two behaviors together.  I cued her to Take It and then Back Up and rewarded her backing up further and further.  She started to put her paw into the picture by lifting it and looping it over the item in her mouth.  I was careful to click for when her foot wasn't over the item in her mouth.  It wasn't log before I got a good solid back up and no feet.

Level 2: Step 1 Communication

The remainder of her lesson was working on taking and backing up with the jacket sleeve and removing my jacket.  She did fantastic and lit up when she realized it was so much easier to take my jacket off.  The next was with a pair of sweats which I pulled over my pants and low and behold, she was able to take the pant leg and back up with the level of force needed to pull them off.  I only did one leg this round and I started with it on loose and then slowly put it on more and more until it was technically all the way on, but she never faltered once she got the idea she could back up and pull my pants off.  I am very pleased with this development.  She's ready to practice these two behaviors at home, though she's not up to taking a pair of pants off if they are all the way on and over the buttocks.

The cues are "Sleeve" for the jacket (aim her at the sleeve by the wrist by tapping it with your forefinger and saying "Take That" and then "Back Up" the first two or three times and then "Take Sleeve" and "Back Up" and then just "Emma, Sleeve" when she's doing good at aiming at the right spot on the sleeve to get a good pull.) and loosened pants which she can freely pulll off.  The cue is "Pants" and she will need to have you point the first few times to get her thinking about what you are asking of her.

Right now, in practice, the rewards should be frequent and high value when working and slowly fade them as she improves.  I am currently rewarding for each removed sleeve and will soon be rewarding for only removing the jacket, but she may need more rewards as she relearns the skill with her handler.  Have him attempt the cues so she learns them from him as well.

She was having so much fun that she was trying to remove the pants before I could put them back on and was just lit up.  She wasn't just enjoying the lesson she was completly thrilled with it.  When the lesson was happening she had accidently taken ahold of my sock while pulling on the sweats.  After the lesson I lifted my foot to pull my sock up and she zipped in and pulled it off with lightening speed.  I laughed so hard and she danced and did the doggy smile and was clearly having too much fun.  It took 5 minutes to put on my sock, but it was a lot of laughs and happy times for both of us.

I knew I had a series of appointments in the afternoon and having had her in a crate for 3 hours the day before I really didn't want to crate her again today.  I lucked out, Ronda called to talk to me and agreed to watch Emma while I was away.  I dropped her off for my physical therapy appointment and let her have a solo hour with Jack to run and play.  Ronda said she was a little shy, but played in the yard with Jack after a bit and had a good time.

When I returned I dropped off Malcolm and Max and I headed out.  Ronda said Emma and Malcolm defended her from a loose dog that was outside of the fence and she, Malcolm and Jack played hard in the yard.  When I returned I let Max play for a while and watched Emma start a game of Catch Me If You Can with Jack and Malcolm and run with pure joy of living.  She played until she couldn't anymore and came home to fall over and sleep until it was bedtime.

She ate dinner with gusto also.  She's been a bit off on her feed and her appetite tonight made me very happy.  She was relaxed, not stressed and happy as could be.  Her huge play session at Ronda's was just what the doctor ordered.  Tomorrow she'll attend my grooming session with Max and Malcolm at Haute Paws Grooming as another public access outing for this week.  I'll evaluate how she is emotionally Friday and use that as my planner for next weeks training sessions for Public Access.

It was a fun day and Emma did a great job.  I want to take some of what she's learned here to Haute Paws and work it again to improve her understanding of her tasks.  I may even ask if Ralph or Sandi won't mind being alternate people she practices her skills on.  I will also work on her leash skills at Haute Paws and her focus.

Wasn't he smaller than me when he came here?

Right now the type of public access training I am taking Emma to is designed for socializing more than practicing skills in public.  This type of outing can be longer because it is not a "working" type of outing and designed more of a play type of outing.  Max has events he attends with friends and family where I ask for assistance as needed, but he's in dog mode most of the event.  Family holidays, visiting a friend's home or going to an event where he is primarily off duty require a different type of behavior from him; Emma is learning how to do this type of event also.

For Max, he is expected to maintain his manners.  No begging food, sniffing tables, chewing on items that are not his, having accidents in the home.  He's to be polite to people and other animals in the home and he's to be calm and a good house guest.  Emma needs this type of training also.  She may, in the future, travel with her family to visit other family and if she doesn't know how to be a good guest it would not make her welcome for future visits.

On Monday she visited a client's home and was a very good guest.  She got to explore a little, but mostly laid by me and was quiet as a mouse a majority of the time.  She did try a bit of barking, but it was quiet and under her breath and near the end when she grew tired.

Our second outing was to another known location.  She went with us to Haute Paws Grooming.  She's permitted to wander about while we work on bathing and grooming Max and Malcolm and visit.  She was a very good guest.

She doesn't bark at new dogs when she meets them, but is instead curious but friendly and not rude when she says her hellos.  A few times she put her paws up on the grooming table and sniffed the dog in play without causing them undo stress.  She was never pushy or rude, but instead just curious.

She met Pi and Lulu through their x-pen and was polite and appropriate.  She met some of the customers who came and wasn't jumpy or out of control when she met them.  She was considered a very polite and friendly girl.

She played or slept or laid and watched us without getting in any trouble or being a problem to anyone there.  Thus she got more attention from us.  We praised her and gave her loves when she came up for a hello.  She got lots of happy voices and plenty of time to be near us.  She was lovely.

I asked her to hop up on one of the tables and brushed her out without her tethered to it.  She did without hesitation and was very good at letting us brush her out.  Since the area behind Haute Paws is safe, I let her run off lead when we went on bathroom breaks and she explored the wooded area and recalled nicely.

She's a typical hunting dog and once her nose hit the ground she forgot I was there once and was sniffing her way off to the next county.  I called her to me and made a mental note that if she's let to play off lead she needs to be monitored to prevent her wandering off while following her nose.

She spent the entire day there.  By the end of the day she was tired and she started to bark at customers when they first came in.  Clearly she needs to be given a nap on long outings to prevent her from becoming too vocal.

She was tired when we left and slept all the way home.  It was a good outing and Emma was fantastic all day long.  I have no complaints about her behavior with new people, new dogs and visiting in dog mode at locations where she can.

Stop staring at me!

After our outing Monday Emma was a bit shutdown the next morning and needed a day off.  I had seen the mood change first thing when we work Tuesday.  I had taken a deep breath and she was flying into bark and bounce mode - which is one of her stress signs.  She becomes more vocal when either tired or stressed.

This morning I took that first deep breath and felt her shift her weight, but she was quiet and just watching to see if I was really awake.  We spent the early morning cuddling and watching "How I Met Your Mother" on Netflix while I drank my morning coffee.  She was happy and upbeat and not showing a lot of stress signs.  She was even playful.  Nice to see.

She enjoyed playing with me and laying on my chest until I was ready to get up.  Since her mood was so good I decided to do formal training with her today and she was great!  I am so glad to see her recovery from an long outing the day before, even a fun one (she loves visiting Sandi and Ralph), was so good.

She worked on removing pants today and I filmed it.  We had to do a bit to remind her she could back up, but once she had that she was off and flying.  Enjoy the attached video of some of our training.

The cue for removing pants is Pants - she may need to go back to the building blocks of "Take it, Pull, Back Up" when learning again with her handler at home.  She is not ready to remove them from his hips yet.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Complete Complete Complete Complete Complete

Level 2
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 3 3 2 Complete
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 3 3 2 3 3
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 3 1 Complete Complete 1

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

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

Step 0 0

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