Tuesday, April 1, 2014

18 Months: Training - Days 284 - 289

Good weather means more yard time.
Monday - Friday

That hour behind schedule is defently throwing both of us off.  Emma was in a good mood, but just not in the game when she arrived.   It didn't help that I had a long and painful weekend and then appointments scheduled for the morning and afternoon.  I worked a bit with her on Lazy Leash but she wasn't willing to take food and so ended the game and offered her breakfast to her.  She again decided she didn't want to eat so I picked it up.  It would be the only time she chose to not eat all week, but it wasn't a good start to our week.

Between working on giving to the leash when pressure is applied, which she is still resisting with locking up her muscles and going stiff and shaping her bow, which she finally got and I put both a verbal and hand cue on, she had a full week.  More important though was her calming down when the leash was touched and going out the door.

She's back to launching from my lap like a rocket when she's heard something outside or shooting out of the bedroom or front door like she's shot from a canon.  She will never fully be able to just relax and stay calm until she's much older.  Until then a lot of reminders will need to be given to her to keep the calm behavior we are training her to use sharp.

So, bedroom door.  I hadn't started to let Malcolm have reign of the house at night just yet, therefore the gate was setup at the bedroom door.  When I lifted it she would start to run to dash through the door and literally run in place for a good 10 seconds before she could gain footing and then burst out the door with little control and a lot of barking and bounding around the house, which set the entire household off.  I lifted the door and the moment she went to shoot out I just lowered it.  She came to a crashing halt at the gate and looked up at me and sat.  I praised her and then opened it a little and she darted out.  Not fully calm, but better.

The front door was the same.  If she started to show signs of getting ready to bolt out the door when released I simply shut the door.  By the end of the week she would walk out the door at a nice controled trot and not be skittering along my floor trying to gain footing nor barking her fool head off as she left the door.  The whole household fell silent as a result of this.  It was the start of calming her down overall.  No longer was she leaping out of my lap or setting off at every sound in the house.

Early warning system.
She seems to have this deep need to be always touching someone.  Normally she wants to be in my lap all the time, but she has a bad habit of pushing against my ribs and looking up into my face and not just laying quietly beside me in the chair.  The pressure she puts on my legs with her tiny feet hurts and the insistence of being in the middle of everything I am doing makes it impossible to drink or eat or work.  I have been teaching her she can lay by my foot and press her body against it and be just fine.  She's finally choosing that spot to be close to me and cherishes the times I invite her into my lap for some cuddling.

I was able to pick up her leash all week long and not have her go into spasms of joy.  She kept her feet on the floor and was able to sit with minimal vibrating to have her lead put on and work on walking in the correct position beside me.  It was a huge change from how she's always met me when I pick her leash up.  I will work on touching her harness next and develop the same behavior with her.

Since I had two appointments on Monday and two again on Tuesday it meant a lot of time in the crate while I was away.  Monday she did fine with being crated for the morning appointment and coming out for an hour before being crated for the afternoon appointment, but by Tuesday I didn't want to do that to her again.  She does okay with such crating for one day, but not two in a row.  I took her over for the afternoon crate time to visit with Jack at Ronda's.  When I returned she was so excited she was almost hovering.  Ronda said she played hard and ran laps around the yard and enjoyed exploring the entire time I was gone.  She was in a super happy mood and curled up on Ronda's couch with me and turned upside down to get my attention.

On Thursday Ronda invited us for dinner and she again got a lot of playtime with Jack and Malcolm in the yard.  She ran laps and did recalls and just had a great time and finally curled up in Ronda's lap and cuddled for a while.  She was in a fantastic mood after that visit too.  It was great.

Since I was going to Ronda's I didn't leash up any of the dogs before loading them in the car.  I have been working with every one of them on entering and exiting the van without a lead to make catching her in the event of an accidental escape easier.  She will exit the gate and go straight to the van and the first open door she sees and enter without hesitation.  When I open the van and give the all clear (I always check traffic and what is happening before releasing any of them from the gate or van) she exits the van and runs straight into the yard through the gate I have already opened.

Hark! Who goes there!
This is an area I need to work on lowering her excitement level.  The moment she realizes we are leaving without a lead, which means we are off to play, she hits the clouds with her excitement level.  Since I have an auto door and open it prior to letting her out of the gate, I think I will just work on opening and closing the door a couple of times and then going off to do something else in the yard until she sees it as just another normal part of our day.  Lowered excitement levels will keep her brain in operating order and make her eaiser to handle over all.

Next week we'll begin working on leaving the house without shooting out the door like a rocket on the leash and then work on walking up and down the ramp on a loose lead.  Once she can enter and exit the van calmly we'll return to going to locations to work on calmly walking to and from the door until she can finally begin her entry into buildings and exiting again while calm.  Without this training she will not be able to continue her public access training; currently her leash work is not good enough for public access work.

It's been an interesting week with a successfully trained trick.  I will work on shaping the last of Say Your Prayers and then work on her pulling open the bigger doors and bedding and begin the last of her task training.  By then she should be ready to finish her public access training and preparing to finally graduate.  It's been a lot of work, but Emma is progressing and once a task or skill is learned she does well with her confidence and control - it's just getting her there that makes me scratch my head on a daily basis.


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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