|Roadwork, tug tasks and more....what a week!|
Emma arrived 1/2 hour after drop off time today. I had, previously, decided the household schedule would no longer be delayed waiting for her arrival and was in the middle of the next stage of Malcolm's modified training plan - he started roadwork the week before and needed more work on behaviors for passing homes with fenced dogs.
I had to shift his training plan by 1/2 hour so that when I had Dieter and Max barking in the yard I was within sound ordinances and not completely annoying my neighbors. I was working Malcolm on Levels behaviors when Emma arrived, but was about to send him and Max and Dieter out for playtime since it was 9:00 AM before returning to training.
As a result I just let Emma loose in the yard to explore and play before starting her day. After her owner left she went to my front door and nudged the handle asking to be let in. I opened the door for her to let the boys out and caught up Malcolm to prevent him from mugging her to death. It's been a week since they saw each other and on Monday's Malcolm mugs her with joy when reconnecting. Malcolm is being taught a more appropriate greeting for friends and family dogs and holding him until he calms helps.
Emma was busy towering over Dieter and poking him and Dieter was busy grumbling at her. I told her to "Get off that Dachshund" (a sentence I never thought would be an almost daily utterance) and she broke off and headed out to play. I let her play with Malcolm for about an hour.
I finished Malcolm's training and then called her in to free click her for any behavior she chose to offer to loosen her up. She offered Sit, Down, Tada, Back Up, Spin, and Target. When asked she gave me prompt Shake and High Five and as I started to cue behaviors she was spot on and with no latency, except for Sit. For some reason her sit is shaky, so we'll tighten it back up. She was happy, engaged and taking kibble without hesitation. It was lovely!
For our next round we returned to one of her last tug tasks. She needs to learn to pull a full sized door open or closed. I chose to use my front door and use the tug I have attached to it. She was thrilled and targeted the tug and worked up to taking it in her mouth and finally pulling. Though she doesn't have a hard pull, she was moving the door and she backs up when she does it. It's a good chain and just needs more work to make it a good solid one.
I have used only one type of tug with Emma and I have a different type of tug on my bathroom door. It's a bumper type tug I put on the door when training Max to teach the same behavior. Max uses it to open the door for me now when I need him too. After a solid Round with Emma on the front door, even with Malcolm moving in and out of our training area, I sent her out for two minutes of play.
On our next Round I moved her to the bathroom door. The front door was closed halfway, thus creating a shadowed area in half of the entry. I was standing to the Emma's left, thus blocking her from the living room and Malcolm was sitting by me hoping for more food. He's never full from what I can tell.
It was this blocked in position that worried Emma and where moments before she was eagerly taking food she couldn't now. I opened the door all the way, moved to the other side, sent Malcolm out and Emma was back in the game. Emma has problems with body pressure - I will need to solve this if she's to work in any location that blocks her in. Max has had to work in tight spots in public and if Emma can't it will impede what she can do for her handler.
On our third Round she just stopped trying at the door. I sat with her and had Malcolm sit about two feet away. I knew the problem was Malcolm being close and I just wanted to turn Malcolm being near her into a good thing when she's learning. She can train with Max right next to her and Dieter right next to her and even Jack right next to her, but Malcolm throws her for a loop. I normally crate Malcolm, but he's started Other Dog Training Zen and I am leaving him out about half of the time we train to build up that skill.
Emma simply shut down for the last 1/4 cup of her food. I sat and cuddled her for a while and then sent her out to play for a while. It was actually a good start to the week and gives me a good picture of what I need to work on. Time to research body pressure and how to help a dog be less sensitive to it.
My son came over with a woman who will be helping me around the house. Emma was thrilled to meet her and I noticed something about her - her normal 15 minute, out of control, coming out of her skin with excitement behavior is greatly reduced. The change in food has helped calm her. I had suspected that she not only didn't like the food we had been feeding her, but that it was part of her uncontrollable excitement. She calmed in a matter of two minutes and never got as wound up as she normally does when meeting new people.
Overall her entire nature is calmer. This is a good thing. Excitability was becoming a major problem for this dog and I was hoping to find a reason for the worst of it and it appears we have.
After the company left I let them play for a bit and then crated her for the walks of the day. I had started Emma on roadwork last year with the power chair, the only way I can get any distance and real exercise for any of the dogs in. She started terrified of the chair and over came that, then too distracted to walk in a straight line and not risk being run over and we fixed that. I then started her on traffic training and she freaked. She just couldn't handle the sounds or movement of traffic. I pulled back further and would drive the chair and her and Max to quiet neighborhoods and work on just walking with the chair with Ronda and Deva at the time.
We worked known neighborhoods with known dog yards and had Emma on one side of the chair and Max the other. The first yard, a pair of yapping Yokies sent Emma into fear peeing. This was with her on the other side of the street from them and Ronda and Deva as a barrier between her and them. It would continue that way all summer we tried roadwork.
She did straighten out and work with the chair nicely. She did extremely well with placement and position, but she risked life and limb when a dog barked, even in a distance, by freaking out. For her safety, in the end, we stopped the roadwork and found other healthy ways to expend her energy and build her muscle.
Today I took her out last. I had walked Max and scoped the neighborhood I would work the dogs in. I then took Malcolm on a highly successful and very adventurous run (read his blog to learn of his walk today) and returned to take Emma.
I made the choice to let Emma tell me how much she could do. If all she could do was get to Park and back we did more than before. My original goal was to the edge of the bridge and back, but once on the road that plan changed.
Emma is able to enter and exit my gate while on the wheelchair leash. I got her up on the sidewalk with her head up, her strut in place and her having a good time, though a bit looky loo at first. There was stress, but it was mild stress, not the freak out, put herself in danger stress of last year.
I am going to share a portion of Malcolm's blog post with you - it explains the bridge and why this is a milestone for Ms. Emma today:
|Park Road Bridge, Spokane Valley, WA|
At the very end of that walk is a double curb cut and Malcolm now handles it very nicely. We then go from a sensory overload into a quiet little neighborhood where we roll along the side of the sidewalkless streets; thankfully traffic is very low.
Imagine soft Emma facing this location with her head high, her step frisky and taking treats every line in the sidewalk without hesitation. We reached the edge of the bridge and she was still eager to go, so we went. I did for her the same as for Malcolm because I also don't desire her to be afraid of this bridge. It is the main route into three or four of my pre-planned walking routes for the dogs.
Emma trooped along that bridge like she'd done it all her life. She took each treat and chewed happily and trotted with all the sound and her confidence grew. We reached the double cut curb and she navigated it with ease and off into the neighborhood we went. We didn't have a single problem from turning with the chair, staying in good position and enjoying her walk until a dog behind a 6 foot wooden fence barked and she nearly came out of her skin.
I have to say I was watching her trot along at about 4 or 5 miles an hour and she looked in pure heaven. She was glancing about and lifting her nose to take in the smells and looking like she could go all day long if I let her. She was completely enjoying herself and it was beautiful to see.
We did stop to meet a man I know along the way. He was in his yard watering it when we were passing. He was tall, lean and wearing a baseball cap. Emma is a bit leery of strangers when out in public settings and I wanted this man to say hi. He is very appropriate with dogs and he just put his hand out and Emma was rewarded for looking (she lowered herself and backed up a bit and looked to me and got a treat) and then sniffing (standing a bit taller, backing up less and more animated) and finally touching his fingers with her nose three times - all on her choice and no pressure other than an offered hand. Each exploration was met with a bit of tripe or cube of ham or soaked kibble and she grew confident by the end. It'll take more meetings like this, but she'll learn strangers of all shapes and sizes are good if I pick the right people to meet her.
When the dog barked she did a 180 flip in the air and turned to face that direction. I stopped, gave her three or four treats and then cued her to continue. She recovered a few seconds later and off we went.
On the final horn of our walk is a street with dogs I know are out in their yard. One is Dancy Feet. He is a Rottweiler/Boxer mix with Wobblers. The other two are Stompy Feet and his brother. They are black, stout dogs with prick ears and long (extremely long) black hair. I suspect they are a mix of some sort, but I don't know what. Dancy Feet is on our right as I approach and Stompy Feet and his sibling are on our left one house further down.
Dancy Feet has been very calm as we pass lately and just laid on his porch and watched us. Emma had no problem with him. I can see Stompy Feet through a set of bushes and started a approach, turn and retreat routine with Emma to get her near the yard. She was on the opposite side with Stompy Feet and his sibling on her left. I did three approach and retreat with each approach being a bit closer before she noticed them. We then worked past them, with both Stompy and his sibling making a gruff racket at us. Emma was a bit excited and a little fearful, but she didn't freak. She looked once and barked under her breath and then took the rapid fire treats I was giving her and flew past the house. The change in her once we were past was remarkable. She stood taller, her head held in the "I am the queen of the universe" setting and her step so proud she was trying to lead the chair. It was so nice to see.
We returned to the bridge and with each passing car and each line in the sidewalk I gave her a treat and she never once reacted. She was still on cloud nine getting past Stompy Feet and even when a big truck rolled past us she didn't flinch.
We ended with a tired and proud Emma who returned home standing tall and carrying loads of confidence. This years roadwork proves to be much more successful!
|Emma loves playing with Jack.|
I just couldn't get started today. I recognized the feeling. I had done too much the day before and with a previous week of hectic appointments and near disasters and a full weekend of working Malcolm, I had hit a wall. Before I would have pushed my way into it, struggled against it and only made the remainder of my week a declining curve of energy. Now, after so many hard crashes that have taken me days to recover from, I decided today would be the play day for the dogs.
|Off to help another dog feel safe.|
The sky was dull grey again. Clouds laden with rain hung low as I staggered out of bed to abuse the alarm. I have to say, Emma has finally decided that waiting for me to wake fully up is a good idea; she just laid and waited for me to finish my morning of alarm clock abuse before quietly stretching and getting off the bed and walking out with the boys for the first outing of the day. I, on the other hand, could feel the effects of this weather front deep in my lower spine and my legs. Even the short distance from my bedroom to my living room was enough to make me feel like I had drained all the fuel from the muscles. There are days I wish I could just bounce up with enough energy to face my day and not worry if today is the day I need to put aside half of what needs to be done.
|Another dog needs my help.|
What a full week this has been for Emma. She again attended a client consult and played the roll of a neutral dog for a training exercise. I have a client with an 8 pound Min Pin named Coco who is under socialized and fearful. She becomes fretful of dogs when seen on walks, fear charges when they enter her home (which some do when family members visit) and resource guards her toys and food. I have my work cut out for me, but we are already seeing remarkable progress with Coco. Her owner is dedicated to her and does her homework faithfully. She, more than I, will make the difference in Coco's recovery.
|What a week! I need a nap!|
Emma has a very busy week with a lot of stuff happening in it. On Monday she went for her first run at Roadwork and did very well. On Tuesday she got a day of play with Max, Malcolm and Jack at Ronda's house. On Wednesday she attended a client consult. On Thursday she attended a second client consult and went to Target and the bank. Today was a day of rest and recovery. That was an awful lot of stuff happening and she just needed to slow down and process what happened this week.
|Focus||Lazy Leash||Go To Mat||Crate||Distance|
|Focus||Lazy Leash||Go To Mat||Crate||Distance|
|Focus||Lazy Leash||Go To Mat||Crate||Distance|