|Emma is finally getting used to the camera.|
Thankfully, the past two days my neighbor has been silent. He's been playing his music late most nights. Though not blaring loud, he has his bass set so low that he's creating low frequency sounds and no matter of sound buffering nor how low he plays it, it penetrates and vibrates long into the night. If he just turned off the bass itself he could play his music without disturbing people, but he loves that stupid thing and when I do finish my work at night I can't sleep because of it. My sleep thus has been disturbed because he normally starts playing it about now if he decides he'll play until 2:00 AM. I can't sleep because I am waiting for the sound.
So, my start on the morning was rough. I had slept poorly and woke several times between going to bed and my alarm going off at 6:00 AM. At least I remembered to set the alarm this time!
I was weighing whether I would shower Emma this morning and came to the conclusion I wouldn't. Though the day was cold and wet, I felt she would be okay playing in the yard and airing out for a good part of it. It wasn't a penetrating cold, just chilly. She had been groomed on Friday and I didn't feel another bath so close to her last would be good for her.
I wasn't sure what time she would arrive and was pleased when her owner called at 7:30 AM to inform me she would be late due to an unforeseen absence of Emma's handler's caretaker. I thanked her and went about taking care of the kitchen, getting my shower and feeding the boys. I want to thank them for the call because it made my morning go much better knowing about when she'd arrive.
Our day ended going to Auntie Ronda's. Malcolm, as you'll hear in Emma's video, was in a mood today and bugging the crap out of Max. Max was also in a mood today and Emma seemed to join it. It was an undefinable thing that said if I didn't get some energy burned off I was going to have a long and difficult day with the three of them. I know why Malcolm was off, he's having a hormone flush as he enters a new phase in his growth, is a teenager and a young high energy dog with more energy than the sun right now.
I called Ronda and asked if she wanted us over and when she said sure we headed her way. On the way out I went to let the dogs go from the gate to the van off lead. This training has been in the works from the day Malcolm came into my life also. I have a full blown protocol for the dogs going from gate to van and van to gate off lead. It is a skill I want my dogs to have and is not a "required" skill for a service or even pet dog. It is a vital skill in my book for any of my dogs.
Yesterday, while I was unloading the van from the groceries I left the latch for the gate down and let the gate rest in a closed position. While inside and putting some of my groceries away the gate blew open. I stepped out to find both Max and Malcolm standing beside the van waiting by the passenger side slider. This is why the training I do for off lead loading into my van is important. I am bordered by two busy streets - one two blocks away and the other one block away. I don't want my dogs setting off for the hills if an accidental escape happens.
The protocol goes like this:
I take the dog to and from the van on lead a minimum of 100 times before I ever let them off lead. They must have recall with distractions and distance as well and the 100 times between van and gate gives me time to train that. The 100 times also sets a default pattern for the dogs. It's like driving when tired and thinking you need to stop at the store and finding yourself home before you realized you missed your stop. It's that type of auto-pilot.
Once they have the first link in the chain trained, I start the second link - Van to Gate. To do this I ensure there are no cars, people, dogs or small animals nearby before opening the gate and then releasing the dog from the van. If the dog jumps from the van, on cue, and runs straight into the yard we have done enough repetitions; if not, I need to back up and build the default behavior. Recall is vital here since if the dog doesn't enter the yard on auto-pilot, I need to be able to recall them and direct them into the yard.
I do this type of release to the yard 20 times. After that minor distractions (never cats, cars or kids) are permitted while they proof the behavior.
I then go to the next link - Gate to Van. I open the passenger side slider on my van for the first 1/2 step of training this. I want them to exit the gate and go to the open door without hesitation. I normally load the dog up on the driver side, but in this instance they are very aware of the open door because it's an automatic door and I open it with them at the gate. If they go from gate to van I got it, if not, we need to back up and work going to the van from the gate more.
I start proofing the behavior (go to the van when out of the gate, go to the gate when released from the van) by leaving both the van door and the gate closed. I do closed gate first and once they are solid at waiting for me to get around to them, I then do the van door closed. When the van door is closed they default to the driver side, but wait patiently for me.
This training, which Malcolm is in the proofing stage now, is what kept both my dogs by the van. I am basically teaching them that if they are out of the gate they go to my van - end of statement. It's a default safety feature for the dogs. Emma knows it and is proofed on it. Max knows it and is proofed on it. Malcolm is 3/4 the way through the training right now and it appears he's got it well enough he didn't wander off. I am so very glad I taught this behavior to them!
So, today, when we got the gate and I popped the door I was fully ready to let the dogs out and into the passenger side of the van. Then I saw the neighbor cat, closed the van door and walked each dog individually out to the van on lead. I don't expect the dogs to ignore the neighborhood cats, especially an impulsive 9 month old German Shepherd. Max can and does recall off of cats when I miss and he sees them, but it took me two years to train that and both Emma and Malcolm don't fully have that level of recall. Emma is very close, I can recall her when she's running to bark at most things; some are just to distracting and where I am working on with her recall right now.
Emma was first and she made me laugh. I keep claiming she's half Lipizzaner horse and today she demonstrated that. She bolted out the gate when I cracked it open and then sat back on the lead bucking and rearing at me like a wild colt on a lasso. I had to tell her to stop because she was winding herself up and loosing her mind.
Once loaded we headed over to Ronda's. When I turned the corner I normally do to go there Max started to get excited. When I turned the second corner Malcolm and Emma did too. They were in full blown spin, bark and whine mode by the time I pulled up at Ronda's. I got out of the van and stood at the gate with the dogs still in the van and waited until they calmed.
Having them jump out in the hyper excited mode which they arrived in only makes for a higher level of excitement the next time we arrive. I have decided they need to be calm and happy to get the reward of play at Ronda's.
Max was the first to calm down and I released him from the van, Ronda opened her gate and he calmly walked in. Good. I also, by the way, proofed this behavior at Ronda's house for the same reason - if they escape at Ronda's house I want to ensure they are defaulted to my van. Had I not proofed it here, when Emma leaped out of my van last week when I was dropping Dieter off, she could have run into a busy street only a few hundred feet away. Instead she ran straight to Ronda's gate without second through of going anywhere.
Emma calmed second. I let her out and Ronda opened her gate and Emma sauntered in calm and quiet. Perfect.
Malcolm took forever to calm in the van. Once he did I took him out on lead and walked him to the gate and spent almost 15 minutes outside of the gate until he calmed down enough to enter. We both knew I wasn't going to get perfect calm, but we got past leap on Jack's head, scream and go into hyper mode and re-engage brain stage of calm for him. He finally sat, for a brief second and I opened the gate and in we went.
He wound back up and I spent another 5 to 10 minutes inside on lead while he overcame his desire to jump on Jack's head and finally gave me a second sit. I then released him and he trotted off and went into proper play mode. It was a lot of work, but well worth having the dogs enter with self control as compared the mad rush that normally occurs.
They played for about 3 hours. Emma was so pent up on energy herself she joined Jack and Malcolm in wrestling, Catch Me If You Can and rips around the yard. She explored and even went to bound onto Deva's back. I think she thought it was Max she was about to pounce on, but about 2 feet away from Deva's rump realized who she was, reared up and stomped her feet and did a quick course change and ran off. Ronda and I laughed at her.
She cuddled with both of us also. She had great time and soon was content to hang out with us and sometimes go off and explore. She was also soaked from the wet grasses and the downpour of rain that came.
The worst thing that happened to her is Jack peed on her while she was sniffing the grass. We had to laugh at her. She was sniffing as Jack raised his leg and peed on her hip. Her head snapped up, she shot away from him and then spun staring at her hip. She did two or three spin and then flopped in the grass and rubbed Jack's cooties off of her. Yes, we cleaned her up after that.
Malcolm was at a full run for a good 10 minutes before he slowed. Max was also at a full trot or run for 10 minutes before he slowed. They were really wound up!
Malcolm played with the dogs on the other side of Ronda's fence (playing fence chasing) and Catch Me If You Can, Wrestling, tug-o-war and ran like a mad dog. His big What The Heck moment for Ronda and I was when he stood in the pool and peed in it. Apparently it was the pee day! Ronda and I dumped the pool after that. Malcolm actually didn't slow down or calm down for 2 hours. The adults spent most of that time telling him to cool it. They did it properly and not in a way that would harm him. Once he calmed they all ignored him.
When we got home the dogs ate and all fell soundly asleep. It was a great day!
Instead they have enjoyed a day of rest and playing in the yard and I have enjoyed a day of taking it easy and working on computer related material. Nothing much happened, but we had a good day doing it.
When Max learned to learn he was able to pick up a new task in only a few minutes and need only a couple of days of work to proof it. One of the tasks I taught him in about 3 minutes was to flip the dishwasher door to me so I could close it. By the time I taught him that task Max had already learned to problem solve, be persistent and shape with fluency.
Emma has been learning to shape, building persistence and problem solving skills. She is almost there, almost on the cusp of becoming a remarkable dog who can pick up a concept in a few minutes and fly with it. The video for today shows just that!
We are working on learning to pull the covers back for going to bed. Once she understands this concept we will work on her pulling the covers up and make the bed. For her handler this will be the first time he can do something for himself with his bed covers. Over time her owners can train her to put his covers back on him at night when he kicks them off, but for now, let's just learn to turn down the bed.
There is a lot of good in this video. While watching you'll see Emma started uncertain why I had the basket upside down beside her and she was tentative about the lesson. As the lesson progressed though you'll see she improves in confidence quickly which results in improved interaction with the blanket. It was a wonderful progressive curve. Very proud of Emma's progress now - she's starting to fly with her task training.
Her family enjoys church and church related events and I felt one of the tricks Emma should learn is to pray. I have a picture of the trick in my head, but trying to solve it on the edge of the basket didn't work. I'll work on it again with a chair and lure her head into position and build up her duration, but I believe if Emma could "pray" with her handler it would be a bonding between them that he'll enjoy.
So, I spent the end of her lesson working on learning to pray. I need to break it down a bit more for her, but she is making a real effort to solve the muddy picture I gave her. It was a good end to a long week and she was clearly enjoying it with me.
The good of this? She is offering putting her feet on something that even a month ago would have frightened her badly. She's making efforts to solve problems, even when she's not sure what I want she kept trying and didn't just give up. This is the beginning of persistence and lovely to see. The face she's offering behaviors when I am not clear is a sign of problem solving. That too is wonderful. Emma is becoming a true thinking dog that can learn quickly and on the fly. I am glad to see this development.
She spent 20 to 30 minutes loose with Max and Dieter while Malcolm and Yoda worked on a lesson. She is no longer causing damage to my home when left between 30 minutes to 2 hours, though 2 hours is the outer most limit I would trust her alone at this time. She is still making a racket when I leave, though it quickly quiets, it tells me she is not fully comfortable being alone in the house.
The week was productive and I'll continue to visit the tug tasks that Emma is working on. She has been on a long and difficult journey getting here, but the past few months of working on confidence building, tug task work and more has lead us into a new frontier in Emma's training. I am excited about this new development.
See ya next 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|