Saturday, May 17, 2014

20 Months: Training - Days 313 - 317

No, she's not learning to water the lawn!  She decided
to sniff the faucet.  Silly girl.

Emma arrived when I was training Malcolm, which put his training on hold for about 40 minutes while the household settled in for the week.  Tomorrow the household will be disrupted again when I take in another board and train client for a seven day stay.  Buddy, a 6 month old Labrador puppy, will be staying with me while his owner recovers from surgery.

I had a doctors appointment and couldn't train Emma right away.  Since I had already prepared her meal while training Malcolm, I fed her a portion of it to keep her stomach from becoming upset.  I wouldn't get to her training until after my appointment.

I left her with Dieter and Malcolm loose in the house for an hour and half while I was at my appointment.  I am very happy to report Emma has been consistent on being left alone loose in my home at this time.  I would later leave her not once, but twice, loose in the house while I was away walking Max first and then Malcolm.  She was perfect both times.

Today we worked on her Turn Down task.  I took her into the bedroom this time and we worked on the bed.  She had way too much fun with the training and you'll see the goofy, funny, lovable Emma that I work with daily.  This is a side of Emma the camera never seems to capture.  The playful Emma.  I am so happy everyone finally gets to see it!

The video speaks for itself, enjoy!

Emma - Turn Down Part 3


I have a new board and train pup arriving tomorrow for a seven day stay and knew today would be the only day I could escape for an hour or so and work Emma in a new location for her roadwork.  After walking Malcolm and Max on their normal route, I packed up the power chair in the van and loaded up Emma for a trip to Riverfront Park.  Please visit Malcolm's blog post for the weekend for pictures of the park and some history on it (his Sunday write up) for those who don't live in Spokane.

On weekends the park is packed with families and people.  On weekdays it's a quieter place and perfect for Emma's first ever trip to the park with me.  We took the same route as Malcolm, only we stayed for only a mere hour due to Emma being at a different level of public access training.

Our entry on the big bridge had her worried a bit.  She was showing some stress on dealing with the sounds of the river raging below, even with us in the middle of the bridge, but was taking treats without issue.  I was pleased to see her start to relax when I scanned ahead and saw a trigger stacking event about to happen. On our left was a jogger coming at us, on our right was a skateboarder coming toward us.  I parked directly between them, got Emma's complete attention and fed her through the two passing us.  She glanced over her shoulder at the jogger, but quickly looked back to me.

I treated her for looking but not touching people as we passed.  I treated her for skateboards, bicycles and dogs and joggers.  I treated her for walking nice beside the chair and for crossing onto new footing.  I took her to the fountain (no ponies or train today) and she was completely comfortable with the fountain.  She looked at it for a bit, more worried by a dog nearby than the fountain and then sat, looked at me and gave me the famous Labradoodle smile with a relaxed, open mouthed pant. We headed for the statues.

She sniffed each statue and had no problem meeting any of them.  She was calm and happy and giving me the Labradoodle smile.

We crossed the wood bridge and there was two dogs who weren't well controlled by their handlers.  I watched how the dogs were behaving, decided we could pass with distance and was treating her on a 1-2-3 Treat past when one of the dogs tried to pull to her and the owner was following - I took her lead to bring her closer, gave more distance and sped up the chair and got her past without contact.  She was shoulder checking for a few feet and then set into trotting along with me.

We check the seagulls and ducks, no geese in the water today, and she was very very very very very interested in them.  We'll return to counter condition to them and learn to ignore them.  She lost her footing when a bird flew overhead and she followed it with her head.  I had to laugh at her silliness.

We stopped by a screaming child and some bicycles and watched birds and after a bit of worry and stress she suddenly sat and gave me the Labradoodle smile and happily took her treats.

We went to the reflecting pools and looked over the edge of the bridge.  She was curious and after a few seconds looked back to me smiling!  I was flabbergasted with how well she was doing and was tickled to the bone too.

We crossed to the narrow bridges and as we approached I watched her body language.  She was at first a bit worried by the sound, but with careful treat delivery she relaxed and we entered the first narrow bridge without problems.  We stopped and looked at the raging falls until she relaxed, sat and gave me the Labradoodle smile!  OH MY GOODNESS!

Then we trotted along the narrow bridges like she'd done it all her life.  When we got to the same metal plate that upset Malcolm I slowed and watched her.  As soon as she put her foot on it she jumped and spun to look at it.  I took her back and let her explore it and she walked on it the second time.  Fantastic!

We left the second narrow bridge and she did her only drive by sniffing when someone spoke to her - will work on that.  We crossed to the same side of the street as the van and a couple with small dogs got out of their car.  She was concerned at first, but with careful treat delivery and stopping to chat for a few minutes she decided to ignore the dogs and gave me the Labradoodle smile while she sat next to me.

This is the bridge we crossed!

We then went to the van and the only real serious stress signs I saw was when I pulled the ramp out.  She stood behind my chair and watched and relaxed after a couple of minutes.  I loaded her in the van, she laid on the bench seat while I loaded the chair and ramp and we headed home.

She played like a trooper, didn't eat (not surprised, I had just fed her 1 cup of food on our outing) and settled in for a rest when it was time to come in.  No overt fallout from our trip!

She was not hypervigilant or fearful or over threshold the entire time.  What a remarkable change in her - all the months of counter conditioning, confidence building, desensitizing and careful re-entry into the world has truly paid off and she's starting her journey with a newly found level of confidence.  I am so proud of her!


I mentioned yesterday that I have a new board and train arriving for a seven day stay.  His name is Buddy and he's a 6 month old Labrador mix.  He's not as far along on his training as the rest of the household and hasn't spent anytime with me outside of a few lessons very early in his life.

Today I picked him up at 5:00 PM and brought him home for his stay.  Since I knew this would be stressful for Emma I wanted her training this morning to be fun and light so she would have the emotional energy deal with my expected long absence and his arrival.

This morning we worked on her "Say Your Prayers" trick.  I have never taught this trick before and thus Emma and I are feeling it out together.  I know what it looks like, but not how to get there.  I am working on figuring out the parts with her.  She's a trooper and willing to try the different approaches with me.  It's been a lot of fun, but I do need to solve it soon to get it all put together.  She enjoyed herself and I see another trick developing out of it.  The more the better, they can make her handler laugh on his hard days.

Emma - Say Your Prayers Part 2

Today was a busy day for me and Emma spent a longer than normal period of time loose in the house while I was away.  She managed a 4 1/2 hour stay in the house without any damage to the house.  Thankfully tomorrow has no scheduled appointments and I can spend it with the dogs here and give them my full attention.

Emma is not bothered by Buddy.  She said her hellos and went off to do her own thing.  Since Malcolm is totally focused on playing with Buddy she is no longer the target of his demands for play.  She relaxed and enjoyed the evening in the yard cuddling with myself and Ronda, chewing on bones and barking at everything she could think of.

She's now curled beside me while I type up her daily report.  Tomorrow should prove interesting with three trainees in the home.  Hopefully I'll be able to take all out for a quick trot with the chair to work on roadwork and get some solid training in.

This morning I did shower Emma.  Her coat had that feeling human hair gets when it hasn't been washed for two days.  First thing in the morning I removed her collar and cuddled with her for a while and then slowly prepared myself and her for the shower.  When I had the water running I called her and asked her to enter the shower.  She did and waited for me to enter and close the door.  This is a huge change for her - she's been hiding when I prepare to shower in the mornings and over the past week she's decided to remain and even offered last week to join.  I am glad to see she's becoming comfortable with showering.

After her shower and rub down, which she loves, she stayed by me as I dried and danced and smiled at me.  I do believe she's learning to enjoy most of her grooming!  I let her go outside to play so she could mostly dry before I used the dryer on her.  She stood calmly while I dried her and is no longer showing a lot of fear when being brushed, but still is uncomfortable with her face and head being groomed, but we are closer to her finding grooming a bonding experience instead of a torture that must be done for her own good.

After her grooming she played and promptly got grass and other debris in her coat.  Sigh.  At least she had fun.

Tomorrow I hope to have a better training and bonding day with her and the other dogs.  It should be interesting with the new addition for the week.

She loves to explore the yard - and eat it.  She really
loves to eat the yard.
Wednesday - Friday

Poor Emma just doesn't do well with change.  On Wednesday I noted a change in her mood.  I had crated Buddy to keep him out of the other dogs bowls when fed and put her food in the kitchen like I normally do for the small amount of food I feed her before I train her.  She sniffed it and looked at me with that shy nature of hers and then after a minute or so decided to eat.

I knew then I would have to work on shoring up her confidence again and set aside any new training for the week.  For me, Emma's emotional state is far more important than her training.  If Emma is fearful, stressed and worried all the time she won't do well in her everyday life.  She'll also suffer long term health issues.  Making her comfortable in her skin is far more important to me than if she learns to turn a bed down or pull open a door or any other task she's to learn.

The video attached is my working with Emma to build her confidence.  When I was training Malcolm, Buddy was clawing, banging and climbing the x-pen.  I knew I wouldn't be able to work with Emma with Buddy doing that, so I crated him and moved her as far away in the kitchen as I could.  As you'll hear, Buddy didn't take to crating well and he was able to see me.  This was day two with Buddy and now on Day 4 he is quieter in the crate, can see me alone in the kitchen and not cry and handle my taking Emma into the office and not break down, but on Wednesday, Buddy was fully protesting his confinement.

Emma -  Confidence Building

On Thursday she refused to eat and the old, low to the ground, head down and back roached with her tail tucked and her face taunt had returned.  She was stressed badly and I knew she wouldn't eat in the presence of the other dogs.  I took the time to pet and love on her and put her bowl up for a bit.

I had suspected this would happen, which was why I went to confidence building.  Instead of making her wait for her dinner I decided to work in a different area of the house after she'd had some time to relieve stress in the yard.  She went out with the dogs with such force she launched my crushed cans off the porch.  This behavior is typical of her being extremely stressed, so I gave her a good two hours to play.  She chewed on bones, ate grass, barked at every tiny thing and explored.

I then took her into my office and worked Level 1 behaviors and desensitizing her to Buddy with her breakfast.  She ate it all and was in a great mood by the time we left the office.  Buddy was clawing and crying at the door, but for her that was less worrisome than if he'd been climbing the x-pen or screaming in his crate and rattling it.

John and Yoda came over and Emma played in the yard while we trained.  After they left I tried to cuddle with her, but she wasn't feeling it for some reason.  Even though I invited her into my lap while I tried to rest between John leaving with Yoda and Vanessa arriving to clean the house, she only settled for a minute or two before crawling out of my lap and laying down behind my chair.

She enjoyed loves from Vanessa and played while she cleaned the house.  After that we left for Ronda's house and she played in Ronda's yard for 3 hours.  It was this play time that really seemed to relax her and she finally was able to climb in our laps and settle by the end of the night.

On Friday she again wouldn't eat, so I set her food aside to work with her after playtime.  She did good on her Level 1 behaviors in the office with the door shut and this time all I heard at the door was deep snuffling of Max's nose along the seams.

I let her play for a long time in the yard and noted the wound up, out of control energy that comes when she's having a bit of fall out.  I called her in, groomed her (though later it wouldn't look like it) and spent time cuddling her and sending her to play before my client consult.  Ronda and I had discussed it and I felt leaving her in the house during my consult wouldn't be the best thing for her.  Instead, I sent her to Ronda's to play with Jack and Buddy.

Ronda reported she ran, explored, played Catch Me If You Can, wrestled and had a good time.  Whenever Buddy got to wound up Jack quietly split him away from Emma and would engage him in play.  She played solo with Buddy and Jack each and the three of them played together well.  She was in a fantastic mood when I picked her up 3 hours later.

When I got home, completely numb from exhaustion, my neighbor kids came over to do small chores for a chance to play Kinect.  Both are pre-teens and Emma happily climbed in their laps and soaked up hugs and kisses and loves.  She was happy as all get out when her family came to pick her up.

She did have problems with leaving the gate to jump in the van, but with a bit of encouragement she got in.  She's not comfortable with their new van yet, but should soon learn to enjoy it as long as they reward her with affection and high value food rewards while she rides.

It was a rough end to her week, but she did improve on her confidence in many areas.  She just doesn't do good with big changes.

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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