Monday, June 2, 2014

20 Months: Training - Days 318 - 322

Emma loves her Auntie Ronda.
Monday - Friday

Poor soft Emma.  She arrived a bit late on Monday, but it was expected.  Her owner called and told me that an unexpected issue with the schedule happened and wanted to let me know she'd drop off Emma as soon as she could.  I was happy to get the phone call early in the morning telling me of this change in plans - it helps me to figure out my daily routine.

Emma had ended last week wound up and stressed with the arrival of Buddy.  She was beginning to display her stress signs - increased barking, need for attention and hyperactivity.  I had expected the same when she arrived.  Though the morning had started with both boys (Buddy and Malcolm) a bit off and grouchy with each other, by the time Emma arrived we were back into our normal happy routine.  Malcolm was okay with my playing with Mr. Wiggles (the Labrador wiggle is too silly) and was getting his attention.  Poor Max has to push in to get my attention and I have been taking extra time to give it to him - he's been on the back burner for a long time and needed me to tell him he's my favorite again.

Emma was like a lightening strike in the house.  All of a sudden the whole house was out of balance again.  It was amazing to see.  Her stress bled off so much that the whole house wouldn't really settle down for the remainder of the day.  Yoda would drop by for a training session and would feed off of it also and not really focus on his lessons.  Buddy and Malcolm would be off balance in their play for hours and it would just be one of those days for all of us.  It wouldn't be until I took her and the family over to Ronda's house to play that Emma would relax and the house would settle in and not be a catalyst for chaos.

She was eager to join training on Monday.  I had her come up to me and work her Level 1 behaviors with the other dogs near.  Her problem is working as a member of the family, as a part of a group, and I need to show her she's stronger than she thinks.  She did very well and it looked like we'd have a good week together.  I had planned a day off on Tuesday, since it was Buddy's last day and he didn't have a play day to just be a puppy yet.

We ended our day at Ronda's with Emma happily exploring, trying to join in the games of Catch Me If You Can and getting cuddles.  Ronda commented on how tied in knots she was and agreed she needed to get her legs stretched out and just play.  She was giving us the happy Labradoodle smile by the end of the night and being her silly self.  Her muscles had relaxed and she was clearly doing better.

Tuesday she played in the yard, but I could see it again.  She was barking at everything outside of the fence, something she has learned not to do most of the time, but she was back to the high pitched, over the top, can't stop alert barking and rearing up on her hind legs while doing it.  She was chewing hard, rendering sticks and other items she could to small bits of debris.  She was shooting out of the door and hiding more when I stood, even though I was giving her lots of loves and telling her how good she was.  I have been wearing a treat pouch on my hip for over a week so I could reward Buddy and all the other dogs for anything I really liked seeing.  Emma has been getting rewards for quietly watching the world outside of my fence, recalls, laying quietly near me and more.  She has been rewarded constantly for all of the good things she does, but it's just not enough to keep her feeling safe and secure.  It's maddening some days to have her suddenly crumble when she was doing so well.

Wednesday morning she was so shutdown she refused to eat.  I accepted this.  Buddy had gone home the night before and even with her curled up with either Ronda and I while we watched a movie at the end of the night at my home, she woke this morning still feeling strained by Buddy's visit.  I normally give her 1/4 cup of her food when I feed all the dogs.  Max, Malcolm and Dieter all eat in the living room and Emma eats in the kitchen with me blocking the others from bugging her while she eats.  She sniffed her kibble, turned and walked out of the room.  I picked up her bowl and called it for the day.  She was clearly in need of one more day of downtime to regain her balance.

She played in the yard all morning while I worked on getting ready for an afternoon client consult.  I had found the plastic poison dart frog she'd taken off of my TV entertainment center and chewed the legs off of.  I found the legs, neatly dissected from the body and laying on the blanket by her.  It's missing both back legs (found and can be glued back on), a front foot, a knee and has a tooth mark in it's butt.  She hasn't taken something off of my tables or entertainment center and chewed it in a long time, so I was correct in my assessment of her stress.

I watched her through the front door as she lay on the dog bed on the patio and really went to town on a bone.  She was back to the high pitched alert barking and she was back to not being able to stop herself once she started and a few times I couldn't figure out what she was barking at.  She was still feeling that way when I left for a client consult at 1:30 PM.  I returned at 4:00 PM to find she and the house were in good shape.

She calmed this evening.  It's Wednesday at 10:25 PM and I saw the first calm, quiet behavior I have been cultivating for months now.  She sat on the ramp and watched the neighborhood with her normal intensity.  She did bark a few times, but her brain was back in gear and she came readily for her rewards when I cued her to come to me.  She laid down and chewed on a bone like any other dog on the planet, wasn't shooting out the door or hyperactive any longer.  The day off was good for her.

When I fed her she ate with gusto.  I gave her 1 1/4 cup of food for dinner and she ate every bite and licked the bowl.  She didn't even hesitate to eat when I set her food down and I didn't have to coax her to come and check her bowl this evening.  She readily came in before I called her name and had her head in the bowl before I had stood back up.  It was good to see.

I am hoping we can return to some task training to end our week.  DJ, who Emma knows, comes to stay tomorrow.  Emma has always been comfortable with DJ and DJ is only staying until Memorial Day, so won't be here when Emma returns next Tuesday.

Right now, Emma is stretched out on her side in my recliner and is sleeping soundly.  It's nice to see her out and in view after this period of insecurity.  I will continue to build her confidence and make her life in an ever changing world easier to handle.  The best thing for Emma will be giving her the coping skills to deal with change.  She's taught me a lot in patience, how to deal with a soft and fearful dog and how to build confidence in a dog who easily retreats and hides when she's stressed.  Emma has a sweet soul and lovely personality and with a bit of shoring up on her confidence, I do believe she'll have a very happy life when she graduates this coming fall.

On Thursday Emma worked on her "Clean Up" task in the yard.  She did great.  I used the bone bucket, which is a planter I use for holding their bones to keep my yard and patio cleaner, and a pair of socks for her to work with.  She was very good at it and really showed she had the idea of what I am asking.  She needs to practice "Clean Up" at home and build the behavior into a solid proofed task.

On Friday Vanessa came.  Emma was showing stress signs all week with hyper active behavior, constant high pitched barking and shooting out of the house like a bullet.  I knew Vanessa was bringing a full sized vacuum, so decided to work on Emma feeling comfortable with the sound of a vacuum that size and did Level 1 behaviors with her while Vanessa cleaned the house.  Emma did very well and really shined.  It was a high note to end on for the week and I was glad to see it.

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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