Tuesday, June 17, 2014

21 Months: Training - Days 327 - 331

She loves her outside time.
Monday - Friday

After a long hard push to catch up the blogs, get new material into my business site and input media so the blogs could be published (meaning, I spent my entire weekend doing nothing but working on blogs) I ended up so exhausted I forgot to set the alarm for the morning.  It was Emma's arrival on Monday that brought me around from the land of the dead.  She arrived at 8:25 AM and I was groggy and exhausted.  After a quick shower, meal and coffee on board I set out to train Ms. Emma.

Each day I go to train her it's a gamble if today she will work for her food or not.  She took the first kibble I offered, though was worried by my inviting her into the bedroom to work on her Turn Down task and start to train her Make Bed task.  She kept jumping on the bed and then rushing off to stand by the door and I finally called her onto the bed and we got into a rousing game of bitey hand and pawing me.  After that she was up to try her training.  It took about 2 minutes to calm her enough to get her focused to work on her task training.

She is doing well on her Turn Down task.  She takes the blanket and walks it back to about halfway down my king sized bed and pulls it almost far enough back for me to climb in.  She clearly thinks this is a funny game and gets all kinds of playful when she does it.  It is clearly a task she enjoys and I am glad to see that.  I really don't want her to hate her job and I try to train the joy into the task each time I train a new one; sometimes training that joy can take longer than training the task.  If my approach to a task when training it saps the joy out of the task itself, I stop the training, evaluate and retrain until she finds the joy.  It's important that any working dog enjoy the work they do.

I then reversed it and had her take the blanket and carry it back to the head of the bed.  She's not very good at making a bed, but it's at least a great effort and should give her handler a level of joy.  He can, for the first time, turn down and make his own bed with simple cues.

I then took her into the living room to work on her tug task.  I put Malcolm up in the crate and we worked on tugging open the bathroom door.  She can now stand between me and the wall on the other side, but she's still a bit worried by my blocking her that way.  She had been flying high after a second rousing game of bitey hand and pawing at me and doing rollovers on the bed, but now wilted a bit and refused her kibble, which she'd just been eating with relish a minute before.

I worked with her for a few more seconds and she finally, after the third offered kibble, ate one and then got into the tug game.  There is a reluctance I don't like seeing.  She's waving her tail at me, but she's not as into this game as she was with the last one.  I think I need to take her back further and rebuild the joy in tugging open doors.  This could easily become a task that results in fear and shutdown if I don't step back and build the joy in the task.

In the afternoon I had a long client consult.  I had to run to Elk to evaluate if Chevy, a silver sable German Shepherd, could come and stay for a few days to begin training for becoming a service dog.  He is a seven month old pup who has a very ill and disabled handler who has been unable to maintain his training like she'd planned when she first adopted him.  She'd been stronger when I saw her last, but due to major health changes, she's in a state that she needs serious help with Chevy's training.  I spent two hours doing the intake consult and then returned to pick up a new collar, food and other items I would need for his stay.  In total I was gone for 6 hours (2 spent in travel, 2 spent on the consult and 2 spent on getting required items for Chevy and the household).  Emma did well with the prolonged stay out of the crate, but I could tell she really needed some attention and spent the rest of the night giving her affection and playing with her.

Tuesday brought Chevy into the household.  Since I knew he was arriving and suspected the adjustment period to a new dog in the house would throw Emma for a bit of a loop, we trained prior to 7:30 AM.  I worked on Turn Down and Make Bed again and Door (for working a door).  She loves the bed tasks, but is still struggling with the door task.  She is targeting the cord and was more willing to work with the door, but isn't really pulling hard enough to open it yet.

When Chevy arrived I introduced him to each dog separately and spent the first 2 hours after his arrival just getting the household adjusted to the new family member.  Malcolm and Chevy had way to much fun learning how to play together and running around the house.  Max and Dieter made it clear they were fine with him as long as he left them alone and Emma was spending a lot of time with me because Chevy really liked her and kept pressing his chin on her back or hips and trying to hump her.  I kept directing him away and protecting her until he lost interest and went about his business.

Emma really didn't like the special attention Chevy gave her and I don't blame her.  She doesn't know him from Adam and he was being way to friendly.  I could tell she appreciated my protection and after Chevy finally settled in she spent time laying in my lap soaking up pets while the house spent the day playing.  I needed the break as it was.  I had a migraine and needed some downtime to recover before Spirit's consult.

Chevy is crate trained, so when it came time to leave I crated him and headed out.  Emma was happy to see me when I returned 2 hours later and happily ran in the yard and then settled to chew on toys.  It was a quiet day with the dogs playing.

Wednesday was play day.  I plan one play day a week for the household.  I find they all do better with a single day off during the week and can really focus on lessons if they have a full 24 hour period to think over what we worked on.  Emma enjoyed playing with bones, doing some wrestling with Malcolm and barking at everything in sight.

It was a good choice, since Emma ate only half her breakfast, even with the moist food in it and no other dog invading her space.  She was wired for sound and almost everything she saw not only sent her into barks, but so over threshold she couldn't stop barking even though she clearly was trying.  She was in higher need of physical affection, more skittish with movement and overall showing high stress signs.

I ran with Malcolm to pick up dog food with the help of my son Wayne.  In the short time I was gone she destuffed my recliner.  She hasn't been destructive like this in a while, so I noted the stress she was feeling and spent the rest of my time with her while the boys played.  That evening I had a client consult, so I left her loose again while Max and I went on the consult.  We had no further incidents with the recliner, but I had to hand feed her dinner because she was unwilling to eat from her bowl.  The extra attention helped and she started to relax by bedtime.

On Thursday we worked on confidence building skills using Level 1 behaviors and play.  I fed her her breakfast as a whole and spent the time training using praise and affection and play as her rewards.  She did very well, but was unable to do a down, even with Chevy crated and the training area blocked, so I knew trying to ask for anything requiring concentration would be out.  Instead we worked on her strongest behaviors and build up her happy feelings to improve her confidence and sense of safety.

That evening we went over to Auntie Ronda's house for a play date.  Emma loves to visit Ronda's house and spent a lot of time sniffing and exploring and then played a bit of Catch Me If You Can with Malcolm and Jack.  After another long exploration she came and curled up in Ronda's lap and then when Ronda got up to work on dinner she came to my lap and napped for a bit.  She spent a lot of time enjoying good sniffs, barking at people passing and off and on just running to run.  She was tired, but happy when we left.

Friday was grooming day.  I just fed her breakfast and we worked on play for fun and used her Level 1 behaviors to improve her mood.  She happily played with the x-pen down and Chevy crated.  She was able to do a down finally and was truly enjoying the playful games I asked of her.  She even offered to target cabinet doors and cords on the doors as part of the games.

I find leaving her at the groomers hard.  I know her groomers are good to her and take very good care of her, but she finds the place frightening, despite how well loved she is there.  Please understand, she has one of the best groomers in town and they are very good to her at all times, but the noise and racket which is standard with a grooming shop is unsettling to her and every time I take her in she's happy to trot in with me and then suddenly is trying to pull me to the front door to leave.  She is subdued when she visits my groomers on the times I have taken her in for a day of hanging out while Max and Malcolm get groomed and I work with Pi.  The difference at my groomers and hers is, my groomer has never done more than let me put her on the table to brush her coat or trim her nails if they need to be done.  No bath.  No blow dry.  No long clippings and trimmings.  My groomer is a location she gets nothing but treats, while her groomer is where she gets a bath, dried, clipped and trimmed without me or her family present.  She finds her groomers a scary place, not because they do anything bad to her by our standards, but they do groom her and she is not happy with how much care must go into her coat.  Poor baby makes me sad whenever I see her trying to leave and I must hand her leash over to her groomer and she's walked into the back room.  I wish she felt better about the place, but I know the people there take the best possible care of her they can.

It's been a long week, but one that have given me a lot to think about.  I have Chevy for another seven days and see I need to find a better way of building up Emma's confidence so she feels more secure in the home when she's with me.  Poor girl just doesn't do change well.

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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