Thursday, February 28, 2013

6 Months: Training - Day 48

Emma practices loose leash walking in The Big R.
Today Emma started a game of wrestling with Max while he was at the edge of the bed and she was on it.  She got excited, wiggling and flailing on the bed, bopping Max in the face with her feet and doing rolls on the bed as he engaged her and made the mistake of trying to include Attitude, who had been laying on the bed against my leg.  She spun, stuck her nose into Attitude's face and in less than a blink Attitude pounced on her head, snarled a "knock that off" command at her and then held her there for about two to five seconds.  Emma got the clue.  On the next round around the bed with Max she turned, saw where Attitude was and quickly changed direction away from her.  I doubt she'll remember the lesson for long though; she just adores the adult dogs and really wants that tiny "puppy" to play with her - even though the "puppy" is ten years old and surly.

Today's Lesson:


Target

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Target.  I worked with Emma in the kitchen today to clarify her learning to shut a cabinet door.  If you watch the video you'll see the first time she shuts the door her ears pop a bit and she leans back a little.  This was a "oh, that might be scary" reaction and I gave her extra treats to change her mind and make it fun.  It worked, she wasn't worried about the sound after that.

I will continue to work on this lesson and fine tune it until she's bold and confident when she shuts the cabinet door.  If you note, Max moved in and shut the door with the side of his head.  He's comfortable with this task and wanted me to know he knew what I was asking.  Once Emma shows that level of confidence in the lesson, instead of repeatedly asking me if putting her nose on the door and pushing it is what I want, I will take her to Home Depot and work the lesson again there.  With time and practice she'll be able to close any cabinet door I ask without hesitation.

Emma has technically passed this level, but not to the fluency I desire.  We will continue to work on this lesson until she's fluent.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  Emma is learning to walk and stop with me and keep her position in the zone while keeping her leash loose.  Tonight I wanted to explain what the Zone was to her.  The Zone is with her head anywhere from beside my knee to slightly behind or slightly before it, but no dragging behind me and not leading the way unto the charge.  I decided to do the same lesson I did with Max in the morning and clicking whenever she was close to me and beside me and treating her for position.

Emma was confused at first, but soon started to get the idea.  Since she doesn't have the concept of where I want her when she's walking with me, and having her choose to be in the right spot without a lead will help her better understand this concept, we'll continue with this type of training in the house and slowly build up to her doing it outside in the yard when the weather is finally nice enough.

Emma is about ready to progress to the next step on this lesson.

Sit

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Sit.  Emma is working on distance with the Sit cue.  Since she had so much problem with my moving around her in a circle while she sat I have waited on this step until she could handle my moving in any direction away from her without her breaking her sit or changing her position to face me.  Tonight she did a fantastic job of it and allowed me to walk around her in both directions.  I was also able to walk five feet away from her from the front, back and both sides.  Emma has passed this step and can now work on the next step.

Observations


videoMs. I Don't Have To Be Polite When Mom Isn't Looking got herself tethered again when I went into the office today.  She decided to jump on the chair and rile up Dieter.  I believe it's time to start Leading the Dance with her when she's not activity training.  She's clearly testing boundaries and needs a clarification on human acceptable behaviors in the home.

I have another dog evaluation tonight, but hope to get in more training sessions with her today than I have for the past couple of days.  I would like to start working on Sit and Down again and build up both Duration and Distance with her.  She's old enough and capable enough now for the harder lessons that she faltered out on a month ago and I believe it's time to build up a solid set of behaviors that will allow her to explore more locations for her public access training.

Tomorrow I'll take her to Home Depot for her lessons on Public Access and work on Sit, Down, Lazy Leash and Zen while in the store.  Once her Lazy Leash has advanced I will begin to teach her how to make a smaller foot print in public while working by staying closer to me and pivoting with me when turning.  Please note the video attached to Observations which shows Max working on the same concept today.

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6 Months: Training - Day 47

Emma and Attitude in my recliner.
There is nothing light a fuzzy Labradoodle beard stuffed into your eyeball to start your day.  At 6:30 AM Emma stuffed her nose into my eyeball and promptly began wiggling all over me to wake me up - a clear sign she needed to go out.  I didn't disappoint her.

It's Wednesday and I had two evaluations of dogs at The Ruff House in the afternoon and four hungry dogs and one hungry cat to deal with.  I quickly showered and then went about getting the animals cared for.

Emma was in great spirits.  She was running through the house charging the Dachshunds and cat, bouncing off of me and Max and generally causing puppy chaos in our home.  Mornings in my home are not quiet.

Her morning lesson went extremely well with her starting Target training on the board and moving to the cabinet in the kitchen on her second session.  She was bold and ready to learn and was fine with the entire adventure until she pushed the cabinet door shut in the kitchen and it made a sharp bang.  She flinched, but didn't retreat.  I gave her lots of treats and praise and smiled at her.  Though she only shut the door a couple of times, each time it banged she flinched.  Clearly I need to work on that.

When it came time to leave for my evaluations I went through my "I'm leaving routine" and tied off cabinets and closed doors and picked up items I didn't want chewed.  Emma was ready this time when I opened the door and shot out like a black bullet.  It took a bit, but I caught her up and started to leave.  I wasn't half a block away when I realized I'd left my purse in the house.

As I came up the ramp I heard the chorus from in the house.  Emma, Attitude and Dieter were howling!  I laughed and walked in, picked up my purse and left. I think they were all so stunned I'd walked back in that they completely forgot to howl as I left.

My appointments went longer than expected with the second person not leaving for over half an hour after our appointment was done due to her transport running late.  I worked with her dog, a very excitable BC mix while we waited.  I was becoming concerned, since this was the longest I'd left Ms. Emma alone in the house and wasn't sure what I would return too.

What I returned to, almost 4 1/2 hours later, was three happy and calm dogs.  Emma was the only one who didn't leave me a suprise on the floor.  Attitude had peed in the middle of my floor and Dieter had marked my Glide Rocker.  Its a good thing I love dogs.

Since I was running so late, I skipped training with her lunch and just fed it to her.  It was 4 PM on my return (I had left at 12:30 PM) and dinner in my home is normally around 6 PM.  I decided to delay dinner, but didn't want her belly so full at night she couldn't hold herself through the night.

We ended the night with training and cuddles.  I was too tired, after all I had done for the day, to do this blog post, but thankfully, today I can catch up on the posts and update you all on how she's doing.

Today's Lessons:

Target

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Target.  As stated before we are working on her closing a cabinet door.  I worked with the training board again and could see even more control when pushing the door shut and she was now consistent in shutting it on the first push.  I worked half her breakfast on this behavior with the board and then took her into the kitchen.

I placed a strip of orange tape on the door I was training her on and clicked her for touching the tape while the door was still shut.  After several times of this, I opened the door slightly and had her target the door again.  In the end, she pushed the door shut twice.  Each time it banged she flinched, but she didn't run away or stop working for her food.

Later in the day, while she was laying by my recliner, I opened and shut the door with a bang several times and praised her for just laying there and watching me.  I'll start doing more of that with her to help her understand where sounds are coming from and that they won't hurt her.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In this step Emma is to keep the leash loose for a few seconds while we stand and then take a few steps with me with the leash loose.  We worked in the house for this lesson.  Emma is a master of the loose leash in the house, so I also focused on her staying to one side of me and not crossing behind me or in front of me.

She did extremely well and I'll need to take this lesson outside and work on it to improve her loose leash walking.

I have noted her owner carries her when she brings her to my house.  She will carry her into my home or out to the car when she picks her up.  I don't know if she does this all the time, but it is important that Emma not be carried everywhere.  If they can't work on keeping her on a loose leash due to time constraints, then put her on her harness and walk her, otherwise, ensure she's walking loose lead and on one side of them (I am teaching left side) when walking on a leash.  She can't improve on this skill if she is not practicing it.

Observations


Where did this wild dog come from and where is the quiet and polite Emma I remember? She's racing through the house and finding something, anything, she can to get into.  She discovered my Spider plant tastes good (thanks Victoria for showing her that) and that if she put he paw on Max's face it starts a wrestling game.  She's discovered she can get into my lap and have her muzzle in my eyeballs in two seconds flat and she's discovered she can get a lot of interaction out of the Dachshunds if she pounces on them.  Who is this dog and where did she come from?

Truth is, I have been expecting this.  Busy Emma is being a teenager and many owners find themselves at this age wondering what happened to the sweet, quiet puppy they had.  It happens to parents too.  As the infant becomes the toddler and moves to childhood, pre-teen and finally surly teen they begin to wonder who the stranger in their house is.  For humans this question is asked for years; for us puppy raisers only a few months.  The puppy has stopped being a puppy.  Emma is a teenager and rearing to go and smoke cigarettes and drink beer.  Lord help us all!

She's truly fascinated by the cat and anything outside of the yard.  She's noticing sounds for the first time and reacting to them.  A commercial on the TV has a door bell in it and she barks like a mad woman whenever she hears it.  My dogs, who never react to that sound, come out of their naps barking in support, but clear confusion as to why she started.  Any sight of a human, cat or leaf outside of the yard sends her into non-stop barking fits outside.

I didn't realize that today was late start day for the schools and when I let them out at 9:20 AM the children were lined up like pins on the other side of the street.  Emma lost her head and began to bark, which sent the entire crew into barking fits.  I called my dogs, who stopped and returned, but had to go and get Emma to stop her barking.

She's also hit the "I don't wanna come in" stage in life.  She was racing nicely for the front door up the ramp, made a sharp left and zoomed over my dirt pile and away into the darkness the night before.  I couldn't help it, I laughed.  A few minutes later, realizing she was alone in the dark, she came to the door, but she clearly told me she wasn't going to comply this time when I called all the dogs in.

And she's chewing - a lot.  She's shredding toys and eating leashes.  She chewed threw a $40 dollar leash in the 10 to 20 second intervals I looked away from her while tethered in the office.  I would look at her and she'd be happily chewing on a bone and glance away and look back and she'd be chewing on the bone again.  When she stood I could see the destruction she'd done to the leash during the times I had glanced away - I can't safely use it for a dog weighing more than the 22.2 pounds she weighs now.  Looks like I'll need to replace my tether leash shortly.

This stage of life will last until she's almost 2 years of age. It's the "I can't wait for you to become a dog" stage of life I have faced with each and every pup I have raised from infancy.  Welcome to destroyed personal items and strange comments, such as "get off the Dachshund!" and "spit out that plant!" stage of life.

I would recommend not leaving anything you don't want her to eat on the floor at this point.  She's eaten more plant matter (the cat shreds, she eats) in my house in the past two days that I thought possible.  I think my most common question of her this week has been, "Now what are you eating?"

I love dogs, honestly, I do!

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6 Months: Training - Day 46


The training board Redd put together for training the dogs.
A light switch and a board on hinges helps me to work on
two key service dog skills.  The board will continue to grow
and change as I work on training Emma her basic service dog
skills.
Emma is sleeping through the night now that she's not in a crate.  She prefers to be close to her humans, though she can handle my being on the other side of a gate or away from the house. The crate simply had become a jail for her and removing her from it at night and gating her into my room has resolved my training issues with crates.  I will pick up crate training once again when we reach that point in the Levels.

She's full of energy and testing her boundaries with me and the other animals in the house.  She's begun to bound onto Dieter and poke her nose in his face when he's sleeping, thus causing him to growl and tell her to knock it off.  She rarely listens at this point in her emotional growth, so I spend a lot of my day telling her to leave him be and redirecting her.  She will also try to start play with Attitude or stand over here in a "tell me no if you dare" stance.  Attitude has, on more than one occasion told her to knock it off, yet again she's not listening and so my day is spent telling her to get off the Dachshund, be it Dieter or Attitude.  She's also decided to charge the cat and harass her whenever she can; again I am spending my day telling her to leave the cat alone.  Welcome to teenage dog mode!

With this new level of activity has come a new level of destruction on her toys.  I am used to having dogs who chew on, but don't rip and tear their stuffed toys.  Emma loves to rip and tear the stuffed toys.  If she isn't doing that she's chewing on a single point on the toy and removing eyes, noses or limbs from the stuffed toys.  I have put up the stuffed toys as a result, since Max loves to just chew on them and then give them to me so I can toss them to him.  These are his toys and I don't believe it's fair she destroy his playthings.

I bought toys she's allowed to chew and destroy to her hearts content.  I have a friend, Ronda, whose Dachshund DJ enjoys the same type of toy destruction that Emma does.  I bought for her a toy she was allowed to destroy, thus not destroying Max's toys.  Emma has found that toy, found the canvas interior and has pulled it out and chewed and eaten most of it.   It looks like I'll need to go to Petsmart or Walmart on payday and pick up some cheep toys for Emma to destroy.

She's also grown comfortable with the game of tug.  I have been working with her for about a month to teach this game as an interactive game she can do with her owners and finally see her understand the concept of pulling and tugging on the toy.  I bought a stuffless toy for her to tug with and bring it out for one-on-one play.  Max also has learned to enjoy tug and tends to try to join us, so I am using myself as a bridge to teach him he can enjoy a game of tug with the puppy.  It's slow going, but they are starting to tug on the toy with me as a team - I may have one arm longer than the other before this is done.

Now that she's moved into the "what are you doing now" stage of life, I am considering putting her back into Leading the Dance here at my home to prevent her from learning bad habits and improve her focus on the humans in her life.  She enjoys her playtime, but lately it's been more inappropriate play, such as bullying the Dachshunds or chasing the cat, and I want to teach her proper play and in home behavior so she's welcome anywhere she goes once she's grown.  If she continues with this wild child behavior, I will start tethering her when I work in the office (her prime time to annoy the other animals in the house) and if that doesn't resolve some of this, will tether her to me.

Today's Lessons:


Target

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Target.  In this step Emma is asked to shut a cabinet door with her nose.  Today we worked again with the training board and for the first time Emma started touching the board with enough control and force to repeatedly shut the "door" on the board.  I have not attached a cue yet, but am pleased with the progression of her targeting behavior.  Tomorrow I will work on a cabinet door in the kitchen again and retrain her the basic behavior for shutting a cabinet door.

Emma now understands that the sound of the door hitting the main board is her click and when she doesn't hear it will push the door a second time and make the sound.  I removed the clicker from the equation because I want her to recognize for herself when she's shut the door.  Once she got the concept she began to, with control, push the door shut and ensure she got the sound of it hitting the main board.

She did test to see if just brushing her nose against the board or pushing it lightly would get her a reward.  Since I had several repeated successes in a row, I withheld the treat until she pushed the door all the way shut.  Emma has learned the goal of the lesson, but has not generalized it yet.

Eventually this will turn into her shutting doors for her handler when he needs her to do so.  It will also, eventually morph into other skills, such as turning on/off lights, pushing his feet or arms onto his chair and more.

Prep Class

It's hard to believe it's been four weeks since we started prep class.  Emma was one of the oldest in the class and entered it with her shy, distracted and wild five month old behaviors.  I was dealing with the beginning of teenage Emma and the height of her teething.  Though she's still bringing in teeth, she is not any longer bringing them in at the rate she was at five months of age.  She was disconnected from training, unable to sit still and I was exhausted and looked like I had never worked with her.  The difference in four weeks of class was amazing.

The other puppies in the class were in the compliant four month stage - the age where they want to do whatever you ask and can bring their focus back to their handler quickly.  Breed makes a difference in the behavior of each puppy as they move through their growth spurts.  Two of the puppies were Terriers (I believe both were Rough Coated Rat Terriers) and at very different ages and energy levels. The brown and white boy was 100% go and 0% pay attention.  The cream and white girl was calmer and more reserved, but a "hi how are ya" glance sent her into spasms of pure joy and she could in a heart beat wind up and become a whirling dervish.  The silver and grey Silky Terrier was between the two Rat Terriers in energy and focus.  The Golden Retriever puppy was almost asleep 90% of the time; a very mellow four month old who perfectly understood the concept of staying on his mat and putting his head down and waiting for direction.  Emma's cousin walked in fully focused on her owner the first day and ready and willing to do whatever she wanted; Emma was bounding around on the end of the leash, bounding on me, chewing on my hands, not taking food, not wanting to play my games - she looked like she walked into Prep with zero training that first day.

The last day was so different.  The trials and tribulations I had already gone through I heard every other owner in the room mention.  Stealing food, toys, clothes and other items in the house and racing about like wild animals.  Not wanting to work for food.  Not wanting to play in their Reindeer Games.  The brown and white Terrier, close to Emma's age, was at the "I may play if you have something interesting to do" stage she was in 2 weeks ago.  The cream and white Terrier was at the "I am deaf and can't hear you when you are 2 feet away from me" stage she was at 4 weeks ago.  The Golden was starting to get into trouble and not wanting to work for his food.  The Silky Terrier was ready and willing to work (he's slightly older than Emma, but just starting his training) and is actually at the stage she was in 2 months ago.  Emma's cousin was in the stage she was 4 weeks ago and I had to laugh, recognizing the same behaviors I worked through on that first day of class and seeing the same worn and exasperated expression on her owners face I must of had.

So, with all of that in mind, I was more than pleased that Emma not only parked on her mat, but started to put her chin down.  That she wasn't as pushy by bopping my hand and reminding me there was a puppy at her feet starving to death while I clicked for calm.  She was willing to work on loose lead walking and any other behavior we did in class.  She showed I was training her and she's coming along nicely.

She will skip a month before taking her next class, which will be Finishing School.  I think a break from classes will be good for both of us.  I am proud of her ability to pull herself together and focus and her ability to work in a group of loud and excited dogs and keep her head.  Good girl.

Observations


Emma is starting to understand loose leash walking.  She still goes past me (out of the zone) but is keeping the leash loose more than tight now.  She is starting to understand that she is to stay at my side and not become a ping pong on the leash or switch sides as we walk.  It is time to speed up her loose leash walking so when we start our next class she'll be ready for any outside training we do without tripping me.

She is a bit sound sensitive, so I am working slowly on introducing new sounds with lots of rewards and helping her  understand that sounds won't hurt her.  It will take time, but is a needed level of socialization.  I also need to introduce  more children and hats and other strange things to her world so she has a solid demeanor when in public.

It is time to up her public access outings and increase their time.  She's old enough now to learn how to work for more than 5 or 10 minutes in a building and once her loose leash walking is spot on, we'll start working on different locations.  This week I hope to take her to a loading bay at a grocery store and work on basic behaviors with her.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

6 Months: Training - Day 45

Soon Emma will be doing this for her owner.
On Saturday, when Emma's owner picked her up, I mentioned to them that I had stopped putting Emma in her kennel at night in my home.  After several nights of being woken at 3 AM by a puppy wanting attention, I decided to give her a shot at a "bigger" kennel, which was my bedroom itself.  I gated my room for the last two nights of the week and kept her in my bed with me.  She did fantastic and I felt more rested for not being woken several times in the wee hours of the morning.

I made the suggestion they gate their son's room and have her sleep with him.  Eventually, her job will be to provide pressure therapy when he's having spasms or simply to calm him when he's having a rough night, so starting now when she's proven she can hold herself during the night is a good thing.  I suggested the pick up anything they don't want her to turn into a toy, such as shoes and clothing, and gate the room to prevent her from roaming the house at night when unattended.

Her owner reported to me that both nights sleeping in his room went extremely well.  They gated her in and she settled right in and slept until early morning.  She said Emma woke her by scratching on the gate at 6:30 AM this morning because she needed to go out and then cuddled with her a bit on the couch when she came in; but the overall report was Emma was clearly able to sleep in their son's room and that it had made him very happy to have her there in his bed with him.

I also asked they not bring her crate back here for now.  I am not using it and have other crates I can crate train her too and when they work on crate training at their home they can use the one they bought for her.  So, this morning I received just Emma when she came in the door.

She was clearly glad to be back and bounding with energy.  She waited at the gate, which I placed across the my door to keep her OUT of my bedroom while I shower (and away from the uncleaned cat box) with her nose against Max's (he was in the bedroom looking out the gate) when I came out.

Today we worked on some service task related skills.  She was ready and willing to work with the big bad board I had created for teaching light switches and closing doors.  I had tried to use it before, but it scared her, so I waited for her to come out of her fear period to work with it again.  She was curious about it, but not frightened.  We made some wonderful headway toward service skills today.

Today's Lessons:

Target

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 5 Target.  In this step Emma is to shut a cabinet door with her nose. I tested her focus on targeting a bit of tape on the wall, which she was now doing without hesitation.  I then placed some tape on my "door" on my board and moved to the chair to work on her targeting it, and opened the "door" slightly so she could get the idea she could push it shut.  She is still using a very gentle nose touch on the door, but was targeting it and starting to move the door every so often.

She also noticed the light switch and would touch it with her nose as well.  I took breaks in her morning lessons and worked the board with Max, but had him working on the light switch.  Emma watched closely and would later tell me she figured out what Max was doing.

During her evening meal she worked the board again.  This time she shut the door with her nose several times, but then lost interest in the door and became very focused on the switch.  For the last half of her meal I put an extender on the light switch and had her push upward with her nose on it and turn it on.  Though she's almost got the idea, she's not fully there to put a label on the action yet.  She did, more than once, very clearly choose to push the switch on.

I will continue to work on the board and teach her to use her nose for given tasks.

Observations

Emma has hit the bratty teenager stage!  I knew it was coming and I saw it today.  I called her into the house and she came flying toward me and at the last second veered to the left and shot off the ramp and disappeared into the darkness as fast as she could go.  It's the "on my own time" stage of life she's moved into and I am seeing a bit of it in the house too.  On her own time will she return when I call her name or do a sit or a down.  We'll survive, but it's the harder stage of life with a puppy we've moved into - it's the stage I generally ask people if they would like a puppy for a while - jokenly - because I find most of my day is spent telling the puppy "don't stand on that Dachshund" or "stop poking the cat with your nose" or "get off of that German Shepherd".

And she's doing all of that too.  She's standing over the top of Attitude to see if Attitude will tell her to knock it off.  She's charging Dieter and pouncing on him or standing over him too.  She's walking up to Max and putting her feet on his ribs or batting him in the face with her paws.  She's charging the cat, bopping it with her feet or nose and then racing off.  She's also doing the same to me.

Welcome to "too much energy for her own good" stage of life.  At least she's not fleeing and hiding behind everything.

I brought out my small vacuum today and she slunk away and hid on my bed until I was finished with the floors.  Looks like it's time to make the vacuum and the evil noises it makes, into something not so scary.

Looking forward to tomorrow's lessons and class!

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23 Weeks: Training - Day 44

Playful Emma.
Emma ended up spending an extra day with me this week.  Her owner called and asked if I couldn't keep her till late Saturday so they could attend the funeral and reception afterwards without worrying about her being left alone at home all day.  I agreed and told them I would be heading out of town for the day for an event I had planned with Max.

We started our day early and I decided against trying to stuff training her into an already busy morning. I fed her and the other dogs out of their bowls and then packed her and Max up and went to Ronda's house to pick her up for our fun filled day.

Ronda has four dogs and four cats.  Most of the cats are not seen, but Raider, her grey Russian Blue cat is almost always in the middle of the dogs.  When we arrived Emma was curious and excited and completely unaware the house would spill out dogs the moment the door opened.

Sheba, Chatzee and Deva all spilled out of the door and came to a stop and began exploring the new dog in their yard.  Each were gentle with her, but Emma was lost in the midst of three very large dogs (two German Shepherds and a Rott mix).  From within the house I heard the Drama Queen, DJ, screaming her head off that the evil puppy was in her yard.  If you remember, Deva and DJ have already met Emma and DJ was certain Emma was going to burn her fur off every time Emma got close to her.

After a nerve racking (according to Emma) 20 seconds the crowd broke up and went about their outside business while I brought Emma into the house with Max.  The previously tail tucked and slightly shy Emma was now bold and curious again.  We chatted for a bit as the girls (all of Ronda's dogs are female) came in and did a brief hello to Emma and went to their spots to lay down.

It was at this point that Emma decided maybe she could check them out and went off to say hi to them.  She found Raider and quickly backed up and decided to sniff her only when Raider was not looking at her.  Raider, on the other hand, could care less Emma was present.  Raider is a perfect cat for introducing to dogs.

After a few minutes Ronda, Emma, Max and I packed up and we headed to Hunter Vet Clinic to get Attitude's meds (did I say my morning was busy?  It wasn't even 9 AM yet!) and spent a few minutes waiting for them to open.  Emma was in Ronda's care while I worked with Max (he was in work mode at this point) and she and I took the dogs to the side of the building to let them relieve themselves.  Max did, but Emma was too busy play bowing and getting the rips on her lead to do any potty business.

Inside the building Ronda kept control of her while I weighed Max (79.0 pounds) and then she took Max's lead while I weighed Emma (22.2 pounds).  Max was more worried about my leaving him than Emma.  Emma was returned to Ronda while I paid for Attitude's meds.  Ronda said she was sitting pretty before her, looked over and saw Max was laying down and followed suit, putting her chin down between her paws.  Good girl.

We then headed for breakfast at a restaurant on Market and Frances.  Since Emma is not a trained service dog and has not learned how to lay quietly under a table for a full meal yet, she was left in the van while Max, Ronda and I went in.  She was calm and in a good mood when we returned from hour meal about an hour later.  Ronda took her out to potty, which she did and then we headed off to our destination in Suncrest.

Haute Paws Grooming had offered kindly to show me how to groom Max in a way that kept him from being a hair monster all the time when we were out.  We arrived early and Emma and Max curled up at my feet and waited for our appointment.  When Ralph came out to say hi to us, Emma stood and barked.  He was a new man, wearing a hat and had facial hair.  He was patient as Emma barked and Max followed suit (apparently Max decided that he had to back her up on this trip).  Once they got over there brief bark session he fed them treats and played with them a bit.

We stayed there for four hours.  Emma was monitored by Ronda and did a fantastic job of being polite and well mannered the entire time.  She ate her lunch out of her silver bowl without complaint and when given a chance to be off lead and explore was a perfect lady.  She even got her feet cleaned up (shaved) and her potty areas cleaned up.  Thanks Sandi!

After that we left and visited a friend of Ronda's for a bit.  Emma explored the house and played and had a great time.

She impressed everyone.  Ralph and Sandi said they were used to six month old puppies who can't sit still and couldn't believe how well mannered and contained Emma was.  The friend of Ronda's was pleased with her goofy and friendly behaviors.  She had a great "day out" experience and was ready for some serious play when we returned to my house.

It was a great "out and about" day.




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Friday, February 22, 2013

23 Weeks: Training - Day 43

Emma, 23 weeks, playing with me.
Once again my day started at 7:30 AM with Emma waking me.  Instead of the flash mugging, like I got yesterday, today I got a gentle nuzzle on my nose which woke me.  She didn't go into spasms of excitement or pin me to the bed either, but instead jumped up and ran for the gate at the door and waited for me to let her and the other dogs out.  Once in we returned to my bed with Cup O' Joe in toe and settled in to watch some morning news - since I had spotted the white stuff falling from the sky.

I was about to get their training done and then take my shower when my oldest son Wayne called and asked if I would be home for a bit.  He arrived in the middle of training Emma, who had been working on Sit.  I gave up on morning training, which later turned out a good thing when my Mom arrived and visited for a bit also.  All told, Emma had an exciting morning by ending her morning training session by eating out of her crate while a visitor was present and learning again she needed to keep her feet on the floor if she wanted attention.

At Noon I packed her up with her new Service Dog In Training placard on her back and headed off for our field trip.  I left Max at home, alone, with the Dachshunds.  I was told on my return that was rude by his clearly ignoring me once I came into the house.  The great thing is, Max was okay after 50 minutes of being left alone in the house and hadn't torn anything up or damaged any part of my house.

When I trained Max I didn't train him to be alone - a skill I think all dogs, working or not, should have.  I have been working on training Emma to be alone by leaving her behind when Max and I go out for a quick errand.  As long as I know I won't be more than 1 hour or 2 at the outside, I don't arrange for a babysitter for her any longer.  If I am gone longer, I arrange for my son Walter to stay with her and keep her calm.  She can and does stay alone while I am away without having a meltdown.  She's been, this week, staying alone in the house up to 30 minutes at a time, out of her crate.

I ensure there is nothing she shouldn't get into available to her.  My bedroom, the front office and bathroom and the garbage under the counter are all closed off to dogs.  The garbage by my chair is boring with no smelly wrappers or food stuffs in it and the only things left on the floor are toys she's allowed to play with and are safe for he to have when she's alone.  She has Attitude and Dieter to keep her company at this time, though over time she will learn to be an only dog with no-one in the house.  What she knows is, if I got out of the house without her I will return to her eventually.

Max, who developed destructive separation anxiety, has been an ongoing project in teaching him to let me leave.  At first I couldn't leave the house without him slamming his body against the door or breaking windows.  Now I can leave up to an hour before he's thinking I am dead and won't return.  I am hoping by the time Emma and later his successor is trained, he can spend the day alone without panic.

Until then, if I am gone longer than an hour I arrange a babysitter for Max and will continue until he's able to spend longer periods of time between my exiting the door and the babysitter entering without panic.

But having learned the lesson of teaching your dog to be okay when he's alone the hard way, I am starting at the beginning with Emma and teaching her now before any separation anxiety sets in.  Today was Max's turn to watch me leave and Emma's turn to go with me.  There have been times when both go and I leave one or the other behind in the car, again teaching them both how to be calm when I am absent in a new location.  I find though, for both, being left in the car seems to be less stressful than at home.  Not sure why, but it is.  Right now the weather is perfect for short stays in the car when I am gone, but soon that won't be an option when the car will be too hot for their safety.

Today, Emma enjoyed playing with my son and mother and an exciting outing to a new location for her. Though she's been to the front of the Big R, she's never been in the store.  She was warmly welcomed and did a fantastic job on her field trip.  I have a short video of us working in one of the aisles I placed with the full write up below.

Emma is going home for the weekend again.  I know her owners won't have the time or energy to train her this weekend and I want to reassure them that is okay.  She can just be a cuddle bug at their home and relax with them as they deal with the stress of their loss.  I am providing a can of the moist food I normally mix into her dry kibble when I want to raise it's value for training so she'll eat for them.  They said they had a hard time getting her to eat last weekend and I suspect a spoonful of moist mixed into her meals will help this weekend.

I look forward to next weeks training.

Update:  Emma was supposed to go home today, but her owners schedule does not permit it with everything that is happening in their home tomorrow.  I will keep her until tomorrow night and then she'll return for Sunday with the family and back to me on Monday.  A third training session today and another day of lessons will be posted as a result.  Sorry for the early release on this blog post - I had thought my day was done when I posted it, but I jumped the gun.

Emma will continue to work on Level 2: Step 2 of Sit and finish her meals in her crate to re-enforce positive feelings with her crate.  More to come tomorrow!

Today's Lessons:


Sit

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Sit.  In this step she is to stay in  a sit while I walk five feet away from her.  In the Come Afters she is to remain in a Sit while I walk five feet to her left and five feet to her right.  This morning I placed her in a sit and started lifting a leg or waving an arm to build up her tolerance and success when dealing with distractions while performing a sit.  She did well, but gets a bit shy when I lift my leg.  Over time her shyness about my leg lifting receeded and she got into the lesson.

As I started moving on step to the right or left or one step back she would slide into a down and I would have to recue her to a sit.  She has become comfortable using a down for duration and now finds it hard to remain in a sit if she thinks she's been parked somewhere for a while.  It will take slow and gentle reminders to convince her that the lesson is to remain in a sit while I move away from her.  Emma is doing well with this lesson and today I was able to get up to 2 feet away from her by either backing up or turning and walking away before our training was disrupted.

Emma will continue to work this step until she knows it in her bones.

Lazy Leash

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash.  In this step she is to take 2 to 5 steps beside me with a loose leash and then pause for up to five seconds without putting tension on the leash.  Emma is easily distracted due to her age and lack of experience and tends to wander to the end of the leash at this time. We will continue to work on this step until Emma can easily do it in a location with mid level distractions.

Field Trip


Emma 23 weeks Loose Leash Walking
Emma went to the Big R today with me.  I mixed moist food with her dry food and some cut up hot dogs and Howie's Meat Roll and Natures Balance Meat Roll in her pouch.  She rode to the location without fuss or moving around the car.  Emma is very comfortable riding in a car now.

At the location she waited for me to take her leash and release her from the car before exiting and stayed by my side without unduly pulling on the leash.  She walked mostly loose lead into the store.  She tended to pull forward and put pressure on her collar, so I would stop and back up until she looked at me.  We only needed to do this twice between the car and the store.

Once in the store she was curious, but not frightened.  Her head and tail were in good positions and her ears were forward, but not showing signs of stress.  She walked with a bounce that made the clerks laugh and smile at her.

We walked around to the dog toy aisle with only a few stops and back ups to reset her position.  She was taking food without hesitation and was curious about everything she saw.  Carts, PA systems noises and the sounds from other aisle didn't frighten her.

In the aisle we worked a bit on LLW (Loose Leash Walking).  At first she wanted to sniff everything, but once rewarded for looking back to me and not sniffing her nose was curbed and she focused on our lesson as best she could.

Once we finished our filming we took the camera back to the car and returned to work on walking around the store.  She greeted a couple of clerks and was curious about everything.  The sound of a train passing outside did not frighten her nor did the loud crash of a cart near us.  She was curious and a bit worried about loud thumps from the shoe section, but quickly recovered.

When we got to the live chicks section she saw a boy between the ages of 5 and 7 and didn't bark.  I was completely pleased by her not barking.  She was worried and a bit skittish as the boy yelled and bounced around, but took food the entire time we watched him from a distance.

The only problem I see is her need to go to and put her nose on everyone she passes.  She nose touched a lot of pant legs as we went or would go to sniff a passing person or a person we were passing.  I will have to work on redirecting her from such behavior on our next visit.

She grew highly distracted and tired by the end, so I will need to shorten our next visit to 30 minutes instead of 40 and leave before she's too tired and too full to want to focus on what we are doing.



Observations


Emma is technically six months old and a new age of maturity is showing.  She can do longer outings and handle new distractions with a level of calm curiosity that she couldn't even two weeks ago.  Where the loud noises or sight of children would have been too much for her two weeks ago, today she was happy and curious about her entire adventure when doing her public access work.

I suspect by the end of next month she'll be ready for her first restaurant visit, which will be a Zips or McDonald's where she'll enter with me and then leave.  The second will be to buy a coke and leave and we'll slowly work up to eating in the restaurant by the time she's eight months old.

She's also ready for working known behaviors in parking lots and other higher distraction areas - which I will start doing as the weather warms.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

23 Weeks - Training - Day 42

Emma hides behind my recliner when I bring out the camera.
It's early morning and I have five animals stretched out on my bed.  Attitude is on the far side with the blankets pulled up to her shoulders.  Dieter has burrowed under the covers by my legs.  Max is fully stretched out at the foot of the bed.  Victoria is lounging at the foot of the bed glaring at me.  Emma is curled close to Attitude on one of my pillows.  Morning in the Bales household.  Occasionally, the blankets rise and move in a slow motion wave formation as Dieter shifts his position, but otherwise, the house is quiet and I am able to enjoy a morning cup of coffee while my early morning migraine fades.

This morning started at 7:30 AM with Emma suddenly mugging my face and flopping all over me.  I laughed at her and tried to sit up, which caused a spasm of excitement from her and she threw her whole weight on my ribs and draped over me, which effectively prevented me from getting up.  The moment I stopped trying to get up she would go back into the "time to get up" mugging of my face and we'd rinse and repeat the process of trying to get up from the bed.  I finally had to tell her she needed to let me get up if she wanted me to let her out.

She was quiet and playful all the way to the door and once back in the house raced back to my bed and curled against my ribs.  When she was out I checked the bedroom.  No messes, no torn up slippers or shoes and nothing indicating she gotten bored in the night and found trouble.  We also didn't have the 3 AM whine or the every 30 minute sleep timer whine trying to wake me from the pre-dawn until I couldn't take another whining session from the crate.

I believe we can spend the rest of the week with her gated in my room at night to prevent her seeking and finding trouble while I sleep, but she's showing signs she's ready to sleep through the night without being crated.  I am not surprised actually.  She's never had an accident in her crate while here and the only two times she's had an accident in my house was the human's fault, not hers.  The first time was my missing her telling me she needed out the first week she stayed with us and the second was yesterday when Walter said he tried to get a down out of her before letting her out and she simply couldn't hold herself anymore and urinated instead.  We both agree, those two incidents were our fault and not hers and thus, I feel she's pretty reliably housebroken at this time.

When I crated Gypsy at night to housebreak her she was Emma's age when I stopped placing her in her crate and just sat up with her for a few nights to ensure she was able to control her bladder and bowels.  Emma is at that stage in development where she no longer needs the crate to keep her from making a mess in the house.  This is fantastic.

This change in how the crate is being used here means I can now take the time to actually train her to enjoy the crate before needing to ever shut the door on her again.  It means I can move it out of my room and into another room where she has all day access to it and can explore and play with it and decide for herself to nap in it if she desires.  It means I can take crate training at a pace that lets her realign her association with it and begin to see it as a safe haven before we take classes where being in a crate when not working on in class lessons is a requirement.

It also means I'll have 20 pounds of very warm and wiggly Labradoodle curled against my spine and on my blanket at night as I fall asleep.  I had to convince her last night that I was permitted to have blankets also and they could indeed be pulled over my shoulders without her weighing them down and/or stealing them.

Let the fun begin!

Today's Lessons:


Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 Go To Mat.  In this step Emma is to go 2 feet to her mat and lay on it.  She's got the understanding that the mat is the goal and to sit or lay on it is the goal, but she's not fully understood that she can get her reward when I am not close to the mat.  Today I decided to place the mat before her crate and work on it while it was about two feet from the crate.  I also two a couple of steps from the mat when she showed she knew we were playing the mat game.  The video I am including with this post shows she's getting the idea, but at first still thought the game was to lay before me, mat or not.

I then moved her mat to in front of her crate and re-enforced that working with the mat was the goal.  She started to test me by placing her foot on the mat or touching it with her nose.  Since she's still asking if the mat is the goal I am clicking these behaviors a few times and then holding out for more after a few clicks.  If she stalls when I hold out for more, I just back up and re-explain to her that the mat is the goal and her touching it is what I want.

Emma is starting to show signs she understands she can go to the mat when I am not near it.

Crate

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 1 Crate.  In this step Emma is asked to enter the crate without being lured.  I have decided to shape this behavior and have started with her just looking at or being close to entering the crate at this time.  Emma is starting to understand that the crate is the goal and she can get rewards for interacting with the crate.

Tonight for her dinner I just put the whole bowl of food in her crate, about half way in this time.  The past few times I've fed her in her crate she only needed to put her head in to get her food, but this time she needed to put past her shoulders in to get to her food.  Eventually I'll place her bowl into the back of her crate for her to eat (don't ask how I'll get it out).  One whole meal in her crate will, over time, build her confidence with the crate and attach strong positive feelings with it.

Observations


Emma is leery of cameras around my face and will hide when she sees them.  I want to be able to film her without causing her stress so the below video shows Emma and I working through the "big bad camera" this morning when I brought it out.




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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

23 Weeks: Training - Day 41

Emma is a cuddle bug and loves laying on her people.
Once again Emma began fussing at me around 3 AM.  I sat up and told her to hush it and promptly fell back asleep.  For the next two hours she fussed at me every 30 to 40 minutes.  It's not the "I have to pee" fuss, but instead the "hey, did you forget the puppy" fuss.

Once up, back in the house from relieving herself and a cup of coffee in my hands, we headed back into the bedroom for our cuddle time while I worked at waking up.  On Thursday, when her owner picked her up, she mentioned they could tell Emma expected a bit of morning cuddle before starting her day, because she would go out and return and curl up on the couch with a "hey, aren't you going to join me" look on her face.  Her owner mentioned she would be sending Emma in to cuddle with her daughter first thing in the morning and I didn't think too much of it at the time, but over the weekend the impact of that choice struck me.

Emma is being trained to be her son's service dog and if she sends Emma in to cuddle in the mornings with her daughter she'll loose valuable bonding time between the two.  I am doing the morning cuddle with Emma to help her learn to lay quiet and calm on a bed in the event she'll be staying with her handler in the hospital and as part of her job when he's home.  If she's not cuddling with him over the weekends, but someone else, she'll not settle with him when it comes time for her to do so.  I would prefer she was sent to her boy in the morning so she can lay with him and get in her cuddles that way - since she's his dog and that is a strong bonding time for both of them.

Today was a busy day for me, and thus, Emma didn't get the amount of training I had wanted in.  I had two back to back evaluations for service dog prospects to do and needed after that to get a repair done on Max's harness.  I had arranged for Walter to watch Emma and decided, at almost six months, she could stay for the short time between my leaving and his arriving out of her crate.

Walter reported to me that Emma was calm and sleeping in the chair when he arrived.  She was in great spirits and greeted him warmly and then went back to taking her nap.  It was a good start on her learning to be out of her crate when left alone in my home.  With the success she had today - not getting into things she shouldn't and not having any accidents, she will spend tonight for the first time sleeping out of her crate.  I have gated my bedroom off (thus turning my bedroom into a "larger" crate) and we'll see how she does overnight outside of her crate.

Today's Lessons:

Go To Mat

Emma is working on Level 2: Step 2 of Go To Mat.  Emma knows that the goal is to get on the mat and lay on it.  Though I had not clearly explained that "laying" on the mat was part of the lesson until class last night, she's already started offering that behavior.  I am now building distance by tossing her kibble away from the mat after I tell her "free dog" to release her.  She's quick to get her treat and return to her mat.  I am now telling her what the behavior is called.

Tomorrow I'll begin adding distance again by moving away from the mat by two steps.  She currently knows to go to her mat when I am both standing and sitting.  She does not know to go to the mat unless I am facing it.

Observations

What a difference in this little dog.  She's bold and focused - something I was just beginning to see emerge when she left last week.  In class yesterday someone made a loud noise behind her and though she jumped she didn't shut down afterwards.  Today she ate from her metal bowl - which is still a bit scary when it hisses on the floor while she's eating out of it - without a lot of fear reactions.  I will have to put her metal bowl on a mat to keep her from being frightened by it moving on the floor.

This evening I had planned on training her with her dinner, but was exhausted from my afternoon adventures.  Emma curled up in my lap while I watched Castle on TV and slept with me until it was dinner time.  I again mixed a spoonful of moist food into her dry and fed her with the adult dogs.  She ate her meal without hesitation, until the bowl started moving, and showed none of the fear signs she did in the previous two weeks.

I also took her outside and walked up and down the street a couple of times on lead.  She was bouncing and excited, but paying attention to the lead most of the time.  I want to work on finishing loose leash walking with her so we can continue our field trips in new locations.  Tomorrow I'll take her with the camera to Petsmart and film working on Go To Mat and Loose Leash Walking in a new location.

Yesterday in class a girl, around the age of 8, came in while I was looking for a tug toy in the store section of the training facility.  She again barked and was a bit spooky about the girl.  I believe it's time to work with her and children again, now that we are past her fear period, and build good associations with children.

She's about to end her Prep class next week and I'll sign her up for Finishing School for her next class.  These classes have helped her focus and mature as a young dog and I feel continuing them with her will be in her best interest.

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23 Weeks: Training - Day 40

Emma is learning to relax when I work on the computer.
This is Tuesday's blog post.  I am running behind due to a busy week myself.  We left off last week with Emma going home to her owner's on Thursday and spending the weekend there.  They decided on Friday morning they wanted her to stay for the holiday on Monday and so she didn't return to me until Tuesday.

Over the weekend I learned that the family suffered the loss of a loved one.  I am truly sorry for their loss and hope they find the support they need for recovery.  As a result, Emma's owner's schedule was seriously disrupted and she received no training over the weekend.  I truly understand this (read Day 5 of Emma's training blog and you'll see much the same happened when I suffered the loss of a long time friend).  I woke early on Tuesday, expecting Emma to arrive at her normal time and not taking into account that they may not be running on any schedule at all.  Her owner called me around the time she would normally drop off Emma and informed me that she wasn't ready to start her day yet - I understood completely.  The result was, Emma didn't arrive at my home until between Noon and 1 PM.

They mentioned that Emma didn't eat well over the weekend.  I wasn't truly surprised.  Since Emma has arrived she's been trained with her food and rarely gets it in a bowl.  Just before the weekend I had been mixing a small amount of moist food with her dry to raise it's value while working on crate training and suspected she'd hold out on eating dry food if no moist was mixed in as a result.  On top of that, Emma, who is now older, felt the distress the family was in and spent most of her time cuddling and consoling her owners; something she didn't do when I faced my grief  because of her age at the time.

Once Emma stopped bouncing around the house greeting the dogs and cat after her owner left I got her lunch ready (a bowl of dry with a small amount of wet mixed in) and put it in her crate.  She is still convinced the crate is evil and I want to give her a lot of positive feelings with her crate.  She started by eating her lunch with her butt outside of the crate, but finished by stepping in and eating. I never touched the door to the crate and praised her when she finished her lunch.

After that, knowing she had class later, I just let her settle in and played with her a bit.  This week is a bit disrupted, so I don't have any high plans for her, but just want to work on known behaviors in daily living and give her a bit of rest and recoup after a weekend of sadness.  She's in high spirits and playful, which is wonderful to see.

There were no formal lessons today.

Prep Class

Emma and I arrived a few minutes before class arrived.  She rides nicely in the car now and for the first time didn't bark back at other dogs when she heard them barking at her.  She was a bit excited when we exited the car, but was able to focus enough to walk back and urinate behind the building.

In class she showed me she was more than ready to train.  She gladly laid before me on her mat and worked for each morsel I offered her for good behavior.  We had worked the week before on putting her chin on the ground by shaping it and she started offering that behavior as we worked.  Later we worked on a drop down (no cue, but her guessing what I wanted for the click) and she was one of the only dogs in the room able to do a down without my needing to give her any hints, such as bending, nodding my head, or lowering my hand.  She quickly offered downs for clicks, even with other dogs near her.

After that we worked on "Go To Mat" behaviors.  She quickly got the idea to go to the mat and lay on it and once I could see she was offering the behavior I labeled it "Hit the Rack".  She was a rock star and didn't loose interest in training or become so overly distracted she couldn't train until near the end.

Observations

Next week Emma will be six months old.  Her cousin, who is in class with her now, just hit the hyper busy, strange fears stage in life Emma has just gone through and I was pleasantly pleased to see that Emma's focus and willingness to train had returned.  I can see the young puppy leave and the young teen appear and she's a lovely dog who has a playful and sweet temperament.

The changes that happen with her from one week to the next astound me.  She's gone from playful and pouncing on treats and dogs to fearful and shy to bold and boundary testing with me and the dogs and cat.  It's like a new dog arrives each week for training - something I never saw when raising my own puppies, though I am certain each of them did this same rapid change in personality as they grew.

This week I am seeing a level of maturity and calm focus I haven't seen before.  She's still trying boundaries and rushing through my house playing, but she's clearly also maturing into a young lady.  Officially, she's not a puppy, but an adolescent with all of the moodiness and rapid fire changes in attitude that come with it, but she's not a terrible teen, just a smart girl who wants nothing more than to play.

I went shopping right before class and bought knee bones for the dogs (Max got a knuckle bone) and when bedtime came she didn't hide behind my recliner, but instead followed me around as I fussed and tugged at Max's knuckle bone to unwrap it.  Once she saw I was giving out goodies, she waited for hers to be delivered in her crate and happily went in and chewed on it.  The only fussing I got was after she tired of chewing on her bone.  This too is a change; she's no longer seeing bedtime as the end of her fun, but the beginning of new fun.

Here's hoping her crate eventually will be a good place to rest and not the jail she's decided it is.

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