Friday, May 31, 2013

8 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 108

I saw this again just after a quick interaction with Jack.
This is Thursday's blog post.  There will be no Friday blog post because Emma is going to the groomers first thing in the morning, so this is the last blog post for the week.

What a tiring week.  Emma and Jack got in less than 20 seconds of play with Emma bouncing up into Jack's face and low and behold I saw the left rear leg pull up for a step and her hop away when I split them apart.  I continued to watch her leg and I could see she wasn't putting full weight on the leg and she was just toe touching with it - poor thing, she strained it a bit in that 20 second interaction.

I called the vet and asked if they wanted to see her that day on or Monday after she finished her medication and was asked to bring her in on Thursday.  I had suspected as much.  Though her leg is getting better, she shouldn't have been limping like that after just a brief few seconds of play.  How lucky she is she strained it and didn't tear it and how lucky she is she is young and her tendons are more flexible than they would have been even a few months from now, but the injury at this age is hard on her.  She simply doesn't understand why she can't play and run and be a puppy when she doesn't hurt THAT bad.

I had been watching her leg for most of the week and noted if she got into her horse rearing mode, which seems to be her default way to express happiness, she would stand with that leg shaking afterward.  In order to limit that type of activity I have been working on her sitting when I picked up the leash.  Leashes and harnesses send her in cataclysmic spasms of horse rearing and bouncing and body twisting and NONE of that is good for her knee.  As a matter of fact, when her owner came Tuesday evening to drop of her medication (she had been rushed and forgotten it in the morning) I had not brought Emma out because she goes into uncontrollable bouncing spasms when she sees them; that and it's very hard on her to see them during the week and they then leave after a brief interaction.

 My goal all week has been to protect that knee while it recovers and to keep Emma sane during her recovery.  Not an easy goal with an active and bouncy puppy, but we've gotten to high vibration sits when I pick up a leash as her default behavior and walking at my side and not launching out the front door as a default when exiting the house.

Her vet visit went well enough, but the vet could see the same thing I did.  She's tentative on the leg.  It's hard to see because it is so subtle, but the vet was pleased I was so aware of her normal foot placement that I was aware of when it was even slightly off.  Her knee is not longer floating to the side, he can't get it to do so anymore, which means the float we saw when I took her in last week was due to the stretched and injured ligament.  She has the normal looseness of joints that come with her age and he suspects they'll tighten when she grows older, which is fantastic news.

What he does see is she's still easily over doing the knee with very little activity.  I told him the extremes we are going to to keep her quiet and calm while the knee heals, but he's concerned that she may have pulled something in her hip also and would like to do an x-ray on Monday to see how she's doing.

He placed her on the schedule and said that he would prefer to do the x-ray without her sedated, but if he needs sedate her he will.  This means she can't have food after 8 PM the night before and no water the morning of the procedure.  I had intended to call the owners and let the know what we discovered and what the plans for her care were, but when I got home Dieter was in so much pain I was focused on his care and couldn't get him comfortable until it was too late to call her owners.  I will call her on Friday morning after I drop Emma off at the groomers and I have made my visit to SCC.

The lump the owners found on her cheek may simply be a fat tumor, which I had suspected when I finally found and felt it.  He's not terribly worried about it nor am I.  He wants to keep an eye on it's size and if it grows in the next 2 weeks he'd like to do a biopsy on it and insure it's just a fat tumor and not anything else.  We both suspect, due to her age, that she may have accidently injured her face there in play with another dog or by herself and caused the fatty tumor to happen.

So, she's on continued restricted activity until she's released from the vet to normal activity (which will happen in stages) and scheduled for an x-ray to see how the entire joint system in that leg is to check and make certain she didn't injure the hip when she injured the knee.  A minor injury in the hip can result in a major injury to the knee.

Oh, and he's impressed with her tolerance of having her body manipulated while being examined.  She has a very loving and tolerant personality and is a dream patient when working with the vet.

Today's Lessons:


Retrieve

Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is to go to three different types of objects on the floor.  In the book it states to not stay on this step too long and for the first time we are actually ON this step and not a half-step ahead of it.

Today I brought out our old friend the pencil.  I tethered Jack, cued Max to stay by me or the front door (ie, out of the way) and placed the pencil about 3 feet away from me on the floor.  I shaped Emma to look at, go to, touch and finally mouth the pencil (Step 2) and to my amazement she picked it right up and carried it back to me (Step 3)!  What a good girl!  She brought me the pencil 3 times.

I then went and got a metal spoon and started the process over - after I got it back from Max who picked it up and brought it to me.  Sigh.  I cued Max to stay by me and let her work and shaped her to the spoon.  She did okay with this, but wasn't willing to mouth or pick up the spoon at this time.  That is fine, we'll work the spoon one or two more times next week and then move to a cloth item and redo this part of the Retrieve process and move up to Step 2 and Step 3 (actually bringing the item to me) and build her confidence over time.

She is still working with small, light items, right now to build up confidence and make it easy for her to figure out what I am asking of her.  Once she's solid with retrieving those I'll start adding such things as shoes, slippers, pants and shirts and when her confidence in that grows teach her how to pick up cans and bottles and other objects until she's solid on picking up whatever we ask her too.

Her confidence with the pencil is high, thus her retrieving it and bringing it, but her confidence with other items is low, thus her needing a bit more practice with it.  It won't take long, but I don't want to rush her at the same time.

Emma is learning her first serious service skill and I want it solid.  I did ask her, when she brought me the pencil a second time, to put her feet up in my lap, wait a second while I got my hand in position, and then give her the release cue before she gave it to me.  I can't ask that too much because of her knee, but she's starting to get the idea of what I am asking of her and what the final picture will look like.  Emma did what I asked and I was very pleased with her hold and her willingness to do what I asked of her.

Emma is progressing nicely on this skill.

Observations

Emma is bored and feeling stress from pent up energy because she can't just run it off.  She is restricted on her activities, so mind games, such as sniffing out and finding treats in a limited area or learning a new trick which is easy and interactive with people will be good for her.

She needs to be kept quiet most of the time and a good bone or chew toy should do that, but a bit of mental stimulation would be fantastic for her.  Retrieve training adds stress, so I wouldn't suggest that currently, but would maybe suggest working on a wave (she loves to raise her front feet) or high five or teaching her paw (left) and mepaw (right) paws for her handing them to you when you put your hand out.

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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0


8 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 107

Emma has such a soft personality that stress, good or bad, can
send her for a tailspin some days.
This is Wednesday's blog.  This week has been so busy I am simply not keeping up.  I have two blog posts to write for both Emma and Jack today to catch them up and I still have several things I need to do today which will leave me with little time to do much more than make notes so I can get Jack's Friday blog written up on Saturday!

With Emma injured and Dieter injured I am running a dog hospice.  The primary goal of my care this week has been to prevent further injury to both dogs.  Dieter has re-injured his back and is in pain again and requires I take him out separate from the other dogs.  Emma's injury is also painful, but she's now as depressed or slowed down as poor Dieter.  She is young and able to ignore the injury for the fun of living.  This means I need to take her out on lead to potty to prevent her from becoming an idiot and racing about my yard and tethered if needed in the house when she gets to pacing around.

Yet both Jack and her need training, I have phone calls and consultations to make and tonight I have class.  This morning I need to run Emma to the groomers and then Max and I need to go to SCC so I can pick up a electronic copy of my transcripts so I can send them to a potential employer (I do need to make enough money to keep a roof over our heads) and run Dieter into the vet this afternoon when the clinic opens because he seems to be giving up due to pain and I want to ensure he's not in need of another Prednisone run and a longer period of forced rest.

It's been very busy just dealing with dogs and trying to get my other important business cared for that I have let the blog posts slide.  I am sorry this is happen to my followers, but I do hope you all understand.

This is Friday and this morning Emma was to excited to pee when I took her outside.  After giving her a couple of minutes to get over the excitement I brought her back into the house and crated her again.  I think that alone was a shock to her, so she sat whining at me at the crate door.  I waited 15 minutes and took her back outside to potty.  It was on this run that I saw a squirrel jump from the top of my trailer onto the branch of my Spruce tree and then shoot out the other side, down the trunk for a moment and then out of the yard and race at Cheetah speed across the road into the "safety" of my neighbor's yard.

Max was ramped up and rushing about watching the squirrel and Emma, who was taken by the excitement did something absolutely wonderful; she stayed at my side on a loose lead!  What an amazing turn of events!  I have been working on Emma focusing on her staying next to me when on lead and here she did it under an extreme distraction!  I am so very proud of her progress.

Today's Lessons:


Retrieve

Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is asked to go to 3 different types of objects on the floor.  I have been working on her recognizing that an object is on the floor by my feet and interacting with it, but haven't done the full step yet.  The concept of looking down sometimes can be hard on a dog and Emma has been one of those dogs that gets locked into looking at me and not at the  floor or environment to see what she can interact with.  Thus, I broke this step down further to give her success.

Today I brought out her harness to work with.  I want her to eventually retrieve her working harness for her handler (will have to find one he'll be able to hold and have her step into and he can then secure) and so today I was working with her training harness.  For some reason, be it I was leaning forward in my chair or it was her harness or the other dogs were further away than normal (Jack was tethered and Max by the front door and Dieter crated) she went into full shutdown mode.

This has happened in the past and seemed to solve itself when Jack arrived and she could play for extended periods with him.  The running, wrestling and shared toy chewing seemed to solve some of her overall stress and she was able to do more in training sessions and handle higher training stress (positive stress, but stress never the less) and with her injury she's been restricted from all play with Jack.

I have spent half of my time with the two of them splitting them apart so they can't play and I think that stress and then the added stress of training was too much for her.  So I ended her training after she successfully managed to pick up the harness, but not hand it to me, twice and let her have the day off to play with a new toy I brought out that she could play with quietly.

Observations

Emma doesn't handle a lot of stress well right now.  It is primarily her age and her fear period she's in. She's out of the major fear period, but is in a minor one and her reaction to stress is to go into appeasement signals and shutdown on training - which includes not eating the kibble or food offered her.

The best we can do is try to end on a positive note and help her build her tolerance for stress slowly, but until then, I have to be careful not to push her too hard too fast and keep repeating this shutdown mode when she's riding close to the edge of her stress tolerance.  Things will improve when she's released to play again, but until then, we are in a balancing act to keep her from practicing shutdown.


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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

8 Months, 3 Weeks: Training - Day 106

Emma is starting to do proper retrieves.
So, Emma returns today feeling so much better she has no clue why she's not allowed to play with Jack or run through my yard.  Keeping her quiet when her favorite playmate is around is just another service I get to do this week.

Since she's on restricted activity due to injury, we will continue stationary training. This can include long sit/stay, down/stay and stand/stay (which she still needs to learn).  It can also include focus, retrieve and target behaviors.  Since I have a wide variety of items I can work on and ones that I know need to be worked on for her service dog skills, we'll have a productive recovery period.

I do want to mention some of the behaviors we work on passively that have improved markedly since I last spoke of them.  When Emma first came to me she was wary of bedtime and would run and hide behind my recliner when she realized I was preparing to go to bed.  She now waits near my bedroom door or on my bed or in the living room, but is no longer hiding from the process.  What's even more amazing is no matter if it is the molded crate or the wire crate in my home, she will enter them if I open the door (a cue to her to enter) and call her name.  She will cross my bedroom or living room and enter the crate without balking or running for the hills.  And at night she is dead silent and sleeps without complaint now.

Since her injury we've worked hard on lead work.  Last week it became extremely important to stop her from jumping like a fool the moment I touched any leash.  She would jump and bounce and slam her front feet into me whenever I touched a leash.  Part of the training involved picking up a lead throughout the day and then setting it down somewhere else.  It took a lot of the charge out of the leash and she started to calm whenever I touched it.  I also insist she sit and wait in a seated position while I clip her lead on - today she's finally sitting first and waiting, vibrating still, without jumping up and down the moment I touch a leash.

Whenever we went to exit the front door she would shoot to the end of the lead and jerk herself on her collar really bad.  Since she isn't supposed to be bouncing around or running right now, so I have been insisting she walk out the door calmly beside me and then calmly beside me to the yard.  This has been an ongoing issue before (she looses her mind on the ramp and rushes to the end of the lead).  Tonight she exited at my side, walked in a loose lead at my side and calmly went about her business.

Hopefully be the time she's released to play and run again she'll have learned not only how to walk out of the door on lead without jerking my arm out of the socket, but to walk at my side in a professional manner to the car.

Today's Lessons:

Retrieve

Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is to go to and explore three objects on the floor.  She's looked at similar objects such as pencils, pens, knitting needles and other similar shaped objects.  Today I decided to work on cloth objects which included socks, wash cloths and slippers.

Emma is moving along nicely.  She notes the object on the floor and interacts with it and over time makes an effort at picking it up.  Today she did pick up and hand me the wash cloth, sock and slipper 4 times each.  What amazing progress.  She doesn't have the finally delivery process in place for her handler, but she is getting the beginning of retrieve down nicely!

Emma will continue to work on this vital skill during the week while I re-enforce Zen, Lazy Leash and other skills she already knows.

Observations

Emma is recovering nicely and should make a full recovery soon.  It is hard on her to be kept still for so long, but it is in her best interest.  Today I spent a lot of the day keeping her from engaging Max, Jack and Victoria in play.  Since Dieter, who is on restricted release from his crate, is also recovering from a serious injury, I also had to keep her from standing over and trying to put weight on him.  It's been a long day.

Thankfully, Emma enjoys long hours of chewing on bones and other toys and can be occupied that way, but I may have to do a few minutes of training per hour and engage her mind more while she is recovering from her injury.

It shall be a long week with a high energy puppy who is required to stay calm.


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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0


8 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 105

Emma is learning to retrieve.
This is Friday's blog.  The long weekend was my first time to really catch up on sleep and items around the house which meant my time near a computer was zero.  It was, actually, very nice to have a long weekend and get business done.  As a result, this is Friday's blog.

In my blog on Thursday I mentioned that Emma has injured herself and I wasn't certain how.  Upon thinking about it, I came the conclusion I have a good idea how she did it.  I have a ramp that goes up to a deck outside of my front door.  The deck is too high for Emma to be jumping off of, but I saw her at least twice make the leap and rush about my yard.  I had made a mental note to block her ability to do such a leap, but hadn't actually gotten the material to block her from jumping my deck.

At 5:15 PM Jack's owner, Ronda, arrived to pick up Jack.  I was on the phone and didn't keep good control of Emma and Max, who burst out the door when I opened it.  It must of been then that Emma bolted off of the deck and landed wrong.  It wouldn't be until another hour later that the limp we saw showed and my son and I would realize Emma was injured.

The vet the next day was pleased with the video I showed him which captured how she was walking.  It helped diagnose the issue, which turned out to be a strained ACL ligament.  The vet was pleased I had restricted her activity the moment I realized she was injured, since doing so prevented her from further injuring the ligament and thus prevented a tear.

She was placed on medication to keep any possible swelling down and she's to be kept on low activity for 1 week and low and little jumping for 6 months.  This will be an exciting time for us.

Since I knew she had a knee injury, I changed my training from Loose Leash Walking class homework to Levels Training - which could be done stationary.

Today's Lessons:


Retrieve

Emma is working on Level 4: Step 1 Retrieve.  In this step Emma is asked to go to three different types of objects on the floor.  So far I have used a pen, pencil, knitting needle and wash cloth.  She has picked up and handed me all but the knitting needle, which is a bit cumbersome for her in this early stage.

Since she's doing so well now with uniformly shaped items I am now introducing more items that she may be required to lift and hand to me to expand her understanding of this job.  This will include clothing, shoes and remotes with a strap.  At this point she is early in her learning of how to retrieve an object and hasn't really started to problem solve how to pick up a new object.

Today we worked with a mechanical pencil, which she picked up and handed to me while I was sitting on the floor.  I am staying low to the floor until she is confident in the process and knows how that when I point to an object she's to pick it up.  Once we have that portion of the job done and her understanding is solid and with confidence I will introduce a laser pointer to make it possible for her future handler to point to and request an object he wants retrieved.

Emma is progressing nicely with this part of her service dog training.

Observatoins

Emma is progressing nicely in her training.  She truly enjoys running and jumping, so keeping her restrained while she recovers from her injury.  There is nothing worse than a primarily healthy dog on bed rest.

Since she is limited in what she can do on her feet, we'll be working on stationary lessons to keep her mind crisp and progress her learning.


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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0


Thursday, May 23, 2013

8 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 104

Emma injured her left rear leg today.
I am not sure what Emma did to injure herself, but she's injured her back leg.  She's not bearing weight on it most of the time and hobbling along.  This was a sudden thing from my point of view.  All day today she was moving fine, playing well with Jack and racing around my yard like a goof ball when it was outside time.  She was walking just fine when we trained on my ramp and when my son Walter arrived - but sometime between 5 PM and 6:15 PM when we saw her hopping along she injured her leg.

She's not crying in pain and actually doesn't act like it is bothering her, but the fact she's not putting weight on it means she's hurting - just not like Dieter was with his back.  I called Emma's owner and left a message stating I would need to take her to the vet tomorrow.  Emma, of course, didn't let us know she was hurt until after the vet office was closed!

I checked her knee and hip and find nothing out of place.  I feel no heat or swelling in the leg.  I can move it without her complaining.  She simply is NOT walking on it a majority of the time.  I am concerned by the way she's hanging it when she rests that it may be a ligament injury.  Here's hoping it's a strain and she simply needs to be keep quiet for a bit.

I have restricted her movement.  The moment we realized she was injured I stopped letting her outside without being on lead.  She is taken down to the yard and given a chance to potty or poop and then taken back in, where she is self regulating and resting in my home.  She is simply too young and not in enough pain to actually not race around my yard like an idiot with an injury and I don't want her to further injure that leg.

So, the second training session I had planned for her was cancelled and I just fed her her dinner.  I had not trained her this morning because I had reports for my other job I had to write up and thus planned on training her with her lunch and dinner. I got half of what I planned to work on for her homework done, but her injury required stopping any movement training at this time and I'll go to the Levels to her training tomorrow.

Today's Lesson:

Loose Leash Walking

I took Emma outside to the ramp and worked up and down it on lead today.  I walked with her in loose leash while she watched me.  She did fantastic.  She was focused, in the game with me and ravenous when we did the training.  She loves Liverwurst and I had mashed some on her kibble to raise it's value for her training outside.  It worked like a charm!

She is doing very well with this training and I believe she'll be able to do it on the weekend with her owners.  Since she injured her leg I didn't do the walking loose lead to a goal, which would have been my son Walter, but instead stopped training and put her on the "injured dog list" in my home.

I'll know more about the leg injury and what she can and can't do while she recovers tomorrow.


8 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 103

Emma is able to watch me and walk at the same time now.
This is Wednesday's blog post.  Max had class Wednesday night and I simply didn't have it in me to write up the blog posts regarding training Emma and Jack during the day.  My days have been so full, I have also been unable to write up as the day goes along, which I prefer, so I can send them out before I head off to bed.  Thus, this is Wednesday's blog post.

Emma enjoys having Jack back and the two have raced around the yard and played hard for the entire week that he's been back at my home.  She's also doing very well with focusing with Jack present when I train her.  This week has been so busy with Dieter's back injury and raised beds being made and servers still needing my attention I haven't done as much in the mornings with Emma as I would like.  Instead, I have used her lunch and dinner for her training.

It's been a great week and so far Emma is doing fantastic on her homework for her class.


Today's Lessons:


Loose Leash Walking

As I have mentioned before Emma is taking a loose leash walking class and am doing her homework for the week while she is with me so she is successful during the next class with her handlers.  One of the homework items is working on walking while watching me.  I have been working her in the house to build up this concept and will take it outside by Thursday to add more distraction to the lesson. I have also been working without the chair, mainly because it is harder to work with the chair in the house.

Emma is doing fantastic. We worked off lead in the house and she stayed right by my side watching me as we walked up and down the floor and did turns and pivots.  She's focused and even though she glances at Jack or Max when she has to press past them in the muddle of dog that mills around when I do this training, she is keeping nearly 90% eye contact on me and walking in a straight line.

With this high success I will be taking Emma outside on Thursday to work on her lessons some more.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

8 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 102

Not long ago Emma was just learning how to walk with me
and now she's learning how to walk with a wheelchair!
So, Dieter is a bit better today, but still requires a lot of my attention and time.  He didn't eat his dinner last night, a clear sign he was well over threshold on pain, since he would eat dirt if I put it in his bowl normally.  The pain killer I gave him also knocked him out and he slept mostly after I administered it.  This morning he went out and peed, but started to cry again - a clear sign he's still suffering and we are still a day away from him being able to take Prednisone to relieve the swelling in his back.

My Mom called at 6:30 AM and announced she was on her way over to work on building more raised beds for my yard.  I had purchased, in April, the material for them and last week my brother and mom built the first of the new raised beds for the yard.  Today Mom came over and we built 4 more.  This took up my morning and I decided to just feed Jack and Emma their breakfast and train them with their lunch instead.

I had Emma, Max and Dieter (who did eat) their breakfast before Jack and my Mom arrived and was setting up the yard with Emma and Max out when my Mom arrived.  We had the first box mostly built by the time Jack arrived and so I took him in and fed him.  It was then I brought Dieter out to go to the bathroom again and he refused to do so, but curled up instead by my Mom and simply shook.  I had given him his morning medication, but it wasn't helping him much yet.

At 10:30 AM, when we had the "kits" cut and ready to go to build the next three I brought him out again so he could go.  He cried and again refused to go to the bathroom.  I carried him in feeling my heart sink.  He's in so much pain and there is nothing I can do for him.  It really hurts the heart to witness.

I gave Dieter a second dose of muscle relaxant and went out and finished building beds with Mom, which took me to 12:30 PM.  By this time I was totally exhausted and in pain myself.  Both Mom and I had taken some over the counter medication just to finish the job.  Mom had left, Dieter was crying in his crate and I was so stiff and sore I could barely move.  I got Dieter out and carried him into the yard, where he finally went to the bathroom and then let him walk himself in to the bed I made for him under my desk.

This will be a long week.

Today's Lessons:

Loose Leash Walking

Today I worked with Emma on keeping in the zone and turning with me again.  Once again we were in the house and off lead and she is totally in the game.  I was marveling that this is the same dog who have zero clue what I was asking not long ago and now is 100% in tune with the lesson.  She even did a 360 degree pivot with me while on my left side and I was turning into her.  Her butt is not in full alignment, but that comes with practice and fine turning, but she's got the idea.

I want to work more on her learning to bring her butt around and into alignment with me and then apply it to pivoting when I am using my swivel chair.  I am hoping that tomorrow I can get Max and Jack contained enough to work on the full pivot with the swivel chair and then apply it to the power chair.  She's almost there and once we have that I will tighten up her turns by taking her out and working next to walls or fences to improve her turns when working with a wheelchair.

I also need to work with her on sitting and laying in alignment with me when I am standing and sitting - especially with the wheelchair.  A low foot print between her and the chair is important so she's not causing problems when working in public.  It is a matter of breaking the parts into smaller slices and building on her understanding of what I am asking.

At 8 months of age, Emma is doing very well.  She's walking with my power chair on both the left and right sides, and she's comfortable with the idea of doing so.  She's learned to walk with attention to the chair so she is safe and she's learning how to turn and work beside the chair without taking up extra space when in public.  I am very pleased with her progress.

8 Months, 2 Weeks: Training - Day 101

Emma enjoys visiting with my son Walter when he visits.
Ever had one of those days that doesn't go your way?  I had one yesterday.  Dieter ruptured a disc in his back over the weekend and is in terrible pain.  He's a high need dog who requires I carry him out to potty and back into his crate so he can rest.  The entire time he's yelping in pain or whimpering with sporadic yelps and sharp cries.  Off and on he's unstable on his feet and stumble when walking, which makes him cry even harder.  Since he wasn't on pain medication for his back, I spent part of the morning calling the vet and trying to find out what he can take that won't interfere with his upcoming treatment of Prednisone and allow him to at least breath without crying.

He spent the morning whimpering in the crate and too fearful to leave it with the bouncing Labradoodle outside of it.  At one point I offered for him to come out and go outside to the bathroom and after he exited he promptly turned and re-entered the crate.  I do have to say, at least he likes his crate.

When I dropped him of Saturday for evaluation for his pain and learned he'd ruptured a disc in his back, I had told the vet tech taking him back that he crated well and I meant it.  He enjoys sleeping in his crate at night and when such events as this happen he is content to lay in the crate and sleep without much complaint.  The fact I can set him on the floor just before it and he can step into it, thus lowering his pain levels when entering, and cue him to go in without his fleeing or refusing entry makes our lives easier.  It also made his stay at the vet while Emma was in class so much easier on him.

When I picked him up they commented that he did indeed crate well and he was amazing.  They normally have dogs who cry, protest and call for lawyers when crated, but Dieter just curled up and relaxed while he waited for his evaluation.

By mid-day they called to inform me that they had found and set aside a medication for Dieter, which meant I would simply feed Emma her lunch and not train with it.  I had to run to get Dieter's medication and then get it into him so that he wouldn't give up because of pain.  He was headed that way, shutting down because anything he did caused extreme pain.

He ended the night refusing to eat and sleeping the day away.  He wouldn't even move to use the bathroom when I carried him outside and needed to carry him back in.  He slept the night out in the office in his bed under my desk.

Today's Lessons:

Loose Leash Walking

Emma is taking Loose Leash Walking at a class and has homework for that class.  Since I couldn't focus enough to really look at the homework for the week, I instead worked on building up her ability to turn with me while I am walking so I can then transfer the skill to the power chair when it turns.  I used Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash to begin this process.  I worked on walking her up and down the floor and rewarding her for being in position beside me.  She was not on a leash when I did this.  I then worked on clicking any movement of her rear end as she turned with me when she was on my left and I was turning into her.  She is not a tight on that turn as Max is currently, but she is learning the process and is getting a much tighter turn with me when I turn.

While Emma is taking this class I will focus on her homework, as best I can with an injured dog, and won't be worrying about updating her Levels progress or observations during her blogs.  Once she's completed the class I will return to the normal blog format.

Emma is doing very well with her loose leash walking and once the class is over I'll evaluate where she is in regards to the Levels and update accordingly.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

8 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 100

Next week I'll film Emma and I working with the power chair
and show how she's doing with it.
Has it really been 100 days?  Wow!  Emma has come so far from the bouncy puppy who was worried about being dropped off at my home that first day and today.  She is overjoyed to arrive at my house and settles right in like she never spent the weekend away.  She is able to communicate with me and even is starting her service dog skills!  What a difference 100 days of training can make in a dog!

I should, technically  be on day 101 with her, but Ms. Emma decided on Thursday to raid one of my raised beds and eat a lily bulb - which is poisonous to dogs, and had to have her stomach emptied for her safety.  As per vet instruction I used hydrogen proxide to make her vomit and then kept an eye on her for the day and didn't feed her until evening.  I decided she'd be better off watched than trained, so I didn't do any training.

Friday I decided to use that extra day with her to work on walking in the real world with the power chair.  On that day my goal was not loose lead walking, but learning safety with the power chair.  I did nick a toe with the wheels once, but she did a simple "hey" like she was startled more than anything and she started really watching the wheels.  There was no harm done to her toes, but she learned if she didn't monitor where her feet were I could end up running over them.

On Saturday I had to take Dieter to vet and leave him while I took Emma to class.  I was so worried about transferring her and getting Dieter from the vet I forgot to give out the homework sheet for the weekend.  I will have to hand that over on Monday and the family can then practice that homework next weekend with the other homework they'll have from class.

Emma was a star going through the door while attached to the wheelchair and walked nicely beside it to our spot.  She did great settling next to it, though she's still learning to lay in alignment with the chair and not facing it.  She even put her head on her feet within 3 minutes of arriving and at one point took a short nap!

She did fantastic in all of the exercises, is transferring her loose leash to both wheels and walking, and was a dream to work on the sidewalk since I had taken the "magic" out of being outside with the chair the day before.

Emma is even starting to turn properly with the chair!  Time to take her other places and work on turning "into" her on both the left and right side (her on the left or right) so she stays in alignment and teaching her to lie next to the chair, stop next to the chair and sit next to the chair in alignment.

Emma is over the hurdle of learning to walk beside a chair, now she is in the fine tuning phase!

Nice work, little dog.

8 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 99

Emma is now walking nice beside my chair.  Pictures soon!
Emma is staying with me for an extra night, so this Friday I decided to take the time to really work on her skills with the wheelchair.  Since Dieter, whose been suffering from pain for about a week or so, was in a lot of pain during the day, I spent most of the day taking care of him and planned on a single training session with Emma which would help her better understand how to work around my power chair.

I would like to explain about Good Stress and Bad Stress.  Bad Stress can easily be defined as stress that happens when the dog is frightened and unable to escape a situation.  Max has faced "bad stress" when a person in public has decided they must reach for his head or move quickly into his face and don't pay attention to his early messages telling them that what they are doing is making him very uncomfortable.  When someone does this and continues to push into his space it is my job to give him an out and I have taught him to look to me and look for a cue as to what I want him to do to free himself from such rude people.  Still, the moment when a stranger is reaching for his face is stressful and not in a positive way.

Good Stress on the other hand happens when learning a new task, meeting a person the dog likes and even when out for a pleasant walk.  Max enjoys his job and he generally feels a level of stress with the job, but it is not negative stress he's feeling.  Emma, who enjoys training, also experiences stress and therefore when I plan a big event for her I lower the stress she experiences during the day by lowering how much training I do.

My event for the day was a huge one and I knew it was best to not do any training prior to taking her out for it.  It was talking a real life walk with the power chair and Jack and Max and Ronda, Jack's owner, and working on learning to pay attention to the power chair and not get run over.

Emma is at the stage in learning to walk on a lead that where her head is pointing her body goes.  IT's a normal progress in learning to walk with humans and not get stepped on, or in this case wheeled over, and is something basic awareness training helps resolve.

I loaded the power chair up in my van and took her and Max to Ronda's house.  I placed both dogs in Ronda's yard while I unloaded the chair and then Ronda and I let Jack and Emma burn off some energy in play before taking off for our walk.  This was Emma's third visit at Ronda's this week and she's grown very comfortable with all of the dogs and playing in her yard.

Emma was placed on my right side and Max on my left, both on wheelchair leads, when we left.  Max, an old hat with the power chair, did not need my constant supervision and so I was able to 100% focus on Emma while Ronda kept an eye on traffic.  We used side streets with minimal traffic (a total of 5 cars over 45 minutes passed us) and knew on this route which houses had dogs that would bark at us.

When we passed the barking dog houses Ronda would place herself and Jack between Emma and the fence to help Emma deal with the distraction.  Emma was very distracted and drifting constantly toward the wheels of the chair.  I would stop and her head would snap around and she'd see how close she was to the chair and would then drift back out.  Over time she wasn't so excitable about the walk, was walking in a straight line and keeping track of my chair.

She did bark at the first set of dogs, but soon learned to check in with me and get a reward for her quiet behavior.  She did bark at a man exiting his property and I know now I need to take even higher value treats than I have been using to keep her attention when something like this happens.

She did extremely well and Ronda and I plan on more trips like this while I work up her and Max walking together with my chair so we can head over to Ronda's on the chair and then go for a walk from there.

Emma is not ready to walk beside a wheelchair next to heavy traffic.  We are just beginning her traffic training and I'll have to work on her to build up her calm and relaxed behavior around more and more traffic over the summer.  The nice thing is she handled what cars passed us without reaction on our walk.

It was a pleasant day in which she got a nice walk and lots of positive play with Jack at his home.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

8 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 98

Emma learned to lift her back feet to get into the box.
With my assessment of Emma's progress with loose leash walking and where we need to go in regards to working with a wheelchair I decided this morning to sit down and think of what would be the best approach to bring her bottom in and build up her ability to stay in alignment with me and the chair.

I decided that the best approach was to finish teaching her how to pivot into position beside me and think about where her rear end is located at.  This means I'll be doing a lot of hind-end awareness training, starting with getting her to think about using her back feet to change her position without moving her front feet.

I have done some of that awareness in the past with shaping her to back up and into a box, but there is much more I can do to make her aware of her back feet.  I can walk her through a ladder where she has to think about lifting her back feet to make her next step or shape her to back up a flight of stairs.  I can work on her doing a hand stand (which she's physically capable of) or going over jumps of increasing heights.  I can walk her on a board just off of the ground or have her target a spot on the floor with her back feet.  All of these will teach her that she has back feet and that she can use them to earn rewards when training.

But that is only part of it.  Knowing she has back feet and knowing they can move in different directions (forward, backward and sideways for example) is another.  I taught Max to pivot to my side by clicking for any movement with his back feet toward my goal.  My mistake with him was I only clicked for one direction in the beginning and he learned it so well he became a one-way Conway when pivoting.  For my purposes, this is okay, but for the purpose of training Emma, I want her to swing into position on both sides of me.  Having learned my mistake with Max, I will click for any sideways movement in either direction for a bit to convince her both directions will pay and then work her to finally swinging into position from the front position to either side of me.

Thus, we'll end our week working on swing positioning.

Today's Lessons:


Loose Leash Walking

Emma is taking Loose Leash Walking as a class and the goal is to teach her how to walk properly in the zone beside her handler.  Her handler is wheelchair bound, so my goal during the week is to build up her wheelchair skills so when she goes to class with him she can work beside his chair and not risk being run over by the wheels when he turns.

Part of that is building up her focus and alignment with the chair.  To build up her alignment I have taken her back into the house and begun working on teaching her that the rewards happen only when she's beside my swivel chair when facing the same direction as me and not at an angle to me with her back end.  This means I need to teach her she had a butt.

Today I began to shape her pivot position without a book.  Previously I had shaped a backup and taught her to move all four feet, thus getting out "unstuck" when working while I was sitting.  Today, when I started to click for foot movement Emma backed up several steps and kept offering the behavior.  Amazing how much she put together since our last lesson on foot movement.  It was nice to see her offer that behavior when she was uncertain what I wanted.

We worked in three session per meal today and with each session her busy "is it this?" movements became more purposeful as she realized I was clicking for sideways movement, either left or right, and she started to think about her back feet as the goal for our lesson.  She did a full pivot by accident once and got heavily rewarded for it.

I did get a lot of head twists and shoulder shifts and sits and other behaviors as she worked out what I was clicking for.  She was clearly working out what part of her body was being clicked and would try eliminating each part until she got to her back feet.  Wonderful work and clear interest in learning this new skill.

Once she has a good, on cue, pivot in the house in more than one room I will take it outside and redo it on the porch and then in the street with the power chair.  Once she has that we'll work on her stopping and staying in alignment with the chair.  With the pivot on cue, if she is out of alignment I can cue her into alignment and then click and reward until it becomes second nature.

Another goal for this is her turning with the chair without getting out alignment with the chair, thus keeping her foot print in public low as possible.

Observations

Emma is a thinking dog.  Today I saw the evidence when I started to click for behavior and she tried as many behaviors in her tool box as she thought might work and didn't get stuck, but kept offering a new one until she got the click.  This is fantastic because it means she's in the game and learning.

She will soon be working beside my power chair properly and I can add the next step, which is teaching her that traffic will not kill her when she's working beside the chair, and I can then take her on walks and expand her world and her ability to work with distractions.

Emma is progressing nicely.


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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

8 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 97

Even though Emma loves people, this picture shows
a bit of stress when first approaching to greet my son.  I will
work on lowering her stress when greeting people.
Welcome to Tuesday!  Emma was excited to see the morning start and bound out of the crate with the pure joy of living.  At least the barking and bounding between the crate and the front door has become minimal, but I need to work on her exiting her crate calmly, not like a small black bullet.

Yesterday I had planned on working Emma outside with the wheelchair, but the sky opened up and we had small rivers running down the street as the rain poured.  This morning, even though it was a bit cool, I decided to take advantage of whatever good weather we headed out.  Emma is no longer afraid of my power chair and is starting to see it as a fabulous opportunity to go out and explore outside of the yard.

This change in her view of my power chair is very positive.  Though she felt nothing about it when it spent the first weeks of her life parked in the corner, she accepted it as another piece of furniture.  When, after getting solid enough leash manners built up to begin working her with the chair, I pulled it out, the chair frightened her.  It made a funny noise and moved about with me sitting in it.

Over a period of time I worked with Max and other dogs around the chair while Emma watched from a distance and then would park it and invite her to visit me and give her treats when she did.  This helped, but the final step was to simply pull her in my lap and hold her until she relaxed in my arms and the took her for a ride around the house with the chair.  That simple action seemed to take the scary mystery out of the chair and since Emma has made outstanding progress with the chair.

Now that I have her working in straight lines and gentle curves with the chair I can again work toward making proper tight turns and staying in alignment with the chair when we stop.  I have to think through the best way to teach her to keep her bum in position, since she is doing the same thing Max does, which is turn to face me.  We'll get there, one step at a time.  I am just in the process of prioritizing which part of her wheelchair skills need the work next.

Today's Lessons:


Loose Leash Walking

Yesterday Emma and I reviewed the Loose Leash Walking homework and found it was a combination of Zen and Lazy Leash.  In the morning Emma and I reviewed Lazy Leash skills in the house, but by mid-day the server crash I have been dealing with took of the rest of my time and I simply fed her her lunch and used her class as her next focused training period.  How appropriate the final class of Finishing School dealt with loose leash skills and Zen combined, which allowed focused and interesting ways of working the two skills together.

This morning I brought out the power chair and Emma and I went out to the street in front of my home.  Technically, Emma has practiced her skills in three or more locations (my home, her owners home, Diamonds in the Ruff and the street before my home) and met that requirement of her homework.

Today I was testing where Emma is in her skill set.  When focused Emma can and does keep the leash loose and stays right at my side, whether I am walking or using the wheelchair.  When she looses focus, which can be often, she starts to weave and rubber neck and even stop and stare.  Emma needs help keeping focus on her job, this can be accomplished by exposing her to more walks and working actively on keeping her focused and in position using a high rate of re-enforcement and then slowly extending time between rewards.

When she stops she shifts her butt out and away from me, whether I am walking or in the wheelchair.  This can be corrected by only rewarding her when she's in alignment with me or the chair.  To do this I am currently cuing her back into position and then giving her the reward once she's in alignment.

She follows the chair on a right hand turn (a turn away from her) with the chair just fine, but when I turn the chair into her she turns sideways to the chair and creates a wide foot print between the chair and herself.  This will be corrected by first teaching her to pivot and then working along side a wall and finally away from a wall to teach her to keep herself in alignment with the chair.

She is not doing check ins when walking and tends to weave toward the chair and risks her feet being run over.  I am working on her doing check ins and staying in alignment when walking by doing short distances and rewarding heavily for staying in alignment.

She's spot on with loose leash walking in low level distractions.  She's 50% reliable in mid level distractions, which means we need to work on this level until she's settled and able to start working on harder distractions, like approaching friends, family and/or dogs.  She's not ready to ignore and keep her mind when a squirrel or cat or other super high distraction - we are working there and will be able to eventually have her attend Take It On The Road, but she's not there yet.

I will continue to work on her skills with the wheelchair and keeping her focus - which is the biggest part of our problem right now.  She needs more distraction training to build her ability to focus when presented with a distraction.

Observations

Since Emma is easily distracted right now, which is due mostly to her age and not having the skills to fall back onto to deal with distractions.  To do this I'll have to take her places where she just learns to watch and stay calm.  Teaching her to be calm when something exciting happens.  She's able to do it, I just need to give her the skills for it.

I will be building a training plan to accomplish this and work on it over the summer.  I don't expect an immediate response, but a quick one.  With the proper plan and good timing Emma will quickly get the picture and be able, hopefully, by the end of summer to visit River Front Park on a non-event day and go to other parks in town and learn to walk calm and in working mode beside me.

Once I have built up one area of her ability to work in a distracting location I will ask the family to work her in a similar location to help her understand that it isn't just me, but anyone she is with that she needs to remain calm and focused with.

I will keep everyone updated as I work on this part of her training to build her ability to work in more distracting locations.

Emma has had 1 outing this week with her Finishing School and will have a second with Loose Leash Walking.  She is right on track for her public access training.

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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0


8 Months, 1 Week: Training - Day 96

Emma adores my son Walter.
Emma was groomed on Friday and her new cut is a perfect balance between cute and utility.  Her feet are trimmed up like a Poodle's feet and her coat is short and velvet like.  Her beard is trimmed up making her lips easy to see and less likely to pick up every tiny little thing she sticks it in and make it stiff and sticky.  Her ears are up short, keeping them from gathering debris when playing or working and her eyes are exposed, making it easy to tell where she is looking.  Her tail is feathering nicely and with her coat changing from the puppy coat to the adult coat it will soon settle and remain full and under control.  Overall, the cut shows off her remarkable shape and athleticism and allows for her to work without being difficult to groom and keep clean for working in public.  Great job!

Emma has been under going some remarkable growths over the weeks I haven't mentioned.  She now willingly enters her crate at night for bed, even if she's in the doorway to my bedroom when I open the crate and call her and cue her to go into it.  She sleeps through the night quietly and no longer whines in the morning when my alarm goes off.  She also willingly enters into Jack's crate and though she's still throwing a bit of a fit when I shut the door, she is generally quiet and calm in the crate for the times I must leave her behind to run an errand or attend a meeting or appointment.  Her crate behaviors are getting better day after day and I am seeing her enjoying her crate now instead of seeing it as a prison.

During the week Dieter sleeps with her at night in the crate.  She is able to share a crate with him without the two of them having an issue.  She is even polite to him and gives him the space he needs to sleep comfortably.  Dieter is no longer stressed by not being in his crate at night and the house seems to have settled into a nice bedtime routine.

In the yard Emma is able to watch the neighborhood without barking or reacting to events outside of my fence.  She enjoys playing with other dogs and exploring the yard.  The only problem is, she's a puppy and as such everything that can go into her mouth does.  I have planned my yard to be pet safe, but Emma is pushing the boundaries on even that.  She has been shredding the old corn stalks from last year and bounding into my raised beds and leaving foot prints or digging the soil up.  She transplanted several of my beans and peas doing so.

I will have my son remove the old corn stalks from the yard to stop the "find and shred" habit she's developing and my mother and I put up a plastic garden fence around my raised beds to stop random Labradoodle raids - thus allowing me to finally plant my garden!  We are in the process of adding more raised beds, but they will be in my direct line of sight when I am in the yard with the dogs and just resting and I can then train her raised bed Zen.

This week we'll be working on Loose Leash skills, since Emma is taking a Loose Leash class.  Doing the class homework during the week will make her class a success.  One of the things I will be working on is her working beside my power chair more than my walking with her, though I will train for both.  Emma's primary handler is wheelchair bound and teaching her proper wheelchair skills is vital, but she will off and on need to walk properly with someone who is not in a wheelchair, so teaching her to work with a person who is walking is also important.

Today's Lessons:


Loose Leash Walking

C, Emma's owner, was kind enough to bring me Emma's homework.  I sat and read through and realized that her homework is right in align with what she's already learned.  She'll be working Level 2: Step 1 Lazy Leash in three different locations (can anyone say Comeafters!) and Level 2: Step 5 Zen!  How appropriate that Emma has already learned these before taking the class so she could expand her understanding instead of starting to learn the concept.

So, to approach this in a more practical way and still keep it within the Levels training program.  I decided to work on Level 2: Step 2 Lazy Leash in the house and then on the ramp outside my house for her morning lesson.  I worked by doing different paces and adding stops and rewarding for only staying beside me when I stopped.  I have not added in full Zen behaviors just yet, but will begin clicking and rewarding any Zen behavior as we build up full Lazy Leash behaviors both walking and working with the power chair.

Finishing School

Emma did her last class of Finishing School.  Apparently, this class was designed to test my endurance.  We spent the class working on Zen with food items (a chew the dogs were given for completing the class and their treat pouches and a biscuit  on chairs which we walked around and asked for sits and loose leash walking while they focused on us and not the goodies at nose height.  Emma was amazing in all cases and only put her lips on one biscuit once during all of the different ways we worked around the chairs.

We did circles, figure eights and zig zags around the chairs with all of the dogs working fairly closely together.  Emma's problems were not the food items on the chairs, but the people and other dogs.  As we came around by Stacy Emma would loose her focus and want to go sniff or greet her.  As we neared the Boarder Collie or the German Shepherd on either side she would drift off and try to greet or sniff them.  I was doing well to speed up re-enforcement as we found these trouble spots, but as I tired and my pain levels shot up, I lost my focus and thus so did Ms. Emma.

When we moved to new areas of the room Emma glued her nose to the ground.  All of this behavior gave me a lot of information.  Emma was a bit stressed and used sniffing to alleviate it and she was also very curious about all of the new smells and couldn't focus on our task.  She is easily distracted at this point and needs more work on focus while walking and not exploring everything and rubber necking when walking.

Overall, this last class gave me lots of great information.  The final part of the class we did greetings with other dogs and Emma is ready for that part of the CGC.  The greeting requires she does a sit and I speak to a stranger and shake their hands.  She flew through this with Carol, who had no dog, and two students who did have dogs.  She's doing good walking loose lead and ignoring items on "shelves", but not people and dogs near her and she needs clicked for her head being up and not her nose down when walking.

Homework

  • Work on the assigned homework for the Loose Leash Walking class.
  • Continue Hide-N-Seek training
    • when Emma finds the person, have her lead them back to B so he can give her a treat and reward the behavior.

Observations

Emma has learned so much in the short time we've been working.  She looks for and picks up her toys or bones in the house because I very clearly defined what was okay to chew on when in the house.  She's learning the same thing in the yard now, but it's a work in progress.

For the most part she's walking on a loose lead, except when she's greeting me or her owner - then her mind vacates and she can't calm down.  She also looses her mind when first greeting people visiting the house - this means a bit of timely clicker work on proper greetings with high value treats to improve her behavior in these situations.

She also spends a lot of time bouncing off of me and guests with her feet.  Again, timely clicker work and high value treats should teach her to keep her feet down and greet people calmly.  Most of this is a form of self control and as a young and boisterous dog, she's gaining it, but will learn faster if I explain clearly what I want and not correct the behavior after the fact.

The marvel about clicker training is a behavior issue or adding a new behavior can be quickly addressed if done correctly.  I have some work to do, but hope to have it resolved in short order.  I will keep everyone updated on my progress here and then add homework for her owners to transfer the lessons to a new location.


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 2 2 1 1
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 1 Completed 1

Level 3
Zen Come Sit Down Target
Step 3 2 0 0 1
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

Level 4
Zen Come Retrieve Target Relax
Step 0 0 1 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0