Friday, September 27, 2013

12 Months: Training - Days 180 - 185

Emma retrieving glasses.

Monday

I think Emma was a bit disappointed on Monday when she realized that Jack wasn't here when she arrived.  Jack was in surgery to have his tail re-docked, due to continued growth of the bone and the bone piercing his skin and becoming exposed.  Emma was to fly solo for the day with Max and Dieter.

I had worked the previous week on a couple of things with her.  I had restarted Focus and was working on building confidence in picking up metal objects.  At the end of the week Emma was picking up a full sized spoon and taking the spoon into her mouth and holding it without much hesitation or paw lifting.  I had seen her confidence grow and mature during the week.

I had also worked on her delivering items to the wheelchair now that she's comfortable with retrieving certain items.  Emma was ready for that stage of the retrieve process and quickly solved how to get the items she picked up to me without my having to do a verbal cue.  Very nice.

On Monday I wanted to increase the number of metal items she had success with.  I had figured out a quick touch to hold to floor routine with a new object generally got us both success in picking up a new item.  I selected a full sized spoon, a fork and sunglasses.

She quickly moved from targeting the spoon to picking it up.  Very nice.  Next was the fork which she was a bit more hesitant about, but with a couple of repeats she had it and picked it up for me.  The sunglasses went just as well.  In the end she picked up all three items and handed them to me and did so with minimal hesitation and paw lifting.  Very nice.

She worked up to 2 seconds of eye contact after a long absence of my asking for any.  She was head turning a lot and sliding her eyes away a lot, but I was okay with restarting the behavior because I knew she would pick up and move forward quickly.

The biggest break through wasn't my directly training her, but leaving her home as I ran errands.  I left her loose in the house for 45 minutes in the morning, an 1 1/2 in the afternoon and 30 minutes in the evening without incident.  For Emma, this is a huge step.  Each time I left I set her up for success.  I provided bones, antlers and hooves to chew on.  I tied off the garbage and closed off the front bathroom, office and my bedroom.  I removed items from my end table so that she had nothing to get herself into trouble with.  On each outing I left "one more" thing out for her to decide to ignore and I didn't mind if it was lost.  She was calm, happy and had not caused trouble each time.  What a wonderful thing for Emma, her world is expanding and she's learning self control and showing no signs of separation anxiety.

Tuesday

We didn't do much on Tuesday because Jack was back and in a great deal of pain.  What we did do was practice known cues all day and continue to build up her retrieve by using it in daily living.

Emma was left loose in the house for 30 minutes while I picked up Jack's medications.

Emma just watched the children get off the school bus and head home.  She had her nose stuffed in my fence, was a bit still, but quiet and didn't have a breakdown on seeing children running down the street.  On the second bus she didn't even look up and kept chewing on her bone in the yard as the bus emptied and the children ran home.

Wednesday



Jack, who was now on pain killers, slept most of the day.  Emma, since his return on Tuesday, has been nice enough to let him sleep and not try to engage him in play.  It is a sign of maturity that she recognizes her friend doesn't feel good and is giving him space.  Very good dog communication.

Emma and I worked again on Focus and Retrieve.  She is up to quickly and happily picking up the sunglasses and starting to take and pull socks off of my hand.  She helps a bit with making the bed in the morning by taking the corner of the comforter when I offer it and pulling back, but then flips it forward in her joy when I tell her yes.

She helped with picking up shoes and socks when I got dressed.  She picked up a piece of paper I dropped.  She's following me to help now.

Her focus built back up to a solid 3 seconds and occasional 5 second eye contact.  I am about to build the next step on her retrieve, which is following my eyes.  I worked with her in the wheelchair and using heavy body language got her to look where I was looking and retrieve something close to the chair.  I will have to get better control of her with my eyes before continuing - this was an experiment to see if she was sensitive enough to learn this so her handler can cue her.  She is and I am thrilled to embark on this adventure.

I took Jack to his final Prep class, so Emma went to stay with Ronda while I was gone for 3+ hours.  She is not ready to be loose that long in the house and I don't like crating her that close to bed time.

Ronda reported she was happy and relaxed at her home this time and curled up with her and napped while I was away.

Thursday

We continued working on retrieving by introducing a small, unopened, can of olives.  I am taking her to the beginning and having her target it.  So far she's unwilling to try to mouth it and hold it.  We will continue so she learns she can pick up odd shaped and heavy objects.

We continued work on Focus.  Jack is feeling much better and he and Emma did a bit of mouth play and a little foot play.  Jack is still worried about his tail, so Emma is careful with her play with him.  Her empathy is strong and she's very appropriate with her favorite playmate and his injured state.

Emma needs a plan to keep her away from doors and incoming people when visitors arrive.  My Mom came to visit and Emma was overjoyed and bouncy.  She is the same when Ronda comes every night.  I plan to institute for the whole house a run into the office and wait until called behavior.  I need to get an over the top treat for this behavior and start training it when no one is visiting and then add the "someone is here" to the behavior chain once they know what I want when I go to answer the door.

I must note that the series of being left loose in the house led up to her having a brain fart moment on Thursday morning.  I was curled up with the dogs in the bed watching The Closer when Emma got down to find a chew toy.  What she found was an old eCig cartridge, so I told her to leave it and threw that away again.  Then I went in to the bathroom to use the facilities and in the five minutes that I was in there she ate a pair of my socks which had been on the floor next to my bed.  It's the first item of mine she's destroyed since she came into the house at 14 weeks.  We haven't had another repeat of that since.

Friday

Today I began working on controlling Emma with my eyes.  I started with basic Focus and started to look to my right and wait for any turn of her nose, even tiny movement, to the right and click for it.  Right now she doesn't know it's my looking that cues that behavior, but she was starting to experiment after our first session.

I contacted some of my more experienced trainer friends and asked for other things to do to explain it's my eyes that trigger the movement.  I have gotten a couple of great suggestions and so set off on the next stage, getting her to seek and look into my eyes.

To do this I have her sit or stand before me and then turn my back on her - as she comes around to look at me I click and treat and turn again.  She was a bit concerned with what the do at first, but once she got the idea she got into the game.

On the video I have included you'll see I am using exaggerated head movements right now to get her to move and look where I am looking.  That was the other suggestion.  We'll keep working on this until she can follow my eyes and move in that direction.

Meanwhile, I need to know what are the easiest sounds her handler can make?  I know he's non-verbal, but he does make sounds and if he can make "la", "pa", "ba", "ga" and other such sounds I can train her to those as cues so he can still communicate with her when he doesn't have his voice machine available.

In the end, I am hoping to have her trained so he can look her in the eyes, look where he wants her to go and cue "la" for light, or "ga" for get and have her help him.

Notes

A few weeks ago, right after Emma had her break through on retrieve, her owner told me she ate a pair of socks over the weekend.  They were shocked because, until that day, they could leave socks, shoes and other items lying around and she wouldn't chew them.  That was, because, until then, she didn't even think of human property as toys.  I had been very careful with her training and redirected any attempt to chew on shoes, socks or clothes to bones and toys.  Now though things have changed, I am asking her to touch and take in her mouth the forbidden objects and we are in the middle of "knowing she can" and "being cued to do it".  That step breaks down the "don't chew on grandma's shoes" training for a brief period.

Max, when we were at this stage of training and proofing and attaching the final cue, chewed on more dish clothes than I can mention.  Emma is socks.  She loves socks.  She thinks they taste good and therefore socks are in danger around her for now.

It was my fault she ate the socks next to my bed.  I am working on attaching the cue and finally proofing the behavior in and out of the home.  Until then, keep items you don't want chewed up and away from her.

Friday, September 20, 2013

12 Months: Training - Days 175 - 179



Monday

Why is Monday such a hard day to get anything done?  I had the house clean, my chores for the week to keep it clean were minor, yet I found Monday to be the day I was busier than ever.  I had my paycheck from my day job come in and needed to take Chautzie to the vet to remove her drains.

I used the morning to clean up the yard, get myself ready for the day (I am now waiting to shower until both dogs in training are present to build up "being alone" and "not crated" behaviors) and prepped treats for the week.  That takes a bit of time because I can't stand long enough to cut everything up in a single run and thus have decided I require a bar stool to work in my kitchen.

As I worked around the yard and house I asked Emma for help.  She picked up clothes, toys and other items as I requested.  I am not terribly worried about her delivery when I am standing, since her handler will not be standing when she gives him items, but wanted to build up the idea that she can and should pick up whatever is asked of her.  She was happy to help and did fantastic.

I also let her and Jack blow steam and play hard while I didn't need her help.  She and Jack were looking at a long time crated with my running to the bank and taking Chautzie to the vet, so I wanted them tired by the time I left.

I left at noon and ran to the bank and then vacuumed and washed my car at a nearby car wash.  Max, who is learning how to ride in a car wash without fear, now lays quiet throughout the process and is relaxed and unconcerned by the who process.  I will begin the same thing with Emma and Jack soon.  I have the rhythm to keep them calm down now that I used it with Max and about how to fade treats - which I am now doing with Max.

They ended the day with my doing yard work and letting them play with the bones and antler (which has since been lost) in the yard.  I was watching to ensure Chautzie didn't accidentally reopen her wounds now that the drains are out.

Tuesday

I stared work with Emma on retrieving a bigger spoon.  She was not willing to pick it up, since it was heavier and drug a bit on the floor, so I went back to target and worked up to trying to take it in her mouth over the course of several sessions.  She was pretty solid on the target, but acts like the taste of metal is unpleasant to her.  I am not moving the spoon into her mouth, it is her choice to put her mouth over it at this time, but I can see a bit of "gag" reflex when she tries to take metal into her mouth.

By the end of the day I had one solid hold on the spoon, but we were sharing it and she hadn't just taken and held the spoon in her mouth for a short time.  She's still paw lifting when working and looking worried, which means she's uncertain she is doing right.  I am taking it slow and staying quiet while she works and she's coming out the other side of the lesson stronger each time.

She continues to work on picking up items for me and helping around the house.  She's also learning to put things into a basket, but the basket is worrying her.  I started to shape her to interact with the basket, but it is a bit worrisome for her still and I want to take it slow for her and let her think on the lessons for a day or more each time we introduce the basket to her.

We did a bit of Mat work and she was happy to play the mat game.  She enjoyed finding the mat from different angles and dropping into a down on the mat.

We did a bit of distance work and she enjoyed going around the pole and coming back to my side.  Emma loves moving games and if I mix them in with her stationary games she seems more willing to play the stationary games.

Wednesday

Emma is taking and holding the spoon in her mouth now, but there is a lot of paw lifting.  She is willing to walk a couple of steps while holding the spoon and handing it to me, but she's still showing signs of worry.  I decided on our lessons to have other objects than the spoon involved.  I brought out a pencil, dish cloth, ball and the spoon.  She took the pencil without hesitation as well as the ball and dish cloth.  We did targets sometimes with the spoon and take and holds other times.  She stopped doing a paw lift by the end of the lesson and was upright and more confident.

We did shaping with a box and more distance work for her active lessons.  She is a bit stuck and I need to loosen her up and let her know she can't make any wrong choices when training.  I am ignoring the paw lift, since I now recognize it as her communicating she is uncertain she is right, and just building up the number of successes until I see it go away.  The same with the head ducking and shrunken body posture - it is all communication to tell me she is uncertain and doesn't know if she's right.  She can think herself into a panic attack and thus my click speed and her level of success falls squarely on how fast we can go from one repeat to another with her being correct - and my recognizing if we are too fast and loosening the criteria to give her a higher rate of success.

The result was she was taking and holding the spoon with confident body posture and a waving tail by the end of the day.  No foot lifts, now shrunken body, no slinking slowness, but instead a proud and loud body language that said she figured out THAT part of the lesson.  Nice.

I had class that evening from 6 PM to 9:30 PM as an assistant.  To get ready for a long night I decided to take a nap between 3 PM and 5 PM.  I left Emma and Jack out of their crates when I did.  When I woke neither dog had found trouble and were in the bed with me.  This was a positive event for her, the first sign she was able to be "unsupervised" and not eat the house.  Mind you, I keep my house up so that there isn't much trouble to find - but dogs can and do find trouble you wouldn't think they would.

I packed up Max and crated Emma in Jack's crate in the kitchen for my absence.  Dieter was nearby for her and I left the TV running for both dogs.  I left at 5:30 PM and didn't return until 10:00 PM, but when I did Emma was calm, quiet and patient while I set my stuff down and brought her out of the crate.  I gave her two hours out of the crate before re-crating her for the night.  She entered the crate without issue.

Thursday

We worked again on helping around the house, mat work and distance.  Emma enjoyed each of the lessons and even the shaping lesson with a box again.  I didn't do much with the spoon.  We had a solid break through the day before and I wanted her to think on it for a while.  That evening, when Ronda picked up Jack, I set the spoon on the floor and Emma picked it up and handed it to me.  She also carried it between Ronda and I and was all kinds of proud of herself.  I knew I could put the spoon on the floor when she lunged and took a solid grip on the spoon when I was holding it out for her to target while Ronda was visiting.

I then did something new for Emma.  I blocked the front bathroom, the back bedroom, locked up the garbage cupboard and shut the office off.  I picked up anything she might think to chew and put it up high and tossed out two bones and a hoof for her to chew on and left her with Dieter, uncrated, in the house for 45 minutes while Max and I went to Costco.

When I left I heard her bark and howl a bit, but when I returned she was calm, happy and nothing was destroyed in the house.  Emma did her first unsupervised, uncrated, stay at home while I run an errand and did so with flying colors.  This does not mean she's ready to do this for hours on end; 45 minutes was pushing the envelope for her, but she had shown me she was ready to start learning to be a good dog when left loose in the house.

Friday

Today we worked only on delivering a wash cloth into my lap or hands when I am seated in the wheelchair.  I wanted to see if the work we've done so far with her always having to step up and put the item in my lap or hands when I am seated had transferred.  The video above shows you how well it did.  The next step is teaching her to look and get something when I am not pointing at it or tossing it.

This weekend the family should work on Emma handing items to her handler while he's in the chair.  Socks, pencils and wash cloths should be used to build this behavior with him and let her work out the best way to get the items to him when he needs them.

We'll need to do a home visit shortly to see how Emma is doing with following his cues and responding to him.


Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed

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

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


Step 0 0


Friday, September 13, 2013

12 Months: Training - Days 172 - 174

Emma picked up the sock and turned to give it to me.


Emma sat at my feet and waited to be cued up into my lap.


Emma did a paws up to hand me to sock.
Monday

On Monday I spent the day letting Emma and Jack get over the excitement of spending a day together again after being apart for a week.  They enjoyed lots of romping, Bitey Face and Catch Me If You Can games throughout the day.  At one point we curled up on the bed with Max, Emma and Jack and Jack and Emma decided it was a perfect time for a rousing game of Bitey Face.  It was actually a lot of fun and the two ended the day in good humor and very tired.

Tuesday

My new Baker's Shelf all setup.
On Tuesday I started to ask Emma to help me around the house.  I had spent most of Monday getting my new Baker's Shelf setup and cleaning my kitchen and floors.  It wore me out and took me most of the day to expend that energy to get a clean and organized kitchen and living room.

So, by Tuesday I was looking at laundry, bathroom and bedroom for cleaning.  Using cleaning agents, brooms, vacuums and steam mops around the dogs is as important as sitting and training a specific behavior.  Normal living with the cleaning, phone conversations, visitations and other things that happen in the home are a huge part of a dog's life and without the experience of being a part of the family and witnessing the events they miss large portions of their socialization.  Emma, Jack, Dieter, Max and Victoria (my cat) all participate in cleaning by following me about as I do my daily chores.  For Emma, she's witnessed me call Max to me and ask for help on a daily basis since she was 14 weeks old.  Now it's her turn.

I was pulling the laundry out (she's not up to unloading a dryer yet) and dropped a dish towel, a wash cloth and a bra.  Emma was playing in the yard and the door was open.  As I do with Max during the day I called her to me.  She raced up and I pointed to the items on the floor and asked if she could help.  I had pointed to the items on the floor and Emma, who was standing over them, stepped back and then picked up the bra.  This was wonderful.  She dropped it and then picked it up again and then gave it to me.  I gave her praise and pointed and said "look", which will be her clue to keep looking for items to pick up.  She picked up the wash cloth, gave it a minute shake and put it right in my hand.  I said "look" again and she picked up the dish cloth, gave it a little harder shake and handed it to me.  Each time she got praise and then we rushed to the treat jar and she got a treat for helping.

A little later I sat down to put on my slippers, which were by Emma and away from the end of my bed, and asked her to get me on.  She picked it up and carried it to me.  I then said, "Can I have the other?"  which is what I say to Max and low and behold she went back and got the second slipper and brought it to me!

I went into decontaminate my bathroom (ie, clean) and spent about an hour changing the cat box, cleaning out drawers and throwing away old stuff, cleaning the shower, counter, tub and toilet and finally combining the dregs of shampoo and conditioner bottles into a single bottle (one for shampoo and one for conditioner) so I could recycle the empties.  As I was finishing up I had one bottle that had the center curved in from air being sucked in and offered both Jack and Emma a chance to take it in their mouth.  Both did, but Emma took it completely and walked around the bathroom with a big wagging tail.  I took it back, walked her into the kitchen and handed the bottle back to her and then asked her to follow me to the recycle bin.  She doesn't have a good release yet, but we'll get it.  She held it over the bin, but didn't release.  I asked her to hand it to me and then we rushed into the kitchen to the treat jar and she got a treat.

I let her think on all the good help she did for me during the day and play with Jack until after dinner.  We then headed to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for re-potting my house plants.  She walked to the car on a loose lead and in position and she was able to get her head about her after we got out of the car in the parking lot within only a few seconds.

Once she was focused I pulled out the dish cloth I brought.  Emma's best retrieve items are cloth and I wanted to give her the best chance at success.  I dropped it and Emma, without hesitation, scooped it up and handed to me.  Not once, but three times!  Woot!

I gave her a chance to potty, which she didn't use, and as we were prepping to go into the store a Japanese woman came up and asked to meet her.  Emma has had problems with Asian people in the past - some dogs have problems with men, some with children, some with African American - for Emma it was Asian.  She tends to stop and stare when she sees them and moves close into me - a bit of fear or concern - so I was happy that we had a chance for a positive greeting.

The woman knelt down and Emma went right to her.  The woman had an accent and spoke in Japanese to her as she gently (very very gently) petted her UNDER the chin.  What a wonderful woman to know how to greet a dog!  Emma put her feet up on her for a second and checked her face and then just stood and soaked up the affection.  It was wonderful.  When we left Emma was happy, confident and not worried about the woman.

We worked our way through the store on a loose lead with only a few circles to get her refocused on me and headed into the garden center.  It was hard on her there.  The smells were very exciting and Emma struggled a bit with self control, but won the battle.

The garden center woman and I chatted a bit and as we were I dropped a dish cloth I brought - just to try out her retrieve in public and see where we were.  It landed perfectly flat - sorta like I had tossed down a mat. Emma looked at it, cocked her head and laid .  Very nice problem solving - since I didn't cue a retrieve and she clearly remembered her mat training she selected her stronger behavior and offered me something.  I was very pleased with her.

The clerk picked up the cloth, accidentally dropped it and Emma picked it up and handed it to her!  Yes, she did her first in store, in public retrieve!  Doesn't mean she's fully trained yet, but she's well on her way to doing solid retrieves in public and at home.  We are just expanding her experience and practice now.

She was, overall, in the store spot on.  She heard beeping forklifts without issue, things rattling and dropping and would look off and on, but stayed upbeat and showed no fear.  She saw moving carts (even flat carts) and didn't have a problem with them and though she was startled a couple of times she quickly recovered.  I was rewarding for prolonged downs and sits, but she was walking with very few treats - only when something drew her attention and I needed to bring it back.  She was a bit wander lust when I was looking at something on the shelf, but quickly reset beside me and was happy and confident.

I was very pleased with this visit (her second in store) to Home Depot and plan to take her back and work strictly on Level 1 behaviors, self control and leash manners and build up a bit of retrieve with her.

Wednesday

Wednesday was her birthday.  Emma is 1 years old!  What a milestone for her.  Her confidence is increasing by leaps and bounds and she's picking up on all the threads in her training and putting them together.

In the morning I pulled out a metal spoon and worked on her taking and holding it.  She was happy to do so and in short order she was taking it from my hand closer and closer to the floor.  The one thing keeping her from passing Retrieve was picking up metal objects and I have been working slowly with her on that portion of the behavior.  On her birthday, Emma picked up a metal spoon and handed it to me.

Wednesday was a very busy day for me.  I had to crate her and Jack twice during the day so I could run a friend's dog to the vet and later to go to an evaluation of another dog and then pick up the dog from the vet.  For Emma, my return with Chautzie marked her first time being around a dog with drains.  She was very gentle when she checked her and explored the drains (Chautzie was injured the day before and needed drains due to infection setting in) and then gave Chautzie a gentle sniff of the cheek before going off to explore the yard.  We spent the rest of the evening outside until Ronda, Chautize's owner, arrived to pick her up.

Jack had class that night, so Emma stayed the evening with Ronda and I took Jack to class.  She explored Ronda's yard and played quietly while I was away.  She actually handled my dropping her off with Ronda better than Max did, who was also spending the night with Ronda to play while Jack was in class.

We ended her birthday with a cuddle and play session on the bed after I brought her back to my home.

Thursday

Thursday marked floor cleaning day.  I got up early to with the dogs and began the process of cleaning the house.  By the time Jack arrived I had a load of laundry done, the dishes put up, food out to defrost for diner that night and was preparing to clean the floors.  I fed the dogs and pulled out the vacuum and steamer (I have wood floors) and did a 100 percent floor cleaning project.

Emma used to scurry away and hide when I pulled out the vacuum and steamer, but now just sees them and calmly walks to her spot behind my recliner.  She occasionally comes to check on my progress, but for the most part just lays quietly waiting for me to finish with the floors.  He choice spot means I only  need to move her once when I am vacuuming and steaming the floors and she is out of my way.  She is not fearful of the vacuum or steamer, but she doesn't want to be near them when they are running.  I am okay with her response to both items.

Josh arrived to mow the lawn and do some chores around the house also.  Emma was barking at him, but her tail was going 100 miles an hour and she quickly got her feet under control when he came in the yard.  When he was outside of the fence all I needed to do was call her and she came to me.  She is no longer afraid of Josh or worried about his weekly arrivals.  She has no fear of the lawn mower and generally just lays in the yard while he's mowing and chews on a stick or bone until he comes to the area she's in.  She then moves to a new spot in the yard and relaxes while he mows.

As I was picking up items in the yard I called her to me to help. She picked up some crumpled foil and a few sticks or chunks of wood I needed moved.  She also helped in the house as I dropped things and picked them up also.

When I transferred the laundry from the washer to the dryer I dropped some clothes and called her to me.  She picked them up and handed them to me.  Right now she gets a treat when we finish working in a spot, but has to follow me into the kitchen to get it.  I no longer need treats on me to get her to retrieve.

My Mom came over in the afternoon to help re-pot plants in the house.  It was a huge project and at one point I had to laugh when I turned to see Emma had come in to check in on me and was staring at us, her head cocked to one side, like she was asking WHY we were abusing the plants.  I am certain she thinks we humans are strange.  We ended up using the broom and dustpan a lot during this time and Emma was cautious but not fearful of them.  I will have to use a broom around her more.

In the evening we spent time playing in the yard and relaxing.  I had been asking a lot of Emma throughout the day and she was a trooper and met my requests, but I wanted an extended downtime and playtime for her to let her process everything.  I suspected, with such a busy week learning and making breakthroughs, that she would back slide a bit and wanted to make it a minor instead of a major backslide.

That night, as I took the clothes out of the dryer I dropped 7 items.  Emma picked up all seven without any treats in between with a soft wiggly body and happy face. She was quick and responsive and is truly getting the idea of helping around with laundry.  When we finished she got three treats for being such a trooper.

Friday

And as I expected - Emma's brain is full.  Today she acted like she never retrieved before in her life.  I was not terribly surprised.  This morning I asked her to help make the bed by taking the comforter in her mouth and let her decide to pull on it.  She did and was pretty excited about that.  We had just finished a cuddle and wrestle session on the bed and she was in high spirits.

Later I pulled out a fork (remember, she's picked up a small egg spoon so far, no large silverware) and asked her to pick it up.  Low and behold we were back to the "that is too hard for me" mode; so we went back to targeting and high rewards for touching a metal object and worked to taking the fork in her mouth and almost up to a hold and carry to me for one step.  She did take the fork once and hold it for a brief period, but her body language said that for some reason she didn't want to touch the fork with her teeth again.  That's fine - this type of up and down with retrieving is to be expected and since she's so soft I can't just plow through it, but need to nudge her a bit at a time to resolve the conflict.  We'll get there.

She was the same with the glasses I introduced and worried about the basket I wanted her to put things into.  I had brought out two new things for this lesson (put items in basket) and didn't truly expect her to pick them up.  She was spot on with a washcloth, so we stuck to that once she showed me what she was willing to work with.

She walks around the basket and puts the washcloth on my knee.  She's not willing to put her head in the basket at this point.  This means I need to back further up than her picking up and holding items over a basket and clicking to get her to drop them, but instead work from her exploring and getting high rewards with her head in the basket.  We'll get there.  It's the start of another task and she's a little worried about what to do with the basket.  I'll let her think on our final lesson, exploring the basket, for the weekend and tackle the task next week.

Emma is still an adolescent dog and her confidence will wax and wane as she grows.  She's going to have strange days where something that she's normally okay with will suddenly scare her or make her shutdown for a bit.  She'll have days where she can and will do anything.  It's normal part of growing up dog.

I have several friends who have dogs close in age to Emma.  Some are a little older, others younger.  Each of us are talking about the off and on weirdness of being an adolescent dog.  Emma is smack dab in the middle of that and what she could do one day she may not be able to another.  Patience and confidence building will resolve it - as will age.

Items Picked Up on Cue so Far:


  • Slippers
  • Shoes
  • Bottle Cap
  • Dish Cloth
  • Dish Towel
  • Wash Cloth
  • Socks
  • Bras
  • Plastic L Shaped Item
  • Underwear
  • Pants Cuff
  • Rope Hanging on Fridge
  • eCig Cartridge
  • eCig
  • eCig Rubber Cap
  • Business Card
  • Paper
  • Envelope
  • Metal Spoon
  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Metal tweezers
  • Metal human nail clippers
  • Crumpled Aluminium Foil
  • Receipt (both flat and crumpled)
  • Junk Mail (flat)
  • Bedspread (she took it and pulled as I wanted)
  • Pot Holder
  • Leaf
  • Stick
  • Dried Flower Bud
  • Sticks
  • Wood Chunks
As you can see, she is well on her way to learning she is able to pick up many items and give them to me.  I am very excited by this progress.



Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed

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

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


Step 0 0


Thursday, September 5, 2013

11 Months: Training - Day 171

Emma is learning working position when walking.
Back feet.  You would think if you had four feet you would be aware you have them, but apparently that was not part of the design of a dog.  Though their feet follow them, they are, for the most part, totally clueless they own back feet.  The funniest moment when training a dog is the moment they look back at those two follow alongs and realize they are there in the first place.  That happened today with Emma.

I am working on the next step of her leash work, which is full wheelchair skills, and thus am working on her knowing she had back feet.  It is important for a dog working with a wheelchair to realize they can pivot with it, can back up with it and can keep all four feet out of danger of the wheels.  To do this I am working with my desk chair and playing "Find My Face" and clicking for any back foot movement and then finally only for side to side back foot movement.  Right now I don't care it is right or left.  I don't care if she swings into position on my Heel or Side, what I do care is she can and will move her back end independent of her front end and thus be able to turn with a chair.

The trick is to convince Emma that finding my face is the goal of the game.  I managed that with letting her do all kinds of wiggles and woggles and spins and what not and every time she looked up into my face I clicked and then every time she was in some form alignment with my body and facing me I clicked.  It didn't take long; I could turn 180 degrees and she'd walk around and look up.  No speed, no excitement yet - just that testing mode of "is this right" in her body language.  A few more of these games and she'll know the game and come into it with confidence.

I then started clicking her back feet as she aligned with me (yes, that was the reason for the alignment) and then I clicked for sideways movement of her feet.  That's when it happened.  She turned and looked at her back foot and then looked at me.  Yep, little one, that is it.  I am clicking for THOSE feet moving.  It was both an Aha moment and a "where did those come from" moment.

We'll keep working on her pivoting with me, which is the most important part of wheelchair safety I can teach her and then transfer the lessons to the wheelchair in the house and then take it out on the road once I am comfortable with her working beside the chair and turning nicely with it.

I do not like Emma's leash personally.  I never have.  It's too wide and too long for my liking and I tend to put it aside when she arrives and use Max's old working leash.  I love that leash.  I used that leash for four years of our partnership and feel comfortable with that leash.  It's nothing special - just a straight six foot leather leash that is half an inch in width.  At first I thought I was just upset with the width of Emma's leash, but I also do not like Jack's leash.  It is narrow, like Max's, but far too long.  There is something to be said about a six foot leash.

I only need to loop Max's leash once to have it at the right length for Emma and I when walking.  It is the right width to hold comfortably for hours on end.  The leather makes it nice on the hands too.  A cloth leash, like Emma's and Jack's, over time make my hands feel dry and chafed, but Max's leash I could hold for an entire day and not feel that way.  The final advantage of Max's leash over the other two is when the dog does jerk the leash it doesn't tear or burn my hand.

I tell all my clients in my lecture that basic gear for a working dog is a six foot leash, flat collar and current tags at a minimum.  Emma's leash is at least 7 feet if not 8 feet in length and is simply too long for working a service dog.

Today I filmed Emma and I working in front of my home.  I worked on leash manners and did a bit of the circling I was talking about.  I also worked with both Max's leash and her leash.  You'll note that I need to wrap a great deal more of her leash up to work with her and keep her from tripping over it than I do his leash.

I want to explain what you are seeing in the video.  In this video I want Emma to remain by my left side as she works with me.  I want her to not pull forward more than her shoulder and not so far out that she's more than a foot away from my side.  When she lags I am not stopping, it is her job to keep up and pay attention to me and she's now old enough to take over that job.  If she lags I keep going and make her come with me without jerking or correcting her more than her hitting the end of the lead.  She is not to sniff the ground while we are walking.  Pulling to far forward or to far to the side will result in my turning sharply and walking a few steps the direction I was going and then circling back and going forward again - if she pulls too far forward again I rinse and repeat.  Sniffing the ground gets the same result.  Lagging means I keep going and if she hits the end of the lead so be it, she'll learn to pay attention.

You'll see that at first she was very excited and we did a lot of circles - we had not focal point this time, but that is okay.  This is a demo on the technique and not an actual exercise on a focal point.  She'll be doing that this weekend.  As she realized the rules still apply from last night she settled in and we started to work as a team. I am not talking to her for a reason - she needs to think and problem solve the problem; my talking will break her ability to do that.  I am removing treats as she improves on the straight and narrow, but adding them as we weave and do figure eights (she needs a ton of these too....just over and over and over until she can turn both directions fluidly with people) and as she improves on them the treats fade.  We are eventually fading treats for walking and sitting and doing downs - it's happening.  She's about to begin using these skills in real life.  During an actual training session a few treats for a very good turn and a very good, in alignment, sit and quality walking next to you is important.  She needs only good, top quality, performances rewarded once she knows the rules.  If she is struggling add more treats, if she isn't start fading them.

I am giving treats for calm behavior when cars pass - the same for people, dogs, cats and whatever she encounters.  I also set her up for it by clicking when she looks and rewarding when she looks back.  I have her sit or stand by me and I am watching her to ensure I am rewarding what I want.  This too is important.  Over time she'll have those treats faded and will be just working at your side like she'd done it all her life.

Until then, she needs practice.  This weekend and every weekend from now on she needs to be taken out and walked toward an exciting focal point.  Family is very exciting and working in silence and working this way until she can approach and pass her humans or approach and greet her humans is important.  Think of other things that excite her and work to walk her calmly to them.  Start far enough back she can work with you - 20, 30, 40 feet if need be until she can walk the distance and succeed at the goal.

It won't be long before she can and will be able to walk to people she loves and anywhere calmly.  The below video is boring, but shows me working with Emma in the moment.  Note that I do a lot of direction changes to keep her attention - when her tail goes still it does not mean she is unhappy, but focused.  When she goes into "work mode" she holds her head and tail like that and it barely moves - she's focused when that happens.  Note, once it did, she was working smoothly with me.  That is the goal we are working towards - working smoothly together.



Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed

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

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


Step 0 0


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

11 Months: Training - Day 170

Today Emma passed her leash work in Levels - now she just need
practice!
My mother came over today and Emma was able to stay in a sit until she stepped into the house.  She stood, but didn't move to my Mom until I told her to go say hi, but then all control seemed to go out the window and she jumped up against Mom.  I asked Mom to cross her arms and look away from Emma, something I had been practicing with her, and low and behold Emma controlled herself and put her feet on the floor.  It took three or four times of doing so, but in the end Emma kept her feet down and was rewarded with affection from my Mom; the highest reward possible at that point.

It's still a work in progress, but I do have Emma sitting behind me when I answer the door, waiting for me to give the all clear to say Hi as a release to greet and meet the guests.  It's part of the Levels Training program - dog waits while handler talks to a person at the door.  It's in its infancy and a lot of management and focus on my part is happening and the final piece of the chain (don't freak out and jump on the guests) is coming into the picture, but I am about to put a whole behavior chain together.

This chain consists of:
  • Let me know someone is at the door (bark and come to me)
  • Go to the door with me and Sit away from the door
  • Stay seated while I open the door and talk to the person
    • If the person comes in then wait until released to say hi
      • If person doesn't want to be greeted, go elsewhere
    • If person doesn't come in wait to be released when door is shut and conversation is over
  • If person comes in and released to say hi, do so with all four feet on floor and briefly
  • Find toy or spot to lay quietly and let people visit.
It takes not only training the dog but the people.  I need to convince the people to not look her in the eye, no push away with their hand, cross their arms and ignore her until she gains self control and she has her feet on the ground and to STOP petting her and re-cross her arms and look away when she jumps up again and rinse and repeat until success is reached.

It takes time and consistency and practice for the dog to get it right and people who are willing to put up with the unruly until the dog learns.

We are getting there and I cannot thank my family and friends enough for all of their patience in this training.

Today Jack is not here because Ronda is on vacation and thus we have more time to work on "calm yourself" games.  Emma is enjoying them.  We are also working on relaxation exercises where she's asked to default to a relaxed position nearby and wait while I work.  She's doing great!

I do want to mention that Emma is already on a solid foundation with her basic skills and now I am taking them on the road and building them up even stronger, but can't go much further until I have good leash manners.  So, for as long as Emma needs it, we'll be working on leash manners.  Unless she is out on a harness she is to be calm and walking politely beside her handler.  This is to be achieved with patience and taking time to give her success.  If, for whatever reason, the person handling her does not have the time to keep her calm and on a loose lead, then don't take her or don't walk her on her flat collar.  I want a leash clipped to that collar to mean calm behavior - period.

What an amazing evening.  I had planned on a big outing with Emma tonight and at 3:30 PM we set out and went to Petsmart.  Once there I gave Emma the time she needed to stop whiplash looking about and calm down before we ever left the side of the van.  At first I just clicked for looking at cars, people, blowing leaves and anything in sight and switched to clicking for checking back with me.  Once she was calmed enough to start moving (five minutes) we spent the next three minutes walking up and down beside the van until she could walk calmly beside me.

We crossed to Petsmart doorstep and I had her sit and stay calm while people (children, adults, old, young, carts) all passed us.  She did great and managed to relax and handle the moderate traffic jam that happened.  Then we walked for five minutes up and down in front of Petsmart until she was totally calm and the went into the store.

Once in the store I started working her on lazy weaves through the displays.  At first I was clicking and treating for position and then switched to clicking and treating for sits or downs.  It was at the point I put her in a sit and walked around her I came to realize how far we'd come.  She then did a down and I walked around her in the other direction.  She didn't even blink on this.  I did a sit/stay and walked ten feet away and back and then did a sit/stay and called her to me.  She did it all without issue!

We then put the clicker up and started walking the store for the next ten minutes (now we'd been there for almost 15 minutes) and weaved through displays and all the cues she got were directional and praise for particularly hard areas, such as leaving the displays alone as we passed with her shoulder practically touching them.  She did something amazing then - when I said Left as a cue she looked left and turned left on the cue, the same with Right.  I was truly pleased!

We went into the groomers and she got worried.  We did sit and down and target and shake and played a little and left.  She was happy by the time we left and now knew she could go into a place like that and NOT be left behind, like has been happening EVERY TIME I take her to the groomers.

We then worked for a couple more minutes outside (total 20 minutes in the store, 15 minutes outside store) and I saw the next amazing thing!  She was glancing back to see where she was in relation to me!  This is advanced work on leash.  She's now aware of what the zone is and is checking to keep herself in it and not depending on my telling her when she's out!  Then she did a check, realized she was slightly too far ahead and did a gait change to reset herself back in the proper working zone for walking with me!  AMAZING!

I offered her a chance to pee and she did it too!  Woohoo!

We then went to Safeway and Rite Aid.  I did Rite Aid first and she was much calmer (it took less than 15 seconds to get her mind in gear) and walked in the zone, on a loose leash, to Rite Aid while passing Safeway.  When the automatic doors opened she tried to enter, but quickly learned I am setting the direction because I just kept going and she had to follow, not try to set our direction herself.

In Rite Aid we weaved through the displays (by now I am not using treats, just walking with her and only giving her a treat when I ask for a Sit or a Down) and worked two full aisles in Rite Aid on calm leash manners.  She was spot on the entire time and doing checks for placement and gaiting with me perfectly.

We went to work another section and ran across the demon scarecrow.  As we came around one aisle there it was - a scarecrow girl that was right in the height range of the children that most often send her scurrying for cover.  She didn't bark or freak out, but instead switched sides and kept walking.

I took her back and touched it, rewarded her for looking at it and worked her until she was able to sniff it and find it wasn't scary at all.  We walked around it, did sits and downs and targets by it and worked until she could walk beside me and by it without changing sides and avoiding it.  It took us about 10 minutes, but the confidence I saw when she finally overcame her worry about the scary scarecrow child was wonderful.

I then took her down the aisle with a whole bunch more of them, at first with me between her and them and then with her between me and them and she didn't even blink.  Mission accomplished.  She figured out they were not scary and went back into work mode - which I am starting to see more and more often when working with me in public.  We spent 15 minutes in RiteAid.

We then left Rite Aid and sniffed the grass outside of Safeway for a couple of minutes and then entered Safeway.  By this time she was no longer getting treats for walking with me, was working like a champ at my side and only occasionally getting treats for sits or downs when asked.  She was also starting to pay close enough attention to me to stop when I stopped and look up at me for direction!

We weaved through the produce section, worked the back aisles and weaved through all of the other aisles while she stayed in perfect work position at my side and was 100% loose leash the entire time.  I rarely had to circle to reset (only if she sniffed the floor or reached out to touch a passing person) and she was clearly relaxed and calm.

After that we went calmly back to the car and returned home.

Folks, she spent an hour training loose leash work with rare treats offered for walking with me and was spot on 90% of the time we were out.  Emma is well on her way to her final leash work and its like walking with air when she's in the zone leash wise!  Amazing!

Emma now needs practice, practice, practice for leash work - but she's passed all of the Levels lessons regarding leash work and is simply in the process of making it habit.  We well rework leash work for the wheelchair next.

Level 1
Zen Target Come Sit Down
Step Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed

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

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


Step 0 0


11 Months: Training - Day 169

No, I don't expect her to watch my every step, but I do expect
her to be aware of her leash and me and be calm when
walking with me or anyone.
Emma did not remember her calm behavior over the weekend.  I am uncertain what the break is between home and here, but there is one and I need to figure out what it is and build it up some more.  I have already asked that they not attach her leash unless she is sitting and not jumping around, building on calm behavior will take time (I am now waiting until she's not hyper vibrating, but in a slow rumble of vibration before I attach the leash) and that they pick up and carry the leash around and set it down, ignoring her bouncing excitement whenever they do.  Basically, I am asking that the charge in the leash (leashes mean good things happen in Emma's mind) is removed and it's just another object we pick up.

I have asked that they work on calmly getting to point A to point B and that they ask for calm when dealing with her.  I do know I speak with a lower pitch in my voice with less animation to keep her calm than they do and I am less animated when I am working with her.  C, her owner, is a very animated person and for Emma its like biofeedback when dealing with that level of animation.  I suspect it's time we start planning on a visit once or twice a month in their home to watch how they are working with her and communicating in both verbal and body language to help them keep her calm until Emma has developed her own internal self control.

Whatever it is, Emma was back at square one, which makes each week a repeat of the week before with little forward progress.  I was to the point of touching her leash last week and not getting more than a four on the floor body wave as she followed me about the house while I carried it.  Tuesday I touched the leash and she went into bucking, rearing and barking fits of excitement while she bounced off of my bladder again - which for me is extremely painful and I suspect for her handler, B, such bouncing, even as light as she does it, is painful also.  My goal is to have a dog who can work with a fragile and highly disabled handler without causing him pain or fear and if I couldn't use my arms or move myself out of her way I would find such behavior upsetting and even frightening, even though it is clear she has no intent to harm.

I have been a private contractor for the past two years, working from home as a web developer.  Since that job put food on my table and in the dog's bowls, kept the power on, heat or cooling going, internet/TV/Phone running and provided the treats and bones the dogs have been enjoying I have had to devote a portion of each day to working in the office.  It's a great lesson for Emma.  She learned quickly to curl up in the office behind my chair or under my desk and sleep while I work.  The same as Dieter and Max while I go into the office.  It was a modeled behavior that was well established since I have been working from home since 2008.

Originally it was an 8  to 5 job though one company that kept me hoping for 8+ hours a day.  I trained Max during my breaks and my evenings.  In 2010 that job came to an end when the contract that paid my wages was lost in a bidding war and a new company got it.  In 2011 the company that got the bid hired me to work on the projects that they'd aquired and I was familiar with.  I have been on part time work with them since then, working from home on keeping the servers running and the applications humming as a private contractor.  That contract has once again come to an end and at the end of this month the money that makes living possible comes to an end.  As a result, I put out more job applications - but it means my working from home will end.

On Tuesday I had a second job interview with a company that I really hope I get hired into.  As a result I spent the morning grooming myself and Max for the interview.  I am so glad I have built up Emma's ability to be alone long enough to let me shower without her finding trouble.  I am not a slow person in the shower.  In and out is my rule of thumb.  I am maybe out of her line of sight for a good 10 minutes at the maximum and Emma has learned to curl up on my bed and wait for me while I am.  Max curls up by the shower itself and Dieter curls up on Max's bed.  The examples they both set for her has made the transition from being crated while I shower to being gated in the room to being left unattended easier.

She's calm and relaxed when I exit the shower and can now handle my going outside of the house for five to ten minutes without getting into trouble - though I am certain I don't leave temptation laying in wait for her when I do.  I am about to buy her an x-pen to start transitioning her from being crated when I leave to being in the x-pen and eventually left to her own devices - once she's gained the self confidence and self control to not find trouble when left alone.

I then pulled out my ironing board and deployed the legs.  Emma was near me when I did this and she ducked for cover when it happened.  I laughed at her and asked her if I scared her.  Yes, I laughed.  I have done this with all of my dogs for years and it becomes the cue for "nothing is falling from the sky to crush you" for them.  The moment I laughed she moved in and checked the ironing board and then went to her spot behind my recliner (it's her "crate" when loose in the house and where she feels safest) and laid down and went to sleep while I ironed my clothes.

After that I groomed Max.  Emma, who at first hated grooming, has started to come to me the moment I sit on the floor with a brush and move in to be groomed.  She still hates her face being groomed (lots of fussing while I do), but with constant treats, kisses and praise, she's grown better about it each time we groom.  I told her it was Max's turn and laughed at her and kissed her nose.

After that I picked up her leash and boing, off my bladder she bounced.  Sigh.  It took almost five minutes, but she calmed enough for me to leash her and then it took another ten to walk on loose leash to the car.  Thankfully, that morning Robin, my friend who helps me problem solve, had called and we'd talked about the difference between loose leash and leash manners.  Emma has loose leash, but no leash manners.  We came up with a solution to solve this problem and I spent the ten minutes not so much working on keeping the leash loose, but her focused and with proper manners between the house and the car.

We spent three minutes at our destination doing the same thing.  Ronda, who owns Jack, is on vacation and agreed to watch Emma while I was out so I wouldn't have to crate her.  I dropped her off to spend the afternoon with Ronda and then headed off to do my business.

Ronda reported on my return that Emma was sedate and spent most of her time at the gate waiting for me.  She's at an age that she's noticing when people she knows well and is bonded with leave her.  Though she didn't whine or show undue separation anxiety, she did show an awareness of my departure.  Emma was curled in Ronda's lap when I arrived and the moment she heard my voice she shot out of her lap and bound to me.  I guess the little one loves me.

After letting her get past her excitement I was back, she promptly began looking for sticks and leaves to chew and was back to her confident little self playing throughout the yard.  This is not the fist time she's been to Ronda's home without me, but it is the first time I have dropped her off and left.  Normally Ronda picks her up and takes her over to her home.  This time she was shy about going out and doing her normal behaviors of exploring or chewing on things.

I let her play for a while before Ronda and I took her and Jack out to work on leash manners.  Jack is a high value reward for Emma.  She loves him, loves to play with him and walking up to him in a controlled manner is difficult for her.  We stood 20 feet apart while I worked on her walking in a calm and controlled manner to Jack and Jack worked on remaining in a stay by Ronda and staying focused.

I had to do several circles to reset her to my side the first time and second time we approached and walked away, but by the third she was ignoring the dogs looking through the fence beside us and ignoring Jack.  Jack was ignoring the dogs behind the fence and ignoring Emma.  It was a beautiful dance.

By the fourth time I went toward them I was able to walk around them and make a our way back toward my van.  We did this for five minutes getting closer in and maintaining focus on me and calm on the leash with it loose as we walked to and from a focal point.  She was on the outside from Jack for this exercise, so next time I will have her on the inside by Jack and work on even more focus as we circle them.

We then reversed it and had Emma keep focus on me and ignore Ronda and Jack while they worked on calm leash behavior.  Jack was able to go around us by the third approach and Emma did a fantastic job of staying focused on me.  Both she and Jack defaulted into a down to keep themselves under control.  We worked on this behavior for five minutes.

We then had Jack with me and Emma with Ronda and repeated the exercise for another 3 minutes each dog.  They did a fantastic job and by the time we finished both were calm, under control on the leash, and focused on their handler - no matter who the handler was.  I will repeat this exercise with Emma solo in a parking lot again this week and see if I can't get her to walk calmly to a store door from the van to the door and back with full leash manners in place.

This exercise also needs to be done by the family, so I will film what I want them to do and have them work on it this weekend with Emma to improve her self control.

This was a wonderful training session and Emma was happy and tired when we finished.


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 4 2 1 2
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 Completed 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 4 0 0 0
Jump Relax Handling Retrieve Communication
Step 0 0 0 Completed 0

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


Step 0 0


11 Months: Training - Days 167 - 168

Someday Emma will learn to put her own toys away.
Emma is in that fantastic stage of doggy demon-hood.  It's starts right around 5 months of age and doesn't seem to leave until right around 18 months of age (if not later) while the dog goes through huge changes in personality, body growth and mental growth.  Their brain is actually physically growing during this time and it seems that with each new spurt in growth the lessons previously learned fly out the window.  For a while Emma totally forgot that sitting at my front door to be let out was possible - since I expected that and some of the strange behavior she's displayed, I simply worked with the dog I had each day.

On Thursday I had a dog who was more interested in play than learning.  She would sit or down for me, but she wanted to play with Jack or run the yard to find some new prize to eat in the grass.  She wasn't up to any stressful mental stimulation according to her.  This was fine, we worked on recall and basic skills such as target, sit and down for a bit.  She was convinced that she was too worn out from her exciting week to pick up any new behaviors and I was convinced she is old enough to work a bit more.

I turned a lesson into a game she could get her tiny body wrapped up in.  We played the "calm yourself game" in which any bouncing, jumping, barking or rearing up and pawing the air like Silver in the Lone Ranger would result in my paying close attention to the ceiling or wall with my arms crossed.  At first she was jumping about me and barking as if to say, "HEY!  Pay attention to ME!" but I was convinced I'd seen the face of Mona Lisa in my ceiling and was checking that out.  In a second I could hear the pattering of a body vibrating in place before me and glanced down.  The instant I made eye contact she exploded, so I went back to exploring my ceiling.  In short order she was able to hold her sit and vibrate in place as I reached down, gave her a huge yes and wound her back up.

We did this for ten minutes.  She thought it was the silliest game ever, but what I noticed was by the time I finished the "calm yourself" game, she was almost instantly going from wound to the ceiling excitement to sitting, slightly vibrating, almost calm at my feet when I now gave a slight look away.  She is fully capable of containing herself, but she needs to be taught such behavior and therefore I have started a string of games with her daily, all day, work on her getting my attention only when calm, unless I asked for her to get excited with me.

By Friday the game was working a charm.  Leashes picked up and carried around the house received a calm and wavy body and tail as I moved them around and occasionally clipped them on her.  Even waving my arms and cheering only got a couple of tiny bounces from her and then she'd sit and stare up at me and get her praise.

I asked her to pick up new things each day.  On Friday I started asking her to think about putting items into a box.  I got out a shoe box and a pair of socks and worked on her picking up and dropping the socks into the shoe box.  She loved this and was close on getting the items into the box each time.  She's not fully certain of the game yet, but the more I play it with her the better she'll get at it.  Eventually this will work into her putting her handler's clothes into a clothes hamper and picking up and putting toys away.  It will also work for throwing away garbage.

We did a lot of play for the last two days of the week, but Emma learned a lot of self control while doing so and I hope she keeps some of it by the time she returns on Tuesday.


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 4 2 1 2
Jump Relax Handling Tricks Communication
Step 1 1 Completed 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 4 0 0
Focus Lazy Leash Go To Mat Crate Distance
Step 0 0 0 0 0
Handling Communication


Step 0 0