9 weeks 3 days

Missed a day - between me and Stitch and Sync, we managed to drop my laptop on the floor. It doesn't feel well, and it's got the first half of yesterday's blog on it, so I'll just skip it and move on.

I got an email yesterday from owners of one of Sync's littermates - an amateur dog owner. A person with a lot of questions about how to care for puppies. She said "Sit, down, come, crate, and ringing a bell to go out are great. Loose leash is so-so." That sounds like a challenge me, Miss Emme Lou B.! Maybe I'm just a lazy mommy...

Today was a very mature day. Several ideas came together.

Sit - I'm pretty sure Sync responded to a Park cue several times when she wasn't really thinking of doing it. Difficult to tell since she's really into sitting, but that's what it looked like. Passed Step 1, including Comeafters. Also passed Step 2 and 3 complete with Comeafters. She REALLY likes sit.

Down - I'm adding the cue. She's certain of what I want and she's throwing herself down with enthusiasm. Could pass Step 1, but I'd like to see some understanding of the cue and I only started using it yesterday. Once we have that, she's ready to test Step 2, 4 and 3 (except for the Comeafters) right away.

Touch - is excellent except for once or twice when she suddenly remembered Zen. She's passed Step 1, 2, and 3 with Comeafters. Haven't asked her to target twice for once click yet. I think that'll make her bark at me - she's pretty vocal in a Portuguese Water Dog grumbling, scolding, and discussing sort of way.

Zen - she's passed Step 1, including Comeafters, and can easily do both Step 2 and Step 3, but not cold yet because she's not responding to the cue yet so I have to explain it once before she remembers to Zen instead of touch.

Come - I'm dropping kibble on a tile floor, so passing Step 1 wasn't a problem. She's not quite old enough to follow them as they fall yet, but she can really hone in on them by hearing. Finding them on carpet is a little tougher since she can't hear them fall, but she knows they must be there somewhere and she looks diligently down at the "magic" treat-growing carpet. Very funny. Haven't been able to snag Ron yet long enough to start calling her back and forth - although we did that on the stairs two days ago when I was trying to get a photo of a puppy doing Steps To Success for the cover of Volume 1.

Yesterday I couldn't stand it anymore. I wanted to shape something, so I started working on L2 Go To Mat. She was intent on staring at me, offering sits and downs, so I started really easy. she turned her head about half an inch away from me and I clicked and tossed the treat toward the mat (which was just to the right of my right foot, so close but not directly in front of me). Then I clicked again while she was still facing the mat and tossed another one at it. The next landed on it. I got about 15 clicks in before she started thinking about where she was rather than her position. The first test she did was to very slowly reach out one front paw and lay it very gently on the mat. Click! Three more tries and she put her weight on it. Two of those and she put both front paws on. That's enough for one day!

She did so well yesterday, and she follows the treats so well on the floor, that I started today with the mat 4' away. Again I shaped the first tiny responses, then lured by tossing the treats toward the mat. OH! she growled. THE MAT! GOT IT! and within 5 more clicks she had all 4 feet on the mat. I waited a bit from time to time to see if she'd sit or down, but she didn't think of it before she thought of getting off the mat again, so I stopped. Several times I tossed a treat far enough off the mat that she had to step her front paws only off the mat to get it - then she backed up until all 4 paws were on again.

After this exercise, though, I had virtually lost her brilliant natural eye contact because when she was facing me, she was busy offering me head-turns toward the mat. Combine that with staring at the floor during Zen, waiting for a treat to grow out of the tiles, she was no longer staring at me, so I moved on to another Level 2 behaviour - Focus. I worked 15 treats and it took 12 to get her to offer to watch me again. The first dozen needed lots of noise. In the meantime, she was very busy offering me head turns, tile-staring, sits, and downs.

So the two really exciting things that happened today.

First, I was washing and cutting up pea pods and celery for supper. Can't do that without giving some to Stitch, of course. Stitch is sitting politely, sure she's going to get something. When I give her a pea pod, Sync gets very excited. She jumps up on Stitch, seeming intent on grabbing the pod right out of her mouth, clawing at her face and yapping. Guess what? Sync gets ignored and when Stitch sits again, she gets another one. Again Sync gets hysterical, jumping and barking and clawing, but suddenly she startles, turns toward me, and sits. With huge staring. HEY! I REMEMBERED! DON'T I GET ONE TOO? Of course, she and Stitch got quite a few more.

Then I tossed Stitch a piece of celery. Sync sat and I gave her a little piece. She took it politely, dropped it on the floor, and then sat and stared at me again. WHAT IS THIS INEDIBLE PIECE OF LLAMA FODDER? I THOUGHT WE WERE DOING PEA PODS! Then she heard Stitch chomping vigorously on her own piece, turned to look at her, thought better of her decision, and promptly ate the entire bit of celery. SO funny.

Second (having heard about Emme Lou starting to ring her bells), the going-outside thing. To be fair, it's been -20 degrees with high winds. It's bloody COLD, and Sync has bare footpads and a bare behind. Also there's a snowdrift out the back door in the dog yard that I can't get over. I put Sync out there once and she climbed over it and got "lost" on the other side of an open gate, so we've been going together out the front door, which involves me putting on boots and a jacket and her leash and carrying her 15' down the sidewalk to the driveway before I put her down. Today it was only -5. I could go out without a jacket and she could actually enjoy being out there for a few minutes. About the fifth time she had to go out, I caught her starting to circle and sniff. I called her to me and asked her if she wanted to go out. I have no idea if she understood at that moment, but she looked interested. I got up and went to the door with her following me. She went right to the door and sat while I slipped on my boots and attached her leash. When I opened the door, she trotted right out, did her business, walked on a loose leash back to the door, sat and waited for me to open the door, went in the house, sat again while I undid the leash, and then went ripping three times around the kitchen growling ferociously. MAN this dog is cute.