Monday, December 17, 2012

First Class

Today was Embers first class with her trainer Rebecca Letson!

Rebecca got us novice puppy owners started by giving us a foundation to start with and a path for Ember to follow in her training. Before, we felt a little lost even though we had great books at our disposal and lots of advice from several sources about training puppies. It's one thing to read or hear about it and quite another to see some of the fundamentals in action and witness demonstrations as to how they will eventually lead to the rest of the things we would like to.

Our first steps toward heel! up until today we have done little to no "heel" work with Ember. Most of her training has been sit, down, stand and place. So today we started some of the initial lead work that leads to heel and we will continue to condition her into the action everyday.

We worked on seperating "sit" from "down". Somewhere along the way Ember began to occasionally attach sit and down together when she became confused... offering each in turn until she recieved a treat. She knows the difference but having put her in a down from sit far too often has created a small obstacle when she gets a little mixed up. She would occasionally default to down from a sit if a command was given, regardless of the command. She's a bit used to doing sit then down then sit then down. So we began working each command seperately. After returning home and using her dinner for treats we have seen a lot of improvement and refinement on her sits and downs in just one evening!

working on her "off" switch: As our final bit of homework we will be working with ember to relax when we want her to with a physical command. We place our hands on her shoulders and wait for a small bit of relaxation... and then treat her, slowly increasing the pause time between treating or praising each day over the next couple months.

Probably one of the best things for us was gaining use of the "yes" tool which is delivering a solid confirmation to ember that she has done something right... whereas before "good girl" was serving as both confirmation and praise. Now Ember knows when she has completed the task correctly... and praise won't sound like we are confusing her by repeatedly confirming her action and not offering more treats. Already we can see Ember understand and respond to the confirmation in a way that she never reached with "good girl".

We learned more than just commands and good foundations... we also learned that we ought to pull out the camera and take a few measly pictures once in a while... we're sorry! we were listening far to intently to remember to snap a few photos. Ember will be getting another private puppy class before christmas, we will try to let the photographer loose this time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Blog posts sure have gotten scarce!

Main reason is that Ember is allowed outside and can mingle now!  We have been frolicking around with relative reckless abandon!

Ember has been loving her new found freedom.  Gone are the constant carrying trips... though she still looks to be held from time to time :)  Now she can explore and meet other dogs!  Which is good because she's quite bored with our cats having little interest in stimulating her playful nature.

Ember received her shots on December 7th.  Apologies on the slow news day around here!  Holiday hub-bub and getting her out and about have been keeping us really busy.

 Something we have been waiting for is getting Ember up to the barn.  You can see that she has found a friend.  Ember was eager to sniff at this big gentle giant and Poco was fascinated by the new friend in the arena.

Ember had her tail between her legs for all of about 20 seconds and then she was ready to roll in the dirt with him... if only we allowed that.

She met other horses that day and witnessed some kenneled beagles who were far too rowdy and loud for her tastes.  She snubbed them and we headed back home.  Muddy pastures and dusty arenas forced us to pull out the shower head.  Ember does pretty well in the bathtub... she doesn't even mind the 70's era color!  But she doesn't love it either. :)

 The next day we took her out to Struble Pond which has a lot of open area and a couple baseball diamonds no one was using.  Ran around a bit and let her stretch her legs.  We had a 30 foot lead which we used to lightly work on a little bit of recall.  Ember is happy to run towards you if you call her name... even from over 60 feet!
 There were a few other folks walking there dogs up on the top of the dike and in the other baseball fields.  Ember desperately wanted to investigate them.
 Here you can see Ember getting a little rowdy, and the dike in the background.  Later we would go for a walk up there and Ember met her first dog ever who was very accomodating and patient with her.
 Ember likes to chase and run in general.  Her big floppy ears tolerate the abuse.

After a long day, these two spent some quality time together.

Another day, another park!  This is Sandy Beach... a relatively abandoned park with rarely any visitors.  It has a river and a boat lauch so we figured it could be fun for Ember to explore it a bit.

The weather has been surprisingly cooperative these past couple weeks.  Almost unseasonal.  If it wasn't so windy, we would have  probably left the coat in the car.

Ember has her first private obedience lesson on Monday with Rebecca Letson!  Look forward to a quick post about the goings on!