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19 Weeks: Training - Days 55 - 59

Monday - Friday

A milestone in Malcolm's life was rapidly approaching and I was pretty excited about it; we were about to have his first ever Christmas with the family.  On Monday my brother Vince and my mother dropped by to give me the gifts they bought for me and the kids.  Mom was looking at the "Christmas" tree I had - which was actually my Christmas cactus on the crate and noticed the stuffless penguin I bought for the boys peering out of the brown paper bag from the pet shop.  She was amused by it.

Malcolm was overjoyed to meet both Mom and Vince - again - and after a bit of work we got him to stop jumping and settle down.  Jack was happy to see my Mom (he likes her) but was uncertain of my brother and finally was shying away from him as Vince tried way to hard to be his friend.  I had to ask Vince to let him be before he became fully fearful of him - Jack was giving a lot of body language that said he wasn't ready to be best buddies and didn't like Vince c…

Prep Class: Week 4

I must apologize for the lateness of these posts.  As the holidays approached it became obvious to me I was exhausted and my blogs were becoming a rambling shambles.  Emma, who comes and stays at my home 5 days a week unless it's a holiday, was scheduled to spend the entire week of Christmas with her family and on Sunday I learned that she would spend the entire week of New Years with her family also.  It's the first large break I have had since starting her training a year ago and I do believe for both her and I it was very important we take it.

Jack, who is a gentle dog and easy to watch, was only scheduled to stay with me on Monday and half of Tuesday each week, which gave Malcolm, Max, Dieter and I a long vacation together.  A chance for my personal dogs to bond and adjust to living as a family unit and a chance for me to regain my energy.

My next blog post will be a combined post for the week of Christmas and will chronicle my slow, but steady return to emotional well be…

18 Weeks: Training - Days 50 - 54

Monday

Most of Malcolm's skill set will require some sort of targeting.  Though I have been teaching him retrieve and one of his primary tasks will be to retrieve, he also needs to know how to target in many different ways from verbal direction to paw targeting to foot targeting.  With targeting skills I can teach him a new behavior on the fly and have greater flexibility when working in any environment.  I discovered this with Max and have to remind myself of what it I did to build up such strong targeting skills with Max so I have them with Malcolm.

It started with targeting my hand.  That is Level 1.  In Level 1 Malcolm learned to target my hand and use a nice hard nose punch each time he did it.  He learned to move his nose up and down to target my hand and he learned to move his nose side to side to target my hand.  He also learned to take steps to target my hand.

It moved to targeting a post it note.  I spent a very long time working targeting post it notes with Max and buil…

Prep Class: Week 3

I love taking Malcolm to class and watching him apply what he knows in a new location.  We'd been working on mat behaviors and loose lead walking and basic cues like Sit and Down at home, but in class he has the added distraction of other people, new dogs and a new environment to make doing such things a little harder.  He is such a trooper and enjoys his classes very much.

Saturday Malcolm was in a fantastic mood.  I had noted earlier in the week he had lost some teeth between his canines (the two center teeth on the top) and that meant he was finally in full teething mode.  It wouldn't be long before his mouth hurt too much to think and work and I wanted to get as much in while he could as possible.  Thankfully, Saturday, though a little fussy, he was full on with wanting to train.

This has been the strangest class.  Malcolm has been the only student so far to attend every class and each week is a like a brand new class for him.  This is technically good, since he needs to …

17 Weeks: Training - Days 45 - 49

Monday

I actually woke before Malcolm!  It was a wonderful thing to actually sleep in until Jack arrived.  I got up and let Jack into the house and then went back and released Malcolm and sent them out to play for a bit before Emma arrived.

Malcolm tends to become over excited when he meets Jack and not amount of redirection seems to calm him until he's licked almost all of the fur off of Jack's face.  I have told Jack that he needs to set his boundaries with Malcolm's over the top greeting, since my redirection, tethering and even crating Malcolm to calm him just doesn't stop him until he's driven Jack insane - without Jack setting some boundaries Malcolm will continue to mug him to distraction.

It didn't take long.  Jack had long ago grown tired of Malcolm all over him and I knew it was just a matter of time before he firmly told Malcolm to quit.  Malcolm is a typical German Shepherd and any correction is met with loud yelps and yowls of protest - ie he bumps…

Prep Class: Week 2

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 would be a busy day for Malcolm.  We woke early and enjoyed a bit of play in the yard (with me watching from the windows) and then some snuggle time in bed before I fed him and took my shower.  He crates nicely while I shower and rarely fusses now when I send him back in after being up briefly.

I had received a check the day prior from a client and needed to run it into the bank, so Max and I headed out to do that quickly and returned home so Malcolm could play while I chopped up treats.  I had run out during the week and needed to re-fill the treat bin.

We arrived just prior to class starting.  With as cold as it was, I didn't want to be sitting in the car for a long time waiting for the previous class to let out.  Malcolm is now learning to sit to have me put his lead on when I open the van door and wait for a cue to exit.  He is doing very well.  I am also teaching him he's to stop right next to the van and turn toward me and then sit when he&#…

16 Weeks: Training - Days 40 - 44

Monday

November 30th, 2013 marked the end of temperatures in the 20s or 30s.  On December 1st, 2013 the arctic pressure system moved in and the house was so chilly it felt like it was in the mid 50s inside, even though my thermostat stated it was 72.  I don't do well in the cold and found myself huddling in my chair with Dieter to keep warm.

Malcolm woke me at 6:30 AM and I made the choice to send him out with his brothers without me.  I simply cannot handle what this type of cold does to my joints.  My office runs approximately 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the house and when cold like this strikes I avoid it except to get the dogs food; even then it makes me shiver to enter and I am wearing sweat shirts and heavy clothing just to stay warm.  It's the problem with having a home with little to no insulation.

It was cold enough that Malcolm came running into the house when I called the dogs in.  Dieter had knocked (he scratches the door) to be let back in and even his swea…