Oh she is so awesome and so cute. Your works shows
Thank you so much!!
She makes training easy!
Today we went on a short walk up and down the street without my walker. We worked on starting to move, stopping, then speeding up and slowing back down, making sudden turns or circles, or backing up, while staying in a heel. She did so well, but we need more work on slowing back down! Once she gets going, she just wants to keep going lol. Maybe I can trailer her out to the park and teach her to trot next to my bike on a long leash and a dog harness on the grass? She never runs on her own, expect when she is on a walk! I have only seen her run once on her own, and beyond that it's when a teen the next road over jogs up and down the road with her for me (which she LOVES). Her fastest pace is a quick walk usually, although we've been practicing trotting/walking/trotting/walking.
She is doing good peeing on command now, but has been on an accident streak lately for pooping; but such is potty training. It's never linear. Funnily enough; when I came home today from a trip with Ponyboy (my service dog), I found her in her pool pooping! So it's a little bit of progress at a time.
We've been working on liberty work in the back yard, and she is starting to understand following in a heel position and learning to turn and keep close. We're working on this leashless, as we're switching to a hands-free leash (it goes around my waist or over my shoulder) as soon as she fully understands heeling and positioning commands so I can stop holding her leash, as it aggravates my MCAS and makes my hands blister and rash up.
She is starting to respect 'leave it' for longer than a second or two, but we still need to solidify it with grass. But I am so proud of her. She comprehends what it means, she just still has baby self control; so with age it will get easier. I usually don't expect young animals to 'leave it' for very long. So if she goes for grass, I say leave it, she stops and then ten seconds later goes for it again, I'm still proud of her even as I tell her to leave it again. I also use the 9-of-10 method on this, where 9 out of 10 times she will be rewarded for responding to the leave-it command, so she understands that usually it's better to leave it than to ignore me. Once she hits a year old, I will expect her to be able to leave something alone for a few minuets, and at two or three indefinitely. But that comes second by second, and through countless reputation and praise and rewarding the wanted behavior.
She also seems to be picking up on my Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome with all the walking we do. About 30-60 seconds before an episode of extremely fast heartrate + low blood pressure + starting to faint, she will either freeze and refuse to move if I am standing, or will come and nuzzle me with her chin while I'm sitting. I caught a photo of her doing this yesterday; she lays her entire head on my lap and sways her head back and forth.
She does this VERY consistently(Started out once in awhile, and now it's every time when we're out of the house with zero alerts at home when Ponyboy is there for me), which is exciting. It took Ponyboy two years to start alerting to my fainting spells and heart rate changes. If she is picking this up (it will take a few more weeks of consistent alerting for me to be fully convinced, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much), and I can shape it into a consistent alert, then it will make going places in the summer months far more possible. Ponyboy HATES the heat, and the heat is very triggering for my physical health issues, so with Ponyboy not working in the heat means we stay home or indoors any time it's 75F or higher out, a huge portion of the year. Having a horse in the heat is much different that having a brachycephalic breed dog in the heat, so it's possible I could go out safely during the summer.
I am hoping to teach her to nudge my hand to alert when we're walking instead of freezing. This should be fairly simple. I will need to teach her to nudge my hand by saying a word, and then cue her to nudge my hand as soon as she freezes up. By doing this every time she alerts and only treating after she's nudged my hand, she will learn to freeze then nudge my hand without a cue, and hopefully will voluntarily phase out the freezing. (Explaining for future service animal trainers, and anybody who is curious
The only way I can tell that it is an alert when we are walking vs a fear response is that there is no rhythm or consistency to it beyond me instantly having an episode after she freezes paired with her freely moving again as soon as I am back to normal.
I am rewarding this heavily every time she does it now that she's proven to only be doing it before I have an episode. But I will not be trying to shape it for a few more months, to avoid putting stress on her when she alerts. Avoiding stress for young animals is key in building a mindset where working/training is fun for life-long wanting
Sorry for the book lol. I am just very interested in documenting all of this, in hopes that someday it can help others.
So far known tasks are:
Scratch interruption- mastered inside, but only around 80% of the time outside, and 30% of the time when outside eating
Front- Very good at, but needs work when the rollator isn't there and I'm staying still for awhile.
Possible fainting/heart rate alert. Alerts 100% of the time when outside for the past twoish weeks, 0% of the time when Ponyboy is around or I am inside.