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Feb 6 After a "nasty" ice storm, the airing yard that slopes was impossible to walk anywhere. It was necessary to install the "YakTrax" on my "yard" boots. When walking in the yard, the common "pant leg" issue surfaced immediately which means knee high boots (for awhile).  After doing the icy, airing supervision, Gigi was put on a lead and went up the first flight of stairs (tri-level) to the living room. Today was her first "tether session". (following link from the original KwickLabs WEB).
              note: The living room tether technique is much easier
(more seamless) when done "early". 

              note: Most issues that are common with pups can simply be avoided if training is proactive.

                        The mind set of a balanced and well trained pup is "This is what I do....because it is
                         the only thing I know how to do." 
note:Gigi's day is approaching a predictable pattern (structure). It is good to be retired.
note: she did another living room tether session this evening                           

You-Tube Videos

Feb 7 another ice storm moved through - school cancelled again for Lylah......Gigi does not mind being out in the airing yard because it is not for long. Yesterday and today seemed to validate that
Gigi understands why she is out there....an important "milestone". A stool sample was taken to the "vet" this afternoon and "nothing showed".
               note: Gigi did three short sessions (on a lead) - the 1st was eye contact treats sitting
                         on a "placeboard", 2nd was a brief repeat of the corner "excite, chase, fetch"
                         and the last was a late night, living room "tether" session (just "buds" hanging out).
Feb 8 11 am It is 5°F with a wind chill of -13°F. Gigi has been going out into the airing yard regularly (10-15 minutes) and is romping, running and excitedly playing. Her sharp, little claws make running on the icy areas no big deal. They do need trimming. When she comes in to the puppy pen area, she picks a spot nearer to the overhead heat lamp and soon "zonks" out. 
               note: The plan for today is to repeat yesterday's "three short sessions".
               note: GiGi's puppy pen bedding was completely removed. The area was cleaned with a
                         strong bleach spray and all fresh cedar bedding was laid down. This is a regular
                         "thing" as she gradually becomes crate trained. 
Feb 9 Saturday.....15°F and sunny, airing yard has 2-3 inches of ice over most of it. The area above the septic tank is ice free with short, green grass. However, Gigi is running all over this small, safe
fence enclosed area (visible from the full window patio door).
                 note: Gigi did the two "placeboards" drill first.  Wearing a short rope, she moves from one to the other "kind of" heeling, gets up on the boards, sits and looks up at me making eye contact and receives a verbal "good" plus "treat" reward. In addition, her sit is re-enforced with a tiny tug on the rope collar. Then it is "Rinse and Repeat" for practice (reps) focusing on "fun" mostly. The sequence was much "smoother" today (and brief). The overall rationale is to enhance engagement.

                 note: The stairs are no longer an issue (scoots up and down with ease on lead).
                 note: spent a few hours chipping 2-3" think ice off half the driveway (worst ever)
                 note: This evening, Gigi did a short session of "Target Fetch", walked around deck several 
                            times (on a loose lead, "kind of" heeling mode) and a late evening "tether" session
Feb 10 high of 32°F with 5-6 inches of wet, slushy snow which jammed up in my old snow blower. This is the first time this has ever happened....."aarrgghh"....had to shovel the entire driveway. My son was able to help. Even so, It's been a challenging winter. Pounce romped around in the deep snow....no big deal. A definite spring sale purchase will be a new, two stage snowblower.
                   note: reviewed Pounce's early training journals with a focus on the Hillmann approach
                             ......"what we did well plus that which needs to be done better".
                   note: The primary focus will always be maintaining "balance".  Progress must be a
                              seamless, steady flow.....avoiding any adventures towards the "Bridge Too Far".
Feb 11
This was a much needed day off for the trainer (and everyone else).
Feb 12
late afternoon, Gigi was aired and then did a session of "The Game" (Hillmann). We were engaged with a small canvass bumper. She then went for a "deck walk" (twice around) before beginning anew. Last was alternating placeboards, sit on with eye contact, treat exercise.
                   note: rationales = move with trainer, intro of "place" command, working at rewarding eye                              contact and introducing the slight tug on the collar/lead to re-enforce the sit  
                             that she is already in     note: Hillman's Blog  2012
                   note: This initial treat "intro" will be phased out rather quickly as "The Game" develops.  
                             Going to a "placeboard" will soon become mean retrieving "fun". 
after Gigi's late afternoon training session, she was "aired" in the yard (did both ways) and began crate training (a three hour session)......later tonight, Gigi did her regular "tether" session. 
Feb 13 today's routine......feed, water and air (did "both") at 8 pm....brought in and did morning fun session.....casting to and from two "placeboards" wearing seven foot lead working on eye contact sits, with tiny re-enforcing tugs and a treat (did that super well). Then she heeled around the deck twice on a loose head (twice). The next step was to repeat the "placeboard" and "deck walk" routine (shorter session). The finish was a "stand up", brief version of the corner Hillmann "target game". She then was "out the door" into the snow covered airing yard to a quick "go". Gigi's next four hours were spent in her small crate working on a nap and crate training. Next was "wake up", water and airing in the snow......followed by a run up the seven stairs to the living room for a brief "tether session". Then it was into the puppy pen for a cedar bedding nap.......good puppy!  At 2 pm, it was her second feeding time followed by "airing" and crate time until the evening feeding. At 7 pm she was aired, then fed and then aired again. There was a late night airing with the rest of her night
crate training in the house. Up very early, aired and back into the "puppy pen". The transition to "no puppy pen" will be gradual.  
Feb 14 GiGi was up earlier than normal watered and aired....then back into the puppy pen. Fed at about 8 PM, aired and watered (again). Next up was the mid-morning fun training session....."place boards" continued to be imprinted, did a session of Hillmann's excite, chase and fetch followed by walks around the deck on a loose heeling lead (maybe a total of ten minutes....total).  Still a lot of snow in the airing yard where she has a free run. There is a green, tight wire garden type wire fenced area which is in full view from behind a full length,l glass sliding door.  It is warm for me and "cool" for her. In the center there is a small, fenced in "asparagus patch" which makes the airing yard seem larger as dogs tend to run around it.....circles never end.        (photo Feb. 6th)
Feb 15 Until March arrives, the weather suggests much of the same for the next two/three weeks.

                  note: The two fold focus revolves around crate training and Hillmann "engagement".
                  note: March 1st she will be three months old.

Gigi was up early for feeding/airing....then did three hours of crate training in the living room (right next to Pounce). At first, she was noisy, but my hearing is not very good (perfect combination). The early afternoon she spent in the puppy pen. The next feeding was at 3 pm (a little later than normal). Pounce has not responded to putting pumpkin in her diet. The cottage cheese arrived around 2:30 pm and she will be on a cottage cheese and rice diet. Her vet appointment (2nd round of puppy shots) is next week. Hopefully, in a few few days this issue will be resolved. Either way, her vet appointment is in place.
                  note: She received more crate time beginning at 3:30 pm (with Pounce right next to her). 
                  note: Gigi's "puppy pen" (on a deck which over-looks the swimming pool) has a tight
                            railing shaped around to the steps leading down to the pool level. The pool is full
                            of water and covered for the winter. This addition to the house is heated. To guard
                            against any success Gigi may have at getting up and over the puppy pen wall, a
                            secure gate has been installed at the top of the stairs. The plan is to phase out the
                            pen in two or three weeks.
Feb 16 Saturday....warmer.....Gigi was "aired", watered and fed at 8 am. We did a brief training session (indoor heated area) doing a "four pronged" approach. "First up" was simply walking around the pool deck on a loose lead, heeling (approximately) on both sides.  Secondly, we did the
two "placeboard" game with treats focusing on imprinting eye contact by looking "away from" the treat. A secondary aspect of the eye contact segment is Gigi getting up on the "placeboard", sitting and having the sit re-inforced with slight tugs on the collar...before doing the eye contact segment.
The forth and last segment is a bit longer version of "target fetch".
                note: This multi-lesson lasts less than ten minutes. The first three segments begin with
                          the Hillmann game (excitement is generated first). The third segment ends with
                          another extended session of "target fetch". Walking at heel "in between" each
                          segment provides a significant "change of pace". 
                 note: "Gigi" was aired at 10 pm and repeated the above session before "pen time"
Feb 17 Sunday snow - 3-5 inches....up and fed at 8 am....Gigi and Pounce were aired first......Gigi
then did the same fast paced routine we did yesterday. First, she heeled on lead "kind of" around the pool deck. Secondly, she did the "eye contact, treat drill" rotating to three different "placeboards" (one is elevated). Then another walk around the deck. The "finish" was a slightly more exciting, challenging "target fetch" than yesterday. This was followed by three "reps" that were "sit on elevated placeboard", eye contact/"good" with slight tug on collar reinforcing "sit", toss 2" bumper three yards away, sit with reinforcing/"engaged" tugs followed by "Gigi fetch". They were three very consistent "reps" and she did not "dive" until released. Very Cool puppy!!! Then we went for a quick, fun walk around the pool deck and up into the living room for three hours of crate and "quiet time" (right next to Pounce). However, she was "yappy" (at first). 
                  note: The "walk" between "engagements" is a very specific
strategy. (see link below)

Feb 18 Gigi was "aired", fed and "aired" again at 8 am (very active running through deep snow). Then it was in through the lower level "rec" room, up a flight of stairs into the living room where she spent the next four hours "doing" crate time right next to Pounce. With no one in the house except me, Gigi was quiet and slept until 12:30 pm. Then it was airing time again. After her "required" romp in the snow there was a repeat of yesterday's 10 minute, fun training session. Then at about 1 pm feeding and airing again.....followed by a quiet afternoon nap time back in the puppy pen.
                   observations: #1 Gigi is 12 weeks old and definitely a fast, smart puppy.
                                            #2 She has done well on those things that have been taught (wearing a
                                            leash, sit, making eye contact, working with "placeboards", "kind of"
                                            heeling, going in/out of a crate and going up/down stairs)

                                            #3 Engagement has mostly focused on doing what she does easily.
.                                           #4 Her prey drive is very strong, but sharing is not a strong point.  
                                                 Bringing back a bumper to do it again....is just not there.....yet.
                                                 Focus more on timing and positioning during "The Game". The

                                                 main issue stems from her being fast and me being old/slow.
Feb 19 Gigi's daily routine has improved. Feeding, airing has gone well and crate training has moved up another notch. She is letting me know when it is time to go outside to air and I am getting better at listening. "Hurrah" for my side!!! In addition, the teaching sessions are moving along quite well with advanced planning including a rationale. The "framework" is incremental practice and fun.  
                   note: Today I began phasing out the temporary rice and cottage cheese diet with Gigi. 
                             There is nothing that can top the "glee" of saying, "Her stool looks really good."
                   note: timing - Gigi has been "home" three weeks and is a winter puppy. Things are going
                             well (having never been there before) and I can hardly wait until "mud season".
                   note: Today was totally focused on crate training. She has gradually been challlenged
                              to reach an understanding. Gigi spent the entire day in the living room right next
                              to Pounce. Each time she "vocally" indicated a need to go outside proved to be
                              correct. She understands and this was a very significant day. There is more to
                              training a pup than retrieving "stuff". 
Feb 20 more snow

"Gigi" walking the pool deck in January

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Feb 1 This is a key moment in northern Illinois (one more month to better weather). For some reason "only 28 days" is tolerable. The banner of this month's journal describes the very beginning of training a puppy (work with me). Being responsive is the key to success.....for both of us.  The van is finally free from the snow and cold. Picked up two more bales of cedar shavings for the pen.
This afternoon, two YouTube videos were made with Gigi. The first was playing with her doing the early "engagement" routine. This was greatly aided by "modifying advice from a skilled mentor". "Flying by he seat of your pants" is often not very productive.  At least with some clear guidelines, it is possible to strike a balance. It is not unlike bowling with "gutter guards".

The first session/video was to enhance and modify excitement, chasing, fetching and returns with very close, intimate interactions. If the pup is out of arms' length, a reliable, high level engagement is simple more difficult to establish. Distance erodes responsiveness reducing  the "us" factor. 

The second video "just happened" and decided it might be interesting to reveal just how difficult it is to teach a young retriever how to go into a hide.

Feb 2 weather improving - ice and snow remain an issue, but temps in forties & melting "a lot"

             note: Gigi is now completely converted to Eagle Pack large breed puppy food (red bag).
                       She is being fed three times per day with plenty of water (8 am, 1 pm & 6 pm)

             note: Gigi (two months old today) & Pounce were given their worm "meds..HeartGard Plus.
In addition, there were two intervals of going for "deck walks" plus "lap snuggles".   

Two "placeboards" were made for Gigi and treat "conditioning" to being on them began. Hillmann uses half-crates (when older) for casting to and running from with early singles (similar concept). 
Feb 3 Gigi went for a few walks around the pool deck and did more "placeboard" treat fun

Feb 4 Monday forecast high of 47°F with rain/fog.....Tuesday-Thursday snow & rain....then colder

              note: Around noon, Gigi ran around outside in the enclosed airing yard for a short time. 
Feb 5 cooler this morning 24°F and cloudy....After feeding Gigi, she was moved right into the airing yard and began using it immediately. The patio door to the airing yard is only a couple of feet from the puppy pen. Therefore, doing some freshening of the inside pen is ideal in that I can keep a close eye on Gigi. She was in no hurry to get back inside.       The next thing up was a short session of "in the corner" target fetching. I was quickly reminded that holding the small, exciting retrieving object (the "target") places my hand and fingers in a precarious position. Puppy teeth are sharp. This time  'twas more than a scratch.       The morning was "almost" perfect. A tired puppy.....Is a good puppy.
                note: Gigi is 2 months old and weighs
16 pounds
                note: Late this afternoon, the timing of "Let's GO outside" was perfect. She is running all
                          over the grass airing yard, having fun and doing what she is supposed to do.

                          Fortunately, the severe, bitter winter weather has left (for awhile).