Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - August 2009

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

Feedback is welcome:
Our You Tube Video Archive is here
For the human's blog see: The Non-Dog Blog
Non-Dog Blog Table of Contents

Fri Aug 28
Prepping for SMART the weekend
Did Trek's toe nails again (did them on Tues as well).  They're still a little long but will do.
Need to find a sleeping pad that works for me in the Scion

I said to Facebook:

Trek has the odd honor of being the first dog on the line at the USDAA Western Regional Championship.[that's NEXT weekend] But she's only in one class so it will be like throwing out the first pitch. :)

The deal was. I asked Trek if she wanted to go to the 3rd largest agility trial in the country [for the record, there are actually larger AKC trials in Houston] and she politely declined. We compromised on her going to try for a pairs Q on Friday (evening - wow), and I'll then all day work on Sunday.

On Saturday Yoshi and I will go herding.
The only thing is that I have no idea how I'm going to get home on Friday in Labor Day traffic.

You think I'd have prepping for a trial down cold, but I still have to think about it each time even with lists.
 I actually ignore the list mostly anyway.  Sigh.

Wed Aug 26
Yoshi walk.Lept out in the street after an approaching roller bag that he mistook for a dog.  I was peeved that he jumped into the street and downed him immediately while the roller bag went by and I explained to the person pulling it that he thought it was a dog.  She said that little dogs often mistake if for a dog.
Actual dog sightings went great and he even walked parallel with a Shiba Innu across Central and was focused enough that he walked right past a dog sitting with his people 15' away (the Shiba is 45' away).  I chose not to point the dog out.  Saw another dog later on and he looked to me for a treat so I may be getting somewhere.

Worked in the living room on down walk down go (back) and repeat with Yosh.  He did great and seems to prefer my hand straight out in front of me in the universal stop position (go back is a hand or a finger pointing in the direction I want him to go in.  Trek prefers the arm in the air and a single wave (go figure).

Tue Aug 25
Trek and Terri Ob Class [will fill in] - I seem to have forgotten to

Mon Aug 24
Ordered more Genesis Anxiey Supplement.  Dog walks - uneventful and was able to stand on Lincoln and Gibbons and watch a dog go by , Yoshi seems surprisingly calm - turns out Terri had given him some Pet Ease which explains things.

Sun Aug 23
Relaxing day - though it didn't start out that way as Yoshi was being a bark at everything basket case.  I finally ask him what is with him and Terri adds "Well, he ran out of his calming supplement." Pause.  Well I guess that explains things.  I get out the Pet Ease which I use incidentally and that settles him down some.  Both have Camomile and I think that's the main thing but the other stuff lasts longer so I'll order more Monday.

Sat Aug 22
Elf and Ellen go  hike in Yosemite.  Dogs stay with Terri

Fri Aug 21
Doggy restroom appears to have worked.  There was extra dirt around the area as if little rear paws were scrapping it.  And now that the grass has been moved outside you can see the nitrogen urine stains (temporary - it will grow back really green).

Thu Aug 20
Went by Encinal Nursery to pick up some sod.  They sell it in 5'x2' rolls which is perfect as I can just cut it in half.  What was shocking was that it was a glorious $5.50.  I said "I thought sod was expensive."  He added that if I buy 9 rolls the price per roll goes down.  When I got it back home I put it out in the back yard and they were happy to pee on it so it has been properly initiated and I hoping that we have zero training involved.  This will be for tomorrow where we'll be out all day and then the grass can be planted in the back yard.

Wed Aug 19
Noon - went to Petco and Pet Food Express to see what they had in indoor doggy toilets (we're going to be gone for much of the day on Friday and I don't want to stress about someone coming to let them out.  Petco had only piddle pads.  Pet Food Express had a 20"x30" one that was $150.00.  Yikes, for that I could buy them a lawn (hold that thought).

Later in the evening I went to Home Depot and found nothing else but (what I'm hoping is) a brilliant idea.  Tomorrow I'm going to buy them 2 flats of real turf from Encinal Nursery.  Just buying two flats (sod comes in rolls) is totally going to confuse them but I think they'll cope.  Then I'll try to get them to pee on it outside. rinse it a little and then bring it in and tell them it's ok to use pee on it.  I'll have to put plastic down in case boy dog Yoshi misses.  However ironically he is better at holding it.  If we don't like it, we just plant the grass in the spot of the lawn where the grass is struggling.  What's cool is that since the dogs are so hard on the grass it's a pretty much infinitely reuseable idea.

Yoshi walk.  Saw one small dog.  One that he would normally be terrible about but I had plenty of warning so was well prepared.  Even so the dog/person were slow moving enough that I really had to milk the last treat in my hand as there was no chance to reach and get more.  I basically just held the soft treat in my fingers and just let him lick it and squeezed it some so little bits would come off.  I was thoroughly slimed and chewed on but he held it together even though it was very hard for him.  Good boy.

The only thing is that after such encounters he is completely jacked up and walking stiff and up on his toes and I would make him stop and try to chill which isn't usually that successful.  He barked at a bicycle that was being walked by someone and I let him look and see that even though it was jingling it was not a dog (I could not resist unfairly telling him "It's a bicycle you moron" at that point.)

Looking Concerned
Well Ok

The Extra Large Sturdibag works!  Trek fits (and we also had Yoshi try it and of course it worked since he's not as long). It's a go!  Trek's first flight is October 21st to Seattle to see my parents and brother and sister in law.  We're flying the dog friendly Alaska Air and I looked up the carry on size which is 17"Wx24"Lx10"H.  The Bag is 12"Wx20"Lx16"H but the top is flexible and can be easily collasped to fit 10" and Trek has no problem fitting in such spaces anyway.  Ironically her ticket is more than mine as it's $100 each way for her.  But I want her to get used to flying in case we want to compete in other parts of the country.

Tue Aug 18
Noon Yoshi walk - uneventful, save for saying hello to a friendly person on Central.  I'm realizing that if we're surprised on the driveway we should just turn around and retreat.  Such is hindsight.

Trek and Terri's class is tonight - should be fun.

Perf Corgis is talking about Tracking so I chimed in:
Tracking is a great senior dog activity.  It's usually not physically 
taxing, engages their brain, and they love finding all the goodies.
I did it with Cali and we were getting ready to be certified so she
could try for a TD when she was diagnosed with cancer and I lost her,
but she had a fine time tracking out in the Morgan Territory area
outside of Livermore where our instruction was held. It's a great way
to spend some quality, peaceful time with your dog (out of all the dog
activities I've done: agility, herding, obedience, rally, tracking, I'd
say it's the least stressful). For us it was a huge time sink due to
having to drive out there and then talking techniques and waiting for
the tracks to age, and laying other people's tracks, but what a blast we
had. I did do some practice tracking at a park, but it wasn't nearly as

Trek has a talented enough nose that she could go very far in Tracking
and Nose Work but I'm selfishly concentrating on Agility as it's my
preference and I'm the one paying the bills. :) But later on she no
doubt will do it.
I was talking to someone about herding and I told them it's probably the hardest dog sport I've ever done.  It's not just you and your dog but you your dog and 3 or more sheep often with a different agenda than you have.  It's very, very difficult to keep track of things and you have to give up on keeping track of everything and like in driving you have to keep your eyes roving and your vision wide.  It helps if you stay with your sheep as then they are in the corner of your eye and your dog is likely not far away.  Also you get better at anticipating what's going to happen and less chaos happens with experience.

I've decided that we're going to take one day of Labor Day weekend and take Yoshi herding.  HTrainer3 is going to be out of town some and I need to see if I can take Yoshi up to HTrainer2's instead.

Trek and Terri Ob. Class
They were introduced to
- Wait at a threshold (which they totally aced given they do it every day)
- Sit at one's side
- Stay in that sit while their person moves to in front of them
- Stay while their person moves back to heel position
- A basic Stand for exam

Then they did some basic walking on lead. After being the star the entire time she basically went into sniff mode and dragged Terri all over the place.  I realize I need to teach Terri what Trek knows about heeling so far (which is not bad actually).  I demod it some when we got back but we'll have to do more with Terri driving.  Terri's having the usual trouble managing treats and leash so I showed her how I hold the leash in my right hand and treats in the left.  She asked if that was just luring and I said I didn't worry about it much at this level but eventually move the treats to my right hand and keep one in the left and then move on to none, but that's pretty far down the road.  I also need to teach Terri to say "Watch."

The next class starts with sits and downs and I asked Elizabeth if we could join then and she said yes, so Trek and I got some down work.

Sun Aug 16
Haven't taken off for Marin yet, but will
I'm comparin the rules of AHBA's Junior Herding Dog (JHD) and AKC's Pre-trial (PT)

JHD details are here:

JHD allows 3-10(!) sheep, though I've only seen 3. 

Yoshi and larger multiples of sheep is kinda challenging as seen here:

Max course time is 8 minutes
The dog is to be brought in on lead or being held by the collar and positioned no less than 15' from the stock

Then (quoting):
Off-lead, the dog must hold a stand, sit or down, then is released to gather and/or drive the stock. Throughout the course, the handler may take any position relative to the stock and dog but may not touch the dog once the stock are set in motion.

In practice, however the handler is supposed to move closer to the sheep and I'm hear judges and instructors tell handlers to get closer to the sheep.

Note that it doesn't say anything about not touching the sheep - I'm prone to touching them as I move through them to signal Yoshi.

This is the rest of the course description:
The stock are taken through the panels. The handler may take the center panel either on the return from the corner panels or on the way to the corner panels (when negotiating the corner panels, the handler may choose to do either the righthand or lefthand panel first). The stock are then taken to the pen. The dog is stopped, holding the stock in place, while the handler opens the gate to the pen. After the stock have entered, the handler must close the gate; the dog should remain outside the pen.

Penning can be tricky and we need to work on it more before trying it.  If it is a pen the sheep want to be in (more common) then the dog has to be holding them back and then when you release your dog you have to get them to go out and let the sheep in.  If the sheep  want to be elsehwere (the "draw" is in another direction), then the dog has to keep them from leaving.

The course is pretty simple though a touch more complicated than AKC PT as they have to move through a center panel at some point in time doing the course.  When I get a chance I'll draw out the course.

The judging guidelines are here:

The parts that are judged are:

Collect and Control is still a major problem (I've bolded our issues):
In collecting and controlling the stock, the dog should not split the group or otherwise cause excessive disturbance. The dog should approach the stock in a calm manner, moving smoothly and maintaining an appropriate distance in relation to the stock. A little abruptness of movement may still allow a passing designation, but the dog will not be given a passing designation if it charges into the stock, splitting and completely scattering them. Likewise, if the dog has difficult moving the stock, it may still pass if it does get the stock moving with some assistance by the handler, but should not pass if it is unable to move the stock without a great deal of assistance.

Movement through the Course is still only barely passable (if that) as we're still very herky jerky:
In moving the stock though the course, the dog ideally should pace itself to the stock, maintaining an appropriate distance, using sufficient but not excessive force, with the stock neither being rushed nor balking. The dog should move the stock in the path as directed by the handler, neither rushing the stock nor allowing it to balk. The line of travel should be fairly straight between obstacles. Turns should be smooth and definite, without disturbance of the stock. The turns may be gradual or at a sharper angle, according to the situation.

The handler should use as few commands as possible, allowing the dog to demonstrate its natural abilities. A dog may still be given a passing designation, however, despite a little rushing, incidences of balkiness, some repetition of commands, a minor split, some raggedness in the line of travel, some circling of the stock, etc., depending on the extent of these occurrences. An "Insufficient" or "Not Accomplished" designation will result from the dog rushing the stock continually, repeatedly splitting or excessively disturbing the stock, ignoring commands or requiring continual commands, continually circling the stock throughout the course, backing down at slight resistance by the stock to the extent that the dog is unable to move the stock after several minutes, etc. If the stock break away and the dog readily recovers them, the dog may still be given a passing designation, but if the stock escape entirely and cannot be recovered and set back on course in a reasonably efficient manner, or if the dog loses control repeatedly, the dog will not receive a passing designation.

AKC Pretrial
The Herding Rules PDF is pretty terse and is here:

Ring size is not to exceed 30'x100' you have 10 minutes to do the course.
It talks about an optional boundary guide 12' from the fence.  I don't care about that if I was ever asked.

Again it says (sigh):
The dog should be permitted to work the stock as much as possible with a minimum of commands by the handler.

Course Elements
The five elements of the test, which must be executed, are:
1. A stay (a controlled pause);
2. Controlled passage of the stock (which includes
clearing four gates and a change of direction);
3. One stop on the course;
4. One stops while the handler opens the pen gate;
5. Penning the stock.

There is some allowance for "recalcitrant stock" and you only have to pen 80% of them, which is  a totally odd number choice given that there are usually only 3 sheep.  Why not you only have to pen 66.66666% of them?

I found a really informative article written by an AKC herding judge here:

She does talk about excessive touching of the stock but this is at the trial level.

I don't see quite the same: the dog won't pass if it charges in and splits the stock, but it's sort of implied, but might be more tolerated.  I'll have to ask HTrainer3 and HTrainer2 and corgiherders.

So from the looks of it PT sounds easier than JHD, so I think we're correct in pursuing PT first.

The trouble with using the long line is that I've lost what Out Yoshi had.  Now he just charges right up.  Probably the best approach is to move with the stock out of the way and not worry about him right off, rather than trying to face him down and ignoring the stock.  Off sheep I should work on a standing Stop, though the Down definitely slows him down but I'm not happy about Down coming to mean slow down.

Ok now off to Marin to pick up a lighter weight long line for Yoshi, and maybe a dog park after that.

Then went for a walk at Pt Isabel where she wandered around enjoying all the smells and not interacting much with the other dogs. She's just not very doggy except for a chosen few.  She mostly uses other dogs as props to run around with - if that.

Sat Aug 15
Yoshi Herding
Our boy is growing up.  He [mostly] has a down stay at the beginning.
He still charges in so the sheep and I have to move right at the beginning or he'll split them.  I have to pick a direction and start moving.

Now to work on getting a down after he fetches a sheep.  What should happen is after he goes and gets a sheep that once the sheep has turned back, he should down or slow down so that the sheep rejoins us smoothly.

Mady and her BC Darwin joined us to take an instinct test and he did great!  Once he realized that they actually wanted him to interact with the sheep he totally switched on.  Worked politely at a distance and was responsive to Mady's commands.  He'll need some additional obedience training if they want to pursue this but he's not going to need much.

The tourists were seriously out in force today.  Right when Darwin's instinct test was going on an entire photo class appeared and asked if they could take photos and HTrainer3 said yes.  I had told Mady that I didn't know how many tourist photos have been taking of me arguing with Yoshi, but those were mostly drive bys.  I never had an entire photo class appear.  Lucky her! :)

I need a longer long line but HTrainer3 doesn't like the heavy grip-it line I have and wants me to use a lighter one.  I used the lighter 15' one I have, but I really want a longer one just incase he really takes off from me (didn't happen this time).  I talked to Animal Outfitters which is the store at Marin Humane Society and is where I got the 15' one from and they found a 30' one and they're holding it for me to pick up tomorrow.

I'm making a list of You Tube herding videos

AKC Pre-trial runs (all Qualifying)

Pee-kay a GSD (very slow sheep) handler was asked by the judge to get closer to the sheep (handler was still 20' away)

Arwen white bouncy GSD herding admirably patient, steady sheep

Same dog's first PT run - actually did better here (less bouncy, does crowd the sheep some):

Rumor a BC.  The start is done differently, but at the PT level the judge is allowed to suggest a different way of doing it. The start is supposed to be.  put your dog in a stay, go to the sheep, release the dog, and do the course. What's interesting is that even though I hear this a lot I can't find anything in the rules about it. This handler started out like it was a herding trial level
Odd pause in the middle - don't think the handler knew the course well.
Nice dog though - wanted to quit part way through.

Wynnter another white GSD, also bouncy, some handling errors.  Amusing commentary from camera person who sounds like their instructor   The commentary is actually helpful to know what the dog should be doing at certain points.

Peyton a very nice BC
Intense, but keeps good distance and very responsive to down

Bella a distracted Corgi that alternates between sniffing and working enthusiastically

Fri Aug 14
Noon Yoshi walk
Offering food to him in the presence of dogs is working.  He can handle a dog walking by him just across Central.  Central is a wide 2 lane street.  Wide because it once had a streetcar that ran down it.  It's about 45' wide (17-18 of my long steps).  A regular 2 lane residential street is around 30' wide (12 of my long steps - a long step for me is around 2.5')

On Central one dog walked right by (excellent) another was in the near distance but turned before getting to us.  The first dog was hard for his initially - I had to keep showing him the food, but once he realized what the game was he no longer cared about the dog.

Trek Agility
Rocked the house again.  So much better since I'm learning to stop chattering.  She's reliably doing teeters now.

Tue Aug 11
I've started this fun thought experiment that I've been sharing with people to get their feedback.  I should ask Facebook too.  This should probably go in the nondogblog but I'll leave it here for now since it was prompted by my fear that Yoshi might come to hate treats if they were paired with unknown dogs.  Then i realized how hilarious that concept was.  Yoshi hating food just isn't going to happen unless he's ill.

In behavioral training and Classical Conditioning we use food as a Primary Reinforcer, meaning it's something so fundamental that a dog usually will think of it as a reward.  (I should give refs but maybe later.)

So what is a Primary Reinforcer for a human?
So far the answers are it depends on the age of the human.

- A young child will often like treats or games (similar to a dog)
- A teenager will likely want freedom and an iPhone
- An adult may respond to a whole variety of things.  Money being a huge one.

Adult humans are more neurotic (teenagers too) so a reward of food is often a loaded one as it could work towards making the person hate the reward too.

I used to not be fond of spiders and flying insects that bite.  If you had given me a brownie as a reward for a spider I may likely have come to hate brownies.  If you gave me $100, I'd ask you to bring more spiders in.  What's funny about money is that it's like a meta reinforcer.  Money can buy most reinforces, so even though it is a stand in for a real reward, it's has huge significance to those of us who have learned this abstraction called cash, that our dogs and human 2 years olds (research places them pretty similar development wise - where that link? - I'll find it.) have no conception of, and no neuroses about either. ;)

Yoshi walk.  I was late for a phys. therapy appt so we just went around the long block.  No incidents.

Terri and Trek's first  basic Obedience class at ODTC
Small class. 4 of 6 came.  Problem is that someone shot someone on the Richmond Bridge which completely closed the bridge, and the club is sort of close to there so that may have had an impact.

Since it was the first class, they did a lot of talking and then worked on sitting while being greeted by a human.  Though this class will no doubt show bits that I've missed in Trek's training, this one she has down cold fortunately.  Elizabeth and Sharon know that Trek is my agility dog and that they're there to help Terri and Trek build a better relationship. Elizabeth was kind enough to tell me that if there's something that Trek does a little differently feel free to tell Terri about it and then let them know.

They also worked on sitting beside their handler.  I didn't know they'd get this far so I took a second to show Terri how pivot your body and have her target your hand a little behind you and then pivot back into heel posistion.  I als o went back over "by me."

The cool thing is that initally all Trek wanted to do was go over to me, but as the class went on, she was looking to Terri more for treats, direction, and reassurance.  Cool.

Mon Aug 10
Yoshi Training Walk.  And what a great walk it was.
Usually at noon we don't see a lot of dogs hence my usually walking Yoshi in the evening, but I'm not going to have time to walk a dog this evening and Trek is tired from yesterday's agility, so I took Mr. Y. along.  What a fortuitous decision that was.  We saw only two dogs, but the amount of training we got out of each encounter was invaluable. 

We're walking down Central Ave. and I see a dog coming right at us that looks a lot like Cathy's Jesse who is a brindle Cattle Dog mix of sorts.  This dog is brownish and about mid-thigh high with a high tail set and is just ambling along so we have a lot of time to set up.  Yoshi and I dash down a side street and go a long house length down it plus a little extra.  I'm planning that the dog/handler are going to continue to go down Central, but when they finally appear (remember they're ambling) they turn down the street we're on but on the other side.  I bend down and start feeding him some and then I let him see the dog.  He tenses but I keep the food in front of him.  He's still tense and wound pretty tight and is coiled to charge but is still eating.  At a point I put a very brief pause in just to see if he'll look back at me and he does (I'm saying "What's this?")  The dog is just across the street from us but that seems to be at the point that he relaxes some.  I stand up and feed him more and tell him that he's a good dog.

We get back to Central and continue down a block and another dog appears again coming straight at us.  This is a semi large white dog and they're going fast enough that I'm not going to make it to a side street in time so we cross the street and set up.  Again I kneel down.  Eventually I'm hoping I won't have to, but I want to get the foundation in place first.  I feed him and let him see the dog.  He seems very on alert, but a little less stressed and I can feed him with brief pauses and he takes time to look at me so I don't feel like I'm foisting treats on him (not that he cares).  Again this dog took a different course than I planned on but the distance was the same so it was ok.

So he was a very good boy.  While I'm planning on doing this for months it will be interesting to see if I get a behavior change sooner.  It's a toss up as I'm battling biology here and the flight/flight response so I don't know how much progress I'll make but if anything has a chance in this case it is food.

Sun Aug 9
Trek Agility
Countywide AKC at Petaluma
The day started out pretty cool then got stinking hot (90 degrees - which is hot for us).
One reason to get out of Novice is that Novice is typically run at the end of the day which was during the hottest part (actually it was just starting to cool down a little.

She did surprisingly well.  She had one refusal in both her Standard and Jumpers with Weaves run, but in Novice you can have a refusal and still Q.

I had lost track but checking the AKC web site I learn that she got her jumpers title (NAJ)!  And needs one more for Novice Standard.  She still blasts past obstacles if she's not sure but what's cool is that if she hears me she'll correct her course to take the obstacle I've asked for.  She even fixed her weave entry on her own.  And she did a fantastic teeter!  So for her the key is to tell her the obstacle name (once is best) and don't crowd her.  She still gets ahead of me (what a great problem to have), so I'm going to have to practice taking two jumps ahead of me (not just one).  And chattering overoveroverover at the end does not make her take the last jump which she blew by in Standard and FAST.  I need to keep the language the same.: Go Over.

And she's continuing the dubious tradition of getting the "gamble" (Their version of it - the FAST class), but screwing around like a silly idiot and not getting enough points to Q. It was the last class and she was well cooked and wanted to leave. This is despite playing in the kiddie pool multiple times.

This of course prompted the amusing conversation between Blancette, Debbie and I that there should be a Silly, but Cute, Idiot competition as the competition in it would be stiff.

I keep getting disenchanted with AKC and all their rules, but then I go and I have a really nice time and am so warmly welcomed. I'll always be a dedicated USDAA fan, but Trek is the correct height to do really well in AKC so I should make myself stick with it.  And she's good enough now that I feel comfortable about moving her up to Open which she titles in Standard.  I've of two minds about moving her up to open Jumpers now as managing the conflicts is tough but if it's only a two ring show then that should be ok.  i'm such a wuss about conflicts.  I really admire the people who run two dogs each at different levels.  Not that I want to be in their situation.

Sat Aug 8
Yoshi herding.
I swear I should just run him a couple of miles before herding as the first session is always a wash.  He doesn't start behaving until he's tired.

!st time he wouldn't stay so we just crated him

2nd time still stay problems but improving but we're still not able to move the kind light sheep

3rd time much better.  He'll keep a down while I walk over the the sheep and stand there for 10 seconds, and we can now move the heavier sheep around mostly in kind of a herky jerky motion.

HTrainer3 says I'm getting in his way too much at the beginning but I tried unsuccessfully to explain that I was just doing what we were practicing last week.  I give up and just start moving the direction I want the sheep to go and let him adjust, which works better.

Even tired he's still too fast, too close - this is my penance for naming him Yoshi Hayate (the fastest bullet train in Japan), however he is responding to my "Back" which means switch directions and stay at the back of the sheep.  When he goes to get a sheep at the point that the sheep starts to come back, I should down him and that's a tough one for him as he's running pretty fast and wants to finish bringing the sheep back.

I'm looking at a started course and there is no stay and walk to the sheep.  While I like the training that we're doing I don't see how it works out in the future.

Fri Aug 7
Dogs walks (no class for Trek this week).
I tried out some new treats and then mostly did ok but there's really no substitute for soft smelly treats.
I usually use Natural Balance (leaning towards the turkey flavor as the beef makes them so thirsty

EVO Dog Treats: Savory(?) Turkey & Chicken Taste.
Dry, easy to break but too easy as they do crumble

Thu Aug 6
Yoshi Training Walk
Lots of work this time.  Lots of insight too.  It's time to go back to Remedial Classical Conditioning.
Right out the door he saw two smallish dogs across the though he warned me so I got a hand on his collar and I actually had momentary compliance to my sit command.  He then  couldn't stand it any longer and leapt at the two dogs and we then got into a wrestling match as I am of the mind that he should be able to handle it by now (I revised this some after this walk). Even hurting his some (pinching his skin pretty hard as I held him - he whined) did not break his "get that dog" emotional imperative.  Only distance did.  Walking further down the street revealed another dog and he stressed about that dog, but it was a black lab which doesn't trigger him so much.

Then later on the next street we saw another dog and this time I just resorted to picking him up partially by the scruff and holding him in the air as there was a mom and small child nearby who wanted to say him to him (they've seen him before), but I needed him not to have a melt down and scare the kid.  This sort of worked, but he was struggling and it's pretty heavy handed and it's not like a whole lot of learning goes on.  We then said hello to kidlet and had a lovely time and then I saw another dog approaching, so we excused ourselves and crossed the street.  During this entire time I'd been thinking that what I needed was the fastest path through his brain to interrupt the emotional reaction, and having just tried (a) practiced routines (b) pain (c) restraint (d) yelling at him, none of them have the same strength as the emotional reaction itself.  There's only one thing that does.  Food.  So we're back to Classical Conditioning.  It's time for food.  See a dog - get fed.  The old routine that I thought he was past, but obviously not.  So for the next dog and the next and the next (7pm in Aug in Alameda is the dog witching hour apparently), he got fed.  Feeding worked even with the dog walking right by on the other side of the street - a guaranteed reaction in any other case. 

I apparently on the fly have invented a cue for it.  "See this?"  I get the treat in front of his nose and I can watch the little neurons run through his brain interrupting everything else. It's totally Homer Simpson  "Mmmmm donut." moment (well, sort of - it's basically the exact same reaction.)  I used to have to use a squeeze tube, but just having something that smells nice to him works fine.  So every time he sees a dog it's going to be: "See this?"  I thought we were past this, but obviously not and having done this before it's much easier.  I just have to get his reaction: "come to me for a treat when you see a dog" more hard wired.  The cool thing about the "See this?" cue is that I don't have to always be leaning over him with a treat, and not having to use a squeeze tube means that there are moments (fractions of seconds, but important fractions of seconds) where he doesn't have food in front of him and he gets to choose the food over the reaction.  I just need to get his attention before he has a chance to react as even though on paper it's not suppose to matter with Classical Conditioning, I hate rewarding snotty behavior.  If I get a reaction, I get more distance and try to reset the situation.

I did not try covering his eyes which I know works, but is tough to pull off with a stressed, squirming dog, though I can do it.
Playing a game of tug is something he'll do only when he's not stressed so I didn't try that.

Trek Walk.
She walked right past a house that had a Metal Band rehearsing.  The whole package: loud drums, and guitars and inaudible vocals.  Albeit with the windows closed and the house was across the street but it was easy to hear.  Rest of the walk was uneventful though she's still trying to drag me home until I act like a boat anchor and she relents mostly.

Her poop is a little soft from yesterday's peanut butter indulgence, but it was worth it.

Wed Aug 5
Yoshi walk.  Mostly uneventful though it did bark at a bike being walked close by on the sidewalk in that Get our of my Face sort of way, and I told him it wasn't a dog.  The walker of the bike was nice enough to put his hand out for Yoshi to sniff it. 

Trek's Sturdi Bag came in and it's almost right but not quite.  I called Dog Bone Alley and they carry Sherpas and have a large one on order, so maybe I'll bring the Sturdi Bag in and we can compare.  If the Sherpa is better, then I'll sell the Sturdi bag at my cost and just eat the tax and shipping cost.  It's a shame as it's a really nice bag and the height is perfect, and a little short which is expected, but to compensate for that Trek wants it a little wider so she can curl up.  In my experience with the Sherpa with Cali that will work fine.

Her first plane trip is Oct 21-25 to see my family in Seattle on Alaska which is the airline that I've flown Cali on.

The Contra Dance band that Terri is in was over to do some rehearsng, so I separately had each dog come near and eat squeeze peanut butter which they played some heavenly Irish Jigs and Reels.  Even Trek who used to be terrified, held it together enough to happily eat peanut butter.  Did it for 3-4 minutes for each dog.

Tue Aug 4
I didn't walk the dogs and they made me regret it.  Not because of too much activity but instead they decided to start doing starvation foraging in the yard.  I finally realized it's because they get a lot of training treats on walks and if they don't get then then they're starving.  Not to mention they had to poop at 2am and if I had just walked them that would not have had to have happened.  Let that be a lesson to me.

Mon Aug 3
Can't remember much here.

Sun Aug 2
CU Streetwalking session today.

Message to CU_Dogs_SF
Re: CU Streetwalking Session Aug 2

We had a nice time.
It was just Diane, Spark, Yoshi and I, but we got a lot of work done.
Fortunately my street was less sleepy this time probably because of the more normal cooler temps.
A neighbor of mine was kind enough to be doing some semi-major pruning, but had the foresight to be doing it with hand tools instead of power tools which meant that we could find a distance where Spark could watch the semi-scary activity.  We found that distance was 2 1/2 house width distances (the house lots in my area being around 40-50  feet in width).  At a distance of 2 houses his stress level increased and his mouth got harder.  Interestingly enough, when Diane backed off to 3 house widths, he stopped paying attention to the tree trimming and started looking at other things.  this means that his distance tolerance is actually pretty tight in this context - taking less than 10 steps in a direction made a difference.

For the relatively chaos tolerant Yoshi, whose issues are about dogs and that's about it, we practiced doing dog approaches and found that in general, Yoshi was fine as long as Trek wasn't in the mix (he is very protective of her - to a fault).  We could even do a CGC style approach and started to practice that when sirens started going off and Spark was completely distracted.

After retreating into the house and the sirens had gone away, we started testing if Yoshi would react to Spark if Yoshi was in the living room window and Spark was walking by on the street.  Initially, Yoshi bristled, but figured out that if he kept his cool he'd get rewarded.  After that we couldn't get Yoshi to react at all even if they ran by.  (He's famous for having these incredible outbursts and then being fine after that.)  It helps that Spark is a Corgi. Even if he is one with a tail, he still gets special dispensation as long as he doesn't go near Trek. :)

We switched places and Yoshi and I did everything we could think of short of cartwheels to get Spark to pay any attention.  Diane can add more but he would look at us when playing LAT, but in general wasn't stressed by us at all.

After some more variations of walking towards each other on the street and seeing that they weren't reacting to each other we all just went on a walk together.

What's really funny is how Yoshi's demeanor changes in that context.  Suddenly we are now a traveling pack and he's now on full alert to watch out for incoming threats.  With Yoshi, the speed that another dog goes from being a threat to one of his own is incredibly fast sometimes.  Going on a walk together hastens that.

All in all it was very useful for all of us (save for Trek whose services weren't needed that day much so she sat around lounging.)
Once in a while in the living room, I did let her out to socialize with Spark and then I would feed Yoshi who was in a crate.  For the living room crates, I use soft crates with zippered openings on the top so that the treats can descend from the sky. :)

These sessions are so useful we will be doing this again.  Once a dog has basic CU skills, it's really helpful to get then out of the protected classroom environment.  Location to be determined.  We can stay at my house or someone else's house, or (I don't know if we're all ready for this yet) outside the Washington Park (in Alameda) Dog Park. The park is something we can try and if it's too much there are 100's of places to retreat to.  Though having a house to retire to is really nice for the humans and a good way to give dogs breaks.

Hope to see you at one of our sessions

and Yoshi and Trek

Sat Aug 1
And this year's first ripe tomato goes to: Yoshi
Who figured out that there was something delicious buried in the middle of this very large tomato plant.  This also required him balancing on the edge of the brick planter.  He remains our most agile dog.  He was so proud of himself I couldn't be made at him I just carried him out of the planter and blocked his access.  One year Cali cleaned off a cherry tomato plant that had around 10 ripe tomatoes on it.  He must be channeling her.

We were really busy with house maintenance stuff today so no dog things to speak of.

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