Fri Feb 29
Happy Leap Day.
Agility Class. The partner of a student in the class that Yoshi
watches, showed up with a white Welsh Terrier that they had just
adopted. The type of dog that Yoshi is just about guaranteed to
react to. I spoke to her and we decided to try to keep the dogs
apart. Even so Yoshi did take great exception when that dog
started to bark and I had to double the distance that we were standing
from them. Yoshi very much wanted to Get That
Dog. (He really has it out for terriers.) But we managed to
keep enough distance to make some progress. Also Yoshi and
Charlie got to play some while on leash And he was fine around
Penny and the other regulars, though he did grose at one of the
Shelties who got too close - I think it was actually displacement
aggression as the terrier was fretting, and was pissing him off.
Trek was very sniffy tonight, but when she did work she did
I finally started to tell her to "find it" in hopes she would fine all
the dropped treats and then be able to concentrate. Only sort of
worked - she was still sniffy. She was oddly leary of a winged
jump at the far end of the field as well. She kept running around
it though when I pulled her rabbit fur tug n treat out and threw it
over the jump she went over it. That also worked for a couple of
rear crosses that she was having trouble with too.
Thu Feb 28
Took both dogs for separate walks in the evening. I had been
avoiding walking Yoshi at night because he seemed like a freaky boy,
but one CU_Dogs list member said that her dog was actually better at
night because the dog couldn't see as well, so I decided to test
it. Results are inconclusive as we didn't see any dogs (well I
did but he didn't). He did see a few groups of humans talking
very animatedly and he was uncomfortable until I told him it was ok and
then he relaxed and started playing LAT (good boy). He was also
being very attentive so I decided to give him a goodie just about every
time he looked up. He liked that - a lot.
On Trek's walk I worked her on stay after we sit at the corner.
We maybe making inroads here. If I tell her stay she doesn't leap
up any more. I know teaching a separate stay has fallen out of
fashion and I can understand why but it seems to help my dogs get the
concept that the point is to not move. She's better at loose
leash walking since I'm very free with treats when she is at my side.
Finished painting the teeter board (it's been nice weather this
week). It actually looks quite nice. Will clean up the base
tomorrow and it will be ready to go. Maybe sometime I should
actually work on the poor table that's unpainted and absorbing all the
rainwater. I'll have to see if there is any spray-on
primer. I'm finding I like spray paint as it's so "no muss no
fuss." I can grab a can, put down newspaper with painters tape,
put on a layer and be done in a few minutes with essentially no clean
up and no brush to spend 20 minutes washing out. It's more
expensive but I'm not painting large areas.
Wed Feb 27
Did the dogs nails. Yoshi now struggles even harder when I get to
his back feet. I had Terri come in and help but he was super
stressed and remembers having one of his back nails quicked. He
will get through this eventually, but I think giving him some Pet Calm
beforehand will help him through it.
Did some more work with Trek on basic obedience and for amusement,
introduced Stand. She's able to generalize Stay to the standing
position so she actually had some success once I finally convinced the
limp dishtowel that she is to remain on her feet. Also worked on
having her stay steated when I walked behind her. After a few
tries I was able to walk completely around her which is quite a huge
success gvien her squirrelyness. Once I can get her to understand
her job, she's really good at it.
She could easily get a CD, maybe even a CDX with several months work,
but i'm not sure I want to go there though she very much thrives on
working with me. and anything that helps us stay bonded is a good
thing. I so much want this to be Yoshi's thing and he's very good
at it but I don't know if I'll ever be able to trust him. Maybe I
should start taking both dogs and switching off between the two.
This may conflict with mountaineering training for the next 3 months
but i'm sure I can make class sometimes.
Worked more on come, sit, down (with the hand raised signal and also
the word), by me, and heel.
Tue Feb 26
Did a little bit of work with Trek on Martin, but then I quickly
switched to doing some basic obedience work with her to see where she
was with it. She's actually much better doing work where I'm
moving around too (well at least this time), rather than sitting around
throwing treats at her when she targets a toy. Maybe it's more
fun that way or maybe she wants me to be a part of the process.
We did some living room Choose to Heel which went well, and sit, down,
by me, side (iffy), front, stay, come (I really haven't taught her this
but she sits in front of me quite naturally, and a little finish which
is just an extension of "by me" Haven't taught her "stand" yet
but I should just for comedy's sake and it will help her with getting
measured in agility. She would find the heeling with attention
discipline tiring but the endurance of it would likely be good for her
even if I find heeling with attention a rather artificial thing for a
dog to do.
Fish has been found! I was looking all over the house and was
starting to really wonder as the usual places hadn't turned him
up. I bent down on a pile of sheets awaiting to be washed so I
could look under the dryer, and I here the sound of bubbles which is
Fishes sound. Apparently Fish had been caught up in the sheets when the
bed was stripped. Poor Fish. Well he's back now.
Yoshi and I went down to Anne Kajava's to check it out. Yoshi at
first stayed in the car while i looked around and talked to Anne
more. It's perfect and they even have 17(!) ring gates.
Somehow I think we'll be fine. April 20th works for Anne as well
as Kienan so once I do a budget for the Bayteam and it's approved then
we'll be good to go (need to do a flyer too but I think Kienan is
working on that.).
Then I went and got Yoshi. Now there is a Sirius puppy class
going on in the multipurpose room plus Anne running a class in the main
area. We stayed in the entry way just watching and that was going
fine until a puppy owner and his juvenile puppy (a terv maybe?)
suddenly came out of their room to use the doggy restroom. I only
had a half second of warning and started to go hide in the crating area
when Yoshi lunged hard (no barking which is usually more worrisome) and
gave himself this nasty correction. I got him into the crating area and
he was gagging a bit, but ok. I checked to make sure the
adjustment on his martingale collar was correct (tightens only enough
to prevent it from going over his head - it was fine), and realized he
was ok, and after a few seconds he was ready to go back to LAT.
His ability to recover from adverse events like that has very much
changed. It's like he has a new tool to use rather than just
stressing and grumbling.
Anne had said that it was ok to bring Yoshi into the main ring and I
eventually took him in but Debbie's young poodle Tiger took great
exception to Yoshi's presence and was barking and growling. Yoshi
who was being mainlined treats while I was kneeling in front of him was
terrific. Not only was Tiger barking at him but a small whitish
fluffy dog was running. After the dog went by we then retreated
and went back to watching from the window. And left not long
after that. this was all much better than it could have gone -
the lunge was worrisome but I like how easily he was then able to
regroup and work again.
Mon Feb 25
I just got off the phone with Anne Kajava and her training facility (Jumpnjava Agility)
sounds ideal. 100x60 main room with 20x20 multipurpose room and
10x20 crating area, oh and there's a kitchen, so I could provide coffee
and cold drinks too. The only thing is that I'll need to choose a
Sunday as they have 5 classes on Saturday (but only one on Sunday that
can be rescheduled.) I'll be going down to see the place on
Tues. Maybe I should bring Yoshi to see how he feels about it..
She has all the ring gates necessary and I'm quite sure she has 4
jumps. She wants us to list her and the Training Facility as an
"Additional Insured" on any insurance policy which would obviate the
need for liability release forms (though they can't hurt).
or we could go the way high end direction (naw):
- Luisa's Caterering: http://www.luisascatering.com/food.html
Though can you imagine if you went to a dog event and were served: Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pies with Cream
Cheese Crust – sun-dried tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, french
green beans with flavorful pieces of thyme-seasoned chicken in cream
It would certainly be memorable (and it's making me hungry)
Worked with Trek on toy naming. The one problem with toy naming
is when one of the toys disappears. Fish has gone AWOL and I
haven't been able to find Fish in the house or half buried in a toy
grave in the yard (courtesy of Yoshi.) So I went with Martin and
introduced Rabbit to Trek. We started out the same way of
targeting each separately and then with both on the ground. As
soon as she had to think I could see her getting a little impatient and
would wander off and then come right back and do the asked for
I'm noticing something interesting about Trek, is that she gets bored
easy even when the treats are really good and she understands the
task. I think partially the reason is that she's such a well
mannered dog that no one (us included) has made much demand of
her. She's learned all the agility obstacles, but even there I've
noticed that after 3 classes at a trial her attention just isn't there,
and also she does try to short cut the weavepoles. In herding,
she'll bark at the sheep maybe get them nearer me, and then go roll in
sheep poop, even though we know that she's perfectly capable of herding
(not that I care but it's another example.) I've sort of
deliberately not taught her much obedience as I didn't want to mess up
her distance skills, but maybe the discipline will be good for
her. I need to teach her to love to work, which means I need to
keep it interesting and pay well.
I then decided to work on the mats with both dogs just hanging out on
them (not a lot of formal work0. Having both dogs around led to a
fair bit of comedy as Trek continued her flop down get a treat, then
get up and flop or sit back down. in a different position. Yoshi
who's a pro when he knows his job and other triggers aren't present,
stayed laying down on his mat and looking attentive and getting
treats. The contrast between the two is fascinating. I keep
forgetting that due to his reactiveness, Yoshi has had a ton of
obedience related training. Trek has not. If Yoshi ever
gets a handle on his reactivity and lack of confiidence, he's going to
be incredible in the obedience and agility ring (though I've pretty
much accepted that this will likely not happen any time soon.)
Maybe I should put Trek through a formal obedience class though I can
home school her pretty well too since it doesn't take much equipment.
ODTC tells me that there's a large Obedience and Rally match on March
9th that I'm welcome to help out in to satisfy my requirements to join
the Club. If i steward I can have a free entry so I'm going to
put Yoshi in Rally Novice (which is all on leash).
Sun Feb 24
while I slept, Yoshi amputated the Baby Duck's Beak. Fortunately
BabyDuck doesn't need a beak to quack. I still haven't made the
web page about it but Yoshi is indeed a member of the Flat Toy Society,
but his destuffing style is much more contemplative and artistic than
Cali's. Trek is not much of a shredder, but once a toy is
bleeding she takes great delight in pulling the stuffing out.
Why is he named BabyDuck? Because we occasionally have a Duck
around who doesn't look anything like him.
Beakless BabyDuck - Repaired
Trek indicating Martin and Fish for some breakfast. Trek will
play the Martin and Fish game for a little while and then seems to get
either bored or frustrated. Up until then she does great and I
can even see her thinking. But she needs to develop some working
endurance with things that take more thought. I'll have to change
the game some to keep it interesting for her. It's tempting to
switch different toys, but that means switching names and that's proved
to be a challenge for her. I'm thinking I should move in the
other direction and switch to one toy and have her do a lot of things
with it like fetching, and just carrying.
While I wrote, I had the dogs gathered around me so I got the matts
out. Both initially plopped down on them, then Yoshi decided to
move to the snuggler (can't say I blame him.) but Trek then plopped on
his matt and hasn't moved for a while. In fact when Terri came
in, Trek wanted to greet her but didn't want to move from her mat (a
For rainy day fun and to avoid housework, I played the target Martin
and Fish game with Yoshi. He did very well and I realize that
when he understands what to do, he does great. Again I first
started having him target Martin (Fish is up on the table), and later I
switched the toys and had him target Fish. I did the same thing
as I did with Trek as I said the name of the toy once he had started
towards it. Then I put both toys on the ground and again said the
name of the toy he was going for. Eventually I did make it harder
by giving him a choice and seeing how he responded when he didn't get a
"Yes" right away to see how he'd deal with frustration. He did
work through some of it, but was considering giving up. I had him
do a couple more sucessful trys and quit.
Both dogs have trouble with frustration, so this is a good exercise at
helping them get through it. I just have to remember to use high
value treats and keep the sessions short (but long enough so they learn
I also discovered by accident with Yoshi that Fish makes a great
retrieve toy for him as Fish is easy for his small mouth to pick up and
there are [currently] 3 fins and a tail to grab onto.
The storm seems to be lightening up so I'll see if I can get Yoshi over
to the dog park.
At the park, it was wet enough so there were no small dogs in the small
dog park (they're relative wusses), but there were plenty of big dogs
in the regular park. I had him on leash in the small dog park and
his distances are about the same as before (50'+) - I'm grateful he at
least has a threshold - some dogs don't). Yoshi is still very
reactive to running dogs, but I've now seen him herding enough to know
that it's over the top herding desire. I decided to walk him into
the park on leash to see if there was any change in his demeanor.
He was stressed, but what was interesting was the occasional clueless
non-threatening dog that bounded right up to him, he did not react
aggressively to. With dogs that aren't intimidated by his act,
he's relatively fine with (though I was watching carefully). It
was good information but he'd be happier outside the park.
Actually the place we had the most success is with him in his crate in
the back of the Scion watching dogs in the park and me feeding him
treats Dog TV at its best. I should make a video of
it. I can totally see doing this at Dixon Fairgrounds ringside
sometime. Just let him watch from his secure, elevated box seat.
LAT on the neighbor's cat.
The dogs saw something in the yard and were going ballistic, but then
seemed to quiet some, but they were still scanning. After looking
around some we finally looked up, and noticed the neighbor's [friendly]
cat right over our heads on the garage roof. Now cats in secure
places aren't really inclined to move especially when it's so
satisfying to torture the dogs who can't reach them, so I took the time
to go inside to get treats and a clicker since I was pretty sure the
situation wasn't going to change much over the minute that it would
take me to get stuff. It hadn't. So Yoshi and I got to
succesfully play LAT on the cat which is so much nicer than listening
to incessant, frustrated barking and whining. While I usually
just use a marker word rather than the clicker, I find in higher
stimulus situations the clicker works better (should have had one at
Sat Feb 23
We have a large storm headed right at us but it hasn't hit yet and I'm
wondering if I can sneak in a dog walk with Trek beforehand (Yoshi
would likely be too much of a freaky boy). Though I seem to have
this uncanny talent for bringing on storms when I go on a dog walk but
heck what's all this wet weather gear for anyway?
I lucked out. The storm isn't supposed to hit until noon so I had
time to walk Trek, and to take Yoshi to the dog park to watch
Trek may know left and right when facing me, but she's going to need
some help generalizing it for when I'm behind her. If I point in
the direction that helps, she also needs work on sitting on my right
though is getting it.
Yoshi's comfort level around unknown running dogs in the park still
remains at around 50+ feet from the fence (him on the other side of the
fence - I actually paced it off this time to check the distance).
If a dog is standing at the fence looking friendly then Yoshi can got
right up and say hi. The trigger is when a dog directly
approaches (in particular quickly) which gets an aggressive defensive
reaction from him, or a dog races by laterally chasing either a dog or
a ball which gets the herding bark, bark, bark you must be controlled
reaction. I used to let him do this with particular dogs in the
park as he wasn't being aggressive with most of the big dogs (just
loud) but if a dog got frightened and ran away Yoshi would chase after
him so it became clear that he needed to learn self control (hence all
the herding lessons.) And he was out and out aggressive with the
small dogs. Eventually I'll take him into the park on leash and
see how his comfort level changes (could go either way.) Unlike
other dogs, he's actually worse off leash as he makes poor choices on
his own and more seems to prefer being told what to do.
I don't think I've been writing
about it, but I've decided that there's a huge need for Control
Unleashed workshops in this area and it may as well be me who organizes
them. I like the idea of putting workshops together as they don't
take nearly the amount of continuing commitment that holdling and
organizing classes does. I've created the CU_Dogs_SF yahoo group
for planning purposes and several people have joined already.
Now I just have to find a suitable location. Hayward is a good
compromise location but hasn't been as dog friendly as it used to be
and a lot of the fields now have buildings on them. One person on
the list has offered the use of her field in Livermore and I like that
idea a lot as we can then just trade field rental for workshop fee.
She's checking with the property's owner to make sure it's ok.
Other possibilities are the various agility facilities in the
area. Karey's checking with the Bayteam board if this is
something the Bayteam would like to be involved in putting on - she
also says that we could use their umbrella liability insurance which
would make my life a lot easier. I'll also have to check with
Kienan to see what sort of legal liability release would be necessary
for participation since we are talking about reactive dogs. And
also how many dogs at a time. (I'm hoping for one day workshops).
Back to Martin and Fish
Trek now has the idea to go mouth one of the toys, so now I'm going
back to the clicker idea of waiting to say the word till the dog is
committed to that toy before saying the cue word. So when Trek
starts for Martin I say Martin and I say Fish when she's going for the
Fish. I see flashes of her getting it. She still loses her
focus with higher value treats but is starting to be able to work
One thing I love that has nothing to do with the names is that if a toy
gets too far away I can ask Trek to "Bring It" and she'll move it
Occasionally I'd say the cue word before she had a chance to reorient
and start towards one of the toys. When she took the time to
(slacker) about it (i.e. wasn't over stimmed), she often got it right
which I'm so jazzed to see.
Fri Feb 22
More work with Martin and Fish.
It's tricky. If I use high value treats, Trek focuses on the food
and doesn't learn. If I lower the treat value sometimes that
helps and other times she just loses interest (that usually means
shorter sessions.) She does seem to be getting things but not
really the idea of nouns. I think what she's learning is "Martin"
means pounce on this thing and "Fish" means pounce on the other
thing. Well that's a start (when it happens - pretty iffy right
Thu Feb 21
I found the National Geographic article on the net and it's here:
So now it's time to formalize the Name
The Dog Toys Project
(NTDTP) (also known as the Trek Full Employment Plan - TFEP).
Cali was such a destroyer of toys that they really never had a
chance. Toys now last a lot longer around here, so I can actually
start teaching names of them.
This morning I came up with a large menagerie of nameable toys to
choose from. I restricted it to ones that had enough of a shape
to be recognizable (unlike all our hedghogs in various states of
amputation) and I took photos (click for a larger version).
(l to r) Martin,
Coyote, Squirrel, Octopus, Alvin, Fish
(l to r) Rabbit,
Kitty, BabyDuck, Chipmunk, Mouse (kinda thrashed), Mushroom.
(Front Row) Kong, Ball, Bone
Ok now what? How shall we do this? Well if you we teaching
a toddler, you would just keep talking in full sentences pausing only
to pick up the object and say its name while the kid interacts with it
(many, many, many times). That's one approach. the clicker
approach would be to name interaction with the toy later after the
behavior was established, but I'm not sure about that as this is about
object names and not actions. I can see this distinction is going
to be a reoccurring theme. So I of course don't know what I'm
doing but I kinda like that as I might be able to come up with
something slightly original and I'm not going to do any damage if my
dog doesn't succeed in learning the names of her toys.
So there are two (plus) goals that I have
The first one is can she learn object names.
The second one is the really cool one. Can she learn basic
ideas of grammar? I know other dogs have done this. Can I
say "get Martin" and she goes
and gets it. Better yet, Can I say "putaway Martin" and she puts it
back (Well, I can dream can't I ?)
The extra credit is can I get her to recognize a photo of an
object and go get the object? That's a fascinating abstration
that they talk about in the article.
Wed Feb 20
Joyce says that the ranch is closed this Sunday as it's sopping wet
(such a surprise given that it's been raining since Tue.), but the
Sundays in March and April (save for the last one) are currently open.
I poked my nose into the Control Unleashed email list (I don't have
time to read all the posts but I keep them so I can search them), and
people are talking about the need for CU groups in the Bay Area.
Hooray! I posted saying that maybe we want to consider bringing
Kienan up here for a CU gathering of sorts. I guess this means
that I'm thinking of organizing it. Eek. My experience is
training my dogs and then writing about it. i usually don't do
stuff past that as this is plenty of work, but given that I
want to see this happen I should do what I can. Another trainer
active on the CU list is moving back to the Bay Area from Colorado
Springs (I've been there - I didn't care for it - neither did she
apparently.) That should be very cool.
I just heard from Elf that National Geographic has a Border Collie on
the cover who can learn the words for objects as fast as a toddler and
(this is what intrigues me) can learn from a photograph. i will
go get that issue as I really want to start challenging Trek more as
she needs it. I'd love to figure out if I can get her to
recognize objects in a photograph.
I've told Trek that she's underemployed and needs to work more, and
she's all for it as long as the pay is good and she thinks Red Barn
Beef will do if pizza crust is not available.
We started continuing our work on "side" (sit on my right side) and by
me" (sit on left my side). By me she's got down cold but she's
getting "side" as well though she still wants to rump out. Some
more sessions with the target stick and the sofa helped. We moved
on to left and right which I can pretty much cue with a shift of my
shoulders now though "left" still needs work. Did some back sit
and down stays, added in a formal recall of "come" which I've never
really bothered to teach her but I must of as she does it quite readily.
Then I got out a couple of toys (Martin and Coyote) and just started
talking to her about them (I have no training plan yet), but just was
doing simplistic. Point at the toy and say the name (she would go
over to it and either mouth it or just semi crouch nearly on top of
it.), then when she started to go towards a toy on her own I would add
the name at the last second. I can see the wheels turning in her
head though she's not quite clear on the game. Dogs are more
about actions than object names so it's a mental leap to have the idea
of formal nouns, but it's something they can grasp. I stopped the
session and she was harrassing me to do more (good).
Tue Feb 19
I sent in Trek's CPE registration for the Bayteam Mar 23 show, after
finally locating her number. I realized I muffed it up by not
just adding her as a new dog so she has a number different from mine
and Yoshis (and Cali's). I sent them email to see if we can get
it fixed. Her CPE number should be 03558-03. I've just
entered her for Saturday and them I'll take Yoshi on Sunday to
watch. I was just going to enter 3 classes (she poops out around
3), but I have an entry certificate so I've entered her in 5 classes
and will just pick 3 of them when we're there.
I also need to contact Joyce to see what the ranch schedule is like for
the next few weeks as now that Yoshi is showing real progress in
it's time to start really working on it. I'd like to try for his
PT in late spring / early summer.
Mon Feb 18
I sold one of the Vari-Kennel Jr.kennels to an EMT with a new Min-Pin
puppy. What's funny is that a Min-Pin is never going to outgrow
that crate so it should be perfect for him.
Got more paint and put a couple more layers on the teeter. Save
for one last coat of yellow, it's done and i've stashed it in the
garage since it's supposed to rain tomorrow. I need to clean the
residual dirt off the base but it's out of the weather as well.
Oh drat I just realized I missed putting the oral sealant on Yoshi's
teeth this weekend - will have to do that along with the nail trimming
session they both need.
Cathy came by with her dogs for our dinner/DVD watching
gettogether. We first put my dogs in the living room crates
(which are back now that I have car crates) and I sat near Yoshi's
crate with treats at the ready. Cathy came in with her crates and
set them up and i started giving Yoshi's treats from the top of the
crate while she was doing that. She then brought her dogs in and
Yoshi immediately started playing the Look At That game of looking at
them and then immediately back at me for a treat. He never
growled or barked. Possibly a little stiff initially.
Pretty soon he wasn't taking his eyes off of me. NowMc Devitt
says that this will happen and it's up to you how you want to respond
as it's a great dilemma to have. You have your dog's complete
attention. Whether you want to insist that the game continue or
just reinforce your dogs attention to you is up to you just as long as
your dog is calm. I don't care so I reinforce either him looking
at the dog(s) or staring at me as long as he isn't having a panic
Trek was feeling left out so I gave her some too, but anytime Cathy had
to take her dogs out of their crates, I was rewarding Yoshi for his
calmness. There was even a time when one of her dogs Abby was out
and squirming on the sofa and Yoshi was fine about it. (Abby got
recrated pretty soon because of the squirming.)
Sun Feb 17
Nice day today and I don't want to go anywhere, so I'm working on the
teeter board repainting which is nearing completion (Though I just ran
out of blue (yellow too) spray paint and will get more tomorrow.
I also finished Control Unleashed finally though I'm just going to
start over on it again. I'm realizing that it's a book that you
don't really finish.
Putting the crates back in the Scion though I'm still waiting delivery
on one of the pads. I also listed the new Vari-Kennel Jr's on
Sat Feb 16
Ski class during the day.
Mark and Jan came over for dinner in the evening. Yoshi's
"greeting" was pretty growly as they just came in without knocking
since we know them and we're over at each other's houses quite often. I
wasn't thrilled with Yoshi's behavior, but Jan and Mark know him and
his quirks well and knew to completely ignore his growlyness (which
disappeared very quickly.)
Their puppy Cameo is 5.5 months old and getting very big. Cooper
still has Pancreatitis and they are still struggling to find a workable
solution. Meanwhile he eats lots of rice.
Fri Feb 15
I spent part of yesterday innocently trying to figure out how to
pronounce a Kennel name and got way more than I bargained for.
Since it's not really a training related thing it's in the Non-Dog Blog
under today's date. Title is "About that Fancy Kennel
Name..." i will say what the kennel name is if you write me and
ask (it's not a big secret just didn't want to go broadcasting it over
the entire internet).
Agility day for both dogs. But I have to be at Sugarbowl at
8ish AM for a ski class and I'm still running a little slow so I think
I'll skip Trek's 7:30 class, though I have to go to pick up a crate
from Karen so I'll take Yoshi to watch the 6:15 class.
He did fine though we didn't try to run him in the class. They
had a lot of jumps and a set of poles set up in the lower field, so
while they were up in the upper field, I spent some time running Yoshi
below. He did well though got completely distracted by smells
near the poles. I wasn't sure if it was stress sniffing but it
didn't seem like it and he only did it in the spot right near the
beginning of the poles. I let him finish his sniffing and then we
did the poles. He's pretty responsive and leaves me in the dust.
Thu Feb 14
Reliable sources tell me that Yoshi's smarter brother Zach is getting
close to his MACH and will be attending the AKC
which is fantastic news though I feel sad for Yoshi and Dylan who don't
seem to be so comfortable with it (though there may come a time where
they can both dabble in it.) The irony still strikes me
again. Yoshi and Dylan both looked very promising for
agility. Zach was the one puppy of the bunch that the breeder,
Elizabeth, was concerned about as he was showing early signs of
dominating the other puppies. He was larger and would frequently
roll the other littermates. 7 months later the situations all
reversed. Big boy Zach's tenancy to roll weaker dogs disappeared
and small frys Dylan and Yoshi living in different parts of the country
started bullying and being outright aggressive towards other
dogs. Dylan to other members of his canine household and Yoshi to
unknown dogs that looked remotely different to him (or who were
approaching). Years ago I said to Linda "See you at AKC
Nationals" (with the boys in tow.) Now it appears that we'll both
eventually be there, but with our next dogs.
Dylan is also into herding so we'll hopefully see each other in herding
in that respect, I checked on where the 2008 Corgi Nationals are going
to be: Nov 8-15 in: Pine
Mountain, Georgia (info link is here).
Now, I travel, I work for a geology company, I'm very globally aware,
I've even been to Georgia more than twice as my family is from there,
but all I could think is "Where???" I
had to zoom the Google maps link out to where I could see the entire state
before I recognized anything, which for me is Atlanta, Savannah, and
the Brunswick area. and then down to Jacksonville, Fl. (Staying
near coastlines is obviously in my blood).
However on second glance I see that the herding trial is Nov 8-9 (a
weekend - wow) and is at Wood End Farm in Farminton,
which is conveiniently located for travelers (just East of Atlanta) and
no where near the rest of the trial. Having herding being more
easily reachable than other disciplines is pretty brain bending for me,
but hey it works in our favor and might make a nice goal of trying
Started Sheep there. (Hopefully we'll have our PT by then). i
also see that Tracking is in Watkinsville
which is near the herding venue, but unfortunately is on Nov 9th which
is the second day of the herding trial. I'm going to have to
check that info again. This time I just entered the zip code of 31822
and got the same location. I see I'm going to have to check with
the Corgi people closer to the source on the story behind this one
which I'm sure is fabulous and full of high Corgi drama. Though
given that I recognize some of the names I will have to proceed with
If I took Yoshi to that herding trial it would mean not taking Trek,
but a herding trial of just Corgi's is much harder to come bye (sorry)
than the usually California agility trial which always has Corgis -
besides the agility trial would be considerably more expensive for me
to get to and I'm planning on spending a lot of money on Trek's AKC
career so I don't feel in a huge hurry.
Though this does bring up that I should get my head out of the ski
clouds (a little) and start planning her agility schedule. i
printed out the AKC, USDAA, and CPE Schedules (she can do a chute now
so we really don't need to pursue NADAC anymore). So much to
choose from - except for CPE which is a little thin in this area.
Her first CPE will be the Bayteam one Mar 23-24, if nothing happens to
the trial before I get around to sending in the entry (we have so many
trials that they usually don't close till fairly near the close
date). But her main area to shine in will be AKC mostly due to
how the recent height changes really favor her in the 8" class (it's
now 11" and lower - that is huge as she otherwise would have had to
jump 12"). And I have to decide how much USDAA performance to
do. I've always preferred USDAA, so we're definitely going to try
it, but I don't know if we'll make a regular trip to the Nationals in
Scottsdale (though it would be fun to see my sister there.)
Wed Feb 13
I've had a nasty stomach flu (I just learned the technical term: Viral
Gastroenteritis) since yesterday and only now am able to pick my
head up enough to function. What's interesting is how the dogs
have reverted to old habits. At first, I was wondering how would
they be familiar with sickness then I recalled that even through they
may be proud members of the world's most successful parasites and
they are related to wolves and wolves and other predators very much
know all about sickness. Terri inadvertently gave me the perfect
lead into to telling her about things as she in jest asked "What,
they're going to eat you?" I replied "No, but they did eat the
comforter." "OH!" Fortunately not the entire comforter, but
very nice hole in one of the sections with feathers everywhere and me
sound asleep right beside. I'm not sure who was the culprit, but
suspect a joint effort. Also on Tues when I was doing just awful,
Yoshi decided he was going to take his pack sentry role into overdrive
and alarm bark at everything which is so conducive to getting
rest. I finally worked up the energy to put him in his crate and
he settled down.
Terri, in a mission of mercy, went and picked up a Vari-Kennel Deluxe
medium crate from Craigslist and it's perfect for the Scion. Now
I just need one more and life will be perfect. Well it will be
when I get my act together to sell the Vari-Kennel Deluxe Jr.'s.
Mon Feb 11
One thing that happened yesterday that was a small, but very important
thing had nothing to do with herding. I was showing Laurel and
another person my new Scion and as we walked up to it I realized that
one of her large Smooth Collies was tagging along. My dogs
were in the car in crates and the back lift gate was open. With
the angle that we were approaching were were going to totally surprise
the dogs which always sets Yoshi off. I made sure that Yoshi
could hear my voice and I got there first, and put my fingers in his
crate for him to touch and smell them (i didn't have any treats with
me). I stood in front of his crate and stroked his nose with my
finger and talked to him gently while continuing to talk to
Laurel. The dog appeared at the same time the humans did and
Yoshi did not react! Just looked at the dog and looked back at
me. Hooray! He may be starting to trust me to protect
him. I think it also helped that in the car he was actually
taller than the dog and was looking down on the dog. And of
course he was in his crate.
I'm realizing that I really need to teach Trek more so she doesn't lose
interest in our activities and start looking for her own
entertainment, so I got the target stick out (along with some good
treats) and we worked on sitting on my right side (which she needs work
on.) She also tends to sit with her rump pointed out so we worked
by the side of the sofa. with me standing about 8 inches away from it
and having her sit beside me in between me and the sofa. She was
initially hesitant about squeezing in there, but as with most things
Trek,. she initially hesitated, but then figured out that it was safe,
and jumped into the task with all paws.
i think I'm going to call sitting on my right "side." I used to reserve
that for walking on my right side but I almost never use it and need
the sit on the right quite often. So it's "by me" for sit on my
left side, and "side" for sit on my right side. "Close" for walk
casually near me (I used to mean only on the left but it really doesn't
Sun Feb 10
What a weekend for breakthroughs. First agility and now
herding. We ended up doing most of a PT (AKC PreTrial level of
competitive herding) course which is something I had no idea we were
going to be doing today.
The day started of doing what I expected we'd be doing for the
day. Working in the round pen. Letting him gather the sheep
and then working with him on moving them around in a controlled manner
with me telling him when to switch directions as he weaves ("wearing")
back and forth behind the sheep. This is much easier said than
done and I found myself not having arms long enough to get him to
change directions. I asked Joyce about this and she said that it
is perfectly ok to go through the sheep to get to the dog. I also
found myself wanting to say a word and started saying "switch" which
really seemed to help him to know that I wanted him to change
While he was way excited he seemed less over the top than he has been
before and seemed more willing to stop when I asked. We did two
sessions in the ring and I thought it seemed like good progress.
I was getting ready to leave when Joyce suggested we try the PT
ring. I asked "Are you sure?" and she said "Oh sure." I was
feeling some trepidation as I had no idea what to expect, but he has
had some success in that ring but usually he loses it and starts
chasing sheep all over the place. Last time this happened Tony
suggested that as soon as Yoshi gathers the sheep to immediately go
somewhere with the sheep thus giving him a job of keeping the sheep
together. The other thing that we had going go us is that he was
already tired and that's always worked in his favor.
We entered the ring and Joyce came in there with us. I put him in
a down and walked a little ways away. He broke and Joyce had me
chase him down and take him back to the same place and again put him in
a down. I got further away (far enough that I was impressed that
he was holding it), but he broke and this time when I caught him I just
put him in a down where I caught him. This time he held it and I
let him gather the sheep. Then we headed for the fence and
started to move down the fence with him running back and
forth. Every time I wanted him to change direction I waved
the stick and said "switch." Joyce first said not to say it, but
I said that it seems to help him and she relented when she saw him
respond to it. This was not always smooth. Sometimes the
sheep would run off but he would immediately go get them and bring them
Walking backward is still a challenge but when we get to the fence I am
moving forward. The most challenging thing is to keep him from
getting in between the sheep and the fence but this is where "switch"
helps. When we got all the way around the arena Joyce asked if we
could put them in the pen (something I'd never done before.)
Yoshi put too much pressure on the sheep and they sort of crashed the
gate but for something we'd never practiced he did very well. He
didn't flush the sheep but instead keep them together.
Joyce said that he did great and that he basically did a PT course and
all we needed to work on was penning skills (I think she's being overly
gracious, but it was nice to hear). In the future, we should work
in that arena she says. She really likes him and his drive even
with his "attitude problem." which was particularly nice to hear.
He is so exhausted and happy.
I took Trek along to see if she wanted to be in on the action as she
has shown aptitude at it even though it's not her passion. This
time she really wasn't interested. She'd chase a sheep for a bit
and then lose interest and go roll in sheep poop (and repeat and
She and Yoshi got some time in a dog pen for a while and they really
enjoyed charging around that for a bit. I also spent a lot of
time in there working with Yoshi on stop and sit, and seemed to have
some progress there.
Crate update. I think I have found the two crates that I've been
looking for. Karen has one and I found one on Craigslist in Marin
too. With any luck this may work and I can stop having to shuffle
Fri Feb 8
Agility class tonight
Yoshi has been doing well watching agility class for some while now, so
I asked Rachelle what she thought the next step should be.
I asked if maybe we should consider adding him to the class even and
she said she was thinking along those lines. She thought about it
and decided that we could run him for a short course to see how he
does. I then ran a short course with him successfully
and he seemed to enjoy himself!
I retreated after that to cry a little. He's so damn talented,
but he'll likely never compete as agility trials are inheritly chaotic
and he likes things to be controled. But I can use agility
contexts to continue his behavioral training. And we can continue
working towards getting him to relax around dogs. Right now I can
get him to (mostly) relax around dogs he's familiar with. It's
the unfamiliar ones that is a huge challenge that we'll have to work
Rachelle has a drop in rate of $20 so maybe I can have Yoshi do the
occasional class or at least part of one.
And because I apparently have a one good dog an evening quota, Trek
decided to channel Cali and go trolling the ground and would
not pay attention when we were in a certain part of the arena.
It's weird to see her tune me out, something I'm not familiar with at
Bright spots were:
- the chute was out and I had her do it three times and she's
flawless at it. Goes straight through - no veering to the left or
- she did a great set of 12 weavepoles
- Trek wants higher value treats - bring back the Red Barn she
says (it's been ordered).
With Yoshi, I now realize that every single time he jumped a dog he
warned me ahead of time that he was over threshhold and was just about
to lose it. Now I pretty much know exactly what sets him off.
Some of the circumstances of him jumping a dog I could have avoided if
I hadn't felt pressured into continuing what situation was bothering
him and he took his stress out on another dog (this is a trainer (not
Rachelle) who I don't always agree with, though that trainer is slowly
changing their mind some) . Fortunately Yoshi's trigger points
are changing for the better, so there's hope of at
least having a more normal dog.
Thu Feb 7 A CU session that was more funny and
educational than successful
I decided that it was time to take Yoshi back to the Dog Park again
since that's more where he needs work (though he will continue to go to
watch agility class - I'm even wondering if he would enjoy actually
being in the class since all the students may be new at agility but are
expereince dog people - it will be a while before we could trust him
that way though and he would just be in class for fun)
Anyway back to the Dog Park... The days are just getting long
enough now that after work I can sprint off to the dog park to get some
training in. I was in a hurry so I just grabbed some of the EVO
to use as treats. This works as a low-medium value reward, and it
worked in that medium sort of way. If the situation wasn't too
stressful he did fine, when a trigger happened (like a dog racing by
playing fetch) he did react, not horribly but still a reaction.
I started out the same as before, opened the back of the Scion and fed
him treats while he was still in his crate while he watched the dogs
from a distance. This worked well. Then we watched the
little dogs for a while - still doing ok but I'm keeping him at a
distance. Then we started to walk around the outside of the big
dog park. A big, white, fluffy, curious, obviously very friendly,
but clearly a little clueless dog came ambling straight at Yoshi.
This just about guarentees a reaction as it looks like a giant sheep is
approaching. I back off but Yoshi barks that "you must be herded"
sort of bark. He doesn't seem stressed though. He settles
and we continue on, Asking to interact through the fence with
calm dogs but watching carefully for running dogs. Then a while
pit bull type dog raced by playing fetch, and Yoshi was trying to start
a barking frenzy as we were backing off. What was funny is that
while we were backing off (50'+) he started to offer LAT while still barking!
I explained to him that this wasn't quite the idea but I was trying not
to laugh. Out of desperation I told him to sit and he did
immediately. Oh really? Ok I'm slow: I should treat the
other dogs as if they were running sheep and give Yoshi basic herding
commands. Not the moving ones but the ones for sitting and
staying (a down is not likely in this situation but a sit will be
fine). We could even practice "walk up." Turn it into a job since
that's what he wants anyway. Practicing herding commands at the dog
park sounds great and serves a dual purpose.
Though I definitely need to use higher value treats. The Red Barn
beef has been working well for both dogs but it makes them so thirsty
that I worry. Over the months I have not heard anything bad about
that Natural Balance roll that Trek didn't react well to and that I
stuck in the freezer months ago when the tainted dog food issue was
occurring. Maybe it would be ok for Yoshi.
So the gist is:
- turn watching unknown running dogs into a job with herding
- pay better with higher value treats
Again I notice that he seems to do better when being told or shown what
to do which is totally not a clicker approach but works for me. I
end up pulling him around more and manually placing him into sits, but
that's more direct than telling him something and having it derailed in
his over-stressed brain. Also what I like is that physically
guiding is not a correction (or doesn't have to be) One could say
that if he's in that place he's over threshhold and that may indeed be
but certainly in herding situations he has to learn to deal with that
stress so I wonder if it would transfer over.
Wed Feb 6
Just wrote this to Kienan who is Leslie McDevitt's former assistant now
living in Southern Calif.:
I said that I'd write more detail about Yoshi and what we've been
working on, and what stage he's at.
Since starting CU [Control Unleashed] exercises, particularly LAT [Look
At That] there's been a very
noticeable change in his demeanor. He doesn't seem nearly as
and hypervigilant as he has been. Sudden Environmental Changes still
bother him, but he responds well when I arrange to get him more
distance between him and whatever changed. Unfamiliar dogs
approaching fast are still a hot button (lunge/bark and repeat) but if
we move laterally away from the line of the dog's approach, it makes
all the difference, and even if he reacts he settles much quicker into
I wanted to bring him down to see you as I feared he had reached a
plateau and I wanted more educated eyes to have a look at him, but I
can now see that he's continuing to steadily improve, so it may be
better for us to continue working on things here unless you think your
seeing him can create a break through. It more seems like what he
would really benefit from is a several weeks long CU class, but there's
no such animal here.
and Corgis Yoshi and Trek
Tue Feb 5
Yoshi Vet followup appt.
Dr Applegate wanted to manually check Yoshi's teeth since we took him
off of antibiotics right after he had that allergic reaction to the
antibiotic Clavamox. His teeth look great. I have to
remember to start applying the once a week tooth treatment starting
The best news was we got a couple of LAT opportunities at the office
and with some prep he did great. What I've been learning over the
past year is that it's the surprise appearance of a dog that sets him
off so I try and anticipate when a dog is going to appear.
Coming into the vet's office, I peeked in before taking Yoshi in and
there was a Boston Terrier in there but off on the side. I took
him in but immediately headed for the other side of the office, and we
immediately started playing the game. He was nervous but with
effort started to play and refrained from having an outburst.
Also while we were getting ready to go the door opened and we
immediately headed into the empty cat area. The person at the
desk (Lisa I think) headed immediately to the door to see if a dog was
there and she relayed to me that it was a puppy being carried.
The puppy and his person came in and sat down. I looked over to
see a little white slightly older puppy (JRT maybe?) - a situation
where Yoshi would be a complete reactive shit in the past. At
this point Yoshi can't see the dog. I started to feed him treats
and let him have a look. He stiffened a little but looked back at
me (Ok, I was helping by having a treat right beside his face, but he
still chose to not react). Phew. We continued playing for a
bit until the puppy went in and then we left. Excellent, but it
takes a lot of work being so hypervigilent.
I talked with Dr. Applegate about his rasping cough after the dental
and apparently that's absolutely normal, as long as it clears up in a
week and it did. Just so I have it written down he takes a size 8
tube though could have taken a 9 which is larger - I encouraged them to
stick to the 8.
Just out of curiousity I asked if they ever took blood pressure for
dogs. She said they did, but usually in the case of kidney
problems and age related issues. I asked if stress was an
indicator for a dog not living as long and she said no because they
don't live as long as people who develop cardiovascular problems
associated with cholesterol and stress.
Fri Feb 1
Trek's middle name should be "joie de vivre"
- joy of living. So many things she does reflect just that.
She doesn't stress like Yoshi does. Sometimes she'll just roll
around on her back on the bed or the sofa with a toy in her mouth, then
get under a crate mat, sheet or pillow and just start throwing them
around with her nose. Every so often I notice that Yoshi is doing
something similar (like just rolling around) which is nice to see.
I've started wondering if his stress level is going to affect his life
span like it does in humans, but I have to remember that in the wild,
his sort of vigilance, extends one's life instead of shortening it, but
in the absence of any real threats I wonder what the effect is.
A friend sent me a link to the fairly famous dog Freestyle (dog
dancing) pair of Carolyn Scott and Rookie the Golden Retreiver. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqbVbPvlDoM
(viewed 2.5 million times - wow)
and what I like about it is that you can hear her giving Rookie cues.
Freestyle looks fun but I think I'm more waiting till they start doing
Doggy Hip Hop - that would be cool.
I found some claiming doggy hip hop dancing, but that was just videos
of people moving their dogs around to hip hop music.
afternoon dog park boundary walk
I realized that it has been quite a while since we've done these, and
we haven't done them at all since we started with the Control Unleashed
exercises. He did very well and I'm really pleased, and the
skills I've since learned make the walks easier for him and make him
The biggest difference is that if I sense he needs more space I back
him off immediately. When we walk around the outside we were
often 50 feet away from the fence instead of right beside it all the
time. We also started playing the Look At That game just as soon
as I opened the back of the Scion and he was still in his crate.
He could see dogs in the distance but was still in his space and
getting rewards for looking at the dogs, which let him know that this
was what the game was going to be.
In the past at the park, he's always immediately reacted to the
presense of a dog nearby and then settled down. I wanted to avoid
him practicing this long established habit so I was pretty much
mainlining the treats to him at first and keeping a distance from all
dogs. It really helped that it was a weekday (I had taken the day
off) so the dog park and the parking lot were not filled at all which
gave us a lot more space to work with and we could even hang out in the
parking lot and watch dogs from there for a little bit.
We did two circuits of the park. He did bristle at a charging
golden who was chasing a ball but otherwise did not react adversly to
other dogs. Nearly every time he saw a dog, he looked to
me. Good dog.
and Trek to agility class
Yoshi continued to do well watching the 6:15 agility class. We
even had him and Charlie the mini Aussie interact a little and they
both offered play bows to each other though I could tell that Yoshi was
getting too excited so I cut the play short before it could become
something else. Dogs there bsides Charlie were Missle the BC,
Cash the Whippet, Penny the Golden Retriever, and Katie (BC?) who
also comes to watch. He's getting so used to these dogs I think I
can relax a little (since it's a lot of work paying hyperattention to
him but it's usually when I relax and am not as vigilant that Yoshi has
Trek's turn. It was relatively cold tonight so I had her wearing
a shirt for part of class but it started to bug her (probably because
it was wet on the bottom) so I took it off. Obstacle wise she was
great except for some oddness about wanting to go through the tire
wrong (between the tire and the stanchion, but she even did the poles
correctly once I finally got her into the entrance properly (will need
to work on that though when we set down to work on it she does them
fine. I've taken to saying "weave" to mean one full weave back
and forth. Then I say weave again. This way I don't run out
of breath like I do when I say it every pole. She seemed to have
a good time though she was tired at the end (there were only 4 dogs in
the class so there was a lot of runs.)
I got the chute out and set if up halfway rolled up. She now does
it no problem, well mostly no problem. As I sort of guessed
months ago she loves the chute and wants to stop and play in all the
fabric. I can see my future. That's an excellent chute now
let's move on. Trek? Hello Trek? Yoo hooo.
Earth calling. I unfurled the rest of the chute and she did get
tangled in it mostly because she has yet to learn how to walk in a
straight line. (See below about her being a happy little
spaz.) She needs to be taught to go through without turning
before she can see. I think that will come.
Yoshi and Trek spending evening
time with Diane, Bill, Pam, Jeanette
Friends of Dianes came by to see Trek and Yoshi. I had warned
Bill that Yoshi was sometimes a little funny about guys coming into the
house (he needs more men in his life) so he immediately sat down on the
kitchen floor (I had taken a hold of Yoshi's collar) and then once
Yoshi seemed to settle a bit I released him and started rolling kibble
on the floor towards Bill. The dogs thought this was a really
cool game and Yoshi got past his discomfort much sooner I
believe. Thanks Bill.