Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - February 2008

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

Feedback is welcome:
For the human's blog see: The Non-Dog Blog
Non-Dog Blog Table of Contents

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 well.  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).

I checked on caterers in the area who could make boxed lunches for attendees.  (I just love Google Maps) While there are a few way over the top ones there are a couple that sound perfect:
 - Marsha's Lunchbox: http://www.marshaslunchbox.com/CateringMenu.pdf
 - Rush Hour Caterering: http://www.rushhourcatering.com/menu.htm

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 sauce
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 targeting.

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
This morning 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

Side view

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 good sign.)

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 something.)

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 the park).

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 dogs. 

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 through it.

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 closer.

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 think (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 now.)

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

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 herding, 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 attack.

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 Craigslist.

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 Agility Nationals, 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 related venues.

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, GA, 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 caution.

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 scavengers, that 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 a 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 I 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 matter).

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 directions.

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 back.

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 repeat).

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 crates around.

Sat Feb 9
Off Skiing.  (See The Non-Dog Blog if you care)

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! (jump-dogwalk-jump-jump-tunnel-jump-table)
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 towards.

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 all.

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 the right.
 - 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 commands
 - 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.:

Hi Kienan,

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 stressed 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 directly 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 LAT.

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.


Ellen Clary
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 next week.

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.
(viewed 2.5 million times - wow)

But I found a different video showing them on Good Morning America here:

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.

Yoshi 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 more successful.

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.

Yoshi 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 reactions.

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.

Go to:

Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jan 2008

Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Dec 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Nov 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Oct 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Sep 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Aug 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jul 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jun 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - May 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Apr 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Mar 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Feb 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jan 2007

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2006
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