Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - February 2009

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

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

Fri Feb 27
Made some more video illustrating the Premack Principal.  Now to put it together.

I'll take Yoshi sightseeing at Lori's class - either Open (11:30) or Utility (1pm).

Just found out that Yoshi will be herding geese or ducks on March 7th (the sheep have a previous engagement).  That should be interesting.  He's afraid of geese and ducks have little interest for him.

Back from class.
We went to the Utility class since it's smaller and the dogs are more steady.
Did some heeling with the class and then broke off to watch the more detailed utility exercises and get massages and play LAT.
3 of the dogs he knew: Ariel, Hazel's Saint, Hank the brick (a cool Bulldog who Yoshi likes after some weeks of grousing at him and Hank never taking offense), and Mozart a sweet BC.  He's iffy about Riley the Brittany who was there and there were 3 other dogs he didn't know and was uncomfortable about: 2 Goldens and a Mallenois (who wasn't Calli who wasn't there).

In general he did very well though it still reactive to unknown moving passing dogs and even was low throated growling at a Golden who was just standing there but standing only about 7 feet away.  I insisted he cope for a little while then gave him a break outside.  He's so funny though, when outside he wants to drag me inside as that's where all the treats are (He just needs to make all those unknown dogs go away.)

When we went back we hung out by the door to watch some directed jumping.  He actually did better with the other dogs further away even though they were more often coming at him in that position.  More than one time he laid down to get skritches though the time wasn't very long, but it was still incredible that he felt comfortable enough to do that.

There was some excitement though.  One of the Goldens was struggling some with the directed jumping.  Once he went off to sniff on a go out and that made me pay even closer attention.  (I have more trouble when I get my guard down.)  So the owner physically placed the dog where he was supposed to be.  Right then the Golden looks curiously (not threateningly at all - if he had we would have let) right over at us.  I joke "Don't look at us." and break eye contact with the Golden. When the owner went back across to her position, things seem fine.  She releases the dog to jump and the dog immediately gets up and heads right for US.  I said something like "Oh Shit." though in a surprisingly conversational voice and tackle Yoshi.  Yoshi seeing the approaching Golden is trying to Get That Dog (which was a perfectly valid response according to Lori and the best response is to catch the other dog, but right or wrong I'd rather he not have success with this method).  I'm successful at keeping a hold of him and he manages not to have a meltdown and the Golden is immediately captured.

Lori tells the owner that she really needs to work through the Control Unleashed exercises (like read the book tonight sort of emphasis).
they do some more basic exercises with the Golden on a flexi and Lori standing guard to keep him away from Yoshi.  After we've all had a moment to chill out and have some further success, but before the Mallenois gets a turn, I put Yoshi away in the car.  He's done well today.

Thu Feb 26
The New Clean Run is out...
Some notes:

Yoshi walk at night.  Fine till a GSD and owner came out of nowhere from a cross street.  We turned around and Yoshi started to bark and whine (so did the GSD), but it was all under control which I liked much better than the flailing mayhem of the past.  The GSD crossed the street and things calmed down.

Trek walk - uneventful.

Tue Feb 24
Cathy came over to watch a The Wire DVD.  I was leaving to walk Trek and I saw her on the landing.  When we got back, Cathy and Terri told me that Yoshi was much less frenetic and stressed this time.  Apparently Trek and my's presence has an effect on him.  Terri jokes about him not giving a hoot about her, but it seems like the factor is Trek.  I think if I don't have her out of the house that we'll crate her in the back for a short while just to see if that has an effect also.

He really is genuinely chilling out some.  Of course as soon as we noticed that he started alarm barking but I got his attention with "leave it."  Cool.

The CU_Dogs_SF list is continuing the discussion about herding and working dogs.  There are now 4 published (5 if you count unpublished) examples of CU dogs in 4 difference disciplines (field work, herding, dock dog, and weight pulling) where the dog is miles more focused doing their job than they are in any other activity.  Now we just need to figure out how to carry that focus and confidence over to other areas.

Sat Feb 21
Yoshi Herding
Much improvement.  At least on the outruns.  I put him on a stay walk to the sheep and release him with "out."  I stand in front of the sheep until he picks a direction and I then step in the other direction.  He gathers them, comes around the circle and I stop him with SIT (sit stop sit sit, etc).  Then I put him back on leash and do it again a few times.  He was much better about this after he was tired.

Herding along the fence is still a chore but it's at least doable though I'm still dancing to keep him from ducking in between the sheep and the fence.  HTrainer3 says that the JHT is easier than the PT to run, so I think I'll ask her if we can work on running one of those since we've done it before.

Herding is definitely getting a lot of the credit for his improved behavior.

A post to CU_Dogs_SF

This is an unpaid semi-commercial announcement.

Yoshi's behavior is gradually getting better and better. The CU
exercises, DS/CC, and just simply getting more mature (he's 5 1/2) have
all helped, but the thing that is very definitely having an immense
positive effect and really making him work on his self control is
learning how to properly herd sheep. It also helps my thinking about
his training. If he can muster the self control to stop/sit/down while
SHEEP(!) are around then he certainly can learn it when another dog is
around. It teaches me that I can raise my expectations of him and have
a reasonable chance at success. We're not quite there yet, but the time
that it takes him to get control of himself has reduced a lot.

If you have a CU herding dog a lot of their misbehavior can be explained
by mis-directed herding instinct. Yoshi's thing is motion control. A
moving animal (but luckily not a human animal) must be controlled.
Getting him to listen to my opinion of whether that's necessary has been
a months long effort. Deciding to commit to herding has helped a ton
with that. Sure herding is a hassle when you don't have your own stock,
but the rewards really pay off. Yoshi was herding this morning and he
is happily crashed at my feet.

Finding a herding instructor who speaks even remotely similar positive
reinforcement language is tough, but it's getting easier.

and Corgi Yoshi (ZZZZZ)

Fri Feb 20
Terri has a gig tonight so both dogs are going with me to agility.  Hopefully Yoshi can spend some time outside the Scion once the little white fluffy dogs have gone home.

[later] He got the opportunity and did fantastic, there was one time when Penny the golden walked right up into his face while he was on my lap and reacted to her and Tracy was very apologetic for letting her do that, but I wasn't paying proper attention either.  Actually that's not quite correct, I saw the whole thing and was just sort of idly fascinated to see what would happen ("Wow, Penny's coming right up to us, surely she won't keep coming, oh she is, wow look at that, you know Yoshi might not like that" without really thinking it through.  Fortunately, I already had my thumb in his collar and it was easy enough to tuck him under my arm and walk away so he could have his little Get Out Of My Face temper tantrum.  Then afterward, we were able to get closer (even though he was still jacked up, but able to work through it)  and he could play LAT on her and also on Cash the Whippet and Charlie the Mini Aussie.

I'm still really pleased with him, as he's light years better than he was.

Thu Feb 19
Yoshi walk - no dogs actually - greeted a human in a happy licky way that was much appreciated.

With no warning Leslie took the main list CU_Dogs offline.  Clearly, she doesn't have time to keep up with it and isn't able to just let it be inherited by other folks.  The list is 2000 people though and from a Community Organizer perspective it seems a shame to just set all those CU dog owners loose.  I've sent her email asking if isn't there another way to do this.  We'll see.  Trouble is stepping back takes some willingness to let go and that's hard to do (especially with concepts that you've invented.)

I keep wondering what the difference is as I invent concepts on this blog all the time and just give them away.  Maybe that's the difference.  This is not my livelihood.  I am not financially dependent on the dog ideas I come up (I'm a computer professional by trade and would be unlikely to ever make the same amount of money in the dog world) with and I'm solidly in the "Open Source" / information should be free camp.  I.e. the information is free, the expertise is what you pay for.

What there needs to be (and someone can steal this idea), is a Dog Geek Squad.  a company where we have a small army of positive trainers (?Behavior Geek Squad?) that we can send out on various calls.

I sent Leslie email asking about it and she says it's probably on temporary hiatus (my wording) while she finishes her puppy book.  The archives are still open just no more posts.  People are reeling some and CU_Dogs_SF is disappointed but I'm hoping they take up some of the slack.

Mon Feb 16
Yoshi walk.  Only saw one dog who was crossing his path at a 3 house + 1 street width distance.  He saw the dog, tensed, and vocalized just a little, and that was it.  Though we did stop and eat goodies instead of close the distance till the dog was obviously past.

Trek walk.  There was a kid making noise in a garage that she wanted to drag me past.  I made her go slower and eat goodies and she did it.  We then did the don't drag me home dance which has become "Trek" she comes back and gets a goodie, starts to go back the the end of the leash, "Trek" she catches herself and comes back, eats, and starts to head out "Trek" she catches herself.  With in a few times I had a heelling dog.  Hmmmm.

From a corgiherders post of mine:
I'm hooked on podcasts and love a lot of Terry Gross's interviews on 
Fresh Air.

On Jan 5th the show was an interview with Temple Grandin, and her latest
book Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
and in the interview she talks a lot about how to read stock. While
it's very basic stuff to this group (e.g. Don't have people standing at
the head and tail of the animal and expect them to know where you want
them to go - well duh - scary that she has to tell them that), I still
find it refreshing that someone as insightful as Grandin is able to
reach a national audience. Even more remarkable is that she is high
functioning autistic who is also an engineer. There is also a brief
aside where she talks about the difference between Autism and Asperger

Word of warning, her main focus these days has been how to make animals
more comfortable in slaughterhouses, so there is a lot of discussion of
that, but the principles carry over to anywhere.

You can download a podcast of the show here:

Ellen Clary
and Yoshi and Trek

Sun Feb 15
We transported our garage doors to Lynn Martin in Sebastapol who is a carpenter who also herds (how we met).  It was pouring rain and the truck was running rough and there was enough potential for mishaps that I decided to spare the dogs the adventure.  Fortunately we got there and back fine.

Sat Feb 14
Trek Eye Appt.  About the same left eye tear level is still low, but holding steady.  Dr. Friedman is wanting to see us try putting the gel based tears (like Sooth XP or Genteel) at night because they last longer.

Wed Feb 11
Yoshi Training Walk.  Sometimes I'm too close to see his improvement, but this time it was plainly obvious and I'm so thrilled with him.  Noontime: we went out of the house, turned right as usual and following us 3 houses down was a yellow Lab. that Yoshi hasn't seen.  After some debate and some prep (treats at the ready) we pause and I tell him to look.  He sees the dog and we immediately start walking again and I say leave it.  He takes one more anxious look at the dog makes a gutteral sound, and then completely reorients to me (wow - treat, treat, treat).  I let him look again and say leave it and the same thing happens but no growl or other sound.  Ok that's definite improvement.

Then around the corner he stopped to poop.  I'm hoping that the dog isn't going to follow us but they did.  I pick up Yoshi and start to cross the street, not having realized that the other dog has done precisely that.  We immediately turn around and I hold Yoshi - who is trying to get a look at the passing dog but I'm really not letting him.  I could have been feeding him then but wasn't ready having searched in vain for the poop bag that was deep in my pocket, but the dog passed without much incident.  We then parallel walk with the dog and when they stop I let Yoshi have another look and he's fine.

We did have another dog sighting, a smaller one but I don't remember much about it.  Again he was pretty much ok though this one was at a distance that he can handle.

Improving bit by bit.

Sat Feb 7
Yoshi Training Walk.  I was going to take him to the park to walk on the outside but it was mid afternoon which is prime dog walking time so I thought I'd see what we could find here in the neighborhood.  DingDingDing.  3 different pairs of dogs, and one single, all with varying degrees of success.  The drill is that I see the dog(s), get us to a place and distance where I think he can sort of cope, have him sit - not facing the dog(s) though he's aware of them, while keeping my hand in his collar and kneeling down, I calmly tell him to leave it and when he engages with me I feed him.  If he tried to bark or start to lunge I steer him back into a sit facing me and say "No [neutral voice] leave it"  When he connects back to me I say "yes" and he then gets to eat.  If he relaxes we can then play LAT though there's not usually time in these cases.
 - Pair 1 Bernese Mountain Dog and other medium size dog.  I hear them approaching one half house width.  I stop and have Yoshi by the collar and cross the street and while holding him ask them what direction they're going.  Since they're going in the same direction, we retreat some and do our sit and eat routine.  This entire dance amused the residents of both houses since both were outside.  One of them statyed out of the sidewalk and watched me with interest for a while for which I was quite happy about since I've heard him saying those odd clucking sounds to his dog (a JRT) that had to have come from Caesar Milan.  Maybe a seed was planted.  In the meantime, Yoshi did pretty well.
- Pair 2 Two Boston Terriers I think (they were across Central Ave.).  This one took more effort as he really wanted to bark at them and the single dog who followed closely, but he managed to mostly hold it together with guidance.  There was one instance where he wanted to turn and lunge and I basically held his head very close to me while he got ahold of himself (he was struggling hard at one moment.)
- Pair 3 Two Beagles.  This turned into an awkward enough situation that I finally just picked him up.  What happened was that as we were turning down Gibbons St. I saw the Beagles approaching.  So I crossed over to an island that is on that street.  Then I watched to see what they did next.  The trouble is if the dogs follow us as the street after the island is wide and really not the place to train a dog.  Sure enough the Beagles started to follow us.  Time to opt out.  I asked the owner if he could hang on a second, which he did.  I picked Yoshi up and crossed back to where we were, but in a different place than where the Beagles were, and the Beagles then continued on.  What was most interesting about that is that Yoshi wasn't struggling at all.  He seems to trust me now about this - though if a dog were approaching directly he would still be barking and struggling.  Though I may try this more often.  It worked when the neighbor's Rotweiler was out and I needed to cross the street right then.

People often say don't pick your dog up as the other dog will climb up you trying to get to your dog.  I think that more applies to very little dogs that don't look like dogs and I don't buy it in either case.  I am not afraid of dogs trying that.  At all.

Trek.  She seemed to be trying to barf so I took her on an easy walk to see if anything would happen.  Nothing happened but we deliberately walked around the school which is always good for her to do when it's calm so the smells will be familiar which will hopefully make it easier for her  when there's more activity.  At least that's my theory, so far as soon as anything weird happens she wants out of there.  Weirdest thing to happen was there was a bird flying around and it was a seabird, not a bird of prey (it was night so very unusual to see a seabird then).  One cool thing was that a kid with a high pitched voice came out of a house leading her parents right as we were walking past and Trek didn't freak even though there were small rapid foot steps following us (though she didn't ask to see Trek).  Individual children seem to be ok.  It's groups of them banging on things that stress her.

Tue Feb 3
Noon: Yoshi Walk.  It's possible he's getting less reactive if he's walking away from an approaching dog.  We were going to be crossing the street to see Teri the school crossing guard (not my Terri).  Another dog was approaching so I instead decided to cross to an unoccupied corner away from the dog.  He was looking over his shoulder at the dog but I hat the leash somewhat taunt and told him to leave it and while he was growling some he did not have a barking fit.  We reached the other side of the street and I looked to see if that dog was following us and they weren't.  A soon as it became clear the other dog was walking in the other direction he relaxed.

Another thing I was happy to see is that he's no longer reacting or even stiffening to baby strollers even those coming right at him.  I give him his head and he checks them out sees there are no dogs and relaxes.  It seemed important to let him make this ascertain.  What's a shame is that allowing him his head with other dogs never worked.  He would always put on this bluster and with obviously weaker dogs he was just horrible, and would take advantage.

Archive - Go to:

Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jan 2009

Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Dec 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Nov 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Oct 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Sep 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Aug 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jul 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jun 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - May 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Apr 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Mar 2008
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Feb 2008
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
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2006
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