Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Feb 2010

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

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Sun Feb 28
[Monday's entry over wrote this one.  Drat]

Sat Feb 27
Herding was rained out today. I have never taken a phone call on the San Mateo bridge before.  Especially a relevant one.  I'm just lucky the phone was on and charged and I was over water so had great reception.

Instead of herding we went to Central Park in San Mateo off El Camino (North of 92).  Central Park is an older style city park with some grassy area, some trees, a Japanese Garden, and people gathering to do Tai Chi (perfect for dogs with issues with people moving funny and no issue for Yoshi  Because it was early there wasn't a lot of activity except for the Tai Chi and some dog walking.  Yoshi was really wanting to charge two different sets of small dogs and wouldn't settle down until I grabbed his scruff and held on to him pretty hard (even collar corrrections weren't working), then the instant the dog(s) had gone by he regained his composure and reconnected (nice try - no reward for you - twit.).  But later he was able to look at the same dogs from a distance and was able to have two large black dogs go by.  He did so well at this we followed them and when they stopped, after some consideration, were able to walk pass them and they were only about 25' away.

He was pretty stressed for the entire time but was able to cope past the first 15 minutes.  There was one time where I had to pick him up to let two small-medium sized dogs go by.  Dooing a lot of pulling on the leash but generally keeping his cool except for walking along and finding that a huge dog (statue) was standing right beside him.

Then we got to an open area which you can see here:


and that seemed to help a lot but there were many ways that people could come in so he was somthing of a swivel head.  We started out on Laurel Ave and that distance in that area was enough around 50' but more just barely.

Other CU practice area:

Cathy L suggests Lake Elizabeth in fremont:

Debbie O also said that she has done well at Lake Chabot


But that path is too narrow for Yoshi.  Debbie says it's about twice the width of a sidewalk, but that's not wide enough for Yoshi who needs more like 50-75' of lateral distance.

[question to CU_Dogs_SF]

I've been trying to come up with a list of places that are good to practice CU.  I'm thinking about the low over head type where you go by yourself with pooch and watch activity as opposed to CU specific gatherings where we gather to practice CU group exercises.

I was wondering what places folks found useful.  Obviously it depends on your dog's issues, but I think good features are long sight lines, without places that pinch down into a narrow walkway/trail, good lateral distance to retreat into, and a place where people walk their dogs (Alameda Navy Base  is good except for that point.)

Today because of herding being rained out (and learning about it when we were halfway there), we went to Central Park in San Mateo off El Camino which was ok retreat wise (though had a lot of places you could get trapped), but had some entertaining features including a lot of people doing Tai Chi, a beautiful Japanese Garden, some leashed dogs walking, and best of all a giant dog sculpture that it took a long time for Yoshi to figure out wasn't real.

My favorites are places so far are

Washington Park in Alameda
Morgan Territory, in the East Bay

The shoreline park near Jump N Java that we've had privates at does ok.  What else?

But both of these are or have off leash areas and dogs running loose then to drive my dog a bit nuts (Fort Funston makes him a little crazy, but we have been able to make it work before).  I'm hoping to find more large parks that are on leash.  Does this mean that I have to go to the slightly dog-hostile Peninsula as opposed to the East Bay?

I'm trying to figure out what the fastest way to Yoshi's brain is when he's upset.  Saying/yelling his name or leave it or other similar things eventually gets through (he'll start crying his frustrated cry which is how I can tell I've gotten through).  Physically restraining him will work but he fights it and that may delay his settling down.  I have replaced the battery in the beeping collar that he hates as that's been the fastest and scares him right out of his false bravado.  I'm not thrilled about it but it's worth working on.  There's no longer any citronella in it so I can take it along with us on a walk without endangering myself to being totally sprayed with citronella.  It's loud enough that he doesn't have to wear it (probably shouldn't) I could just have it on me.  One more thing to carry though.

Trek walk.  Walked her in the afternoon which she wasn't happy about at all.  Wish I could walk her in the afternoon more often as Q's in the afternoon are rare for us (it's her power nap time).  She also really didn't want to not take the usual walk and wasn't happy about being taken closer to the noisier busy street.  Same thing later in the walk where she didn't want to be taken on the longer part of that section either, and while she didn't freak about walking past the school with kids, some bouncing balls and chains hittting metal poles she did drag me some but after crossing the street and going 3 houses down was willing to stop and eat treats.

i have to decide what April should look like for her.  It could be very busy, but I will have just gotten back from Southern Calif and will be rather poor, so I think we'll do just the Bayteam trial and probably just one day of that since two days isn't working well yet.  Suppose I could also work in one day of the TRACS trial but haven't decided yet.

Fri Feb 26
Trek's first obedience class with Lori

More out of curiosity than anything I took Trek to Lori's monthly ob class.  I also wanted to see if it's something she would like though I admit that I dread her loving it as I'm really wanting at least one of my dogs to like agility.

The answer is mixed.  She loves the treats and the parts that she knows really well (stays and recalls) she excels at.  Heeling not so much but ok.  In the past we worked on her stand for exam and she surprised me and did great.  Not only standing there but allowing two strangers (Lori and Scout's mom Cathy) to go over her without much wiggling at all.  With a little more work she might actually be able to get a CD though then we've be stuck in Open.

She found the figure 8 heeling around a dog which she's only done a couple of times, to be strange.  She mostly really hated that the wind rattled the roll up door but Hazel stuffed a jacket into it which helped.  She did ok on heeling exercises though not great and rocked the recalls and the stays.  Lori was rattling a treat bag near her and she started to drool so I told Lori that she was evil and Lori said that it's her job.  Trek didn't like that Harriet had her dog on a flexi and the flexi was making noises, so after the long sit I moved her but she wound up right beside Callie who was in a very wiggly mode and Tasha had to insist that she stop buggy Trek.  So Trek's down stay wasn't perfect, but she tried.  I also really like that on the second recall she uncertainly stood up thinking I had called her, but when I didn't respond she stopped and when I asked her to sit again she did without me having to move at all which means she knows the word by itself without any other surrounding context, and then her recall was still great.

So I don't know.  It's something she could easily do but I'm pretty attached to agility so I'm not giving up just yet.

Wed Feb 24
Yoshi walk
He actually wound up going out twice, once at noon and once right after work.
Noon.  No dogs but gardener's bustling all over the place though what caught his attention the most wasn't the mower/trrimmer weilding gardeners but the person standing right behind them with a large gym size bag over his shoulder.  Though he decided that was ok too.  Coming back Annie across the street started barking at us so we stopped and he ate treats until she settled down.

Evening.  Coming back from work I notice a lot of dogs out so I apologize to Trek and grab Yoshi to go out sightseeing.  4 dog encounters.  2 of them I just hid him behind a parked car, one was just ok and the other one was excellent.  The two times we hid were all bouncy medium size black dogs.  One was actively barking at us and everyone else.  The we saw a slow moving smaller but stocky LWFD and Yoshi didn't react to the dog at all which totally surprised me.  Then two black labs appeared moving fast which got him amped up and we turned around and wenr back to a parked car we could hide behind.  It might have been fine if there was just one of them, but it just wasn't happening.  Then we hung out on the corner catty corner to the school (the place where a lot of people walk their dogs and a LWFD was approaching slowly, but Yoshi was still kind jacked up about the labs so we backed off about 1/2 a house width and watched the other dog round the corner still following the school's perimeter.  Yoshi had settled so I decided to try shadowing the dog.  That was great until we got considerably closer and the other dog took exception (barkbarkbarkbark) so we turned around and cleared out.  Yoshi wanted to bark back but was happy to come along.  Fortunately another dog hadn't snuck up on us them.

I've decided that I love parked cars.  they give me so many more options.  We no longer have to retreat nearly so much and even though I could swear that Yoshi should be able to see underneath them he doesn't appear to be doing so - probably because we're a curb height higher than the car is.  I can control just when and how much I let him see the other dog, and I can watch him better if we're not moving away quickly.

Trek walk.  Dragged her down busy High St which she didn't like but did ok.

Mon Feb 22
Both dogs.  Worked on down in the yard.
Not surprisingly Trek is a lot better at it than Yoshi is (the one who needs the skill).
Story of my life. 
The most physically talented dog is the least responsive.
The more responsive dog is the least driven to work.
I need to remember to have the down signal closer to my face as this works a lot better for Yoshi.  My face is where he looks.  Reaching for the sky doesn't necessarily help.  Though reaching up with both hands works some too, but more for Out.

I think I'm going to do more of this when there's a squirrel in the backyard.  That's the only really hard thing I can come up with besides a dog walking by.  Yoshi needs to be able to run get a sheep and then when the sheep is coming back he needs to stop or down and not chase the sheep in.  I'm having a hard time coming up with anything at all similar.

No dogs on Yoshi's walk, well ones that I let him see.  I passed on the two small dogs riding in a couple of milk crates on a bicycle with their person - I lost count of the number of things that could go wrong and that wasn't including the small child riding along on another bike beside them (Why do people take these kind of chances?).  For the rest of the walk we saw lots of kids and other activity which is always good for him to be around.

During the down work Trek again underscored that she would be a great obedience dog.  I'm not completely convinced that she wouldn't just find something else to stress about there.  People get stressed at obedience trials which is nothing like agility.  I guess I should at least give her a chance.

I really want to help her work through her fear of contact equipment.  I can't decide whether switching to the teeter free NADAC would help or not (and NADAC is further away from me.)  Certainly fun matches will and she's actually not entered in any trial right now though I will likely put her in the Bayteam one.

Sun Feb 21
Raining and none of us want to do much.
Trek's no entered in any competitions right now while I think about what to do.  I think she needs to be in some fun matches for a while.
I'm often wondering why she's doing so well at Power Paws and not elsewhere.  It occurs to me that the PP class doesn't have a lot of contacts in it since the contacts are no in the lighted area of the course.  This will change as it gets lighter and it will be interesting to see if that changes anything.

I'm debating whether Trek would like obedience better but agility is my sport and I'm not very interested into completely giving it up especially since she has her brilliant moments.

Sat Feb 20
Yoshi herding
Over the sessions he went from you are so not going, to well maybe with a handler, to well ok it might work.
He's still mostly an idiot but it's of course my fault as HTrainer3 can handle him and he's ok.  Part of the problem is that I had gone back to going all the way to the sheep and I should have stayed just halfway out and helped push him out.  Unfortunately I wasn't clued in about this until later in the sessions but finally got it together but not until alot of struggle had resulted.  Someone remarked to Yoshi about how much better about other dogs he was being. I noticed that he was surrounded by 3 dogs he knew.  Just as soon as a new dog came in I had to cover his eyes while he quietly voiced his disapproval

Next time I'm going to have HTrainer3 handle him from the start and then maybe I can jump in there later.  Unfortunately we might get rained out next Sat, but I've cleared every Saturday for this endeavor so we'll likely get some of the days to work.

Fri Feb 19
Trek Agility class at SharonF's.
The surface was very nice tonight so I'm glad that's not an issue she can make.  This time I set her crate up which she was very happy about and we got there early so I could get her on a dog walk and some other obstacles.  After thinking about it a second she went up the dog walk without issue which I was happy about.  Later one she went up the A-Frame without a problem.  The teeter was in the lower field and we only did one course on it but it included it.  At first she didn't want to do it and I wasn't about to beg her, but I had her food reward in my hands and make a motion to put it away ("you don't want to do it, well ok").  Then she suddenly decided that it was well worth the risk and earned her reward.  This is sort of the reverse of hiding the reward.  It's bribery and with certain dogs it does work.

I notice that while we were on the upper field that as soon as Steve and Charlie (a mini Aussie) appeared that she stalked off into her crate, and wouldn't come out until Rachelle called her.  Rachelle used a higher voice and so I'm experimenting with a higher voice but it's not very natural for me and it turned out she did fine with a normal tone of voice from me.

Thu Feb 18
Yoshi Walk.
Interesting.  People talking to themselves animatedly (probably a cell phone but who can really tell?) get his attention.  He doesn't react but he certainly tenses up looking at them.  2 other people  talking normally on a cell phone do not get his attention.

One dog.  One I was familiar with.  Santa Clara and Court and Ruby is coming right at us head and tail up (she is occasionally reactive), but across the street.  Yoshi tenses and growls but we retreat down Santa Clara a little as i know she lives on Court and she does turn that way so it was a good experience as he got to see that retreating works as I then brought him back to the same spot. 

He was up and alert but ok.  Though then he say the hyper cell phone conversation and he thought that was weird.

Wed Feb 17
Yoshi Walk.  No dogs.  Tons of kids wandering around and he did great.

Trek Walk.  Evening.  I went to gym class and it's now full dark but still early evening (7ish).  We start to walk and I hear some rustling in my neighbor's shrubbery.  I look around as we've had raccoons around before though they've never been aggressive, just stubborn about not wanting to move along.  Just as we're passing, something the exact size and greyish color of a raccoon bounds right up to Trek.  I retreat yelling NO! but then I finally clue in that that's no raccoon but a dog.  My neighbor's dog, who really wants to say hello to Trek (boy dogs love her and she really wishes they'd mostly just go away).  I catch Guido and fortunately he lets me lead him back to his house.  Trek is most unthrilled about being towed along in this operation but I don't want to let go of her right now (I should carry a second leash.)  Fortunately Frank does eventually answer the dog and Guido is safely delivered home with Frank wondering how he got out.

The rest of the walk had Trek a little on alert but she was ok.  We'll have to see how she is tomorrow but it won't be full dark then either.

Tue Feb 16
I'm on my own this week and I'm forgetting just how much work it is to keep up with all of the dog details.
Someone I know is taking care of her 4 dogs by herself, but she's not working full time either.

The Scion is eating cables (a gps cable and and ipod charger) and now Trek's leash.  Both dogs are a little confused that I'm using Yoshi's leash but they're coping.

Trek walk
This time we did the usual route but I took her down High Street.  Again I had treats with me but the only time I used the was around the noisy kids at the montesori school.  High pitched voices which was ok until a ball bounced a little then she wanted to hurry on by.  I let her continue until just past it and then called her back to feed her.  Same thing after we rounded the corner on Central which she always wants to charge.

Then we moved along at a good clip even jogging a little here and there.  She seemed happy to be out and moving about.

Yoshi's walk will be this evening.

Yoshi Walk. 
At dusk, but it was light out when we started.  We only saw one dog and this should be dog walking primetime.  What is wrong with you people?  I need to train my dog and you're busy doing something else.  Hmphf.  The one we saw was good.  We were crossing the street and I felt the leash tighten (one reason I don't leave a lot of slack in the leash him is that get earlier warning about something he sees.  Fortunately I thought to repeatedly say Leave It as I finally saw the approaching dog on the other side of Central.  When we go to the other side of the cross street we were able to sit and watch the dog go by.  Sitting was harder this time instead of moving which is the reverse of what it usually is, but both worked.  This was a GSD moving at average speed with his head down, and not looking at us at all.

I'm less than thrilled with the dusk walks.  I think he'll learn more when he can see better but I have to remember that he likely can see just fine.

Trek squeaky toy fetch.  About 10 or so maybe a little less.  She just loves it.

Did a little exercise in front of the TV and the dogs thought I was nuts (I usually go to the gym.)

Mon Feb 15
Last week Trek got in the mail a couple of titles that she's earned many months ago.  It's now occurring to me that no one is going to notice for quite a while if Trek gets a 3rd gambler's leg and she doesn't move up.  So I think we'll just continue to enter it and if I'm worried about bumping someone's placement I can just arrange to not get enough points in the opening.  As long as contacts appear in gambles we're safe from that title. :)

So for a little while I'm going to switch the routine and walk Trek at noon and Yoshi after work.  The days are getting longer, so I'll still be able to see in the evening, so I won't be such at a disadvantage of Yoshi seeing the dog first since I depend on seeing the dog first.  (Ok, so I forget to end sentances sometimes.)

Trek walk.  Yoshi was all set to go, but when I said Trek's name and explained to him that he would get his walk later he seemed to understand something and strolled off.

While I brought treats, the point of this and future walks like it are to move quickly and that is something she actually enjoys all by itself.  I kept the same walk, but at corners we only paused with "stop."  I didn't make her sit, and then as soon as it was clear, I just said "walk."  If she trotted, I did too, and after about 1/2 a mile which is part of the way down Central (the short version I do at noon is just under a mile) she started to get winded, but was happy to just keep walking fairly briskly.  If I had a lot of time the thing to do is to repeat this walk later, but I need to walk Yoshi.  At noon if I don't have to do anything else, I do have time to make the walk a little longer which will help, but for now the best thing will be to exercise and get out in the middle of the day when it's sunny.

What's going to be tough for me is that I have to do the reverse for Yoshi.  He is fit (even though he gets the same amount of exercise as Trek - go figure - just a higher stress-puppy metabolism I think) and his walks are more about getting out into the scary doggy world and not freaking out about or trying to control the other dogs, but to just leave them be and watch them.

Yoshi walk
On the drive home I noticed dogs out walking near the school so we headed there instead of our usual route.  My plan was to walk around the outside perimeter, so there was a street width in between us and the school, which is not a fool proof plan, but it's pretty easy to go from corner to corner where there are escape routes.

So much for best laid plans.  No dogs at the school and Yoshi knows there are often dogs around so he was up and over alert and did the somewhat disturbing thing of lunging at a UPS truck because well it does sound vaguely dog-like (this is a dog with no car, bike, skateboard, or even (recently inadvertently tested) unicycle issues).

I guess if I want to get the most out of training one thing I should stop changing too many variables.  I should keep to either the usual route or the dog park unless I want to commit to making the other route a normal route as opposed to one that we occasion visit with dogs often appearing in a whole bunch of places. 

Things improved when we left the school and did the reverse of our usual route.  Approaching Santa Clara, I see a dog approaching and going to be crossing our path, but across the street.  I stop 1/2 a house length away from the corner and have him sit and he watches the medium-size black dog moving at average speed cross without even a grumble, but it more than happy to be rewarded for it.  This is definitely an improvement.  Santa Clara is not a small street, but not as wide as Central.  Then when on Central I see a tallish Cattle DogX approaching on a cross street.  We stop to watch what they're going to do (they are 1/2 a block away and they start coming at us so we turn around and go the other way.  I look back and I see that they have crossed the street, but still coming at us.  Perfect.  We do the exact same thing as we did before, the only difference is that we are directly across the street (not some distance back), but the street is wider.  He sees the dog and watches them go by and because he's doing well I reposition him on the other end of the parked car so he can watch them some more.    He's great!  Jackpot.  The dog is again moving at average speed and completely neutral, relaxed and not paying us any attention.

We get back and there's still some daylight and Trek is up and interested in doing something.  Earlier she also carried a toy out into the yard which is usually Yoshi's thing.  I threw the toy around some and she enjoyed that (a clue that maybe she wants to do more of this).  So after Yoshi's walk, she and I go out for some chipmunk fetch and she's thrilled (she love small squeaky toys that she can run with and squeak at the same time - the chipmunks are from a couple of hide a [alleged] squirrel toys so there are 6 around the house - I found 4 and that's plenty).  We do about 7 fetches and stop while she's still having fun.  Terri would always play fetch with Cali, so I tell her about the new game so this may have a definite future.

Sun afternoon (the drive back) still Feb 14
So let's psychoanalyze Ms Trek the wannabee princess.
Princess dog's life for the first 2 years was go out, run around with her brother and go back in her crate, and maybe some indoor fetch (appears to be a passion of hers), and maybe some more running around and sniffing.  That was her life and she liked it except for all the barking dogs, gunfire in duck season, and not enough human attention.  She loves charging around, but she doesn't have much endurance.  Her mile walks may not be enough to make a difference here (even though they really should.)  I have some choices here.  Walk her twice a day.  Walk her in places where we don't stop.  Run.  Go when it's hot or other adverse conditions.  Take her on more trail walks that are just past what she's used to.  Do a lot of out and backs.  Her enthusiasm goes way up when she's going back so it's possible to trick her into going longer distances than she would ordinarily want to do because she can smell our tracks so she knows we're going back.  She's very talented, but very pouty when she's tired or sore, so it's time to get her into better shape than she needs to be for agility.

I need to play squeaky toy fetch with her more and I used to insist she put it back in my hand, but that's really demotivating to her so she's now allowed to throw it back at me.

I think we'll just do fun matches for a bit and get her ok with contacts - again.  Or I can continue to set piles of money on fire.  We usually get a Q or two.  But I think I want her to get used to being awake and active through out the day with naps in between.  That's what an agility dog does.  She's more the sleep all day except for a break in the day type.

There is a Rally Course coming up and he can enroll in it if I get it together enough to call Sue and sign up.  I did let Hazel know I was interested.  I can still back out but it would likely be good for him.  The structure of Rally is good for him.  It's right before the regular obedience drop in and that's a tough tradition for him so i have to think about if I want to deal with that.

Sat/Sun Feb 13-14
We went to Turlock for a weekend of agility.

The first class with nice cool weather, she got an Advanced/PII gamble - her 2nd one
It consisted of jumps and a send out to a tunnel which is her favorite.
It occurs to me that she's now in danger of getting her Advanced gamblers title and she is SO not ready for Master's anything.

The second class was Starters/PI Standard - a class that we are doomed to stay in because of the 4 paw rule which means I can't put her back on the teeter if she hops on it and bails off.  This time after passing it once (but not getting on it - that's good) I got her to do it and we actually Q'd, just barely timewise.

The weekend kinda went downhill from there.

By now the temperature has gotten up to a blazing 74 degrees (I checked the cars temp gauge just to see.) and I'm losing her.  I can't remember the first Snooker course at all right now, but I was peeved enough that I scratched her from Jumpers, which was actually probably a mistake as she likes jumpers and it had gotten cooler by them.

Instead we went and watched the Master's Snooker class and enjoyed the relative chaos there.  This is also effective as she realizes that all these people pay attention to her, because she's so good at looking so dern cute since she cuddles in my lap.  One funny moment is that Trek was standing in from of Holly B. who was seated beside me and Holly looked at her and said something like "You look like you want to hop in my lap." and of course at the mention of magic word lap Trek did exactly that, which of course cracked everyone up.

The next day the morning was cold and foggy and I let her out to play and stretch her legs and she ran after a dog playing fetch for a little while.  I'm hoping that just warmed her up and didn't tire her out.

First class was Standard and she bailed on the teeter, and then she didn't want to get on the Table which I first thought was odd but after I got her on the table, I heard the train approaching that she had already been hearing.  Trains go right beside the field on a regular basis and I knew that if that happened that we should just leave the ring since she finds giant noisy things scary when they're close by and we never train around them, so we left the ring after I told Scott the judge what was going on.  I considered us lucky that it only happened that one time.

Gamblers was next and it had a teeter in it so getting it was pretty unlikely.  After working out a course that would work I realized that I was doing a whole course without contacts and since the odds of getting the gamble were poor and see above about me not wanting her to have to move to Master's Gambler's just yet so I decided that I should instead work on getting her on the dogwalk (not even the teeter).  So we did a chute and 2 tunnels and I spent the rest of the 30 second opening convincing her that it was ok to go on the dogwalk which she did.  This is a pretty rare training in the ring opportunity and I have to remember that.  That by itself made the day worth it.  Mostly.  Actually what makes it worth it is hanging out with like minded folks.  And for sanity started helping build courses which was very nice.  Good to do something physical which helps with the frustration.

Back to princess dog.  I had found the hose and pool and had gotten her went and she hopped right in to a pool full of appalling water.  We also played chase the hose which entertains anyone watching - unfortunately it didn't seem to make much difference.  No contacts are in the ring at all for the rest of the day, and I nagged and begged her through a Snooker course (through closing obstacle 5 - 33 points, not a Q, but at least I got her moving, and through a jumpers course that had to be so way over time that I didn't bother looking.

I put her back in the car (where she was crated for the weekend since she's more comfortable there in her really expensive crate (that being the one that's in HER car.) and we drove home (more next entry on this).  She then came back and immediately started chewing on Yoshi in the backyard and tearing around (it was nice and cool) but she was completely crashed for the evening.

Also got to spend some time petting Mary's Corgi Gardener who is just a love bug and also has motivation issues. I let her know that Denise Fenzi is good with dog's with motivation issues and that i was considering taking princess dog to her after I work some on her fitness.

Thu Feb 11
Yoshi Walk
No dogs.  Lots of people who he all watched carefully.  Since he was being such a swivel head I started stopping him at the corners just to let him look around and decompress which seemed to help a little - feeding him there helped too.  Now if a dog had appeared then he would have wound right back up.

Trek Walk
uneventful and not really favoring her foot though I had to almost drag her out of her snuggler which had me a little concerned.  She's used to getting walked at night and only in the past couple of days have i squeezed both dog walks in at noon.  (Not sure if it's something i can comfortably maintain.)

Wed Feb 10
Yoshi Walk
Rounded the corner of Court and saw a dog approaching.  Perfect.  Mostly.  We were already 1/2 way down the block and I didn't feel like retreating, so we tried hiding behind a parked car which worked excellently.  I could have had him not see the dog (large black pug I think) at all but this is training so I decided to let him see the dog just as the dog was headed away.  The dog was across the street and about 6' further than directly across the street.  Pretty close but definitely retreating and not paying any attention to us at all.

He barked and tried to start to charge.  I tried a basic fairly low key correction (pull back on the leash and release) to see what would happen, I also said a completely neutral and pretty quiet "No."  I didn't move and wasn't offering food.  He stopped.  Stared at the dog,  Boffed, and then happily focused back to me.  Good dog.  I wanted to see if his stress level would increase and it did not at least visibly and he's not very subtle.

I'm of two minds as to whether this is helpful.  Letting him work with retreating dogs is a way for him to see dogs much closer than if they were approaching.  However, the work he needs is on dogs approaching.  Not sure.  Guess it's just as easy to work on both.

Trek Walk
Pretty straightforward

Did a nail trim on both dogs.  We'll have to see if Trek favors her foot.
Yoshi really doesn't like the plugged in dremel - need to locate the battery one which is in a bag somewheres.

Tue Feb 9
Yoshi walk uneventful

Trek Power Paws Agility Class
Rock 'em sock 'em agility doggie is back!  So it must have been her foot that was bothering her.  though we worked on front crosses and serpentine strategies I'm not going to detail them this time as her enthusiasm was the more important thing for me.  Second was that she was listening and was doing all of her weavepoles and negotiated the courses smoothly.

This brings up a dilemma.  I should do her nails before Turlock but I don't want to aggravate her foot.  I'm thinking if I do them a little on Wed then there's enough time for any irritation to go away.

Mon Feb 8
Nothing terribly exciting dog wise.  Basic walks and toothbrushing.  Trek is now soliciting getting her teethbrushed.  Foot seems ok and her tummy doesn't seem upset by the pumpkin so it's likely ok to continue giving her a heaping spoonful in the morning.

Sun Feb 7
I went skiing in the morning, but was back by late afternoon. (Yes, really.).

I'm dead sure her paw favoring is because her nails are too long.  It's her middle two toes of her right front paw.  So we spent time doing her nails again (last time was 2 days ago) and will need to revisit it again.  Of course this amount of attention to the foot makes the soreness all the worse and she's restless for much of the night which makes me completely convinced that something else is wrong, but this morning and at lunch she's tearing around the yard with Yoshi, so we're going to call it even and I'm going to call it even for how and keep an eye on it.

Even with getting the same food and amount as Yoshi, she's still ravenous in the morning and was chewing on the wood step that we built recently.  (Hmphf.)  So this morning I opened up the pumpkin can and gave her two spoonfuls (which she chomped right down) and we'll see what her system does with it.

Yoshi Walk
One repeated dog sighting.
This dog was an older Aussie walking very slowly with his/her human mom or caretaker and human 2 year old (who is walking and is the speed control here) and stroller.  If there was someone completely ill-equipped to deal with a reactive dog I think we've just seen it, so we keep our distance and let them walk by.  We continue on our walk and I realize that at the pace we walk we're likely to seem them again as we near the end of our walk.  Sure enough there they are.  We stop again and let them turn on our path, but walking away.  We let them get 1/2 a block ahead and cross to the same block.  I'm thinking this is going to be the world's slowest walk home (I don't want to go across the street because I really don't want Yoshi barking at them) so I decide that following them is good for Y anyway.  Luck was with us and they turn on on Johnson so we are able to wander on by with them only 3 houses away and not even a growl from Yoshi which is very nice to see and hear.

Sat Feb 6
Trek walk.  I was hoping to get her out in the rain but it stopped before we had a chance to get out there.  However there were puddles and debris aplenty which she's fine with.  She's definitely favoring her right foot some.  I'll have to keep an eye on her to see if I should try to take her to Power Paws.  She's never favored a foot there (grass field) and has done so twice on the dirt surface at Sharon's.

We were nearly home (On Gibbons at Johnson) when she started to drag me.  When she does that I usually stop her long enough to see/hear what odd thing is going on.  3 houses down Johnson, some kids are playing basketball (sort of).  Ball bouncing sounds tend to make her very tense, because the bouncing is not continuous (these are young kids), we stay stopped and I just start feeding Trek.  She'll eat and start to walk away.  I do nothing.  After she hits the end of the leash and nothing happens, she'll come back and eat more and walk away again.  I do nothing.  Repeat a few more times and she stops trying to leave.  Then we moved a bit further down Gibbons and she relaxes.  The sound is still there but much less.

Yoshi - Dog Park TV
It's been a long time since we were at the dog park and given that it was just raining the odds of finding dogs in the neighborhood are poor and I want to get an idea of what he's like in/around the dog park environment.

We pull up to the small dog park, but there a 4 small dogs running around like frenzied prey, so I change my mind and move us to a more central location in the parking lot and then I carry him to the other side of the park outside the fence.  There are not a lot of dogs at the park and I'm noticing that because of the mucky ground dogs aren't running around a whole lot.  So feeling brave I actually take him into the park (on leash)

Can you say stressed swivel-head?  The one good thing is that he's not losing his mind.  He barks and lunges at a couple of dogs running by, but was surprisingly fine about three different dogs that walked right up to him.  We walked away in each case and the dogs went away (with owner encouragement.)  One very interesting thing is that he barked and lunged at a Sheltie on the other side of the fence (where he usually is).  I'm not quite sure how to interpret that one.  The dog was moving and not paying attention to him and Yoshi was way stressed.

After one circuit around I took him out of the park and we walked a circuit around the outside and his stress level went way down.  He was even able to watch a couple of dogs walk along the fence without reacting.  We were 15 of my paces away which is only around 50 feet so that tolerance has shrunk.  I let him greet a couple of small dogs through the fence which he did well at (probably wouldn't of done as well before the walking.)  Though as soon as the dogs started to run he wanted to chase them.

It all comes down to motion.  Everything is about motion and wanting to control it.  At least he doesn't feel this applies to bikes, and cars as some Border Collies do (and what gets many of them killed).  Fortunately with his herding training he is learning how to channel and cope the drive better.  And with the herding training I don't feel as bad about depriving him of chasing dogs.  He needs to learn that dogs are not stock, so more dog park work would be good.

The we retreated to the car and I moved the car closer so we could see the park easily, and we just watched the activity for about 20-30 minutes while I listened to an audiobook.  He could relax with the door shut.  When the door was open he was very watchful, occasional guttural growling, but not reactive.  If a dog he was likely to react to came near, I shut the door and the less noise and wind made a very real difference.  Sometimes I experiment with the amount that a window is open but I didn't this time (this is one bummer about electric windows - you have to have the ignition on for them to work.

Fri Feb 5
Trek is getting good enough at tolerating having her teeth brushed with the Winnie the Pooh electric toothbrush that I think we should make a You Tube movie of it but it's not something I can do myself given the changing angles of the dog's head and that I need both hands anyway to do the toothbrushing.  It's so much easier with an electric one as you just have to get the brush to the right spot and the brushing happens.

Yoshi is less thrilled with the process and prefers the brush off still, but he can sort of cope.

The Perpetual Dog-Stalking Yoshi Walk
3 dog sightings.  All of these were on Central Ave.  First one was a medium sized Golden going at medium speed coming towards us on our side of the street. Perfect.  the dog is one block down so we walk up to the side street and go down it, but this time only about 1/2 of a house length down.  The dog appears and Y does a guttural growl so we retreat to 3/4 and I see him relax.  But I don't know if it was the distance that made him relax as the other dog crossed the street (Central) and is moving away.

Back to Central.  We see two small poodles (?) moving slowly  across the street.  The small one is barking at us and Yoshi returned a bark as they passed and then he stopped.  I put a hand on him and in a calm voice said "You have to stop"  not sure if it made a difference as once again his stress level dropped after they passed.

We walk further down Central and turn around to go back down it (since we see the most dogs on Central), and we come to a screeching halt as the owner of the two small poodle-like doggies has crossed Central to talk to someone and they are only 4 houses away.  No reaction from any of the dogs.  Everyone is stopped.  I inch us to 3 houses away.  Still no reaction.  We play LAT for a while as I'm finding this fascinating  The dogs all see each other and no one is reacting at all.  Small barky one sees us but doesn't really stiffen or anything.  Yoshi is watchful but not horribly stiff.  I debate going closer but the owner is not in good control and not paying attention and the dogs would react if we got closer so we opt to turn around again where we see the third dog right behind us.  We would have been penned but the dog (a Springer)  crosses Central and moves on and Yoshi never reacted but I could have sworn that he saw the dog about a house width and a half away.  But the dog never approached just crossed our path.

Trek Agility Class
Well Princess Dog is back.  Sigh.  She's just not that interested in working beyond a few minutes.  Last time she was favoring her right front foot and that may again be an issue.  One thing is that I probably should get her in better shape than she needs to be for agility.  That would help he body tolerate the stresses better.  While it wasn't a factor today, she quits very easily and I might take her out into the heat more and hike longer distances - her life has always been go out in the yard and run around with her brother (either real brother or Yoshi) and then go laze around.  It could be as simple as her nails are too long and I had just done her nails before class, but they're really not short enough so she may have jammed a toenail.  Maybe after some rest, I should start taking her running.  She might really like that for a little distance.

Probably should have Ziji take a look at her next time Ziji is at Sharon's.

Of course this all happens right before she's entered at Turlock next weekend, so we'll just have to see how it's goes.

I've been thinking of a new CU practice session that we could do:

Evasive Action: The Art of the Retreat

We can practice
 - U turns
 - 90 turns down side streets
 - driveway retreats
 - combinations

The one playing the other dog can be
 - directly approaching
 - obliquely approaching
 - following
 - appear suddenly

SU_Dogs_SF post

Yoshi is calming down enough that I have the space to notice details I never did before.

I used to think it was the breed of the dog.  Now I'm not so sure.  What seems to matter the most is the body position and speed of the dog.

Fast dog - often a reaction
Slow dog - much less
Stopped dog - just about none unless something about the nonverbal communication is a factor

Body position
Head down and relaxed  - not much reaction
Head and tail up and body tense - much more likely to get a reaction from him

Dog is slinking with "Please don't hurt me" on his forehead almost always gets a reaction.

But the number one factor remains dog approaching.  But today I had a dog approaching slow and he was ok and dog approaching barking and he was less than thrilled.

Thu Feb 4
With impending dread I see that Yoshi got into the Southern Calif Corgi herding trial for April 10-11.

Yoshi Walk.  No dogs but a some interesting things.  He barked at a slow moving, larger than average size older man who was pacing and smoking outside a house.  There's a man of similar size (and even wears a hat) who he often walks past and doesn't react to though he keeps an eye on him. At first glace I couldn't tell if Cigarette Smoking Man had a dog with him and that may have prompted the reaction.

He did not react to
 - a woman walking with a shopping bag.  He looked very carefully at her though and I let him because I wanted to watch his reaction.
 - a darker woman walking directly at him though in this case I moved him over as don't like him to react to people.

And the most amazing one that Trek would have freaked about.
 - a working cherry picker doing tree trimming along with loud limb grinder.  We had to wait for a safe moment to pass and negotiate around some trimmed limbs.  He did great, even if he didn't like picking his way through limbs

Trek Walk.  While sprinkling.  She was a good sport about this but wanted to hurry so we hustled.  Earlier did some work on left and right with my throwing a toy that she likes to retrieve.  Pretty basic approach.  Walk in a straight line, turn my body in the direction I wanted her to go it and toss the toy while saying the direction and extending my arm (the one that's throwing the toy.  I used either arm as I'd like either hand to work.  She would retrieve the toy and earned a treat when she handed it to me.

Jennifer wrote up a nice summary of Grisha Stewart's BAT (Behavioral Adjustment Training) approach and seminar that she had at Marin Human Society.  BAT is a less stressful alternative to CAT that also uses distance as a reward, but the difference is that the reactive dog is the one that gets to retreat and increase the distance, and she works at or below threshold, but tries not to cross it.  Jennifer was noticing that her dog didn't want to turn his back on a trigger.

I wrote:
Thanks for the summary Jennifer,

You say that  your dog worries about retreating, but that lateral movement seems to do better.
I've been experimenting with retreat options in Yoshi's Training Diary and I have found that Yoshi had to learn to trust that a retreat was going to involve the trigger going away or lessening.  Yoshi is less fearful of dogs than Murphy is and he (Yoshi) is more of a herding dog control freak too.

Turning around and going the other direction gets the quite funny "There's a monster chasing me!" slightly whale eyed over the shoulder look, but over time he's learning that this means that the trigger is going away, and he's learning to trust that this is going to work.

But the most powerful for him is the lateral retreat as he can watch his trigger carefully and that's important to him.  This means I use a lot of driveways and side streets.

Or we actually do a lot of combinations of the two.  We see a dog approaching and we do a U turn and walk away ("Monster!") and go back to the closest side street and retreat down that.  What's cool about the lateral retreat is that I can measure the distance pretty easily by house widths which are pretty standard where I live, or I can pace it off after the trigger has go on.  the cool thing is that you can see gradual improvement and most recently I've discovered I can see more detail in my dog's reactions when we're standing at his/her threshold (sounds more profound than it really is. :)

I do use food but these days not so much as as a treat in front of the face and more back to the reward for not reacting.  That changes depending on how penned in we are.


Cummings School of Vet Medicine's publication of Your Dog (I don't see a
web reference unfortunately) has an article on dogs that suffered from
partial seizures that resulted in a gamut of completely crazy behavior:
eating a wine glass, and attacking the owner who tried to take it away
(some call this "rage" and many a Springer's life was lost to this) or
gulping air and trying to eat just about everything (rocks, dirt, ...). 
Other cases are extreme tail chasing.

They were diagnosed with an EEG and it showed  the electrical storms
going on in the dogs' brains.

I must admit to being a bit jealous that as soon as they put the dogs on
phenobarbital their symptoms improved.

and the mostly sane Yoshi

Wed Feb 3
Dog walk blissfully dull.

That night
Yoshi when on a continuous alarm barking tear.  I couldn't get him to settle at all and just crated him where he continued to bark.  In between barks we could sort of hear a dog barking in the distance, but that didn't seem to cover it.  Finally he paused long enough for me to hear.  (and the sound had gotten closer so deaf human (who hears well for a human, but is still human) could hear.  Racoons - and the really really weird high pitched eerie sounds they make.  No wonder he's freaking.  Probably several of them.  This is technically an island, so you have to wonder how they got here, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear of them crossing bridges.  They finally continued on and the excitement subsided and I again am relieved that I don't have a dog door as the vet bill and the experience if he had charged out to them would have been just awful.  They usually run, but not always and are fully capable of exacting damage to a dog.  They more than anything are why I make the dogs wait at the back door when I open it (Ok, there are skunks here too, but not as common.)

Tue Feb 2
Yoshi Walk.  We pretty much nearly walked into neighbor dog Cisco (medium size and a touch reactive) who was on a walk.  I took evasive action just a little late and Yoshi started barking and lunging even as we crossed the street.  Judy kept him walking but since I had a hold of Yoshi (by the scruff) I had a moment to watch Cisco.  He had barked some but it seemed to be mostly his body position that was such a trigger.  His body position was stuff and his head was held high.  Non reactive dogs never look like this as far as I know so I'm going to have to add that to my observation list.  Body position may very well be a huge predictor of your dog's reaction.  Yoshi's triggers are stuff upright dogs and mincing, don't hurt me slinking.  Confident, average, slow moving dogs are the least likely to trigger him.  In this case Cisco was coming at us fairly fast, and upright, stiff, and clearly looking for something to react to and even us moving out of the way didn't help much as we were still too close - Yoshi tells me his reaction was justified, but I'm not buying it.  I might have considered continuing to move on, but I wanted to make a point that I didn't like what he was doing and we just stood on the opposite corner with me holding him by the scruff with two hands.

His stress level didn't seem to run off the edge either as it has in the past, but no further triggers appeared either.

Trek walk.  Walked by some wood smoke which she wasn't thrilled about but coped.  Did well negotiating some moving van paraphernalia all over the place and some noisy cars.  Later we worked on left and right at the school yard.  Left is great.  Right not as good yet.

Mon Feb 1
Yoshi walk.
Nothing until we nearly got home then things got interesting.
Coming down Lincoln there's a Foxhound across the street and he saw it first  we went down a neighbor's driveway and as he retreated he barked at the dog but not freaking out, but while not struggling (remember the fish on a line struggles of yesteryear?) he spoke his mind and would have charged if he had not been on leash.

As the hound continues on we head back to the house and as we approach I see behind us a GSD.  I can't pass this one up, so we cross the street and find a place to set up.  I choose one of my neighbor's who had some retreat distance (around 20') and we stopped..  Our routine used to be just feed him continuously when a dog passes by, but I want him to advance to the next level (whatever that may be.)

I've been talking more to him of late and that seems to help along with the treats at a measured pace.  I was concerned how he would be about seeming the GSD right after the Foxhound but he seems GSD's more often than hounds.  Not sure if that's a factor.

I let him see the dog and he looks and looks back at me, good boy have a goodie.  While he's chewing is usually a flash point so I keep talking to him and he chooses to look back at me (!!).  I really wish I had it on camera as it's hard to see and remember the array of subtle things happening.  Suffice to say the GSD passes by without incident even with only getting earned treats instead of continuous, but he's right at the edge of his tolerance.  Being off the sidewalk but with good sightlines seemed to help.  The fact that the dog wasn't reactive and was moving slow was a huge help (the Foxhound was much faster.)  I need to work that into my snap assessment.  How fast is the dog moving?  Will Yoshi think they need to be controlled.

Think about the goats where he was excited (bark bark bark), but controllable (he would stop) and the sheep where he was excited, but not listening and stopping only under duress.  When is he most likely to stop?  When the sheep stop?  On the PT course we need to have a stop.  I think we'll do it in a corner when the sheep naturally stop - that's actually a little optimistic with a mad Corgi at their heels.

I paced off the distance.  23 of my paces which around around 2.5' so around 50+ feet.  Cool that's way better than he's been in the past and also smaller that a street + house width that he's been able to do.  On the other hand his tolerance of the Foxhound after he'd barked at the dog, was more along the lines of one residental street width (~30') and 3 house widths (around  40-50' each), though we are talking about the distance from us to the dog being more along a hypotenuse so it's actually a bit shorter.

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