Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - June 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

Mon Jun 30
Took Yoshi on another noontime walk, but didn't see any dogs.  Plenty of other stimuli like baby carriages and other oddities, but he's not very reactive to those - though I still gave him plenty of peanut butter for watching them.

Walked Trek later.  She's not showing any ill effects from sailing off the teeter.

Sun Jun 29
It was so smokey in Dixon yesterday that I decided not to put Trek and I through it again especially since the novice dogs run last during the heat of the afternoon.  I've learned that she now understands obstacle sequencing and was perfect on her lead outs.  The weave poles where I set her up correctly were fine and I mucked her up on the other set.  And I've finally learned to say "tunnel" once and run right at it, as opposed to blathering on and her stopping to look at me wondering what I meant.

Our next trial is Bayteam's CPE and we'll just be doing Saturday of that one (I don't feel a compelling need to hurry on CPE and then Yoshi gets a day of herding.)

Sat Jun 28
Trek Agility.  Sheltie Trial in Dixon.
She did well in Jumpers With Weaves and ran clean until the very last jump which was a double and dropped a foot and the last bar.  I probably didn' t help by my saying yes right when I thought she'd cleared it.  Not to mention I don't think she's ever been over an AKC double.

And then we have Air Trek's version of the Standard Course where she took flight right off the teeter.  She's done this once before and if it continues we'll have to work on it more diligently.  Probably have to add another signal beside the other cue that I use for the teeter ("plank"), something on the order of "plank, STOP" the stop said right before the yellow.  This would be the Jim Basic teeter that I've never taught as I never had a dog gonzo enough to bother teaching it to.  (Plus it seems hard on their shoulders).

It's interesting that at this agility trial I spend a lot of time talking with people about CU.  Interest in it is still very acute, possibly even more so now that word is spreading.

Fri Jun 27
Duh - the Clomicalm is chewable, so I can just add it to Yoshi's food no problem.  It's still too early to tell, but his fuse seems longer now and if he reacts to something he seems to recover more quickly.

One notable thing is that I took him on a walk and though I heard the tinkling of dog tags but didn't see a dog so we kept walking.  Then he turned and startled and woofed.  Knowing that meant "dog," I didn't even bother looking around, but immediately got him by the collar and took a few steps away from the direction he was looking.  He seemed to relax a little and I looked back to see a JRT standing not 20' away.  His owner was right there and told the dog to go back to the back yard, and that was the end of it.  We moved on and I was left pondering that if that had happened a week or more ago that Yoshi would have completely lost his mind in panic, so that's our first real data point.  I've been careful about not pushing him this week at all, and may start back on dog park work next week.

Wed Jun 25
His blood, fecal, heartworm tests all came back fine.  His ALT (Liver enzyme) is a touch high but they decided it wasn't worth worrying about especially it's been like that before and he's been fine.  So I picked up the Clomicalm and he started it tonight.

The one thing is that it's a trigliceride and the instructions say that he's not supposed to have aged cheese.  I usually give him his medicine with cheese so I guess I'm going to have to switch to peanut butter.  I ground up 1/2 a pill in a small bowl and mixed in a little PB and gave it to him.  The bowl I got back was sparkling clean.

I'm keeping an eye on him for any side effects like nausea or diarrhea, but so far ok.  He's a little subdued (expected), but still very much alerts to anything outside so I put his shirt on him.  The medication usually takes about a week to come up to full effect and then at some point we have the option of increasing his dose.  Right now he gets 20mg/day split into two morning night doses.

Trek has a trial this weekend at Dixon and I'd been assuming that Yoshi was going to have to come along since Terri will be out of town.  Then I realized he was going to be starting this medication and I really didn't want him that far from his vet.  In a bit of a panic I emailed Mark and Jan and they said they'd be happy to come by and check on him a couple of times during the days (Phew).  I also decided that I was going to drive back and forth both days so I could spend the evenings with him.

Tue Jun 24
Dogs and Terri seem to have done well.
Took Yoshi into the vet for a baseline blood test to make sure he's ok to start Clomicalm.

Mon Jun 23
I'm back, and I was in such a hurry to leave that I missed the instructions on the Bayteam site that you still had to send in an entry via postal mail.  I've come to my senses and realize that Trek is not ready to run under Master's rules so I told her to scratch the entry.  For July we'll do the Bayteam CPE trial and this weekend tek has her first AKC trial.

Tue Jun 17
Leaving for the rest of the week at Mt. Shasta.  Terri has the dogs.

Mon Jun 16
I wasn't going to enter Trek in the Bayteam's USDAA trial as she's not ready, but it's  Local Qualifier for the Performance National Standard and you need one qualifying score to enter the Regional later in the year, so it's worth a try even though she's just about guaranteed to not Q.  She's entered on Sat in Performance Nationals Std, Performance Speed Jumping (that's the performance version of Steeplechase), and the Standard class.

Sun Jun 15
Intro to CU
I was worried about Yoshi getting through this workshop since he had one last night.  He was certainly touchier and crankier but still able to work.  And later in the day he was able to demonstrate his well honed LAT, which really impressed people since they'd seen him lunge a couple of times

Here's a post of mine discussing it:

Those of you that were in the June 14th Continued will be amused to know 
that the walled city that
seemed to work so well for Yoshi (soft crate surrounded by a sheet
covered expen.), was completely outdone in the June 15 Intro by the
mcmansion (I'm joking Lisa - please don't be offended) that Lisa built
for Trigger which included a soft crate, flooring, 2 paneled expens - 1
was too small, a hot tub, and his personal attendant, massage therapist,
and architect Lisa. We all should be as lucky as Trigger.

Trooper also has his own walled city as well complete with room service
(a manners minder with Sarah carrying the remote).

Rachel and Kubby had taken over the Southlands behind the auditors.

The room was resembling a bunch of fiefdoms. Good thing there were no
wars declared despite the occasional saber rattling. I guess good fences
do make good neighbors. :)

The cool thing about having the expen around Yoshi's crate is that I
could pull the front sheet up and let him watch canine reality TV
complete with his personal attendant (me) feeding him an assortment of
yummy refreshments (Red Barn, Natural Balance, peanut butter, cheerios,
bread sticks).

Thank you all for a productive and surprisingly entertaining weekend.
We all have very lucky dogs.


Sat Jun 14
CU continued
This is going to be a big weekend for Yoshi.  Tonight is the CU Continued workshop which is the more advanced of the two workshops, and tomorrow is the all day Intro to CU workshop.

This was certainly tougher work for him.  Fortunately the group was small (6 dogs plus, Kienan's dog Neimesis.  First challenge was that we were doing basic box work.  Yoshi was in the box and Kienan brought Nemmy out.   "Grrrrrrrr" says Yoshi and goes to lunge we turn and walk further away while still saying in the box and Kienan has her dog stay there.  We finally were able to play Look at That from across the box area (20').

Latr on was the Car crash game which is sort of a clover leaf pattern that 2 dogs walk in opposite directions.You are guaranteed to run into each other.  We chose to do the game with Abby as even though Yoshi and abby have never really interacted, they have spent a lot of time just looking at each other in their crates during our DVD evenings so it seemed a natural choice.  With a lot of body blocking and space managment it worked very well.

I followed through with the idea of surrounding his crate with a sheet covered expen and that worked much better than expected

Fri Jun 13
Trek's first full obedience class with Lori.  In general she seemed to enjoy it, though she thought the heeling was a bit A.R.  She got to demonstrate her retreive with the Air Dog Dumbell (see photo), and she loved that.  Her recall is fabulous.  She's not quite sure what to think of the stand but I just introduced it to her (Lori went over some detail in training it, and how to stay while standing by slowly hand feeding them treats that are placed on the floor in front of them.  Sits and Downs went suprisingly well. She's getting the idea that she has to stay.

[Agility class]
Yoshi setback.  And he was doing so well.  He had spent the whole class looking at dogs and doing ok with the occasional grumble.  Class was over and we were down in the parking area and one of the terriers (he hates terriers) walked up and I didn't see it until he started to react.  I pulled up on the martingale to close it and started to walk away but right at that moment he shook his head hard and the collar came off.  Once he realized he was loose, he attacked the terrier (who is old and not able to defend), and latched on.  We finally got them separated but the poor terrier was bleeding some (probably from us pulling them apart..  Fortunately Yoshi, not being a terrier, just latches on but doesn't know how to do anything past that and he doesn't know how to bite hard (though he's never bitten a person so we don't know this 100% sure.)  But it's still really distressing, especially since he's had all this progress.

[Some insight from one year later.  Yoshi's mission in life is bite and hold in order to control motion, this does not make what he wants to do any better, but it helps a lot to understand him.  He's not out to kill.  I've since invented a leash with a failsafe that he can't get out of and his herding training is helping him immensely in dealing with these stresses and we do a lot of work on sitting and looking at other dogs.]

Someone who works with mentally ill children, put it plainly.  He's mentally ill - he needs medication.  He needs all the behavior training, but he really needs phamacutical help for his miswired brain. I explained that he had been on Prozac but he was a real jerk on it.  She mentioned how Clomicalm really helped one of her dogs.  I've heard of Clomicalm before, but in terms of separation anxiety.  Obviously it's worth a try.  I've left a message with his vets (talking about his anxiety) to see if I can talk them into it.

[Later on in Sept we discover that Clomicalm was not good for him at all and he's now on an herbal calming supplement which helps him a whole bunch.]

Poor Trek missed a run because I couldn't concetrate and I instead wrote this.  She did forgive me and did ok though distracted by the compost in the mulch.

In the mean time, Yoshi gets to wear his gentle leader again.  The timing of this is all ironic as he has a CU workshop tomorrow and on Sunday.

Wed Jun 11
Someone had noticed that the old Dominance Quiz was on the bcrescue web site:
She was noticing that her CU dog failed all of the criteria and how ironic that was since some person on a different list is totally claiming her dog is dominant.

I responded:

Did you notice the 1997 publication date? ;)
(Actually I think it's much older and dates back to Monks of New Skete

I'm surprised that bcrescue puts it on their site.

Some of the questions are just common sense leadership ones.  Other ones like Who eats first? are a load of hooey.  Pat Miller had a grand time skewering this one in the Tuft's University Your Dog publication (I don't have a reference at hand.)

But who can resist? [I added my own answers]

1) Does your pet get out of your way when you walk?

Usually as they don't like being crunched, but tripping me is an effective attention getter.
[Serious note: If you train in formal obedience you don't want your dog to move till you tell them to.]

2) Who has the best seat in the house?

They do - in my lap.  They jump in my lap on cue.

3) Who walks through the door first?

[This is one of those patently absurd ones.]
Usually them, but only because I've released them from the doorway stay while behind them.

4) Who eats first?

They eat when I feed them, and they know that.

5) Is your dog obedience trained?

[They have some good advice finally.]

6) Who owns the food/toys/treats?

Trek's crate is a vertible dragon's lair, but we just clean it out every so often.

7) Who walks whom?

>Again, alpha dogs lead the way and if your dog is pulling you down the street in a waterskiing fashion, he thinks he's the leader and can go where he wants.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.
A true alpha dog doesn't need to prove herself with such silly demonstrations.
But loose leash walking is a very useful thing.

8) Can you groom your pet?

[good advice]

9) Who wins staring contests?

Direct eye contact in dog language is a threatening gesture. Your dog should not want to look directly at your eyes if you lock your eyes on his. Submissive dogs turn their heads away.

Well sort of.  Direct eye contact is a threatening gesture, but you would be far better off becoming well versed in calming signals and controlling resources than engaging in adolescent staring contests.  Staring back just invites more aggression - is that what you want?

10) Does your pet growl or snap at you?

This could be caused by so many things, and requires someone very experienced in dog language and behavior to diagnose.

Like Trish says - painting things just terms of dominance, diminishes the complexity of the dog-human relationship.

The point is: Be a real leader, not some insecure despot.


Sun Jun 8
Yoshi Herding.
We're improving bit by bit.  He wore his booties again for the first run and that made all the difference though one of his pads is a touch abraided, but ok.  What we're doing now is not worrying about the course but just moving sheep around in a semi-orderly way.  He's still way too fast but is more responsive to me.  It's also helping that I rewatched video of Debbie Pollard handling him and saw how she would get from one side of the sheep to the other by letting the sheep pass her first.  That worked a lot better rather than trying to go through them.

I'm also using "Go by" and "Away" but I have to think about it every time so I'm not very fast and if I need him to turn the other direction, I tap (wack) the herding wand/stick on the ground and say "Switch" and that works pretty well.

After doing one high speed herding session I stopped him and then put him on leash and with him panting hard worked on "Walk up" and "Steady" (steady pace).  Funny how it's easier with him dog tired.  Spent some time having him stay and then opening the gate and then closing it (sheep are a ways away at this point.)  After doing some good work I released him to the sheep and he brought them back running into the pen.  I need to explain to him that that's really dangerous and could get a sheep killed or hurt as they're not bright enough to slow down when being herded by a dog going too fast.  Fortunately all was ok, but after that I decided to do 2 more sessions in the round pen.

The round pen sessions worked very well.  Since there's no where for the sheep to go I can get him to stop much more easily and we can work on directionals, and the all important "Steady"

He made good progress today.  Too bad he gets a 3 week break since we have a CU workshop, I'm then at Shasta, and after that Trek has an agility trial at Dixon.  After that we're hoping to have a frapfest up at the herding facility (July 6th).

Tony was very complimentary to Yoshi about his temperment improvement.  He remembers that I had to cover his eyes at the Corgi Nationals, and now he will tolerate herding dogs walking by him as long as they're not unknown and directly approaching.  He thinks that Yoshi will eventually learn to slow down.  His dog Cash who is 7 years old is finally getting it and looking very smooth.  I told him all about Control Unleashed and that we've only been doing it a few months.

Fri Jun 6
Got my dates wrong.  Lori is coming next Friday.
As a result, I took Trek to work for the morning and she had a grand time charging down the halls and saying hi to people.

Yoshi did some really great work at the dog park.  We walked around the outside once and stopped and watched some Basenjis approach - even said hi to them briefly.  My timing and insticts have improved so that as soon as I feel him tightening up with automatically increase the distance between him and the other dogs.

After we did one circuit, I took him into the small dog park on leash.  Just getting in to the park was a challenge as there was a Scotty guarding the gate and the owner wasn't doing anything to stop it.  So just stood there and played LAT on the Scotty, which gave both dogs time to settle.  Yoshi wasn't reacting to the Scotty at all which means that he was reading the Scotty better than I was an maybe there is nothing to worry about.  So we walked in and there was no incident at all.  We then walked to one end of the park and watched dogs from there, walking around in sort of circles.  Then we were able to walk to the other more challenging part that is near the big dog entry.  He was doing fine until a German Sheperd Wookie appeared at the fence and he lost it.  We walked pretty far away and he settled down (a little) and I could hear one parent very evenly telling her kid that that's why some dogs are on leash here.  He also got more "Awwww" attention as a couple of intrigued people (trainers I suspect) came up to say hi to him once I told them that his issue was dogs approaching and not people.  (He's lucky he's cute.)  He relaxed and eventually I carried him out rather than make him negociate his way out on his own.

Good thing he likes being carried as I can get him a lot closer to other dogs at the gate that way.  Maybe I'll keep doing this walk outside the park and then go in the small dog park on leash routine going for a bit.  I have taken him in the large dog park on leash as well, but some rude large dogs are fasinated with him and charge right up to him which flips him out and justifies his paranoia so we'll probably stick with the small dog park for now.

Thu Jun 5
At noon did some retrieving with Trek.  I can say "Get It" optionally "Bring It," "Take," "Pick that up" and a host of other things like "Would you get over here please?"  "Hello?  This way?"  She scares me when she essentially answers "Oh sorry, how about this?"  After Yoshi, she's just too easy.  And I'm finally relenting to reality, now that Yoshi is really starting to take to herding.

I wrote to Lori (she's coming down here to hold classes on Friday).:

You're probably on the road but maybe you'll check email tonight (if not, it's not a huge issue).

The time has been coming for a long time and I need to just admit it.  Superstar Trek is dying to work just about anything (save for sheep - though she will do that too allbeit reluctantly.)  And I've haphazardly started teaching her some formal obedience skills.  As you might guess with very little effort on my part, she has learned all of Yoshi's skills and more in a very short time and is demanding more.  She would love your classes and Special Ed CU Yoshi finds them a slight personal hell.  What I need to do is both dogs separately, but Yoshi is too high maintenance for that to do him any good yet (and it could undo quite a bit.)

So I don't know what dog to bring though as I write this I think what I'm going to do this month is bring Trek, and do more outside the dog park work with Yoshi.  So you'll be seeing Trek on Friday in either the Novice or the Open class depending on how crowded Novice is.  (She wants to show off her Air Dog toy as dumbbell retrieving.)

and an excited Trek and a much relieved Yoshi (who's going herding Sunday anyway)

Tue Jun 3
On a walk I worked with him on "steady" which seems to have more of an impact than "walk."  Only saw dogs from a distance but still did a fair bit of CU work (mostly reorienting).

Took a short video of Trek working on "take."  Trek is scary smart so I can do all sorts of wrong training.  I can use the cue word right from the start, and talk in complete sentences and she figures it out.

Mon Jun 2
Air Dog serves a multi purpose.
Both dogs love the Air Dog toy and it works great as a dumbell substitute.  But today its usefulness went beyond what I was expecting.  I've been trying to get Yoshi to "take" something and hold it in his mouth with no success.  I'd finally concluded that we didn't need the skill since it doesn't exist in obedience.  But it still bugged me that I couldn't just hand him something.  He will take the Air Dog toy.  Mostly because he wants to take it into the yard and dig a hole for it.

His compulsion to do this must be very high as I gave it to him and he immediately started very industriously to dig a hole.  His concentration on the task was so complete that for the first time ever Trek and I were able to play fetch with a ball and he didn't have a barking, chasing frenzy like he usually does when another dog is playing fetch.  This could come in very handy at times.

Sun Jun1
Yoshi Herding.  Slow down young man! (the continuing theme).
Diane was nice enough to come video tape us (I'll edit that and put it on You Tube.  We did about 2/3 of an AHBA course and while we did ok, I really do need to find a way to get him to walk with sheep even if it means making him completely exhausted.  Now that I know we can do the course (save for the penning) I think we're going to go out next time with no course set up and just wander around with the sheep and work on "go by" [clockwise], "away" [counter clockiwise] and "steady" [walk, don't run, dammit]

Diane and Bill had their Cardi's Petal and Spark herding instinct tested and both passed with flying colors.  They may have finally found something Petal gives a hoot about.

Archive - Go to:

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
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - June 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Mar 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Feb 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Jan 2006

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Sept 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Jul 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Jun 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Mar 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Feb 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Jan  2005

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Jun 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2004

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