Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - March '08

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 Mar 31
From a Performance Corgis post:

I was talking on the phone to Kienan Brown who is going to be the
instructor for the Control Unleashed Workshop that we're putting on in
the Bay Area. She was telling me that she was talking to two other
people interested in having CU workshops/seminars. "That's great
Kienan" I said. She replied, slightly amused "They're all Corgi people"

I laughed. Now why am I not surprised? ;)

We had already been getting some mileage out of the fact that the other
Calif CU seminar she's putting on is at Stars and Stripes Agility which
is run by Corgi person Barbara Mah. :)

Ellen Clary
and Yoshi HT CU (who? me?) and Agile Trek

Kienan was suggesting adding another game to play with him and asked if he knew Go to Place.  I said that he was really good at Go to "crate" and loved doing it (he gets his meals that way - we've done a lot of crate games in the past.)  She said that we should try adding a little of that (back the distance between him and the other dogs off at first.)  Just to keep him guessing and keep him thinking.  I can have a leash or a long line on him if I was concerned about him.  It occurs to me that I could incorporate a lot of his obedience behaviors that he knows really well too like sit, down, left, right, and hand (his nose to my hand) or mousepad (touching it with his paw) targeting.  (He loves foot targeting - standing on a target like a mousepad - and seems to glory in the fact that he knows it really well.)

Cathy and her dogs came over tonight to watch a DVD.  We started off with all dogs in crates and then we let Jesse hang out with an open door, then I let Trek out, but Yoshi started to growl with Trek wandering around checking out the other dogs (Funny what a trigger Trek's interactions can be for him - possessive guy).  Every so often we would do LAT but then I would go and hang out on the sofa with the humans to watch the DVD and he was content to crash in his crate.  Eventually we let Jesse come out of the crate and up on the sofa and Yoshi watched this carefully, but did not object.

As they got ready to go, I put Yoshi's leash on and let him out and had him do some hand targeting (the other dogs were behind the sofa out of sight but still in the room, then I sent him into the crate and treated him generously (they walked out of the house at this point).  I let him go check out the dog beds and crates that were still there and he immediately plopped down on one, but I got his interest again by having him go back to the crate and get rewarded handsomely.   He seemed happy doing this and we'll have to do this at agility class on Friday.

Sun Mar 30
Yoshi is letting me do his nails again.  He struggles but eventually gives up.  Treats just seem to wind him up even more so I just hold him close (which he does like and will relax with that - no, really)

I was letting Yoshi look out of the living room window just to see where we were at with that.  About the same, if it's a person I can reassure him and he'll settle down.  A cat was then standing on the front lawn and I was almost able to get him to settle and watch it but them a dog walked by and he just lost it.   As I'm holding him and covering his eyes while he's beside himself with barking, Terri dryly chimes in "I think he's over threshold."  Laughing I ask "Really?" She replies, "Yeah I think I'm starting to get the hang of this."

Went to Kevin Gast's memorial service later today.  There were a lot of agility people there mostly from Ace Dog Sports.  Loni and Sandy both had really insightful and moving things to say about him which I'm really glad they were able to hold it together enough to do.

Sat Mar 29
I found another open space to try to walk Yoshi in.  It's in Walnut Creek called Lime Ridge Open Space and the photos look perfect - far reaching sightlines.


Dern it - that website said that it was good for dog walks, but when I got there it was very visibly posted No Dogs.  Hrrumph.  So we had a nice walk though a nice nearly deserted neighborhood still with great sightlines, and the we had a second walk in a huge field that turned out to be a part of Safeway's corporate building.  It was great except for all the foxtails I had to pull out of his fur.  But I don't need to drive to Walnut Creek for this as  can probably find similar things closer by.

Fri Mar 28
We make such common reference to our dogs being CU dogs that I'm going to start listing it as one of Yoshi titles and see who notices. :)

My truck, which I'm keeping for the house, needs a new transmission and is threatening to eat some of the agility budget, since the truck is for the house I'll probably make the house pay for a large part of it.  Trek's eye surgery is going to be paid with Federal Tax refund/rebate checks whenever they appear (though my actual tax refund already went towards her earlier bills and part of a Shasta trip.)

I actually haven't entered Trek in further agility trials and I'm feeling remiss, but i want to do her tear duct closure surgery first I think.

A post to CU_Dogs:

Subject: Look At That vs Open Bar

Greetings CU_Dogs (CU_Dogs_SF cc'd),

[Apologies, but this post is a bit heavy on the behavioral jargon.]

Yesterday Yoshi and I were watching dogs from the dog park parking lot with him in his crate and me tending the treat bar.

I was wondering the best times to play LAT vs just opening the bar and just mainlining the treats (a la classical conditioning - i.e. not waiting for a behavior to reward).  So far I've been doing LAT when he's at his most relaxed, but when a dog is walking by I start feeding the treats one right after another and when the trigger is past we go back to LAT.  Does that sound like a good criteria?  For the most part it works fine unless a dog on leash is directly approaching the car right beside us (just our luck sometimes :).  With dogs passing perpendicularly it works (and he would have barked at them in the past.)

Ellen Clary
and Corgis Yoshi HT CU and the Agile House Manager Trek

Leslie replies:
IMO just follow your instincts with that, keep your
eyes on your dog, stay flexible as you are, and adjust
criteria based on what he can give you.

Agility Class for Trek and Yoshi.  I'm bringing goodies to celebrate Trek's great weekend.

It was sprinkling a little and kinda breezy, so the dogs were not behaving typically and Yoshi seemed a little nervous so after playing a little LAT we retreated into an ex-pen to sit and watch.  He was a little bummed not to be doing a lot of LAT and was after my pockets a fair bit.  I would do it a little with him but I mostly wanted him to relax and when the treats are out he's not relaxed.  He settled a little but not really and always kept an eye out on the activities.  We were right in the middle of the activity and would have backed off more but it was raining so we stayed under the canopy.  It was ok, not perfect, but fine.

Trek did well.  At first was skipping weave poles (popped the 10th one again and no excuse of something visually weird right at the end.  Finally got her to do them properly, then we went to the upper field and later revisited them intending to work on them and then of course she did them perfectly in both directions.  She was hesitant at doing a serpentine of jumps but the ground was really slick on the lower field so I wasn't doing the handling very well, but I still should do more work on rear crosses.

In the upper field she did great, even was able to do a dogwalk "right" tunnel the first time which happily surprised me.  She readily went into tunnels without first checking for lurking Cardigans, and I kept my "tire" and "tunnel" lines straight and said them on time which helped a lot.  Also did a lead out where the choice was to come to me and then go into the far side of the tunnel instead of ducking into the near side of the tunnel.  She did this great twice.  I stacked the deck in my favor by having a treat in the signallling hand.

Thu Mar 27
Yoshi to the park to watch dogs coming out of the dog park.  We stayed in the parking lot and he stayed in his crate.
We mostly played LAT but when a dog was near I just fed him.  For the most part this worked except for 2 dogs that were on leash and directly approaching.  Dogs just passing he was fine as long as I was feeding him.  So the line is very clear right now and I see where our work is.  He's getting bored of being in the crate but he needs to be better before i start taking him out there.  At class he can be out as he knows the dogs there (for a little while longer.)

I'll ask CU_Dogs about LAT vs just feeding him.

Wed Mar 26
Leslie further clarified that her observations are a way of determining if he's ready for a criteria increase. 
[placed here for my easy reference with her permission]

the point i was trying to make wasn't that he needs
more mat work per se but that you can use the mat work
as part of your testing system to determine when he is
ready for a criteria change, and you can always go
back to the mat to re-set if he starts stressing, and
then lower criteria or just end it. yes you can use a
crate instead of a mat if you like the conditioned
emotional response you already have in there. it's
just harder to move around--and i move mats a lot as
i'm fussing over distance criteria--and maybe harder
to use your body to open up the space to the thing you
want the dog to play LAT with, then use your body to
close the space when you want him looking at you
instead, etc. i think strategically it's harder to use
a crate but you can still use one, and i have.
have you done all 4 steps of mat work that i wrote
about in the files section. because what i was
suggesting to you was to use those steps as a test to
let you know when you're ready to raise criteria by
having the other dog be closer, move around, etc. if
he can do step one near another dog, can he do step
two, etc. if he can do all the steps, call him off the
mat or out of the crate and can he sit in front and
eat while the other dog is sitting still (working up
to can he do that while other dog is moving) then can
he play LAT from heel and look right back up to you
while other dog is sitting, moving, etc, then can he
play LAT while walking around himself. then he's ready
for the parallel games which you'd start with both
dogs separated by a barrier, handlers on the inside of
the barrier, dogs sitting at your side playing LAT so
you can make sure they really just want to watch you
and are not caring about the other dog, before you
start moving. and as i said, you'd do all that with
high criteria before you'd do 'dog in your face'

Tue Mar 25
I asked Leslie to take a look at Yoshi's video and she thinks that, though he knows the game, he's still stressed and is suggesting he do more mat work.  Yoshi and I have spent his entire time with us doing crate work and he's really comfortable with them so though I taught him that mats are cool it's pretty much a guarantee that he's not going to be as comfortable on one as in a crate so I'm trying to figure out a way to do the work with crates instead.  I think having a door open crate in an ex-pen is a way to start.  I asked about it on the CU_Dogs list:

So Leslie is suggesting that Yoshi do more mat work to gain confidence
as he still seemed stressed in his videos. While Yoshi likes mats, he's
happiest in a crate (door open). One of the first things we did when he
came to me at 8 months was Susan Garrett's Crate Games. He loves
charging into his crate when I ask him to (a Go To Place style thing).
He eats his meals in a crate. He has a ton of good associations with
them, and I'm loath to have to start all that work over on another thing
(he's 4 now). Looking in the archives, I see that Layla started RP in a
crate and then moved to a mat, but I'm wondering if there's a way to
keep the crate in the mix. Like doing mat style exercises with an open
door crate surrounded by a barrier (ring gates or ex-pens). He's fine
in a soft crate where I can open the top and feed him from there, or a
hard shell varikennel, but probably not a wire crate (too open).

Maybe this Friday I'll try something like that at the agility class that
he watches. Unfortunately, that class is going to turn into a beginner
class in 2-3 weeks so we'll have to start pretty much over on getting
used to the environment with a whole new set of dogs (and uncomfortable
novice dogs at that. :)

So I have to remember to take a soft crate and the ex-pen on Friday which means that I need to fix the backyard fencing that it's standing in for. :)  (Done.)

Leslie has come up with a test to see if a dog is ready for you to raise the criteria of the mat work:

This won't make any sense without the accompanying DVD (this is my justification for putting it here so I can easily find it - she borrows Open Bar from Kathy Sdao anyway :):

1. Teaching 'go to place behavior' - 
Criteria: dog can be sent on cue to find his mat and automatically down on it from a
certain distance, dog remains on mat until he hears the verbal release to move off it.
2. Teaching dog the mat rule structure which is: when he's on his mat 'stuff' may happen
around him and he is to tune it out as so much white noise; 'stuff' happening around him
is an environmental signal that you have food.
    Two parts to this: 
A. Open bar/Close bar - Have somebody walk up to mat and you just feed dog until that
person leaves (this step more important if you are using the mat as part of a counter
conditioning protocol but even if you're not it still teaches the dog the prediction that if
anyone approaches his mat it signals an interaction with you not them)
B. The person/dog/environmental stimulus is an *antecedent* to the dog's getting a treat
from you. In other words, the dog sees the thing first, then gets the treat
3. Once dog is blocking out stuff and going 'I’m on my mat, so whatever that is, it's not
about me' you can start playing LAT in high distraction environments such as near ball
field, in class, at trial, to let the dog integrate the environment 'back in' a little at a time
without getting overwhelmed.

Speaking of Kathy Sdao I just heard that the Advanced Clicker Training Workshop will be coming to SF in fall of this year   Cool.  Trek's going to be going (she doesn't know this yet) as she's a little more resiliant than Yoshi is and it is going to be a mentally demanding seminar.  She's going to have to pratice her targeting behavior on as many as 6 objects (unprompted. unlured.)

Diane is asking if I can go over some clicker basics with her.  No problem.  I did explain that I can't afford to be a professional dog trainer since as a computer professional I make a whole lot more than most trainers (which is a sad commentary on our society that my screwing around with bits of silicon and plastic are more highly valued), so I don't take money for it - we'll work a trade of some sort.

Mon Mar 24
Some folks have remarked how relaxed Yoshi looks in his LAT with a clicker video, so I posted some further explanation to our local CU_Dogs list:

He's relaxed in the first part as he knows the dogs (he's been watching 
that class for a couple of months now.)
The second part he is not relaxed though eventually relaxed enough to go
visit the other dogs (some not familiar to him), but, full disclosure,
he did have a reactive temper tantrum then where he had to be carried
off the stage just as I was taking him away from the group. I didn't
see the details and we don't have it on film. I think it was at the
Husky as he doesn't care for them and the way they carry themselves.

The way I can tell if Yoshi is relaxed is (1) is he willing to look away
from the trigger to get his treat? (2) is he taking the treat politely
(he's good about this for a Corgi) or is he chomping on my fingers too?

We started watching the class pre-CU at the class way up on the hill
above the class probably 150' away and worked our way down progress was
slow, but we had gotten much closer and then I read CU and we started
LAT. His attitude changed and then we could "walk among them" like you
see in the video. We even had Yoshi do a couple of runs which I didn't
think I'd ever see again.

He's by no means out of the woods, but his issues have narrowed down to
very specific things (unknown dogs and also Sudden Environmental Changes
like a new dog walking into class).

Sun Mar 23
Yoshi Herding
He's getting it.  We now can walk down the fence line with the sheep.  Sometimes we drift away from the fence but for the most part we do get there.  We now need to work on penning and holding the sheep back while I open the gate.

Completed the mini movie of Yoshi doing LAT and me using a clicker.  We also got some footage of him being over threshold and not responding to a click, then backing off, and then him able to respond.

Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3LOfCXFS2c

Sat Mar 22
Let's see what embedded video looks like:

[from a freilancedogsports message board post]

Despite 4 zoomies filled runs, Corgi Trek went 5 for 5 Qs today at Bay Team CPE. The one where she didn't decide to go on a world tour, she won the class (the Standard Class). Good doggie.

I appear to have a newfound skill of how to steer a zooming dog away from obstacles so as not to NQ the run. :)

There will be goodies of some sort on Friday.


[Hmphf - "zoomies" isn't in the Mozilla dictionary - must be an oversight.]

Fri Mar 21
Trek and Yoshi Agility Class
A twofold important day for Yoshi.  For one we're going to be filming him playing Look At That at the agility class he usually watches, and then when we're done with that we're going to try him at a few agility runs in the same class.

The filming went great and I will have to edit it into a small movie that I will put on You Tube.

Before he ran I handed some citronella spray out just in case the unexpected worst happened and he jumped one of the dogs.  Fortunately we didn't need it.  His first run was great.  The next one at some point he heard one of the other dogs squeak and looked right at it seeming uncertain and stressed.  Pushing him went he's like this is how that [bloodless, but so not ok] attack on the Border Terrier happened so i immediately picked him up and carried him off so we could end on a good note.
After class, he did have an emotional outburst - I'm not sure if it was at the puppy he was meeting or the husky he's uncomfortable around, but I should have cut the interaction off sooner.

Trek did well.  I was worried about tomorrow since it was going to be a long day for her since it's her first CPE trial and she's entered in 5 classes (not sure I'll do all of them), so we did leave class a little early.  This time I was attentive to her getting unfocused and distracted so when that looked like it was starting to happen I picked her up and cuddled with her (mostly to warm her).  This seemed to make a difference as she was reasonably focused though there were a couple of jumps she didn't seem to want to go over (they were in a spooky corner.)

Tue Mar 18
After consulting with various folks, it has been suggested that the natural next step with Yoshi is to have him play LAT with the crate door open, then with him still in the car but out of the crate.  Then maybe with the crate outside of the car.  Baby steps are the theme, so I'm not going to take him, to agility on Sunday to watch but instead we'll go herding.  (Trek will be there on Sat.)

With the above in mind, we went over to the dog park with treats in hand.  This time we parked not right by the fence, but in the next row over.  This was done mostly because by the fence was full but it worked out well as then he got to see lots more dogs nearby going to and coming from their cars.  I opened the crate door and we started to play LAT until a dog was about to walk by them we mainlined the treats.

He did try to react a couple of times at passing dogs, but not violently.  I basically shut him back in the crate, and stopped the treats for a few seconds until he appeared more comfortable, then we started up again.  This is the level that we'll need to stay at for a while.  Pretty easy work for me, sit around and feed my dog treats (well I do have to prevent him from launching out of the car.)  in general he's doing very well at it.

Sun Mar 16
Took both dogs to the dog park to train Yoshi and to let Trek race around off leash there.

Trek likes the open space of the big dog park to run around in (she seems to feel cramped in the small dog park).  I worry about her as I don't want a big dog to start picking on her or thing she's prey so I only do it when there aren't many dogs.  Even though she gets along with all dogs, it's mostly because she dosen't really care about them much at all beyond Yoshi (or just about any male Corgi who wants to play.)  But she enjoys racing around in the open space.

While Trek hung out in a crate I backed the Scion up to the fence of the small dog park and Yoshi and I played the Look At That game with him in his crate.  This turned out much better than expected and I made a short movie of it here.  He could tolerate a small dog racing up to the fence to say hi.  He was in the car about 10 feet away in a crate.  I'm so happy with him and now I'm trying to figure out what his next step should be.

Sat Mar 15
Trek was nice enough to bring me the shell of an orange that they had been working on.  I'm impressed on how cleanly they licked it out.  Especially because they're usually not in the yard unsupervised (Yoshi's behavior starts to erode and Trek eats everything in the yard.)

[later] Elf tells me that the oranges could be caused by Roof Rats - I hope not - they used to be here but my neighbor had them exterminated.  They certainly could be back but I have not seen their ghostly nighttime shapes of late.

One a different note, the Calif DMV is being bureaucratic and tells me I can't directly transfer the AGLCRGI plate from the truck to the Scion as the truck is commercial and the Scion is residential.  Please.  How hard is that really?  But it turns out that they did me a favor as I was thinking if there was another plate that I could come up with that wasn't taken.  I was trying to figure out how to get HRDNCRGI down to 7 letters, when one of our old agility DAM (Dog Agility Masters) team names came into my head: THE CORG.  Oh surely that's taken, it's too good.  Turns out the Corgi people who buy anything Corgi related, were asleep at the helm (and "Prepare to be herded" Den, who undoubtedly has it, lives in another state :)  It was available and the Scion gets it!  WaHoo.  Now I need to get a Corgi decal for it as a way to help people figure it out.  That's to go along with the Matchbox [car] decal that it needs.  Oh and it would be great to get a license plate frame that says Prepare to be Herded.  I'll have to tell Den that I'm going to steal it.

Gotta love the internet, within 20 minutes I'd ordered Corgi Decals from Tastypettreats.com

and I'd ordered a license plate frame from Autoplates.com    

Oh and since we actually going to let Yoshi try running courses in the 6:15 class, out of prudence, I ordered the Citronella Direct Stop from Clean Run.

Fri Mar 14
Agility Class - Yoshi watching and Trek doing.
Yoshi can comfortably walk amongst the 6:15 dogs without issue (though in all fairness the visiting Terrier wasn't there and the Shelties weren't there, but since he sees Shelties at herding he's decided they're real dogs).  And he loves Charlie the mini Aussie's dad (named Steve I think).  He likes to be in his lap and lick his face like he does with Mark (Cooper's dad).  Charlie's dad said that it was probably that he smelled like dog, I joked that and the facial hair might be contributing too (though Mark is clean shaven, so that really doesn't work beyond being a silly joke).

Rachelle and I talked that maybe next week he could actually join the class for a few runs in the upper field (he has historically had trouble in the close quarters of the small field).  That would be cool.  I should probably order some citronella Direct Stop spray so that the other class members can be armed just in case.  It helps that all the dogs are larger than he is.

Later on after Trek was done but the other dogs were still finishing up, I brought Yoshi back out and he was with effort able to play LAT on a staring and a somewhat reactive Huskie (named Ziggy) which, for him, is quite an accomplishment.  He also greeted Lynn's male BC puppy though he was pretty stiff and the puppy was a little unsure about that, so we cut it off after a bit.

Trek did well at 7:30.  No pooping out this time though there was a period of time where it looked like I was losing her attention.  Thinking that she might be cold (it was cold for this area) I picked her up onto my lap.  She loved that and perked right up.

I've started using the tug and treat all the time now.  It's handy to throw as a directional guide and she'll [mostly] retrieve it.  It's a little large for her to easily grab so I may want to use a smaller one, but this one is rabbit fur and she loves that.

Notable was that I was able to do a 3 jump lead out pivot with her, more than once.  I do have to stand in line with the line of jumps, but that's a great start, and I've found I've actually never had to work towards offset leadouts as I'm fast enough with Corgis without the extra distance advantage that you need if you have a fast Border Collie.  (My dogs are plenty fast, but they don't have BC legs.)

In the small field she appeared to be having trouble with stopping at the 10 weave pole, after she did this twice, Rachelle pointed out that they were weaving right into a wall and other stuff.  I had her weave in the other direction and she was flawless so decided not to stress about it as in competition I don't think I've ever had to have a dog weave going into a closeby wall.  (And with training that may not be an issue anymore.)  I'm just happy to see her weaving fast and accurately so I didn't want to demotivate her over it.  And she got quite the jackpot after doing them correctly.

No face plant into the A-Frame this time.  No, this time she did the face plant on the landing.  Ouch.  I could hear everyone watching say "Ooo." She's ok, though looked a little surprised.  Good thing it was soft dirt.

Thu Mar 13
Kienan asked that we write introductions for the CU Workshop.  I wound up writing mostly about Yoshi:

It is hard for me to summarize the misadventures of a dog that I have 
been chronicling for the past 3+ years but I'll try.

Yoshi and half of his brothers are living proof that aggression has a
huge genetic component. 3 brothers all raised in different places, left
the litter at very different times, 2 of them raised by experienced
people. All three were very sweet puppies, around the time of puberty
(7-8 months) they all started showing signs of dog aggression (all are
neutered). Yoshi towards unknown dogs, the other two towards canine
members of their household. [They all have contributed DNA to the UCSF
Genetic Study on Dog Aggression.]

For months Yoshi's aggression was quite manageable, but I had started
him in agility and he gradually became more uncomfortable around certain
dogs (small white fluffy dogs, any terrier, rotties, dobies or anything
that looked like a sheep), and it grew to pretty much anything that he
didn't know. Most Corgis and Border Collies got a pass as he was raised
around them. In class, he would sometimes leave the course to go
(bloodlessly) jump a bystanding dog and we finally pulled him out of
class when he nearly hurt a border terrier.

It was then I got serious about finding a way to truly help him.
Consulted with a bunch of people who I call Team Yoshi (including
aggression expert Trish King, and Sirius Dog Trainer Rachelle Carzino),
started attending behavior seminars (even flew to Tucson for ClickerExpo
to see Emma Parsons (Click to Calm)) and Karen Pryor, saw seminars of
Patricia McConnell and also Brenda Aloff. Yoshi also attended Kathy
Sdao's Know Way, Know How and even appears for a demo on the DVD, and he
became a regular at Oakland Dog Training Club, and also to Lori Drouin's
special once a month Friday classes. I spoke to every single one of
them about Yoshi. I learned a lot, but progress was slow and hard won.

Earlier this year, Lori pulled me aside at class and asked if I'd read
Control Unleashed. "What's that?" I asked. She said "You have to read
it." and went on to explain that it was written for dogs like Yoshi.
Really? I immediately ordered it and when it arrived I had a similar
reaction that a lot of us had. I read about 3 pages and was saying "OMG
this IS written for him!" I don't know how many pages I'd read (it
wasn't many) when I went and found Leslie's email address and wrote her:
"I have a Snap, his name is Yoshi." She very kindly wrote back and we
had a great exchange of emails during which she told me about Kienan (I
had been threatening to put him on a plane to see Leslie.)

Then I contacted Kienan and the plan shifted to taking him down to S.
Calif. Things were kinda busy for me so I made an appt for him a month
and a half hence (or so). In the meantime, I kept reading the book and
just like Patricia McConnell warns about, kept putting it down to try
things with Yoshi. The Look At That game intrigued me and we started
doing it at one of Rachelle's agility classes that I have him watch. He
caught on right away and I got an immediate measure of where his
threshold really was as if he was over threshold he wouldn't play, but
under threshold he would. Over a short period of time, the distance
that we had to be away from the dogs dramatically shortened and
eventually he could walk amongst the friendlier of the dogs and he was
noticeably more relaxed (We even had him run a short agility course,
which made me cry as I didn't think I'd ever see that again). I
realized that I no longer knew what I wanted to work on with Kienan, so
temporarily shelved the idea of going down until I hit an issue I didn't
know how to address.

His issues narrowed down to unknown dogs approaching and sudden
environmental changes. I knew from using Trish's Calming Cap that if I
blocked his vision he no longer reacted so I've gotten quite good at
covering his eyes in a pinch, and this is where we're at right now.

Some of us on the main CU_Dogs list started talking about Bay Area CU,
and we all were thinking of going down to Kienan's. I then mentioned
that if there was enough interest maybe we should bring Kienan up here.
Kienan said that she was willing to do that. I, then to gage interest,
mentioned it to the Bay Team folks and got a bunch of replies which is
how this list got started. Then I started to talk to Karey about
whether the Bay Team would like to help us put a workshop on, and now
here we are.

Ellen Clary
and the high maintenance but mostly sweet Corgi Yoshi (a herding fool now)
and his lovely and talented manager Corgi Trek (the agility queen)

Wed Mar 12
I filled the rest of the CU Workshop working spots today, one of them trying to decide between working and auditing.

Took Yoshi on another slow(ish) walk today.  He didn't see any dogs except for the back of one.  I arranged it so he didn't see the dog till they has passed (we crossed the street and then I kneeled down, blocked his view and fed him.  Baby steps here.)

I noticed one very interesting thing.  We started the walk when it was light but just before sunset.  By the time we got back home it was twilight.  As it got darker his scanning and vigilance increased.  So I have my answer, night is more stressful than daylight for him.  The reduced visibility doesn't help him like it does some dogs.

Tue Mar 11
Just faxed off 10 CU Workshop applications to Kienan.  We'll see how many more I get this week.  Fortunately, I wasn't deluged with entries on Monday (just a couple more), so we're in good shape and I can probably even widen our publicity a little bit if today's mail doesn't break the mailbox.

Just got Karen Pryor's monthly letter.  She's trying to finish writing a very long book called Reaching the Animal Mind which has involved chaining herself to her computer behind closed doors for long periods.  While she's not losing it yet, the letters are getting fun as she's now writing about a canary she got as company.  I'm no expert, but I think giving a renowned animal trainer any sort of a live pet is going to distract her as it would be far too fun to train the animal instead.  The book is due out in Sept, but while I'm very much looking forward to it, I won't be surprised if she misses that deadline, but has a very well trained canary. :)


Went and took photos of Washington Park to show Kienan what a great place it would be to hold privates and take photos.  I'm usually just walking Yoshi around the perimeter of the dog park but it's such a cool park we should explore it further (though I've been to almost all of the park already).  Kienan saw it and thinks it's a very nice park.

This is a satellite photo taken in summer.  It's much greener now.

[evening - still daylight]
I took Yoshi on a walk and I don't know what got me to do this (I think just waiting for him to sniff around and adjust to being outside), but we started walking much slower than we usually do.  To me walks are exercise, so readjusting to walking slower took some effort, but he was much calmer because of it.  If you will, it was like a walking meditation, though my focus was outwardly directed and also focused on him, as opposed to a traditional walking meditation where your focus is on your feet and your breath, and the entire sensation of walking.  We did not see any dogs but saw lots of people to LAT on.

Both dogs have discovered the oranges.  It's pretty funny to find an orange with a Corgi snout sized hole in it. I'll have to check to see if they're ok for them to eat.

Mon Mar 10
So I'm pondering Yoshi's dog reactivity (What? Again?) now that I see how well I can control it by controlling his vision.  It's like the sight of an approaching dog takes a fast track into his primitive brain's EMERGENCY! panic button.  That Flight or Flight reaction (though there's no flight for him any more)  Both Patricia McConnell and Brenda Aloff talk about this.  If I break off the visual, his forebrain takes over and sees there's no issue and he's fine.  Fascinating, it's a purely physiological response, which explains why, for him, corrections really don't work as for a dog to respond to a correction, he has to be thinking, not pulling firealarms.

The Collagen Punctual (tear duct) Plug that Dr. Friedman placed in Trek's eye on Sat ozzed out again last night and this morning  (I checked the consistency of the discharge and it's definitely collagen), so we're backing to winky dog, the cool thing was that again for 2 days we had a dog with nearly normal eyes so if we can find a way to make it work, closing the tear duct helps a lot.

We have 2 options.  Dr Friedman can find silicone (instead of the temporary collagen) plugs in a size large enough for her, or she can do a surgery where they permanently close the tear duct by cauterizing it (which apparently sounds much worse than it really is)  It's expensive though - ~$1200, so we'll have to save our pennies.  Putting in the plugs is not that expensive so I may let her do it again though it doesn't seem like it would last very long.

Sun Mar 9
[morning] Stewarding for Oakland Dog Training Club match
I was in the sits and downs ring.  I kept seeing sitations that would have set Yoshi off (I don't ever see him in Open Sits and Downs - that would just be horribly stressful.).  I'm glad I didn't bring him as my attention would have been split and he would have been crate reactive if I wasn't there which would have set up back in his training.  It also made being there a lot more fun and I could observe the other dogs, including recognizing one potentially reactive dog whose owner I told about Control Unleashed.

[afternoon] Yoshi herding
Some definite progress.  He's still a maniac at first, not staying, charging around, crowding sheep and having Joyce yell at him to get out, to the point that Yoshi started looking at me like: "Can you do something about this crazy person?" Went back into the round pen where I was able to get a stop and sit pretty reliably.  Then we went back in and initially he was still an idiot, but settled down and we were able to do actual herding - even with the distraction of having a Sheltie charge up barking to the fence we were working sheep on and refuse to come to her owner (it's a relief to have someone else's dog misbehave sometimes).  He thought about going to fence fight with the Sheltie, but I was able to call him back to work with very little effort.  (Hooray).  Again, he's so much better behaved when he's tired.  So Joyce and I decided that his first run will be in the round pen just to get the nonsense out of his system.

I'm also discovering that I can read his body language really well.  80% of the time I have advanced warning when he's going to react to a dog.  He stiffens, holds his head up higher, his eyes lock and his ears are pricked forward (this being the most obvious sign.)  When I see that I spin him in the other direction.  I averted 3 outbursts this way today.  And what was cool is that it did not delay the outbursts, it avoided them entirely.  Once I broke his focus, then the other dog was able to approach without incident.  The treat him as a football is the most effective (tuck him under your arm and spin in the other direction (covering his eyes if necessary), but this works also.

Trek's eye continues to look good.

Sat Mar 8
Animal Eye Care had an opening for Trek for them to check on her eye.  it looks like the plug is indeed no longer there, so they put in another one.

She is doing very nicely with the plug in - it's almost like we have a dog with normal eyes.

Fri Mar 7
Big day for Yoshi.  This morning he had an obedience class with Lori Drouin.  We wound up staying for two classes as the Novice class was too crowded for him to be comfortable so we played LAT while he was in his crate and waited till the Open class.  Fortunately the open class was much smaller and we could work some doing some heeling and recalls and attention work.  When they started working retrieves and jumping I decided rather that stress about his merely ok retrieving to instead do more LAT and Relaxation work.  I didn't have his mat with me but there were two mats that I just about had to drag him off so it was clear that any mat would do so I just got the pad from the crate and we worked on relaxation there.

A few days ago I realized that Yoshi really did understand "relax."  When I say relax and put by hand in his collar, he relaxes and lays down (he prefers a mat but will do it on the ground.)  Now I really hadn't expected him to be this far as we haven't been working on the formal Relaxation Protocol very much, but when we've done it he's been great at it.

So at the club, I put the mat down in a corner and sat down beside it and he laid down next to me on the mat.  Mostly he would watch with his head up but sometimes he even put his head down.  Dog's were doing retrieving exercises and running right at us.  He did bark one when Zanna came in with her dogs (Oliver and Barris) once he recognized the dogs he settled down it was the entrance that set him off.  He was also unhappy about a GSD that was there, though I notice that if I covered his eyes that he is way better (though not perfect).

So it went surprisingly well, and he's passed out from all the mental work (see photo of him using Martin as a pillow).  I think he's earned the night off tonight and I'll just take Trek to agility.  Several people say that he's really improved (I gave CU full credit for that), and Lori says that she can see a definite change in his demeanor.  He's watching, but no longer being hypervigilant.  She says that it really underscores just how much you have to constantly reinforce a dog that is unsure, and that this was very much a central tenant of Control Unleashed.

I brought a CU flyer and she put it up on the bulletin board of the club and announced it to the incoming Utility Class (with Open still there).  She had already told them about the book previously and said that this would be a good opportunity to watch the ideas of the book in action.  Unfortunately Lori won't be able to make it as she'll be in Colorado for the Sheltie national.

Trek Agility Class.  This time I made sure I had really good treats (Red Barn Beef) and plenty of water (since they make her thirsty).  She was much better than last time.  Some sniffing, but easily called off.  She did the time honored beginner face plant into the A-Frame (they all seem to do that once - Hello? you need to climb UP the thing silly.  And was a little unsteady after that, but recovered nicely.  Earlier in the evening she was trying to do the skip the occasional weave pole (honoring her talent as the sometime Spaz), but once she realized that we were insisting on her doing them correctly, she was fine.  Speedy too.  I was a little worried that evening when she didn't want to come out of the truck crate (I took the truck instead of the Scion this time) and had to drag her out.  She was stiff but loosened up and seems ok.

Thu Mar 6
The CU Workshop is approved!  Hooray!  Finished a passable version of the flyer and have sent it out (Elf had some further ideas which I will incorporate, but it's tricky as I didn't write most of the text.)  People on the CU_Dogs_SF list are excited about it, I'm thrilled to see that it looks like it's going to happen.

Wed Mar 5
At lunchtime I took Yoshi on a walk in the neighborhood as I didn't think I'd have enough time to take him to the park.  I went armed with some chicken sticks to see if I could convince him that lunching was preferable to lunging (sorry).  He barked at a passerby but quickly opted for the treat.  Then at a corner we saw a Clumber Spaniel approaching on the other side of the street and immediately backed off 70 feet or so and commenced chicken chomping with me kneeling in front of him and my hand in his collar.  He wanted the goodies but also very much wanted to hurl himself at the dog, but then he would get a hold of himself and eat (so he's not so stressed that he can't eat.)  I could see him struggling internally.  After the dog passed we did some parallel walking with the dog on the other side of the street but headed in the same direction (I like this and think we should do it more).

Then we ran into Carole who is a crossing guard and a dog lover, and she said hello to him and fed him goodies.  While we talked, a dog (Generic Brown Dog) approached on the other side of the street and Yoshi was trying to work himself into a froth, when I did the Corgi as football routine and tucked him under my arm and turned him around.  He tried to pivot, but during the time he couldn't see the dog he started to relax and then could eat.  (An advantage to picking him up is I can feel when he relaxes.)  It always surprises me how visually tied his stress is.  As soon as the dog is no longer visible he stops stressing (which is why the calming cap works so well for him.)

Next time I'm going to try the doggles to see if that makes a difference.  And Carole says she wants to come back as one of my dogs.

Tue Mar 4  
Cathy and her dogs came over last night to watch a DVD (we're watching Dead Like Me, which is not nearly the same quality as Sopranos, or 6' Under is, but is amusing.).  I was in the bathroom when Cathy rang the bell and Corgi pandemonium ensued.  When I got up to the Living Room, Terri had gotten both dogs into the LR crates, and we were able to let Cathy in.  (She comes in separately and sets up her dogs' crates and then goes to get her dogs.  Terri said that Yoshi was completely beside himself with stress, but he seemed to settle down once in his crate.

I, with treats in hand, took up my now familiar position on the sofa by his crate (a Noz 2 Noz with a zipper on the top - important), and he started nosing the top of the crate in anticipation.  When Cathy came back in with her dogs, I would unzip the top a little and feed him treats.  i wasn't insisting that he play Look At That but he started to do it anyway.  I think i need to call the game Treats From The Sky (TFTS) as it's a little different than LAT but the same idea.  He was perfect - he even took a nap later on.

Everytime I knew there would be a change in the environment (like Cathy having to take her dogs out to pee) we'd play TFTS.  The evening went very smoothly.  I started experimenting with us having one dog out of the crate at a time to see what would happen.  That proved to be very revealing.  Yoshi in his crate with Abby out was watchful, but basically fine.  Then we put Abby away and I had Yoshi out.  All the other dogs are crated.  He was ok, but stiff on the sofa with me (even with me massaging him), then we let him go over to the other sofa where Cathy and Terri were which is nearer to Cathy's dogs (still in crates).  It wasn't very long till he started to growl at Abby and Jesse.  When I put him back in his crate, he settled down.  I could not have predicted that.  Even though the other dogs were under control and not being confromtational at all he was still very uncomfortable, but another dog out and him in was ok.  Even if Abby was being silly with Terri and playing on the sofa.  I do wonder if I had started playing LAT with him while he was out of the crate if that would of made a difference or just covered up his emotions.

I'm thinking that since the white terrier is likely to be a regular observer at the Friday agility class that Yoshi watches I'll have to bring a crate to see if that makes a difference with his comfort level around the terrier.

From a Control Unleashed post about dog communication - I've likely posted it here before, but just in case (this is me writing):

Well keep in mind that humans in general suck at dog communication there
might be something subtle (or not) going on that your dog is responding to.

I've have very good luck with this method when greeting a dog who is shy
of humans, but not a biter (important).

- have the dog within about 6-10 feet of you
- kneel down (so as to not tower over the dog
- look at the ground and away from the dog, make your head turn away
from the dog really obvious
- while not looking at the dog, extend your arm with a yummy treat on
it (I've yet to be bitten this way, but I don't do it with any dog I
remotely feel uncomfortable about.)

If the dog takes the treat, keep offering them. Eventually the dog may
feel ok with eye contact or being touched. You can feel the dog
relaxing and you can almost hear them thanking your for speaking dog.
And you don't even have to sniff butts. ;)

I didn't say that if you do this and it works you will look like a genius, which is a nice benefit.

Mon Mar 3
The Clickerexpo yahoo group is for people who have attended one of Karen's Pryor's Clicker Expos.  If you want to hang out wirh some serious dog behavior nerds this is where to go.  As with Control Unleashed there's no way I can read everything and archive a lot of it for very easy retrieval.  But every so often I poke my nose in and probably for the first time I see some very active disagreement in approaches to dealing with aggression in an effective positive (as in non-violent) way (violent ways usually don't acheive a change but a suppression of the behavior - my words and summarizing).

The approaches I've been using are forms of Classical Conditioning to help the dog form positive associations with previously negative stimuli.  Familiar terms are "Click to Calm" (Emma Parsons); "Control Unleashed" (Leslie McDevitt) or even Kathy Sdao's "Open Bar" (That's a term of hers and not a book title as far as I know.)  It usually involves giving the dog a primary reinforcer (often yummy food) in the presence of something the dog reacts to.  It's effective but it takes a fairly long time as you can progress rapidly in one situation but if the sitation or setting or enviornment changes then you have to practice with that change in place.

Another well respected behaviorist Jesus Rosales Ruiz has come up with another approach that is pretty different, but seems to in practice yield quicker results.  I haven't paid much attention as it sounds different enough that I thought I'd confuse myself, but I should probably at least understand the method even if I never use it.   It's called Constructional Aggression Treatment and it's based on Negative Reinforcement which is the removal of an adversive as a reward. In this case, the adversive is the Other Eveil Dog that your dog wants to Go Away.  So your dog discovers that they can make the other dog go away by being calm.  (I'll have to elaborate further when I know more.)

Sun Mar 2
Today was a day of ups and downs all having nothing to do with my dogs.  After having a great day of skiing where my skill and confidence level noticeably improved, I came home and learned about 2 deaths where I knew the person and dog involved.  The human was agility person Kevin Gast who was too young and too kind to die so early (of Bacterial Meningitis), the dog was Socks the Rescue Corgi that I pulled out of the Alameda Shelter who had to be put down due to aggression issues with humans and they couldn't responsibly place him even though they worked with him for months.

Socks the Corgi I do take a bit personally since i got him out of the shelter.  Rescue said that he would lash out from time to time for no reason.  I did see a vaguely related example of this as he spent the night at my house and he did a glancing chomp at me while I was (unthinkingly) reaching for a bone he was chewing on.  I told rescue about it, but I thought it was shelter stress.  The person who worked with him is an experienced trainer so he did have a chance (much more than he would have had in the shelter), but it still makes me sad.  It really brings home that any dog with behavioral issues needs a human champion.  Socks living with any experienced person who had him as a pet (and not a client if you will), would have been a challenge, but would have worked, but I already had Yoshi and I know the trainer had other commitments as well.  Certainly much more aggressive dogs do live.  Though it's much dicer when the aggression is towards humans and hard to predict.  This is the second Corgi that I know of who was euthanized for sudden human directed aggression (the other corgi who lived far away, bit his dad hard in the face causing some bad damage.)

It's interesting as when Socks snapped at me for reaching for a bone, it's almost like you could see a switch flip in his head.  It was a learned physical response to a flood of adrenalin.  And the bite inhibition went away which is what makes it dangerous.  i wonder if we could learn from the ways we teach humans how to deal with rage issues.  What if you were to teach such a dog a better alternate like biting a handy toy?

Sat Mar 1
Yoshi was being a twit and was not paying attention to me while he raced around after a squirrel above (he did this yesterday too).  Looking around I grabbed a weave pole and started using it like a herding wand to extend the reach of my arm.  He instantly responded and moved away from the pole and let me herd him into the house.  Cool - multi use weavepoles.

Trek has an important eye appt this morning.  They are going to put in a "punctual plug" (other ref here) which is a silicon or colligen plug (at least the new ones are) that they place in the tear duct to keep the tears from draining away.  This is a mostly human procedure, though there has been some success with dogs (and little success with the older plugs that just fall out of larger dog tear ducts.)

Then we take the teeter over to Elf's house since Trekster isn't having any issues with Teeters since she learned it (Thanks Elf!  Trek is going to miss it.)

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