Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - May 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

Sat May 31
I suppose when you call something "The World's Shortest Agility Career" you're going to get a lot of people looking at it.  Ironically, it's now my most watched video.  There is not a lot of ways except by extensive comments to adequately explain what's going on.  It would take a whole series of subtitles embeded in the video and even then all you see is a stressed dog zooming around.  The debacle of him escaping the ring and chomping on another dog is not on camera.  So as you might guess all the comments are along the: Aw, it's just zoomies, don't give up.
... and I must say I'm disinclined to try and explain otherwise, preferring instead to explain in much more copious detail on the behavior lists and then point them to the video.  While I use You Tube to explain certain behavioral things, to do so in this case may take more effort than it's worth.  And why should I try to burst the bubble of the commenters when that's what they see?

My You Tube Archive is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ellenclary

Fri May 30
Back to Agility Class.  Yoshi doing CU and obedience exercises while watching the beginning class, and Trek doing her agility class after a 3 week break.  They both did great.
Yoshi seems to be trusting me more.  He had no outbursts, but now that I keep some tension on the leash and watch him carefully I can anticipate his reaction before he has one.  We're also working taking breaks into the LAT exercises and that makes a huge difference

I was very happy with how we handled approaching the class.  At the gate entrance was a very friendly but under control Lab sized dog and I wasn't sure how Yoshi would respond to him.  I took Yoshi out of the car and let him see the dog from15-20 feet away, fed him pretty continuously, and then we immediately walked away (took a break), and Yoshi immediately relaxed as soon as we turned away.  Then from further away we started LAT and worked our way forward while doing obedience exercises. (We may have taken another break here, but I don't remember and with Yoshi, it's the first 5-10 seconds that count the most so the first break was the critical one.)

We eventually were able to stand beside the dog (hooray), and then watch the class directly.  During a break in the class we were able to walk across the field over to behind the other gate (which leads to the upper field).  He was able to watch both terriers without having a meltdown and had one dog directly approach him and was able to stay with me as we turned away to walk further away (though that dog isn't a type that he's likely to react strongly to (BC sized with cattle dog coloring.) but he often reacts to direct approaches so I was quite happy.

Trek's return to agility was very encouraging to see.  She was fast and mostly under control (her stays were great), and did some smoking weavepoles.  Sending to tunnels still needs work.  Maybe I'll borrow Mark's tunnel.

[A CU_Dogs post]

Yoshi and I watch the agility class before Trek's class.  We mostly spend it doing CU exercises and it was in that context where Yoshi has gotten so good at LAT.

I was thinking today of the discussion of cued vs non-cued LAT and was thinking about what we do.  Our LAT is mostly non-cued.  We may or may not have a cued start to the game, but once it's clear that's what we're doing I rarely cue it as we get such a look-click-treat rhythm going that cueing seems superfluous and not as relaxing for him.  I guess you could call it Zen LAT. 

I also really like it when he offers it and reinforce it as if he's doing that he has a job and can concentrate on it instead of worrying about the other dog.

Wed May 28
Noon - Took Yoshi on a short dog park walk.  He's getting it and I am too.  I keep light tension on the leash and if a dog approaches we turn away.  When there's a comfortable distance, we do obedience exercises or LAT.  We even spent some time watching a dog play fetch near us.  We were about 25' off the fence and the fetching dog was another 25' off past that.  We would play LAT until the owner threw the ball and the dog started to run.  At that moment, I started to just feed him (Open Bar), then once the dog turned away we went back to LAT and obedience stuff.

He was so tightly controlled that he had no outbursts nor an opportunity to do so (though the impulse certainly crossed his mind.).  I feel like a hypercontrolling, micromanaging, benevolent dictator, but he did very well with it.  Maybe this is how he can learn self control.  He's had every opportunity to learn it on his own and it hasn't really worked. He wants the structure.

Tue May 27
Lunch - got the tennis ball fabric covered "dumbbell" (of sorts) out and we played very silly double dog fetch with it.

Evening - Took Yoshi back to Washington Park.  This time our agenda was to see how willing to work he was at the edge of his threshold and to see just how much micromanagement he needed (a lot).  Turns out he's very happy to do obedience work below threshold, but near threshold it's very difficult for him to concentrate, and then we shift to just doing LAT or Open Bar.

A few times he reacted and I held him by the collar or the scruff (no correction just a firm hold), and said what I've said in the past in a calm firm voice: "I need you to hold it together,  You can do this.  Relax."  After some fussing he would settle down.  This is so not CU as it's holding a dog at his threshold, but I've been slowly realizing that he relies very heavily on me (and wants the physical reassurance of my touch) and so I decided to physically show him how I wanted him to be as he seems to have hit a slight CU plateau.  As soon as he settled we either walked away (negative reinforcement - the going away is the reward) or played LAT or did some obedience.

There was one time where I had a firm hold on him and there was a small inquisitive dog at the fence.  He so wanted to react, but refrained (mostly) and he was so riveted that I did some manual LAT with him where I would let him look at the dog and then turn his head away for a bit.  He indeed held it together - good boy.

It's interesting that while I keep tension on the leash to stay in touch with him, I don't do any jerk corrections.  No dog training school of thought does this, but horse people sure do, maybe I should look more carefully at the horse training schools of thought as my horse knowledge is years out of date.

Mon May 26
Memorial Day
Such a fun doggy/hiking training/yardwork day.
Tasha and I agreed to meet at Washington Park at 5pm, so before that I took Trek along on a backpacking training hike in Redwood Regional Park as I'm working up to the weight I'll need to carry on Shasta and practice my "rest step."  Trek did very well once she got used to me carrying the pack.  We had a fair bit of climbing for a short legged dog but she did great and totally surprised me to.  Turns out that without ever being taught any tracking at all, she's a natural homing pigeon.

We parked at the Chabot Observatory and walked out on a trail to then start a loop hike.  The return is along the same trail that we came out on.  She had been doing well but staying fairly close to me until we got back to the path back to the truck.  Then her  expression changed.  It was almost like she was shouting "We've been her before!  Wheee!"  She would run to just to where she was out of sight and then race back to me.  Over and over again.  This is after a 2+ mile hike up and down hills.  As we got closer, I stopped telling her which way to go just to see how she'd do.  There are multiple ways back to the parking area and she took one path that I was fairly sure wasn't the way we came back.  She got maybe 50-100' on it and decided it was the wrong path and took a cutoff to the correct path.  I was more than a bit wowed.  She took us all the way to the small parking garage where I leashed her and said "Find the truck."  Now this is on a hard surface with lots of traffic and is a very advanced tracking problem (the "VST" level Variable Surface Track).  She came to a junction and wanted to go down the stairs when we needed to go up.  While she was thinking I asked "Are you sure?"  She hesitated a moment and then chose to go up the stairs and then straight to the truck.

Clearly she could get any tracking title that she wanted I just have to decide how much time I want to spend on it.  (The training  takes a fair bit of time - which is fun when you're with an instructor and terribly dull when you're working on your own.)  I think I'll save it for where we need something to do after retiring from agility, but it was very fun to watch her brain work.  If she had the patience for it she could also do Utility scent discrimination.

CU Work at Washington Park
Tasha and I got together at Washington Park to do some basic CU work.  First Yoshi and I walked the perimeter of the park while Tasha let Calli run around a little in the dog park.  The thing I'm working on with Yoshi is the turn away from the approaching  unknown dog.  This works up to a point.  Especially if I can change our direction away from the dog's path.  i can even have him do LAT on the other dog or offer a sit with his back to the dog.  But if the dog is too close or there are dogs coming from multiple directions or if there's no where for us to go then he workings himself into a frothing lather even if I'm down on the ground with him holding his collar on both sides of his neck.  Poor guy I'll be telling him "I need you to hold it together." and he's just way beyond listening until the dog(s) have passed.

Calli and Yoshi do well together these days  they can approach each other directly while on leash with out any issue.  Tasha and I talked about LAT mechanics and techniques and then Tasha and Calli worked on LAT on bikes and ducks.  She's doing well.

Sun May 25
Took Yoshi over to the TRACS agility trial at Dixon just to spend time in the atmosphere.  I tried to not let it be demoralizing and mostly succeeded in that.  He was immediately uncomfortable as he hasn't been there in about 2 years.  He was barky and reactive but would play LAT from a distance.  The trouble with the agility environment is that dogs come from all directions and he really dislikes that.  I tried us sitting down on the grass and just eating baby food while watching the dogs go by, but he wouldn't settle down (he could play LAT on some playing Cardi Corgis and some nearby BCs but if anything else walked by he was reacting), so I dropped that plan and we started walking around as he seemed to want to move.  After offering him a break that he actually didn't want to take.  The plan that seemed to work best was just if a dog crossed our path to do a U turn and walk the other was till the dog had passed, then turn around again.

After about 1 1/2 hours of this we left and drove back to Alameda.

I had some ideas I wanted to try so we stopped at Washington Park. I was interested in seeing if turning and walking away worked better or worse than turning and doing a sit-stay (or a down.)  I'd prefer the sit or down as it takes more self control on his part.

First of all he was much more relaxed in the familiar environment.  He still wanted to grouse and react, but would accept being redirected much easier.  Turning away from the dog and sitting facing me worked surprisingly well in the context of being outside the park fence.  Given that he likes to be guided physically, once I actually held his collar basically forcing him to stay when some unknown dogs came close (but still on the other side of the fence so he was in no danger and he could see that.)  He fussed and struggled initially and then almost immediately relaxed into the stay (mouth open) all with the other dogs just a few feet away, but ignoring him.)  Such a funny boy, it's taken me so long to get a feel for how he is wired.  All this time learning about how dogs are and I find out he's the opposite of it.  Another thing that's unique to him is that he prefers the leash not to be fully slack, but have some tension on it, unless he's relaxed and then it doesn't matter.

Tomorrow I was toying with going back to Dixon, but I think we'll make a lot more progress at Washington Park.
Also tomorrow I think I'll do some hiking with Trek.

Spent the evening figuring out how to "demux" a DVD so I could get it into iMovie, edit it a little and upload it to You Tube.  You have to use this (reputable) great free software called MPEG Streamclip.  So now "Yoshi in Love" is on You Tube:
[From a CU_Dogs_SF post)

During one of Yoshi's consults with Trish King about a year and a half
ago, we had this hilarious time where Trish pulled out a Stuffed
Doberman plush toy and had Yoshi interact with it (she was the
dogeteer). She was nice enough to make a DVD of it and since my spies
tell me that parts of it have made their way into her presentations, I
figured it was fair game to learn the non-obvious way of getting it from
the DVD back into iMovie and then up to You Tube.

Enjoy. It figures the one time my dog is comfortable around another
unfamiliar dog is when it's not really a dog.
This was filmed before we got Trek.



Sat May 24
Living room obedience sessions with both dogs.  They did great.
Yoshi wants an easier to pick up dumbbell so I should look for one with longer sides.  Actually what he wants it to fetch the soft fuzzy bone  toy that we've been using.

Our current one is
- plastic
- 2.9 oz (0.18 lbs)
- 1 3/4" sides
- 1 3/4" bit
- 3 7/8" width

I think he'd do better with a wooden one.  Sides of 2 1/4" to 2 1/2" would be nice.

Here's one that's 2 1/4" sides, 2" bit, and 0.15 lbs which is lighter.  Cool.

Yoshi is just now starting to hold the dumbbell for a count of 5.  Right at the end of the dumbbell work I asked for and got a sit without him dropping it.  Jackpot.

We then moved on to come, by me, left, right, heel, down while I'm moving.  He's getting it - time to move outside.

Trek is just loving the treats associated with obedience.  She's solidly in the will do most anything for food category.  Cool.
She still does the bullet recall with full frontal careening bounce off the knees but once I hold a treat down at my knees she sits instead.  Stays are a little tough for her but once she understands that's what I want she'll happily do them.  She loves working and has great working endurance.  Yoshi loves working, but isn't as confident and hence doesn't have the same pestering "let's do more!" sort of drive.

Trek is rapidly catching up to Yoshi on the dumbbell.  She doesn't hold it for very long, but will take it which is something that Yoshi won't do (and I realized that he doesn't have to as there isn't a taking of the dumbbell in obedience).  I can pretty much just talk to her in complete sentences and she gets what I want by my tone.  "Pick it up" "get it" "bring it" "no silly, get it" "would you pick that up please?" "no I don't think so"

I do use "no" in training, but I say it pretty neutrally (means: try again).  I know for less confident dogs you usually don't want them to know they did something wrong and in training something new I let them freely play with all sorts of behavior and let them figure out what pays off with a treat.  But when a dog like Trek does something she knows well halfassed ("how bout this? This good enough?") I will freely say "um, no" and the reaction is her doing it properly.

She could be an astoundingly good competition obedience dog if I wanted her to.  Problem is Yoshi needs the training and she doesn't, so I'll keep training her at home and occasionally take her to class.

Now that Trek has a clean bill of health, and the truck's transmission is paid for, I need to start planning her agility summer.  I was assuming that it was going to be pretty much AKC focused but the CPE is way fun and quite to my surprise a title for her showed up in the mail.  And fittingly the first baby title she gets is the CL-1-F where F stands for Fun.  It means that she got a qualifying score in the "Fun" classes which are Jumpers and Fullhouse (odd "Fullhouse" sounds like a "Strategic" game to me but those are Snooker and Jackpot, and the "Handler" games are Colors and Wildcard).  Yeesh, and I make fun of NADAC rules.  Though these are more about the game structures rather than conduct.  Oh and Castell's Christmas Gift is Trek's AKC name since she was born Dec 23rd.

Fri May 23
We now have gone through all the applicants to the CU Workshops so far.  There are some dogs with some really amazingly varied issues. I'm looking forward to see all of them.

Took pictures of the Bayteam duffel bag as I wanted to show everyone how cool it looked.  While I got the photo, trying to take pictures of your dog when a squirrel is up in the trees is more than silly.  I'm so glad cameras are digital as I would have been a little peeved to blow through 10 shots of film for this (I wouldn't of - that's what's fun about digital is that you are free to do this nonsense.


Did some living room obedience with each dog separately.  Both were really enthusiastic to work.
Yoshi.  Worked on Come and not stopping early. Stand, left, right, by me, down on recall, back, and the dumbbell (well the fuzzy bone like thing.  He still doesn't like to pick the dumbell up but will fetch it but preferes the fuzzy toy.  Will start to sit with the toy but wants to drop it though he is trying.

Then we did some stuff related to heading When I'm walking with him I want to be able to give a stop or a down command and me keep walking.  In the living room he was able to do this (more than once) whih totally surpirsed me.  Down seemed to work better than sit though with sheep I've had better sucess with sit.

Trek.  3 weeks of a cone have ade her desparate to work and it really shows.  She is a blast even when her recalls  turn into full bodied carges.  Her stays are better.  Introduced Stand and she's getting it.  Worked on heeling - she is unable to walk in a strarght line, but that's no surprise.  She's better about the dumbbell as she can retreive it and she can almost sit with in in her mouth but still prefers to drop it first.

Thu May 22
Trek followup.  Her eyelid is healed has no infection!  Hooray.  She can go back to agility.  I did have them do another tears test and it was only at 8 which is still dry but now I think we can deal with it a lot better now since all our drops aren't just going down the tear duct drain.

Tue May 20
Took Yoshi on a walk as I'm gaining confidence in various walk situations.  Things went awry initially as while I was looking way off in the distance a dog and a human surpised both of us by showing up immediately across the street from behind a parked car.  He had quite the meltdown and I just took hold of his collar to hang on to him and then pinned his head underneath my arm.  When that wasn't helping enough I did lift him slowly off the ground by the scruff just to get his attention.  That got through.  We followed the dog for a block but chose not to follow when they turned the corner. 1/2 a block down I saw another dog standing with her owners outside their house across the street.  This time I was ready.  I got the baby food out and started to feed him before he saw the dog.  When he saw the dog he kept licking the tube.  Once in a while, he would pause to look and I just shoved the tube at him.  The other dog, a papillon of sorts, was growling and the owner started to work with that dog in a Ceasar Milan sort of way (making sounds when the dog growled and telling the dog to sit).  When enough time had passed I had Yoshi walk by sucking on the food tube.  He was quiet.  The whole time!  Once in a while he'd break off to look at the dog but I told him to leave it and he'd immediately come back for more baby food.  Cool.

I can now feel him posturing when he pulls on the leash in a certain way.  His walk gets more upright and stiff with a shortened bouncy stride and it's really obvious from the feel of the leash.  As soon as I feel that, we do a 180 and back off so I can get a look at what he sees.  We avoided one incident this way.

Trek's eye looks healed enough so we took the cone off a couple of days early - she's leaving it alone - phew.

Mon May 19
Yoshi's littermate list is talking about the Worlds Shortest Agility Career video and whether we could have predicted what would happen.  One person was saying that they're unpredictable and I was respectfully disagreeing:

I consider Yoshi a crash course on reading dog language.  He does plainly signal his intentions, just really fast sometimes.

Stop or slow - stiffen - ears full erect for 1/2 to 1 second, then lunge and bark.
That's actually enough time for me to do something to interrupt the process.
He rarely catches me off guard these days unless something is distracting me.

Their anxiety does make them predictable in a way.  Which is nice as it tells me they're not crazy, they're stressed and neurotic. 

I have now started taking him on walks in the neighborhood again armed with peanut butter (though that made him barf when he had to much - either that or the Red Barn Chicken which also upsets Trek's tummy and is now going to be recycled) or now meat flavored baby food.  If a dog appears we immediately turn around and if the situation is managable (dog on the other side of the street) we stop at a comfortable distance and eat.  He's still stressed, but it's changing the picture gradually and he is able to watch the dog walk harmlessly by and he doesn't have a meltdown.

I finally started exploring You Tube more carefully and I see that I have a "channel" at http://youtube.com/user/ellenclary
which means that I don't have to keep looking up the obscure urls of the individual videos.  Cool.

Sun May 18
Yoshi Herding.
We did an AHBA Junior course and it was great.  Not perfect but a lot less pointless arguing about keeping the sheep on the fence.  There is some fence work on the course but you can just walk down the fence line normally and don't have to keep the sheep glued to the fence.  The thing we can't do and spent the rest of the time working on is the penning.

What's involved is that you stop the dog in such a way that holds the stock and keeps then from charging the pen gate (they want to go in the pen).  While your dog is on a stay (the hard part), you go open the gate and then tell your dog to get behind the sheep and they go in.

So after our run, after he's had some rest, we went out on a long line and worked on stay and I walk away.  He broke a lot ("But the sheep are going to get away!") and I pulled him back to the same place a lot.  Quite a bit of whining and complaining on his part but I finally was able to actually open the gate with him in a sit stay.  I then released him to go get the sheep and he brought them back (going too fast of course), but was able to successfully pen them.

Clearly we're going to do a lot of work on stay and me walking away  Bet the utility moving stand would come in handy here.

Joyce says there a trial in July - I'll have to check what day/weekend.  Except for penning we can already do it.

And he's so sheep focused that I didn't even bother giving him any treats.  When there are sheep around he will eat, but much prefers sheep.  He's been throwing up lately so it's nice to give his tummy a break.

He did want to lunge at Squink who is a slightly unsure Kelpie who he doesn't know.  Since I didn't have any food with me, and I knew he was just being a jerk instead of being anxious, i did the more traditional scruff grab, lift him up, "knock that off" thing and in that context it worked.  i also had him approach Squink while Squink was laying down.  If we approached the rear of Squink, Yoshi was fine (the same idea that once a dog has passed us Yoshi's stress level drops considerably.

Sat May 17
Nearly 2 years later, I finally decide that it's time to go public with The World's Shortest Agility Career video as I think the CU lists will learn a lot from it.

Here's the announcement:

I've sat on this video for nearly 2 years now, being pissed off about it, but hanging on to it because I knew there was a lot to learn from it.  Now that we have Control Unleashed and more language about how to talk about it, I think it's really worthwhile sharing.


This is a classic over-threshold example.

This trial was very carefully chosen, yet I still shouldn't have put him in the ring.
I chose to try it since this ring is fully enclosed (so I thought), I had posted guards at the exits and entrances, and
all the dogs are Pembroke Welsh Corgis which he usually likes

First bad sign is that he's obviously stressed by the environment even before we walked in the ring.  I should have walked him around to get him used to the new environment though that may not have made a difference.

14 seconds in is bad sign #2 where he starts staring behind him instead of looking forward.

16 seconds he refuses to go through the scary tire which has these odd things attached to it (the electronic timer)

He breaks off to start sniffing, but recalled to me.
Probably should have ended it there

I try to send him through the tire again
He does a short ring tour and is starting to do that: I'm-stressed-but-I'm-going-to-come-back-to-you-because-you're-asking yipping that he does.
He's telling me he wants out, what I didn't realize was that I was getting a "Please help me now or I'm going to do something really stupid" message.  The run absolutely should have ended there, but the trouble is that the run on the surface, from a handler's perspective, is still salvageable, so I dumbly tried to send him through the scary tire again.

That did it.  He peeled off again and I gave up and went to catch him but (off camera) before I could catch him, he managed to get through the ring gate holes and chomp on an innocent bystanding Corgi who was in a costume (i.e. not looking like a Corgi, and fortunately unhurt as I learned when I went over to apologize profusely).  It was without a doubt displacement aggression.  "I'm stressed and it's YOUR fault."

The one good thing about it is that I got really serious about learning everything I could about behavior and still continue to do so.  And that brought us to Control Unleashed.

I know CU_Dogs is talking about how do you know when a dog is ready to trial.  All I can say is here's an example of one that wasn't ready for agility.  Ironically, he had just earned his herding HT title 2 days before. 

Ellen Clary
and The Infamous CU Yoshi and CU Manager Trek

Fri May 16
Trek Eye Appt for checkup and suture removal.  Great news and a little bad news.  The measurement of the amount of tears in Trek's left eye is normal for the first time ever!  This means that blocking up the tear duct worked!  Dr Friedman said that the surgery though simple can be a challenge as once you think you've got the tear duct closed it opens back up again which is why she lasered it and then stitched it.

The not so great news is that her body reacted to the structures starting to dissolve (which sometimes happens), and so she has a mild infection in her eyelid so we're stuck with the cone for another week!  (Aaaaaaaa.)  However, given that the surgery may have worked, we'll cope.  So we've done our part at stimulating the economy as the surgery came out to being $1200.  Animal Eye Care knew we were going to do this so I suspect they may have worked to keep the costs right around $1200 especially since this is not a normal surgery.

Yoshi Class.  I have told Lori that I didn't know what time I'd get there, but that we'd be there.  Wound up getting there halfway through the Open Class.  While what they were doing might have been useful it was a little advanced so we spent the entire time doing CU exercises.  He did very well with one major exception where he lunged at a tentative Tibetan Terrier who was worried about the class and about Yoshi (who had been terrific up to that point).  I had pulled Yoshi out of the crate and we were doing work with peanut butter and I could tell me was stressed, and I was thinking of putting him back in the crate, when the TT and his handler walked (too close in Y's mind) behind him.  Fortunately I saw it right before it happened and tackled Yoshi, but the force of his reaction and resulting temper tantrum were impressive.  I hung on to him until he settled enough to be able to get him back in his crate.

This means that I have to work taking breaks into his training de rigor.  I'm going to have to think about how to make this work in class where it involves moving him around other dogs, and sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the rhythm of the class.  I do have him take breaks in the crate which helps a lot.  One complicating factor was that it was incredibly hot and this might have had an effect.

Before that he had done incredibly well.  I had him out and a Briard was near doing a food fetching exercise and coming right at him and he did great, opting instead to eat peanut butter.

No agility for Trek tonight.  If she has an infected eyelid she shouldn't be in that dusty environment.

Thu May 15
I organized a dinner meeting between two top obedience trainers so they could talk about how to apply CU to competition obedience training.  It was a blast and they nearly had to kick us out of Olive Garden (slim restaurant pickens halfway in between them - fortunately O.G. is fine.)  We talked about everything dogs and I think that they managed to get some relevant on topic discussion done as well.

Tue May 13
Major Yoshi Breakthrough that's been a long time coming
Trying new on-a-walk tactics and the difference is huge.  It's an extension and combination of what we've been working on for some weeks now.  I've been noticing that the calmer I am (like really calm), the calmer he is.  A particular tone of my voice and sometimes a touch on his collar is like an instant calming cue for him (this is the tone that I use at night when something freaks him out - what I didn't realize is how well it carries over to other situations).  I've also noticed that if I have good enough treats, dogs can walk by and he doesn't react, and he really likes the squeeze peanut butter.  So we went out on a short walk armed with some treats and also the squeeze peanut butter.

At several points, we stopped just to eat peanut butter while a person was doing some activity.  All my cues were in a measured tone of voice.  He's walking with a slack leash and not scanning nearly so much - offering some heeling even which I rewarded.  Then in a couple of blocks I saw a dog going the other way across the street.  We backed up a few paces (he hasn't seen the dog yet) and I kneel down and start feeding him peanut butter.  He sees the dog and starts to lunge, but I, instead of saying something sharp, just say in an ultra calm voice "come on let's have more" and gently pull him back and he immediately redirects and starts licking and not even in a super stressed way.  His attention is totally on the tube and the large lab walks on by.  Wow, what a difference.

We finish the short walk without much more fanfare.  As soon as he would start to stress and pull on the leash I would gently call him back, treat him and wait till he settled back down.  Hooray - there is a way through this.  It's not a short road, but it is possible.  Hope all the peanut butter doesn't upset his tummy.

Sun May 11
Happy Mother's Day
Oh it's good to be back and amongst general dog chaos and entertainment.  I was up at Mt. Shasta training on my own for a climb I have scheduled in June and I wasn't prepared for how miserable in paradise I got.  I have a lengthy entry on it in the Non-Dog Blog here.

Apparently I missed some amusement of Trek wacking into something and putting another crack in her eCollar, we have 4 more days of this ordeal and I hope the cone makes it that long.

Just A Crash Test Dummy
Crash Test Crash
Crash Test Stretch

Thu May 8
[leaving for Mt. Shasta to train - Terri had the dogs for the rest of the week.]

Wed May 7
The Unsinkable Trek managed to crash into something and cracked her eCollar so we patched it together with duct tape.  Terri suggested we use the pink tape, so she's looking very fashionable now.

Now when Yoshi barks at the window I ask him to go to his crate and that seems to help give him another behavior.

Mon May 5
Happy Cinco de Mayo
I just heard that Yoshi's Smarter Brother Zach just got his MACH.  That's so cool and I'm really glad to know that one of the littermates was able to channel their talents to something effective.  it makes me sad as Yoshi really should have one too, but that is not his choice.  We'll just have to settle for him being a good herder.  Though he's still only 4 so maybe he'll surprise me one year.

Sat May 3
Trek tells me she's fine though would love that breakfast that she missed on Friday.  The sutures on the eye lid are so subtle I can't see them.  Yoshi gives the cone a wide berth but isn't freaked out by it.

We had a funny Open Bar moment just before Yoshi and I started to do some training in the living room.  I had the good ole squeeze peanut butter out (see older photo of it to the right.)  We were both on the sofa when two Labs on a walk, walked by on the sidewalk.  He started to bark and I shoved the peanut butter in him face wondering if he'd take it.  He's a corgi - that was silly of me to wonder.  The sounds of him licking and growling and barking were a little surreal lick-gruurg-lick-gr-gr-urg.  But it worked.  I have no idea how effective this will be though - we'll have to see.

Fri May 2
Took Trek in around 8am for her surgery.
2pm - They're already done.  At 3:30 I picked her up sporting her cone. I'm glad I bought one specifically for her as it seems nicer that the one's they have at the hospital.  She is woozy by seems ok.  I like the drunk passed out look in the photos - it didn't last long.

In fact, I took a video of her trotting around not long after that.  I'll put it on You Tube.

Dr Freidman did the surgery both ways.  She cauterized the tear duct closed but was concerned that it might leak a little bit so she also stitched it closed as well.

Thur May 1
Trek's tear duct closure surgery is tomorrow (the tear duct is the drain for tears - Trek has dry eye and doesn't product enough tears in her left eye so the hope is to keep the tears/eyedrops in by plugging the drain).  No food after 10pm.  I drop her off at 8am Friday.  The procedure is in the afternoon but they do prep in the morning (like putting an IV catheter in so it's quicker to start intervention if something goes wrong while the animal is under.)  I'm glad they do this, i think I'm going to have it be de rigor whenever I have a pet put under anesthesia, I worry a lot less then.

Just posted this question to the CU lists:

I keep trying to figure out how I could explain to the average dog owner why food is such an effective behavioral training method.I know its amazing calming effect and have watched quietly shocked when my reactive dog chose to eat instead of lunge at a dog approaching right at him. I know how over time it teaches a stressed, anxious dog that there are other choices rather than have an emotional meltdown. I know how a dog learns to associate positive things with things that used to drive him/her over the edge.

I can even explain the difference between bribing and rewarding, but that's different. "Open bar" where you just feed the dog and don't require a rewardable behavior is harder to succinctly explain..I don't know how to sum up all those words above into an easily said thing to someone who says "But you're just bribing the dog." How do others explain it?

Maybe I should just turn it around. "Yes, I am bribing them, but they learn that a bribe is much nicer than being a twit, and unlike people, they don't give up hoping that the bribe will appear, and they decide that bribes are pretty cool and fun thus the scary thing becomes fun too." But even that's TooManyWords. <sigh>

Important Yoshi Walk!
I don't know why I have had such resistance all this time to just using "open bar" with Yoshi which is just basically feeding the dog when a stresser appears, but I set out with a pile of treats on an evening walk intending to see dogs.  Right off on our street we saw a dog walking our direction on the other side of the street.  We backed off laterally about 30 feet down the crossing sidewalk and I started feeding him before I let him see the dog.  He wanted to react but I kept shoving treats at him and he refocused on the treats.  It worked much to my surprise.  He chose the treats over reacting further.  It wasn't easy, but he got through it.  We later saw two small dogs (across the street) and this time we were about 50' off the corner, He got through that in similar fashion.

Then on the way home there was a border collie mix of sorts coming right at us.  We crossed the street and this time waited right on the corner.  this was probably too close as he really wanted to react, but would still eat but try to bolt the treat and try and bark and I shoved more at him while holding his collar.  So accross the street is a touch too close for an approaching dog but a street width and 30-50 feetwill work if I have food.

Kienan suggests cheese Whiz or squeeze peanut butter.  In these act fast situations, peanut butter might be too slow but he has such good associations with it, it might work.  Cheese Whiz will work also as long as I don't impale one of use with the nozzle.

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