Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - November 2007

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

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

Sat Dec 1
Trek's second NADAC trial.  The future's so bright she's gotta wear doggles.
She did much better than I expected. Night and day improvement over her first trial and she showed improvement from run to run as well the third being the best as one might expect.  Though there was no photographer this time, but she didn't even look at the ring crew at all like she did last time.  She's running fast and I'm not even asking her to in fact there was one front cross that I didn't get to in time so instead crossed behind her and she drove ahead which is something she hasn't been doing before. I'm focusing on keeping myself very calm but enthusiastic, as I noticed last time that the more hyper I got (like I was with Cali), the more erratic Trek got.  Her sequencing was iffy at first but by the third class it was great.  One of the more dramatic contrasting examples was there were three jumps in a row to the finish in both the second standard class and in the chances class. In a straightaway she's faster than me so by the second jump she was pulling ahead.  I told her to go over and in the second standard class she veered off the third  and final jump (which must have been where her course faults came from as I thought she was clean until then - I did get her over the jump but she had technically crossed the finish line), In the Chances class she nailed it.

The Chances class surprised me in a number of ways.  One she was going so fast into a tunnel that I realized I was risking a collision if I tried to cross in front so I let her pass me and successfully sent her over the next jump and crossed behind her.   This did puzzle her some and hesitated a moment but I then sent her over the next jump which was the start of the gamble that I knew was way too hard for her and I really haven't been working much on gambling skills So I had previously decided not to try it.  Was I ever surprised when she carried out to the next jump, though she must had seen me standing there dumbfounded, and stopped to check in at which point I crossed the line and she proceeded to smoke the rest of the course and I was able to do a rear cross with her smoothly and it worked very well as a change in direction.

Taking weave poles at speed is still an issue and one we'll have to continue to work on that.  In class Friday, she nailed one so she has the concept.  During the Standard 1 briefing judge Roger Coor (Moso's dad) said that while there technically isn't a limit on the number of times you can attempt, if you do it 15 times you probably have an issue that you're not going to fix today and you're certainly not going to make course time.  This amused me as while I didn't think I was going to have to try the weave poles 15 times, I was here to make sure she was going to do them, and I don't have the beginner handler embarrassment factor to deal with.  It took about 5 times the first time and 2 times the next (I had deliberately slowed her down for the 2nd one

So things she's much better at
 - sequencing, doing several obstacles in a row with out having to be set up for each one
 - being ok with the ring environment

Still need to work on
 - weave entries at speed
 - rear crosses on jumps (contacts and tunnels ok)
 - run a course without refusals or running off the course path (need to be able to do this for AKC)

Non-issues so far
 - contacts (unless she did miss one that Std 2 class - I didn't ask)
 - running a whole course without stopping for treats

The trial environment doesn't seem to bother her much now.  In fact she seems to like it.

So now what?  I think she's ready to move on now as my goal was to get her used to the trial environment and she certainly seems to be and she's doing courses smoothly, and a friend cautioned getting her hooked on the wide open NADAC courses.  CPE seems like a natural as in Novice there are no weaves or teeters, there is a chute and I need to finish her training on that.  So we're likely to bid NADAC adieu for now though may revisit it from time to time (amusing as it has been, I've been missing my friends in the other venues and I want them to see her run.  I don't expect to have her compete at all in December though we'll go as tourists to the USDAA games trial in Petaluma.

Oh and doggles.  The dust at Elk Grove was bothering her dry eye and I had to find some artificial tears (in a bottle) from a kind person.  I'm thinking that doggles with clear lenses might help her.  I have doggles that I got while experimenting with limiting Yoshi's vision (didn't work really) but I'll have to get clear lenses for them.  So she's going to be walking around like Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel.

Fri Nov 30
Well after having such good success at Control Unleashed.  I've decided that everyone I know needs to know about it:so I sent this to Bayteam, Performance Corgis, frapfest and coltsrunkids.

Subject: Control Unleashed - a must have book for the reactive dog

... if you can get them to read it. :)


If you have a reactive dog, a stressed dog, or just a dog who has
trouble concentrating in busy environments then there is an excellent
new book out there called Control Unleashed - Creating a Focused and
Confident Dog by Leslie McDevitt that I highly recommend that you take a
look at.

McDevitt is a protege of behaviorist Karen Overall, and has invented an
excellent approach to reactive dogs (a highly customized set of
exercises designed to give the dog a structure around how to deal with
and relax around unfamiliar surroundings, dogs, and people).

As some of you know, Corgi Yoshi has been making great strides in
improving his dicey temperament, but he had reached something of a
plateau and still had issues when something in the environment changed.
McDevitt's "Look At That" game which is detailed in "Night 3" on pp
122-123 may well be what makes all the difference. We've only played it
a few times (though we've spent hours and hours doing a similar game)
and I'm already seeing a marked change in his stress level.

If you get the book do be sure to read at least through Night 3 as there
are some excellent case histories. Yoshi while not there was very well

Ellen Clary
and Corgis Trek and Yoshi

Trek has agility class tonight.  I've got to get some time to do her nails first.

I had an eye exam with my ophthalmologist today and he's a dog person so I was telling him about Trek's Dry Eye.  He was a little concerned that Trek's eyedrops were steroidal (the Dex in Neo/Poly/Dex) and that in humans they always had to watch out for increased eye pressure which put people at risk for Glacoma.  He also mentioned that in humans they sometimes put plugs in the tear ducts to essentially keep the tears from draining out.

Wed Nov 28
Yoshi Obedience Class.  I think Leslie is really onto something with this Look At That game, as Yoshi is playing it in earnest.  Now, we've been playing the look at the dog look at me (c/t) game for months but this seems to be getting better results and I'm not sure why.  Maybe because it's a simpler behavior chain.  To get a click or a yes all he has to do is glance at a dog or human or other trigger, and the turning back is part of collecting his reward.  The other way requires him to remember to look back to get a c/t, but for a reactive dog it's so easy for them to lock on and the hind brain takes over.  This way he gets a click right when he's looking at the scary dog which has just got to pair the scary dog with Good Things, and it's ingenious that the very act of collecting on the reward will break the stare.  Now that's out thinking the dog.

What amazed me is that there's a new dog in class and it's a Doberman which Yoshi always reacts to.  He didn't this time probably because of the game and because that dog was acting remarkably secure and not vocalizing or whining and more importantly not acting freaked out.

For probably the first time, Yoshi had a relatively speedy happy recall.  I was shocked and Hazel was very pleased.  We still have him on a long line and Hazel nicely holds it and walks behind him so it doesn't drag the ground and trip him.

Patricia is loaning me a slightly larger dumbbell for me to try on Yoshi in hopes that it will be easier for him to pick up.  She got Rosie to hold a dumbbell with a clicker as well so I think we're on the right track.  She also tells me that the wooden dumbbells are lighter so I may order one of those once I figure out the correct size of the side pieces.

Tue Nov 28
From a Control Unleashed post I did about Yoshi being pissy about Treva's friend Louie on Saturday (Leslie's part posted with permission):

After this past weekend I would have to agree with you Leslie.
We were visiting my partner's mother and some family friends stopped by - one man and one woman both dog friendly.  Yoshi was bent out of shape by the guy's presence even though the guy was doing nothing threatening.  I gave the man lots of treats to give Yoshi and Yoshi did take them, but was clearly still stressed and afterward while the couple was seated on the sofa and I was on a chair holding Yoshi and whenever my female Trek would come over to the guy, Yoshi was growling and I would blow on him to distract him.  While this broke his fixation for a moment he would go right back to growling, so I finally just covered his eyes and he settled down (seriously, that works amazingly well, I love Trish King's Calming Cap)

Things that would have worked better would have been to have crated him (increasing the distance perhaps) and fed him, slowly and at a measured pace (I use Noz to Noz soft crates which you can unzip the top and dispense treats from heaven, and feeding at a regular, measured pace seems to be an inheritly calming thing) then see if he would play LAT, then let him interact if he wants to.

Yesterday, I was able to do this when a friend brought over an unknown dog into our house (we didn't have the dogs interact yet.)

The tricky part for me to figure out is if he wants to interact or just try to frighten the scary dog or person away.

Such an enigma he is.  Fascinating though.

Leslie wrote:
... it's my opinion that when people focus on
having strangers give the dog treats during a
counterconditioning process it puts too much social
pressure on the dog. i've seen dogs take treats from
strangers that were still very stressed to be around
the strangers, but it looked like they were being
counterconditioned to their owners because they were
eating the treats.  so what i've started telling
people is hold off on that. first the dog should feel
like people just happen to be around in places where
the dog can have fun and be reinforced by you for
anything that isn't stressed or reactive behavior, and
can operate rule structures such as LAT that allow
them to process where people are and what they are
doing without any social pressure of possibly having
to interact.  

Did some dumbell work.  He's back to not getting it.  I was sitting on the kitchen floor and maybe it's too slick for him to easily pick up the dumbell.  I'll try a utility article instead or I'll get a larger dumbell.

Mat work.  This was fun.  At first I was using two separate mats but this time I just used one and worked with the dogs separately.  They're both bounding over to the mat and laying down  I can now say "Go Mat" and they'll race over and plop down.  Yoshi is actually doing better at it as Trek gets so excited she slids the mat into a clump and can't figure out what to do with it then.

Mon Nov 27
I am so bummed.  I would love to go to ClickerExpo again as there's new information from Emma Parsons (Click to Calm) that I would love to hear, but Terri helped me look at how much it would cost to go and it's $399+3 days of hotel+Gas, which is likely to add up to $800 and since I'm not making an income from dog training. (Yes, I do this for free so far since I'm mostly learning.) I can't write it off like my peers can.  I want to take Yoshi to Utah in Oct 2008 to see Leslie McDevitt in a seminar and private lesson and that's the priority dog wise, plus I want to ski this season and climb a few mountains (one with a guide), and I'm sorely tempted to take Trek to the USDAA nationals in Scotsdale (never mind she hasn't even competed in USDAA :) and there's the AKC nationals too though they may be far away this year (hopefully), and I will eventually have to replace the truck which has 180k on it.  So unfortunately I think I want to spend my money in places where the dog gets to participate too. Though it does occur to me that I could take Trek there which would be fun for me and kind of dull for her except for all the attention.)

Cathy and her dogs came over for the evening to watch Sopranos (we rent the DVDs).  I was worried about this as Yoshi has never met her new dog Abby and some while back he started to be a real jerk to Jesse.  But he's been so much better lately that I decided that it was worth working on in a classical conditioning way.

It worked way better than I thought it would.  At first I wanted the dogs to meet on neutral territory, but I thought better of it and decided to forget meeting and keep Yoshi in his living room crate while dropping treats on his head while this strange dog walked in.  I could see him looking *hard* at this dog but before he had a chance to explode I told him yes and gave him a treats at a measured, consistent rate telling him what a good dog he was.  Kathy Sdao calls this "[the] bar [is] open" he didn't relax until Abby was put in a crate, but he didn't make a sound and remarkably some of the way into "bar open" he started to play Look At That.  Where he'd look at her, I'd say yes and his head would snap back to me for a treat. Wow.  He was actually comfortable enough to take his eyes off of her to get a treat.   There is hope.

Sun Nov 26
After getting back from Redding (blissfully uneventful trip), that evening we (sans dogs) went to see Mark and Jan's new 10 week old fluffy corgi puppy "Cameo."  As you can no doubt guess there's nothing cuter than a Corgi puppy even the not house trained ones.  Of course I took photos and I'll stick one here just because.

Sat Nov 24
I was off on a hike and for the most  part things were calm with the dogs, with the big exception of Toby the resident cat coming in through the cat door which surprised the dogs (and the humans) and chaos and cat chasing errupted.  Terri finally caught Yoshi and he didn't get the cat paw swipe across the nose that he oh so deserved.  What's funny is that Toby is bigger than them and all Toby would have to do is stand his ground.

Fri Nov 23
Terri's mom has cable so we're watching Cesar Milan which I do from time to time just to see his approach and to see what the fuss is all about and to find out what I like and what I don't like.  Yoshi is being well represented in this episode..  Two different cases of dog's being aggressive towards dogs.  One was a male shepherd mix which was reactive to rolling/moving things, the other was a scary pit bull.  Obviously the first one was more similar to Yoshi.  Right down to having two women as his parents. :)

Things I like about Milan are his emphasis on being a leader, not babying dogs, and keeping them well exercised.

Things I don't like are myriad:
 - old school jerk and tug corrections
 - old school dominance theory, and putting everything in those terms
 - calling himself a behaviorist even though behaviorists like Patricia McConnell say he's put behaviorism back 20 years
 - little positive reinforcement beyond a few pets here and there.  There were many, many instances where the dog is looking up asking "is this right" and not receiving any information that he or she was on the right track.
 - Milan getting his way by using fear and intimidation
 - dogs showing clear signs of serious stress
 - giving corrections for things that absolutely didn't warrant a correction such as the light chasing OCD dog.

Things I don't like about the show are:
 - making things look too easy and quick fix, even when it's clear that the dog has had hours/days/weeks of training
(the pit bull had weeks of training and they went over that but it still seemed too easy).
 - people always saying that his intimidating a dog into behaving is miraculous
 - not doing follow up months/years later to see how the dog is doing
Something I haven't decided about is his approach to "Flooding" where you overwhelm the dog with the stressor until they give up.  I have used that on a much more minor scale to get Cali used to being kissed on the head, but using it in more serious circumstances is controversial at best and can cause some bad trauma.

One things I liked about the show is the willingness to show dogs that were not cured, but would sort of behave for Milan but were no where near better (the Pit Bull being the most obvious case, but the Shepherd was in that category too). What I didn't like is that it didn't seem clear that the owners were going to have to do some way intensive training, though the owners did at least say that.

The take away from this is that dog's are always seeking information from us and they rarely get it.  Dog's respect Milan some of the time as he acts like an erratic, over dominate dog, and that is at least some information.

So what does this mean for Yoshi and his training if anything?  Well it would be easy to say "nothing" but that's too easy and simplistic and doesn't help my thinking.  I have certainly given Yoshi corrections for acting out and sometimes it suppressed the behavior and let him know I didn't like it and honestly probably more importantly demonstrated to others that I was serious about fixing his behavior, and not just letting him act like a jerk.  However, corrections don't really seem to fix anything except to give the dog the information that you didn't like what he/she just did.  They don't tell the dog what you think they should do instead.

There are several other approaches (to CM)
- Get the dog to look/stare at you and ignore everything else
- Jose Rosales-Ruiz's approach of Conditional Negative Reinforcement where once the dog behaves then what is bothering him goes away
-  My hero Kathy Sdao using Classical Conditioning to help the dog build positive associations with the presence of dogs (I need to put a link in here to Yoshi looking at dogs and eating squeeze peanut butter - pics included).
- Emma Parsons "Click to Calm" way of clicking anything that is not outright aggressive behavior and using that to gradually teach the dog proper doggy behavior
- Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed" approach which is a set of highly customized (and really hard to summarize!) exercises involving teaching the dog to relax, then to relax around stressful things (by working "sub-threshold"), and turns looking at stressors into a rewardable game ("Look at That").  Plus teaching the dog a lot of other useful coping skills (like feeling safe on a special mat just for them) and many types of games.

Later on some friends of Treva's came by (husband and wife) and Yoshi was predictably suspicious of the guy.  I had him give Yoshi treats and that calmed him down until the guy moved and then Yoshi was growly again.  I calmed him down and he was fine until Trek said hello to the husband and Yoshi was unhappy again.  Now, if we had more space I would have increased the distance to get him back sub threshold, but I wanted to see if I could physically guide him into settling down.  I had Yoshi in my lap and every time he growled I blew on him (something that Trish King taught me).  This would interrupt him, but then he would growl again and I would blow on him again.  He finally chilled out some, though got growly again when Trek said hello to the husband.  Then I covered his eyes and then after some time he settled down.  In other situations, I have corrected him with a hard scruff shake, but in some cases that just to increased his agitation.  If he's stressed he's stressed and violence doesn't suppress that.
That evening while watching TV, set the dogs' mats out and rewarded them for being on the mats.  While Yoshi laid on the mat I massaged him too.  He was having a hard time relaxing that evening but did relax when I basically held him in place so I could massage him.  I guess that's another example of him wanting me to tell him what to do, but that has a limit if he's really stressed (he wasn't right then but was when we had visitors.)

Thu Nov  22
We're spending the Thanksgiving weekend up at Terri's mom's.  The dog's are going too as they like Grandma's house - she has carpet.

Later that evening, Yoshi showed a strange interest in one of Treva's exercise dumbells (probably thought it was a bone) but I had brought his dumbell so I crated Trek and worked with him to see how long I could get him to hold it.  Last time we worked with a stuff bone shaped toy I had worked him up to a count of three..  Tonight I was getting three and then four and then he totally surprised me by picking it up and holding it for five.  Good dog.  Jackpot.  Recess.

Mon Nov 19
In the "So you think you've got hard problems?" dept comes...
There a person on the Control Unleashed Yahoo Group who has to figure out how to teach her dog not to chase, not squirrels, nothing easy like that, no we're talking kangaroos (and emus too).  Apparently, both species are very dangerous when cornered, so it's not like you can use the activity as a reward for refraining from the activity like you can with squirrels (an application of the Premack Principle).  Yikes.  Seems like every issue in Australia is larger and more dangerous sometimes.

Sun Nov 18
No herding today.  Maybe take Yoshi to Morgan Territory for a walk with good sightlines.

Took both dogs to Morgan Territory and they are happily tired.  Trek loose and Yoshi on a long line (25' - 30' or so).  I love the fact that in that area if you need to go off "trail" you can easily do so.  Trees are sparse and the hillsides are mostly grassland (think classic California hills - mostly bare and dotted with clumps of Oaks and you've got it.)  The only gotcha is that it's not a place to go in summer as there are tons of foxtails then but now it's perfect.

One disadvantage I'm noticing is that his threshold is longer than normal.  Normal is about 100' - this was more like 150'.  He only saw one dog which he did bark and stress over at 100' and improved when we went even further away.

He also was so entranced by the environment that he really didn't want to play Look At That.  As an experiment, I started to play the game well before he could see the dog and he stopped eating treats while he stressed about where the dog was.  Maybe instead of treats I should think of a reward in Premack terms.  Obviously I can't reward him with charging the dog (what he wants to do - sort of - more correctly - what he feels compelled to do), but maybe I could reward him looking calmly at the dog by moving further away from the dog.  Either that or I've got to get the really good treats out (I was usuing trek's EVO kibble which usually works fine).  Yep this calls for toast.  Seriously.  That night he climbed all over me of the sofa while watching The Amazing Race for a bit of toast and I gave him a little taste.  I know that's a dangling modifier, but it made me laugh so I'm leaving it in.

Sat Nov 17
Reading about mat work in Control Unleashed and it's a fundamental skill where the dog learns to feel safe while lying on a mat.  (See pp. 99-101 "Go to Place.")  Worked with both dogs separately and they both caught on in a couple of minutes or less.  Lying down on the mat is what pays off in high value treats.  In a way, Yoshi is better at the game as he's more patient unlike hell on wheels Trek I-want-the-treat-what do-I-do-what-do-I-do-do-do-DO??  Yoshi has this terribly endearing look that clearly means "Give me a hint." and I touch the towel and he immediately lies down on it.

They both got up to the same place where they could reliably do a down on their mat while I was seated next to it, but once I stood up they had some confusion but finally figured it out and they got jackpotted and we stopped there.

Did some more with each dog.  They're getting it.  Trek is such a classic clicker dog throwing every behavior she can think ot then it dawn on her to run over to the mat.

I was idly looking at the old homestretch crate that I'm planning on eventually giving to Patricia and Rosie and realized that if I draped chute material over if I have a great indoor chute.  Set up the long part of the Homestretch with both ends open and had Trek run through it a couple of times.  Then I cliped a towel on the end of one of the openings with the edge just dragging the floot and showed her she could go through it and get treats on the other end.  She got it in two tries.  Lengthened the towel and did it again but had to show her [once] that she could get through.  Once she firgured that out she was having a blast going through both directions.  I then draped the chute fabric over it with only a part of it hanging over.  I called her through and she blasted through.  It's been 10 minutes and we've created a monster.  She races over to it and does it by herself hoping for a reward.  I have to tell her to stop (such a BC).  She's going to have this down well before I get the chute sewn up.

I've decided that I am going to call it a chute instead of a tunnel as she looks confused when I say tunnel when she's looking at a chute.

Fri Nov 16
Trek Agility. Yoshi looking at Dogs.
While he only had about 10 minutes watching the class he did very well (again not using the gentle leader.)  He seems to enjoying playing the Look At That game and he's really good about disengaging from what he's looking at to get a treat when he heard the click.  The only real incident was when we were walking out and Eva (small white fluffy dog) surprised him at the door, but we walked away and Eva's mom apologized for scaring him (even though it really wasn't anyone's fault.)

Trek did really well in class.  We worked on weave pole entrances from a 90 degree angle.  Rachelle showed me some foot work that helped (walk perpendicular to the poles at the entrance, left foot first then right foot) and suggested not moving along the poles until Trek had gotten into the poles correctly.

Worked a little more on the chute - she's slowly getting it but really have to get this one sewed up and work on it.

Did a teeter and looks great.

Running courses well (unlike in the trial).

Wed Nov 14
Yoshi Obedience Class.  He actually was able to do the class without a Gentle Leader on.  The class went very well with a huge exception that bothers me.  He still has it out for Freia the Chessie.  I think they exchange rude looks from time to time,  and they startled at each other's presence when Yoshi and I walked back in after taking Yoshi to pee, but that's no excuse.  During a recall (him on a long line) he locked onto Freia and tried to charge her.  Hazel who was holding the line scolded him and we set up again and he was able to succeed at it with trepidation.

Mon Nov 12
Ha!  The trial secretary sent me Trek's "results" from the trial.  I hadn't bothered checking except to amuse myself that that clean,, but all over the place jumpers course was 20 seconds over course time. :)

I should put this all in a table but I'm too lazy to.  I really like the 1.83 yps in the highly erratic jumpers run.  What I find amazing is that in the gamblers run she was only 1 second over course time even though we stopped to have a conversation about the weave poles and then also discuss at length the scary photographer, and earlier I had also called her back to get a better run at the [don't call it a] gamble for all the good it did.  Too bad there's no yardage measurement for that class at it would be interesting to see a more realistic yps, but that will come soon enough.

Class Jump Hgt Course-Time/Dist Judge's-Name Time Time-Flts Course-Flts Faults Place YPS
Chances Novice/Std/P 08 40. Matt McCarter 41.00 1.00 0 1.00 N N
Jumpers Novice/Std/P 08 31.43/110.0 Matt McCarter 60.02 28.59 0 28.59 -/ 1 1.83
Regular 1 Novice/Std/P 08 59.11/133.0 Matt McCarter 96.03 36.92 20 56.92 -/ 1 1.38
Regular 2 Novice/Std/P 08 59.11/133.0 Matt McCarter E -

Sun Nov 11
Trek's first NADAC trial.  (This will be a long entry.)

Where to start?.  This entry will be split into Trek's performance and her needs, and my observations about NADAC
I find NADAC a remarkably anal retentive yet remarkably consistent organization (in a way - seriously). Though this relentless pursuit of the perfectly well defined set of rules that embodies challinging and safe agility makes them change their rules a lot and drives clubs and competitors crazy.  Seriously geeky too as they have a justification for everything.

They sat down and spelled out what a "gamble" is.  A gamble (the game is now called "Chances" for now) has three possible components.
 - dog at a distance from the handler
 - a change of direction
 - an obstacle discrimination

Novice and Open generally has 2 of the 3 components, Elite commonly has all three.

Also there is a restricted gamble like thing in the standard class.  But don't call it a gamble, I did and the judge immediately said that it was actually a "Lateral Distance" challenge.  "Lateral Distance" things are in a straight line and test if the dog can work at a distance from the handler.  Now why such a thing actually needs to be a part of the standard class is the subject of much (past, and I would guess present) debate in NADAC circles.  You don't have to deal with the Lateral Distance in Novice and Open if you're willing to run in the "Skilled" level and qualify at half the rate (5 points instead of 10 points).  But if you don't deal with it then then you have to cope with it in Elite.

NADAC's erraticness and perceived eccentricity was put up with by clubs until the rule changes meant that continuing to put on NADAC trials was going to cost clubs real money.  Stopping using a piece of equipment that NADAC deemed unsafe (tire, chute, teeter) was simple enough, switching the contact equipment (dogwalk and A-Frame) to be slatless, caused essentially a mass abdication since the switch was going to cost each club a few thousand and it's not like NADAC was offering to pay for it (I thought they should at least have offered incentives).  These days NADAC is not nearly as common as it once was.  CPE has mostly supplanted it in my area.  (I call it: Slouching Toward's Irrelevancy). Finding a NADAC trial is actually kinda tough though Elk Grove and Turlock have them and eventually Modesto will have them.

It its present configuration, NADAC is an excellent place to start a dog.  You can repeat obstacles if you like (within reason) and they only have jumps, tunnels, a dogwalk, a lowered A-Frame, and weave poles, and no refusals.  I've decided that it really stands for North Amercian Dumbdowned Agility Council or Not A Dog Agility Compatition.  Elf brought up - so is that training? and I think: yes, it's a great baby step as it has all of the trappings of other trials. Even though this trial was small, there was still plenty of dogs and people, and people doing trial like things which Trek is totally unused to.  Ring Stewards bewildered and fascinated her (a side effect of me having lots and lots of random people come up and feed her :).  The photographer scared her.  Surprisingly the electronic timer saying "Go" didn't bother her.  She was ok with the judge as it's normal to have an instructor standing around.  Small bits of controled chaos are good for her.

Trek was in four classes.
 - both standard classes
 - jumpers
 - "chances" (gamblers)

I didn't want to over tax her so I stuck with ones that resembled other organizations.  There really is no point in teaching her to run through hula hoops ("Hoopers" Oh please.).  Tunnelers and Touch n Go are a possibility.  Weavers would likely be her own personal hell until she started to enjoy them.  I keep trying to make them cool - will try harder.

First of all I didn't stress about the lateral distance.  I tried once and when I didn't get it crossed the line to help her out.
Round 1
She didn't want to take the first jump.  After much cajoling she finally started.  It may have been general stress or the timer poles right beside the jump.  Likely stress as she was really erratic this run.  Blasteed by the weave poles (in hopes that I wouldn't notice them?)  Went of course into a tunnel.
Round 2
Ducked behind me to take dogwalk instead of a tunnel when I lost sight of her.  I should have turned left and got her attention, maybe even a hand target.  In general running pretty well.  since it was a one ring trial lots of folks go to watch her run.  General consensus is when she gets her act together, watch out.
Jumpers - on grass no problem there - no sniffing
She was way distracted by the ring crew and the photographer
Seemed to want to run up to them to say hello in hopes they had treats, though she didn't worry about the judge.
I got her through the course cleanly which I'll take some credit for since I had to be able to call her back with out her backjumping.  (you have to step to the side some.
While she of course didn't carry out enough to be the baby gamble, she actually ran technically clean, though she stopped dead when she saw the scary photographer in the corner.  I actually had to get inbetween her and photog to get her to take the jump.  Now I could tell him not to bother with taking her photo, but it's probably a good exercise for her.

Random rules
- Can't tie your dog to the fence.  I inadvertantly broke this one.  Never mind I tied Trek to a "canine hitching post."  They might get jumped by some passing dog and they won't be able to get away (that's sounding paranoid to me)
- Cant reset knocked bars while the run is going on
- Dog can't cross the line on those lateral distance thingy's since the test is whether or not they can run in a straight line some feet away from the handler.

I think I'll run super low key next time to see how that goes

Fri Nov 9
Big training day for Yoshi.  This is Lori's last training class of the year.  We're going to try the Open class even though it can be more crowded than the Utility class.

He did pretty well but was reactive towards a Golden that he didn't know when the Golden moved. (Sorry for the weird run on sentence. I'll fix it later).  I got him back but the Golden still made him uncomfortable (the Golden was doing nothing to cause anything)  He was able to concentrate and work (fairly well even) and relaxed some but still wanted to boss the Golden around.  I later had them meet and things got better after that.

Lori and I talked about whether to mark looking at the dog or mark looking back at me.  Leslie McDevitt of Control Unleashed marks the looking at the dog and not reacting (she calls it Look At That - LAT).  I had been taught (by Toni and Rachelle) to mark when the dog looks back.  Lori say that from an obedience perspective the look back is what you want, but behaviorally marking looking calmly at other dogs might be better as it can interrupt potentially bad behavior (I usually have a 1/2-1 second warning and that's enough time to get a click in, and there would be more rewardable behaviors then (and done right you get the look back anyway).  I tried it and it seemed to work. The critical thing is that the dog must be under threshold (Leslie stresses this and from experience I know that's true).  If they're over threshold then they will react and lunge and not be willing to look back for the treat, in fact they probably didn't hear it.

I'm taking Yoshi within the hour to watch the class before Trek's and we'll experiement with it.  Rachelle is the instructor so I'll fill her in about it.

It worked really well.  Actually better than expected.  The reinforcement rate is astoundingly high like every 10 seconds, because I had to catch the behavior before he had a chance to even think about being a bad dog.  You could argue that this is merely distracting him from being aggressive but apparently real learning does occur and as the dog relaxes and forms good associations around other dogs, you can decrease the reinforcement rate.

I just hope he doesn't get sick from all the treats.  His stools were soft possibly from the midday lesson.  This was the Red Barn Chicken and I'm not sure how happy with it I am.  On the other hand Red Barn Beef continues to earn very hard to please fans.  Ki Ki the GSD in Trek's class who has never taken a treat from me, ate some and kept asking for more.  Katie a dog who is afraid of people, quite willingly took treats from me if I was sitting on the ground not looking at her and held out my hand.

Trek did great.  She charges over dogwalks to the point where I have to really book to keep up with her.  The only thing that she had trouble with was with the weave poles, hitting the entrance and not popping out at the 10th pole.  After class I put her through the poles and the imp did them perfectly twice.

Thu Nov 8
Debbie tells me that I'm off the hook and that NADAC has indeed stopped using the chute and the teeter.  Clearly the NADAC web site is out of date (hmphf - and I thought I was going to the source.)  I had all these plans of doing a chute cram session with jury rigged chute fabric over the next couple of days, but I'm happy to skip them for now.

So what's left in NADAC? Jumps, Tunnels, Dogwalk, A-Frame (way lowered), Weave Poles.  No table (or at least a rare site), no tire unless you have a special break away one and no one seems to have one, no teeter, no chute.  Given that, EllenF was wondering how much of a training opportunity this would be, but I think it would be good for Trek to learn how to concentrate in the trial environment.  I'm also noticing that the word "refusal" doesn't show up anywhere in the NADAC docs.  It's a scary thought, but Trek might qualify from time to time (even though that's not a goal at all

My favorite cute, smart, gay female radio show host who also happens to be a Rhodes Scholar, Rachel Maddow, just told this funny story about her puppy.  She's taking him to dog class (I think it's a puppy class) and her puppy (whose name is escaping me right now) was playing with  a Golden Retreiver that had this beautiful fluffy coat, and her dog lost one of his puppy teeth.  Normal enough, but then his mouth started to bleed and not just a little but profusely.  All over the gorgeous coat of the Golden.  Qute a site apparently.  The Golden was a little alarmed at being bled all over.  The Golden's owner was not entirely thrilled at her dog's coat becoming a mass of red sticky goo.

Wed Nov 7
Did  some more work with Yoshi trying to increase the amount of time he would hold the toy.  I can stand and toss the toy on the ground and he will pick it up and I would try to get him to hold it for a couple of seconds before I took it from him.  He held it for about a third of the time.  Progress with him is incremental at best, but I have a feeling that it's all going to suddenly all fall into place at once so I'm trying not to be discouraged.  This is good for his confidence anyway.

Trek's first  NADAC trial is this Sunday.  I don't have the chute put together but I don't even know if they use a chute (will check).
Yes they do: http://www.nadac.com/equipment_specs.htm
I'm a a little surprised they don't consider it dangerous since dogs do get tangled up in it and they're really sensistive about possible dog dangers.

I can probably jury-rig some of the chute fabric and teach it to her.  It honestly won't take long once she understands what to do.

I made the mistake of asking if anyone on the Bayteam bothered to do NADAC anymore (we're no longer a NADAC club) and I got immediately accused of sounding arrogant by a person I don't really know.  Huh?  I'm the one who's taking a dog to a NADAC trial, and I was addressing a club that reliquished its NADAC affiliation.  Seemed appropriate to me.  I apologized to her, but did try to nicely say something on the order of: consider the audience.  I haven't heard back and I hope I'm not going to later receive a treatise where I'm obviously not the intended audience.  (Some people who don't have blogs, really need blogs so they don't throttle semi-innocent bystanders.)

ODTC Ob. Class
I'll take both dogs tonight as Yoshi has class with Lori Drouin on Friday and that will be just him.
Actually given that Friday is going to be a long training day for Yoshi, I'm giving us the night off.

Mon Nov 5
Dumbell work
I decided that I wanted to try something different with Yoshi and the dumbell as he will only hold it for a short period of time.  So I'm trying a soft toy that's in the shape of a bone.  He carries toys out to dig shallow open graves for them, so I know that he's perfectly capable of carrying something in his mouth.  So I started over clicking for attention, then nuzzling, then opening mouth on it, then picking it up, then picking it up for a little longer (like 2 seconds.  We stopped there.  As usual I'm getting some great additional behavior too.  He'll pick up the toy and lift his front paw.  This would make a fun dance step.  I quit there.

Trek who insists on not being ignored then got a turn.  I had her work with the actual dumbell since she doesn't seem hesitant about it at all.  Went through the same intro as above (she's done that much before.) and was soon picking it up and holding it for a few seconds.  I gave her a jackpot and we stopped there.

Obedience would be so easy for her to do and she clearly wants to do it.  I've been holding off till she gets more agility training (backwards, but she already has an excellent recall, and I don't want to mess up her agility skills), but any skills she learns now likely won't interfer I think.  As long as it's not leaving the ring to go harrass Moe Toys for treats.

Showed the dumbell idea to Terri.  Did two sessions with both dogs.

Sun Nov 4 (The internet ate this entry so I'll have to recreate it - fortunately that won't be hard as I remember it well)
Yoshi Herding at Joyce's
Breakthrough!  He will now stop for me (well mostly, but it's a huge improvement - I hold the wand horizontal and say stop and he usually does so - especially if I say "sit" soon afterward).  Due to various incompatible schedules, Yoshi hadn't been to herding in over a month so I was wondering how he was going to be.  I was silly to worry.
During the afternoon we worked up to actually doing herding (with Joyce's help and really docile sheep) and walked the sheep down a couple of fencelines with me walking on the side and him running in an arc going from behind the sheep to near their shoulders before turning to arc back.

The things we have to work on now are:
 - me walking faster tricky when you're trying to turn your head sideways to follow the dog and signal the dog.
 - me not letting him go inbetween the sheep and the fenceline since the sheep are supposed to be on the fence for the Pre-Trial (PT) level that we're working on.
 - saying "steady" for walk with the sheep at a controled rate (as opposed to making them run - this is a challenge as if he makes them run he gets to chase them

Having him tired makes all the difference.  He's markedly under more control when he's panting.  At the end, when we were actually herding, Joyce had me take the long line off and he was fine.

We did have one sheep who would run off from the others, which was excellent because I could tell Yoshi "Go get 'em" and he'd take off at full speed and bring her back.  I was impressed watching him.  And yes, he is happily exhausted now.

Trek came along as well and raced around the place saying hello to everyone, rolling in sheep poop, and getting a lengthy belly rub.

Gwen and her 3 year old female BC Savannah surprised me by appearing.  Gwen wanted to get Savannah instinct tested.  After Savannah was convinced that Gwen really wanted her to herd the sheep, she then did great.

Sat Nov 3
Took both dogs to Sibley Regional Park (Yoshi on a long line and harness).  There's not a lot of trees since it's the remains of volcanos so the sightlines are longer  That did help as Yoshi could see a dog from much further away but it was still difficult to get off the fireroad so we didn't have an easy out in some cases.  I'd say it was mixed success.  For the most part he was great but there were some tight quarters where he didn't cope well and one point where I just carried him.  He didn't like being carried at first but then settled down and was able to tolerate dog presence which is encouraging as I want him to learn from my relaxed attitude that he's safe and in no danger.  I tried that a long time ago and didn't have any success, so it's nice to see it working.

I think a better choice for us will be Morgan Territory where it's easy to walk off the roads.  (I trained for tracking there with Cali so I'm pretty familiar with a certain part of the park).

Fri Nov 2
Agility class.
Which went far better than I could have hoped.  Yoshi watched some of the 6:15 class and is getting quite used to the dogs there.  The only scarey part was when Cash the Whippet ran from his start line to go check Yoshi out.  I wasn't looking but realized something was amiss when I heard "Cash!"  Uh-oh.  Sure enough there's Cash right beside us.  I hold Yoshi back and grab Cash.  Yoshi hadn't said a word until I started to hold him back and then he growled some.  Lynn came and collected Cash and they went and ran the course that he was supposed to do.  Given that Yoshi didn't freak, we decided to let them meet and it was a little tense at first (since Yoshi tenses up and puffs out)  But then both dogs moved suddenly and then froze.  It's play!  Phew.  Glad I took all those dog behavior seminars as I wouldn't have read that right a while back.  We let them socialize more on leash.  Yoshi doesn't quite know what to make of Cash, but Cash is so pushy and friendly it works in his favor, as what sets Yoshi off is mega submissive behavior.  Cash's approach of "I'm friendly and I'm not going to let you forget it" is very disharming and ingenuous.  It's funny how it works with Yoshi but oh so doesn't with Trek and really really wouldn't have worked with Cali.

I was able to have Yoshi right on the field with the other dogs around.  Later I even took him over a few jumps and over the dogwalk (on leash)

Trek continues to improve.  Things to work on are rear crosses.  and tires.  And me talking less I think.  Approaching a tunnel I should probably just say "Go tunnel" rather than Go tunnel, tunnel, tunnel.  She stops to make sure this is what I meant. like I was trying to head her off from going in the tunnel.

Go to:

Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Oct 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Sep 2007
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