Yoshi Training Diary - October 2006
By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)
Feedback is welcome:
Tue Oct 31
Well let's hear it for the world's shortest agility career.I
thought I had it all covered. The ring was entirely baby gated
and I had guards posted at the start and finish. I knew the
course well and Gail even made a couple of helpful suggestions. I
talked to the person who had the next dog letting them know that he was
dog reactive and you might not want to come in the ring while he was
We were at the at start line and the first obstacle was a tire. A
tire has never been a problem for him. He started to jump and
then lept to the side of it. Then ran around in a circle. I
called him back and he gave his "I'm frustrated but I'm going to do
what you ask" cry. At that point I though I had him and started
to go but he turned around looked behind him and them immediately
charged at a nearby corgi who's owner had just sat down. Yoshi
effortlessly went right through the baby gate and mugged the other
dog. It was stopped nearly immediately and was over by the time I
got there. No blood but the other dog was quite frightened and
Kathie who was judging immediately ran over telling Yoshi and I to stay
there and talked to the other owner to see if she wanted to file a
complaint. She said no, Kathie came back over and told me
but them told me that he had to go in a crate and I did so.
I then spent a very morose hour sitting on the ground while various
folks I know showered me with wisdom and support, most of which I
absorbed, but still need to digest.
Basic opinion was that: this is clearly not your next agility dog, but
instead how about continuing in herding and also try tracking and
novice rally. I talked about how bummed I was that I'd put in so
much work into training him agility, and several of them said that it's
not wasted, that I still have the skills to teach another dog.
I'm still really bummed about it as he is so fast and quick and if he
ever gets it together he will be an amazing agility dog. But
agility trials are inheritly chaotic, and it's that level of chaos that
he's not currently able to tolerate. Though he's reactive when
things are calm but one thing in his environment changes. Unknown
dog nearby, dog walking, funny looking dog. This is puzzling in
that where he grew up the environment changed a lot, yet he is still
reactive to change.
Terri just pointed out that at home he's mostly great and in fact when
we're up stressing about this, he's sleeping. That is a good
point, he is remarkably easy to live with. Except for the barking
from the back of the sofa, but we can work with that. Terri
thinks we should just take things slow--implying that we should put
less pressure on him. Given that he won't be doing agility or
herding for a while that seems easy to do.
Mon Oct 30
I gave Yoshi the day off since he was pretty beat from his full
Sun Oct 29
They did it! Cooper and Yoshi got their HT herding titles
today! Yoshi's run was less efficient than yesterday and he
seemed to be running in circles but in general he did fine (Cooper too.)
The judge, Roy Sage, didn't make any comments on the form, but his time
was 1:32 which is even faster than last time.
I've decided that he's earned the day off tomorrow and I'll just go up
and work at the trial in Santa Rosa. I will take him tomorrow and
also to see rally/obedience the next day in Rhonert Park.
Behaviorally he was better today than yesterday. 3 possible
reasons for this 1) he was tired 2) I switched back from using the
harness to using the Gentle Leader so had more control of his head and
3) I had a better idea how the timing of the runs was so I was able to
stay back and give him a lot more space (let's hear it for
management). We hung out in the sheep pasture and had at least 50
feet between us and any other dog. I also had the Binaca out but
only had to use it once.
So I'm wondering about the G/L. Yes it's somewhat nervewracking
to use, but in places where he's going to have to be near other dogs
it's invaluable. Another thing is that it seems to annoy him
enough that he's distracted from obsessing on other dogs (a strangly
unexpected benefit). I think the harness is better suited to
walks where if he manages to get some speed in a lunge he's not going
to get his next jerked by accident.
Sat Oct 28
[7am] Sharon thinks I'm making excuses for his behavior.
What I don't get is why is honestly trying to understand and predict
one's dog's behavior making excuses? It's not like I'm saying
it's ok that he's a shithead sometimes. If I can predict it I can
stay ahead of him and be proactive. If I see a dog that I think
he'll want to react to I change his direction so that he doesn't see
the dog coming straight at him which reduces the odds of him reacting.
The problem is that I didn't predict that he would jump Zoe. Even
though he is clearly uncomfortable around Border Terriers in a truly
strange way, but he did fine with her in the small arena and he was
clearly pondering reacting but didn't. I should have told Karen
not to be near the course exit (and she thinks she should have been
there either) I should have realized that Yoshi was running the
course eratically and was going to be highly unpredictable. But I
was hoping we'd just run off the course like we had many times, without
Herding trial today - should be fun.
They both qualified today with flying colors. The judge, Dana
MacKenzie, wrote some very nice comments about Yoshi:
You have eyes in the back of your head. Corrected at just the
right time. Very nice dog. Mostly gentle yet will work
nicely (strongly) when asked.
His time was 1:53. Given that he was allowed 10 minutes that's
I looked at the tape and he's working so much more intently and quieter
than he used to. Observers mention how efficient he was being.
AJ came to see him which was really nice of her.
Behavriorally he was not great. Snarky, barky, growly and tried
to lunge at least once at a couple of dogs that had to walk by near
(it's pretty narrow in the approach to the ring.)
Fri Oct 27
I've been grumpy about the preceeding events for the past 2 days
and Yoshi appears to be wondering what's wrong with me. I'm now
starting to recover some and decide what to do next.
- continue in herding
- do private or semi-private agility lessons with Sharon
- work very diligently at ball and toy drive (we have in the past
but need to make it a daily thing) which gives him an appropriate
outlet for his prey drive
- research if any medications will help him
- continue to see Trish King and/or Toni Hage
- arrange for him to spend controlled on leash time with small dogs
(the dog park is one option)
My vet isn't real comfortable prescribing meds for dogs beyond
separation anxiety and suggested UC Davis. I called Davis and
learned that Davis charged an eye popping $350 for a dog. They
design a whole treatment program and it includes a follow up.
Given that's nearly 4 consults with Trish King I think I'm not that
desparate yet and I'm sure Trish can recommend other vets closer to
home with experience in this realm. I think I am going to follow
through on my threat to start slipping him a tiny bit of my Prozac
since I'm very familiar with the medication and know it's very safe to
use. (Dog dosage is 1 mg /1 kg, but I'll do about half of that.)
Spent time at noon today playing fetch with Yoshi (did yesterday too),
and he really seems into the game. He brings it back to my hand
and is able to see and carry the medium sized orange tennis ball.
I only do it for about 5 minutes at a time so he doesn't get bored and
have been able to do it two sessions in a lunchtime. Today I used
a very animated voice which livened him up. It's funny as
sometimes this kind of voice just stresses him out and he starts to
sniff the ground or look around but this time it worked.
Still haven't heard back from Trish King so she's probably out of town
doing a seminar.
- Show him the ball "Oooooo look at this"
- (If he doesn't seem interested put the ball away or just play
with it yourself.)
- Toss ball underhand a short distance (make it bounce a few times)
and say "Get it"
- When he picks it up say "Bring it!" (multiple times - I used to
think this was confusing him but now he is responding to it to the
point of pulling back from distractions like wanting to dig a hole for
- When he puts it in my wating hand I say "Yes!" and give him a
- If he looks like he really wants to continue the game repeat but
only do for about 5 minutes or so.
- Else just say "Recess" and put the ball away.
The Corgi herding nation is tomorrow and the next day. Since I
want to continue this I need to get there to see the earlier runs
though I'll pass on getting there at 7:30am. We'll get there
around 9am or so. Should be fun and this is probably the most
relaxed I'm ever going to get at a herding trial since I'll have to do
the handling from here on out.
Sharon is at or about to leave for the USDAA nationals, so I won't hear
back from her for a while.
Wed Oct 25
Hi Karen and Sharon,
I woke up thinking about this so I must have been thinking about it all
I've been reading a lot about the parts of the brain and their function
so you'll have to excuse the technese.
When Yoshi attacked Zoe and when I finally got ahold of him, he was
much a different dog. It seemed like there was no higher brain
functioning at all. He was just a mugging machine, no
awareness. Given this, I'm not sure punishment would work or have
classic boomerang result of simply breeding more aggression (there are
multiple references on this and I can dig them up if necessary).
think for punishment to work you need to have a cortex that is
functioning enough to make decisions and weigh consequences. If
still able to listen to me (or attached to me) then adversives like
yelling, scruff shakedowns, and "knock that shit off" (heck even
do work, but I need his brain functioning first.
So I'm thinking that I first need to get more seretonine present in his
brain to help him with his Poor Impulse Control (tm). As research
shows, seretonine deficiency can cause PIC as I need to have his brain
present as when his brain is present he's doing quite well. I can
his brain present when he's attached to me, now we need to work on when
he's off leash and in drive (a much tougher situation). I'm going
locate a vet behaviorist to see what s/he recommends. A brother
is on Prozac and that helps him (the sibling) and that would be the
easiest since I can get it free since I take it too. Karen, you
suggested a tricyclic, but I don't see it here (I know it had the sound
"calm" in it):
And, of course, he's going to see his behaviorist Trish King
think that Trish is going to remind me that she worked on her dog
Strider for 2+ years (who Yoshi reminds her of) before deeming that he
was reliable (we've only been working on her calming approach for about
a month and a half - he's showing vast improvement, but still has a
way to go). I've met Strider and he's a model dog citizen and
calming signals. He's a big German Shepherd and Yoshi has never
to him even though he was given multiple opportunities to do so.
Karen, how's Zoe doing? I'm really sorry and I'm determined to
issue with him. I'm going to take him out of class at least for a
while while we work on
this further. I may bring him to watch as that is really helping
stay with me mentally, but I don't think I will let him be off leash
around other dogs that trigger him, unless we make more progress in
Right now his performance future says herding (something I have little,
to no talent in), and on-leash rally. <sigh>.
I called and left a message with Park Centre asking for either an
evaluation for putting Yoshi on antidepressant for reactivity or for a
referral to a vet behaviorist. I left it up to them to decide who
wanted to take this on.
Karen told me that a friend of hers had a dog on clomicalm and even
though it's intended for seperation anxiety it seems to help with other
behaviors as well. I checked the manufacturers website
(http://www.ah.novartis.com/products/en/cab/clomicalm.shtml) and it
appears that it's intended for short term treatment (at most 2 months).
Karen says that Zoe is a little stiff and has a small puncture wound on
her hindquarters (yikes), but is otherwise ok. I told her
that if she at all wanted to take Zoe to a vet or chiropractor that I
would be more than happy to pay for it.
I've also asked Sharon if I could maybe run one of her dogs in class
and Yoshi would be parked in his crate during that time.
Toni is advising against the eCollar as it can really backfire on some
dogs. Other dogs get associated with pain and they get really
aggressive. Yoshi is currently an unruly bully and that might put
him at risk of becoming a truly aggressive dog.
I'm thinking back on that run and he was erratic right from the start
of it. I shouldn't have let him run the last part as that's when
he locked onto Zoe and pounced on her and tuned reality out
completely. Too bad, as parts of the run were really fast (like
nationals fast). Toni is wondering if doing the calming stuff
right before class (which is hard work for him) and then going directly
into class is too much for him. Especially since he was able to
work in the lower ring with both Jake and Zoe working on the field
too. I think he was trying to tell me something and I wasn't
listening. The problem is that if I understood it I still
wouldn't have been able to put it into words to Sharon's satisfaction.
I'm also perturbed as I banged up both knees and torn a hole in my
pants when I hit the ground trying to grab him. I've been
treadmill running about 6-7+ miles a week to work on some hamstring
weakness and that may be affected (Grrrr).
I told coltsrunkids:
Last night, Mr Y. thrashed his way up sh*t creek and ate the paddle in the process.
So Terri and I talked for a while tonight and it seems to make the most
sense to have him continue in herding since he won't be doing agility
until he calms down more. Once again here I am backing into
herding. I teased Terri that maybe she should do it. She
laughed, which I think is a "No," though who knows. I asked
again and I'm getting indecisiveness so I'm not going to push.
Patricia McConnell is now talking about Emotional Arousal.
Fitting. It's in the Anger chapter starting around page
194. She goes on to talk about exercises that we're already doing
like waiting at doors, and then goes on to talk about controlling your
own emotions (which Sharon might not agree with but it does make sense.)
[quote pg 205-206]
An expression of anger is just that--an expression of a primal emotion
ultimately necessary for survival. However, unless you happen to
be fighting for your life, it's rarely useful or effective when you're
training your dog.
The last thing you want to do if you think your dog is angry is to feed
the fire with your own emotional arousal....
... most dogs are going to respond to yelling by increasing their own
level of emotional arousal, and that's not going to be to your
I just discovered that the often referenced book Coercion and its
Fallout is reeeeally
expensive in the US ($100-300), but I just noticed that in the UK, it's
quite affordable. I keep wondering - what's the catch? - even if the
postage doubles the cost, it would still be a fraction of what it would
cost in the US. Tempting.
I spoke to one of Yoshi's vets. She suggests going to UC Davis as
they have a whole behavioral section. I'll see what Trish King
thinks of this though I'm thinking she's out of town as I haven't heard
back from her. I'll call UC Davis tomorrow.
Tue Oct 24
Subject: Yoshi the occasional
(Pardon the language but it's currently true)
I'd like to schedule another consult for Yoshi.
After doing fantastic watching the agility class before his relaxing
and watching the other dogs (including fluffy white dogs) run and doing
some work with a Border Terrier around that he wanted to react to, but
refrained since I told him to knock it off. During a run he left
me to attack the Border Terrier. No blood, but lots of noise, and
I've decided to pull him out of that class out of consideration for the
other folks in the class. The other dog was not moving and not
looking at him. As we were running and got near he locked on and
charged the dog.
Sharon Freilich is suggesting that we need to come up with some fairly
severe consequences when this happens and is suggesting I consult with
a trainer John Conner who does aggression training with
E-collars. I said that I wanted to talk to you first.
I'm pretty frustrated as he's been doing so well recently. We've
gone to class early to watch dogs and relax and eat dinner and I've
bought a crate for the living room and when a visitor comes he goes in
that crate and gets special treats. This happened when he was not
attached to me and he seemed to know it.
and Yoshi the corgi who has likely cut his agility career short before
it ever started
Mon Oct 23
More crate success. Jesse and Cathy came over and we
crated Yoshi just before they came in and then waited till both dogs
had settled down before releasing him. Jesse in particular seemed
to appreciate this.
Also we knew that Terri's friend Debra would be coming over later so
about 10-15 minutes before we though she would be appearing I walked
with him over to the crate and said "Go Crate" and he went right
in. I then gave him a Bully Stick and he happily set about
working on it. When Debra knocked he did bark but chilled out
fairly quickly. I asked him to but don't know if that had
anything to do with it. Again I didn't let him out of the crate
until he had settled down. He did try to walk off with the Bully
Stick which I took out of his mouth (because he only gets a that stick
in that crate). He then wanted back in the crate so I let him go
back in and gave him the bully stick again and even left the crate door
open (though I did sit beside him.
I let him work on the stick for quite a while while I fixed a
camera (it now works - hooray!).
We'll have to see if this makes his tummy upset - so far it hasn't.
Sun Oct 22
The Del Valle AKC show has been going on and continues through
Monday. It's a huge dog show at the Alameda Fairgrounds, mostly
conformation, but also obedience, rally, and agility. I went to
film Patricia with Rosie and Giles in Rally and Obedience, and also to
drop a significant sum on money on a vendor for a crate for the Living
Room. The enviroment is so chaotic that I decided not to bring
Yoshi as it would have been far too much for him and I wouldn't have
been able to concentrate on taping or shopping.
I wound up just walking around with the camera on taking in the
enviroment and visiting with lots of dogs and people. Rosie
decided that ground sniffing was far preferrable than actually doing
Rally (even though she's done it very well before), but Giles did
very well and would have Q'ed if he hadn't have jumped up on her at one
point, but he still did very well. She's coming back on Monday so
here's hoping things work out for them.
I was very happy to find out that Moe Toys had exactly what I wanted
and came back with a Noz to Noz dark blue medium crate and a very nice
bed for it too.
I set up the crate in the Living Room. Now it's our job to make
that crate the coolest place to be. I got him to go in and
started raining chicken on his head through the top opening.
Cooper, Mark and Jan came over to eat Chinese food and watch the show
tape and some of The Amazing Race (we were also hoping to get to the
Gigantor DVD but didn't have time - maybe Thur.) I spent the
afternoon introducing Yoshi to the crate and letting him chew on
a Bully stick that I got at Marin Humane Society store. I've
decided that the Bully stick should only be available when he's in that
crate. At first he wanted to walk out the crate with the Bully
stick to chew it in a more familiar place, but I took it away from him,
told him to "Go Crate" and gave it back to him when he went in.
After about 2-3 times of this I just zipped the door shut and he
happily chewed away for 45 minutes then it looked like he needed a
break and some water so I unzipped the door and told him he could walk
He of course, wanted to take the stick with him but I took it away and
zipped it up in the crate. He was bummed and stood outside the
crate staring at it for a while until I took him out of the room for a
bit. When we went back in the LR he went right to the crate so I
let him in and zipped him up in it.
When Cooper was just about to appear, but was still outside I took the
bone away but still left Yoshi in the crate. When Cooper came in
the kitchen door I expected Yoshi to start barking. He
didn't. Cooper barked some once he realized Yoshi was in the
crate. Yoshi still didn't bark. I let Yoshi out and they
proceeded to have a fine time beating up on each other outside.
The crate has a remarkable calming influence. When it was getting
close to the time for the Chinese food delivery person to appear I put
Yoshi back in the LR crate. The delivery person rang the bell
(though the bell was very quiet this time but that usually doesn't
matter much), I opened the door, paid him and brought in the
food. Not a peep out of either dog. (Mark was holding Cooper by
the collar). That crate is already worth every penny and we've
had it less that 12 hours.
Sat Oct 21
Cooper came over and they played and played. Also did some
work with both of them waiting at the door.
Fri Oct 20
No plans today. Maybe some light training.
Herding class. Last one. Debbie says he's ready for
the HT test at the nationals on Oct 28-29 and to my untrained eyes he
certainly looks so.. I'm such a soccer mom in this situation and
it's kinda fun I must admit. If I were the one handling him I'd
be stressing, but now it's just completely no pressure. My only
concern is that he's so in his element that I'm wondering if he's going
to be happy not doing it or am I just doomed to have to learn how to
keep sheep from running me over. I guess if I can run backwards while
doing a front cross, I should be able to do that as well but things get
complicated when you have a few live sheep in the mix who may or may
not be told were to go by a little bossy dog.
Cooper's ready too. Mark's been working a lot on his "stay" and
it's much better. He's a smart boy, Debbie couldn't fool him this
time with the double leash trick. He knew that he was still
attached to her and so he stayed, and he even stayed when she took the
second leash off.
I am handling him in agility Oct 30-31, but it's a Novice B course so
that should be fine, though I must admit to some concern about him
charging out of the ring at another corgi. But it's all
corgi's so my odds of that happening are much reduced. Phew.
Quite honestly the most stressful thing will be getting up there with a
full sized sheet cake intact. :)
Tue Oct 17
Agility class. I deliberately went early so we could watch
the next class and practice relaxing and he could eat his dinner.
I was very happy with how well he did. We went up slowly to the
upper level were they were having class which involved walking past a
Portugese Water Dog standing with his/her handler about 20 feet away on
the lower field. No reaction but I told him leave it and took the
furthest path possible away from the dog. When we got up to where
we could see the other dogs we sat on the wall about 30 feet away and I
fed him his dinner. He wasn't growly at all. After he was
done with dinner I walked him over to where we could sit on the
hillside and watch class. He was snarky with an English Setter in
the class but I firmly told him to leave it and we moved further away.
For the rest of the class he laid down and let me massage him (save for
some growly moments, but no barking and he is allowed to growl and talk
as if he's uncomfortable I want him to tell me). Even when the
fluffy white dog ran. What a good boy.
However in class he did have a moment of trying to be snarky with Thyme
and she wasn't having any of it. Fortunately both Sharon and I
were there to intervene. I even carried him some away by the
scruff (one hand on each side of his head). I think the point was
made by all involved that he shouldn't mess with Thyme as during a
really great run he stopped dead when he came near Thyme. He
didn't want to go anywhere near her.
Agility-wise at first he was only so so but the run where I ran him off
the line he was great, enthusiastic and fast (well until he got near
Thyme). I was able to move away from the dog walk as he was doing
it in order to get in better position for the jump afterwards.
Initially all he wanted to do was sniff. Hel-lo we're here to do
agility. I think I'm going to do more run off the line with him.
Oh and poor guy nearly took a header off a teeter as it didn't quite
look to him like a teeter. we had him do it again and he was a
little suspicious of it (didn't want to go back on at first), but
seemed ok. We'll have to see if this develops into a teeter issue.
He did pope the tenth pole of the weaves again and this time I made him
redo it and he was fine with them for the rest of the evening.
Will have to work some on tunnel dogwalk discrimination as the tunnels
are sucking him in.
Mon Oct 16
Jesse and Cathy came over and while I was still at the gym and
apparently Yoshi and Jesse got into an altercation of sorts which is
worrisome. As far as I can tell, Yoshi was bullying Jesse and
Jesse gave just a small growl and Yoshi went from 40 to 100 and got
very aggressive and Terri crated him.
Later on in the evening when I was there a similar thing happened in
the office (a small space) and I got on his case holding him by the
scruff and saying "NO! NO! NO!" (something he almost never hears) and
then put him in his crate, and when I let him out later I kept him on a
So when he bullies Jesse we need to interrupt with "Enough" (which we
did start when I got home and heard about the misdeeds.)
Sun Oct 15
Still pondering all the implications of yesterday and trying to
work in what we went over into a daily routine. Took him on a
walk and saw 3 dogs, and I did a leash-based abandonment on one and on
all of them I was telling him to leave it. He did surprisingly
I need to talk with Elizabeth about Sybil and see what the
possibilities are. The problem is that Elizabeth is so busy that
it's hard to get a hold of her these days (Sun and Wed are best).
And though Sybil and Yoshi have been in the same household before that
was more than 2 years ago.
Sometimes when I'm in the living room I let him look out the
window. Once he started barking and I was sitting at the dining
room table and asked to "here" he turned around and looked at me and
started to come but got distracted and went back to barking at the
window and the people walking by and didn't come away until I started
walking towards the window. As an experiment next time he barked
I told him let's go and left the room and he whined (a good thing -
he's about to obey) and came along with me. I went back and
looked out the window and there was actually a dog being walked.
So he's willing to leave a dog which I didn't think was going to be
easily attainable. It's almost like if I ask him to "here" he
needs me to be in the other room or walking out of the LR. Not
Sat Oct 14
Met again with Trish King today, and it was very
productive. Spent a fair bit of time going over the DVD examining
his expressions especially the ones by the dog park. While he
seemed a little stressed at times it was abundantly clear that he's
mostly having a "make my day" sort of good time. Trish doesn't
think he's aggressive at all just bossy and wants to control other
animals. It was a relief to hear that especially since she works
a lot with aggressive dogs and lectures around the country on dog
Making the DVD has paid off handsomely and I will highly recommended it
to anyone who is puzzled by their dog's behavior.
She, like Toni, said that there's really nothing new she can teach me
(they're both wrong there, nice as it is to hear) but instead offer
observations and strategies.
She thinks that now that he can relax at home, that we should
start teaching how to relax while other dogs are in the distance.
She says that Yoshi reminds her a lot about how her GSD Strider
was. She spent 2 years teaching him how to relax around other
dogs and he is now a poster child for calming signals (my words but he
is amazing). She would take him to Marin Humane Society where she
works and during when they would be having classes she would bring a
bed for him to lie down on and relax while chaos was happening in the
distance. Things like obedience classes, and then watching the
more active classes including flyball (!). Flyball is the
definition of pandimonium and I can't imagine Yoshi relaxing while
that's going on in the distance (they started like about 50 yards away
- that wouldn't be nearly far enough for us). I did
ask if she is able to get Strider reved up and she said yes. A
quick game of tug and he was totally excited.
We're basically working on building a relationship between us and
communicating what I don't want him to do. She demoed to us how
she uses a small bean bag of sorts (it's actually a small fabric bag
that has a choke chain in it for weight and noise) as a sort of
anti-click or a way of marking what she doesn't want the dog to
do. She had Yoshi on leash and she was bending down. She
placed a treat on the ground and when he made a motion towards it she
dropped the bag on the ground and covered the treat up. Note, she
doesn't hit him with the bag--it falls on the ground near him.
Now that I think about it it seems a lot like Susan Garret's "It's Your
Choice" game where a dog doesn't get the treat until s/he gives up
trying to get it. If Strider was just about to lunge or bark at a
dog she could throw the bag ahead of him and he would then know to
desist. I'm always doubtful that such things will work and I'm
always so impressed when I see that they do. Yoshi very quickly
learned that when the bag dropped he should give up on what he was
trying to do.
He's doggy enough that she encouraged us to consider more seriously our
thought of getting a female canine house manager as he really seems to
want one around, and she's a big fan of multidog households. It
really isn't financially in the cards now, especially since his
behavioral training is pricey (but oh so worth it), but I think it
would be a good thing to do. The trick would be to get a dog who
isn't bird aggressive since Yoshi and presumably this proposed addition
would be sometimes staying at Mark and Jan's. Elizabeth is
considering offering us Sybil once she's had a litter that Elizabeth
agreed to when she got Sybil. The plus side of that is that
Elizabeth has a parrot and all of her dogs are used to (and a little
afraid of) the parrot (except the female Border Collie who is an
outside only dog). But who knows if Sybil would put up with Mr.
Yoshi and the sillyness that Cooper and Yoshi carry on doing.
We then did some leash-based abandonment training. What that
means is that you have a 6-10' leash and you have your left hand on the
leash about 3' away from the dog and the right hand in the loop at the
end. When his attention locks on to another dog, I would say
"HEY" drop the leash that was in my left hand and rapidly start walking
in the other direction. The sudden slack gives the dog the
sensation of being left. After a few times he started to catch on
and started immediately turning to follow me, though he did have some
impressive lunges and some impressive rolls when he came up against the
leash and was flipped by the harness. One time he lunged at
Sophie her Cairn Terrier and wound up getting rolled completely.
The very next time walking by her he didn't react at all. Quick
learner, Trish called him "Smart boy." A volunteer brought a
shelter dog over who really didn't want to be near Yoshi as he clearly
frightened him. I didn't let Yoshi get too close as shelter dogs
have a tough enough life as it is.
For fun, we also brought the large Doberman stuffed toy out for Yoshi
to play with (and we taped it this time!) Trish animated the toys
head in a realistic way and Yoshi played with it exactly like he would
play with any large dog. it was a hoot and really hard not to
laugh loudly and mess up the moment. Trish is going to send me a
DVD of it and I'll put it up on frap.
She also described a training session she took to learn how people
train with shock collars just to know how they did it as it's getting
alarmingly common. After the session while the dogs were showing
improvement they were also terrified and had really no idea about
learning and they certainly had no connection with their handler.
All they knew was that being close to the handler was "safe" and they
didn't get shocked there. But it appeared that the dogs thought
the shocks were random and didn't understand the criteria at all.
I said that it seems like a good way to make a dog neurotic and she
agreed. Between us we came up with only two legit uses of shock
collars (1) rattlesnake training and (2) in herding to keep aggressive
herding dogs from harming the sheep. She is very much about
strengthening the relationship between you and your dog and shock
collars are certainly not the way to do it though she noted that even
clicker trainers who click and then toss the treat have to occasionally
be reminded to touch their dogs. (Although certainly not the ones
Talked some more about Gentle Leader vs Harness. She's not a
fan of the GL and I mentioned that I really liked to use them in
obedience but we both worry about injuring the dog accidentally.
(She calls it "[hooked] fish on a line"). Though the idea for the
GL came from horses, there is a problem that horses don't use their
whole face for expressions (instead mostly their lips [and
ears]). Patricia McConnell also mentions not being able to see
expressions well is a problem with the GL.
Anyway she thinks that Yoshi has a very good chance of getting through
this, but it's going to take a lot of consistent work, though of course
just as we were leaving another dog approached and he had a lunging
barking fit. Trish came out just to make sure things were ok (I
had calmed him down). And in a non-judgemental, smiling sort of
way she called him "complex." Yep, that's my boy all right.
Toni and Trish seem to think I've read everything about dogs and
learning theory and training, but I can assure you that that's not
possible (for example I haven't had a chance to read Trish's book
"Parenting a Dog.") A couple of books that Trish likes are
Think Dog by John Fisher
and Behavior Problems in Dogs by William Cambell
Picked up 2 jumps from
Garril. One for Mark and one for me. I'm very happy with
them. They are lighter than the more traditional jumps but they
are still metal and the same design, and they're easier to move around.
Fri Oct 13
Daytime Herding Lesson. Both Cooper and Yoshi did
great. Cooper's a little befuddled about being asked to stay, but
other than that Debbie says that they are ready. They have one
more lesson next week and then I think they skip the next Thur since
the National is that weekend.
Behaviorwise he's improving. Though I was asking more of
him. Except for when I was filming Cooper, I had him out of the
crate looking at dogs and practicing down. He did have a couple
of outbursts at dogs he didn't know (and didn't know were dogs like a
Briard and a Beardie), but I was able to contain him and make it clear
that wasn't ok (mild collar corrections, restratining him by the
collar, nose grabbing and forcing him to turn away from the dog which
he complained about but didn't really seem to mind) and when he chilled
out about the dog he was rewarded for it. A couple of times when
I knew a dog walking by was going to incite him to react, I covered his
eyes with my hands which worked fine.
When we needed to walk past dogs we walked in an arc around them which
make things more relaxed to all parties.
Practice watching stock being herded while being in a down. While
he sometimes objected to this at other times he did very well to the
point that he could watch the Briard working (and barking at) sheep
while he was in a down. This is major progress.
Thu Oct 12
Worked on the DVD tonight. I have to keep in mind that
even though I'm making copies for other folks, it's really for my use
so it doesn't matter if it's boring if it helps me it stays in (they
can always fast forward).
[later] It's done and rendering.
Wed Oct 11
Spent part of lunch continuing to edit his video. I have
to keep in mind that though I will share this with other folks, it
really is for me so I shouldn't edit it with a mind to keep it not from
being boring. If it helps me, it stays in, and they can just fast
Also pulled out a few still frames. One of his with a completely
goofy, happy expression on his face (right after barking like crazy),
and a set of him barking.
I don't know if this is correct or not but if he is barking for
sport/bullying there seems to be a 1 to 2 second warning where he
stiffens and stares. If he's guarding or watching at the window,
there's almost no warning - fractions of a second, and the intensity is
At the dog park his reactions seemed more intense earlier on than
later. Even he can't keep that up indefinitely.
If I notice him stiffening in time I can say "Leave It" and usually
that gets his attention.
I need to think of a humane way to let him know that's not ok.
Lori uses Binaca - maybe I should got back to that though it's tricky
to get the aim just right. I have in the past used a scruff shake
with "Knock that off" but one's timing has to be dead on for that or
other punishments I could also have him wear the Citronella
collar, but I have to be rock solid on what the criteria is that
triggers it. I think it would be better to be proactive and say
something when I see him stiffen rather than wait for a reaction and
There has to be a clever solution for this besides just beating up on
the dog, which usually isn't helpful anyway.
Tue Oct 10
I keep forgetting to mention that I discovered a fun way to
practice waiting at the door and start line stays all at the same time.
I have him "wait" as I open the door and he will wait till I release
him with "ok" Instead what I've been doing is saying "stay" and
going down the stairs myself (I started with just going out on the
landing myself) and them releasing him there. Because he really
wants to go out he explodes from the stay and charges down. This
morning I had him wait then released him and he got a treat and then we
did several sets of weavepoles after that.
I had just 6 weavepoles which he did flawlessly so I need to have 12
out to really work on accuracty. The only thing that makes him
hesitant about 6 poles is if I'm not right there with him he wonders
where I am. Probably can work on this with a foot target placed
after the poles. That may give him a sense of obstacle
Reviewing his expressions tape to
see what to include on a DVD for Trish King.
The trick will be to get enough time to put this together by Saturday.
- Squirrel chasing (happy and excited)
- Looking out the LR window (stressed)
- Zen Down / T-Touch (relaxed)
- The Dog Park walks (excited)
There were only 2 other dogs in class (3 if you count Sharon's BC
Cirque), And he likes all the dogs so class was good. He
did want to run and play with Cirque, but i was able to call him back
to the course which is great news.
His start line is still not quite there, and he popped the 10th weave
pole though did them well when I had him redo them (I usually don't but
thought I'd make a point of it this time. I can only be a few
feet lateral on a lateral lead out so will have to work on that when I
pick the jumps up from Garril on Saturday. Sharon went through
the arm work for a lead out that included a threadle. When you
drop the arm furthest from the dog (when facing them slightly) that's a
cue to come closer (and you can treat them with that hand.) It's
difficult to describe, but works well in real life.
After class he was trying to get Cirque to play by nearly bouncing on
him. That's my boy, king of subtle - sort of like one boy going
up to another and punching him in the arm or shoving him to say
hello. I told Yoshi that was enough when it became clear that
Cirque was puzzled by his behavior. Now if had been the younger
Rae they would have had a great game.
Sun Oct 7
Spent the morning reading some of McConnell's book. She
really has Yoshi pegged:
[quote pg 67]
Most commonly, I see what looks like ambivalence in certain aggression
cases, those involving what I call alpha wannabe dogs--dogs who want to
be in control of everything and every one around them, but who are also
fearful and have little confidence. This personality tpe can take
some real finesse to work with, because once you successfully treat the
dog so that he's no longer fearful, you might be left with a dog who
still wants to take over the house. Such dogs do best with a
combination of classical conditioning to assuage their fears, a program
that helps the owner teach the dog new behaviors, and an understanding
that some dogs desperately need their owners to be benevolent
leaders. (See Chapter 6 references for problem-solving resources.)
Had Terri film us walking around the outside of the dog park to get his
facial expressions. I'm about to review the tape but he certainly
didn't see stressed except for occasional big dogs though he was
definitely moving dog reactive. Did a lot of "bummer" and moved
further away when he started barking and trying to lunge/charge.
He seemed to get used to the routine (hope we don't have a weird
behavior chain). He'd bark. I'd say bummer and turn and
walk him about 20 feet away (basically until he stopped stressing about
the dog - distance varied but decreased over time and number of
incidents.) then I'd have him sit or down for a reward. If
there were no other dogs around besides Jesse and maybe one other calm
dog I could have him do a down right outside the fence.
Cathy brought Jessie and Jessie was being so good. I called her
over to say hello and she didn't come directly at me but instead moved
in an arc towards me.
I'm noticing that we get 1/2 way around the park and he starts to chill
out some. I think we can win on this, but it's going to take a
lot of time.
[saw some of tape]
Oh Mr. Yoshi, we're on to you now.
There's a great shot of him that I need to pull out of the dog park
clips. He has this goofy happy look on his face and this is right
after he's been barking at a dogs and I moved him away, and seconds
before he starts barking again. There is definitely some stress
and excitment, but no fearfullness that I can tell. Though I'll
need to compare it to the defensive barking at a dog who is walking by
on the sidewalk as we're looking out the window.
I've seen this expression before. It's when he upended his
Homestretch crate when he was barking at a passing Golden at the corgi
agility trial several months back. Then he had this pleased with
himself look about him, enjoying his new view of the tree above.
The thing that's tough is that things between dogs can change in a
heartbeat. His silly chasing and bullying can go awry very
quickly if the other dog reacts agressively. Back off is not a
part of his M.O. and that has me concerned. I absolutely want his
recall to be rock solid, and I want it to be routine that I recall him
and put him into a down (like the Border Collie people do). I
want him to be able to down instantly if I ask him to.
He's really funny when I call him off of barking at something out of
the LR window. First of all I'm thrilled that it works at all and
I doubt that it would work if there was a dog out there (though I'm not
right there so I don't know and he's not out there by himself much at
all.) Scenario is that he's on the back of the sofa looking
out. And I've got to the rear of the house for some reason.
He starts to alarm bark and I yell "Yoshi here" (sometimes twice) He
gives this really funny high pitched yip or arf and heads back (and I
reward him for the recall.) The yip sounds like frustration, but
I like to hear it as it means he's on his way and it makes me laugh.
"Here" and even "let's go" definitely has a stronger response than
"come." Though I can use "come" too.
Sat Oct 6
Well I finally think I have some answers. Spent some of
the morning reading Patricia McConnells book For the Love of a Dog
where she goes into detail about signs that a dog is stressed.
Closed mouth vs. open mouth being a big one. I then spent part of
the day filming him chasing squirrels (how deleriously happy he is when
he does that), looking out the window, barking at a dog on the street
from the window (0 to 100 in microseconds), and working on Zen
Downs. In other words, I got real familiar with the various
expressions on his face. I then took him on an outside the dog park
walk for his dinner. While I wish I had the video camera with me
I saw enough to get a pretty good idea.
While I need to watch his herding tapes again his expression when he
wants to chase after a dog are very similar to when he herds. His
mouth is open and he's looking alertly around and his body position is
very much forward. If he had a tail I doubt it would be tucked
near his body. He really does want to herd dogs. While this
is very good news in the sense that he's not afraid, it may mean more
herding training for me especially downing in the presence of stock or
dogs. Drat. Well there are probably many other ways to do it
Which is what we worked on. While I wasn't going to work on down
at the park I found it very useful having him down while watching other
dogs at the park. This was not a relaxed Zen Down sort of thing
more like an alert watchful down. I was just feeding him his
dinner then but I think I should up the treat value to much higher
(like pizza crust) so that he's more willing to down under such
For the most part he did ok except for some loud outbursts One
right near the entrance of the small dog park. I reassured them
that he wasn't coming in. Another was what I think were the same
Irish Wolfhounds as yesterday. There were a couple of other
dramatic lunge moments which he rolled himself as the leash connects to
the front of the harness and he can send himself end over end quite
nicely without me doing much of anything except for holding on.
[letter to Toni and Trish]
Subject: new observations of Yoshi
Hi Trish, Hi Toni,
So I've been reading Patricia McConnells new book on dog emotions and
she goes over signs that a dog is distressed. In particular, in
the Emotional Expressions chapter, she talks about closed mouth vs open
mouth which is nothing new to you both, but I'd never really had it
spelled out the way she does and it sank in. So I followed Yoshi
around with a video camera to get familiar with his expressions in
situations where I pretty much know his mental state (chasing squirrels
which makes him deliriously happy - goofy open mouth expression; dogs
walking by on the street while he's in the living room which is a major
stresser - closed mouth except for when barking one's head off.)
Then I took him on a walk around the dog park. When he wanted to
bark and lunge at a dog his mouth was open and funny if his expression
didn't seem to closely resemble that of when he's herding.
Tomorrow I'll have Terri video tape us, and compare it to his herding
video tapes. I have a little of a bad feeling about this as I was
hoping to be able to stop his herding instruction in favor of more
agility, but if it helps to get better control of him (the more
advanced skill of him learning to down when there's stock around could
be the key to controlling him off leash around unknown dogs) well then
so be it. Though maybe we'll just work on down outside the dog
I'll transfer these tapes to a VHS tape in case either of you want to
see it. One of the recordings is the Zen Down which is happily
boring and a nice change from the window barking drama that we also
recorded. I will edit it too. :)
and Yoshi the wanna-be-Border-Collie Corgi
Fri Oct 6
Did a training session with Toni. He's improving, but
still has outbursts. We can't decide whether he's afraid or just
thinking this is a fun game. Clearly when he's at home and he
sees a dog he's upset (at least to some extent). Outside the
park, it's not so clear. He gives mixed messages in his body
posture. His body posture is forward but he has a back leg
extended behind him which apparently is a sign that he may want to turn
and run. Now that I think about it that may just be a herding dog
readiness to turn in whatever direction the quarry/stock might
go. As I think about this further he never runs away, he's always
forward as that works for him.
We started with looking at dogs in the park from a distance. If
he looked at me he got a "yes" and a treat. If he barked and
tried to lunge I said "bummer" and turned and walked him further away
from the dogs, and when he was able to focus back on me I had him do 1
or 2 behaviors like sit and/or down. Then we worked our way
closer. Over time the distance that I had to retreat shrank.
We then walked around the outside of the park and practiced Zen Downs
with limited success. Toni suggested that we try working on the
Zen Downs in a less stimulating situation like with Cooper, first in
the living room, then outside. Then we stopped on a bench outside
the entrance of the park and I feed him his dinner using rhythmic
feeding (count to 5 or 10 and give him a piece of kibble). While
on the bench he did pretty well around the other dogs except for 2 huge
Irish Wolfhounds walking past. He had quite the barking meltdown
over them, but once they were past (like just past like still only 30
feet away) he settled down. Kept an eye on them but nothing like
When we were getting ready to go, 2 large GSDs were exiting the park,
so I tried an older tactic of mine that has worked before. I
picked him up and turned away from the dogs. He was growling and
trying to look at the dogs but much, much less stressed.
So now we have a lot of strategies that we can use, Toni was suggesting
that for each training session, just pick a couple of them to work on
at a time. Like at the park work on looking at dogs and looking
back at me for a reward (Classical Conditioning) and the negative
punishment of saying "bummer" and taking him further away from the dogs
if he tries to lunge and bark (Operant Conditioning). Ending at
the bench where he can rhythmically eat his dinner (maybe some T-Touch
Then work on the Zen Down with Cooper at home (or at Cooper's house).
Even though he didn't get much exercise, he's zonked right now (he was
clearly doing some hard work).
Thur Oct 5
No herding class tonight. Mark, Jan, Patricia, and us are
going to get together to have Chinese food and ceremonially eat the
chocolate Mt. Shasta that Patricia gave us. Cooper is going to
come too so this will be the 3rd day in a row that they've seen each
other. I was noticing this morning that Yoshi seemed tired - No
Wed Oct 4
[noon] Took him to the dog park to look at dogs. For the
most part he did really well. It helped that it was a really low
key time at the park, so there was no fetch going on. We were
able to walk right by the perimeter fence and he even was able to look
at the smaller dogs calmly and briefly greeted an Akita though the
Akita kept staring at the treats I was giving Yoshi, so Yoshi started
to bark. I pulled him away and had him sit with his back to the
Akita which he did briefly, but was still worrying about the
Akita. The owner called the Akita back and Yosh calmed down.
We kept walking around the perimeter and were almost all the way around
when he saw a Rottie-GSD or Rottie-Lab mix and started barking.
The woman, bless her heart, asked if Yoshi was friendly and I said yes
once they've met. She brought "Buddy" over and they had a nice
meeting. Buddy radiates calm and this seemed to have an effect on
Yoshi. Yosh didn't try to beat up on him or anything (good thing
as this dog could clearly rip him apart if he wanted to.)
We then continued around to the front of the park and we sat on a bench
and watched dogs come in while we did T-Touch. This was mixed
success. He calmly watched a large PWD get out of a truck and was
fine about that dog until Yosh saw another dog moving and started
barking and then the PWD was moving so he barked at him/her too.
However I was able to calm him down and we were able to watch some
more. I do think we're getting somewhere with this.
[afternoon] Mark came over and picked up Yoshi and took him over to his
place to let the boys race around and play. He's blissfully tired
Tue Oct 3
Mark and Cooper came over so that Yoshi and Cooper could play
and Mark and I could indulge in watching Gigantor. (Yes, I love
No agility or herding this week, so we're going to take extra
time to make sure they get lots of play time.
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