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 still running.

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 so, 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 weekend.

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 incident.

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 really cool.

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.

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.

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 very
much a different dog.  It seemed like there was no higher brain (cortex)
functioning at all.  He was just a mugging machine, no consciousness, no
awareness.  Given this, I'm not sure punishment would work or have the
classic boomerang result of simply breeding more aggression (there are
multiple references on this and I can dig them up if necessary).  I
think for punishment to work you need to have a cortex that is
functioning enough to make decisions and weigh consequences.  If he's
still able to listen to me (or attached to me) then adversives like
yelling, scruff shakedowns, and "knock that shit off" (heck even Binaca)
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 keep
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 to
locate a vet behaviorist to see what s/he recommends.  A brother of his
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 also
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 again.  I
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 long
way to go).  I've met Strider and he's a model dog citizen and master of
calming signals.  He's a big German Shepherd and Yoshi has never reacted
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 fix this
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 him
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 this

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 advantage.

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 complete shithead
Hi Trish,

(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.

Ellen Clary
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 out.

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.

Thu Oct19
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 leash.

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 well.

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 really sure.

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 aggression.

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 I know.)

Talked some more about Gentle Leader vs Harness.  She's not a big 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 (http://www.amazon.com/Think-Owners-Guide-Canine-Psychology/dp/1570762503/sr=1-1/qid=1160889418/ref=sr_1_1/104-1940426-6325504?ie=UTF8&s=books), and Behavior Problems in Dogs by William Cambell (http://www.amazon.com/Behavior-Problems-Dogs-William-Campbell/dp/0966870506/sr=1-2/qid=1160889298/ref=sr_1_2/104-1940426-6325504?ie=UTF8&s=books)

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 forward.

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 way higher.

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 punish it.

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 independence.

Reviewing his expressions tape to see what to include on a DVD for Trish King.

Sections are:
The trick will be to get enough time to put this together by Saturday.

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 conditions.

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 park.

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. :)

Ellen Clary
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 he was.

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 too.)

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 surprise there.

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 - hurray.

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 Netflix).

No agility or herding this week, so we're going to take extra time to make sure they get lots of play time.

Go to:

Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - June 2006
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Yoshi Training Diary - Mar 2006
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Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2005
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