Yoshi Training Diary - September 2006

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

Feedback is welcome:

Sat Sep 30
Went on a dog walk to look for dogs.  Didn't see too many but the ones he did he still wanted to charge up to them.  Though he did then see two sitting catty corner from the corner he was fine and I fed him a fair bit of the rest of his dinner while waiting for the walk signal.  And the of course when the walk signal comes on he start barking at them because they're moving now.  The little shit <g>.  He doesn't seem to be that upset at them.  I'm still pondering when he's upset and it seems to be when he's on his own property and else where it seems more like "I'm gonna get you" type herding behavior.  When Joe who was working on the garage doors appeared at the kitchen door he seemed really upset and was barking in a very defensive way and it seemed different than when he sees a dog out of the street.

He's pretty good at the look at something and look at me game, but he still wants to charge the dogs.  I don't know if I need to increase the treat value, or the distance, or if I should change tactics because I have inadvertenly set up a behavior chain of having a barking/lunging outburst and then resuming the game of look at the dog look at me.

Finally got a chance to see the TTouch video from Cathy and I spent some time working on him spending a lot of time on his ears and face and he relaxed and dozed off while I was working on him.  He eventually got so relaxed that when the video was over he went to bed.  I think the eventual goal with this would be to try it in the presence of dogs in the distance and see if it helps him relax.

So there are three or four different strategies we can try when he sees a dog. 

[that night]
Mark brought Cooper over for the afternoon and they had a marvelous time racing around and wrestling and snoozing.

I've been noticing that T-Touch is more effective than Zen-Downs at getting Yoshi to relax.  The light massage on the forehead and ears is amazingly effective.

When he sees a dog at the window the only incompatible behavior that seems effective is a recall and if the dog is near not even that works and I have to tackle him.  If it's a dog he's seen before then I can get him to calm down and we can watch the dog.  If it's just people I can touch him and we can watch them together. 

So I think that him seeing dogs from the living room window is much more stressful that seeing them on neutral territory.  This is a bummer as it's really easy to sit and wait for dogs to appear rather than having to walk or drive to find them.

Fri Sep 29
"Yoshi Down" is indeed working better.  Though it will take some doing to get him to do it in the presence of stock or dogs, but it may be the answer to his lunging.  I asked some herding people about it and not surprisingly it takes a while to teach.  I will want to work on his remote down probably on a towel in the Living Room to start with.

Thur Sep 28
Herding.  It was cooler today so all of the corgis except Iris were a little silly.  Yoshi didn't want to stay at the gate and he didn't want to sit for her at the start either.  Cooper thought it was fun playing billiards with the sheep by running in the middle of them and scattering them in all directions.  (Er, Cooper, the game is herding - i.e. keeping them together.)  Once Yoshi got going he was generally fine, but even he was crowding the sheep a bit much.  What's interesting is that all the dogs are getting quieter.  Except for Corbu apparently who was being (I didn't see it) not the golden boy he usually is.  I think as the dogs get more confidence they're experimenting with other behaviors around the sheep and pushing boundaries.

During when he wasn't running we worked on "Lie Down" and i'm not entirely convinced it's better than just saying "Down."  I would say "lie down" and he would look at me like "Am I supposed to do something different?"  If I them said "Down" he would usually down.  So maybe I should go back to "down" and if I needed to make it longer say his name first "Yoshi, down."

It's interesting to me that for the most part he still wants to be near me when he downs, with the exception of the agility table.  He will happily charge up to it and down without me having to be near him.  (Yes, this is a real kick to watch as this is one thing he's much better at than Cali ever was - I think because I'm better at training it now.)  I think the Table Down works so well as it's well defined.  The table has edges and he knows what's expected of him.  (No, I haven't gotten the remote sit working yet, but only AKC has a sit on the table right now and the higher level AKC competitions don't have a table because of time constraints.)  I wonder if I had a blanket or a towel to practice remote downs on if that would help.  He's great about running to a target an standing on it and he's great about running to the table so it's not much of a jump (no pun intended) and I could bring a towel to his classes.  Maybe one of those brown towels that we use for just about everything involving serious dirt.

The Bayteam jump auction ended while we were at class.  Garill decided that she had to bid it up as she couldn't get a hold of the top bidder to see if they could reach some agreement.  I had bowed out of the bidding when it went over the price of a new jump (and thus I knew the club was going to get a nice donation regardless of who won.)  Now Garill has to decide if she wants all 10 and there's been enough interest that she doesn't feel comfortable taking all of them, so it's possible that I may get 2 at what I was bidding ($105.)  But if not, I can always get them from Candy (agilityworks.com) for $100.

No class next week as Debbie will be out of town judging.  For Debbie to handle Yoshi during the trial it's $25 a day so $50 for both days that I can give to her on that Sunday.  I also gave her a $100 check for 5 more lessons (starting tonight).

Wed Sep 27
Rest day.
Patricia McConnell is talking in her book about the fact that dogs have an amygdala which is the part in the brain that associates actions with emotions which makes it strongly suggestive that dogs indeed do have emotions.  My brain has really latched on to this as it means that the burden of proof is on those who claim that dogs don't have emotions.  They can't just get away with being the default claim.  We now have concrete evidence that suggests otherwise.

Tue Sep 26
Agility class.  I think I'm going to do some run with him starts as he didn't want me to do a long lead out so I just came back and did a run from the line start and that was a lot of fun and he seemed less stressed, and he was faster.  It's possible he needs more confidence for me to do a more than 2 jump lead out and I'd rather he learn to run with speed right now and work on finessing such details later.

Sharon is in China teaching and judging next week so no class next week.

Mon Sep 25
Took him to Lincoln Park and he met an Old English Sheepdog who was very gentle with him - even laid down to get to his level, and wasn't put off by being barked at.  He also saw a lab that he barked at then settled down enough to watch.  And he even saw some dogs across the street and didn't bark at them.

Had Jesse over and while they were playing I used the "Enough" cue and he broke off with her immediately which is very encouraging.

Sun Sep 24
Last night I started reading For the Love of a Dog - Understanding Emotion in You and your Best Friend by Patricia McConnell.  It's her new book and the only reason I got it was because I'm going to a seminar presented by her on Nov 12th in Novato, and it's the subject.  I mainly registered for it to see her and to get an idea of her presentation style.  I wasn't expecting to learn a lot of new training techniques since it's not intended as a training manual at all, just a new perspective on dogs and emotions.  Wrong.  I'm only in chapter 2 and she tells the story of her and her BC Luke at a herding fun match.  Luke is on a beautiful long out run and she sees that the live stock guardian dog for that flock (a Great Pyrenees) has escaped and is racing on an attack vector right towards Luke (it's the Great Pyr's job to defend the flock from coyotes and strange dogs.)  This is a very dangerous situation, and Luke could easily by hurt badly or even killed.  She yelled out that the guardian dog was loose and was wondering what to do besides look on in terror (Luke is way far away), when a very wise woman behind her said "Down your dog."  McConnell called out "Luke, Lie Down" and Luke (who is 12 years old and has a lot of training) "hit the dirt."  This very likely saved his life.  The Pyr came up, sniffed him from butt to nose and then trotted off to check on his flock (this is on page 6 after an excellent lengthy roman numberaled introduction).

I realized that if I can get Yoshi to down on cue like this when he's either herding or chasing a squirrel or a dog then that would solve everything.  He might even learn to relax better (we're progressing on that but in much less stimulating environments.)  It seems like it's asking a lot, but more advanced level herding dogs down in the presence of livestock all the time.

After some consideration I think I'm going to switch to using "Lie Down" instead of just "Down" as it gives that much more of a cue (sometimes he's truly missed hearing the single syllable) I could say "Yoshi Down," but it's faster to say "Lie Down."  I intro'ed it to him in the bathroom and since the word is basically the same he did fine.  It took him out and practiced it there and he did pretty well.  He is not used to downing from moving (like walking or jogging), so that's what we're going to have to work on (I switched to just saying "Down" and that got a better response.  He wants to come first before downing and in his case that's fine though for a working herding dog that's not good as you usually don't want the dog and the handler on the same side of light sheep as they'll take off.  He also want to go to the table so we had some fun with sending him to the table, downing, staying, and then coming to me for a reward and I'm across the yard the entire time.  Pretty good for a dog who's never competed. <g>

If I can get him to remote down while he's in high drive then that would be excellent.  The only bummer about this is that it would likely mean more herding training and I had been looking forward to stopping after his HT and I would have to learn it too since I think that Debbie only handles dogs through the HT level.

Another way to train him in high drive is around squirrels and other dogs.  We just got an example that he doesn't hear so well when another dog is barking, as Annie started barking across the street and Yoshi went hurtling by barking and charged into the living room ignoring my calling him.  I stopped calling as I didn't want to train him to ignore me, and when to the threshold between the kitchen and the LR (he was up on the sofa looking through the window) and said "Yoshi Come" and he did his frustration yip and came right away and I rewarded him with treats from the frig.  In another instance he was in less drive but I was able to call him over to me and put him in a down and he stayed there for a couple of minutes until I released him and rewarded him.

So the key appears to be control when he's racing at something moving and in high drive.  A way to keep him thinking when the predatory brain wants to take over.  I'll have to find someway to approach this.  One is have him down when he's on leash.  And then have him down when dogs are in the distance.  Right now we've been working on sitting when other dogs walk by and we may have more success with that initially.

I really should start a list of dog related quotes,
Starting of course with Jean Donaldson

"Dogs chew furniture because what else could it possibly be for?"

"Trainers think of the 4 F's when it comes to motivation.

Thu Sep 21
I woke up at 5:30am to a barfing doggy.  I think it was an upset tummy from yesterday's stress gobbling of kibble.  It was liquid kibble, no chuncks and nothing else.  Likely the best that could be hoped for as vomit goes.  I had a clue last night that something wasn't quite right as he wanted to chow down on grass and I only let him have a little.  I grow the grass from seed and I only use compost as fertilizer so I know it wasn't some internal poisoning from a commercial fertilizer.  And the gardener only takes care of the front lawn and I tell him not to use weed killer because I have a dog.  He also wanted to drink a ton of water and I only let him have about 1/2-3/4 of a cup before telling him he'd had enough.  While I'll keep an eye on him I think he's ok and he seemed quite enthusiastic about breakfast.  I think if I see these symptoms again I'll give him 1/2 a tums at night and see if that helps.  And with any luck, his stress level will go down and he won't be gobbling the kibble as quickly.  I'll also try to not let him have a whole bunch at once too. (He's actually one of those rare dogs that chews his food instead of gulps it.)

Herding tonight.  Trish King suggested that I work on moving away from the crate and then walking back to treat him.  I did a little of that at agility class will try more tonight.

Wed Sep 20
We may actually be getting somewhere though I hardly dare hope.
While he's been showing decided behavioral improvement in agility and herding class when he sees unknow dogs while out on walks he still reacts. 

This time we were in Lincoln Park where we often go to look for dogs.  I also bring along some of his dinner to use as treats.  This time when I saw the first dog the dog was about 100 yards away so I had a lot of time to get ready.   This time we went to a place on the grass about 100 feet (not yards) away from the walkway the dog and person were on and sat down.  I had a handful of treats in my hand and I had my other hand in his collar.  I started "There's a dog" way in advance of when he could actually see the dog (this probably didn't matter but thought I'd mention it.)  when the dog appeared I was holding his collar and placed my treat hand right on top of his nose with the treats right in front of his mouth.  He was trying to lunge and bark, but the treats went right in his mouth and that seemed to immediately change his mind and gobbled the treats while watching the dog (I'm still holding him by the collar and the arm of that hand is touching his body.)  As the dog passed by he started to relax and it may be my immagination by I think I saw a light bulb go off above his head.  We then walked on and when we were outside of the park and walking back along High Street to Santa Clara I saw another dog.  I kneeled down placing myself between him at the dog (I let him see the dog) and held his collar and gave him kibble.  He initially growled at the dog, but them decided that the kibble was much better.  Almost immediately after that, we saw another dog (a big lab - which is virtually a guarantee of a reaction from him) and did the same thing.  Unlike a lot of dogs, he definitely seems to find touch reassuring.  In this position he was able to sort of see the dog on the other side of the street and eat kibble.  After we crossed Santa Clara he was happily looking at me for the rest of the kibble to the point that he actually missed seeing the first dog we saw again.  (Either that or he saw the dog and ignored it, but I don't think he's too that point yet.)

All in all a very good walk.  He was wearing his harness but I think it is too small for him (weird corgi body) and it rubs his shoulders.  I guess we should try the next size up though that's almost guarenteed to be too large.

Tue Sep 19
Agility class.  Again behaviorally he was great, and even Jake who he has mugged before was there.  Jake's owner Julie was being very careful to initially stay in between the two of them which I was happy for but they didn't seem to need it.  Jake in particular wanted nothing to do with Yoshi and Yoshi wasn't paying much attention to him except to look at him and look back at me for a treat.

Agility-wise he generally did well though he would stop from time to time and decide to sniff which usually means something is stressing him.  I can now do a 3 jump lead out with him staying though sometimes I have to go back to reset him.  I was able to do a cross behind while throwing a tug and treat over the jump.  His weaves while good and reasonably speedy are not really independent of me though I'm honestly not sure how much I care though if I anticipate the next obstacle he will pop out at pole 10.  Even so, I have to keep in mind that he's still relatively new at this and with that in mind he's doing great.

Sun Sep 17
An email I sent to Trish and Toni:


I'm rereading Culture Clash now that I have the 2nd edition and came across a relevant section on page 89 in the Rehab of Aggressive Dogs part that in a way seems to be the crux of the issue and I'm not sure about the answer.

...your only task regarding the goings-on inside the dog's brain is to answer  to following question when confronted with an aggressive dog: Is this dog upset?  In other words, is this dog anxious, worried, afraid or experiencing some unpleasant emotion or other?  In the case of most aggressive dogs, the answer is "yes," but there are some cases - predation and bullying of other dogs for instance - where the dog is not.

She then goes on to say if it's "yes" do classical conditioning first (while she doesn't say do "bar open" it's likely what she means), if "no" then "blast away" at operant conditioning - "manipulating consequences to alter what the dog is doing."

In Yoshi's case, it seems to be both yes and no.  Or more like: was "yes," but now that bullying is working so well then "no" most of the time.  When he's outside not on his territory (like at the Humane Society) the answer seems to be "no," but when he is on his own property and a dog comes near he certainly seems to be more in the "yes." category.  Would you all agree or am I missing something?

He behavior is very much like what corgi packs do when the see a new dog or person.  Hurtle full speed up to the newcomer (human or dog), screaming "STOP!" "Prepare to be sniffed." (A la: The CORG if you will :)

He's such an odd duck, but I'm trying to keep the philosophy that he is a fun challenge, and if we get ahold of this then he's going to be a great agility dog.

Am working on the calming exercises in the house first.  Later on will have to find a very large park with long sightlines where we can try it from a distance..

I finally found a reference once I used the right key words:

Oh an next time I'm bringing a video camera just in case we see any other gems like him play bowing to a large stuffed Doberman toy. :)


Poor guy jammed a toenail from overly long nails (my bad), so didn't want to walk much.  I took him up and down the street with the harness just to get him out and so see if there were any dogs out.  We saw two, one he barked at and one he out tried to lunge at (from across the street).  As soon as him hit the end of the leash the harness made him flip rather dramatically which was amusing and left me thankful that he didn't have a GL on.  We'll have to see how this plays out over time.  He's still not fighting it which is nice.

He's not really limping now, so I'm quite sure it was a toe jam.  Got some great fetch in in the wanning daylight.  At the Bayteam USDAA regional I bought 2 of every color a vendor had of medium size tennis balls and not surprisingly I've have the most sucess with bright orange.  I can now throw it most of the way across the yard and he'll run and get it and bring it back to my hand.  Two or three times he stopped early and got distracted.  So one time I called him back and mimed throwing it again (this worked) and another time I waited till he looked back at me and mimed throwing it again (this worked too.)  another time I stood up and walked a pace in the direction of the ball saying "Get It"  This also worked.  He seems to be starting to enjoy the game though he really likes the reward of his dinner for every retreive.  If I stay consistent I should have a fetching feind with any luck.

Success at the front window.  He started barking at a dog and I held onto him encouraging him to be quiet and just watch the dog.  I did get him to stop barking and instead he just made growly noises which is fine.  But we were able to just watch the dog across the street (a Golden I believe) walk by.  There is hope - this is the 2nd or 3rd time we've been able to do this.  Afterwards I got him to lie on the sofa while I massaged him and he was able to relax.

Sat Sep 16
Drum roll.  Today is the day that he sees Trish King.  Toni has decided to join Terri and I which is really going to help relaying information and observations.

It's after the meeting and it was so productive that it's going to be tough to summarize.  The really excellent thing is that between Trish and Toni's efforts I don't think I'm going to have to pack him off to Michigan (Brenda Aloff) or Wisconsin (Patricia McConnell) or military school.

The meeting started out with us, Trish, a notetaker and an observer (whose names I don't remember) and Yoshi of course.  We spent some time flushing out background information and what the issues were (his lunging and bullying being primary.)  Trish spent some time handling him (and saying he was very cute :) and talked about how it appeared that even though he has had a lot of training, he is very high drive and could really use to learn how to relax.  We talked about her method of teaching the dog "Zen Downs" (http://www.animalfarmfoundation.org/item.php?id=1&topic=26&item=192%20) where you hold the dog in position until they relax..

He also started to alarm bark at a cat toy on the shelf, and then the funniest moment was when Trish pulled a large Doberman stuff toy out of a crate.  Yoshi initially hid behind Trish's leg and then carefully came out to sniff noses with it.  He then sniffed it's rear and then came back to the front and gave a play bow.  Not getting a reaction he did it again (and we all regretted not videotaping it, while we tried not to laugh).  He then came back around to the rear of the dog and Trish layed it on its side so Yoshi could get a good sniff and figure out that it wasn't a dog.  Trish summed it up his thinking: "It's a toy, I'm so embarrassed."

She also decided that since he was still fighting with the Gentle Leader even after using it for well over a year that she wanted to see how he would do with a SENSI-ible harness (softouchconcepts.com) where the leash is attached to the front.  After fitting him in one he didn't fight it at all.  Trish describes it as a Gentle Leader for the body, where you can pull on it without risk to their necks.  It's also ok to keep easy tension on it like you would do a horse rein.  If he lunges you just pull him in another direction and it turns him around.

We then took him outside and thankfully he was a complete shit for a while barking at every dog that came near (fortunately none of "the car works perfectly at the mechanic's" scenario).  We went into a fenced area where we worked on using the harness and he telling me that I was being too nice in a way and if I wanted to go in another direction I should just go in that direction and not bother telling him about it as unlike with the GL you can pull on it without hurting the dog.

Trish had someone get Stryder her GSD that she's spent over a year and a half teaching how to be calm.  He's very good at it now.  He came in and immediately didn't pay attention to Yoshi but instead started sniffing the ground a distance away (major Calming Signals).  Yoshi went racing up to him but stopped barking when he got closer and then started giving him a serious sniff over which Stryder nicely put up with.  Then every thing was ok and we took Yoshi off leash and he tried to get Stryder to play.  Which wasn't very successful, but let Yoshi burn some steam running in circles.

There was another dog on the fence on the other side that he immediately tried to fence fight with.  Trish showed me how she places herself inbetween the dog and the fence to discourage the fence agression.  (A la this is my fence, you go over there.)  I haven't decided how much to worry about fencing as it's such a good form of exercise but if I were going to allow him to do it I'd have to have a lot more control of the game.

After the session in the small fenced area Yoshi seemed a lot more relaxed, and Trish is leaning towards the thought that the bullying is a fun game that he's discovered (rather than it still being fear based - see the next day's entry and email for more on this.)

We then spent the rest of the time working on Abandoment Training where you use the dogs propensity to want to be with you to compete with the desire to lunge.  The idea being that you have the dog on a long line in addition to the regular leash.  Trish was holding the long line.  The scenario is that you have another dog approach and when Yoshi starts to react I would throw down the leash (maybe saying "leave it" or "let's go") and take off running in the other direction and optionally hiding (though calling him).  With the long line Trish keeps Yoshi from getting closer to the other dog but lets him run back to me.

Now this is tricky to summarize as since I was hiding I wasn't watching.  We had some amusing false starts as the first approaching dog was Andrea's Freddy her young poodle who Yoshi has met (in Lori Drouin's class) and likes so he didn't react to him.  Then we tried Django (also a poodle).  Still no reaction.  Then they brought out a slightly goofy yellow Lab, and of course Yoshi reacted.  (Subsequent dogs like a mixed breed shelter hound and Trish's terrier also got reactions). When prompted I through down the leash and ran off, but Yoshi didn't seem to feel very abandoned and still wanted to get the Lab.  Things got better when I hid for other trial but Trish is thinking that maybe he gets attention too easily (certainly possible) and maybe we should practice ignoring him up to 50% of the time.  Maybe just having him in the room but not actively engaging him.

Terri observed to me later that when we're working on the computers or watching TV he's not always getting attention.  In fact, as I write this he's dozing in a snuggler bed at my feet, and he's certainly happy to go to bed by himself if we're not going to bed just yet.

So the plan is to:
 - Continue the Conditioned Emotional Response training with Toni
 - Do a lot of relaxation exercises with him (Zen Downs) first in the house and then in low stim environments
 - Ignore him some of the time so that him getting attention is our choice and not his
 - See her again in three weeks (Oct 14th, 9:30am) and we'll do more Abandonment Training

It was a very good session and it was fun to see folks I already knew from various classes.  We attracted something of a crowd as I'm sure whatever Trish is training is good for volunteers and interns to watch.

Fri Sep 15
Normally I would be taking him to Lori Drouin's class but I'm just blitzed and we have a meeting with Trish King tomorrow morning so we skipped it and I slept in.

Thu Sep 14
Herding Class.  I decided that I did have the energy to take him to class and was very happy that I did as he worked very well both in and out of the ring.  I was still raining treats on his head and we even walked smoothly by Raven and at a different time another dog without incident.  It did help that both times the other dogs were stationary.

Sat Sep 9 - Thu Sep 14
We get no work done as I have to attend a work class.
He gets to spend time with Cooper on Monday.

Thu Sep 7
Herding Class.  He was a little distracted on his first run but his second one he was focused and working well.
The in between time I had him in a crate and was raining treats on his head every time he'd look at a dog and then look at me.

Tue Sep 5
Agility Class.  He was kinda so so agility-wise (big case of the sniffs which may have been stress), but behaviorally I'm seeing quite a bit of improvement.  i tried the "Wait" and then "Sit" for when an unknown dog was around and he was much improved.  Not perfect but i can now see a way through this.  He is also much better about the look at the dog look at me routine.

The best part was that I had Karen play with her dog Rebel in the ring while we were doing a run.  When I released Yoshi he started to dash right up to them but I said a very firm "Come" and he came right to me (and got lots of treats for it.  This is very encouraging.  We'll have to see how he does tomorrow at the outside of the dog park.

Regarding agility still need to spend time working on a cross behind when going over a jump.  Underhand throwing of light colored treats is one strategy.

Email response from Toni:
From what you're telling me and I suspected that's what we'd see when we
went to the park. We have a case of leash frustration here. What we're
working on is exactly what is needed. We need to work with him under
threshold - before he goes nuts - until he knows the game well and can relax
even at close range to dogs. His reward will be getting to greet dogs
appropriately on leash.

Also, the Enough cue will be the one that teaches him to leave a dog alone.
Learning how to read other dogs' body language ourselves and cueing him at
the right time will teach him to read it as well. With some time he will
start self-regulating his play style according to the other dog's body

In addition, as he learns to remain calm, we can reward him with going into
the dog park and getting to play off leash.

See you later [Wed] at 6 pm at the dog park and we'll get started on it.

Mon Sep 4
From an email to Toni his behavioral trainer.

Hi Toni,

I had Yoshi at the Bay Team Agility Trial for Sunday morning and while
he was initially a basket case he did start to settle down and really
settled down when I put him in his crate and rained treats on his head
every time a dog would walk by and he would look at them and look at me.

I'm wondering if part of his frustration is not being able to interact
with the dog.  I'm trying to compare how he was when I was taking him to
the dog park and being generally loud and pushy but to a large extent
ok.  I'm wondering if we can work up to walking him in the park so he
can interact with the dogs.

The shame is that his passion is chasing a dog playing fetch and as long
as the other dog doesn't mind then he gets great exercise.  The trick
will be to get him to leave dogs that don't want to be harrassed alone.


So I'm wondering again if his bullying is misdirected herding behavior and maybe I should treat him exactly like he's reacting to stock.  This would involve putting him on a Wait (or recalling him) and then having him Sit or Down, until I tell him to do otherwise.  Good herding dogs are amazing that they can be in the middle of working the sheep and then do a down stay when told to.

Maybe I should learn to be a herding handler (much as I'd rather not) to be a better Yoshi handler. :)
Heck, I could even use herding commands at the dog park which sounds like an excellent, albeit lofty goal.

Took him on a walk through Lincoln park and saw two or three dogs on the way over.  When I can get his attention he does ok at the look at the dog or distraction look at me routine, though I do have to catch him before he reacts.  If I don't catch it in time and he reacts I can turn him around and then he will interact with me.

On the way back I would tell him to wait at non-standard places and have him sit.  Once I had him down and with some hesitation he did it - will need lots more work on this.  I think the key is to put him in mildly stimulating environments and then ask for sit or down.

When we got back I still had much of his kibble for his dinner in my pocket so we spent time with him on the back of the sofa on a down and eating kibble. I think it would be cool to teach him to down on the sofa back when a dog walks by but that may be asking too much - we'll see.

Sun Sep 3
Took Yoshi to the morning of the Bay Team trial.  He was as one might expect something of a basket case the first few minutes (maybe even an hour) but he started to settle down or go on overload one.  Spoke to Debbie O. about him and she was encouraged to hear that he was going to see Trish King and that we were already working with a behaviorist.  We talked about how another dog could keep him in line (Cali of course came up), or that a calming agent might allow him to experience dogs without freaking out so he then has that experience and maybe it will show him that he doesn't have to be a nut case.  But she was mostly encouraging the classical conditioning approach that we've been working on of letting him see the dog and then treating him.  ("There's a dog" looks at the dog and then looks back at me "Yes!" <treat>).  I also covered his eyes a couple of times which helped.

I set up his crate just outside Debbie A.'s canopy and we watched many dogs parade by and he got many treats for looking at them and not reacting.  He may be slightly more relaxed in his crate than out on leash.

He even got to meet a couple of whitish Jack Russell Terriers and was decently calm about it.  He did react and bark at Chloe at Bichon Fricshe, but saw her later and was able to tolerate her walking by a couple of times.

At noon the cloud cover started to clear and he'd eaten so many treats that I decided to talk him home.

I took half of his dinner and took him to the outside of the dog park.  That was too close so we walked around the perimeter of lower Washington Park and saw some dogs from a distance and got to see lots of chaos and get lots of kibble for tolerating it.  Went back to stand outside the little dog park and saw Donna and chatted for a bit, during which a small black pug like dog drove up with his people and he started to bark at that dog despite my covering his eyes.

Sat Sep 2
Bay Team USDAA Regional Trial.  I worked the whole day as a full time volunteer mostly scribing.  Didn't bring Yoshi as he's too much to handle and work at the same time.  Now I have a $50 certificate burning a hole in my pocket and hopefully I'll have the good sense to just give it to Sharon Freilich or Bay Team rather than buy toys.

Met a couple of BC puppies and I was very pleased that both owners complemented me on my puppy greeting style that I've been slowly evolving.  Basically I ask if I can say hello to the puppy and kneel down to her level (they were both female this time though it's worked for boys too) and I keep my arms at my sides (not reaching out to the dog) and let the puppy approach.  I shouldn't stare back at the puppy but it doesn't seem to matter too much with bold inquistive puppies.  (For a fearful dog I kneel down, looking at the ground and hold out a treat flat on my hand - something I only do for a dog I know is not going to bite.)  Once the puppy has initiated contact I then start petting them on their sides (I just bend my arms at the elbows) and then play it by ear as I've already been smothered with puppy kisses.

The main thing is to get down to their level and don't hover over them or come at them from above and let the puppy do the initiating of contact.

Ironically it was Yoshi who gave me lots of practice at this and he came to us as an older puppy.

Go to:

Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - June 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Mar 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Feb 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Jan 2006

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Sept 2005
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Yoshi Training Diary - Jul 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Jun 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Mar 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Feb 2005
Yoshi Training Diary - Jan  2005

Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Jun 2004
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