Yoshi Training Diary - February 2006
By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)
Feedback is welcome:
Tues Feb 28
Walk with clicker and cheese. Success! (Mostly.) Saw
3 dogs and the same strategy worked. I start clicking as soon as
I see the dog (which is usually before him as I know where to
look). 2 were on the other side of the street and he was fine
with them, one was on the same side as us and he did lunge at that one
as I didn't see them in time to clear away some space (We were
waiting to cross a street and I saw them approach but didn't see the
dog - fortunately the owner was very good and the Mallenois was
fine). So across the street distance is ok pretty much but closer
is much tougher.
I also click for any sound that could possibly be considered
scary. Dogs barking at us, sirens, screeching tired, children
crying or yelling. Makes walks more fun and helps my
attitude. Oooo scary sound. Click. He's liking it too.
Mon Feb 25
Jessie came by with Cathy and Yoshi and her played for a while.
Then they both came up on the sofa and cuddled with all of us.
Fri Feb 24
Class with Lori Drouin. He did very well. i've taken
to starting to click/reward him from the moment I see another dog
before he ever sees the dog and well before he has a chance to
react. This approach is working so far. in fact he only
barked a couple of times when I wasn't paying attention and another dog
walked in. and also when Andrea's young poodle Freddie (who loves
corgis) started barking for the same reason (Yoshi is nothing if not a
joiner). While paying hyper attention is tiring, it really yields
much better results.
Lori's class was very good also. Lots of familiar faces.
Worked on lots of subtle things like getting them to look at you when
you say "ready" (though Freddie was wondering why everyone was saying
his name :), trying to teach a dog about rear awareness by heeling
around cones (right angles, not curving around them). Worked on
front by getting them to go out for a treat and then recalling them and
having them front between two cones. Did recalls down a row of
cones and then did a front exercise while moving backward looping
through the cones in an S pattern. Also worked on stand, stay,
heeling backward, dogs head position, heel take one step and sit and
When Yoshi was woofing/hrumphing at another dog, Lori advised that I move in front of him to "own" the area in front of him.
She also suggested that I concentrate mentally on what I expect him to
do, not what I worry that he might do, as that will help raise the
expectations rather than living down to them.
Wed Feb 22
I'm still somewhat under the weather, but felt better later on
in the day. Went on a walk with clicker and cheese and he was
very good. We didn't see any dogs which is one reason he was so
good but we had to groups of people pass by and this usually makes him
initially growly, so as soon as I saw them I started to click/treat
himand continued to do so as they passed by. He was great at
this. I'm quite sure he won't initally be as good when there's a
dog around, but it's a start. The idea is that you create good
associations for a stimulus that he originally found scary ("counter conditioning"). You
know you're on the right track when the stimulus appears and he looks
to you for a treat (instead of growling or posturing or barking or
lunging or whatever you don't want to happen.)
The Spray Commander Remote continues to eat batteries so I called
Premier the manufacturer and they're going to be sending me another one
(and I have sent this one back.)
Tues Feb 21
I'm ill and very run down. Not doing much today.
Mon Feb 20
Walk at noon with clicker and cheese - went well.
Jessie came by with Cathy for our Six Feet Under night. Yoshi was
fairly polite probably because Cooper wore him out the day before.
Sun Feb 19
Yoshi got to go to Camp Cooper while we went snowshoeing in the Tahoe area. He's quite tired. Phew.
Sat Feb 18
What a treat. He got to see Grandmom Elizabeth
today! She was in town on her way back to Vermont after visiting
her mom in Fresno.
While I don't know if he specifically remembers her, on some level he
does as it's obvious that he finds her scent very comforting as he was
thrilled to be held by her and cuddle with her.
We discussed getting a female canine house manager and there are some
possibilities. I did mention that he had so much fun with other
less dominate males that it was vaguely tempting to get a playmate for
him but it would be continuous Romper Room here then and while that
would be entertaining I think it would be exhausting too and honesly I
think Yoshi would prefer to have another dog in charge.
We also talked about what his life was like at her house and what
opportunities he had to learn how to gracefully accept another dog's
concession. She said that the dog hierarchy by the time his
litter came along was very well entrenched and that there were not any
younger dogs around. He was very good about yielding to
adults, but really didn't have much experience on the other
end. Emma Parsons talks about teaching a dog a few calming
signals and that seems to nudge that knowledge into coming out of
dormancy, but I don't know how to start teaching a dog about accepting
Being slugs and not doing much beyond fetch.
Wed Feb 15
Obedience class. He did suprisingly well, even when another dog
(who doesn't normally go there very often) broke away from his tie down
to chase after one of Hazel's demo dogs while she was showing us one
way to teach fast heeling. The dog was quickly caught and Yoshi
barked some but nothing really to speak of. The other dog kept
fusing so I took Yoshi outside just to keep him from getting stressed
and I just poked my head in to hear the demo. When Hazel moved on
to a different aspect we went back in and he did fine for the rest of
the class. Even sits and downs were flawless even though several
of the other dogs were antsy - he didn't even seem worried.
I'm wondering if the time I brought him to class while he was on Pet
Calm has given him the experience of getting through class without
being a freaky dog. Well one can always hope.
Tue Feb 14
In search of dogs to not bark at. Dogwalk with the
citronella collar and string cheese. We got about 20 feet when
another dog appeared. I went up my neighbor's driveway and
started rewarding him for attention but when he saw the dog he really
wanted to lunge and bark. I was slightly out of position and hit
the tone button instead which had no effect (I deliberately am not
using it except to test the battery when it's not on him.) I took
another step away from the street and hit the longer spray button (#3)
by mistake (I was aiming for #2). That sure got his attention,
and then he paid attention to me which earned him lots of cheese.
Halfway through at Gibbons and Central we saw another dog and he only
sort of tried to bark but I pulled on the leash and his focus came back
The we were nearly home and another dog appeared. We retreated
down my other neighbor's driveway and I started treating him for
attention. This time I was fully prepared. When he saw the
dog and lunged He got a #2 spray and he immediately desisted and
focused on me. Good dog, here have the rest of the cheese.
He maybe getting it I hope.
Sun Feb 12
It's sunny and we're having a frapfest today. It was sunny
and beautiful and we took a moment to feel for those in New England
getting deluged with 29" of snow. Attending were Spark, Cooper,
Yoshi, Jessie, and also Buddy sequestered behind an expen fence.
Buddy found the chaos stressful, but everyone else had a marvelous
time. Even Spark stopped patrolling and started to play with
Cooper and Yoshi (though he and Yoshi would trade off on playing the
fun police) and when it was just Spark and Yoshi, he (Spark) really
seemed to blossom. Cooper and Yoshi traded off in the
reestablishing of the holes that had been filled in and much dirt was
transported around the yard (though not as much inside the house this
Yoshi seemed to figure out how to modulate the intensity of his play so
that Spark felt comfortable. Yoshi and Cooper tend to really wale
on each other and I think Spark found that initially
intimidating. (Yoshi and Cooper seem like classic boys in love
that express their affection by knocking the stuffing out of each
other, though at other times they have their sweet moments too like ear
and eye licking.)
Thur Feb 9 or Fri Feb 10
Success with the citronella collar.
We went out on a walk/dog stalking mission. I put the collar on
him the remote in one hand and cheese in the other (a version of carrot
and stick). We almost got through the whole walk without seeing a
dog and every other stimulus he would look to me and get
rewarded. So i was wondering what he would actually be ok with
another dog (well I can hope).
We turned the last corner for home and there 75 feet away was a
husky. Hooray. The husky and their person crossed the
street so it gave me a moment to set up while taking advantage of a car
being between us and them, and I was rewarding him for attention on me
and also for "oh there's a dog" (which doesn't mean a thing to him yet,
but he likes the resulting treat). I then let him see the dog
going by and he immediately locked on visually and barked and started
to lunge. SPRAY. He immediately stopped and started backing
up shaking his head and basically going ptttth, pttth, pttth.
Then he tried to lunge again. SPRAY. More backing up and
more pttth, pttth, pttth. Then he looked at me. "GOOD BOY!"
(Should have said YES, but he understood my meaning) "have some
cheese." We followed the dog for a little while and then turned
around and went home. Phew.
Wed Feb 8
Did some fetch with the medium size tennis ball today.
With no treat which made him less inspired to do anything. I then
went and got some bread and used that until he heard a squirrel in the
tree and then he was off to check that out. So we went inside and
did fetch in there and he was all for it.
I'm trying to insist that he put it in my hand. I have to
make a criteria decision here. Do I want him to hold it or just
drop it in my hand. I think for now the latter as he's starting
just now to get that it has to go in my hand and now just be dropped
near enough for me to possibly catch it.
He's also starting to get "take" as when I offer a stuffed kong or a
toliet paper roll he will take it, and he used to just want to lick it
while i held it.
Tonight is obedience class. Trying to decide if I have time to take him to the dogpark or on a dogwalk beforehand.
Tue Feb 7
He met Diana, Cali's dogwalker, today.He was initially leary but
as soon as she gave him some cheese he was won over. We're going
to use her as a backup if Mark and Jan can't dog sit him. Turns
out that Diana met Mark and Jan under some very unusual
circumstances. She accidentally ran into both of their cars while
the cars were parked. Fortunately it all worked out and she chose
to run into some very nice folks (good choice.)
Diana played fetch with him some with the mini and medium size tennis balls.
Mon Feb 6
Sun Feb 5
Terri and i went skiing and he got to spend the day at Camp
Cooper. Mark noticed something interesting is that twice Cooper
got what Yoshi thought was too rough and Yoshi came running right up to
Mark instead of escalating. i think he's figuring out that Cooper
is twice his size and he's figuring out that Cooper is figuring this
out. Mark and yoshi went inside and not long afterward Cooper
came in and they were back to wrestling and cuddling again. I'm
pleased to hear of him learning to set limits.
Another encouraging thing that could have turned out very differently
is that one of Jan's older birds fell to the floor and was a little
stunned and knocked the wind out of himself. So "Sammy" was just
sitting there on the floor and Yoshi was there worrying about him and
pacing around him until Jan appeared (having heard Yoshi's worried
pacing.) She says that Yoshi has never bothered the birds.
I'm just glad that Sammy wasn't thrashing around as Yoshi is so
stimulated by motion.
As an experiment, I've stopped giving him the Bach Flower Remedies.
Sat Feb 4
Dog park. I replaced the battery but mistakenly changed it
twice so the old battery was in there. It worked once or twice
and quit. Jury's still out on whether he notices it at all.
I think he notices it and reacts some but when he's in chase mode he
may likely ignore it.
Fri Feb 3
Just my luck (or his) that the other battery died in the
citronella training collar (I may not use the tone in training but I
find it's an excellent way to test it before I put it on him. So
when I took him on a dog walk I brought along the Binaca instead.
We turned the corner and there was a dog standing there. He
started to growl and posture and I gave him a short spray of it and he
immediately stopped. He was remarkably not insistent on barking
at this dog and I'm realizing now it's because the dog was standing
still. He reacts much more strongly to dogs in motion.
wonder he doesn't much care for herding. Herding is mostly about
getting livestock that is standing still to move, yes there is the
occasional break away, but it's just his luck that the sheep (and ducks
too) he gets tend to stare him down and say "Make my day." Jill
Lockhart noticed this when she first showed him her rather flightly
ducks (he was on leash) and he was very interested, but Joyce Shephard
thinks this is more prey drive that herding. Don't know, but it
helps me understand him more and his triggers. In a way he's much
more like a Border Collie (without the size and intimidation factor)
and I'm sure the BC folks would have lots of tips for controlling his
motion obsession. Though I notice that most of the ways they
redirect their dogs attention is by playing tug which he will do some,
but even after months of work on it he's only mildly interested in it
so it's not a good redirector for him. Rewarding attention with
clicks and treats (in particular cheese) is currently the most
effective, and the mild adversive of Binaca or Citronella seems to help
also though I'm worried about the "poisoning" of any cue I give him
besides the corrective "Hey!" so I don't mix clicking with correcting
at all, (though I do mix praise and sometimes treats in for making a
good choice when using adversive training). This makes things a
challenge as I have to pick ahead of time what method I'm going to use
in advance. No wonder the clicker folks are so not into
correction training as it's really hard work and your timing and
criteria have to be spot on.
It's also interesting to me that it's dogs that are approaching or
walking by that are a trigger, but as soon as a dog has walked by the
dog is suddenly no longer an issue. This is only if the dog is
walking on leash and he's on leash. This doesn't apply if the dog
is running (as that much be controlled), or if a dog is on leash
and he is not. The latter case is one that I still find
mysterious. I joke that it's "Great, you hold him and I'll get
him." but that's just a cover for the fact that I have no idea why
leashed dogs are such a trigger.
Thur Feb 2
Wed Feb 1
Obedience class tonight. With the spray collar and 1/2 a dropper of the Pet Calm stuff.
Well it was raining bats and frogs so there was only one other dog (a
Toller named Chili whom he likes) so I didn't even bother with the
collar as the Pet Calm was keeping him pretty mellow, but still able to
concentrate and do a good job.
His heeling was very good and we noticed something interesting on the
figure 8. He started off fantastic and then I gave him a treat
and that messed up his concentration and he completely lost form.
Barbara (who was subbing for Hazel that night) suggested that just a
word and praise might be enough and if I wanted to give him a treat to
stop completely and break off the exercise. i asked how that fit
in with Lori's stressing reward at every part of the exercise and she
said that's where the "Yes" would come in. He's already
conditioned to the "yes" marker word so we tried that and it seemed to
work ok. (Not fantastic, but decently and is a workable option.)
4 open dogs (all dogs he has seen before and greeted) came in an he was
a little fussy, but not as barky as he usually is when "new" dogs
appear on the scene. And once we all settled into a place for
sits and downs he did great. The only thing that went awry was he
laid down once on the sit, but immediately sat back up when I went back
to him. I am nearly standing across the room now and he generally
is fine with that though he is much more fine with the Pet Calm.
I do worry that I'm drugging him too much, but this is a very small
amount and will give him even less next time.
It's just occurring to me that he is getting close to having the skills
necessary to compete. I'll have to work on his finish and his off
leash heeling and more on his stand and routinely walking behind
him. Fortunately the corgi specialty is not until May.
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
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2005
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
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Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2004
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Yoshi Training Diary - July 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Jun 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2004
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