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 repeat.

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 submission.  Hmmmmm.

Thur, Fri
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 to me.
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 time.)

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. 

No 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
Day off.

Wed Feb 1
Obedience class tonight.  With the spray collar and 1/2 a dropper of the Pet Calm stuff.

[after class]
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.

Go to:

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
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov 2004
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Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - July 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Jun 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - May 2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Apr 2004

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