Yoshi Training Diary - Oct. 2004

By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)

Feedback is welcome:

Sun Oct 24

I don't remember if I've written about [not] brave, brave Sir Robin suddenly changing into Sir Lancelot (is that name actually a pun? Lance-a-lot?) if he [Yoshi] thinks Cali is threatened (and yes I don't think I can go very long without a Monty Python reference.)
After a year, Cali and Daisey the cat have been having some issues.  Daisey has the usual cat-centric oblivious attitude and likes to stare at the dogs and all this time the dogs have been ultra-respectful and doing the proper dog thing of turning their heads and averting their eyes (these are called "calming signals" - a way of telling the other animal that they are not a threat.)  The past month or so Daisey has been getting more brave around them and has been coming closer to Cali when she's laying down and sniffing at her.  Well you can guess where this is going.  Just put together curiosity and cats, and sleeping dogs and lying.  Cali has been barking her objections at Daisey  (I distinctly heard "back off you senile, old $#@$@!" or something like that) and Daisey has not relented, but instead has gotten more insistent.  So relations between them are strained.  Cali once tried to take a sniff at Daisey at close range and Daisey took a swipe at her, which Cali didn't appreciate.  This all would be fine as I know that Cali wouldn't hurt Daisey, but when one of these incidents happens, who will come tearing into the scene, but I'll-save-you Yoshi, and the vigor that he responses doesn't give me any assurance that he wouldn't accidentally hurt Daisey (who is all of 8 pounds and 18 years old).  In other situations, he and the cat are fine and pass within a foot of each other without incident.

So far they spend the day loose and can interact (Daisey has her own room that she can retreat into), but I'm not sure if we'll have to do anything in the future.

i have company over so doggies are soaking up extra attention.

Sat Oct 23
More rain.  I made Yoshi go out in it and he sulked and started to dig himself under the agility table before I dragged him out.  That made me laugh so I gave up and took him in and we went out later.

Wed Oct 20
This past few days I'm still doing the human pez dispenser routine for reinforcing his "here" (see Oct 12 for more info).  Gradually improving, but the squirrels are a powerful reinforcer.  To bad I don't know how to train them.

Tues Oct 19
Rain.  Big time.  And my Virginia boy didn't want to go out in it.  Given that I climb mountains for fun, my dogs are not allowed to be rain wusses.  So I went and got out the rain gear and a leash and took his little sulky self out in it.  I must have taken 5 minutes for him to finallly give up and pee.  Nice way for me to test out a new rain jacket, but it's a little silly.  But since then he hasn't balked about going out.

Sun Oct 17
Raining.  Went to Del Valle AKC but Cali only wanted to sniff so it was a real debacle.  After one class of her sniffing I scratched her from the next one and went home to do something useful.

This is our last trial for a while except for the USDAA Nationals in Scottsdale at the beginning of Nov.  After that trial Cali and I are going back to tracking.

Sat Oct 16
All four of us (Terri, Cali, Yoshi, and I) went to the CAT Madera USDAA trial.  Cali did very well.  Q'ed in Performance Grand Prix and also got 48 points in snooker, but unfortunately wasn't enough for a super Q.  Didn't Q in Gamblers as it required a dog carry out fairly fair after a jump to take a tunnel.  Cali went part of the way and stopped and looked at me.  I encourage her to continue but she didn't until i took two steps over the line.  So we still need to continue to work at sending out into a void.  (More target work).

Yoshi enjoyed himself, but wouldn't come when he saw some other dogs playing (we had both dogs off leash for a walk).  Still need to keep that reinforcement up.  He's used to playing with other dogs and will come when the other dog comes so being called off from playing is going to be a separate project (that may be tougher than squirrels.)

Wed Oct 13
Well he's still a live wire around squirrels but once I get him attention I can keep it for a little while, though he can be a roiugh as Cali was about taking treats when he's excited.  He doesn't get them until he chills out slightly but it's a balancing act if I'm trying to be just as interesting as the squirrels.
Before the squirrels arrived we worked on fetch and he's doing ok at it.

As a side note Cali is getting good at distance work so there's hope of us someday getting a Q in masters gamblers.  I can now send her out to the weaves from a distance and from a weird angle with me not moving.  Awesome.

Class is tonight.  I think I'll take both dogs and let Jim have a look at Yoshi.

Tues Oct 12

Spent last weekend at Placerville with Cali.  Cali got into the Steeplechase finals and got 3rd and a glorious $11.21.  I joke that I'm going to keep my Day Job. Yoshi stayed with Terri and was surprisingly low maintenance.
Last week he became very enthusiastic about charging into his crate for his meals ("go crate").  I then call him out of it ("ok here"), treat him with some of the kibble and then send him back in.
Worked with him a fair bit tonight.  His weaves are getting much more reliable and I have to decide if the next step is to remove the starting/ending wires entirely or add 3 more poles.
He's such an enthusiatic workier with the clicker, and he's quite happy to work for his kibble.  Tonight we worked on here, table, weave, plank, close, side, left, right, sit, down.  He's a little uncertain about down and doesn't hold it for very long.
His recall is still shaky when squirrels are present, but I'm trying something a little different.  I have the clicker and some good treats and I wait till he glances at me (sometimes I have to move around some to get the glance) and I click him.  This gets his attention and he comes over for a treat, and then goes back to the squirrel but will occasionally look over and he gets another click and a treat.  I'm noticing that he is starting to put 2 and 2 together that he will get treats and that it might be a touch more fun than staring at a squirrel.  It appears to help if I have Cali out and we start working on something.  Then he gets interested in what we're doing.

From a coltsrunkids post:
Anyone have any tips for how to train the squirrels around here.
They're such a powerful reinforcer for Yoshi that I would love to be
able to use them as a reward. :)

Though I'm making some progress in his recall by being a clicking human
pez dispenser.
When he starts to obsess, I find some way to get him to glance at me
which earns a click. He'll stop for a moment and then is off again
sometimes before I can give him a treat. If he takes off before I can
give it to him, then Cali gets it. Even if he's gone completely off the
deep end this does get his attention, and soon he'll glance back again
(Click) and then he comes back and gets a treat. Then he's likely to
hang around me while still glancing over his shoulder occasionally.
When he looks back he gets another click. Eventually I have all of his
attention, until the next time we got out and there's a squirrel. Then
we start all over again. But as he grows up i'm hoping that he'll
decide that it's more profitable to go with the sure theig rather than
the thrill of the squirrel chase.


Also last week we did more with fetch.  I can toss the toy a little further and he will bring it back.

Spent the week subscribed to the Clicker Solutions Yahoo group.  What an excellent list (mostly experienced trainers on it), but the traffic is really high, I was thinking of unsubbing but I'm learning so much that I just can't yet so I'm on the digest.

Yoshi is still a bit funny about barking and growling at certain dogs that we're passing on walks or runs.  I got Turid Rugaas' DVD on dog calming signals (gestures that dogs use to calm other dogs down and to say they're not a threat), and it gave me some good ideas of things to try like arcing around the other dog and turning away from the other dog.

I wanted to take him running today, but there's a lot of pollution in the air from a fire at Lake Berryessa so I decided to do the responsible thing and clean the rain gutters. :)

Last weekend I talked to Nancy about maybe getting him in a beginner class.  After some discussion, we decided to continue his short lessons with Jim, and maybe rent the field a few times.

He's still leary about other people's tunnels so I'll have to work on their's or maybe buy a Rocket Tunnel.

Fri Oct 1 (noon)
We continued the Cali color experiments.  This time I decided to switch to the mousepads just to see how well they worked.  I have one yellow and one dark green.  Now according to the sources I have, green could be interpreted as gray or yellow, not blue even it it's dark green, but I didn't want to wait to repaint it.  So I put down the two mousepads (after doing 5 yellow only reps just to get her head in the game) and only clicked the yellow.  Consistently, Cali was going to the green one (no click) and then to the yellow one (click)  Finally after about 10 times she started only going to the yellow one.  Did this a few more times and changed the positions of the mousepads.  She went for the green one immediately (which is now in the posisition that the yellow one occupied.)  After some trial and error she then started going for the yellow pad, but certainly her behavior suggested that she was having trouble telling the difference between the two.

As a result I painted the green pad blue.  When it dries we'll try again.  I was hoping Yoshi would watch from behind a baby gate but he seemed more interested in hanging out on the back landing (Cali and I were in the living room.)
Well results are solidly inconclusive.  Took both blue and yellow mousepads (nice that spraypaint dries fast) and got pretty much the same results.  She would go to the blue then the yellow, with the occasional going straight to the yellow.  This was on my kitchen floor which is green.  I'm going to try it again in the living room that has a wood floor.  (And yes I'm concerned about Cali getting ill over so many treats so I'm getting out the cheerios.  We have a trial tomorrow and I'd like her functional for it.)

Yoshi is not being ignored during all this.  His fetch is improving, but we still haven't really built any distance as I had him outside and the squirrels were a distraction.  He just loves the table and the teeter that's propped on it.  His weaving have improved since I went back to clicking every 2 or 3 poles.  In fact, today he did the poles on his own when I was doing something else.

Results on the wood floor were way better.  She was 10 for 10 with yellow on the left and 9 for 10 with yellow on the right.  I tried to put blue in front of the yellow, but then she decided we were playing a "find it" game so she was just randomly walking over the pads.  What I found most interesting was that during one of the times I saw her look right at the blue pad, pause for an instant, and then decide to step on the yellow instead.  I wish I could ask her what criteria she was using to choose the correct pad.

We have a trial this weekend so we'll take a break from this while I ponder the results, or Barbara suggests that I try something else.  What's encouraging is that she can tell there's a difference.

Go to:
Yoshi Training Diary - Sept  2004
Yoshi Training Diary - Aug  2004
Yoshi Training Diary - July  2004
Yoshi Training Diary - June  2004
Yoshi Training Diary - M ay  2004
Yoshi Training Diary - April 2004
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