Yoshi Training Diary - Sept 2004
By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)
Feedback is welcome:
Thur Sept 30
Using targets, well I briefly went back to one color, but Cali knows
what a foot target is so she didn't have any trouble with that.
In a later session on the same day (yesterday - remember these are
short sessions, no longer than 5 minutes), I reintroduced both colors
and after some futzing around she started reliably going to the yellow
(including going past the blue). I started rearranging the
rectangles out of her sight and she would still go to the yellow.
Then in a later session I messed things up.
I started to introduce the cueword "yellow" but this was likely a
mistake as I've used "yellow" before and her idea of what the term
means is likely different from mine as later on when I had both colors
out she would then go to a blue (no click), then the yellow (click),
and didn't seem to be making progress. Since I've use yellow
before to mean go to the yellow while she was on the non-contact
(usually blue) part of the obstacle), it's possible that she was doing
the exact same thing (first you go to the blue, then to the yellow)
So for lack of a better idea, I changed the word to "target" (another T
word, durn it - I've been using "contact" in the past, so don't want to
use that) and things seem to be a little better, but I'm going to have
to back up to just one color today and reintroduce the cue word.
The only problem with using just one rectangle or color is that she
starts to think that it means go stand on any rectangle, so now that i
think about it I may just go back to 2 rectangles (1 blue, 1 yellow)
and make sure I'm happy with her performance of them before introducing
the cue word.
This is supposed to be Yoshi's training diary. He wanders in and
stands on yellow (likely feeling left out), so I may do more work with
him on it. I spray painted one of his contact mouse pads yellow
and he's happy to go stand on that.
Eventually I need to start thinking about how to transfer this behavior
to a contact zone on an obstacle. For fun, I put the rectangle on
the mini A-Frame and Cali went straight through it (I do running
contacts.) Premature, but encouraging (and I have to figure out
how to get the contact to stay safely mounted on the A-Frame while
still being removable. While I could put the rectangle on the ground I
want them to start thinking about the yellow on the obstacle itself.
I could just switch over to the yellow mouse pad, but it's nice
that the rectangle is wood.
Some researcher's experiments have gone into detail of what they think the dog can see:
Wed Sept 29
[from a Performane Corgis post]
Yeah I admit it, I'm doing experiments on my dogs, but they're being
paid for it so they don't mind.
In The Truth About Dogs Stephen Budiansky talks about the fact that
dogs have 2 color cones in their eyes where humans have 3. This implies
that dogs can see some colors and in a set of color photos just after
page 120, he shows what researchers think they can see. The main colors
are possibly purple, yellow, and gray. Theory suggests that they are
essentially red/green color blind.
This implies that they can see yellow contact zones. What I'd like to
have is a dog that I can say "Go Yellow" and they head for the yellow
zone, thus dispensing with years of gymnastics that folks go through to
get their dogs to hit the contact zone.
Yesterday (9/29/04), I made some wood rectangles about 9" wide and
painted one yellow and the others blue. Now my dogs know about foot
targeting and clickers so I just put the squares down and clicked front
feet on the yellow. Both dogs caught onto that right away, but I was
pretty sure they were thinking positionally. So I then mixed up the
positions of the rectangles, and sure enough, both dogs went to the
original location of the yellow rectangle which was then occupied with a
Yoshi, the younger pup with the lower frustration level was pretty close
to giving up and when he accidentally stepped on the yellow and got a
click, so he likely just figured that the game had changed. While he
started to indicate the new position of the yellow rectangle I wasn't
convinced that he was really learning anything so the rest of the time I
spent with Cali.
Cali's quite confident and is perfectly willing to question you if she
thinks you're doing it wrong, and seems to be able to do some
generalization. When I changed the positions of the rectangles and she
was no longer getting a click for indicating the rectangle formerly
known as yellow, but now blue, she was at first a little pissed (like
the frustrated dolphin who drenched Karen Pryor with a water splash in Don't Shoot the Dog), but then you could see the wheels in her mind
turning (this is what makes clicker training really fun.) Then, after
some false starts, she started to step on the yellow and got several
Now I need to figure out where to go with this.
Right now she probably is either
(a) trying to use scent or feel to discriminate the rectangle
(b) still using position and just trying to decide each time which
rectangle is the "hot" one
How do I know if/when she is making the leap to the rectangle's color?
Anyone know the age at when young kids can name colors? (This may not
be a way to tell as babies don't see color well at all.) Cali's very
bright, but still only equivalent to a 3 year old human (don't tell her
Tues Sept 28
Some contacts. I refine the idea for the dog vision experiment.
Close, side, sit, down, Some teeter work. And more fetch work.
Mon Sept 27
He fetches (sort of(! Hooray! Not very far but he will
fetch. Though he will do it more reliably for really good
treats. Right now it's just tossing the toy a foot away and have
him bring it back but he that's progress.
Sun Sept 26
Now he'll pick up the toy until I click, though I can tell he won't
pick it up for long, so the project will now be to extend the
time. I have to remember that Cali wasn't a major fetcher to
begin with (now she's a complete ball fanatic). Cali we taught to
hold things in her mouth by manually opening her mouth and putting a
dumbell in to and gentle holding her mouth closed while saying
"take." While that worked I'd rather Yoshi learn on his own
though it's taking longer. But I have to remind myself that he's
doing really well for his age and that there really is no hurry.
I living within a few miles of the Oakland Collesium and the Raiders
were playing the Buchaneers and the roar was quite loud. Yoshi
would occasionally react, but I was able to get his attention and have
him do something simple like "sit." Which seemed to help a lot.
He would settle right down after that. He sort of casually knows
the word "settle" if my hand is on him to encourage him to lay at my
feet. I was even able to review my Agility in Motion DVDs
(have lots of dogs barking on them) and it didn't bother him.
Later I went and set up part of Rob's way of teaching the teeter by
bracing one end on a table, put the dog in a stay (or have someone hold
them), you hold the other end of the teeter up, call them ("teeter"),
reward, then lower (gently at first but more like a drop later) the
teeter with them on it and reward them again. This encourages
them to go to the end of the board and gets them used to the
drop. While I'm ambivalent about making them run to the end
before it drops, if the dog is willing to do it then ok (Cali usually
stops at the pivot point which is fine with me.) One thing Rob
didn't mention is that one must be pretty strong to hold up a teeter
with a dog on it with one hand, I was having to work at is and my dogs
weights half of what his BCs do.
If I leave Yoshi's mouse pad down he goes and stands on it. Too
cute. No reward, but too cute. This reminds me that I need
to get more.
Sat Sept 25
Did a lot of clicker training today.If I click his recall or attention
on my he will now sometimes ignore the squirrels and pay attention to
me. I'm trying to use the clicker to get him to fetch and I think
my timing is not quite there yet. He will nudge the ball for a
click and will even go out and nudge the ball at a distance (with me
tossing the treat.) But I didn't have success with going further
on it. I was trying to click him when he opened his mouth to pick
up the ball but I seemed to teach him to ignore the ball even when I
would rub goddies on it (then he licked it.) Took a break and did
something else, then later in the day I tried with a Riot Stick that he
likes. When he would start to put his mouth on it or carry it, I
would click and then he would immediately come to me for a treat.
But I think I must have timed it to his dropping the toy as he didn't
seem inclined to do more than what I encouraged him to do. Maybe
He is starting to get weaving! He's not ducking under the guides
nearly as much anymore and he seems to be clueing in that if he ducks
under the wires then he doesn't get a treat for it.
Worked on left, right, sit down, touch, close, side, and some contact work (I need more mouse pads)
For Cali, we're starting to transfer tugging to her leash. I
noticed today that I
had to hold up the leash horizontally at her eye level for her to know
to grab it. Worked on stays at work so I don't think she'll be as
likely to break them. In the start line set ups she does well
doing Susan Garretts "touch" and then sit at my side.
It doesn't appear that Cali is going to be able to enter the
Performance All Around classes so it looks like we'll just have the 4-6
classes in Scottsdale. Lots of time to visit with my sister then.
Thur Sept 23
Took him running.
Wed Sep 22
Class. Cali did well - I'm talking a lot less and running a lot
more. It's working for now, Cali's much more attentive. And
clicking her for tugging is working too. Did a Susan Garrett snap
on the course and it worked great. - Cali turned right with me
Also did a very difficult 90 degree weave entrance and she got it.
Walked Yoshi around the back of the course. Did the table there
and walked over the A-Frame. He's still leary of other people's
tunnels (probably because they're dark), so i'm going to have to rent
the field and intro him to other tunnels.
Tues Sept 20
So today we did a working breakfast and a working dinner today.
Wow, what an excited, inspired dog. This is clearly a win.
Recently he's been less than enthused about weaving and he was blazing
though them (relatively) today. Did the same with Cali and she
liked it too - need to do more of this. With Yoshi worked on
weaves (all sides), table-sit, table-down, plank, close, side,
left, right, come, (lots of this).
Took him running before the working dinner. It's a way of tiring
him out and getting more exercise for me. I've been worried about
falling on the concrete sidewalks (and they're too hard of a surface
anyway), so we instead drive over to Harbor Bay and run on the dirt
path by the water which is much nicer (prettier and no cars).
Unfortunately he's getting in even better shape and at a rate faster
than I am. Terri points out that he is indeed younger than
me. (Yes, but I'm more stubborn. :) But no matter he's
passed out at my feet and that is a very nice thing indeed. The
flexilead that we use on runs is still a great way to practice his
recalls when there are distractions.
In non-Yoshi news, Cali's tug is improving with the use of the clicker
and gradually raising the criteria (time length of tugging).
Mon Sept 19
Cathy brought over Buddy and Jessie and Jessie and Yoshi played and
played. this is after I took him to the dog park in a plan to
tire him out. The plan didn't quite go as planned as he was more
interested in standing around and barking at the big dogs in the other
part of the park. His recall went completely south with the
distraction of all the dogs.
Sat Sept 18
Took Yoshi with me to Dixon so I could pick up my video camera from
Kathie. He did great walking around the grounds on his Gentle
Leader. He played some with Rowan the smooth coated collie, and
met some other dogs.
Afterwards I took him running on Harbor Bay. I don't run far so
it suits both of us right now. The tide was amazingly high so he
go to see waves for probably the first time. I need to take him
to the ocean sometime.
Then did some clicker training at home. Worked on weaves and also
did some foot contacts on his mouse pad. I took the teeter board
off the stand and propped it on the table so it resembles the end of
the dogwalk. Later on we worked on starting tug with a different
toy (the red firehose one). First a click for a nose touch then
for a nose push then for putting it in his mouth. I stopped there.
[much stuff here including tug lessons for Cali, bell ringing lessons
for both of them, and extending stays by using a delayed click.
And I think I'm finally going to have some success with not using the
I am also really determined to come up with a running contact criteria.
Sun Sept 12
Motivation workshop. Cali was the star of this, but also showed
by her sniffing why she belonged there. Tons of great information
Sat Sept 11
Day off from dogs and spent it in the wonderful world of outdoor plumbing (In other words I fixed the irrigation systems.)
Fri Sept 10
Susan Garrett lecture on advances in dog training. This is a
prerequiste for Sunday. I'm going to take Yoshi along and let
Cali continue to snooze.
[later] He was terrific. Much better than Cali would have
been who would have been harrassing me to do something. He even
got to do a nose touch exercise.
Thur Sept 9
It's finally, finally cooler today. Didn't do much of anything
today except play with Yoshi as the seminar gave me new resolve not to
lose Yoshi's play drive.
Tues/Wed Sept 7/8
Susan Garrett seminar. Cali and I went to a Master's Handling
seminar with Susan Garrett held at Kathie Leggett's Touch n Go Agility
in North Highlands. It was 103 degrees both days. I thought
Cali was going to melt and her performance got herself invited to the
motivational (sounds ominous) seminar on Sunday.
We learned about snapping your shoulders to get the dogs to tighten up their rear crosses.
Yoshi got to go with Terri to work in the afternoons to enjoy the air conditioning.
Mon Sept 6
Roasting even more (is this possible here?). We were in only one
class. Master's Gambler's. Cali didn't even want to leave
the start line. The message was clear "oh go on without me."
The Grand Prix round 2 was exciting to watch. I was annoyed again
to realize that if we'd run that course cleanly we would have gotten a
bye in Scottsdale. Oh well.
Sun Sept 5
Still Roasting. I left Yoshi at home today. We had a lovely
Grand Prix run right up untill the 4th to last obstacle which was the
A-Frame. I didn't give a clear climb signal and Cali started to
follow me. I planted my foot to signal her to climb and I
immediately slipped on the slick worn grass in that spot. I was
on the ground before I knew what happened. I sort of got up and
sent Cali to the A-Frame but she didn't get a good enough run at it and
she came back down the way she started. At that point I told
Peggy the judge that we were done and hobbled off the field.
Fortunately the next day I was ok though I did take a bath and ice my
I was annoyed to realize that if I had gotten Cali over the A-Frame and
then finish the course that we would have done the course with 5 faults
and gotten into tomorrow's class.
Sat Sept 4
Super Regional. It's roasting. Terri and Yoshi came along
which was much fun. Cali was clean in Steeplechase but not fast
enough to make the cut for round 2. Snooker i took the wrong
jump. Jumpers I forget what happened.
Fri Sept 3
Tried the clicker again and had some real success! Used Bil Jac
this time. First we worked with the mouse pad target and he
seemed to catch on pretty quick that what I was interested in was him
standing on it. Then switched to the table. He volunteers
sit, so I wanted to see if I could get him to down on his own.
Took a while but he finally did and you could see the wheels in his
head turning "what did I just do?" Only took a couple more times before
he figured out that the game was down. After some more times
added the down word and once he did that sucessfully once I
Thur Sept 2
Tried Jim's idea, but Yoshi started to pop out so I lowered them back down
Wed Sept 1
Jim suggests raising the middle guides a little bit at a time.
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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