Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - May 2007
By Ellen Clary
(reverse date order)
Feedback is welcome:
Thu May 31
Going to Mt Shasta for a few days.
Wed May 30
Trek continues to do well sleeping outside her crate at
night. During the day when we're not home she's crated but we
leave the door to it open at night and she comes and goes as she
pleases but spends a decided amount of the time sleeping on the
bed. I still continue to get more sleep as she's no longer
whining in her crate at 5am.
However Mark and Jan have a tall bed and Cooper spends the night under
it. Trek may end up in the kitchen and I'm taking her crate over
in the morning. so they have the option of putting her in it.
Tonight we're going to get Trek and Cooper together just to see if
their are any issues. Not likely. They've met before and
like each other. I'm bringing the tunnel back too so that Trek
can play underground railroad with Cooper too. I'm also going to
bring over a couple of the talking toys - wonder if Mark and Jan will
ever forgive me.
Tomorrow morning we leave for Redding with Yoshi in tow after we drop
Trek off at Mark and Jan's. Then the day after that we leave for
Mt Shasta. I'm really excited about the trip.
Tue May 29
Doggie's growing up. This past weekend we experimented
with letting Trek sleep out of her crate and one the bed if she
wished. Sunday night she was choosing to mostly be in her crate
(door open). Last night she spent most of it on the bed and
interestingly enough she didn't do her usual wake up up at 5/5:30 a.m.,
but stayed in the bed until Terri got up at 6.
Yoshi's pad now looks like a blister that has burst and the top
layer of skin has fallen off. Like a blister it's still tender
but it's healing well and it won't be long before he's ready to resume
he usual tear around like an idiot. (Which he still tries to do
It's occurring to me that I am Yoshi's conscious, and external
judgement. It a sense this is true for any dog learning how the
human world operates, but what is new to me is my telling him how I
want him to interact with other dogs. We have something of a
mystique about how all dogs know this secret code of communication and
that's often true. Even Yoshi when he's not aroused speaks dog
very well, but when that screw comes loose in his mind then his
judgement mostly goes. And yet there's Trek. He has never
lost it around her despite plenty of provocation. They've only
had one disagreement over a hidden bully stick and even that he was in
control of himself.
But when he's in a situation where he's uncomfortable, his emotions lie
just below a very porous surface.
Most of the time when he loses it, he's unreachable, but I've noticed
that when he's barking at something from the living room window
(something he only has access to when I'm around), with some effort
(Yelling his name and "HERE" 3x sort of thing) I can break through and
he will hear me. I can tell because he whines which means I'm
about to do what you ask but I really don't want to. At this point I do
have to keep calling him as he's right then teetering on going right
back to barking, but if I do he comes to me.
When he's on leash I usually tell him to leave it. I wonder if I
treated him the same way as when I'm calling him back from the
window. Yeah it will look silly but it's certainly worth a try.
Unfortunately the calling his name doesn't really work when there's a
dog involved. He really doesn't seem to hear me then at
all. I'll have to experiement with this when he's on leash.
Mon May 28
I brought Yoshi over to see Cooper without Trek to see if we
could get some improvements on their deteriorating relationship.
In the Mar 24 entry I talk about Cooper and Yoshi getting into a fight
and there was one before that when we first discovered how jealous
Yoshi was over Trek. There was another incident very recently
where I brought Cooper over here and Yoshi attacked him at the
door. We even had Trek put in a crate, but you could hear her
At first it looked like it was going to be fine, then I let Yoshi off
the leash in the house and both dogs started towards the back and when
they both were waiting at the doorway, Yoshi went after Cooper.
Sh*t. I put Yoshi on leash and took him out to the back yard and
Cooper didn't want to leave the back landing even though Yoshi was on
leash. After about 5 minutes of this I handed Yoshi's leash to
Mark and went over to Cooper. He would come down the stairs some
to say hi to me, but eventually wanted to retreat. Finally, I
getting him excited and barking and then he chased me down the steps
and into the yard. When ever he wanted to retreat I goaded him
into barking at me (playbow usually does it) and he'd come right
back. The cool thing is that barking makes him more confident and
makes him look more confident which makes Yoshi treat him better.
Eventually they were able to interact, but I didn't risk taking Yoshi
off leash as Cooper was still too shaky.
Jan tells me that Cooper was depressed for two days after the
last incident. I'm wondering if we should actually be working on
Cooper's confidence. Not that it excuses Yoshi's behavior in any
way but I think it would be good for Cooper.
I've decided that I'm going to put Yoshi back on Prozac and this time
work him up to the full 10mg dosage as I'm really having success with
his behavioral training and I don't want this to set us back.
Maybe Cooper should be on Prozac too to help his cofidence (I'm joking,
but it does make me wonder.) Terri wonders if accupunture would
help. It's certainly possible and he has had one session but it
seems to be only a temporarily relief.
In future interactions between the two dogs I'm going to muzzle
Yoshi. Wonder how long before Cooper figures out that Yoshi can't
bite him and starts taking advantage of the situation. Hopefully
by that time they will have repaired their relationship. Of
course you could say that maybe Yoshi doesn't want to repair the
relationship, we'll just have to see.
Sun May 27
Herding was so much fun. Though he did tear a pad
I put Trek in the round pen once and she did well though it's still
obvious that she could take or leave it.
Yoshi is stopping better but still doesn't like to "walk" even on the
long line. Debbie is wondering if my pulling back on the leash is
making him pull harder. Possibly. When I let him go he does
stop more readily especially when he's tired. Behaviorally he did
well though I had to remind him at least once when he saw a dog
Debbie's dog Porsche did great though initially was losing her mind
with drive (she's very high drive) and nearly crashed a sheep.
Joyce intervened and gave Porsche a well placed pop on the nose with a
herding wand and though Porsche's feeling were hurt, there was nothing
of the reaction that Cooper did years ago where he skulked out of the
ring and wouldn't do anything. While Joyce is a bit traditional
for me at times, this time that approach worked quite well as Porsche
started working the sheep politely. (Though I don't think this
would work at all for Yoshi - though I could be wrong.)
Porsche later told Debbie that she'd rather herd the sheep her way, but
that she still had a fantastic time.
Sat May 26
I just love playing mind games with the dogs. Trek's
Metronidazole consists of putting 3 ml in a syringe and squirting it
into the side of her mouth. This was working fine, but I dropped
couple of drops on the floor and she licked them right up. ("Hey
Mikey") Realizing that she would just lick it up I started
putting it in a bowl which worked fine until she clearly started
getting avbivalent about it. I called Yoshi over and his
curiosity made her instantly finish the med. Tonight I wanted to
give Yoshi something too for being so good at just being there.
So I got out an identical bowl and put water in it and then somewhat
formally presented both with a bowl. Both dogs immediately
finished what was in their bowls.
Herding tomorrow and we're all going - should be fun.
Update on Yoshi's tooth. It's completely missing - no roots at
all. Phew he just saved us several hundred dollars there - the
vet visit was only the cost of the exam ($32) which is beneath his
insurance deductable. Dr Lydia Grant thinks that it probably
wasn't a bone since the tooth wasn't broken, but more an
infection or something that weakened the tooth though the surrounding
teeth look good.
Fri May 25
Yoshi not wanting to be left out of all the vet attention,
decided to break off a lower small tooth (likely on a bone). He
didn't know that he was already scheduled to go down to Fremont for a
follow up with Animal Eye Care, but Dr Friedman is ill and so that was
rescheduled to Sat. Jun 9th with Dr. Patricia Smith and now he is going
to Park Centre to get his tooth looked at.
Trek doing well and her gums are no longer tacky. Normal BM this
morning (though had gone a full 24 hours since the last one.)
Thu May 24
Trek still fine. Added in some kibble to her
chicken. Normal stool.
I was watching them play and thinking that we should plan on at least
one ear stitching incident. Sort of a new take on an old
saying. "Great fun until someone loses an ear."
Wed May 23
Trek seems to be fine and in good spirits. Her gums are a
little tacky and her skin is a little slow to respond so she's likely
still a touch dehydrated, but she's racing around the yard with
Yoshi. For a few days she'll be on a bland diet which in her case
is going to be cooked chicken with some potato bud flakes and water.
Dr Friedman called and said to lay off the Pilocarpine for a week.
I'll also not give her wheat.
Yoshi went to school this evening and behaviorally did very well.
Only a couple of growls, no lunging, and one ghost or hallucination
when he had his calming cap on (which helped tremendously except for
that). In other words, he got worked up about something that
wasn't there. Taking off the cap only helped a little as he was
convinced that something was there though he had no idea what.
Another student who doesn't always come said that it was hard to
believe he was aggressive, the others laughed and Zanna said that she
could testify that he indeed was, and Hazel recalled the time where he
went after Miranda, her ultra-non-reactive Saint Bernard. Miranda
really didn't notice him charging at her (might as well have been a
gnat), and on the fly Yoshi decided it was a better plan to charge past
her instead, thus slamming into the wall (I'd forgotten that until she
mentioned it.) What a great self correction - wish it always
happened like that.
He still doesn't like to hold a dumbell for very long so Hazel is
suggesting I just hold it in flat hands and rewarding him for picking
Hazel is starting a rally class on June 13 7pm. Excellent -
we're going to be there. I called to sign up and need to send a
Tue May 22
I do really need to do more incidental sit-stays and
down-stays. I had the dogs in a down and Trek got up 4 times, so
she clearly needs more practice. Yoshi stayed put - the
occasionally good boy.
A little excitement.
I was at work finishing up when I got a call from Terri saying Trek has
pooped (well she used a different word) all over her crate and herself
and could I please skip the gym and come home? So off I went and
arrived to find a mostly cleaned off dog and a crate pad that was
outside and filthy. So I got out the latex gloves (essential for
these oh so gross jobs) and the hose, and commenced the double duty of
hosing off the pad and trying to figure out a la CSI style what the
heck is in all the poop (hence the gloves).
I found various semi hard but clearly organic objects (no plastic or
wood thankfully). So were
carrots, others might have been pieces of broccoli that Terri gave her
for roughage this morning. Some looked a little like nuts so it's
possible that a few of the pine nuts that went into last night's salad
fell on the floor, or it's a loaquat seed that the sqirrels
occasionally drop,, or even an entire loaquat, or maybe it was the
toast though even though it was whole grain bread, the grain was ground
very finely. Maybe she is indeed allergic to wheat, but can
tolerate small amounts of it until she hits a threshold, or she's
discovered something in the yard even though I watch her.
After I finished with crate and pad cleaning, I took a closer
look at Trek (she wasn't in distress or we would have forgone the crate
cleaning entirely and rushed her off to Emergency.) While she was
bugging me for dinner (such a Corgi) she definitely seemed
subdued. We gave her maybe a 1/4 of the amount of kibble she
normally gets, and I continued to watch her and trying to decide if I
wanted to take her into BAVS (Bay Area Emergency Services) or
not. Looking at the clock and seeing it was only 7pm and thinking
that it would be much nicer to take her now than the middle of the
night (and I would sleep better, and would actually get sleep), I
to check how busy they were. They said that it wasn't bad and
come on in. I realized that they would be in a much better
position to maybe get an idea of what's going on as they could do a
blood test to check her kidney values. So off we went to Hayward.
Fortunately, no animal disasters happened between the time we left and
the time we arrived, and we were seen quite soon. Since I wasn't
rushed when I left I was able to remember to take all of her eye meds
and instructions, and an insurance claim form. Wish I always had
time to be this together as it saved an enormous amount of guesswork
(what is she on?, for how long?). At the front desk I mentioned
the diarrhea disaster and she's acting subdued and on reflection noted
that it seems to have been going on for a couple of days. The
woman at the desk looked at Trek who was awake and by my feet and said
something like "subdued?" Laughing, I said "I assure you, this is
The vet, Dr. Joelle Lasry, did a basic physical exam of her noting the
left eye squintyness "blepharospasm" and noted that she did not have
any abdominal masses or pain (good), and the rest looked generally good
but still clearly not feeling well (body condition score 5/9).
The choices I was given were
2. that and add blood work
3. all that and add xrays (to check for obstruction)
Since Trek had no obvious abdominal pain, I declined the X-Rays, but i
wanted to know her kidney values so I opted for the
bloodwork. What's great about having it done at BAVS is
that they can do CBC's in house so we could just wait for the
results. If I had it done by her regular vet they send it to IDEX
labs and it takes a day or so.
As I expected the kidney values were elevated, but the good thing was
that they were only slightly high (ALT=128, AST=65), potassium was low
- expected with diarrhea. But what we didn't realize was that she
was dehydrated. PCV was 65% and the max should be 50%. At
first I didn't know what PCV was and then when I realized it was
essentially a red blood count it all came back to me as when Cali was
so ill, I spent all of April 2005 living and dying by her PCV %.
When Cali was doing poorly her PCV was only 5%,.
Choices then were
1. Hospitalize her and give her IV fluids
2. Give her sub Q fluids and send her home and keep a careful eye on
her, give her the Metronidazole, and keep her on a bland diet.
I opted for the sub Q fluids as I expected her to recover once she had
enough fluids pumped into her. That later proved to be
correct. I was supposed to keep checking her for dehydration
(skin pinch and mucus membrane check for dryness/tackiness) but she
passed that test with the vet so I'm not sure I would see it any
Changes we're going to make are to allow her free access to water even
in her crate and let het spend more time out of the crate in the office
and kitchen, and also mix her kibble with water when she gets back on
it. I also went off to the store to get more chicken though I
think instead of rice I'll mix in potato buds and water. I'm
going to lay off the eye medication in her food (Pilocarpine) for a day
but give her the drops. I should probably fax this report to
Animal Eye Care (Park Centre will get a copy from BAVS). [Done]
Mon May 21
Ironically toast is a higher value treat than chicken. For
toast she'll tolerate more clanging though it still makes her flinch,
but I can be feeding her a small piece of toast, and then tap on the
Doing some basic sequences with her and she's doing well:
Introduced (continued to introduce) start line sit-stays.
Sat May 19
Ok, time for the big guns treat wise. I brought out some
freshly cooked chicked cut into very small pieces. took both dogs
into the yard and fed them each a piece so they knew what I had.
I now have two enraptured dogs. I tape the paint scraper to
the pipe and Trek backs off a few feet, but Yoshi is right there.
"Yes" and I feed him a piece of chicken On seeing this Trek
immediately comes close and she gets a piece of chicken. I make
if clan again and Trek backs off and Yoshi starts climbing up my leg to
get his treat (though I'm just seated). Trek immediately comes
back for a treat. I repeat this routine for about 10 times and
Trek backs off less and less each time to where she's no longer backing
off much at all (though still flinches) Good progress.
Yoshi's such a good teacher.
Though it did work in reverse too when Yoshi got distracted and Trek
got the treat first. He noticed what was going on and immediately
Worked Trek some more on the quiet teeter and she's improving and
getting less over-cautious.
Fri May 18
I'm back and the dogs are fine though Yoshi seems even thinner
so he gets 3/4 c of food a meal now (though his weight really hasn't
changed). I'm now going to work with Trek on this clanging
sensitivity. I have the pipe from the teeter kit (the teeter is
currently using the old pipe) and I hit it gently with either a
screwdriver or a paint scrapper or just tap the pipe on the brick
landing. She still doesn't like it but is closer by than before,
but I think I have to increase the treat value even beyond venison
Mon May 14
I'm away on a business trip for 4 days so I don't get to do any
training though Terri might work with them some.
Sun May 13
Did some more work with Trek to narrow down what her issue
is. It's not so much the teeter as metal clanging againsst
metal. This mean that I definitely have to make the teeter be
quieter so she doesn't think every teeter is evil. Time for duct
Meanwhile, I'll work on her noise sensitivity apart from agility
equipment. Took the steel pipe from the new teeter base (I
currently have the old one installed, and gently started hitting it
with a screw driver that made the clanging noise that she clearly
hates. Every time I hit it I gave her a treat or would throw one
to her since she was rarely anywhere close. Yoshi on the other
hand was right there going: Free handouts - cool! I swear if we
could just compete in agility in the backyard, he would be great.
If only agility was held in fenced pastures then we could do it.
Yes this irks me to see his talent not being able to be used past being
a coach for Trek, but it also pains me to see him stressed in agility
environments. Good thing he's relaxed in herding environments
(well he wasn't that relaxed at Nationals but hopefully that will
improve with positive exposure.) Wonder if Xanax would help with
this. I haven't heard back from Dr. Applegate - will need to call
her on Tues.
In fact, Yoshi is really starting to blossom in a fun way. He
loves doing the teeter and jumps, tires, weaves and tables and will do
tunnels when asked (though doesn't seek them out like Trek does
already). When we're working and I ask him for a left or a right
spin he does it incredibly fast and with this great grin on his
face. He's so happy, I want to find a way to translate that to
other environments. He sometimes seems to relax at the Training
Club, but not often.
I duct taped the pipe that's holding the teeter up right now and it no
longer clangs. Trek was still leary of it and would only go half
way up it and then leap off. I held the board so it didn't bounce
at all and very slowly guided it down while dolling out treats at a
constant rate. After a couple of times of this I was ready to
stop but, she actually went back to the board and hopped on looking for
more goodies and was even willing to tolerate it landing
unguided. She's likely past this for a bit (she's very brave when
it doesn't clang and when she trusts it won't suddently start
clanging) And I'll have to just do a lot of clang work separately
from the equipment.
Sat May 12
Yoshi was being something of a freaky boy about some dogs
barking nearby so I put his shirt on him and that seemed to help really
settle him down. Brenda Aloff talked about that too and I need to
add that the the Aloff entry.
We have uncovered an agility related issue (our first one) with
very noise sensitive about the clanging teeter. We're talking not
just hesitant, but run for cover afraid. what's really
interesting is that I had her out in the yard when the KFOG Kaboom was
going on and she didn't care about the booming at all.
I put Yoshi's shirt on her and took her out again and she seemed less
freaked by it but when I had Yoshi doing the teeter (good boy - why
can't you do that elsewhere?) She backed way off even with
delicious treats in the offering though eventually she did creep
closer. I'm not sure how to proceed at this point as there are
several choices. One is to put the teeter board back on the old
stand to get her confidence back. Another would be to raise the
teeter back to a height where I could control it. Another is to
muffle the sounds as best I could. Or just leave it in its
present lowered form and keep giving delicious treats around it.
Fri May 11
Class with Lori today. I think I'm just going to bring
Yoshi today so I can focus on him. Maybe in the future I can
cajole Terri into coming to the Wed class too and having Trek with
her. When my attention is split I don't learn as much even though
temperment wise he may be better.
Thu May 10
Terri's back this evening phew.
Walked Trek over to the vet's to pick up a refill of one of her eye
medications. She did pretty well on loose leash walking going
there but was worse about it going back and the noise of the street
makes her a little freaky. Need to do more of this. I
usually walk her on the fairly quiet streets near our house so I think
we're going to have to deliberately walk her along busier streets to
get her used to the noise level. There was one time where
something surprised her and she tried to run out into the street.
Good thing she's on a martingale collar and can't slip out of it.
KFOG's "Kaboom" fireworks celebration is this Saturday. I'm
thinking I should take Trek over to Bladium to watch it so she can get
some exposure to fireworks from a distance. Fortunately Yoshi
does well around fireworks but if Trek is frightened it might make him
think there's something to be frightened of.
Left a message for Dr. Applegate to call me (she's not in today).
Wed May 9
Terri had to run up to her mom's in Redding so for obedience
class I took both dogs which worked out far better than I thought it
would. First of all Patricia was there with Mr. Giles and was
very helpful when I would run out of hands, but even so I think I could
have made it work (albeit much more awkwardly). Yoshi is actually
noticibly calmer with Trek around, and wasn't over protective of
her. When the class started working on off leash recalls, I put
Yoshi in the crate and got Trek out which was a blast (she has a rocket
recall) and Yoshi was totally fine in the crate watching.
I had them both do a down with me sitting right beside them.
Yoshi was not being a freaky boy (despite there being a roomful of dogs
since the sits and downs are combined with the previous class) and
seemed reassured having Trek and I right next to him.
Trek was of course irked at being in a crate while Yoshi was having fun, but finally acquiesced.
Maybe I'll take both to Lori's class on Friday. Or maybe not - it's a lot of work managing both of them
Zanna made me laugh as she told me that my dogs were too skinny.
This is half in jest and half in amazement as they are half the size
of corgis she's familiar with. The dogs seemed thrilled to
hear it though honestly they don't yet know the "We're starving"
pathetic look that so many corgis excel at.
We've run out of one of Trek's eye medications and Animal Eye Care was
able to just call it in to Park Centre, which is really nice since the
Eye place is 45 minutes away.
Tue May 8
Took Trek for noontime walk and then later she went with me to a bookclub meeting.
Forgot to call Dr. Applegate - need to remember to do that tomorrow.
First altercation happened between the two dogs today. Yoshi was
investigating something behind one of the crates and Trek walked up to
see if she could steal whatever it was (her usual M.O.) Well this
time he objected (never has yet even when he would be plenty justified
in obecting) and she didn't want to back down (she normally is such a
peacemaker but she thinks he's there to be pushed around.) Anyway
there was a loud disagreement though not much contact though it took
some effort for us to separate them. I wish I had had the
presence of mind to watch them more carefully during this fight as I
would have learned a lot and they are unlikely to hurt each other (not
that I would let it continue but I wish I had a better mental picture
of what happens - like when I accidentally videotaped Cali and Reno
getting into a fight and we could tell only in slow motion that Cali
sort of started it, and Reno wasn't being a complete loon.)
Oh and the hidden treasure? A bully stick that had accidentally
rolled off the top of the crate (they are never intentionally left
out.) So I know what Yoshi will defend as he completely tolerates
Ms Entitlement Trek stealing toys right out of his mouth. (If I
were a dog I wouldn't put up with that.)
We crated both dogs to let the adrenalan ease off. About 15-20
minutes. Though you do have to be careful as the brain is aroused
for hours (actually days - so I've heard though I've never observed
such a thing - in my experience dogs get over such encounters pretty
quickly - I think grudge holding is more with dogs who truely
hate each other.)
Mon May 7
Popcorn catch. Oh what fun - popcorn has more hang time so
the dog has a better chance of catching it. Yoshi is getting it and
caught 6 dropping popcorn - his vision is clearly fine. It still
bounces off Trek's nose.
While sitting on the sofa clicked Yoshi for eye contact. Once
downside to using a scruff shake to get him to desist when trying to
charge a dog is that I've been staring right in his eyes when I do
it. This may make it more effective, but he's now hesitant to
look in my eyes for long. Aloff takes pains to not be staring at
a dog when she's shaking their collar or scruff, though when she's
guiding the dog to look at her she looks at them.
Took both dogs on separate walks. Praticed backing up for both
(well I back up and they turn to follow). Didn't see any dogs on
Yoshi's walk. Yoshi is really getting the backing thing
down. Trek is a little puzzled by it, but is getting it.
Sat Sun May 5-6
Aggression seminar with Brenda Aloff without dogs. I did
volunteer Yoshi and they thought about it but they already had 3 dogs
so after Brenda and I talked for 20 minutes or so her feeling was that
we had so much support in the Bay Area she wasn't sure that beyond the
foundation steps that she outlined in the seminar she could be much
The foundation steps she went through are very worth while and it will
give us something to work on for at least a couple of months or
more. Certainly one of her resocialization groups has been
meeting for over 18 months Though Yoshi is not nearly as much a
threat as those dogs are or were. Granted he barks and wants to
lunge at some unknown dogs, but he's little and easy to control if he's
on leash or fenced in and he doesn't aggress towards people at
all. In short, he's a pain in the ass, not a threat to society.
What's going to be tricky about this online diary is something I
haven't run into before. The current material though she's talked
about it a lot is not yet published and won't be for another 3 months
or so, so I'm going to have to be deliberately vague but give enough so
that I know what I'm working on with him.
So in short, basic skills that any dog should have are
- eye contact (like 15 seconds and more)
- back away (walking dog on leash: handler backs up, dog turns and follows)
- calm down with a physical cue like rubbing their body or massage or T-Touch
- willingness to be restrained as a boundary setting exercise
hand under chin
hands holding collar or head collar or muzzle if needed
hands/arms on each side of head to keep the dog focused on you
body wrap or T-Shirt with ace bandage and/or calming cap
optionally a body rope underneath their tummy
She also suggested very short term Xanax for stressful situations in
Yoshi's case. Her point being that the Prozac and the Shen Calmer
did help and seem to have retatined their benefit beyond the time he
was taking them, now it just seems he needs help with not stressing.
She talked as well about getting the dogs out of using their primitive
reactive non-listening non-learning brain (I'm changing all the terms
away from hers) to using their cortex. The thinking, reasoning,
I have reams more material but I'm not sure how much detail I should go
into. Her new book will be both a book and a DVD and will likely
I can however talk about my impressions and what I got out of it.
First of all she's quite entertaining and funny in that direct
mid-western style. she's also completely willing to drag you up
on stage to show you the answer to your question. This happened
to me twice and I received compliments (?) on what a good dog and good
sport I was. (Good thing I'm now comfortable in front of a crowd.)
Her methods now very much involved a lot of very gentle compulsion
(negative reinforcement such as collar pressure and physical
pressure). She was a clicker trainer, but she says she found that
she was looking for something that would work on nearly all dogs and
she couldn't get there with just R+ clicker training. I know a
host of folks who would disagree, but the subtext was more she was
looking for something that would work for nearly all owners and there
is resistance to learning the skills of clicker training and that's
hard to agrue with. It takes a lot of skill to develop good
clicker timing and that's without trying to care for small children at
the same time. I've had it drilled into me that touch inhibits
learning, but that hasn't been my experience and honestly I can't help
myself from touching and guiding my dogs. Yoshi in particular
likes it. With Trek I think I'll get more progress with the
target stick instead, though she likes touch also.
The timing of this all is very fortuitous, as I've been slowly coming
to the conclusion that Yoshi wants more physical guidance.
Clicker training involves marking the desireable choices a dog makes in
hopes that the undesired choices will extingusih due to lack of
reinforcement. However, Yoshi's reactivity is stress motivated
and also self reinforcing since the stressor usually goes away
(independent of his reaction, but he doesn't know that.) Trish
noticed that he wants to do the rewardable thing but is still compelled
to react. I'm thinking that the more I can guide him through
getting through a dog sighting without having a semi-meltdown the more
he will see that he has other choices and nothing bad happened.
Xanax or other calming agent may help with this. The advantage of
Xanax is that it is intended to keep the person/animal taking it
functional as opposed to knocking them out. I do have some other
herbal calming stuff, but it makes him sleepy due to the valerian in
it. Shen Calmer would help up to a point, but it didn't prevent
him reacting to dogs. Brenda's thinking it's likely time to go
for the heavier guns since this problem has proved to be so intractable.
I called one of my vets (Dr Wydner) about it and she said in a return
message that she'd like me to talk to Dr. Applegate as she had one of
her own dogs on it for a very short term. Dr. Applegate will be
back in on Tues.
[Time out for a little excitment, Yoshi surprised a juvenile possum in
the yard and was chasing it (sort of) around the outside of the
tunnel. I could tell he was onto something by his trotting back
and forth movement - herding dogs can be so indirect - but I was
surprised when the possum appeared on the other side of the
tunnel. Fortunately I was immediately able to catch the dogs and
I don't think Trek ever saw it so she never had the chance to add to
her hunting repetoire.]
After I got back on Sunday I took Yoshi out in the yard just on a
regular collar to see how he would do with backaway. We'd walk on
a leash and then I would start backing up. He'd immediately turn
and follow like he'd been doing it all along. After some
repetitions, I couldn't think of anything else we could accomplish in
the yard so we went out on the driveway (thus moving ahead by months in
comparison to Brenda's class.) In the driveway, I could see a
difference in his [lack of] composure. He was immediately
scanning for threats. I had put his gentle leader on by now and I
turned him towards me and knelt down and held him by the collar with
both hands on each side of his head. Every time he tried to look
left or right I moved his head back to looking at me. The clicker
folks wouldn't like not having a choosing, thinking dog but I don't
think he's thinking much anyway beyond stressing and he's been
reinforced for months for focusing on me and we're still having
issues. I think he wants to be shown what it is we want him to be
After some time in the driveway with me rubbing his body and
redirecting his staring he seemed to relax so since I'm a bit foolish
and because I know I can control him, we then went on a walk.
Every so often I would stop and back up (I couldn't resist stamping my
feet a little) and he would turn and follow. Things were going
great when a dog appeared right as we were crossing the street. I
got him to the other side (the dog was on the side we were leaving) and
he was already having something of a tantrum (muted by pressure on the
gentle leader). On the other side of the street I got ahold of
his collar and wrestled with him about looking at me and not lunging
and barking at the other dog. By about the fifth time of trying
he relented, I praised him, but I didn't let go of him till the dog was
Brenda says (and I've heard this before) that it takes 6000 repetitions
to make a new neural pathway. Only 5999 to go. Actually
we've sort of been already doing this so maybe it's just 5950 to go.
Fri May 4
Prepping for a Brenda Aloff seminar in Novato. Also
tomorrow after the Sat session I'll go up to Petaluma to pick up a
teeter base from Ellen Finch.
Thu May 3
I have some Red Barn food (like Natural Balance) and while the
beef flavor has wheat in it. It does not have rice or corn so I'm
going to try it with Trek (and Yoshi can have it too.)
Did some basic work with the target stick with Trek (she remembers last
session) and intro'd sit on my right side. She's starting to get
it, but wants to leave her butt sticking out, but the target stick
really helps with positioning. (Beats manually positioning her
which completely distracts her and makes her either want to chew on me
or roll on her back for a belly rub.
Did some more work on the tunnel with both dogs. That was amusing
and fun especially when both dogs would go in the tunnel and emerge in
a different order from which they started. Yoshi's being a good
little helper about this (well of course he's getting paid in Red Barn
so that may have something to do with it.
Still about the same with the back door bell. "Do you want to go
outside?" They look at the door intently, but don't make the leap
to press the button until I repeat myself and point out the
button. They will eventually especially if I make a point of
being slow to the door. :)
Trek's eye medication regime may be helping. Ironically, the one
that seems to help the most makes her vomit as the 2 drop dosage in her
food per meal so she's getting 1 drop instead. (I was warned this
Wed May 2
Dog training interrupted by gathering information for a lawyer
for setting up an estate.
The dogs coped well by wrestling and we tried Yoshi's new shirt on
him. It's a dog shirt that I got from Dog Bone Alley (will get a
photo of it) and he looks really silly in it but fashion is not the
goal.. The idea is that a snug fitting shirt seems to help make a
dog (or a human for that matter) feel more secure and can calm
them. He was certainly more subdued with it on but I think that
was mostly because he's not used to it. His coat is so thick that
he hardly needs one. Fortunately, he's been blowing coat so it's
not awful for him and we tried it in the evening.. We'll have to
see how this goes. Maybe I'll have him do obedience class in it
(oh the ridicule he'll have to endure from the other dogs.) Hey
tough guy Nyay nyay nyay.
The shirt is cute though. It's sleeveless and looks like a
motorcycle shirt and says "West Coast Chompers."
Tue May 1
Doing basic sequences with Trek. Jump-tunnel-tire, and the
reverse. Introduced calling her over a jump: jump-tunnel, and
back to the jump. She ran past the jump to get to me the first
couple of times until I placed myself directly on the other side of the
Tonight I was working on some paperwork for an estate that Terri and I
are going to be setting up. I'm making out these elaborate
instructions for the dogs, but do I know where my overvalued Bay Area
house should go if Terri isn't around to have it? Why, of course
not. Priorities you know, never mind that I will likely outlive
Trek is really starting to catch onto the screaming monkey
backdoor bell and the idea that if she wants to go out, that is where
she should go. She hasn't quite yet started pressing it without
being asked "Do you want to go outside?" But that clearly won't
take long and our lives will never be the same once that happens.
Yoshi even noses at it now but is still too tentative to set it off.
I've decided that I've gone as far as I want to go with the contact
trainer with Trek, so I'm going to donate it back to the Bayteam to
re-raffle it (I had won it in a Bayteam raffle a while back so it's
only proper that it go back to them since with any luck I won't have to
train a dog to it any time soon.)
Sun Apr 29
- Yoshi herding day. I kept him on the long line and
worked on stop. If he stopped he got to herd more. If he
didn't stop them I stepped on the line.
- Melted freeways and evasive action. A tanker fire took out 2
connector ramps one of which is how we got home so I got to
refamiliarize myself with various surface street work arounds that I
used to use a lot before the 880 freeway was rebuilt post Loma Prieta
earthquake. Even with relatively light traffic and evasive action
it still took 2 hours to get back from Santa Rosa (normally 1:15)
- Yoshi pad abrasion from last herding run. He's limping, but
fortunately just an abrasion, not a torn pad. He had somewhat of
a collision with a sheep on the last run and the resulting abrupt stop
might have done it.
- Adapted screaming monkey toy to be doggy backdoor bell and clicker
trained Trek to press it. This is hard to explain but NPR was
talking about the Maker Faire and adapting toys for purposes that they
were never intended. Which got me wondering if there's anything
we have that I could use as a dog doorbell. Then I remembered the
screaming monkey that has never really made it into the dog toy
rotation yet probably because it's a little obnoxious. What a
perfect dog doorbell. The manufacturers were nice enough to make
the noisemaker (a small box with some very simple electronics inside
and a speaker and a pushbutton switch) easy to remove from Mr.
Monkey. I had to take the springs out to make it easier to press,
as it was intended to be chomped not nose pressed. and then I
taped it to the door. When I think of something less tacky than
duct tape I'll take photos.
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Apr 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Mar 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Feb 2007
Yoshi and Trek Training Diary - Jan 2007
Yoshi Training Diary - Dec 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Nov
Yoshi Training Diary - Oct 2006
Yoshi Training Diary - Sep 2006
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Yoshi Training Diary - July
Yoshi Training Diary - June
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Training Diary - Dec 2005
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Training Diary - Jul 2005
Training Diary - Jun 2005
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Training Diary - Apr 2004
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