Category Archives: 3rd week

A Sunshiny Day

Today was a much better day! My sister’s lost dog was found safe and he’s back home. That made my day. I didn’t learn of this until about 1pm so the morning was still a downer.

I didn’t work with Gypsy a lot this morning because we had a slot tonight at Four Paw so I saved most of her food for later. We still did some sits and good behavior sessions.

Most of the day, I worked in the backyard on the agility table I’m building/painting. Gypsy stayed outside with me, munching on her bully stick. She barked some at neighbors and I worked to give her alternative behaviors of looking at me and getting cookies instead of barking. It worked but it was a lot of maintenance. It is definitely not a default behavior yet, which is my goal.

Tonight we worked recalls at Four Paw, plus some agility. It went really well. For a few experiments, I threw some treats, and told her to leave it. She did. Then I released her to the treats. While she was eating them I walked the other direction and then called her. She came flying and she got massive and rapid rewards. We did this a few times and each time was successful. I ran her over some agility obstacles too and rewarded her for focusing on me. At first she wandered off, like it’s a habit of hers. She ran to the ring gates like she was looking for someone, but no one was there. She didn’t come back right away (this was before we practiced recalls).  But she eventually did as soon as she realized no one was there. I didn’t reward her for the come per se, but I did reward her by sending her into a nearby tunnel (she loves tunnels) and rewarded her for that.

I was given some great advice that when you need to recall a dog off of inappropriate behavior, you don’t reward them for coming because it is a behavior chain of them taking off to begin with. When they do come back, you give them something else to do, even as little as a sit, down, hand touch, etc. Then reward massively. So you’re giving them something rewarding to do and so they WANT to stay with you. So you reward heavily for the activity they do when they decide to not take off again. So when she came back, I praised but did not reward. She got rewarded for the tunnel, which she loves. So she’ll learn that staying with mom will give her something rewarding. However, it has to be carefully administered so the act of taking off, coming and then doing something fun also doesn’t develop into a behavior chain.  Sitting, down, hand touches are generally safe enough.

So we had some good successes at our session at Four Paw tonight. I was proud of her over the last few weeks of going in the changes I’ve seen. When we first got there, she generally goes exploring. Tonight, she didn’t. The only time she left me was when we were doing an agility course on the teacup side and she took off out of a habit that I’m working on changing to a new habit of staying with me.

Today I am thankful for a warm spring day with sunshine and that Banjo is home safe.


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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in 3rd week


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Distracted Trainer Day

Today I had a lot of intentions to catch up on reading my behavior books and articles, run a few errands and work on Gypsy’s come when called.

I got some of that done but this morning, my sister called me. Her dog slipped out of his harness at a community dog walk in a busy downtown area and ran off. She has no idea what direction he even went. She is devastated, sad, angry at herself, and all those emotions when your dog runs away. I feel so bad for her. I helped make a poster this morning and a few phone calls. I live too far away to help locally but I did the best I could.  So the sadness I feel didn’t really make my day very good. I still worked with Gypsy a little, we went to Home Depot (twice!) and got materials to make a table and ramp, and wasted time on the computer. I still haven’t opened the book I intended.

What work I did do with Gypsy today was good. Minimal but good. My neighbors are still gone and she was barking at imaginary noises like they were here. I found that quite interesting.  She was rewarded a lot for good behavior and being calm and quiet.

So not much to blog about today.

Tonight I am grateful my sister has a lot of friends helping and/or supporting her in this difficult time.

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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in 3rd week


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Cookie Coma

TGIF! It’s been a long work week and I’m ready for rest this weekend so I can have a clear head to work with Gypsy and organize some articles and other papers I’ve printed and want to read again this weekend.

This morning I kept things pretty simple. We did our quick sits and such. I worked from home and she was tethered to the table, enjoying a rawhide next to me. She was very good. And my landlords upstairs aren’t home so that kept things extra quiet and calm.

This afternoon we went to CU class. We worked on more box work and introduced the Look at That Game. I know in CU that is a cue, but I’m not going to name it. I don’t want it as a trick. I want the LAT game to be default and an uncued habit just like the other exercises we’re doing. If I name it, it will be a trick. I never named the hand touches I have. She just knows when she sees my hand, she intensely smooshes her nose into my hand. I am going to treat the LAT game the same — she sees something she’s afraid of and she looks back at me without a cue or name. I also think a cue makes it so it doesn’t happen all the time. What if I forget to tell her to look at the dog, or whether she sees it before I can cue it? Then she won’t know what to do — it becomes just another variable in our inconsistencies. I don’t disagree with the game at all. I actually think it is going to be great. I am just not going to put a name or cue on it. I am treating it as a classically conditioned automatic response.

In our box work, we were able to be off leash, while other dogs were around, and we left the box, walked around the side and then back into the box. Honestly I got nervous. If she bolted, that would be the end of that. The other dogs were on a leash but it wouldn’t be good. Thankfully though she was pretty focused on me with the clicker too and it worked out. But I was scared. If video existed, you would probably see me tense up or my voice change as we walked out of the box.  Reinforcement builds behavior is right– I’ve had some bad reinforcements and experiences.

After class she drank a lot of water. Almost too much. We drove home and I noticed her belly was large — larger than normal. I wasn’t really freaking out but I did get a little scared. I went online and read some symptoms of bloat. She didn’t eat food fast at class but there was a lot of it and then she drank a lot of water. Corgis aren’t a high-risk breed but still, it’s not something to mess with.  I even measured her belly and monitored it.

So far so good — no symptoms of bloat. I guess she just ate a lot of food and has a full tummy. And she’s probably gained a pound or two from all the food she’s had. I need to either start using smaller pieces or more protein-rich treats like tripe.  And I need to get this dog to tug!! She will tug on occasion but not enough to reward behaviors yet. I may be able to pull it off for crate games.

So I’m heading to bed, sleeping in tomorrow and back at it tomorrow. This weekend I am going to work on her recalls in the front yard on a long line.  Her recall in the house is great as well as in the backyard as long as there aren’t any visible squirrels. We need to move recalls to the front yard.

Today I am thankful my fear of bloat is just one of my anxieties and not reality today.

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in 3rd week


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Not a good training day

We didn’t have a great training day today, so we just have to be more creative.

Our rapid sits are going very well inside and in the yard and in the street now. We need to add more distractions now, like other dogs and new places. It’s gotten to the point of being default here at home. This is great. But it’s no where near default in real life. That’s the goal. We’re going to work it this coming week.

We did some good leave-it’s today but with some struggles. Again, when it’s a game, she does it. When it’s in real life, it becomes problematic. We’re having a hard time transferring that. In other words, I guess it’s not habit yet.

We had agility class tonight and she shut down. She was just too stressed over something. She wasn’t focused at all. When I got her focus, it lasted a very short amount of time and then fell apart and she ran off to the other dogs.  The good thing is she didn’t react to the other dogs and they didn’t react to her, so it was ok. Thankfully they were covered too. I don’t know what caused the stress, but it was too much for her to work. So next week we’re going to take it really slow and with super high value treats like the raw tripe Daisy had yesterday.  That got her attention really quickly.

So I’m somewhat disappointed in today’s progress and training. I guess it was bound to happen. I know not to judge everything by today. I was just hoping we weren’t going to go backwards again.

Today I am grateful for Gypsy handling her stress better than she has in the past.

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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in 3rd week


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Old ways trying to change

In a mix with our L2E training with sits and leave its, we did a private agility lesson today with a trainer who is one of the best handlers in the world. That’s why I went to her and paid what she changes which wasn’t too bad considering.  I know a lot of my handling is inconsistent, causes stress to Gypsy and needs a lot of improvement.

Aside from Gypsy’s normal anxiety, I am hoping if I can be a more consistent handler and have a method and only one method I’m going to use, her anxiety around me will be turned into trust and confidence.

So we worked on a variety of sequences in the hour lesson, most of them jump sequences and I learned a lot about how Gypsy reads my body language. I learned that some of the words I use on the course aren’t good words to use and I learned how one small mis-move on my part can throw her into a major off course (which happened as she took several obstacles in the horse arena I was at.

So I cam away from this lesson with a book to read to finding my one and only handling method and some practices to do in the yard until I meet with her again next month sometime. It was a great lesson and well-worth the cost. I learned more from this class than I did in weeks of agility just in terms of handling and how Gypsy responds to my movements.

Most of her treat allocations went to the class. We did a little more sits and stuff in the yard but not much today. She spotted the neighbor behind us in the window and reacted with barking, staring and behavior I don’t want. I tried to stop it but she was too tied into it. So I need to continue rewarding when she looks at the house with no one in the window and doesn’t react so we can then apply that to when she does see the neighbor. I’m going to use the Manners Minder to help with this, as I hope to train her that when she sees the neighbor, she’ll run to the MM target which will be near the door. If she doesn’t bark, I’ll be able to beep the target and then the MM will be just inside the door. That’s my plan at least.

So it’s after 11pm and I’ve procrastinated once again.

Today I am thankful for amazing agility handlers who can help me.

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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in 3rd week


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Another great training day

Here we are, 9 minutes til midnight, I’m so tired and the alarm goes off in under 6 hours.  Yet, I had a good day with my wild child corgi.

This morning we worked some sits in the yard, and also some good leave-its in the yard. She did super!! We also did some sits down the street in the grassy area of this empty lot 2 doors down. That’s where I take her to potty when she won’t potty in the yard. She potty’d and also focused on me while there, which is huge because usually she’s scanning for the dog across the street or squirrels in the trees. So that was great this morning!

Tonight I didn’t give her much dinner. We did a few little things but nothing big. We then went for a  walk with our friends and she did great. The Wonder Walker harness is helping a lot. She doesn’t usually get reactive with our friends and didn’t tonight either. She looked at me much more often and when something was a little uncertain, she looked at me as well. I had treats ready!

We then went to Four Paw to practice our running contacts homework. When we first got there and I let her off the leash, she was all over the place. :-(.  I got her, and we did a few reps of the contacts. She wasn’t really into it. I got her again, and then started doing some hand targets and it got her back in focus. It was actually amazing how quickly she went from off to on with just a hand target and some treats. We then continued our running contact training.

After our sessions of that, we did our fast sits in all directions. I had forgotten my Buddy System leash at home since we had gone for a walk with friends. I only had her collar, harness and leash. I had the harness off because of the agility equipment. I decided to try it off leash. Oooooh, I know! She actually stayed with me the whole time! She didn’t have the urge to wander off like she did when we got there. Granted she was more tired, but she followed me and sat quickly and did everything great off leash!! It was nice to see and a huge improvement week over week. Last week she did great but we had the Buddy System leash on. Today was the first time out of the yard that I did it leash-free!

Earlier today, this article crossed my facebook feed. I thought it was really interesting and I hope there’s more info and research on it. 
Too Dog Tired to Avoid Danger: Like Humans, Dogs Engage in Riskier Behaviors When Their Self-Control Is Depleted

Today I am thankful for a hot shower after running around with my dogs.

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in 3rd week


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Good Leave It!

I don’t know why I wait until I’m too tired to think to update this blog!

This morning we did a lot of Leave It work and she did great. I tossed treats all around her and told her to leave it. I did it in the living room and the kitchen. She didn’t touch the treats. Then when she sat, I gave her one from the pouch, and then let her get the ones on the floor. It was a very good progress.

We worked on our rapid sits in the front yard after work. I’m able to take her much farther down the street than previously without her looking nervous. This is huge progress too!

We did a lot of reps of both leave it and sits tonight. I am very pleased with both, especially the leave it.

Today is the beginning of Week 3 and I’m really excited how things are going!! We’ve come  a long way in just 2 weeks!

Today I am thankful for a warmer (60 degrees) and dry day.

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in 3rd week


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