Category Archives: 4th week

She’s looking at me!

It’s a great feeling when you know your dog has anxiety of something and looks at you for leadership! That’s our goal and that’s what happened today at the park.

Backing up to this morning, first I finished a table and dog walk plank I was working on for agility training. It’s been fun and I’m glad we’ve had 2 sunny weekends. Otherwise this project would take weeks due to the painting.

She still had some reactive barking today in the house, but the landlords upstairs were gone a lot so it was more quiet than yesterday. I had her tethered to me much of the day so I was able to reward a lot more than yesterday.

This afternoon we went to the park along the river where there is a wide walking path.  So as I mentioned she looked at me when she felt anxious. This is in relation to bicycles. It’s not the most anxious thing she has reactions to, but it’s something I know she fears. She doesn’t like them. She cowers and tries to hide. She doesn’t respond like she does to other things. Today there were a lot of bikes because it was such a nice day.  Instead of cowering today, she walked nicely and looked back at me or didn’t respond at all to the bikes! This is huge progress. I’ve worked on bikes with click and treats and that didn’t work. This was the first time she really handled her anxiety well! She got tons of treats.

There were some dogs on the walk too that she ignored. If Apollo barked (because the other dog barked first), Gypsy responded by barking too. I wasn’t too happy with that but she also didn’t respond first. It was in reaction to Apollo’s bark which was in reaction to the other dog’s bark. So I will work through that but I’m not holding it against her. Still, I was really proud when we walked by other dogs that no one had a reaction and she didn’t even notice the dog or care.

The first part of the walk she pulled me some. I stopped, she had to come back and sit before we walked again. We had to do this for at least 1/4 mile. But then she started really paying attention and looking at me. I treated quite often and while we were in motion. I also had her sit for treats.  She looked very relaxed and happy when we walked so nicely.

Tomorrow starts week 5. Hard to believe.

Today I am thankful for such a nice weekend and a great walk in the park with the dogs.

Gypsy's new plank and table that I made over the last two weekends.


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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in 4th week


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Reactive barking

Today was a highly reactive barking day. My landlords upstairs have house guests and it’s noisier than normal. I hear more footsteps, things dropping, baby crying, more people talking, and more movement and activity overall. Gypsy has noticed too and any little noise makes her bark. Sometimes she’ll get up and go to the door to see if she can figure out where the noise is coming from. Keeping her from not reacting is difficult. If I click and treat when she’s quiet, it is constant maintenance. If we do the Look At That Game, it’s also continuous.  Clicking for quiet or for not reacting is difficult too because she hasn’t yet applied these games to real life and she hasn’t differentiated between games and real life. That has always been a challenge for us. So she’ll treat it as a game and if I’m not playing with her every second, she’ll bark.  It’s not the barking that bothers me as much as the fact I know she’s barking because it’s anxiety related. So in order to change her anxiety overall, this reactive barking at home has to be extinguished as well.  So we worked some Look At That and rewarding for being calm. It’s helped but not a habit yet.

Then she’ll bark and look back at me. I am not 100% how to respond to that. On one hand, I don’t want to reward her for reacting and then looking back. On the other hand, perhaps she’s reacting and looking back at me for leadership as I’ve been teaching her — as if she’s saying “I’m a little nervous about that, I need to bark, but then I’ll see what Mom things about it.” I tend to lean toward the latter. I don’t think she’s barking and looking at me for a reward. I think she’s looking for my reaction because when she looks at me, she doesn’t continue barking. It usually stops, I wait a few seconds and reward her for being quiet.  Then it will happen again in another few minutes. I tend to think she’s learning to turn back to me to know if a reaction is mandatory.

I also took the dogs for a walk with a friend and her yellow lab who Gypsy knows from agility class.  She didn’t even acknowledge his existence. It made me think that she either cares a lot or not at all.  I am kind of the same way too! It’s an interesting thing to note as we go forward.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be a little less reactive at home so I can work on it at a lesser rate instead of all day long

Today I am thankful for a sunny, beautiful spring day with my dogs.

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in 4th week


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Walking better!

Since my CU class was cancelled today because our trainer is at an agility trial, I went to get my oil changed. I took the dogs and we walked along a busy street while my car was being worked on. Gypsy did really good walking and paying attention to me while cars and trucks buzzed by.

We also went to Home Depot and both dogs had fun.

We again worked in the yard with sits and focus. She was a little more barky than usual inside. It was a warm sunny day and the neighbors were out in the yard a lot.

It’s been another long busy week and I’m very sleepy. More fun this weekend!

Short blog today…

I am thankful for sunshine and happy dogs.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in 4th week


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Celebrating small successes

Today was a good day. 🙂

This morning we went in the front yard and walked around the street and she was focused on me the whole time. In fact, she was so focused on me she didn’t want to potty! (we did get the potty accomplished). She did really well out front this morning.

When I got home from work, we did a little work in the yard but not much— mainly with some sits.  I had her tethered to me while I did some stuff around the house.

Then we went to agility class. Last week was awful. Tonight was better. I changed a few things. First, I brought her collapsible crate we use at trials. I thought perhaps she’d be more comfortable than the little crate she rides in on car rides.  Secondly, she wore the thundershirt. And finally I had her on a ribbon. Before our first run, we did some focus exercises around the building. She was heavily rewarded for staying focused. I used a lot of our methods and moves from L2E. We did a few obstacles then — jumps and the table and I rewarded after each obstacle, then after 2 then after 3. It’s back to the gambling analogy I mentioned the other day. We ended on a high note.

On our second turn we did even more longer sequences with heavy rewards after just a few obstacles.  We also added the tunnel and weaves. She did great. One dog in a crate looked at her and she looked at it and didn’t respond at all. She looked back at me and we did our thing. She got lots of rewards and had a good time!!

When we got home, our landlord’s dog was outside going potty. For some reason Gypsy has issues with her. She’s very old, can’t walk, can’t breathe well and is noisy. She’s a very old yellow lab who is deaf and isn’t even aware of anything. Gypsy can hear her a mile away. We got out of the car and I was ready with treats. I put the leash around my waist (I had the buddy system with me that I took to class) and we worked around Mocha with sits and fronts and heels with lots of cookies. We stayed pretty far away and Gypsy did look at Mocha but she was more interested in the treats I had with me. The more cookies she got, the more she didn’t care about Mocha. It went really well. As soon as Mocha was back inside the house, Gypsy was focused on me. Before she would be pulling and sniffing every step Mocha took.  I wish she didn’t respond at all when we got out of the car and started the session, but it was definitely better than anything we’ve done in the past to counter-condition. Poor Mocha is sad to watch. 😦

We are now resting for the evening and Gypsy has a rawhide. She’s barking a little at noises upstairs is better at not barking than she used to be.

Tonight I am thankful for keeping the hope and continuing on.

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in 4th week


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Disaster averted. I goofed.

Today was a mixed day of training. I goofed and almost caused a problem.  Before we started this program, Gypsy would be laying on the couch or something and see something outside through a window or hear something. She would bolt to the back door. She wouldn’t do anything when she got there, but her decision was really quick.  If Apollo was in the other room, she’d look at him after spotting what she was interested in outside and then bolt. He’d follow.  And then something changed a few months ago. She would bolt to the door after looking at him and if he was there when she got there, she’d jump on him baring teeth. It was noisy but she never bit. He would never fight back but it wasn’t appropriate behavior at all!  So that’s part of why she’s on a leash in the house now to extinguish that behavior.

Well, this morning I goofed and didn’t have her on a leash when I was about ready to leave for work because I was just about to put her in her crate. Apollo was in the other room. She bolted to the door and Apollo came running. She did look at him and kind of jump like she was going to jump on him but she didn’t!  It was almost a disaster but it was averted. I don’t know if it was because of our training (I’d like to think so) or because he didn’t react or what. I wish I had tried to recall her instead but it is so fast that it is hard. So now I know the behavior still exists and I still need to keep her on leash and not let her rehearse anything close to it that may start it again.

So after work, she was tethered to me all night. We walked around our cul-de-sac with treats and sits and it went well. Apollo stayed home so it was easier to keep her focus. I need to bring him into the mix soon because she tends to want to pull more with him. Overall though it was a good evening session and I’m proud of that.

Today also marks the 6 year anniversary I met Apollo. I didn’t take him home for a few days after so I could discuss it with the other dog I had at the time (and prep the house, etc).  So Apollo got a lot of special attention and food tonight, plus his agility class.

Today I am thankful for Gypsy not attacking Apollo on his gotcha day anniversary. And I’m thankful for having Apollo in my life. And Gypsy too.

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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in 4th week


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Reality check: I have an awesome dog. Pity party over!

My pity party of one and debbie downer syndrome is gone…for now. Gypsy needs me to keep going, be strong, be consistent, be a good leader and good trainer and just be. I have an awesome dog I love so much. Despite her DWI conviction (Dog With Issues), she is still awesome and always will be. She’s a great pet and companion and nothing will change that.

So today, we kept going. This morning I woke up a little late so we played a little tug. It’s something I’m working on as well not part of L2E. However, tugging is a game in Ruff Love and Gypsy has fun tugging when she’s in the mood. She doesn’t always tug nor likes to tug. There are specific times she’ll tug, so I’m working on building that up and making it super fun so she’ll want to play more tug with me. I like it too!

Tonight we went for a walk with 3 other friends we walk with often. I didn’t walk with them like I usually do nor did I try to keep up.  I worked a lot with L2E on the walk, which was about an hour and a half (about 3 miles or so). Gypsy was wearing her Wonder Walker but still pulled a little because she likes to be in front of Apollo. Apollo is slower and never leaves my side. But when Gypsy pulled, I stopped. I waited for her to come back to me and sit and look at me, just like the rest of our L2E permissions. We did have to repeat this a lot. When we walk by ourselves she doesn’t pull so we never have the issue. But with Apollo and in a different environment, it was something to work with. I am glad because she needs the other environments to work with.

So as we walked we stopped a lot. She came back, sat and we continued. I praised her and released her from the sit but didn’t treat, but then treated a lot as we walked and she was with me and focused and checking in at me often. It was like the gambling game. She may get one treat in a block or she may get a treat every step of the block. The fact that she could potentially get tons of treats made her want to walk with me. Of course I did treat often because she’s not an experienced gambler yet. She is still learning there could be a great potential of getting cookies after one step or one block, just like what Daisy told is in our lesson last week — she may get one treat for going over a jump or she may get one cookie after 3 jumps. The thought of winning makes her want to do it.  I’m turning my dog into a gambler.

So we did a lot of stopping on this walk. I know it wouldn’t have been so without Apollo. But that’s not going to happen. Apollo loves his walks and I love Apollo. As Susan Garrett says, adding a dog is like adding a distraction. You still need to work through it and you do so like a distraction. It was more difficult tonight because the environment (city streets with lots of smells) was distracting enough. I can’t say we were totally successful but I was very consistent. We stopped, I released, I treated, I rewarded and we did good.  I’m glad I’m able to take this on the road because we need to add the next level to our training and this was it. It wasn’t too stimulating where we couldn’t work through it. We could and did. And it was just distracting enough where when I stopped she started to figure out what to do as our walk went on.

So tonight I’m back on track.

Today I am thankful for the awesome dog I already have.

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in 4th week


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The start of week 4 and my own uncertainty

It’s hard to believe we’re starting our 4th week of the L2E program. Gypsy has pretty much mastered all the tools in the house and the yard. We need to do more on the road with other dogs. That’s where our next challenge lies. There are still some things at home I want to work like her reacting to people in windows in the houses surrounding ours. I’ve started training that with the Manners Minder. But since the bulk of her fear is dog-dog, that is what we really need to focus on.  We can work more at our modified version of the CU Look at That Game. She does look at me while she barks at the neighbors. Now I need her to look at me and NOT bark. I think the same can be applied to other dogs when she is feeling uncertain on things.  I am running out of money for classes so I have to carefully think about what we are going to work on.  Our CU class is fun, but Gypsy knows class environment vs real life. I know the tools we’re learning we need to practice in real life, but real life doesn’t have decoy dogs. Since a lot of her anxiety happens in agility class with the other dogs, doing our CU games in agility class will help us a lot too.

Sometimes I feel like I am losing a battle. Just when I feel like I’m making progress, it’s not really progress. Just when I’m feeling hopeful, something makes me think otherwise. Sometimes I think of the past classes we’ve been in and how she’s responded. Knowing what I know now, I feel like I isolate her too much where I fear her behavior could get worse.  Sometimes I think it was better when I was oblivious to the situation.

So here we go to week 4. I know this program takes a while and we’ve made a lot of progress in our short amount of time. Sometimes I just need a little more proof that I am doing something right or I’m going in the right direction instead of making this worse. That is my fear.

Today I am thankful for another warm, sunny day so I could work with Gypsy in the yard with the neighbor noises.

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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 4th week


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