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Another Great Blog From Dr. Yin and updates this week

It’s Saturday morning at 7am and I just got done with my behavior changes– my workout! haha. It’s a lifestyle change for all of us around here.

Dr. Yin posted another amazing blog this week, with mechanics I learned during the seminar and what we practice every day. It’s great to see though because sometimes I need a reminder on my mechanics, and sometimes when I think I’m doing it right, I’m not.  So read this blog about reinforcement and speed of delivery.

This week had some ups and downs. At home the barking and reactiveness in the backyard continues. Melatonin helps. A leash helps. But it’s just not getting better at all, especially when my upstairs neighbors are super noisy (which they have been recently).  I can’t give up but I want to. I feel helpless and that I’m losing this battle. I need to think more creatively.

In agility class this week, Gypsy went a step backwards but it ended up good. There was a spot in the very first day of class where a dog was crated and she went to it. That spot in class is in her memory of some location fear I guess. This week a dog was crated in the same spot — the first time a dog was crated in that same spot in many many weeks. Gypsy was running her course and took off to that spot. The dog was covered and she didn’t even know there was a dog in there, but she knew something was up.  I grabbed her leash tab and we finished the course with some treats.

On our next run, I had the owner make sure the dog was all the way covered. Gypsy ran her course and she still looked that direction. After the weave poles, she looked in that direction, I called her name and gave her the cue for the next obstacle and she made the best decision and took the jump. She got a huge huge jackpot for that!  It was a very big breakthrough. Had the dog not been covered I’m not sure it would have been as successful, but at the same time it was a good choice. Had the dog not been covered and had been somewhere else in the room, it wouldn’t have been an issue either. It’s that spot. We got a chance to work through it and it was great.

After class a few of us were talking with our dogs out on leashes, and Gypsy couldn’t have cared less about any of them — even the one who was in that scary location earlier. She was totally calm. But when she’s running and gets freaked out, it’s very difficult to get her threshold lower again. Still, this week was a good test.

We continue to work on our sit for please and shadow handling. Today we’re going to a Rally trial — going for our first leg of Rally Novice B.  Wish us luck.

Today I am thankful for the Adidas pants I ordered and came in the mail yesterday that are super comfortable and great to run in agility and for dog training! Yeah, silly but true!

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in week 11

 

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Onward to more adventures

Our Saturday Growly Dog 2 class at Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle has come to an end. Gypsy did really well and on the final class greeted one of the other reactive dogs in class. I have to admit that the other dog wasn’t over the top by any means. For the most part throughout class, the two of them couldn’t care less about each other. But still, they greeted and that was great.

The class wasn’t really what I had hoped. There were only 3 students of 6 spots. The one lower-reactive dog was the one we worked with the most.  The other dog was reactive in a different way and barked a lot and kept his distance — a distance that was way below Gypsy’s threshold.  When we started the class I told the instructor Gypsy is noise and motion reactive and we really didn’t work any of that. It was pretty much 6 weeks of BAT setups, which I modified to fit more into Dr. Yin’s protocol.  We still went every week but I don’t think we got much out of it. As Dr. Yin told me, Gypsy is not the type of dog that turning and walking away is going to reduce her anxiety. Yes, it may help some other dogs but not Gypsy.  So the class is ended. I think it did help lower her threshold in some arenas, like when the dog in class barked when he got over threshold, she didn’t seem to care. Perhaps a few months ago she would have. I think we’re going to spend some time over the next month working on CU games at home, at the park and even agility practice.

At home it’s a different story. She’s still reactive to my landlords upstairs and through windows. My Growly Dog instructor recommended a Calming Cap.  I looked it up online –I am not sure that’s right for us. I don’t know. Perhaps it could work but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem and doesn’t really form a situation to work through — it’s just what I see as positive punishment — adding something to change a behavior.  I tried to think of it like a Thundershirt, but I think it’s a little more intrusive than that. At least the Thundershirt gives a calming feeling with the wrap. The Calming Cap just makes it so they can’t see as much because it’s like looking through mesh.  If any of you have tried it, please let me know what your experience is with it.

For my birthday I got a little money from my Grandma. I went on Amazon.com and bought Gypsy a cheap, but full size skateboard!! I don’t see her skating down the street or anything but I do think it will be fun to train to at least have her stand on it and me pull her. I think it could build her confidence and trust in me. We’ll see — we’re so far just clicking and treating for putting one or two paws on it!

Today I am thankful for my background check going through at work for an awesome promotion that will allow me more financial resources to spend on my dogs!

 

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Busy week, kidney stones and a neurotic dog

Wow, what an interesting week and it’s now Saturday evening. I have neglected this blog the last few days.

Let’s see–Tuesday nothing interesting. We worked on some backyard agility for our online class.

Wednesday – I don’t remember but nothing stands out

Thursday-Gypsy rocked agility class without a Thundershirt. She was really focused, didn’t take off and understood my handling.

Friday — wow what a day. I had been feeling some pain in my back the last few days and decided to call the doctor yesterday (the urologist). About a year and a half ago I had a kidney stone. It passed in a week. The pain I feel now is similar to that pain. Well, the radiologist saw a stone on the x-ray but not on the CT scan. So I don’t even know if I have a stone or not or if this pain is something else. That is what bothers me the most. So yesterday I was at the doctors all afternoon. In the evening the pain was pretty mild and we went to Four Paw to practice our agility handling homework. It was an eye opener, doing a sequence without arms and really mapping out cues.  It was like what Dr. Yin says when the dog feels a sigh or breath of relief because you’re finally speaking her language. That’s the way I feel like the handling session went. Gypsy made more eye contact with me than she has ever done before!  We were both tired after that.

Today: Today she did great in her Growly Dog 2 class. There was only 1 other dog besides Gypsy and he’s pretty low-key. She didn’t cross threshold at all.  Afterwards we went to the beach and chilled in the sand and sun because it was a beautiful day today.  When we got home, the neighbors were kind of noisy and she went a little balistic. CC wasn’t doing any good. It was like I described last week or the week before where she was pacing, whining, being hypervigilant, and barking.  When we got home from the beach I gave her some rescue remedy but her reactivity got worse. So she got about 1mg of melatonin. It took about an hour to help relax her (on top of closing blinds and putting her on leash), but now I think she’s relaxed. I can’t really work the CC now because it’s dark and the noises are gone.

Earlier in the week I talked to the vet about meds and we decided to try melatonin for a few weeks. I think it’s helping. We have an agility trial tomorrow and I’ll be giving her melatonin there to see if it helps take the edge off.  I hope so.

Today I am thankful for good doctors, loving dogs, and Aleve. Ouch.

Gypsy at the beach today. It was a beautiful day.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in 8th week

 

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Control Unleashed Success

Today was the last class of our 6-week Control Unleashed class. We had an awesome instructor and Gypsy did really well. From the first week to the last she was less interested in seeing what the other dogs were doing while she was in her crate.  She also was more relaxed in class overall. We learned a lot and we’re ready to apply the games to real life, especially the Look at That Game, box work and Gimme a Break. I ordered the CU videos from Clean Run so I’ll be able to watch those at home to help me. I don’t plan to enroll in CU1 again. CU2 is TBD. I’m not sure yet.  Overall the class was great.  Honestly the L2E games work better, in conjunction with just a few CU games. We have the CU book, and with the videos coming I think I’ll have most of my tools I need to work this in the real world. I will probably take the next session off and decide for the July session what I want to do and determine how things are going. Wow, did I just say July?

I worked from home today aside from a few barks at the neighbor upstairs making noise and sneezing, Gypsy did really well. I had the blinds closed on the door and I think that helped a lot. She kept looking toward the door and then looked back at me. I think she’s not confident or comfortable with what goes on out there — even the trees blowing in wind.  It’s amazing how much more relaxed she is with them closed. I may have to make some blinds that close from the bottom so I can get some light in the house.

Today I am thankful for our Control Unleashed class.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in 7th week

 

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I hit rock bottom. I’m on my way back up again

The other night, I hit rock bottom. It was my fault. I failed. I caused it. I f-ed up. I am still really upset about it.

Basically I had Gypsy behind the x-pen in the living room and Apollo had the rest of the house. He had his food bowl on the floor. I forgot the bowl was there. I let Gypsy out so I could take her out to potty. She didn’t have a leash on. She ran toward the bedroom. I recalled her and she came half way but then turned around. I’m not sure where Apollo exactly was but she ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed to where Apollo was when I walked in and she proceeded to attack him. Lucky I jumped in right away. She actually barely touched him. His fur wasn’t went and there weren’t any wounds or anything but she did go after him. As soon as I broke it up, I punished her. It was so fast I didn’t even think about it. I basically bopped her on the nose. I knew it was wrong but at the time I wasn’t even thinking. As soon as I did it, I just broke down crying. I couldn’t stop crying. I took the dogs outside for potty and Gypsy stayed on leash all night long on the bed. She didn’t seem to have any leftover aggression toward Apollo. I was still crying. I cried until I got a migraine.  I hit rock bottom. Hard.

The next morning I was still really upset with myself, for setting up the situation for a major failure and for the punishment.  Apollo seemed fine. Gypsy was completely over it. I was really afraid of fallout from the nose bop. I’ve worked so hard to have her trust me and follow me  — and I ruined it. I really f-ed up, so I thought. Gypsy was a little distant that night but by morning I’m happy to say she was over it. No fallout. I still am upset though.

So we immediately started some relationship building games again. And they’re going well. We’re playing fetch with a toy she likes and treats when she brings the toy back and I’m starting a little perch work too.   It’s going great and a lot of fun. She’s never really liked toys and she is having a blast with this little turtle or frog toy that we found on sale at the pet store. She plays fetch with enthusiasm and speed and brings the toy back to me and I give her a treat. She’s trusting me.

Tonight we had agility class and she was a rock star. She wore her thundershirt and I had her on a short ribbon — about 3 feet long. She rocked it. I even messed up a handling move and she didn’t bolt off. She looked at me, looked around like she was thinking of what to do, then looked back at me. She did fantastic and I’m so happy considering the last 2 days we’ve had.  I’m smiling again.

So that’s why I missed posting the last 2 days. I’ve been too upset and didn’t really know what to write. I admit I messed up big time. I want this documented on my blog when I come back and read this in a few months. I also needed to clear my head.

On another note, Dr. Yin posted on her Facebook page that she saw a student of hers using what they’ve learned in class in other places in the park. I posted that I too use her methods whenever we go, and that I always am ready to reward at all times so I can capture behaviors I like. Dr. Yin wrote back that she was really happy to see that and that my dog is happier because of it. That made me smile.

Tonight I am thankful that the corgi laying next to me on the couch right now still loves me, and that Apollo still loves Gypsy.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in 7th week

 

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Growly Class and Houseguests

Today I consider a success. This morning I kept Gypsy on leash in the house and let her eat some of her bully stick.  Then we went to our Growly dog class. We worked my modified BAT setups and she did great with the other dogs. She didn’t have any trouble at all. I didn’t let her stare like the other dogs were doing. Our version is more of a quick look and look back at me and sit. She was excited and happy and relaxed.

This evening my mom and dad were over at the house. They’re visiting from Texas. Usually they stay with me but this time with all what I’m doing with Gypsy it was going to be too much so I told them they had to stay at a hotel.  They weren’t too happy about that and didn’t really understand, but I know it was the best decision. When they came over tonight I had Gypsy on the buddy system and was rewarding her for her impulse control. She had to sit for please as well. There was one point where she was with me on the couch. I was on one end and my dad was on the other.  My dad is really the only man she knows and is slightly scared of him but was doing well and getting pet. Apollo came over and Gypsy gave him “the look.” It was too much for me to verbally get her out of that so I had to physically interrupt her look at him. If I had left it she probably would have reacted against him like before. When I interrupted my mom asked me what was wrong and without having to go into a huge long explanation, I just said she was giving some stress signals.  Yes, I wish she would have looked back at me for guidance. I really don’t like that she would have reacted if I didn’t interrupt. But again, that’s why my parents are staying at a hotel. The change in dynamics would throw her off and as much as she loves them, it changes too much at one time and I think it creates some anxiety.  I’m glad I made the decision I did and still had to ability to watch Gypsy’s body language carefully enough with the distractions I’m faced with.

I also took them for a walk in the park today and Gypsy did much better than last week. She looked at me a lot without me having cookies available and she didn’t have any reactions to any dog who walked by or that we passed on the trail.

Today I am thankful for a great training day.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in 6th week

 

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Reactive barking and growly dog

Today had some good and bad. First, the reactive barking was bad today. She was barking at every little noise upstairs, every little thing outside, and anytime a fly farted. I need to really figure out how to stop this. I tried putting her on her bed with the Manners Minder and rewarded for staying there, quiet. It didn’t work once the MM was gone and I couldn’t keep feeding her all day long. If I had her tethered to me, she would bark and then look at me, like to say “Mom I had to alert you to the noise but now I’m looking at your for my cookie.”  The only thing I didn’t do was put her in her crate. I tried to work through it. The crate while I really think and plan is the next step.

As far as good, we started our Growly Dog class today. There are only 3 dogs in class, which I’m a little disappointed in because it may not give us as much help as we need but I’m sure we’ll learn a lot. One dog is highly reactive and another is only selectively like Gypsy.  I told our teacher that I have to modify the class a little since I’m working on the Learn to Earn program. Growly Dog is based on BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training). Although it’s a great system and great program, even Dr. Yin told me that BAT won’t be enough for Gypsy. It doesn’t teach the leadership Gypsy needs. BAT instead teaches the dog an alternative behavior to feeling overwhelmed, generally by turning around and walking the other way. There are some great things about BAT but it’s not really what we need. So we’re modifying. We can still turn and walk away, but instead of BAT where the dog can stare at another dog until they decide to turn around, Gypsy can’t. As Dr. Yin said, if they’re looking at it, they’re thinking about it. So Gypsy has to treat it as the Look at That Game in CU, whereas if she sees a dog, she looks, but then looks back at me for guidance. When she does, she gets rewarded then we walk away.  In BAT the dog isn’t rewarded until after they are walking the other way. As I said there are some great things about BAT, but we are making a hybrid of it.

I took the dogs for a walk in the park tonight. Gypsy did really good with her walking. She did bark at one dog who was coming toward us, pulling on a tight leash with the owner telling it to “leave it” from quite a distance. Gypsy was the first to respond though, like she already knew there was “danger.” Offense is her best defense, which is what I’m working on changing. So she did bark at that dog, but we passed a few others with no reaction and she did stay focused on me. Overall successful.

Today I am thankful for the knowledge I have and the ability to clearly tell a trainer why I am making changes to the program for my dog and why I need to do it.

 

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in 5th week

 

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