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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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A good week and a great blog

The last few days have been pretty good. Agility class on Thursday went really well. No Thundershirt! Very short ribbon and a tab and she was nailing the course of jumps! I was really proud of her.

Today we went to our Growly Dog 2 class and she did really well with Winston, a little terrier who also isn’t super reactive. Gypsy and him have been working together because they are similar and today Gypsy smelled his butt. She got a click and lots of treats.

Then today we went to Green Lake for a walk. For the most part she was really good. There were two circumstances where we had a leash lunge and both time we weren’t walking. Green Lake is super busy on a Saturday afternoon and also very stimulating. There are LOTS of dogs, people, bikes, skateboards, and smells. Overall she’s doing so much better than she was just a month or two ago. The last time we were there was kind of a disaster with her completely disconnected from me. Today was much better.

Today I am watching the 4 DVD set of Leslie McDevitt’s Control Unleashed seminar. Since we finished our first CU class and didn’t sign up for the next class, I wanted to watch this seminar, see Leslie demo the games and see how Leslie talks about reactive dogs and the example dogs in the seminar. There’s some great things in this video. Some things I’ve heard before in a different setting–not related to stressed or reactive dogs. What I’m getting from the first part of this series is that I really need to work on my mat work and I need to change the mat at home. I need a special mat that can go anywhere I go, whether to trials, trips, hotels, other peoples’ homes, the park, etc. That’s not what I have so we’re going to get a special mat and really dig into the mat work.  I will probably use a lot of the CU method but also maybe work Dr. Yin’s method with the Manners Minder. I’m not sure I want to use the MM though so I’ll see what is best for Gypsy.

She’s still reactive at home this week. Last night my upstairs neighbors were being very loud packing for a trip. Gypsy was super hypervigilant. I need to video the next time it happens so I can show Dr. Yin if I ever email her or request additional help. I want to have it to show her. I’m pretty sure it will happen again, as it does  every weekend when their home and I’m home. Today and tomorrow they are out of town and it’s pretty quiet and Gypsy has been better.  She still likes the bark at the neighbor across the fence when the light is on in their bathroom.  I had to have Gypsy chill in her crate with the door closed for about an hour last night so she could cool down. That helped.

Also, she’s still doing some melatonin. I have found it helpful. It’s not as good as I had hoped on weekends, but it’s better than nothing. The Comfort Zone spray is also doing ok too I think. It’s hard to tell because of other environmental factors but it does seem to help.

Finally, Dr. Yin posted a blog today about running exercise with dogs, which I have no interest in but I did click on the link and one of her related links was a great blog from 2011 that I never saw before! It’s called Dog Training Tip: Why Cigarettes are More Addicting than Heroin and How It Applies to Dog Training.

I LOVE this blog. I love the science. I love that there’s research behind the training methods. That really helps me understand my own dogs’ needs rather than just a trainer saying “do this” without offering support. This is why I really trust Dr. Yin. She does much of the research herself and if she doesn’t, she looks into to findings and states her own opinion on the results. Every dog owner should read this blog so they can have more success in their training. Read it!!

Today I am thankful for Control Unleashed, Leslie McDevitt and all the tools I have learned in my dog training progress.

Gypsy at the park today

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in 9th week

 

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Agility trial, hello week 9 and kidney stone update

Wow, hello week 9! How has this happened??

So I signed up for this CPE trial months ago. I only signed Gypsy up for 2 standard runs because I really wanted it to be a test. The trial was 2 ring, which is more noisy and active. It was our first 2-ring trial too. I wanted to focus on her runs and behavior in the crating area.

She did fantastic! She was very calm in her crate. I gave her some melatonin and calming spray in her crate. I think it really did help. Last weekend at the TDAA trial she was really nervous. She wouldn’t even eat her bully stick. Yesterday she was very happy munching on it in her crate. It was also very hot yesterday (I know! Hot is 75 in Seattle!!). It really was warm though in the arena. I know dogs get a little cranky when it’s warm. There is also not a lot of crating space.  The dogs were very close to each other. Going in and out of her crate was awesome! She didn’t make a peep, didn’t really look at any of the other dogs, and was just awesome!!!  The only reactivity she had was with one particular dog in a pretty pink crate who made a large commotion when any dog walked by. Because it was a small dog in a pink crate I think it startled Gypsy more than anything. So she barked at it while we walked by BUT only if it barked first.  When the owner got fed up with its reactivity, they turned the crate around and it was more quiet. When that dog was quiet, we walked by a few times and Gypsy had no reaction!!!

At the ring gates, I didn’t hold her like I had in the past. I had my treats and we played hand touch games and ran in little circles. Inside the ring waiting to run (we were first dog in both runs) we did more hand touches and circles. She was very disconnected from me in the first run, ran over a few obstacles, ran around the back and then we finished the course. It was 11 seconds!! I still gave her treats afterwards but not high value ones.

On her second standard run, again we played more games at the start line. I asked for a sit and she did. I tried to get a lead out but she didn’t let me. Still, we were more connected. She made it almost to the end until my handling got in the way and she went to the gate, then came back, then thought about what to do, then came back, then back jumped a jump where I got her moving again and we finished and Q’d!! It wasn’t a pretty run but it was very successful. She came back and didn’t react or get too stressed out. She looked stressed but then found me for leadership and we finished. She got HUGE praise at the end of the run!!

A friend of mine sells treats and toys during trials. She’s also the only one I know who gets raw freeze-dried tripe treats. It’s magic treats. I had already gotten a few bags of tripe before that last run so she got a few pieces of tripe after that.

I was so proud of her. She did so good and looked relatively relaxed. We won’t do another trial for about 2 months to work more on L2E and everything else. As Dr. Yin said, you want to keep them under threshold while you do L2E. Trials are the closest to threshold you can do and the most arousal you can do so it’s not optimal for L2E training.

So improvements: 2 months ago, she couldn’t wait outside the ring gates ready to get in the ring. I had to hold her or run to the gate when they called is. Yesterday she was happy doing our warm up exercises.  2 months ago she was more reactive walking by all the crates in small, close proximity. Yesterday, she was focused on me as we walked by.  2 months ago, she ran out of the ring (well into the chute at least) totally stressed out and not knowing what to do.  Yesterday, she didn’t do that. She did her own course out of stress, but then the 2nd run she looked to me to guide her and didn’t react to her stress and we finished with good success!!! I’m so proud of all our hard work. Baby, corgi steps!!!

And today I found out the CT scan is definitely negative for a kidney stone. The doc goes off that more than the x-ray. So no stone. So what’s causing my pain? Not sure yet but doc said everything else on my CT was normal so that’s good news. I’ll find an internist this week and get checked out and have them review the CT film just to make sure they don’t see anything someone else missed. In the meantime the pain isn’t as bad. It hurt a little yesterday but overall was manageable.

Today I am thankful I can play agility with my reactive dog because we’re working so hard on our teamwork!

Gyspy’s ribbons CPE Level 1. 5/13/12 – One 2nd place for the run she made up on her own (because there were only 2 dogs in her category!!). And then there’s a Q ribbon, a 2nd place ribbon and a new title ribbon for her 2nd standard run and finishing her Level 1 Standard title. 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in 9th week

 

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It’s been a rough evening

I’ll start with yesterday since we didn’t post. It wasn’t too exciting, though. We went to our Growly Dog 2 class and it was ok. There were only 2 of us in class and it wasn’t very effective to what Gypsy needs. We were able to help the other dog though, so that was good. But for Gypsy, it wasn’t much help. It was still good. We mainly did BAT setups in the classroom and I worked with Gypsy off leash in our little boxed in area.  Then I had to run some errands and in the evening she was pretty quiet for a weekend.

Today was a different story. We got up early and went to a TDAA trial about 90 minutes away. It was her first TDAA trial in 2 months and I wanted to see if anything got better. In a nutshell— yes and no.  Yes, she was much better with the dogs around her. She saw dogs while she pottied and we walked around, as well as going up to the entry of the ring. I didn’t carry her in this time.  She was much better with that. But once in the ring, she was not thrilled for the most part. She didn’t even want to get out of her crate, which is very odd and disturbing for her.  I don’t know why that was. She even had a bully stick she didn’t finish. She ate a whole one in class the other day but today didn’t want to chew on it much.

I did have her Thundershirt on, and sometimes she thinks the world is coming to an end when that happens. It could be a factor.  The runs didn’t go great, but I did experiment with a few things, she was better with her startline stay, she nailed in contacts (running too!!) and had fun. The most fun she had was when we ran FEO in a beginner’s run instead of intermediate. She’s technically an intermediate level but the courses weren’t too fun for her and so I dropped her down for FEO and she did fantastic!!

On that beginner FEO run, a person at the trial had a border collie about 5 feet off the gates. Gypsy spotted him and started freaking out. She was totally fixated. She would not sit for me at the startline or connect with me. So I had her ribbon, just ran in circles with me, back and forth and got her ramped up, and then I just said “GO!” And she didn’t look back at that BC again!!! It’s interesting because when I did the startline stay I wasn’t as ramped up as I was with the BC incident and she wasn’t feelin’ it much. I guess I was too concerned about the stay so I didn’t look fun.  I think that was our revelation of the day.

Back home, it got worse. We fell asleep on the couch and I thought all was good. But then she started fixating on noises outside. I took her outside and my landlord was in the front yard gardening. We did do a lot of click/reward and some recalls but she was still very hypervigilant and stressed out.  She looked really stressed out.  We came inside and she still looked really stressed out. I tried to calm her but it wasn’t working. I tried to click and reward and it didn’t work. So I put her in her crate, with the door open, and just pet her. She stayed in there about 20 minutes and that did calm her down. Then I took her near the couch on leash and sat with her on the floor. She found a squeaky penguin toy and just went to town on it like she was releasing all of her stress. She was squeaking it like crazy and then proceeded to try to remove all the stuffing. She didn’t pull out much. We even played a little tug with it. Whether the intention for her was stress relief or not, I tend to believe it was since she doesn’t usually get toys out of the blue on her own, let alone this penguin one.  She just went crazy with squeaking it like she was beating the hell out of it like a punching bag.

After she calmed down I gave her a rawhide to chew while I did a few things around the house. I don’t know if it was the anxiety or the bone or both, but Apollo came up to the x-pen barrier and she stared and then lunged at him. He ran away. She couldn’t have gotten to her because of the barrier but I wasn’t happy with that behavior at all since I think that’s what happened the other night because there was a rawhide on the floor in the bedroom when we had that incident the other night.

So after that, I don’t know what to do. I’ve been thinking today of trying some melatonin this week to see if it helps take the edge off. Apollo goes the the vet tomorrow for his eyes and I may talk to the vet about some anti-anxiety meds. I don’t know her stance on them, but after she was so overthreshold in her own backyard just by seeing someone through the gate (she also reacted when my mom and dad were standing outside the gate last week and I went to let them in, so it’s not just people she doesn’t recognize right away), plus the anxiety in the house and hypervigilance, I just so badly wanted to help her feel better. She was panting, moving every which way, and just very very anxious. I really don’t want drugs, but I would like her to be able to feel “normal” while we work through the fear and so some CC and OC because it’s not really working on it’s own. She treats it as a game or a training session and when the session is over, so is the work. She hasn’t yet transferred it to real life and I honestly don’t know how to make that happen.  I can’t just click and treat all day. She just can’t eat that much.

If anyone is reading this, please let me know if you have any experience with anti-anxiety drugs for your dogs, like Prozac or Xanex.  I found this blog today — it’s a little outdated, but interesting nevertheless and something to talk to my vet about.

Today I am thankful I worked hard to get through to my dog and try to show her that she can lead a calm life.  Someday I’d like to be thankful it actually happened, and not just a wish.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in 7th week

 

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Noticing big changes!

I think today was the first day where I’m really noticing changes in her responses. We’re about a week and half into the the program. She likes to respond to the dog walking upstairs. It is an older lab who makes a lot of noise when she walks.  Gypsy would generally just bark and maybe bolt off the couch to find the spot directly below the dog and bark.  Since yesterday, she hears the noise and looks at me!! I give her rewards!!! She has made a small bark and looked at me which is also a big improvement. In this case I’ve been reinforcing with “yes” since she decided to look back to me, and a head pat or ear scratch. She gets the treat when she doesn’t bark, rapid fire!

We did a fun round of crate games in the backyard after work tonight. She is feeling much more confident because she has much more drive and speed back into the crate. It’s almost comparable to her drive and speed inside. I play a lot of Yer In/Yer Out and Change Yer Mind Game, plus holding her collar and sending her in from about 5 feet or so depending on what else is going on in the environment. Tonight’s crate games was the best so far in the backyard in terms of focus, drive, self-control and fun. She ran into the crate, turned forwarded and sat perfectly. She didn’t break the line at all!!

We played more chase games in the yard too, off leash, so she wouldn’t trip or have a leash dragging. She got a high rate of reinforcement!

We also did some more Leave-It games, methods 1 and 2 that Dr. Yin outlines (first blocking then throwing just out of leash range). I used a lower value treat for the one to leave and gave higher value for what I gave her. We were able to walk across a pile of food on the floor with her focused on me and got a huge jackpot and me hand-feeding a few of the ones on the floor.  She did great with this and we’ll soon move it to the backyard.

Apollo had agility class tonight. Tonight I am thankful for being able to play with my old doggie who warms my heart.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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Thank goodness for Saturdays

We got a lot of sessions in today and had fun! First for breakfast we did our quick sits. I worked both in the house and in the yard. She was pretty focused, yet still watching my feet/legs moving backwards. She doesn’t do that when we go forward.

We also worked some crate games in the yard with one of our fabric crates I thought it was going to be a problem because it doesn’t have a closing door where the criteria is straight forward but she did great. I was able to open the top zipper and treat her from above. I even went behind the crate and called her and sent her back in. She was funny trying to get in from the back and side before she realized the door was on the other side. It was cute. A+ for effort!

We also played a good game of stick and fetch with one of her toys in the yard. She was zooming around like a puppy!!

We continued our sit for please all day long. I still have to get used to some things, like when she wants up on the bed our couch. She’s never had to ask permission for that but does now. It counts; it’s included.

I also spent this afternoon watching and reading more from Sophia’s website and videos. I am getting a good grasp on all of this.

I also finished our POA which is posted.

And finally we went for an evening stroll. It is very hard to practice our moves with Apollo, my poor sweet boy. I tied him to my belt loop but it was still hard. So we just walked for now. As Sophia’s FAQ’s say, if the dog isn’t too far into training you can walk as you normally do. But I think soon I may have to walk them separately around the neighborhood instead of together at the park for a while.  After our walk, I tied Apollo to a tree and did some quick sits with Gypsy. She was little distracted by some bikes, which she has some fears of, but overall it wasn’t too bad for our first time “on the road.”

Thank goodness tomorrow is another weekend day to practice!

Today I am thankful for the sunny and warm (by Seattle standards) so we could play in the yard.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in first week

 

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L2E and Control Unleashed

Today we started Control Unleashed, a class offered by one of our local training facilities. I signed up for it weeks ago, before I knew about L2E. There are a lot of parallel methods between the two so I think it will only help us. I asked Dr. Yin about it at the seminar and how it relates to L2E. She said to just be careful with the Look At That Game and either don’t do it or make it a head whip instead of a glance. The less she looks at other dogs, the better, because as she said, “if they’re looking at it, they’re thinking about it.” This is not a novel concept but it really hit me hard and it’s now engrained into every session I’m working.

So our CU class tonight was great and we were able to actually do some of our L2E exercises of reverse sits, side sits and sit for please with crates (and actually like Crate Games too).

The great thing about my instructor is that she completely is ok if I need to modify something. She gets it and understands and just wants us to be successful. This weekend I’m going to send her an outline of what we’re doing and see what she wants to add or change, etc. She’s a certified dog trainer, has 2 reactive dogs of her own, and also teaches our agility class so I have a lot of respect for what she says.

This morning we worked more sit for please and sits in the house. I think she completely understands the reverse sits game. She’s still looking at my feet a lot so I’ll continue it in the house, but I think we’ll start taking this outside in the yard and maybe in the front yard soon to work new environments.

I have to keep a close eye on my treat and kibble ration. It’s getting difficult with all the rewarding to keep it from going over board.

Today was a good day.

I’m going to start ending this blog like Susan Garrett does — with something she’s thankful for.

Today I am thankful for my work who let me work from home, stop working at 3pm so I could make the 3:45 CU class.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in first week

 

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