Distractions as cues, day 2

(We’re at step 3 of our training plan.)

Day 2, session 1: breakfast

I put down rugs today to prevent sliding on the tiles.

This video doesn’t only show Game being a brilliant learner – it also reveals a hole in my marker cue training: my click is not strong enough to get her to leave the food on the ground. (I know that a recall cue or leave it would get her to leave the food behind, but I need to sharpen up that click!) Marker cues are cues, just like other cues. My tongue click is a cue to eat food from my hand. In order to do so, the previous behavior (in this case, eating food from the floor) needs to be interrupted.

In this session, the treats from my hand are the same as the food on the floor (kibble).

Session 2: dinner

In this session, you’ll see me work on the click by using it at opportune moments (right when there is no treat left in front of Game’s nose on the floor).

I’m setting myself up for success in this way even though the treats from my hand are the exact same as the treats on the ground. I’m re-establishing the habit of immediately responding to my click.

You’ll see the session end in personal play, and looking for a toy. That’s how Game expresses joy and pride in her own work!


Wanna work on this or similar behaviors with your own dog? Join me in Out and About at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy!

Distractions as cues, day 1, session 1: dinner fun indoors

Here, you see me work on step 2 from yesterday’s post:

Practice your verbal cue with an easy version of your distraction in an easy location (at home, in your house). Make sure to cue the behavior after the dog has seen or accessed the distraction (new cue – old cue, in this situation, means first comes the distraction, then the verbal cue). We want the distraction to predict the verbal cue.

Fun with marker cues!

You’ll also see me use 3 marker cues in this session: tongue click (food from hand), “Get it!” (chase a thrown treat), and “Okay” (release to the environment, in this case, the kibble on the floor). I call Game out of eating a few times just to make sure my recall cue is as strong as it needs to be for this training project to work – and it is.

I’m using the same value food here from my hand and from the floor (kibble).

Please note: if your dog does not like being “pestered,” only interrupt them once while they are eating. Game doesn’t mind because she’s a Mal, and loves to work. Not all dogs are like that. While we want to test our recall cue, we also want to make sure it keeps its positive connotations and doesn’t feel like we are nagging the dog!


Wanna work on this or similar behaviors with your own dog? Join me in Out and About at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy!

One Wild and Precious, E7 Dog geekery: pet dogs or free-roaming dogs … who’s got it “better”?

Listen to this episode on any other major podcast player – just look for “Our One Wild and Precious Lives (and Our Dogs).”

Link to Apple Podcasts.

Link to Spotify.

Injured free-roamers referred to in E7:

1. The free-roaming dog with the big wound on his leg – pictures:

To give you a face to go with the pictures of the wound below – we’re talking about the dog who looks like a Mal mix. He’s Game’s and my friend, and the young Husky mix next to him is his buddy. You may have seen both of these dogs in some of my videos already:

Picture of the wound on this dog from January 27, 2022:

A better pic I managed to take on February 1st:

The wound starts looking smaller – the picture below is from February 8, 2022:

And below, 2 pictures from February 14: now there’s no way of denying that he’s healing up!

I didn’t take any pictures after this, but a few weeks later, you could hardly tell there had ever been a wound!


2. The dog with the dangly leg I saw near a freeway on my road trip:


By the way, if you want to roam and ramble with your dog the way I (Chrissi) do with Game – who’s not free-roaming, but has a lot of freedom when the two of us are out together – join me in Out and About at FDSA! Registration is still open, and class starts on October 1st. Gold students tend to work on a large variety of eclectic topics related to being out in the world with their dogs. It’s always an interesting and rich class to follow along with, even if you’re only reading along at the Bronze level!

Sue doesn’t teach a class in October, but the spay/neuter webinars she and Jessica Hekman presented on September 22 may still up for purchase on the day this podcast episode airs! I attended both of them live, and highly recommend them. Grab ’em while you can: https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/self-study/webinars


PS: For a weekly glimpse into the life of free-roamers, subscribe to my latest passion project: my Free Ranging Dogs Youtube channel! I discuss their behavior, body language, interactions and various ethological concepts in the video description, and release a new video each Sunday afternoon. My goal is to build a free resource and share the free-roamers Game and I encounter on our meanderings with anyone who’d like to learn more about them.

The free-roaming dogs of Mexico

I started a Youtube channel on the free roaming dogs I encounter on my own free meanderings. Every Sunday at 5pm CT, you’ll get a little glimpse in their lives and encounters. Make sure to read the video descriptions for more information and context.

Today, I released the third episode – here are the first three to give you an example of the kind of content I’m going to feature. To stay up to date, subscribe to the channel.Feel free to videos that interest you with your friends! I love sharing “my” free-roamers with you all!

Game chooses to stay close to me so I’ll keep her safe

Video description

Game is good with dogs. She’s got excellent social skills, and she’s a confident girl. However, this is the morning after a night of fireworks that made her quite uncomfortable. She’s not up for dealing with other dogs today, and chooses to stay near me. We have a system of communication, and within our shared language, this means that she is asking me to deal with the dogs for her. So I do. All is well.

Game meets a playful free roaming puppy

Video description

Before I got the camera out, the puppy approached us, ran towards and play-bowed at Game. By the time I start filming, the roles are reversing and Game is finding out if she, too, will get to be the chaser.

We walk here a lot, but haven’t seen this puppy before. She does not behave like a typical free-roaming homed puppy. That and the fact that there is a busy street nearby is why I joke about her wanting to be my dog – that’s not a thought that usually crosses my mind. If she were either an obviously homed free-roaming puppy or this was a pedestrian area (one or both are the case for almost all – let’s say 98% – of dogs I see in Guanajuato), I would keep my distance. This is not the case for this puppy, which tempts me to interact more with her than I would with a typical free-roamer whose life I feel I shouldn’t interfere in much. I would usually offer neither food nor pets, and keep my distance, just observing.

Passing a shy free-roaming dog on leash

A typical encounter. As it turned out, the dog was in his core area – the little store likely belongs to his folks.

Happy training, observing and learning, everyone!

One Wild and Precious, E4: The unique city of Guanajuato, sharing a multicultural house, making panditas, and human connection

New episode! This is the first time I experimented with recording a conversation in the same room rather than over Zoom. I don’t have professional audio equipment, so we recorded a single audio track, hunched over Andrés’ little table, crumbs of mota and my laptop. The sound quality isn’t perfect – but it worked well enough!

I’ve been living with three Mexicans, and on this episode, I talk to one of my housemates: Andrés Ortega. We chat about the trials and tribulations of living with strangers, cultural differences, the colors and facets of Guanajuato City, and what we have learned from each other. Get ready for laughter, city stories, lots of mutual appreciation, and a rant about pocket-less pants!

I’m really glad I found this house, and the three wonderful people already living in it. You guys are awesome! Game has been enjoying it here as well. She’s loving the leftovers that are being saved for her (especialls the month Ivan used to cook way too much), and every time tortillas go bad, or Andrés buys an entire roast chicken. Game has also received two toys from Moi. One of them, the yellow sheep, is still alive and being well loved. It is her new favorite, and even went on a road trip with us.

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Moi opened the door to his room to Game and I when we first moved in. We were invited to take over his bed – even Game! – and hang out, watching movies. We both felt comfortable and at ease right away. I’m thankful for Moi’s intuition and perceptiveness about making me feel at home!

I am grateful to have met my three housemates, having learned new modismos and gotten to know Los Simuladores. I couldn’t have found better people to share a house with. I appreciated sharing my imperfect pizza experiment with you all, having lots of coffee breaks with Andrés, sharing lunch tortas with Moi, lounging on the kitchen furniture with my dog at my feet and new friends by my side. And Ivan! Thank you for lending me your car, and introducing me to your inflables and their casa. (Ivan runs what probably is a not-entirely-legal bouncy house rental business. He also forges data for the government, but the bouncy house business is way cooler and more fun.)

I’m the lucky one. I don’t believe in God, but if I did, I would thank them for my time here, and for the freedom I rediscovered. And for something I thought everyone did, but am realizing may not be as common as I used to think: I see beauty around me all the time. I meet amazing people. (I, too, see the shadows, but also: so much good stuff!)

There’s something else I learned from Moisés that I didn’t mention on this podcast, but have to share with you because it’s brilliant! If you have raw eggs that aren’t fresh, and you aren’t sure they are still good, there’s an easy way to find out: fill a pot with water. Put the egg into it. If it sinks to the bottom of the pot, it’s still good. If it floats, it’s bad.

The other trick I learned: if you’re making coffee in a drip coffee machine (we are making a lot of coffee!), you don’t have to put entirely new coffee into the machine for every new can of coffee! You can just add a spoon or two of coffee to the used coffee already in the filter, add water, and you’ll end up with coffee just as tasty as the previous round … And you’ll be using up less coffee overall! (This is going to save me a lot of money going forwards, since I drink LOADS of coffee.) Up until now, I used to empty out and refill my filter every single time!

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You all, whether you’re reading this or not – I’m going to tell you in person again anyway: thank you for the conversations, the movie nights, water-refill and bouncy-house-recovering trips. Thank you for cotorrear-ing about dogs and the world, girlfriends and human beings, and anything from our personal challenges to family history.

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I’ll be leaving because I want to live in the middle of nowhere again, not in a place surrounded by highways. But if I could bring Moisés, Andrés and Ivan (just pack up the entire house), I totally would.

LINKS & RESOURCES

Get in touch with Andrés:

https://www.instagram.com/xerxes_man/

Get in touch with Chrissi:

www.chrissisdogtraining.com

chrissi.schranz [at] gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/chrissi.schranz/

https://www.instagram.com/adogisabondbetweenstrangers/

Thank you …


Thank you to Lesfm for providing our royalty-free intro, outro and en-tro music, and to Isabelle Grubert for designing the logo of the show!