Chaiary, day 70 (June 15, 2023): toy play, LLW (manners context) and environmental sensitivity

After some tug on the roof of our apartment building for Shade’s class, we headed out in order to work on loose leash walking. I usually walk the street once in the “sleddog context” (on a harness) and then switch over to the collar (manners context). However, on the way out we ran into A SCARY WEASEL TAIL attached to a bicycle and A SCARY WEED WACKER. The objects of horror happened to lean (the bike) and lie (the weed wacker) on two sides of the sidewalk, creating a CORRIDOR OF TERROR.

So we put our LLW plans on hold and worked on confidence around new weird things instead. I used th Magic Hands trick again, pretend-touching the scary things: “If my human can touch the thing without getting swallowed whole by it, maybe I can sniff it!” (is how the logic goes in my anthropomorphizing mind).

I then walked through the corridor of terror and back to Chai (whose leash I had draped on a tree stump at the point she indicated she wanted to stop). Indeed, magic hands worked once more: getting back to Chai, she wanted to walk a little closer and air-scent the weasel tail. Not too too close though. (I suspect this was an actual weasel tail, not a fake one – and it may have smelled weird). I let Chai investigate up to the point she was comfortable and then turned around, walking about 10 meters back the other way, still in sleddog context but without pulling. Then we turned around again, walked up to the tree stump again, and I repeated Magic Hands near the weasel tail and the weed wacker and walking through the corridor of terror while letting Chai watch.

Chai was ready to walk and air-scent from up closer this time. Then we saw another dog walk through the corridor of terror unfazed, which helped as well. We walked past to our 10-meter starting distance and approached one more time. This time, Chai veered off the sidewalk and walked past near the weasel tail on the parking spots, but far from the weed wacker. We kept walking on the other side (brave, brave puppy!) and then turned around after about 10 meters once more.

This is where we met a second dog. Chai wanted to say hi and had a lovely experience; she wished she could play on leash and was able to follow the dog through the corridor of terror. We followed the dog until the next street corner and got some on-leash zoomies, expelling all that pent-up excitement.

We then turned around to switch to manners context, walking towards the corridor of terror from a bigger distance this time. I started Chai out on 2x 15 steps between treats to ease her back into the exercise and then upped the ante to 20 steps between treats. Chai was able to walk through the corridor of terror like this, staying behind the invisible line the entire time! That’s when we called it a day (and a very brave puppy!)

After a break at home, Zane, Chai and I headed out again to get video, starting with 20 steps on our usual practice street right away! While the weed whacker was gone, the weasel tail on the bycicle was still here and Chai walked past it like a boss.

This was followed by Chai staying home alone while Game got her noon walk and Zane got us lunch.

Now Chai is passed out on the living room floor, being an excellent coworking puppy, neither eating Apple products nor pestering Game, Zane or me.

We’ll stay at the 20-step treat stage a little longer – we didn’t get 10 reps without hand touches in a row yet – but we’ll soon be there and then fade the treat for the hand touch as our next step.

In the late afternoon (when it, sadly, still hadn’t cooled down), the dogs and I went to Fresa Parque. Chai got to play with 2 balls for a few reps in a distracting environment – I’m keeping things short and sweet here and slowly build criteria and duration over time. The video below doesn’t have a great angle. Chai turned around with her ball to come back right away every single time, but you’ll have to take my word for it because it happens out of frame. It’s also hard to impossible to hear my cues, hence the subtitles. Next time, I’ll record play with the wide angle lens!

Chai also met a lovely whippet at the park and then waited in front of the Santa Clara ice cream store together with Game. We got galleta and yogur con frutas rojas!

Later, Chai stayed home with Zane for Game’s evening walk.

I’ve noted an uptick in Chai’s attention to noises in the environment. Especially at night, she will pay attention to noises in the hallway or stand up and look out the window (no problem – window shopping is okay as long as we don’t bark). When I see her body language change, I’ll cue a preemptive scatter. So far, we’ve avoided all except for one single bark. Chai is half a year old now – it is perfectly normal that her sensitivies and what she pays attention to is shifting in various directions. This will likely keep going for another little while before Chai settles into her adult self.

Urban art clue #2: if you connect all of the outermost Ecobici stations of the city with lines, it is somewhere within the resulting “circle.”

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