Chaiary – week 14 digest: July 3-9, 2023

July 3, 2023 (day 88 with me)

Activity level: average (low physical, high cognitive)

The AM …

We started the morning with our usual walk. Today we took our time, looped the park twice and greeted and dismissed several dogs – good puppy!

2-toy tug reinforced by fetch at Fresa Parque

We dropped Game off at home and Chai and I walked to Fresa Parque in harness mode. There, we had a lovely session of 2-toy fetch and then enjoyed the park some more before heading back home in collar mode. Chai did really well!

Later, we started shaping two tricks from Silvia Trkman‘s first to-do list: “Earn it!” in the apartment and a 2-front-paw target on the roof. Chai is a dog who is happy to keep working and shaping for a long time. She reminds me of the first time I took Sue Ailsby‘s shaping class with Phoebe: we could work and work and work and she wouldn’t tire; I could have spent all day shaping. Chai, at her current age, is like that too – SO much fun!

Staying home alone

She then stayed home alone for Game’s early-afternoon walks and while Game accompanied me for a hair cut.

During Game’s evening walk, Chai got to practice staying home alone a second time.

More shaping!

After coming home, I continued Chai’s 2-paw target shaping. We ended with a relatively consistent 1-paw on the target and will progress to 2 paws tomorrow … I’ve already fed her almost twice her meal in today’s shaping sessions so it’s probably time to stop.

Prepositions for announcements

Today, I started adding prepositions to the announcements I’ve been using for Chai. Is she going to learn and understand them? I don’t know but I assume that with time and context, she will. And even if she doesn’t – striving for the greatest possible clarity when communicating with our dogs (or anyone else) is a worthwhile pursuit in any case.

House training adventures

I am proud to report that our streak continues! Week one of the game couldn’t be going any better! If I make it two more days, I’ll treat myself to a fancy browny – and then we start week 2! Sadly, Chai’s diarrhea is back as well. Here’s to making the shower her default pooping spot! She went there by herself, too.

July 4, 2023 (Day 89)

Activity level: low

The AM …

Chai greeted a few dogs on our 2-dog morning loop and then did well on the retractable leash while Game was off leash – hardly any circles or food reinforcers needed!

Almost home, we found a creepy bouquet of artificial flowers on the ground. Magic hands and Game walking right up to investigate it for the win! If I had already had coffee, I would have turned the bouquet into a toy – but sans caffeine, I really wanted to get home and fuel up.

2 trips and one toy play session at the plaza

After a bit of work, I took Chai to our neighborhood plaza for a quick 2-toy game according to Shade‘s instructions. I’m planning to make today our “calm” day – it’s a good one because I’m meeting a friend and can leave her home. Plus I want to resist the temptation to keep shaping until the diarrhea is gone: my home remedy for diarrhea is 12-24 hours of fasting.

Chai did great walking to the plaza and back with the leash attached to her harness. I replaced most food reinforcers with brief spouts of personal play or running together and needed hardly any circles. At the park, Chai saw someone move a giant water-spouting hose – a new and interesting experience, but not a scary one! Brave puppy!

Play went well even though Chai answered the question whether she could tug without misses first with a “not really – I like my misses.” It may also have been that she expected the first play move to be a chase and was taken aback when I cued a tug.

First time off leash on the sidewalk during the day

Chai will be an off-leash Mexico City dog. When I first got her, I worked on this by means of exclusively walking her on a long line to simulate an off-leash experience (while keeping her safely on the sidewalk next to a busy car street). We’ve also been working on being an off leash city dog for about a month by taking off-leash urban walks between 2AM and 4AM when there are almost no cars in the street. (Furture me chiming in here: the nightly walks are a tradition I stopped a few days after writing this Chiary entry. It led to very tired days for me and after a month, I needed a break!) Other off-leash city dog elements:

  • Working towards a solid formal recall.
  • Practicing “Leave it” (and its generalization to stepping off the sidewalk) and …
  • “Wait” at the curb.
  • Being off leash when there is a barrier of shrubbery or parked cars between a park and the street.

My plan is to have her drag a long line – no Game present, just Chai – during the day as soon as we make it all the way through our distraction tracker for the formal recall (formal recalls are emergency breaks).

Yesterday, I made an exception to the rule of not having Chai off leash in the street during the day just yet: a neighbor’s dog came bounding down the sidewalk as we were on our way back from the plaza. Since the playful dog was running directly towards us, I unhooked Chai’s leash so she could play. They did for about a minute on the sidewalk and then I walked the last 30 meters home off leash as well. Chai didn’t leave the sidewalk. Good girl! Back to the original plan though as long as there are no playful pups around!

Staying home alone

Game and I are about to head out and meet a friend – time for Chai to be a good stay-home-alone puppy and for Game to get a bike run in!

Game, being a hipster dog for a day. We are street food people, but sometimes – usually when friends want to go OR when I want to dog-train – we head to a place like this one. And yes, of course: “somos lo que somos.

Chai did great staying home alone for 3.5 hours, and Game enjoyed a 20 minute bike ride, 2.5 hours of hanging out at a café and chewing her rawhide bone and 30 minutes of biking home on a different route.

Chai got to stay home again a second time during Game’s evening walk. We’ll count today as the calm day of the week! Our second calm day (the one to make up for last Sunday’s high activity day) might be Friday.


The streak continues! Wheee, it is fun to see my arrows turn green! We’ve almost made it through a week!

July 5, 2023 (Day 90)

Activity level: average (low physical, high cognitive)

The AM …

We had an uneventful morning walk.

Home alone

After work, both dogs stayed home while I bought supplies for trick training, and then Chai stayed home alone again while Game and I headed out for a bit.

Shaping, shaping, shaping!

I shaped away one day’s worth of Chai’s kibble for paw target experiments (we both love this game).

2-toy tug and fetch and waiting at the ice cream store

… then we walked in harness mode to Fresa Parque and played a short 2-toy game before being rudly interrupted by a tall barky stranger Mal mix. As by Shade’s suggestion, I tried cueing “chase” while Chai was tugging rather then after she dropped and offered eye contact to reinforce the tugging rather than the drop.

Chai then waited patiently for me as I got ice cream:

Her right ear has been in a floppy mood!

… and more shaping!

Back home, I shaped a second day’s worth of kibble away in 6 short sessions and then took Game on her evening walk while Chai stayed home alone a third time.

(And yes, there was work too in between all of this, cooking and a post-icecream nap for me.)

House training: the streek continues!

As of today, we’ve made it through an entire week without peeing in the living room! I’ve earned myself a browny! The week 1 streak in all its glory:

July 6, 2023 (Day 91)

Activity level: high average

The AM …

Our morning walk was shorter than usual because I wanted to get home and finish work before meeting Alan and Kiba for our train-and-play date. Work went fast and I had time to clicker up Chai’s daily food ration again. Shaping this dog is FUN! My way of not going overboard is only having the daily food ratio available and stopping once I’m through it (if I can help it). It’s also not one continuous session, of course – one session is either what fits in my hand or what fits in my hand plus another handful of food from my pocket. Then there’s a short break; then we might do another session.

Knowing how much and how fast juvenile dogs change, it is difficult for me not to get carried away with shaping and tricks while I have such an avid learner: there is no way of knowing whether Chai’s stamina and enthusiasm for training will be the same a week from now or once she’s an adult. (My own training stamina and enthusiasm is off the charts these days but will probably wear off a bit in the future.)

Home alone

While Chai is on pee-standby in the bathroom, Game and I are about to head out. After practicing impulse control on her mat, it’s time to give her a little outdoors freedom before Chai gets all the action again!

I used the opportunity to get my week-long streak reinforcer:

Yumm! Game (nose at top left corner) thinks so too!

2-toy tug/fetch and dog/dog play time!

Alan had to cancel our training meeting because he got sick. Instead, I recorded Chai’s toys homework for Shade sans interruptions and then Chai got to play a little bit in the dog park. I decided to go in because there were only two dogs who looked calm. Chai got them to play, and we practiced two recalls out of play for chicken. I had planned on doing this with Kiba today, but since there was no Kiba, these two playmates would do! Chai was a star – however, I’m sure this was easier than Kiba would have been. Kiba is her best buddy and hard to disengage from while Chai has never met these two dogs before and generally recalls well from strange dogs. (Still: this is the very first time I recalled her in the middle of playing – and she came back right away! Go Chai! This may actually have been an excellent step before practicing with Kiba.)

The video below shows Chai’s dog park socializing and the two formal recalls we did – the second one out of full-on play.

More paw target shaping

Back home, we took a break and then shaped for (almost) an entire second day’s meal. We now have two mostly steady paws on 3 different targets: a plastic tupperware lid, a plant saucer and a porcellain plate!


+ “Brush” announcement and brushing!

Toy play Silvia Trkman style

It was thundering and rain-storming and Game was scared (of the thunder). I don’t want Chai to adopt Game’s fears, so we casually played with always-out toys on the couch. There’s also a TV show running in the background … distraction training AND play! I want her to chase and tug on any toy I offer and also learn more about her favorites and preferred play style in a casual context.

(The reason Chai and I can play in this video without Game joining in is that Game is too worried about the thunder to play.)

House training

… week 2 of 4! The streak continues! If Chai makes it another 7 days without accidents in the living room (only in the shower cabin or outdoors), I’ll get another browny. After a 4-week streak – which we may or may not get to on our first attempt – I’m going to treat myself to something bigger. In any case – if all I ever win in my streak game are brownies, that’ll work for me too!

July 7, 2023 (Day 92)

Activity level: low

The AM …

I let Game and Chai run around the park a little more than usual because I’m planning on a calm day today. Chai got to greet several dogs she knows and then we walked back home – Game off leash, Chai on the retractable leash.


After work, we started another project for Silvia’s class: 4 in a box!

A brief 2-short-leashes pee walk

later, I headed off to co-work with a friend at a favorite queer meet-up café while Game and Chai stayed home for about 4 hours.

More shaping!

We did one more 4-in session (Chai was a superstar!) and then called it a day.

I have succeeded in keeping today a light, calm day! AND I made up for all the kibble I fed over the last two days by feeding (i.e. training) less today! (Remember my rule: one day a week has to be calmer than average. If I do a high (rather than average) activity day, I will try to balance it out with a second calm day in that same week. Tomorrow will likely be high activity again – we’re planning on a trail hike. More keep-it-calm challenges for me to come! (Calm days are the hardest for me! Seeing friends helps because it takes up time I would otherwise spend training.)


Streak game week 2, day 2 – we earned another green check mark! Woohooo!

Empty puppies – and empty puppies only! – get to chill on the bed.

July 8, 2023 (Day 93)

Activity level: average

Los Dinamos – finalmente!

After the briefest of morning pee walks (the dogs) and coffee (me), we made our third attempt to head to Los Dinamos, a nature park in the south of Mexico City. And we did it! Finally, nothing got in the way of our plans.

This was Chai’s first “real” nature walk – not in a city park but jumping across fallen trees, scrambling up and down hills and rocks and exploring the slippery rocks and muddy ground of a shallow river. She had a blast – and so did Game. Game loves running in spaces like this and I can tell how much she’s missed it when we go again after a longer break.

I found out that Chai doesn’t yet know she has to keep an eye on me in this kind of environment in order not to accidentally lose me. So I played a lot of hide and seek (hiding behind a tree or rock when she wasn’t looking, letting her worry just a little bit and then waiting for her to find me and celebrating with social feedback:”Yay! Did you lose me? You found me! What a good puppy!”)

Here’s an excerpt of Game and Chai adventuring at Los Dinamos:

Chai also discovered she likes to eat horse poop and found several bone parts of deceased animals to nibble on. I could “Schnee” recall her away from horse poop and successfully traded all bones for chicken. Superpuppy!

In terms of structured sessions, after first getting there and peeing (Chai), I had a 2-toy session for Shade’s class. This space felt different to her than city parks – I could see it in her slightly lower-than-usual focus. Apart from that, she did really well!

We had fun in the shallow river and both dogs got to play with a (non-training) ball in the water.

Otherwise, I just let them be dogs and run around for an hour. We met a couple suddenly appearing people and dogs – very different from the constant buzz of the city! – but Chai, after looking at me questioningly the first time it happened, did well. Game knows the drill and just curves around strangers.

Before we left, we saw a horse – someone was cantering down the trail at full speed. Game barked and wanted to give chase (a “leave it” brought her right back to me – chicken for the big girl!) Chai, who has never met a horse, barked after Game did and scrambled back to me as if she had just seen the devil. I’m looking forward to an opportunity for her to meet more horses – quiet, steady ones who are not crashing down trails! – in the future to ensure she feels neutral about them.

We headed home after only about an hour. So there is still lots of kibble left for shaping in the afternoon, and since we weren’t out very long, I don’t have to worry about overdoing it!

Shaping 4 in!

I used up the remainder of Chai’s daily food ration in two medium-length shaping sessions in the afternoon. We ended with 4 in from all the angles! Good puppy!

Pee walk and bakery

In the late afternoon, Chai and Game got to join me on a mini pee walk to the bakery around the corner, wait outside and then help explain some dog training things to the good folks at the bakery who collected my phone number for a neighbor with two barky adolescent Xolos.

Game imitated Chai’s peeing, I got my “Potty” cue in and reinforced, and we went back upstairs: the empty puppy earned living room privileges again!


It is thundering again tonight. Not only is Chai not concerned – Game is feeling way better than last time as well!


Happy to report that my second brownie is getting closer …!

July 9, 2023 (Day 94)

Activity level: low average

The AM …

Given that the AM starts at midnight, I am sad to report that our AM started in a less than relaxing way: someone right around the corner must have been celebrating something (it was Saturday night), and as we came back from our night walk at around 1:45 AM, there were LOUD cohetes.

Fireworks are new for Chai: she looks at me and Game to figure out the appropriate response. So I spent the next hour counterconditioning: big boom – scatter. Big boom – scatter. Chai was happy about her scatters, ate a lot of kibble and then, before I could assess whether she was already happy about hearing big booms, the booms stopped … and we could all go back to sleep. The only one who didn’t get a lot of sleep, I’m afraid, is Game. She looks very tired this morning.

Toy skills!

We did two sessions of tugging reinforced by chase today. Chai now needs less misses in order to enjoy her tug! Good girl!

In the first session, she needed the visual of my outstretched arm with the second toy after my “Chase” cue to let go in the first chase-past-tug rep. In the second rep, she let go of her toy on a verbal “Chase” alone.

In the second session, Chai responded differently to the verbal “Tug” than to the verbal “Chase,” and she let go on the verbal “Chase” alone both times and showed prediction behaviors for chasing, with the other ball still out of sight! Woohooo! Go puppy!!!

Dog socializing

Chai also got to run around a bit and play with a bunch of dogs before we went to a café to work (me) and practice chilling on her mat (Chai). I wanted to make sure she got her need to move and greet dogs out of the way first to set her up for success.

I made sure not to tire her out during our break – I don’t want a dog who lies calmly on her mat because she is exhausted, but a dog who lies calmly on her mat because her social needs and needs to move have been met and she’s ready to watch the world go by for a bit.

Café training

We stayed for about 40 minutes, and there was a lot going on! Chai did VERY well!

Left: waiting outside while I order at the coffee shop – next to another unfamiliar dog who is also waiting for their person! Right: chilling on her mat at the café. This is a fancier place than I like going, but it’s at an wonderfully busy corner – it’s great for training.

Then we left for another round of park play and socializing before Chai got too wound up. 40 minutes of sitting relatively still at a busy corner restaurant is a lot for a young dog! We then returned to the café and I finished up my workload for the morning with Chai being a superstar again.

Here’s a post about the art of doing nothing with a video of our practice session at the café.

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone during Game’s noon and afternoon (pre-rain) walks and during her evening walk.


Chai peed at the park without needing inspiration or a role model to follow! You go girl!

We’re past the halfway mark for the week! Yay! And no accidents of any kind in the living room! I can smell you already, yummy brownie!

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