Chaiary – week 16 digest: July 17-22, 2023

July 17, 2023

Activity level: average

Mostly bullet points today!


+ 45 minutes at the park: running and playing with other dogs and a single-rep success recall off distraction #3 (kibble) behind the closed plastic container barrier. Woohooo!

+ Shaping “Earn it!” with 3/4 of Chai’s daily food ration.

+ After our impulse control shaping session, Chai needed some Game-wrangling time to let out all of that pent up need to move and DO rather than hold back. I totally get it!

+ Then Game and I went out for three hours to bike around and meet a friend for coffee …

Enjoying a chew at the café and guarding “my” Ecobici (Mexico City bikesharing bike) outside a store on the way home.

… Chai got another round of “earn it” – and we made it to food on the floor! This was followed by the necessary roughhousing with Game. Impulse control means all that pent-up DO-DO-DO needs to come out! I have never seen as clear an example of this as I’m seeing in Chai.

+ Chai and I walked back to Fresa Parque and repeated the next formal recall step I had come up with … with fascinating results. This girl is challenging me and I love it!

In terms of good news, she left a green paleta when asked to “Leave it!” and the same splash of dog poop she was tempted to eat twice. Then, however, she found something else that smelled like a mixture of human poop and rotten animal and managed to eat quite a bit of it before I got her away. Tomorrow will tell if whatever disgustingly smelly something she had the pleasure of enjoying today agreed with her stomach.

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone for 3 hours while Game and I went on bike rides and a coffee outing, and again for Game’s evening walk.

House training

How can this be right? I just had a brownie! Where does the time go?

July 18, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

Chai spent 20 minutes running around Fresa Parque with dog friends and Game practiced staying calm and eating treats surrounded by the morning craze. I had been planning on repeating the barrier step at the park (kibble in closed container) and, after a break, kibble in the open container just to see where we were at. But since I hadn’t had my coffee yet … I forgot both my tripod AND the container. No recall training this morning. We’ll go back and try again later!

Next, we did some paw target shaping with new objects. I want to improve Chai’s precision targeting!


Around noon, we headed back to Fresa Parque in harness mode. My plan was to walk home in collar mode and spend the time there practicing the recalls we didn’t get to this morning. And that’s precisely what we did after be-a-dog-time.

After rep #5, I gave Chai time to run and be social with the noon crowd. Her intensity was ratcheted all the way up: these recall games take a lot out of her puppy brain! And all that concentration leads to pent-up “Whaaaaa!” that is best released in playing with other dogs! I took a video from beginning to end of the play session. You can see HOW intensely she plays at first – this is a way for her to release the pressure that concentration and impulse control build up! – and how her social needs saturate within a few minutes and she’s then able to move on to sniffing and exploring. Meeting your young dog’s social needs on a regular basis is a big deal!

I’d usually feed check-ins, but I was out of treats. While running out of treats can be annoying, it is also convenient: anytime I run out of treats, I will substitute personal play as a reward. Running out of treats about once a week ensures that we keep personal play as an outdoorsy reinforcer as well and don’t become solely dependent on tangible reinforcers.

On the way home, Chai got to wait outside the bakery and at a corner store while I went inside. Good girl!


After a fun-and-easy recall from the bathroom into the shaping space (checking recall 8/101 off Silvia‘s modified list!), we worked some more on single-paw targets with easy objects (balance pod, lid of a pot, turned over metal bowl), putting the cue back on and switching both the position of the objects and my position in relation to Chai (turning my back, standing on one foot, feet and hands on the floor and looking at Chai through my straddled legs etc).

The upside-down metal bowl works great – I want to find something stable that is equally tall but less wide (to ensure she only gets one paw on) and then start reducing hight and size from there! Maybe styrofoam will do the trick … I could slowly shave it down and tape it to the floor for stability …

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone for Game’s two short rain-break walks.


+ “Brush!”

House training

(1) New recall rule: I’ve done quite a few into the shaping space and it’s time to mix it up again! I’ll make sure the last two fun-and-easy ones are outdoors! Maybe one for toys and one for food?

July 19, 2023

Activity level: low

Woohooo! Getting this week’s low-activity day out of the way!

Recalls and collar mode in the AM

After a brief morning walk work, Chai and I went to the park to repeat our same distraction recall in the same space, aiming for a single-rep success. Unfortunately – this being Mexico where public spaces are shared and used and alive! – there was a dance class happening in our usual spot with the piano mural.

I decided to go for it anyways, having Chai wait in her usual spot and simply setting the distraction up in the other direction. Would I suggest this to a student? No. I would tell them to go home and try again later But with my own dogs, I experiment more – and that’s what I did here. I was curious if Chai would recall away from the tapedd plastic container if it was in a different spot.

Pre and post distraction recall, we did a short loop through the quiet (except for the dance class) park. There were no dogs to play with and I’m thinking of keeping today low key. I threw in one fun and easy “Schnee” recall when Chai was already about to turn my way, reinforcing it with “chase” and 3 ball tosses. Her ball game was a bit lacksadaiysical today in terms of returning the balls, but it was a lovely recall and a fun “chase” reinforcer! Recall 9/10 for Silvia – check!

We then walked home on a collar (5-35 steps between treats). I upped the rate of reinforcement to every 5th step when passing a single dog and a group of dogs. Chai did SO well today! I used to feed a lot more when passing dogs, and now she’s just rocking it!

Home alone

Chai stayed home with Game for 5 hours while I co-worked with a friend, and then again alone by herself during Game’s brief pre-rain walk.

“Cape ONNNNN!”

For the first time, I announced the service dog vest (cape) and put it on, fed the unimpressed Chai a few treats that required her to move around and then “Cape OFFFF”ed her again. Tomorrow, we’ll go to the airport for the first time. She will probably not wear the cape – it’s still new to her – but if someone asks, I want to be able to put it on without her freaking out!

“Frog” progress

I used the remainders of Chai’s meal for the day for two frog sessions. For the second one, I did not fold the pillow! This is a great calm day activity, and my (randomly discovered) trick of feeding with Chai’s head off the couch is helping her to not try and crawl towards me: there is nowhere to crawl when your front end is at the edge of A couch!

House training

Woohooo! I’ve got a 3-week/21 day-streak!

July 20, 2023

Activity level: average

Morning fun and formal recall success

Chai nailed her single-rep success recall with our latest barrier strategy – a closed container I will open for her after recalling for chicken. Go Chai!!! Then she got to run around with several dogs she knows at that park, found a mud puddle to lie down in and is now – after half an hour of training and off leash fun – peacefully asleep on the couch.

Rough-housing – and a break at the exact right moment

After resting up, Chai and Game enjoyed some fun roughhousing around the apartment. Timing was perfect – the people in the apartment below us were also being loud, so I didn’t worry about them being bothered by the dog nails screeching on my floor (their ceiling). After roughousing, I scooped up Chai to put her in the bathroom for a break … and when I came in just minutes later for my own bathroom break, she had already peed in the shower. Yay for great timing! May the housetraining streak continue!

Even juvenile dogs who are already learning where to do their business may forget when they are all wrapped up in playing – until they can’t hold it anymore and pee on the spot. Supervision still matters (even more so with Chai who hasn’t learned to pee outside as a young puppy, but really with any young dog.)

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone while Game and I went for a brief late morning/C-gets-a-brownie walk. The person working the place that sells the brownies already knows me and invited me to come in WITH my dog(s) the next time: they had seen that I asked them to wait outside every time and let me know they are welcome. People are lovely!

Chai had another brief home-alone stay on Game’s evening loop.


Chai got brushed – she’ll look good at her first day at the airport!

“Cape onnnn!”

We practiced putting on, walking with and taking off the service dog vest one more time, just in case. (I didn’t end up using it at the airport.)

Airport adventures

Getting ready: when going to a place that your dog may consider indoors as well as outdoors – be sure to bring cleaning supplies just in case! (We didn’t need them. Tip: if you get Nature’s Miracle, do NOT get the “melon burst” scented version I accidentally bought. It smells disgusting.)

Left: be prepared – don’t forget your cleaning supplies! Right: airport parking garage. Ready to adventure!

We went for a socialization trip to the airport, saw LOTS of people, heard suitcases roll on different surfaces, rode the airport elevator and I carried Chai up and down an escalator. She also got smacked in the head with a “Caution-wet floor” sign by a cleaning person in the bathroom who didn’t see Chai and just bounced back. She took it all in stride. Go Chai!!

The only thing that didn’t go as well as it could have: Chai threw up in the car on the way to the airport. She happily got in again after our adventure though. No fallout from car sickness so far. Fingers crossed it stays this way!

After getting home, Chai joined Game’s sniff loop to empty out the puppy so she could hang out in the living room without accidents. Just now, a bit after 6PM, both dogs got to go on a short pre-rain loop – and we got an empty puppy again!

4 in (“Four!”)

We went from bowl #2 down to bowl #3! This is HARD and Chai is being a superstar!


I tried two frog sessions with the tired evening puppy: one with the (unfolded) pillow and then one without a pillow. She couldn’t do it without the pillow so we went back to the pillow for session #2. Short and sweet, praising gently and releasing with “okay.” Me putting the pillow on the couch is becoming a cue – Chai goes right into frog position! Feeding off the edge of the couch keeps her from crawling forwards!

House training

New week – time to start a new streak!

It looks like I might really get that massage …! Only 6 more days!

July 21, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

We spent half an hour at the park. Game got to sniff and chill and Chai played with her dog friends and worked on positions in between. She did great!

Home alone

+ Chai stayed home alone for Game’s noon loop.

+ Both dogs stayed home for a little over 3 hours while I ran errands at a no-dogs-allowed place, and again briefly when I picked up dinner.


+ We repeated yesterday’s session from bowl #2 to #3 (no video). Next time, we’ll start with #3 right away!

+ We worked on single-paw precision targeting.


I trimmed Chai’s ear fur back a little: another no-big-deal (for Chai anyways) grooming procedure preceded by an announcement.


We worked on the frog behavior again. Silvia agreed with my plan of taking out the pillow and filling the pillow case with smaller and smaller things. First, I tried just a hoodie but that was too hard. A hoodie, a t-shirt and shorts did the trick though! We’re already downsizing from the pillow in the pillow case and it’s looking good!

The evening

The dogs did some gentle roughhousing, the three of us had snuggles on the couch, went on an evening pee loop together (yay for empty puppies) and had fun with informal toy play in the apartment (with both dogs at the same time and the always-out toys). We’ve been building gentle fun with tugging between the dogs and me, and Game has been a great teacher for Chai. (No video.)

House training

Wheee! I keep winning at my game! House training, including the version of it I am doing, is mostly a matter of consistency and vigilance: I know when it’s safe to let the puppy into the living room and when it isn’t, and she does already pick up some slack for me, like the other day when she herself went to the bathroom (the door is always open) to pee and poop while I was distracted and let her in the living room too long.

After week #4 (which may or may not be in only 5 days), I’ll up the ante on myself and try to get more and more outdoors pees. I still have to make up the rules of the new game, but I think I might do something along the lines of “green check mark any day she pees outside more often than in the bathroom” to start with.

We’ll also have to take a closer look at pooping again once I’ve streaked through week 4: Chai hasn’t pooped outdoors in a while, just in the shower. I’ll have to go back to massaging her belly and spending more hours working from a park office rather than from home: after the pee games, I’ll come up with a poop game! (These games are for me, of course, not for Chai: they motivate me to set her up for house training success every day. I hope to get her as house trained as she is capable of becoming, which, due to her unknown past, may or may not be fully housetrained.)

One of Chai’s favorite spots because she can reach the toilet paper from there if I forget to put it out of reach – and toilet paper is FUN!

July 22, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

We started out with a round of paw-target shaping, just like yesterday.

Chai and I then walked to another neighborhood in harness mode to meet Alan and Kiba. We started off with my new recall plan for Border Collie stares/recalls: shaping. I’d wait her out at the end of her leash and then release her as soon as she gave me a weight shift or any sign of reorientation. This was easier said than done, as you’ll see if you follow the link in this paragraph.

I’ll be helping Alan with Kiba next week so I may be able to repeat the set-up. What I want to change next time: call her the moment she gives me a check in rather than immediately releasing. Feed and release! This may be clearer to Chai – and it brings us closer to the actual goal, which is a recall anyways!

We then just hung out and Chai and Kiba got to socialize with Ivan’s Border Collies and their dog sitters. Nicole had fun throwing Kiba’s squeaky ball for Chai, and Chai found a non-intimidating way of interacting with Nicole, a kid who is at the park a lot and wants to hug all the dogs!

On the way back – harness mode again because I was out of treats – Chai waited for me outside a store. Good girl! Waiting is no problem, even when Game is not with her! She trusts I will be back for her.

More shaping

After coming home, I worked on the frog twice for a handful of treats each. Silvia’s feedback on my last video (see above):

“Left leg looks great here – but right seems a bit harder (going out 2nd, leaning to the left when she does so), so I would stay on this height for a bit to get her totally relaxed with the right leg as well before fading the support further.”

Silvia Trkman

For now, we are staying with the hoodie, t-shirt and shorts in the pillow case!

After a little break, we went back to single-paw target shaping in 4 brief sessions. It is coming along nicely!

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone during Game’s potty walk at noon and Game and Chai stayed home alone when I met folks for a picnic at a no-dogs allowed (sniff) section of Chapultepec.

… and MORE shaping!

After getting back home, we did a 4-in session, starting right away with bowl #3! Chai did well!

An evening loop …

The three of us went on an evening loop during a rain break. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in empty puppies … so Chai went to bed (aka to into the bathroom) a little earlier than usual. No living room time for puppies who still need to pee! I want my weekly brownie!

This evening walk came with a startle for Chai: right in front of us, someone at the wall to our left tossed a rolled-up sweater to someone standing at a car to our right. The person catching the sweater was wearing an (according to Chai) creepy and unusual yellow dress. Chai growled for a second before I interrupted her with a scatter cue, tossing the treats ahead and away from the people, and then we quickly moved on. (I know, Chai! You never know what articles of clothing the big city will throw at you next!)

House training

Woohooo! Almost halfway through the week!

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