Days 63 & 64 – June 8 & 9, 2023

June 8, 2023: toy play, dog/dog play, loose leash walking, home alone and night walks

+ We played tug on the roof for Shade’s class.

+ We worked up to 3 steps between treats behind the invisible line (loose leash walking, LLW)1 #in the corridor of our apartment building. Go Chai!

+ We met our new friends Alan and his Border Collie Kiba, who is just a month older than Chai, at the park and the dogs played beautifully.

+ After having played for a bit, Chai was ready for another round of invisible-line loose leash walking outside! (Because my inside space is limited, it is easier for Chai and me to work on loose leash walking right outside in calm parts of “the real world” – especially since I have chosen not to stop while feeding.) If I worked inside or on the roof, there would be a lot of turns in addition to an increasing number of steps – and for Chai, that’s harder than beginning with a straight line. The park allows for straight lines with a single turn. What’s more, Chai was able to “Ilo it”2 and go right from 5 steps inside to 6 steps between treats outside! If your own dog needs you to back up a little and, say, start over with 3 steps when you change locations, that is perfectly fine as well.

Sidenote for professional dog trainers: the training approach funnel

This brings me to an important point for anyone who works with dogs and their humans professionally. There really is no one-size-fits-all solution. Tailer your approach to the human and the dog in front of you: where and how do they live? What training spaces are available to them? Who is their dog, who is the person and what are their temporal and financial resources? What is their best hope (thank you for teaching me about this concept and phrase, Chris!) for loose leash walking? What kind of training approaches do they feel most comfortable with? It may be one you actively teach or one you may want to refer to a colleague for. Vary your approach depending on all these factors! Some LLW approaches require more time than others. Some require a highly food motivated dog. Some require a patient owner, others are faster and no less valid. Some humans want to work on LLW in a specific way because of their own ethics. Others want to learn about a new LLW method or in order to become better trainers. Others yet may need the behavior for safety reasons: a tiny person who doesn’t feel like they are stable on their feet (maybe they are elderly, maybe they use crutches …) with a large, strong dog with the propensity to lunge and pull into traffic may need a fast solution! All of the above are perfectly fine.

Factors that go into your decision funnel as you pick an approach for the human and dog in front of you and the order I personally consider them in:

(Funnel image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay – thank you!)

… but back to Chai’s park adventures!

+ After the second LLW session, I tethered Chai to a park bench to help her relax while park-officing some more.

Home alone

Both dogs stayed home alone for 3 hours while Zane and I unsuccessfully tried to get haircuts and successfully ate at one of my favorite little places in Narvarte and then walked all the way back home.

Off-leash night walk

Both Chai and Game went on a brief off-leash walk around 2 am. The streets are almost empty at this time, which makes it perfect for introducing off-leash street freedom to Chai. (Only once I have worked through my recall protocol will I also let her off during the day.) She did great at night, and it doesn’t feel unsafe because there is hardly any traffic during the week after midnight.

June 9, 2023:

3 Solo adventures

Running errands

In the morning, Chai and I walked errands and Chai waited all by herself out of sight outside 3 different places. Go puppy!

Waiting outside a store (and blocking half the entrance – oops!)

The mall

In the afternoon, we walked to the dog friendly mall. Chai was perfectly confident walking among a crowd of people and dogs:

My subtitles in the video above mention that I don’t reinforce auto check-ins because I want Chai to “take in the environment.” What I mean by this is that (1) I don’t want her to focus on me nonstop, and (2) I don’t want food to mask her true feelings about the mall. Here’s why:

1. Insecure dogs who trust their handler may focus on them in order to not have to deal with the environment. If your dog’s eyes are glued to you, they do not learn to feel comfortable in the environment you’re exposing them to because they may be tuning it out. An analogy: think of a toddler who turns their head away from a stranger. They may feel safer because it is as if the stranger – or the toddler themselves – were not there at all.

2. Food-driven dogs will eat and may even look happy (due to the food) in environments that, without the food overriding the fear, might feel overwhelming. Just like some dogs focus on you, others focus on their treats. You may be able to walk a dog like this through a big environment like the mall above and not notice that they are actually afraid: eating and thinking about how to earn the next treat can cause them not to sense the environment. (Imagine you are on your smart phone and walk right into a lamp post: the post was there all along, but you simply didn’t see it because you were distracted.)

The glass elevator

Chai was slightly insecure and very brave, riding the glass elevator a few times (it’s more difficult alone than with Game!)

At the mall, Chai also practiced her down and chill on my “foot on the leash” cue while I got money out of an ATM.

She also had another mall-based new experience: we passed a screaming baby up close! I don’t think Chai has heard a baby cry before. She looked slightly bewildered but did perfectly well passing the new stimulus! Go puppy!

Toy play

We tugged on the roof for Shade’s toys class in the morning and a second time in the afternoon (trying to get her to bring the toy back!) In the evening, we gave it yet another try. It’s been challenging to convince Chai to bring me the toy!


+ Announcing “Clippers”: I cut Chai’s back paw fur.
+ “Brush!”

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone by herself during Game’s noon and afternoon loops around the block.

Night walks

I went on another another 2am walk with both dogs off leash. Chai is doing great – we’ll stick to this new routine for a few weeks!

(1) For more leash walking context, check out the leash walking lectures from Out and About in your FDSA library or look here for my December class and a micro e-book on LLW.

(2) Ilo is an amazing student dog. Her and her human will occasionally be able to simply jump ahead a few steps in a training protocol without skipping a beat! That’s where the phrase “Iloing it” (which all of us should be using all the time) comes from. Shout out to Sylvia and Ilo if you’re reading along!

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