+ Chai and I started the day with a round of tugging on the bed and then had a tug-and-flirt-pole session on the roof. (See this post for a video.)
+ We had our first session explaining the imaginary line (LLW)1 to Chai!
+ I took Game and Chai to our favorite park and park-officed from there while the dogs enjoyed free time at the park. I love working outdoors and Mexico City’s free wifi is decent here!
Bougainvillea season. I love the color. Stop and take a moment to look up at a tree. Beauty lives in small moments like this.
For the first time e-ver, I used Chai’s informal pup-pup-pup recall cue to call her out of a social interaction with a new dog (at a moment she was about to take a break anyways), and sent her back to socialize some more as a reinforcer. She did GREAT! I’m so proud of her! I then tried her formal recall cue as well and she rocked that one too.
+ “Claws!” and + “Brush!”
Chai enjoyed Zane’s company in the evening. He is quickly turning into a human she is excited to see! I love seeing her circle of friends expand.
(1) If you’re not familiar with the invisible line concept – click here for info about my December class and a micro e-book on different LLW approaches.
Game, Chai and I spent a big chunk of the day with Zane (the friend who’s staying with us) at Chapultepec. First things first, of course: weekend madness at the swimming spot! I’ve not taken Chai here on the weekend before (only during the week). Today, she got to play with the big dogs! She fell into the water and swam twice (totally unfazed) and had fun playing with one of the other dogs. (The stuff you hear me say in this clip is directed at my friend or at Game.)
Once the dogs were tired, we hung out in the shade and recorded a semi-spontaneous podcast episode about being foreigners who used to live in Guatemala and then moved to Mexico, The Pandemic, Guanajuato, San Cristobal, social anxiety, the walk- and bikeability of Mexico City, worker co-ops and the search for community.
… and then we got food to recharge while lazing around in the shade some more!
In the late afternoon, both dogs stayed home alone while I went to a drag story hour with friends. They read My Shadow Is Pink by Scott Stewart. The book – at least in its Spanish translation – is lovely and so cute that I just ordered the German edition to an Austrian friend’s house so she can read it to her kids). It was great to see kids running around and having fun and their parents having a good time as well – especially thinking of the politization of drag story hours in the US (are you ever going to get your shit together, US?) What a contrast to see folks come together and have a good time!
We all went back to my place after – Chai got to see two of our human friends and got loved on quite a bit! – and then walked to my friends’ place with Game, leaving Chai to stay home alone. She was being a very good girl and had no complaints about sitting this one out. Game enjoyed her only-dog privilege for the duration of our meanderings.
A sign we passed on the walk to my friends’ place.
June 4, 2023: dog training and all the little things around the neighborhood
+ We worked on tug on the bed with the fleece tug and on the roof with the flirt pole.
+ I added a verbal cue to Chai’s hand touch (inside the house).
+ Game, Chai and I went to our favorite park in the next neighborhood over. Chai and I played recall games: obstacle recalls and flying cookie recalls! This park has a fun playground that is perfect for obstacle fun.
Obstacle recalls! Just the right level of challenge for a brave little Border Collie and her human:
+ Chai asked to go into the dog park again, so we did and after feeling overwhelmed for half a minute, she confidently played with a Whippet named Dalí.
+ I did some informal recalls in the fenced dog park and then we headed out again and Chai spent 10 minutes just hanging out around the kids at the open children’s playground, interspersed with more informal recalls and obstacle games.
Game is posing on a concrete hippo. In the right picture, you can see all the kids in the background!
+ We walked past a giant phallic yellow blow-up thing (some sort of ad) twice. By the second time, Chai thought it was probably alright rather than out to get her. Go puppy!
After pondering my behavior chain, I’ve decided to take out the recall cue and try to break the chain: I switched the very fluent recall cue out for the less fluent long line (reaching the end of the long line is also a cue to reorient/return, but I haven’t used the long line in forever). So I let Game approach the familiar kibble pile, did not say anything (she reached the end of the line and hesitated), clicked the reorientation and reinforced with a hot dog from my hand, followed by a release to the kibble pile.
Two things may happen going forwards: I might get a new behavior chain of run to the end of the line to get clicked and come back, eat a hot dog and then the kibble. OR Game may start hesitating before reaching the end of the line. That’s what I’m hoping for: prediction (cue transfer) based on reaching the end of the line. We’ll see. I’m just experimenting here, and I don’t know what is going to happen.
I’m also considering doing some marker cue work around my outside kibble pile, and CU Give Me A Break (GMAB) with high value treats around the pile of kibble … but only a few long-leash-stop sessions further down the line. First, I want to see what effect the long line is going to have – or not have! – on Game.
Session 1, breakfast in location 2:
Session 2, dinner in location 2:
WOW! I did not feel the leash tighten the way it did in the morning! Which is a little bit crazy; I’m suspicious of this working so fast and exactly the way I hoped it would. Reviewing my video, the leash looks less loose than it felt. I am going to stay at this stage for at least one more session to see if I can replicate the result.
Reasons I’m suspicious here:
(1) the intermittent cat must have been around, because Game stops eating to look for the cat. She may already have been smelling the cat when we approached our kibble pile. And animals are already a cue for her to stop. So I may be seeing her response to the presence of a cat, not her response to a pile of kibble. Cats trump kibble. (I can’t see the cat, but Game either smells them or thinks she sees them. If she didn’t, she would not stop eating mid-kibble.)
(2) The kibble pile is smaller than usual because I’ve already worked on a bunch of unrelated things today, and this is all that’s left of Game’s dinner.
(3) I changed kibble – not on purpose, but I ran out, and couldn’t get my usual brand. So this is a different brand of kibble and may be lower value than my original pile. I don’t think it is lower value, given how enthusiastically Game has been working for it today and yesterday. But then again – who knows. Game loves to work, so kibble offered to her within a training session she enjoys may have a different value than kibble found on the street. (While the behavior of eating food found in the street is pretty high on her list of priorities, working with me is usually even higher. It wasn’t when she was a puppy and adolescent, but it is now that she is an adult.)
(The breakfast kibble in this session was the same as the dinner kibble. The reinforcer from my hand is still an entire hot dog. When she reoriented a second time, I would have rewarded again, but I only had that one hot dog on me.)
In any case – tomorrow morning, I’ll repeat and see what happens!
She actually didn’t eat any kibble even though my recall happened late – she just touched it and then turned on a dime right as I called. I waited till the last millisecond to call her this morning, hoping she’d choose to do an auto-return! But … not yet. Let’s see what tonight holds in store for us!
Session 2, dinner in location 2:
A relatively slow approach the first time (trotting rather than running). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything. We’ve had an active day of hiking and training. No auto-return – so we will change gears!
I might take a day off this project as I think up the next strategy I want to use (and ponder where I want to take this behavior, and whether I want to keep working on it). I’ll keep you updated! Btw, what I say in the end is that Game just had a street meal, not a straight meal. No straight meals for anyone – streetfood only! This little town has the best Quesadillas I’ve had in all of Mexico!
I just realized I published my write up for day #10 before day #9. So I’m switching around the order these posts will appear on my blog so future readers don’t get confused! Day #9 – the one I skipped! – can be found here.
Session 1, breakfast in location 2:
This time, Game started hesitating before reaching me when I called her: she is starting to expect the “okay” release to happen! This is excellent information: I want her to keep thinking “Come all the way back” thoughts after her recall. So next time, I won’t immediately release with “Okay,” but do a tossed “Get it” or click hot dog. The positives: Game is continuing to approach the kibble in a trot rather than a flat-out run. Thoughtfulness is what I expect to happen before the cue transfer.
Session 2, dinner in location 2:
It’s raining men! Hallelujah!
I’m doing two “Get it” hot dog tosses to ensure Game keeps coming all the way back after my recall cue.
If the above video doesn’t work in your country due to copyright issues, here is the same video without the song:
Unless I’ve got something interesting to say after releasing Game to the kibble, I’ll cut my future videos once she gets there to keep my videos fast and easy to watch!
If you want to work on this or similar behaviors with your own dogs, join me in Out and About at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy! Or check out any of our other classes! Game and I are having fun in Nicole Wiebusch’s Heeling class at Gold this term! The plan was to also follow Sara Brueske’s Bomb Proof Behaviors at Bronze … but we’ll have to catch up with this one during the break! This term is a good reminder for me that when I’m teaching, podcasating, writing daily blog posts and house hunting, there really is only one class I can keep up with as a participant. Otherwise, I’d have to skip my daily long nature walks – and they are non negotiable. I need my off-leash time!