Week 17 digest: July 23-29, 2023

July 23, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

The dogs got to run around the park for a little more than half an hour. I was going to practice distraction recalls with the taped plastic container in two other locations – but turns out I misplaced the container. No distraction recalls for Chai! Since I had already prepared the chicken, I did our last fun-and-easy recall from Silvia Trkman‘s modified list: a handful of chicken for a park recall that’s easy for her! A reinforcer she’d usually only get for distraction recalls! Go Chai!

Game, of course, came running as well. I only pay the dog I call (“Schnee!” – Chai), but Game got lucky today: Chai dropped some chicken pieces (she got a handful) so Game got to snatch some up too.

We also worked on positions at the park since there wasn’t a lot going on this Sunday morning: down, stand and good (room service).

Finally, Chai waited in front of the bakery while I picked up breakfast.

We did two rounds of “Frog” at home. In the second one, I realized I had put the pillow too far towards the edge of the couch to get the leg extension I’m looking for. I marked the place it needs to be with a post it on the wall above so I can put it in the same exact spot every time going forwards. Dog trainers, always have a stack of post-its ready!


The three of us went on a noon loop, resulting in two empty pups who get to share the living room!

A slice of life

Chai is getting more interested and confident in pulling on toys Game has. She also likes eating colored pencils. The first time, she heeds my “Leave it” … the second time, I’m late and she already has the pencil. (“Leave it” means “off limits right now” for my dogs. A “leave it” thing can become available later.) You’ll see me deal with the pencil by trading it: I announce, “Let’s trade!” and then first take the object before feeding a treat. It’s not a trade if you do it the other way round, but a food distraction your dog may interpret as you trying to steal what they have. No need to set yourself up for this kind of conflict!

The PM

Single-paw target

Today was a particularly nerdy single-paw target day. I just added session details to this older post – check out the entry for July 23 in my front paw target post if you’re into marker cue geekery.

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone while Game and I ran a couple bike errands in the rain. It’s interesting how much Game prefers running with the bike in this weather! The pavement must feel better under her paws when it’s cool and wet; it adds an extra bounce to her run!

More shaping!

We did some more “Four” (4 in) shaping and I learned a lot – more on that in the 4-in post!

Evening loop

We ended with a lazy evening loop, emptying both dogs and, therefore, more evening time in the living room for Chai!

House training

Past the halfway mark of week 4 of 4! Yay!

July 24, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

After a quick morning pee and my very important coffee break, we met Alan and Kiba. They helped me with another recall shaping attempt before letting the dogs play. Then we worked on positions and went on a 2-dogs harness-mode walk.

On the walk, Chai wolfed down half a bolillo. We’ll see how she does tomorrow morning! Fingers crossed for no diarrhea. I’m going to add bolillos to the ever-growing list of food to try and feed her to see if her stomach can handle them. (She gets to scavenge for anything that agrees with her.)

After another run to reward Chai and Kiba, Alan and I headed in different directions. I walked Chai in harness mode for a block to stairstep down her arousal, had her wait outside a store and completed the walk in collar mode with 5-35 steps between treats. Good puppy!

The PM

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone for Game’s afternoon loop.

Frog luring

We just had three frog sessions! The pillow case still has the same filling: a hoodie, my blue shorts and a t-shirt.

Post frog-luring, Game and Chai are wrestling now and having a great time.

More shaping!

We had 3 fun 4-in shaping sessions with my new non-slip surfaces in the bowls. Also, a trick I thought of yesterday but didn’t implement: if working on this trick, put tape down in the position(s) you want to place the treat – in this case low and close to the bowl – as a reminder for yourself to keep your feeding position consistent! With a trick like this, where I eventually want Chai to always stand, consistently feeding close and low will automatically get us there.


We went on a later-than-usual evening loop when Chai woke up from her post-shaping nap.

Chai saw a person she found suspicious from a distance and growled for a second. Coincidentally, like the other day, this person also wore yellow: a long yellow coat. We played LAT and were then able to walk past without issues. I am going to make it a habit to take Chai on Game’s evening loops so people at dawn/night don’t stop being normal! It’s best to normalize an experience as soon as you see it turn slightly suspicious. (If I had a dog who panicked, I would proceed differently.)

Both dogs are empty and get to enjoy the evening in the living room. Chai, now awake again, is chewing on a toy she just figured out how to make consistently squeak. She’s also periodically dropping it off the couch and learning about gravity. Smart girl!

House training

Damn good is what we are!

July 25, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

The dogs started their day with a brief morning loop. Chai didn’t pee and tried playing with Game while both were on short leashes and when I took Game off leash. I’ll have to change something about their routine for a while. ¡A ver!

After my morning coffee, we went to the park for 45 minutes of walking and playing.

Chai didn’t pee this time either, so she got to stay in her luxury kennel until 10:30. She chewed a rawhide bone and rested. When I just went to the bathroom, she peed and I reinforced with the functional reinforcer of letting her outside! Now she and Game are going crazy wrestling. Game is done playing now – I say it’s about time to start today’s shaping adventures! Chai’s low activity day this week is either going to be Thursday or Saturday when I’m leaving her home and to meet friends, so no need to worry about low activity days right now!

Shaping time!

I’ll work on the single-paw target in 3 sessions and just updated my older targeting post with more nerdy details – see here if interested.

Home alone

Chai stayed home twice while Game and I walked errands.

Very cue dog we saw waiting outside a store!

Both dogs went on a pre-rain walk and then Chai came on a grocery run while Game stayed home. Even on days without extraordinary training adventures, I try and make sure both dogs get a little 1-on-1 time.

More shaping!

We worked on 4 in (“Four!”) in two sessions with only bowl #4. Bowl #4 is hard, so I didn’t add the cue in either session.

… and luring!

I went back to the normal-sized pillow for two frog luring sessions. Silvia suggested I do so until Chai can easily relax into the frog and then remove the pillow in the next session after. They suspect this way will be easier for Chai than slowly fading it.

Liver or chicken?

Chai had no diarrhea from yesterday’s bolillo (woohoo!), so I pitted dried beef liver against cooked chicken today. Which one would she like better? I can’t see a clear preference so far. That’s good! I can always have some dried beef liver as a backup treat (assuming her stomach tolerates it) and mainly use cooked chicken for high value treats (chicken is substantially cheaper, but takes time to cook and I prefer having something with less preparation time).

I still have a little chicken left. Once we’ve worked through it, we’ll train up the 500g of dried beef liver I bought and see if her stomach can tolerate moderate amounts of this as well. I have high hopes because like chicken, it’s a single-protein thing. Commercial treats contain so much stuff that I’ll probably not go down that route (except for the kibble I’m doing most training with anyways).

Evening walk

The three of us went on an evening walk together. Chai was wired – I suspect it’s about time I up her average physical exercise amount by about half an hour a day!

House training

Right out of playing with Game pre-evening-walk – I watched her like a hawk already, knowing she would soon have to go, but didn’t want to interrupt their play – Chai stopped and then ran into the shower to pee! You GO girl! That was amazing! I praised and followed her into the bathroom to feed a treat.

Only one more day to go! If we succeed with this, I get a brownie AND a massage! (And then the next-level challenge awaits! I already have something in mind …)

July 26, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

Since today, Chai is going to go on a solo adventure with Alan and Kiba, I took Game on her morning loop by herself – a management solution, not a training one, but it was fun to see how much Game enjoyed having me to herself first thing in the morning! She was racing up and down the sidewalk and, once back home, tried turning every imaginable thing into a toy – from shoes (the usual) to a dust pan (this is new), making the trademark shepherd growly sounds of feeling one’s best self.

Chai got to stay in her luxury kennel longer than usual because I hadn’t seen her pee and sure as hell won’t botch my final streak day. She’s got rawhide and a toy and a toilet paper roll to shred in there, so no time to get bored.

Home alone

… during Game’s morning walk by herself, and later together with Game when I ran a quick errand. And then again after Chai’s and Kiba’s adventure: Game and I went on a lovely afternoon walk!

Now I’m off to pack the survival kit for our field trip! We’ll need toys, treats and two kinds of harnesses, my phone and tripod to take video …)

Here’s a list of what goes into our kit in case you’re curious:

Regular leash and harness (not in bag, but on dog)
Treat bag with kibble (not in bag, but on me)
✔️ Front clip harness (pulling allowed – I’ll switch if the regular harness is too difficult)
✔️ Toys (Kong ball and tennis ball)
✔️ Kibble refill
✔️ Chicken
✔️ Long line
✔️ Poop bags
✔️ Drinking water (for me too – we share)
✔️ Cubrebocas
✔️ Phone
✔️ Tripod
✔️ Money ($200 MX is good for non-car trips on the shorter end. No wallet because I’ll regularly leave my bag lying round somewhere)


On potentially rainy days:

✔️ Umbrella

If I plan on workin on manners mode:


If Game comes or coffee shop stops are planned:


If I want to work:

… whee! Chai peed! I let her out of the luxury kennel at 09:22 and she got some wrangling with Game in. She did exceptionally well staying in there without issues for longer than usual – and I’ll be making up for it with a good adventure, mostly consisting of “just be a dog and have fun with your best buddy”!)

Also, reviewing my plan for Chai’s first Kiba recall before I leave the house: set up tripod, use “Schnee” when she reorients, chicken, release. By now I know she will be able to respond to her formal cue upon reorienting – so why not just use it! Run up to Kiba together with Chai post-chicken.

We spent 1.5 hours with Alan and Kiba, and this time, I followed my before-greeting-Kiba recall plan … but I didn’t get it on camera. Chai did great, but I’ll repeat the same step again because I want to have it on video to analyze before I decide on the next step!

We walked and had them run and play at a big park. Chai was being a superstar – we didn’t need to switch to the front clip harness on the way there and back! She also peed once over Kiba’s peeing spot.

The PM

+ After the dogs’ nap time, we were ready for more shaping! We’re repeating yesterday’s last two single paw target sessions! If interested, check out Chai’s front paw target post for nerdy details I just added to the July 26 video.

+ We also had two 4-in sessions with bowl #4 that went well.

Evening walk

Game, Chai and I went for a lovely both-dogs-on-short-leashes (back-attachment harness for Chai) walk. Hardly any pulling and few circles required! Today, Chai got her new physical needs met (about half an hour more exercise than in the past) and walking nicely on a leash was much easier. She was not tired or exhausted – she was just being a well-rounded Border Collie on a walk. She could even walk past the house with the small barky dogs without issues – yesterday, she pulled like crazy around there. So it is clear: 1.5 hours of daily (mostly off-leash) exercise is her new average. I don’t count leash walks, so in the past, the average was an hour and our “high” activity level was around 3 hours. While that’s still comparatively high, I’ll call it average going forwards and only distinguish between average and low.

House training

Sadly (but also yay for the correct spot!), Chai went to poop in the shower as soon as we got home: welcome back, diarrhea! She may either have found something to eat at the park that I didn’t see, have a reaction to all the dirty rain water she had or to the fried egg Alan fed her … or she can’t tolerate yesterday’s dried beef liver. I really don’t want it to be the latter but suspect that it is. While she didn’t have a lot of it, her stomach usually responds the next day rather than right away.

In any case, this means that tomorrow will make an excellent low activity (fasting) day for this week. I’ve been planning on taking only Game on a long adventure with a friend anyways, so the timing is right for Chai to practice staying home alone and not eating a lot. Sigh.

In better news: I’ll get a brownie tomorrow AND I’ll book a massage! I can’t believe I had a 4-week streak with ZERO resets!!

We DID it! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

I’ll start the new (and levelled-up!) challenge the day after.

July 27, 2023

Activity level: low

The AM

The three of us went on a 30-minute park outing. It was market day and I was going to stay 45, but we got bored: most of Chai’s dog friends skip Thursday mornings because of the market. I’ll have to remember this for next week. In any case, she got to play a bit while Game practiced chilling next to me when everyone was running. She also got rushed by a ferocious Jack Russel Terrier, came back to me for help when I called Pup-pup-pup (tail tucked, JRT in pursuit) and I stopped the GRT with a hand gesture and Game from going after the JRT (“I’m a Mal and I’ve gotta protect my puppy!”) with a verbal “Leave it.” Chai bounced back quickly from the scare, played with two other dogs right after (I have no evidence-based study on this – if you do, comment on this post please!), but I’ve found that play right after a scary event is extremely helpful in just putting it behind them. In Chai’s case, she even approached the same off-leash JRT with curiosity 15 minutes later (this time, both I and the JRT’s owner stopped our respective dogs at the first JRT grumble).

Post-scare play at the park!

If things work out well, a clash between two dogs can, in fact, be a good thing for a young dog: Chai learned that I and Game will protoect her and that the place to run towards is not away, but to me. AND she got a chance to practice her bounce-back response, which she did a stellar job at by playing! (There are very much dogs who would shut down or shiver for the rest of the day after an event like this – I am not recommending setting up scary encounters for your dog on purpose! I am just pointing out that IF your puppy or juvenile dog has the personality for it – no need to get upset at other dogs or owners! There may in fact be benefits to reap!)

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone for about 3 hours while Game and I were out (getting drenched in the rain while helping a friend with their German!)

The day continued quietly because I took a nap – and after playing a bit on top of me, Chai went back in her luxury crate while Game and I slept for a while.

Chai stayed home again for Game’s brief night loop at 9:30 pm.


Today’s clip with a normal pillow in the pillow case:

Unstructured play!

We used the rainy hours for some unstructured fun – just a few minutes, both dogs, tugging and chasing like Silvia does in her puppy video. A little interaction can’t hurt, even on a quiet day!

Up and down the street …

Game and I walked an errand during an evening rain break, and since Chai had only had half an hour’s off-leash time in the morning, she got to come too. It was a very brief 2-short-leashes walk with Chai on the back-clip harness and a wait in front of a corner store. She did SO well! I am impressed; the other day Chai struggled on the back-attachment harness when her “average” exercise needs had not been met. This just goes to show that when sharing your life with a young dog, you’ve got a different pup every day.

Waiting outside the convenience store next to each other, I saw just how big Chai had gotten. She is almost as tall as Game. Not quite and she’s slimmer, but WOW! She’s starting to look like a grown Border Collie and she’s beautiful.

House training

I had a delicious brownie today! No accidents in the living room either! New game starting tomorrow – we’re on a roll!

July 28, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

We started with half an hour at the park. I could have stayed longer … but I got bored after half an hour and had finished my coffee. In any case, Chai had a great time playing with Dina (the Chai-sized, lightening fast wire-haired friend who loves running with her) and got 2 pees. Plus we got to chase and look for squirrels and lots of treats for checking in and pup-pup-pup recalls. I got up half an hour earlier today. Ill try and keep up this rhythm: it means the dogs get to be off leash right away (no on-leash attempts to play for Chai in the morning) and I don’t pay for parking. I’ll keep things that way and add another half hour or hour of off leash time later in the day.

The new game

Having finished the first house training game, we will now play game #2 I invented – a more advanced version. We’ll be playing for 4 weeks again.

I’ll count inside pees and outside pees every day, starting today (2 outside and 0 inside so far). Any day I have more outside than inside pees by the time I go to bed, I’ll turn one of my check-marks green. Like before, I’ll get a brownie after a streak of 7 days and a massage (I may change this one if the first one isn’t good) after 4 weeks. Setbacks (days with more inside than outside pees) only reset to day 1 of the current week. Weeks that have already turned green will stay this way.

All inside pees count as 1 – in the living room or in the bathroom. That said, I sure hope for more bathroom pees – it would be great if I could keep the no-living-room streak alive in the background!

Since pooping outside is more difficult for Chai than peeing, any day I get an outside poop rather than a shower one, that respective day’s check mark turns green immediately – independent of the pee count. This will motivate me to spend more time outside and do belly massages, both of which seem to increase the likelyhood for outside pooping.

I won’t count Chai going to the bathroom during the night for now.

Here we are, starting anew: 4 weeks of a blank slate!

Yay! At 9:30, after Chai and Game had rested post park time, Chai got active again, wrestled a bit with Game and then started wandering around. This was my cue: it was bathroom time. In the past, I’d have her taken to her luxury kennel until she peed. Today, I took both dogs on an ultra-short pee loop: there is a spot around the corner Game almost always pees – and when Game pees, so does Chai. Now we’re back home with an empty puppy and another strike on the “pee outside” side of my list! Indoors is still at zero.

In other news …

Chai has stopped vocalizing when there are weird noises outside – like just now. Folks are moving furniture and stuff up and down the staircase. She occasionally lifts her head from the couch, then puts it back down and keeps snoozing. My negative punishment (putting her in the bathroom i.e. her luxury kennel when she barked) has worked its magic FAST! The trick here is to be aware if and when a behavior turns operant. The moment it does (IF it does), stop counterconditioning (you’d be rewarding an operant behavior) and either teach an incompatible behavior that will be cued by whatever your dog used to bark at to OR apply negative punishment (such as Chai getting a time-out in the bathroom). Which route I’ll personally choose depends on the dog (and human) in front of me. As with all things dog training, there is no one size fits all solution.


We worked on bowl #4 and then bowl #5 inside of bowl #4. Superpuppy rocked it!

The PM

Chai and I walked to the toy play plaza on the back-attachment harness and I let her run around off leash while walking a few loops. There wasn’t a lot going on because it had started drizzling. I magic-handed a creepy plastic bottle and then tossed it for Chai to play with.

On the way home, we tried collar mode. However, clearly, Chai hasn’t had enough physical exercise today; I had to keep the rate of reinforcement to around 5 and 10 steps between treats.

She then got another short pee walk together with Game and, after dropping Game off again, joined me on an errand.

More shaping

Back home, the dogs wrestled and then Chai got another 4-in session with only bowl #5. It is clearly physically taxing to squeeze herself into the bowl, but she was working so hard! Good puppy!

Proof of the fun that was being had before our PM shaping session.

And more fun at the park!

Suddenly craving a cinnamon trenzado (or two), I went to a park that sells them nearby. Chai finally got to run! Her Border friend Juana was there and so were a few other dogs with similar play styles. She got out her daily need to move after all, and then we walked home in manners mode (5-15 steps between treats). We need to work on this more often – but she did a lot better than on the way home from the plaza, so I’ll take it as a win. She was also great on her back attachment harness when going on an empty-out-the-puppy loop with Game after.

I don’t know how I would get all my outside pees without Game’s help – but as it is, things are working. I know when Chai is likely to pee and the new game motivates me to take her outside with her peeing idol. The count so far: outside 6, bathroom 2. (The reason that she pees that often is that outsoide, her peeing is marking (just a few drops over Game’s or Kiba’s pee or poop) rather than fully emptying out her bladder).


+ “Brush!” for Chai.

I then also brushed Game and Chai wanted to play with Game’s Furminator, so I put her in the bathroom to finish grooming in peace. For the first time in this kind of situation, Chai started (low-volume) whining behind the closed bathroom door right away. Either she thought she was missing out on a session with The Best Toy Ever or we have entered a new juvenile stage! I’m sure I’ll find the answer in the next few days.

House training

Going with turquois for game #2!

Week 1/4, day 1: 2 pees in the shower, 7 pees outside! Day one – check!

July 29, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

We spent 35 minutes at the park. Chai got to run with her friends (Eva the chocolate BC, Sam the young Doberman and Corgi Maya) and peed twice after Game did (the second time just 2 or 3 drops, but we’ll count it).

Chai and her friends in the morning!

Home alone

Game and Chai stayed home for 3 hours while I went to a no-dogs social thing.

The PM

We started with a short walk to get kibble and pee. Chai got to go into the packed pet supply store, see various dogs and lie down while I stepped on her leash to pay. Game waited outside.

Then we did a 4-in session with bowl #5, followed by the dogs playing, another brief pee walk and 4-in session #2. Now, both dogs are resting on the couch. I’m planning on shaping something else a little later and then taking Chai on a solo adventure to the park later in the afternoon … I’m thinking I’ll work on positions, play and walk home in manners mode.

Park adventures

Chai had fun at her solo park adventure: lots of play with Dina and Doberman Samantha interrupted by quick opt-in position sessions (the protocol for which I’m developing as I go along) – see below!

Oh, this session was fun!

Daniel left when it started raining and I waited out the rain at the stage where Chai got to move around, meet people with umbrellas and walking sticks, a Chihuahua and a big dog guarding their even bigger stick tree. I felt human-connection-y today and dog people are lovely!

After getting home, I took both Game and Chai for a pee loop. Chai had had SO much water and her voluntary middle-of-play pee was already a while ago … I didn’t want to screw with my streak and made sure she peed again (this time over Game’s poop) before heading inside.

Chai is now fast asleep – but the moment she wakes up, we’ll head out for another pee. If she stays asleep on the couch, she’ll just come on Game’s late-evening loop. I’m taking her right before going to bed myself these days to see if that way, I can move her late night pee walks closer to the morning.

… well, we won’t be going on another pee round before tonight’s last one: I just went to the bathroom and Chai followed me and peed as well. (She’s being SO good, only ever going in her designated spot!) The numbers are still looking good: 7 pees outside and 4 in the shower. No accidents in the living room.

House training

Chai didn’t pee on Game’s 10pm pee loop, but right when we got home and I went to the bathroom together with her. This brings us to today’s total of 7 pees (all marking just a drop or two) outside and 5 in the shower. No living room accidents. This is harder than expected! In any case, we’ve earned ourselves another check mark!

2 thoughts on “Week 17 digest: July 23-29, 2023

  1. Luann Korona says:

    How does Chai know that you aren’t rewarding her for getting the pencil when you ask for a “Leave It” and she gets the pencil anyway, then gets food when you trade for the pencil? I understand the trade concept – take object first and then give the treat but somehow have gotten it wrong with Leave It meaning both don’t take the thing and get a treat or take the thing and trade for a treat.

    • Chrissi Schranz says:

      You are correct – we don’t know what Chai is learning in this video, and she could indeed think that taking the pencil got rewarded (especially since “Leave it” is a skill we are still in the process of developing).

      She doesn’t get a treat for “leave it” (the first successful one) because with Chai, I have in the past unintentionally reinforced “pretending” to go for the object in question and unintentionally turned “leave it” into a marker cue. To counteract this tendency, I have temporarily stopped reinforcing “leave it” with food.

      In this instance, I was hoping she would leave the pencil be after the first “Leave it.” She did not though. Since “leave it” in our world only means “don’t take the thing RIGHT NOW,” trying again isn’t “forbidden.” If I had forseen that she would, I’d have removed the pencil from the desk after my first “Leave it.”.

      My second “Leave it” was a split second late (my bad) – she was already taking the pencil. Once she had the pencil, another “Leave it” wasn’t the right option anymore because she’d have to get off the couch to leave it, and it’s her couch. So here, I shift into “my dog has an object I’d like to get back” mode. In this scenario, I always do a trade, and doing a trade is preceded by “Let’s trade.” “Let’s trade” is a phrase Chai knows a lot better than “Leave it” because we do it a lot more often.

      So here, my hope would be that she knows the food is for the trade rather than for stealing the pencil in the first place, simply because she knows the “Let’s trade” phase very well.

      If not – if she misunderstood or if she built a behavior chain (if I placed the pencil back on the table, “marked” taking it with “leave it” and then fed her for trading), I would be in trouble 🙂

      This is life rather than an orchestrated training set-up. Life is messy. We try to be clear – but we can’t avoid sometimes teaching something unintended. As long as neither human nor dog are having a bad experience in the process, I don’t worry about it: most of the time, things ARE clear. If sometimes, my dog makes a connection I didn’t expect them to make, I’m amused and explain what I meant again. My dogs don’t usually end up confused, but sometimes I will create unintended behavior chains I’ll then un-train again. I marvel at their intelligence when I realize what is happening, and don’t tell them that they are “wrong” (the learner is always right!), so it’s all good.

      Does this make sense?

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