Week 18 digest: July 30-August 5, 2023

July 30, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

We started out with half an hour of park time for Game and Chai. There was some playing with old and new friends for Chai, but mostly it was a quiet morning of walking.

Back home, Chai wasn’t tired but wanted to interact. That is excellent: training wasn’t available, but snuggles were and I made sure she got to enjoy them!

Both dogs slept while I worked, and then Chai did her first frog in a different location – Silvia had suggested we try somewhere other than the couch. Below is my video and the text I submitted with it:

I chose another place where I had a “cliff” to prevent crawling off (the mattress). I’m not sure she’d be able to do this without crawling if there was no precipice … What do you think?

Noon and beyond

I got a nerdy single-paw shaping session in (see this older post I just updated with more detailed geekery if interested), and then we went for an …

Afternoon walk and a little more shaping

After the shaping session, Chai had some inner pressure to get rid of! She wrestled with Game and then we went for a walk – just Chai and me to check off her daily solo adventure.

We visited two parks and did some collar walking in between. The first time we went back and forth between 5 and 15 steps between treats, the second time between 5 and 25. Good puppy!

We ended the day with a final single-paw target shaping session.

House training

The streak continues!

July 31, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

We went to one of the parks in our area and Chai had fun with Border Collie Eva and her new 5-months old sister Maki. Their folks Esteban and Viri will take classes with me if Maki gets to stay – I’m excited; she is very cute! (Still on a trial period though.) Today, we also saw a leaf blower at the park (Chai’s first or second one ever) and she didn’t care. Yay!

I’m aiming to mostly use our AM park time for “just being dogs” stuff for both dogs (and of course cueing/paying pees, paying voluntary check-ins as well as recalls and leave it-s).

Chai’s second adventure of the day is a solo one whenever possible and I’ll train in addition to having her run and play and do her own thing.

A frog

After getting home and working a bit, I tried another frog with Chai after reading Silvia’s feedback:

“I think you can try no cliff as well – should be fine at this stage.”

In this video, I kept the “cliff” (fed off the mattress) but tried for more extension. This led to more leg movement. Going forwards, I’ll try to get more extension without (or with less) leg movement on the mattress and, once I have that, without a “cliff.”


+ Brush

Solo adventure

At noon, Chai and I went on her solo adventure. We took a decently long back-attachment-harness walk – hardly any pulling, i.e. this morning’s run and play time must have been just right – and went to the indoors market. This was Chai’s second time there without Kiba. There was more going on today and she was a little weirded out by people playing the trumpet and the drums. That said, she was a trooper and stuck with me through all my purchasing and laid down anytime I stopped at a stand and stood on her leash!

Waiting in all the places!

AND! On our way out, Chai PEED without Game nearby – actually peed, not just marking! – in the spot Game usually pees! Party for the puppy!!!

AND and! Almost home, we ran into two people with 3 dogs and Chai walked up to them on a loose leash! AND to the water bowl in front of the café she likes to drink out of, again on a loose leash!


We started shaping picking up a spoon, but I got lots of paw touches (no surprise there; we’ve been working on so much paw stuff lately!)

After a pee and corner store walk for both dogs, I tried holding the spoon and then switched to a toy. NOW I’m getting mouth action!

Evening fun

Since I’m planning to make tomorrow this week’s calm day, Chai went out for another 45 off-leash park minutes. None of her friends were there but I found a new client with a 2-year old Husky and Chai played with her as well as a 4-months old little Doodle. (I haven’t seen a single Doodle in any of the other parts of Mexico City I’ve stayed/lived for a month or more. This place is clearly more fresa: there are Doodles everywhere.)

I’ve decided that the Mexico City Doodle index goes from -5 to 10. 10 Doodles means a place is very fresa, and I currently live in a 5-Doodle neighborhood. The neighborhoods I like best are 0-3-Doodle places.

House training

Sadly, tonight’s a tie.

The tie between indoors and outdoors pees means we reset week 1 of challenge #2 tomorrow, starting our counter over with day 1 of week 1. (While frustrating, it works out well: tomorrow is the first day of my gamification class. Just like my students and colleagues, I’ll be starting from zero.)

“Do not judge me by my successes – judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again” (as Nelson Mandela supposedly said.)

August 1, 2023

Activity level: low

The AM

35 minutes of play and park loops. Chai met her friend Dina and I got a spontaneous hug from her human – a good way to start the day!

Home alone

Chai and Game stayed home alone for a little over 3 hours.

Cape ONNN!

Since it’s our quiet day, I had and appointment AND it’s the first day of both FDSA classes and my gamification group, we just did a little bit of fun stuff: a rep of “Cape (the service dog vest) ONNN,” chasing treats and hand touches while wearing it and then “Cape OFFF!” Chai is doing great – no body sensitivity with wearing capes or harnesses at all! I wanted to do the Pride sweater I had bought her as well – but turns out she has outgrown it already. That was fast! I’ll have to find someone with a slightly smaller dog to gift it to!


+ “Claws”: I clipped the nails on Chai’s right front paw. She was not happy about it this time so we called it a day after the one paw. I’ll do the next one tomorrow.

She’s a young dog – feelings change. She may just be having a paw-touchy day or she may be growing up to be a dog who doesn’t like her nails clipped after all. We’ll just have to see and find out. In the former case, things should be getting easy again soon. In the latter case, it’s a good thing we started working on nail clipping early!


Another calm day behavior is the frog. We did two rounds on the mattress without videoing. The first one went well but Chai didn’t fully extend and was a bit wiggly in the second one. Note to self: this stretch may become physically harder the older Chai gets. Make sure to take a longer break between frog sessions in the future!

Park fun

I used a rain break to let the dogs run around the park for 20 minutes (I set an alarm to make sure my planned “low activity” day really stayed low activity. This, together with this morning’s outing, is the max amount of off leash fun I want Chai at 7.5 months to have on a calm day. It was 20 minutes well spent: Game got to go naked (I usually have a bandana or a collar with an ID on her and so I have something to grab if necessary.) But Game sometimes feels itchy when wearing any kind of equipment. Her favorite style is naked, and since it was drizzling and muddy and we had the park to ourselves, she got to be naked today. She zoomed around the puddles and slid through the mud and had the best time. Game and Chai also found a baseball toy they managed to play tug with (even though it was really small!) and did well with a few Leave it-s from various food items. Chai got paid for check-ins and leave-its.

House training

Like yesterday, we ended up with a tie: Chai peed in the shower as often as she peed outside. I promised myself that if I couldn’t get more outside pees two days in a row, I’d lower criteria from more pees outside than inside to at least as many outside as inside pees. So while we’re starting again from 1 today, I’m giving myself that check mark! 

The reason it is so hard to get the outside pees isn’t that I don’t know when to take Chai. I almost always know exactly when she needs to go. The reason is that at this point, most of the time – say 90% of the time – Chai needs two things to be in place in order to pee outside:

  • She needs Game or her friend Kiba to pee or poop first; this inspires marking.
  • She cannot be distracted. This part is difficult: for every inside pee I got today and yesterday, I had just taken Chai outside – and she was distracted when Game peed. This just happens to be a distracting city and I don’t have a yard, so luck (distraction-free moments) is a big factor in our success. 

Anyways, a tie seems to be doable even on distracting days – so I’ll play with these modified rules! When success feels out of reach, games stop being fun. I want the challenge but I don’t want to keep failing more than one day in between successes due to factors out of my control. So check mark #1 – here we go!

No more resets for ties. Let’s set ourselves up for success!

August 2, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

I set up a park office to work from and also did recalls away from closed container #2, implementing the latest version of my Chai-specific distraction recall strategy! Chai aced it!

We spent about 2.5 hours outside. Park offices are the best!


+ “Claws!” – left front paw. Chai wasn’t exactly happy about it, but significantly calmer than yesterday!


We had three sessions of “4 in” with the cue attached in the last two sessions! Chai is getting better at balancing in our current bowl! Go superpuppy!

We did two shaping sessions of our latest trick with the toy we found at the park yesterday! I love how much she loves to work!

House training

The streak continues and we are on a roll today!

August 3, 2023

Activity level: average

+ Off leash container 2 at location 2: formal recall success!

+ Solo adventure: indoors market, including waiting outside the bathrooms by herself.

+ I park-officed and the dogs were outside for about 3 hours. We also met Kiba and Alan and I got a perfect “Schnee” recall off leash away from Kiba! (Pictures only.)


+ 2 “one object in another” sessions. In the first session, the baseball ended up in the bowl in the last rep!

+ 2 “Four” sessions. Today went well! Next time, I’ll be moving my home position back behind my back!

Home alone

Chai and Game stayed home alone for about 3 hours when I went to see friends in the evening.

House training

5 pees outside, 3 pees inside. Go Chai!

August 4, 2023

Activity level: average

The dogs got 30 minutes of off-leash time at the park in the morning. There weren’t any friends to play with but a lot of running around for Chai who also happened to find A LOT of random food, including a fried tortilla-something. (Fingers crossed tomorrow won’t be a diarrhea day!)

Morning shaping

I got home and worked, then did two rounds of shaping one object in another with box #2 I had used for the 4-in game. It’s bigger than the water bowl and the results showed! Good puppy!

Solo adventure

Chai and I walked to and through the indoors market for a while. We came across 2 scary balloons on the floor and conquered them with magic hands, both inside the market and later outside (they had clearly been thrown out so I took them with me). I purchased container #3 at the market: a live mouse trap (I wanted a wire-cagey thing and this was perfect.)

Foot-on-leash cue at the market.

We went into the dog park near the market because Chai let me know she would like to greet the only dog inside – an older Vizsla. They played briefly and then Chai, unprompted, peed in the dog park! Lots of treats for the best girl!

We then set up and did a long-line recall away from kibble in the mouse trap – Chai didn’t even get close before she checked in and I took it as a cue to call her. We looped around the park a bit and then did a second recall set-up in a different corner off leash. She aced it again! Even though the mouse trap looks nothing like containers #1 and #2, Chai patiently waited for me to get out the food for her. Good girl!

As of today, we are working with dried liver as the high value reward – we ran out of chicken. However, if tomorrow is a diarrhea day, I can’t necessarily blame the liver … the lucky girl found even more street food on her outing.

We walked part of the way home in collar mode with 5-20 steps between treats. It was hard for Chai today though and we switched back to back-clip harness mode after a short stretch.1 I stopped at a corner store to pick up toilet paper and Chai waited outside, and then we made it home where the little one is now passed out on the floor while I’m working and Game is relaxing on the couch.

Afternoon shaping

Two rounds of four in – one with home position on my thigh, one with home position behind my back. She worked hard and did well with bowl #5!

Home alone

Both dogs stayed home alone for a little over 3 hours.

House training

Today was another tie of inside and outside pees. I’m glad I’ve changed the rules for ties to count! Otherwise, this would be my third streak break in a week, which would be highly demotivating. Maybe after getting my 4-week streak, I’ll do another round of 4 weeks where ties don’t count? A ver.

Have you ever gamified your dog training (or something else in life)? What game did you play and did you find it helpful? Let me know in the comments!

August 5, 2023

Activity level: high (VERY high physical, low mental)

Rachel, Miriam, Ari and I spent all day at Los Dinamos with the dogs, including 4 hours of relatively strenuous (for a young dog) climby hiking. With the exciting drives (being held on laps), four hours of off-leash, steep climby hiking, playing in elbow-deep mud and getting cleaned off twice (once with a hose at a restaurant and once in the shower at home), both dogs are the good kind of tired today.

Some of the highlights:

+ Meeting a new person (Ari). Chai warmed up to them much faster even though Ari pet her entire body right away. Very little avoidance behavior! She rocked it and then chose to take turns sitting in Miriam’s and Ari’s lap in the back seat on the way to Los Dinamos.

People – as important as dogs!

+ Meeting random hikers – one or two at a time – in the woods. As a Mexico City puppy, Chai hasn’t really had this experience before, except for the one time I took her and Game out to a different section of that same nature preserve. She did phenomenal: I scattered to the side of the road anytime strangers passed us and Chai only gave a single bark of insecurity the very first time someone showed up out of nowhere. Then, the counterconditioning effect kicked in full force and she was no longer worried at all. Game modeling indifference probably helped as well.

+ Getting to run and climb and jump over obstacles. All puppies I’ve previously raised have grown up with natural obstacles – only Chai hasn’t really because the city center doesn’t have these kinds of obstacles. And yet, she was fantastically coordinated and made it across fallen trees, climbed rocks and ran and jumped with Game over rocky, root-y steep trails as well as walking them more slowly on leash. The only obstacle she needed help with was a deep artificial canal she was afraid to jump across (I picked her up and jumped with her).

This is very interesting, especially when I compare Chai to Mick. I got Mick as an adult. He probably had a lot of time running off leash as a puppy, but no obstacle practice – and when I got him at age 2, he was VERY clumsy. So was Fanta who I also got as an adult, and who most definitely did a lot of running as a young dog – but likely never met an obstacle in his life before me.

I wonder how much of a difference body awareness tricks like 4 in, paw targets and the frog are making for Chai and how much is just getting to run and play with other dogs in general. Or maybe it’s mostly genetic – who knows! In any case, it was really fun to observe how well she dealt with her new environment.

+ She settled with Game on a mat (my hoodie) when we took a hiking break at La Boca del Cielo.

+ Game and her settled outside the car while we had lunch: waiting and relaxing outside for quite a while in a new place – check!

+ We did one fun and easy “Schnee” recall when Chai was trotting away from me but not towards anything in particular. (Gotta make sure I balance our formal recalls out with fun and easy ones!)

+ She wore her pulling-allowed (front clip) harness for the second time because I didn’t want to slow the others down with my dog training.

+ No throwing up on the way there and back when she rode in people’s laps!

Here’s a compilation:

And the best news:

House training

As far as I can tell, ALL pees and two poops happened outside today! (Except for a third poop in the crate on the car ride home. The crate may happen to be a place Chai has learned to go anytime she has to in her previous home (she may not have had the opportunity to leave). In any case – happy to report that as of now (9:30pm), we had zero pees inside and two poops in addition to her pees outside!

Proud of a check mark that’s not a tie but a crystal clear win!

Inching closer to the next brownie!


+ An unwelcome shower! Game got one as well, and I got two. We were all covered in delicious mud! Not anymore though!

  1. Speaking of loose leash walking: I’ll be running an intense 4-week group for anyone who wants to work on this. You get to pick one of 6.5 R+ based approaches for your dog, are welcome to work together with housemates or partners, your dogsitter or other co-dog-caregivers and will get time-stamped video feedback. E-mail me for details or to sign up! ↩︎

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