Week 19 digest (August 6-12, 2023)

August 6, 2023

Activity level: calm

Today was perfect for a calm day: while Chai would have been happy to have another active day, I feel fried. I am clearly not used to hours of uphill hiking anymore!

This morning, we just looped around the block. Chai struggled quite a bit not to pull – either because she had been locked into her luxury kennel earlier last night and let out later than usual this morning OR because yesterday, she got to pull on her front-attachment harness. We’re back to the back-clip harness today, but I can’t tell whether yesterday’s pulling experience carried over to today’s first walk or if she had simply fully recharged and missed her morning off-leash park time.

In the afternoon, Chai, Game and I walked to the Toy Play Plaza and I let the two run around, chase squirrels, drink from the fountains and just be dogs for 15 or 20 minutes and then did one rep of our current barrier recall challenge (kibble container #3 – the live mouse trap). Chai was a superstar and recalled right away! Her back-clip harness leash walking looked a lot better on the way home than it had on the way out, too – getting to run around must have helped!


+ “Brush!” Chai looks very fancy after yesterday’s shower and today’s brushing!
+ “Claws” (all claws on her left back paw; it was easy for her today).

Mini solo adventure

Chai got to come to the bakery with me and practice “lie down when my foot is on your leash” while I paid. She did well and her back-clip harness leash walking was almost perfect again. I suspect her harness-mode success is multifactorial: not having an off-leash Game around AND having had time to run at the park already, even if it wasn’t for a long time.

“Home alone”

Both dogs stayed free in the living room while I went up to the roof to put my freshly washed towels on the clothesline. No apartments were destroyed in the course of hanging laundry!


After a late-afternoon pee loop, I lured a frog … on the mattress and NOT off a cliff!

Thoughts on the calm day

Chai is very active! She is NOT in the mood for as calm a day as we had today (calmer than we usually would because I’m exhausted from yesterday).

House training

The streak continues!

My next brownie is only one more (successful) day away …!

August 7, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

Chai and Game got 35 minutes of running around at the park to start the day. Chai played with Maya, the fun little Corgi, Border Collies Eva and Maki and a mixy-mix friend, but was mostly interested in finding ALL the food scraps.

During a work break, I took both dogs on their short leashes on an errand. Chai did really well not pulling even though Game was around: morning runs really are a must for her!

Home alone

Both dogs stayed free in the living room when I went to get the brownie I earned when Chai pooped outside this morning. (Outside poops immediately spawn a check mark in my streak game.)

Then they stayed home alone again when I ran a slightly longer bike errand.

A new person doing unusual things …

I had asked a plumber/painter/electrician to help me with a shower piping issue. Chai gave the briefest snarl-bark when they first came in, I scattered kibble and then she proceeded to observe from a comfy spot on the couch and eventually join us in the bathroom to sniff all the tools. Brave girl!

Solo adventure

After some more work and two shaping sessions – 4 in, one with only bowl #5, one with bowl #6 in bowl #5 – Chai and I headed out on a solo adventure. She waited in line with my foot on the leash for quesadillas. I used one of my randomization strategies: reward every time a red car drives by. Since the quesadilla stand is located on a medium-busy street and Mexico City’s rate of red cars is just right, this makes for a perfect rate of reinforcement.Have you found creative ways to randomize reinforcement? Let me know in the comments!

We then went to a nearby park where I had my quesadillas while Chai got to run around. She is developing juvenile independence, so she kept me on my toes when wandering to the other edge of the park! (She found dry fish treats on the ground and feasted on them.) We did two recalls with kibble container #3 – in real time, I got the impression that the first one was a double take at the distraction, so I added another one in a different part of the park after a break. Then we headed home and Chai waited outside a corner store and joined me at a pet supply store to pick up – you guessed it! – fish treats.

On my evening pee loop pre-class with Khaleesi, the new Husky client, I used magic hands on a large bag a person was getting plants out of in front of our building.

More home alone time

While I worked with Nancy and the wonderful Khaleesi (¡Le gusta hacer travesuras!), Game and Chai stayed home alone again. Meet Khalessi with the most beautiful eyes:

Young and full of energy! We made an exercise and enrichment plan for her that should take care of most issues.

And more shaping!

We had two more shaping sessions of one object in another: first the baseball toy in a small crate, and then switching from the baseball toy to a paper cup mid-session. Chai did great!

As for the liver treats, small amounts for training seem to be fine. I’m a little suspicious because she teetered on the verge of diarrhea several times since I’ve been using them (relatively sparingly) in recall training. I’ll make sure to keep the amount low. Chicken, so far, is our best bet for high-value treats she can have a lot of. I also prefer it because it isn’t as crunchy. Liver makes a good back up to just have at home though!


Chai has – once again – diarrhea. I suspect it’s the fish treats and other stuff she found to eat in the park today while I was busy with my quesadillas de flor de calabaza y queso myself and just let her wander. We’ll test out the fish treats soon enough. Other treats I want to test are bread and tortillas – first plain tortillas and then friend ones (two things she finds in the street a lot). If her stomach tolerates them, they’ll be all hers.

House training

If it weren’t for the magic outside poop rule (outside poops immediately earn me a check mark for the day, whatever happens pee-wise), I wouldn’t have been able to finish the week’s streak but would havehad to start over on the last day of the week. Yay for setting myself up for success!

August 8, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM

Both dogs enjoyed their 35 be-a-dog minutes in the morning. Chai went straight from the car to the fish treats she had found yesterday and had some more, sharing with Game this time. Then, both of them played with Eva (chocolate BC) and Maki (red merle BC puppy), two of their park friends.

Park friends.

Lots of running and even Game played and let the others chase her!

Chai gave me a diarrhea-y outdoors poop. Diarrhea’s gotta be good for something, and if it’s teaching Chai to poop outside because she simply has to go – I’ll take it.

Home alone

Both dogs were loose in the living room while I ran a 5-minute errand. When I got back, one of them had stolen a kibble container from my desk, opened it and eaten everything in it. We learn: no untethered home-alone time for Game and no unsupervised living room time for Chai!

They stayed home alone again when my friend Kayla, who is visiting for a few days, and I went out for dinner – this time, Chai safely tucked away in the bathroom!


I was going to start out with a session of 4 in with bowl #6 in bowl #5 – but Chai let me know it was too difficult today by lying down. So we ditched bowl #6 and just had a few reps with #5.

Our second shaping session was one object in another. We started with the baseball, then did the paper cup, then a shoe and finally a roll of tape. Chai is acing this trick!


+ “Claws”: all nails on her right back paw. She didn’t even flinch! I’m curious if her front paws will continue to be more difficult – we’ll find out soon!

Solo adventure

We walked to the Dead Paultry Park, got pambasos (and treats for being in a down position with my foot on the leash anytime a red car drove past) and park-officed briefly. Since the pup-pup-pup informal recall seems to have lost its power, Chai is dragging her 5m line today. Selective deafness is a common symptom of being a juvenile dog! Sadly, being a selectively deaf juvenile dog today means having to be tied to a tree in my park office. Sorry, Chai. Can’t have it all!

Chai was suspicious of the warm, loud sound/air coming from a vent we passed. We walked past several times, each time marking with my cookie toss marker and tossing the cookie away from the entry once we had passed the vent. Chai did well with that, and I’ll keep coming back to practice more. I’m calling this the treat toss/R- game (until I think of a sexier name). It is R- because being past the entrance was, given Chai’s body language, a relief. Of course I made sure the leash stayed loose the entire time and let Chai decide with how much distance she wanted to move past the vent. The sidewalk next to the building with the vent is very wide and Chai’s comfort curves allowed her to stay on it. If things go as planned, she’ll curve less and less out into the sidewalk with every time we practice.

Friends and frenemies

The mighty Norbert.

I put Game in her car crate for our first evening with Kayla, Barley, Niffler and Norbert in the apartment. (Game isn’t Barley’s biggest fan, and while Game and I worked on the Norbert project during our time in Cuernavaca, neither Kayla nor I were in the mood for a training session tonight. We wanted to work on our respective work things and then just hang out and enjoy nerdy dog trainer talk and friends-catching-up time.)

Chai was fascinated by Norbert and respected the boundaries he set. She played with Niffler (keeping an eye on Norbert at all times, just in case) and enjoyed Kayla’s snuggles.

House training

Week 2 starts today!

August 9, 2023

Activity level: average

The AM and noon

We started the morning with 20 park minutes. Chai’s Corgi friend Maya was around and they played a little, but she was clearly more tired than usual and didn’t feel like running as much.

On our noon loop, Chai was pullier than usual. All rested up and ready for some shaping, little Border Collie?

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone WITHOUT Game (finally! It has been too long!) while Game accompanied me to get a haircut. Game enjoyed her solo outing greatly – and the rawhide she got to chew while hanging out!


I did a quick “four” session: 2 “get it” treats with only bowl #5 and then 2 “get it” treats with bowl #6 in #5. Chai rocked it! We’re building back up! (No video of this session.)

The second session after (starting with bowl #6 in bowl #5), Chai considered too hard.

We abandoned the project for the day and worked on a fun round of putting different objects in the wooden crate instead.

Late afternoon and post-taco evening

The dogs got a 30 minute outing at the toy play plaza. Chai was pully and peppy! After some work and a quick “Frog” session for Chai (on the couch but not feeding off the “cliff,” my two girls and Niffler stayed home while Kyla, Barley and I went out for dinner.

Lucky Barley got his own taco with extra meat!

Later that night, Chai had a blast playing with Niffler and spying on Norbert while Kayla and I recorded a podcast … and then, she slept VERY well!

The podcast episode we recorded:

The only downside of today:

House training

We broke our streak. The excitement of having guests and me wanting to focus on our conversation rather than constantly interrupting to take out Chai are likely culprits. But that’s okay and totally worth it. Tomorrow, we’ll be back on track. In any case, the good news: no accidents in the living room!

August 10, 2023

Activity level: calm

The AM

We went to the park and the dogs had 30 minutes of fun with Eva and Maki.

I went back home to work and take a nap. It’s probably time to slow down on both the socializing and the inventing-new-projects-for-myself fronts!

Home alone

Because I had taken a nap rather than shaped Chai, the dogs just got a quick outing before I handed them over to Kayla who worked from my place while I headed out to see another friend. Kayla worked for about 2 hours before heading out herself and I got back home 2 more hours later, so Game and Chai had both good company and then two more hours alone.

House training

… and we are back on track!

August 11, 2023

The AM

We went to the park for a full hour this morning to make up for the very quiet Thursday. Chai played with Eva and Maki, found lots of tortilla scraps meant for birds and shared them with Game (tortillas should be next on my food testing spree!) and we trained a bit, using the bench as a start button and working downs and stands until I ran out of treats. No video, no pictures – but we are up and running!

The PM

After working, I did our usual 4 daily shaping sessions1: 3 to work on the “one object in another” behavior and one “4 in” one. Chai did well!

Solo adventure

Chai and I walked to the Toy Play Plaza in one of my work breaks. I had meant to walk there in Chai’s back attachment harness and back in collar mode, but forgot the collar. So instead, we practiced “With me” for crossing streets IN her harness (high rate of reinforcement for the win!), I named squirrel chasing (“Birds!”) at the park and did a single fun obstacle-run-away-recall game with Chai’s formal recall cue at the empty playground.

Home alone

Chai stayed home alone while Game and I went for a walk.

House training

A close call, but we did it again! Go puppy (and go me!)

August 12, 2023

Activity level: average

We spent 25 minutes at Fresa Parque and left earlier than planned because there wasn’t a lot going on except for ALL the food scraps Chai kept being drawn to.

In the afternoon, we had two 4-in sessions and one object-in-another session, went to a different park for about an hour and explored, worked positions (stand and down) and did one distraction recall (container #1 with liver in location #1); liver from my hand and opening the box as reward – Chai did phenomenal! – as well as an easy “Schnee” recall when she was already running in my direction.

Both dogs waited in front of a store and then I walked Chai home in collar mode from there. She had a hard time (Game was off leash and I’ve not worked on Chai’s collar mode with Game off leash much!) We did 3, 5 and 10 steps between treats with most of the reps being 5 steps between treats. If things are hard for my dog, I’ll up the rate of reinforcement accordingly!

While Chai didn’t get a solo adventure today, she got to stay home alone all by herself while Game and I ran an errand.

Finally, after a semi-successful one-object-in-another session where I tried to get Chai to pick up a coin, we played the “2 balls” game with two 10-peso coins to teach Chai to pick them up. She did great and had fun once it turned into a game and she realized picking up coins was possible!

House training

I’ve noticed that if there is a tie before noon (like today), I usually can’t turn things around and the best case scenario is to keep the tie a tie (like today) rather than breaking my streak. It’s as interesting to collect data as it is to watch my own game-fueled behavior!

  1. I’m not saying that every single day for the rest of her life, Chai will get 4 shaping sessions – that’s just how things have worked out over the last couple weeks. There will be many days in her life that have zero training sessions in them. ↩︎

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