Vito update!

Vito is now 8.5 months!

If you have been reading Vito's separation anxiety updates than you know that we broke the 1hr barrier this week! Actually we got up to 1hr 30min today!!! So I think we only have a tiny more work before I could leave him for a couple hours at home. Of course it doesn't neatly transfer to being left in a kennel at the obedience club or anywhere else, but it's something!

Vito is also making great progress in his obedience work. Up until this past week, most of our heeling practice has been against a wall with halting every 5-15 steps. But now Vito is doing really well heeling in the open and we have been able to go quite a bit longer before stopping, still treating him a ton but longer duration before he starts to crab out if I don't stop. He isn't doing this as nicely in his obedience class but still did much better this week than the past two.

I've taken a break from his trick work for awhile as I've mainly been focusing on his heel work and then his agility stuff. But every once in awhile we work on a few of his new tricks- having both right legs in the air is the main one we are focusing on.

On the agility side his running contact work is going amazing. We got over the big bubble of Vito flying off the board every time and have been able to rapidly raise our board higher and higher. We are currently right at knee height and our success rate is usually 60-70% the day it is raised and the next several times at that height it quickly climbs to 99%! I have found that having the ball stationary out there as a target is much easier for Vito to focus and for me to reward properly. I am still giving an extra treat for each good contact as well.

In class he is doing really well listening to my cues and only sometimes blowing me off to take the really cool teeter :) Today in class we did rear crosses for the first time. Up until today I had only done them "on the flat" but it payed off as Vito did really well. The main thing that we need to work on is getting more confidence to go out ahead. Right now he has more handler focus than obstacle focus, except of course for the contact obstacles which has a magnetic pull to them.

On the ball obsession topic I'm not quite sure where to progress. Last time I had mentioned we were working on his recall away from the tennis ball and then having it thrown as the reward. I would only call him to come once and then wait for Vito to think and run away from the ball to me. He is starting to get it and usually just pauses for 2 seconds before coming. The problem we are having is that he is definetly still 100% focused on the ball in that even after he comes he won't even look at you and just waits for permission to run back to the ball. He also won't take treats in any "new" environment. After class this week I went over to an open ring to practice and Vito immediately got way to revved up. He wasn't shrieking, but his pupils were insanely dilated and he wouldn't take even a hot dog. I went back to just working on Vito leaving the ball as it just sat on the floor and rewarding eye contact.

So I am not sure what to do about his whole ball thing. We've gotten to the point where Vito does take treats and is fairly responsive about dead balls, but if the ball is in someones hand he just can't think. The instructor recommended not playing with balls at all for awhile until Vito can not only respond 100% to the dead balls but also calm down around them. This dog is just so much work! At least he LOVES playing tug but isn't obsessive about that!

Wait, you want to take away my ball?

Can I still have my tennis ball dumbbell?
Don't worry Vito, at least Luke is there for you


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk11

Week 11 of our SA work.

Day 71: 60sec (ate on and off), 3.5min, 40sec, 50.5min (ate for 35, knocked over camera, in bedroom for rest), 15-N, 60-N.

Good day. It didn't seem like he was scared when he knocked over the camera and was calm when I went in about 10minutes later. We did 50minutes today!

Day 72: 4min, 30, 31min (ate for 15min), 60-N, 30-N, 2.5min-N

I decided to do a shorter session today. Vito only ate for 15minutes, but he seemed fine for the 31minutes I was gone.

Day 73: 2min-N, 60-N, 3.25min-N, 10sec (with new toy), 2min (with the toy), 60min (toy for 1.5min, bully for 1min, on couch with head up for 12min, bedroom for 6min then chased kitty out, couch with head up for 10, bedroom for remainder 30minutes)

Yahoo! We reached the 1hr milestone with Vito today and as far I can tell he didn't whine at all. He didn't chew any bones today and spent most of the time on my bed.

Day 74: No session done.

Day 75: 2min-N, 45sec-N, 3min-N, 30sec-N, 65min (started eating at the 10min mark and was chewing till 30min, then went to bedroom).

Yay! Another trial over an hr, 65min actually! No whining and seemed perfectly fine. He also didn't spend any time on the couch's armrest looking out at the door :)

Day 76: 45sec, 15sec, 75min.

Great! We are up to an 1hr 15min!!!

Day 77: No session done today.

Week 11 Summary:
Finally! This week we increased our time by a third from 47 min to 75 min! I think we are very close to being done completely with this SA thing. I don't know if I am going to do a session every day anymore since it's getting very hard to block out more than an hour every day to sit outside on the porch and wait. But since we are now over an hour of departures this means that I can actually go grocery shopping, or go out to dinner, or have a tiny bit of a life!


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk12

It has been 12 weeks of Vito's SA program. 12 long weeks....

Day 78:
45sec, 2min, 30sec, 77min (bedroom, then went back to couch after 66min)

Great! We did 1hr 17min and would have gone longer but I ran out of time :) Vito seemed just fine and chewed his bones off and on.

Day 79: 3.5min, 30sec, 15sec, 20sec, 91.5min (living room 10min, bedroom, back to living room for last 15min).

Good. Did just over an hour and a half. Right at the end he stood up on the couch's armrest and looked at the door so I just waited till he lied down again. He seemed fine though and overall was lying down although not sleeping.

Day 80: no session

Day 81: 2min, 60sec, 102min (ate for 60min, then mainly on the LR couch)

Great! Did 1hr 42min and then had to come in since the video camera was over heating :) This was also the longest time Vito ate a bone (60min).

Day 82: no session
Day 83: 30sec, 30sec, 54min.

Yay! This was the first time Vito was left alone "for real" as I actually left for Lance's obedience class and Vito was alone until Adam came home from work. He gave one whine as the kitty harrassed him, but ate his bones off and on. He was actually eating a bone as Adam came home.

Day 84: No session

Week 12 Summary: I didn't do that many trials this week since it's very hard now to block off about 2 hrs to sit outside the house. But Vito is doing very well. The longest trial done was
1hr 42mn! We also did our very first "for real" session as I left him while I went to Lance's obedience class :) I feel that if I can block off some time next week, we can easily get to 2hrs or longer which is really all the time I need to build up to. It would be nice to build up to 6hrs+, but with our current lifestyle he never needs to be left alone that long. Plus i figure that he will probably be ok anyway if he is calm for the first 2 hrs!


Lance's 1st agility run through

After Vito took his CGC test today, agility run throughs were going on in the annex so I decided to stop by. The courses were all nested so Lance and I did the beginner course for his very first run through. This was also the longest sequence we have ever done since we usually don't sequence more than 5-7 obstacles in class.

It turns out Lance might be closer to competing than I thought! The first time we ran neither of us made any errors and just flew through the course. It was a fairly easy course but I was still very proud of the Lance's speed, reading of my body language, and nice tight wraps. The second time we ran I made a few errors which caused Lance to miss some obstacles, but it was completely my fault. When I redid those parts with correct handling Lance was again perfect by my criteria :)

Of course he completely flew off the aframe and didn't go low enough on the dog walk, but I wasn't expecting anything different. We still have a lot of learning to do on our contacts! But maybe Lance will be entered in a jumpers or tunnelers course late this summer :)

As an added bonus, I still had Vito along and stationed in our foldable kennel. I was continuouly dropping in kibble as we were waiting for Lance's turn to go, but Vito was quiet as I ran with Lance! He was also very quiet when I had Lance in with him while I walked the course. Yay Vito!


The naughty toller is a canine good citizen!

This morning Vito took the CGC test. I wasn't sure he was ready to actually pass the 10 items, but I thought it would be a good idea to see where he was at and what he still needs work on. I was also super excited to find out that I could reward in between exercises, just not in the ring :)

Well Vito did amazing! There were a few little "issues" but nothing major. Actually the one I was worried about the most, reaction to another dog, Vito walked perfectly and didn't even look at the other dog while I shook hands! Weirdly though right before we started the "walk on a loose leash" portion of the test Vito suddenly noticed the handler of the "reaction" dog and became very interested. His attention was 100% on Bob so I excused myself from the ring before we started and worked on walking by Bob again and sitting nicely next to him before we came back in and did amazing. Silly toller! Vito also decided that he wanted to eat the brush for the grooming portion, but a quick leave it and Vito learned it wasn't play time yet.

I was also worried about the 3min supervised separation with Vito's anxiety and all so I decided to leave him in a down stay to give him a job to do. Vito actually stayed down for 2min before breaking his stay. That was the longest out of sight stay Vito has ever done! Even after he got up, the evaluator said that he pulled once but was fine.

So Vito passed his test and is now a Canine Good Citizen. Now he has no excuse for his naughtiness :)


The angel corgi and the naughty toller

I'll start with the good dog. Lance went to another rally run through today where he did quite well. The only crappy part was right at the start, where Lance did not know how to be called to front. Usually Lance loves being called to front while we are heeling and I can count on it getting his attention back on to me even when he's very distracted. But today Lance sat so crooked that not one part of his body was in front of me! But the rest of the course Lance did really well and was very focused. We even mastered the 3 moving exercises: moving down, moving stand- walk around, and moving down- walk around; all were done without the slighest hestiation or help from me. Yay for Lance! The next two weeks there also rally runthroughs on Sundays so hopefully we can get in some practice before the August shows.

Now for the naughty dog, the really naughty dog. Right after we finished Lance's run through we headed off to the Minnehaha dog park again to have some fun. I also really wanted to video tape Vito's "toller scream" for you all. But alas, it was not to be. At first Vito was a very good dog. He was remarkably quiet, even when we asked for Vito to think. Usually Vito has a very hard time thinking when the ball appears and is hard for him to do his simple obedience commands of sit, down, and swing into heel. So if he is not shrieking already by the time I start asking, this can usually set him off. But today Vito kept his cool and only very quietly shrieked. So yay!

But then the really naughty part came. Enter several dogs on the beach with owners having two tennis balls of their own! At first Vito could care less, he had his own ball and was content to ignore the crazy dogs and fetch ball. But when one of the dogs dared to steal Vito's ball, Vito was off! He flew off down the beach in hot pursuit, not hearing any of our calls to come. I follow as Vito is chasing blindly after the now three balls the group has. I really didn't care all too much until Vito lost track of one of the balls and kept swimming further and further from shore after a tennis ball that just wasn't there. Finally I managed to turn him around, but Vito completely blew off all calls to come. He acted like I wasn't even there and only his prescious tennis balls mattered. So I went swimming. I walked Vito down until I caught him in the water and dragged him to shore. I gave him a very brief time outs and had him do some sits/downs where upon I released him again. A bit later I called again and as Vito ignored me, I once again walked him down, caught him and put him on leash. We walked away from the distractions until Vito could concentrate and our training began.

I decided to use the Premack Principle with Vito which basically states the dog does a behavior to get what he really wants, aka tennis ball. So I had Adam hold the ball in his hand, and I called Vito to come to me. Of course he ignored me, so I would walk up and grab him until he was following me willingly and then released him to catch the ball I had Adam throw at that moment. The idea being a sort of tennis ball zen, Vito leaves the ball to come to me and then he can have it. This was extremely hard for Vito and we made only mild success at the beach. I also tried to have Vito eat a treat after coming to me before releasing him, but Vito would spit out the hot dogs and cheese if by chance he even thought about having it in his mouth. He did do this exercise better when Adam was calling him and I had the ball. This was likely because 1)Adam was doing most of the ball throwing today and had built up a history of being rewarding 2)I was the one who walked Vito down each time and Vito knew I was pissed!

Unforunately I didn't handle this event with Vito nearly as well as I should have. While this past Friday when Vito lost his brain I managed to remain calm and think, I did not do the same today. I was too harsh with Vito when he ignored me and I regret it. I don't think Vito was blowing me off to spite me, he just couldn't think. Especially when we were with the other dogs, I'm pretty sure that Vito couldn't hear anything at that moment. Even when we were on our own Vito just couldn't turn away from a ball in that environment. We have successfully done this exercise in a less stimulating environment for him, at home and at petsmart, but we obviously need to go back to this. My plan is to do this a lot more with Vito and the next time we go back to that dog park we will go far enough down the river where we can practice without any other dogs and balls around.

Oh and I'm not worried about getting a toller scream on video for you all, there will be plenty more opportunities :P


And then his brain fell out...

Today Vito's brain managed to fall, no it flew, out and slammed into the concrete wall where it remained lifeless for a good 30 minutes. We had a little adventure today, Lance, Vito, and I, as we went to Adam's swim practice to meet the kids he coaches and have some fun. I barely get through the door onto the pool deck when the unfortunate happened; I didn't even see it coming.

I decided to just let Lance go as I tried to contain the now out of control howler monkey. We managed to change Vito from barking to shrieking after he greeted the small group of kids and furiously eyed the deck for anything he could put into his mouth. Finally he spotted a tiny little toy, it may have been a wee Dora the Explorer actually, and fixated upon it with all his might. As I manage to pick it off the deck and put it away, my very helpful (not!) husband picks up a ball and proceeds to talk to the swimmers while waving the ball around in the air just out of reach of his snapping jaws. Before I manage to speak above the shrill sounds emerging from the beast Adam is now in the pool and encouraging the wild man to get the ball. Vito is completely over the edge now with the combination of water, ball, and kids and doesn't know what to do. He really really wants that ball, but has not mastered dock diving yet. Lance is edging Vito on with encouragement as he runs back and forth on the edge, barking and herding the kids to stay in the water. Finally Vito did a little bit of swimming but didn't really know what to do once he had the ball in his mouth as there was no way to get out of the water and hand the ball to mommy! Back on solid land, Adam had the brilliant (of course) idea to ask the kids if they wanted to see some tricks. After he managed to pick himself up from my laser eyes that knocked him to the ground, the kids did a mini set and I was left to deal with the brainless dog. I just leave Lance to herd the kids up and down the side of the pool as I deal with Vito.

Vito will not take any treats and is doing the toller scream at the top of his lungs. And of course I must not forget the intense trembling as my little howler monkey cannot contain himself even when I get him to lie down. Luckily I start to go into trainer mode and notice a hallway where I take Vito to.  It's out of sight of the the pool so the loss of visual stimulation allows me to try and give Vito a treat and get him to chill before going back out onto deck.  He shrieks before I can go 5 ft to the pool so we repeat about 20 times.  By then I become somewhat successful at getting Vito to do some sits and downs, with only a little bit of whining, and half the trembling. We then proceed back out onto the pool deck and immediately go back into the hallway, repeat like 50 times until Vito can now take a treat on the deck, do only soft whining, and...ok he still trembled uncontrollably.

The main thought that kept running through my mind was that "this is SO not under threshold!" Oh little Vito. We were there for about 30 minutes and by the end I could see that Vito's brain was at least conscious, even though it was still unattached. He did manage to do some of his tricks without intense screaming.

Unfortunately there are no pictures of the event. I had planned to take some but with the crazed animal I had on my hands there was no way! For those of you who had mentioned wanting to hear a toller scream, we plan on going to Minnehaha dog park again this Sunday and taking some video. It will (hopefully) not be as full force as it was today, but by hearing him you can all take pity on me.


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk10

Week 10 of Vito's SA log.

Day 64: 3min, 40, 90, I took a break to go to the bathroom :) , 30, 35.5min.

Great, did a 35.5min trial and Vito chewed his bones the entire time. He didn't even stir when the upstairs neighbor came home, left, and came again! Interestingly, he rejected the new, to him, cow ear for the bully stick he rejected most of last week.

Day 65: 30-N, 4.5min (ate for 3min, then went "shopping" for other bones), 30, 20, 39min (ate for 15min, a little shopping, then hopped onto the couch where he alternated bx laying down and standing for remainder of time), 60, 10, 20.

Ok day. Longest trial was 39minutes. He ate for bones for just over a third of the time and then jut waited. Vito looked pretty calm as he was on the couch, but usually was only lying done for 2minutes at a time before standing on the armrest and looking out.

Day 66: 30, 4min, 17.75-N (ate for 10min, then was anxious and doing some whining), 10-N, 60-N, 30-N, 2.5min-N.

Bad. I don't know why he was whining today. It still wasn't bad whining, but he was definitely anxious.

Day 67: 30, 10, 2.5min-N, 30, 40min, 20-N, 60-N.

Good. We did 40 minutes today and he basically ate the whole time. Vito did quite a bit of shopping around between the different bones in the living room, but was nice and calm the whole time. I would have gone a bit longer except he accidenly pulled out the cords from video camera to the tv I'm watching from on the porch and I was afraid that might of scared him. It turns out he was startled but basically went right back to eating.

Day 68: 3.25min-N, 80-N, 3min-N, 7.5min-N (went to bedroom, on bed), 2min-N (back to living room), 30, 20min.

I don't know. I don't think Vito was every anxious at any point, yay, but I found it odd that he went to the bedroom. Since I couldn't see him on the video camera I thought I would go check on him but he seemed fine. After that he started chewing on some bones in the living room as I did the longer trial. Would have gone longer but ran out of time. oh well.

Day 69: 4.25min-N, 50,-N, 6min-N, 43min-N (on and off eating, mainly off).

Ok. He ate his bones very very little this session, but seemed fine. On the long 43min trial he mainly lied down on the living room couch, occasionally standing on the arm rest looking at the door.

Day 70: 4min, 30, 60, 48.5min (ate for 45min).

Yay!!! Vito ate his bones almost the entire time. Wed did a 48.5min trial and Vito ate for 45 minutes and then walked into the bedroom and layed on the bed until I came in!!

Week 10 Summary:
Ok we had a good week again! He only whined one day this week, and the longest trial done was 48.5min! So we added 13minutes this week :)


Contact Work

I've been a good trainer the past week and am actually working on the dog's contact criteria for agility. I've had my 12ft board for just over a month now but have only done contacts on it maybe once a week, if I'm lucky. *maybe* (well probably not) I could get by with that if I wanted a 2 on 2 off, but since I'm wanting a running contact it NEEDS to be trained every day for awhile.

However this week had not been without frustration. I'm using Silvia Trkman's method which start with a flat board and is gradually raised as you reward the dog for running all the way to the end. I've realized that even though I've been doing the dog's training for several months, they have apparently learned absolutely nothing; now that I'm doing it on a regular basis their learning deficit is obvious. So I'm starting as low as I can possibly go without it being flat (it's the same board I use for the teeter so there's a piece of wood in the middle that does not allow it to be flat) and trying to reward only ones in the last 22" of the board (contact zone is at 42"). I had no idea how big to make my reward zone so I'm just hoping that 22" is a good number :)

With both dogs I am having the hardest time deciding if they made it in my reward zone or not when they are running at full speed. This has resulted in a ton of rewards for less than stellar contact performance. Usually I can tell that they missed it, but not until after I have had to decide whether to reward them or not. With Lance I am using the manners minder (yay for another use of it!) and am trying to "click" as he hits the end of the board so I only have that half second to decide. With Vito, I had to switch to throwing a ball as the reward as he just doesn't run as fast towards the MM. Luckily he is absolutely crazy for the ball so now he is running extremely fast, but this has made it even harder for me to decide if he hit the end of the board or not! Not only do I have to decide, but I have to time my throwing of the ball, and have a nice straight throw that does not land in the street!

So basically I am totally screwing up by dogs! I was almost on the verge of giving up running contacts when I decided to backchain it. Now I've been starting the dogs only halfway on the board and am slowly making my way back the 12ft. This has meant that they haven't been at full speed when running (which would likely upset Silvia) but has at least allowed me to teach Lance and Vito something. I just started that on the two sessions I did today but have already seen a great improvement in the dogs' performance and in my reward ability. Hopefully when I'm all using all 12ft and start raising the board again I will have had enough practicing in judging my criteria to be of some use to my dogs!


Vito's first obedience class

Today was Vito's first ever obedience class! There are 7 other dogs in his level 3 class, 4 golden retrievers, 2 yellow labs, vito, and one black/white border collie. So Vito wasn't the odd man in the bunch :) Most of the dogs are around 2yrs, but one of the goldens is just a tiny bit older than Vito at 8.5months. All have gone through the other levels at the club before, and half are repeating this level (it's not uncommon for dogs to repeat level 3 since the next level is for any dog close to competing in novice or actually doing open/utility).

I was very proud of how he did today. Going into the new environment with him I planned to just let him sniff and just click/treat eye contact whenever he voluntarily offered it, but I couldn't get him to stop starring at me even when I tried to release him away! So very quickly I progressed to doing real work with him :)

Looking back, I realized that I need to stop when we are doing heel work since Vito simply can't heel for that many steps between sits. Even though I was trying to shove treats into his mouth rapid fire, he starts to forge and crab out. I know the instructor will understand if we only do 5-10 steps and then halt, repeat, so I just need to step and do it!

For the rest of the class I was very good about modifying things when needed. On the recall I wanted to work on his formal come, so instead of going the entire ring and calling like the others did (with most not having nice sits) I only went 10 feet and called. Since Vito also hasn't done a ton of long sits and downs, I treated him a ton during the 1 min sit stay even though he can surpass a minute without a treat at home. On the 3min down stay I also shoved food in his mouth and decided to release Vito 2minutes in to reward his great behavior. And on the stand for exam I had planned to only have the instructor walk around Vito, rewarding him for looking at me, but since he didn't move his eyes off me for even 1/2 second, I decided to let her do a quick pat down of Vito. So for the first time ever, Vito did a stand for exam with someone other than mom (never mind I was right by his side)!

So yay for me actually doing some baby steps with my dog and not pushing too hard!

Oh, and he also is officially 30lbs! Yay for my little midget toller, now let's try and break 35lbs :P


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk9

Week 9 of Vito's SA program.

Day 57: 2min-N, 45sec, 4.5min, 20, 30min, 75.

Once again Vito chewed a bone (old pigs twist, old pigs ear) the entire time!!! We also jumped huge (5min) from yesterday to do 30minutes!!!! Since he was chewing his bone the whole time i was more confident about the big jump, we will see if we can still be gone as long if he's not interested in bones.

Day 58: 60 (on and off chewing), 10, 2min-N, 5.25min-N, 1.75min-N. On the next trials, Vito started whining a tiny bit right as the door shut behind him, whining would last between 5-30seconds: 20-N, 20-N, 120-N, 45-N, 30-N, 4.5min-N. He did not whine on the next two: 15-N, 30-N.

I have no clue why Vito was whining today. I decided to keep trials very short to prevent him from coming more anxious. But even when I decided to go for 4.5min again he only whined for maybe 20seconds right as I left. Five minutes after ending the session, Vito threw up some bile so I am hoping that this was the cause of the whining and not anxiety at being left alone...

Day 59: 30-N (light nibbling), 90 (nibbling, eating by end), 15, 4.25min 30, 30min-N (ate for 16.5min, finished that bone, drank water, went to bedroom, came back to kitchen and sniffed bones, went to living room for remainder of time)

I thought he did well. I was happy he was eating bones again, but after he finished the current pig twist, he neglected to start a brand new one that was also available. Being the 4th of July there were a lot of neighborhood fireworks going off, but this didn't seem to bother Vito at all as he ate through them. Right as I was coming in a very loud boom and Vito was standing at the threshold between living room and kitchen. I assume he was lying on the couch before that, but am not entirely sure. At least I know that he can handle 30 minutes of me being gone even when he's not eating bones the whole time!

Day 60: 2min-N, 30-N, 4min-N (some whining), 20sec (put pb on bone), 20 (pb still left), 4min-N (ate for 2.5min with pb, got water, went to living room), 15-N (stayed in LR), 60-N (in LR, whining), 3min-N, 15-N (standing on couch), 30-N (standing on couch, whining), 4min-N (standing on couch), 30-N (standin on couch, whining)

I am crushed. I have no clue why Vito is whining now. The longest I was gone was 4minutes and Vito even whined on 15 second absences. I guess if there is good news it's that Vito is doing very soft on and off again whining and not full blown vocals.

Day 61: 2min-N, 10-N, 30-N, 4.5min-N, 15-N, 32.5min-N (stayed on bed whole time, but started whining at 9min, on and off again whining rest of time, really started up again at 30min), 25-N (whining), 120-N (whining), O/I-N, 10-N, 15-N, 5-N

ahh, what is going on?! :( Again Vito is whining when I'm leaving. It was still pretty quiet, but was starting to get loud on the long 32min one. I tried to wait for 10seconds of quiet before coming in the house each time. I'm also bummed since I even gave Vito a brand new gigantic bully stick that he won't even touch.

Day 62, session 1ish: Earlier this morning, Vito went to the obedience club and we worked on being quiet in the crate. I brought the Manners Minder and set it to variable 15seconds. He did pretty good, but not as well as I had hoped. There was some soft whining and Vito stood the entire time, but he ate the dispensed kibble 90% of the time. We were there about an hour and I let Vito out of the kennel twice, for about 2-5 minutes each time. When he was in the kennel, I turned off the fx each time I walked in the room, and immediately dispensed kibble as soon as I left. I was usually out of sight anywhere from 2-15 minutes, with the average probably being 6minutes.

Day 62, session 2: 60sec, 10, 2min-N (ate for 30, drank h20, stood in living room). I put bones in the living room and for the rest of the trials he lied down in the LR and chewed a pigs ear for 10sec, 10, 30, 10, 60, 4.5min, 15, 14.5min, 15, 5.5min.

Yay! I really need this good session. We didn't go that long, the longest was 14.5min, but he was going to town on the pigs ear in the living room. I was actually going to try 20min but I saw the neighbor coming home and wanted to make sure he was calm as he heard her door open. So, yay!

Day 63: 60sec, 5min, 40, 20, 8min (went to living room, ate), 31min, 90.

Yay, another good day! I had a bunch of new types of bones for Vito today and threw them throughout the living room and on his kitchen dog bed. Overall he ate for the entire time; on the long 31minute trial the mailman delivered mail onto our porch where upon Vito stopped eating, stood on the couch's armrest for a few minutes, no whining, and then went back to eating a bone!

Week 9 Summary:
This was a roller coaster week. Right off the bat Vito did amazing and we jumped from 25minutes to 30 minutes no problem! Even on the 4th of July when fireworks were going off everywhere, Vito had no problem. On the good days, even when he wasn't chewing a bone we were still able to go 30minutes with ease. But then Vito started whining and being anxious for 2 days this week. I couldn't even leave the house for 10 seconds without him whining. On the positive side, the whining was on and off and was relatively quiet. It got a bit louder as time went on, but was still quietish. So I have no idea why he was suddenly set back SO much for those 2.5 days, but at least the last two days of this week was good. We didn't make our goal for the week of 40 minutes, but hopefully we will be back on track soon and there will be no more whining incidents. Longest trial done was 31minutes.


Swim lessons!

Besides torturing Lance today, we decided to head down to the Minnehaha dog park. We've never been there before, but we will definitely be going again!

The dogs had a great time playing in the Mississippi!
It was Vito's first time going swimming and he loved it! He wasn't exactly the greatest of swimmers, but there was no fear. Vito kept telling* us that he could chase balls all day!
*by "telling" I mean shrieking. Yup, Vito had the toller scream going in full force today! My goal was to wait for him to give us one full second of quiet before throwing the ball. So that basically meant waiting for Vito to actually BREATHE!

I don't know how his mouth is closed in this picture. My little point and shoot camera must have a faster shutter speed than I thought!
Shake it!
Of course he wouldn't drop his precious ball to shake off!Even Lance swam for the first time today! Previously he has gone into the water, but never far enough to actually swim! Although I must say that each time he swam today it never looked like it was his plan :) Usually it would be in the excitment of chasing after a ball, and the next time a ball was thrown Lance would be extra cautious to not go out so far!
Lance also surprised us and started whining for balls to be thrown! Usually he is a typical annoying corgi and just barks at balls that should be moving, but today Lance was almost as bad as Vito! Ok, that's a lie. No dog can ever be as loud and high pitched as Vito is. But still, the only other time Lance has whined like that was when he saw lure coursing for the first time!
I have to say one good thing about Vito; at least when we say "all done" and give a couple "leave its," Vito is very good about wandering away. He may not forget that there is a ball there, but he won't bug you about throwing it. So there were a couple of calmer moments where the dogs just ran and forgot about yelling at balls.
Let's just say that both dogs got a much needed bath once we got home. It sure was shocking though to see how fast Vito's retriever coat dries and sheds dirt! Vito barely needed a bath and was perfectly dry while Lance's coat was disgusting and still soaking wet when we arrived at home. Of course Lance always finds a way to get muddy in conditions that I think would be impossible!

Update:  We've been back and a video was taken of Vito's toller scream.  So if you want to hear what a toller scream sounds like, click here!



Lance looked a little bored today.
So Adam decided to give him some lovin.
oh oh.
Quick, yell for help!
Must wriggle free
Resistance seems to be futile
Why is he laughing at me?!
It's about time you put me down!
Wait, why am I not free yet?
Stop mocking me!


Little helpers!

Today I posted my response to Rogersmmr (from youtube) training challenge. Just for fun, dogs were supposed to 1)open a drawer 2)put socks away 3)close the drawer.

Since we apparently have zero drawers in the house that have knobs or anything to attach a rope to, that eliminated #1 for me. Since I still wanted to teach a behavior chain, I decided to have the dogs grab a sock from the laundry basket (which I ended up flipping on it's side for Lance's stubby legs) and then have them hop on a stool to reach the drawer.

They each had 3 sessions of training so far to produce the video! Lance learned the fastest, but for a long time was stuck on actually putting the socks IN the drawer, not on top. As you can see in the video, he then could not believe that I also didn't want him jumping on top of the drawer! Once he got it though, it was smooth sailing. He still needs some help and rewards often, but it was also nice that the drawer was too deep for him to "cheat" and pull the socks out once they were in!

Vito took quite a bit longer to learn how to close the drawer. He really thought that he was supposed to stand on his legs and rest his paws on the lip. I ended up having to start with the drawer on the stool so that it was too tall for Vito to rest on it. Once he got the closing part, that is all Vito wanted to do! Several time he tried to chop of my hand as I went to take the socks out of the drawer :P


Vito starts obedience school!

Today Vito had an evaluation at our training club to see what level he would be placed in. I've decided that it really is time for Vito to actually be in a class, doing obedience stuff around the distraction of a new place, with new dogs, etc. Up until now he has only done the trick class (and I taught it) when he was 3 months and then agility class. I mean Vito is 8 months now, so it is about time! So Vito's test began.

It turns out that he's amazing :) Basically the instructor said I could go to any level I wanted with him! I decided to start with level 3 (there's 3 levels and then the advanced class that Lance is in for competition ready dogs). While I could have done advanced, I really like the level 3 instructor and feel that I can learn more from her than anyone else. Plus I really don't think he needs to do all of the open and utility level exercises yet (not in a class setting at least) and just practice doing heel work with the distractions will be hard enough. Just because he "knows" everything taught in level 3 doesn't mean that he doesn't need the practice!

I somewhat wish though that I would have chose the advanced class. Apparently Lance was, and is still, the only dog that has ever come in for an eval and placed directly into advanced! He had to be 9 or 10 months old when I started his first obedience class at the club and it was advanced! So it would have been cool to brag that I had the only 2 dogs that have accomplished that :)
The only down side of the class is the timing. Vito's class will start half an hour after Lance's agility class is finished on Thursday nights. I plan on using the manners minder now and crating Vito, but unfortunately he hasn't had any practice with that at the club yet. With his anxiety, if it doesn't work out as planned, Vito could be a shaking, panicky mess when I release him from his kennel. Fingers are crossed that the manners minder goes well! At least he has some practice being kenneled and getting treated there whenever Adam can come to Lance's class; otherwise Vito has been dropped off at daycare on those nights.


Yay for remote genie lamps!

I finally got it! For months I've been wanting a Manners Minder, a remote reward training system. According to Vito, it dispenses whatever you most want at that moment...kibble! Basically it's a little machine that is designed to hold kibble or small round treats and dispenses them from either a push from your remote or on a certain time, even a variable time! Like the clicker, a tone emits right before it spits out the treat so you can reward your dog for distance behaviors. It was originally designed to help with door manners as it is so easy to reward a nice "place" cue even with distractions. But I really wanted it to help with Vito's anxiety. I think it will be perfect to put in the crate with him when I got to Lance's agility and obedience classes as it will allow me to reward Vito even when I'm not there! I am so so excited!!!! In the past couple of months, Vito has gone to daycare when Adam can't supervise him so he doesn't feel any anxiety while I'm doing the separation anxiety program. But now that Vito is older I am looking at getting him into an advanced obedience class on the same night as Lance's agility class and I just can't have him screeching and panicking in a kennel!

I am currently debating on whether I want to use it in our SA sessions at home. As of today we have worked up to me being gone for 25minutes without Vito being anxious but he's usually no longer chewing any bones at all. I think using the Manners Minder would help us build up time more quickly, but at the same time I'm worried that it might put him in a bad state of mind. When I've been teaching him all about the MM the past couple of days, Vito's been just starring at it. Starring and willing a treat to fall out at any second. So I'm not sure that I want him fixated on an object when I leave the house for such a long time. We will see! The MM can be set to up to 5 minutes between rewards so maybe Vito wouldn't just stare once we work up to that setting.

Maybe if I move closer the kibble will come!
(Did you notice his new collar, you can see it now in this picture!) He really is very much in love with the magical machine!

Vito also shocked me today with his crazy little retrieving brain. We were playing tug with a loofa dog when I won and went to throw it for him. Unbeknown to me, I had won since Vito had torn the hat off of the poor dog. So as he went to retrieve the loofa he was carrying the big witch hat in his mouth. Once he arrived at the loofa, Vito looked at me with a puzzled face, turned back to the dog, and then finally looked at me with an "ah ha" grin! He delicately opened his mouth just wide enough to pick up the dog without dropping his hat and then ran back to me, dropping both hat and dog in my hand with a smile :)


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk8

Week 8 is upon us. For those of you new to my blog, this is Vito's progress on his separation anxiety protocol adapted from Patricia McConnell's "I'll be home soon."

Day 50: 135sec-N (ate for 120), 30 (ate for 10, N for 15, ate for last 5), 30, 90-N (ate for 20), 120, 15, 5.25min, 20, 17min-N (ate for 10min), 60-N (ate for 0).

He started out very slow, not into his bones. I did a 17min trial today and he was calm for the whole time even though he wasn't eating for the last 7min.

Day 51: 75, 195, 20-N, 30, 6.5min (ate for 50sec), 30-N, 90-N, 18.5min-N (ate for 50) 30-N.

Vito wouldn't eat his bones, but still remained calm and lying down for 18.5min!

Day 52: 15sec, 10-N, 20-N, 10-N, 20, 45, 15-N, 90-N (ate for 60), 15, 3min-N (ate for 20), 30-N, 30-N, 40-N, 5min-N.

I decided to take it very slow today. Earlier Vito had a vet's appointment where he had to be dropped off for 2.5hrs. Of course he was in full panic by the time I was allowed to get him :( He did decent though on the trial. Wouldn't eat his bones, but looked relatively calm. Maybe just a little more uneasy than normal.

Day 53: 60-N, 20, 4.5min-N, 60-N, 20-N. I took the baby gate up, 6.5min-N, 7.5min-N (wander), 45-N, 6min-N.

I originally was going to do a normal session and plan for 20min today, but halfway through I thought I would try something. I took off the baby gate that was keeping Vito in the kitchen where the door is. For the first 6.5min trial Vito remained on his bed, I don't even know if he knew the gate was up. On the 7.5min trial I gave Vito a dried tater which he ate and then went to drink water. Of course he then saw the gate was up and went wandering. I can't see where he went, but I think he went to the bedroom for a bit, then came back and sat by the kitchen door. When I came in he was in the living room. He was more excited to see me when I came in and gave one little whine. On the last two trials Vito stayed on his dog bed in the kitchen. He was a bit more anxious i think as he was lying down but definitely starring at the door. I have no clue what to make of this experiment.

Day 54: 20sec, 3min-N (ate for 20), 30-N, 20min-N (ate tricky treat ball for 13.5min), 60-N.

I decided to not have the baby gate up the entire session this time, and this was amazing!!!! Vito didn't eat his bones, but on the 20min trial he was playing with the tricky treat ball for 13.5min, the longest he ever has. After the TT he got some water and then it looked like he was looking for us. After looking this way and that, Vito went back to the kitchen and nudged the TT again. But then, he stood in the hallway for about a minute and finally decided to lie down on the living room couch! Vito didn't even get up when I walked inside later! When I did the 1min trial after that he immediately went to the door after it closed, but again went and lied down in the living room :) I really feel like we've made a huge leap in his progress today!

Day 55: 90-N, 15, 3.75min, 10, 15, 20min-N (ate for 4min).

I had the baby gate down again today for the whole session. He stayed on his bed until 4min into the 20min trial where he stopped, eating, drank water, and then went to the living room couch and lied down the whole time! Very happy :)

Day 56: 20, 90-N, 3.5min, 30, 25min, 60.

Baby gate is again not up, but Vito stayed on his bed in the kitchen the entire time. He also ate a bone, a piggy twist (which previously he has shown zero interest in) the entire 25min!

Week 8 Summary:
What a great week!!!! We started out at 15min departures and ended up with 25min today! This week I also tried something new, I took down the baby gate that kept him in the kitchen by the door. At first I think he was a little anxious about it, but then I think he enjoyed it. When he's not wanting a bone, he just goes into the living room and I come back to Vito lying calmly on the couch :) My goal now is to get up to 40min next week and hopefully be able to do two hours at the end of week 10!

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