March 1, 2018 Training Log

Today we worked on disc with both dogs (!), and Sei and I also worked on some work for our herding foundations class.

Perrin wanted to play disc! What is up with that? I’m not sure, but he had fun! He mainly wants to tug on the discs, but if he wants to play, we can work with this. He is so cute when he wants to play.


February 16/17 2018 – Training Log

The last two days have been all about backstalls and nosework!

With the backstalls, the tricky part was figuring out how to reward in position with only one person! I started with cookies, but trying to reward over my head was unwieldy and I was ending up with Sei jumping onto my back and then immediately jumping off to get his reward. Then I got out the syringe of peanut butter, and that worked awesome! I started with me on my hands and knees to provide a more stable platform, a lower jump height and more margin of error. Today we started on me standing, but we need a lot of work there. Sei and I both need more core strength to do this! With me standing, I was trying to lower myself down so that Sei had a much lower height to be jumping off of, but our timing didn’t always work. Things progressed quickly from there.

Here are the highlights:


Nosework has continued for both dogs, with more of locating the hot box in a room. Perrin has the better search, while Sei has a stronger alert, but both dogs are doing really well! We will soon move on to the beginning of the container search.


February 11, 2018 Training Log

For the past week, we have been working on Nosework. My husband is working with Perrin, and Sei and I are following along to provide any help that may be requested. We are all working through the beginner nosework class at FDSA.

We spent the early part of the week imprinting on the wintergreen oil, and have now gotten started putting a vented box with the scent in various parts of different rooms for them to find. Here is each dog’s first search:


Sei and I also worked on some homework for our herding foundations class. In this specific case, it was adding a hand signal to our existing down. He did really well for his first session, catching on to the hand signal after only 3 pairings with the verbal.

Mimicry Holiday

We have still been training, I have just been bad about tracking it! I hope to get back on the bandwagon. Until then, this is a summary of the work we have been doing the last two months. Mimicry is incredibly cool, and I hope to write more about our experiments and progress with it.

November 17, 2017 – Learning Puzzle Prequel

The Brain Games project continues!

So apparently I missed this part originally, but I went back to fix that. These are basic ‘getting to know your dog’ exercises.

Left or Right Pawed-threw a ball or cookie and watched which foot was taken off with first for numerous repetitions.

Chest Hair Curl – does the swirl on their chest curl counterclockwise or clockwise?

Yawn Copy – does the dog yawn back?

There was also a test to see which eye your dog prefers to work off of, but it involved desensitizing a blindfold and sending the dog over a jump, among other exercises. That would be a long term project for Sei and Perrin, so we skipped it.

These traits were then compared to some service dog studies.


Left or Right Pawed? Left? Ambidextrous? There was a slight preference for left, but it was not very strong. Not sure if the difference is statistically significant.

Chest Hair Curl? Clockwise

Yawn Copy? No


Left or Right Pawed? Right

Chest Hair Curl? Counter-Clockwise

Yawn Copy? No

With the yawning, I have tried this quite a lot over the last few months. Neither Perrin nor Sei yawn if I yawn, but I often yawn if one of them yawn.

The other two characteristics are kind of interesting, compared to the service dog studies. They found that there was a correlation between right-pawed dogs and twice the success rate in service dog programs, while dogs with a counter-clockwise chest whorl were also twice as successful in service dog programs. Clockwise whorls were more likely to be anxious. The idea behind those was that right pawed dogs are bolder and inquisitive, while another study suggested that right pawed dogs had an easier time understanding language while left pawed dogs are more fearful and reactive. Perrin can be a bit dog reactive, and he isn’t terribly verbal, however he is certainly bold and inquisitive. Sei on the other hand is much more cautious and prone to anxiety. I wouldn’t go so far as to say fearful or reactive, but he is definitely less bold and confident than Perrin is. Sei is however, much more verbal than Perrin, even at Sei’s young age. These differences do seem typical long Sei’s and Perrin’s breed characteristics though. Sei is a more observant, sensitive, thoughtful herding breed, while Perrin is a bolder, confident sport breed mix.

I’m not sure how useful comparing any individual dog to those studies is, however. I don’t actually know where to find the original studies, so don’t know how they were done, or on what dogs they were done on. I would guess that this study was looking at the differences in left vs right pawed dogs and the whorl direction in dogs of the same breed/type (to my knowledge the most common service dog breeds are labs and goldens, both sporting breeds). I would bet that the differences between dogs of different breeds are much larger than the differences between dogs who are left/right pawed or with different whorl directions.


November 16, 2017- Learning Puzzle 11

We have been working on lots of things lately, but nothing worth commenting too much on. I am still slowly but surely plugging away at the brain games as I get the chance. Some are more elaborate to set up, or need many many repetitions to complete. This one however was very easy.

I sat the dog in front of me, giving eye contact, then turned and looked at a doorway and acted surprised, then recorded what the dog did.

Here is Perrin and Sei:


Turns out the answer was: not a whole lot! Perrin did look in the same direction briefly both times but then quit, and Sei preferred jumping on me. I plan to try this again with Sei using a doorway where something interesting occasionally happens, and see if he has the same reaction.

ETA: I tested this a few more times with Sei in various places in the house, and this is pretty representative of his reactions.

November 6, 2017- Training Log

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day coming up with 8 week outlines to work with to use Perrin and Sei as case study dogs for my canine fitness trainer course.


Its not quite done yet. I need to come up with the verbiage to fill in the specific goals section for a ‘general conditioning’ intention.


Today we did our prescribed exercises for the day and did the necessary recording, as well as take baseline photos.

Sei played in the laneway today! Sei’s play is awesome in the back yard (the floors in the house are really too slippery to be safe for much play), but I have known for a while that I really need to get out of that space and start building those skills in new environments.

From past experience in new environments, and having watched how Sei’s toy/play drive developed in a familiar environment as he aged, I knew that when entering a new environment the following would likely happen:

  • I would have personal play/chase me play first. This seems to be the last type of play Sei loses the ability to do in new and or distracting environments.
  • I would have chasing a toy. The next easiest type of play for Sei. He will chase a floppy tug toy, and lightly grab it, but with no strong hold or tug. A ball or a frisbee rolled on the ground would be chased and pounced on, but not picked up or carried around.
  • In really comfortable environments, Sei will intensely go after a tug/ball/frisbee following me and his toy around with strong focus, often jumping up, barking at me.

Each of those categories have ranges as well, from having to be convinced that the type of play in question would be a fun thing to do, to laser focused on that play and playing intensely.

For on-leash trips out, I had only taken a tug before, mainly for user-friendliness reasons. Right now, tug ranks above balls, but below frisbees. When out in the suburbs, he will chase them and bite at them, but he hasn’t done any good tugging yet (class settings is a different story).  Today I took a disc out to the laneway to see how that went.

At first, Sei was more interested in sniffing than me, but I got him chasing me around fairly quickly. Then I got him chasing the disc in my hand, then doing tiny catches so he had to move to catch it. And he really got into it! He did some spins and sits for catches, and by the time I had to run to get my bus, he was super in the game! We were only out there for 3 minutes! Whoohoo!

November 5th, 2017- Learning Puzzle 5

We finally finished the two cup game today! I did take video, but it takes forever to edit, and there isn’t much value in watching that many repetitions. Today we did the:

  • Pointing at cup with stick
  • Tilting head at correct cup
  • Looking with just the eyes
Game Sei Perrin
Tilting Head



Pointing with Stick



Looking with Eyes



They both did really well on the point with the stick and the head tilt. I was kind of surprised on the head tilt, that seemed more subtle than the elbow point that the struggled with. The only difference between them in this whole thing was the looking with the eyes. Perrin didn’t really understand that, while Sei definitely did understand. Interesting!

From their overall result on all variations of the game, I would think that it is safe to say that both of them are certainly paying attention and understanding my human gestures in this context.

November 3, 2017 Training Log

No video today.

Today when I got home for class I got a bag of hot dogs, a clicker and went to the basement to do some training. We relocated the wire crate to the basement, so its easier to work with Perrin because Sei now isn’t able to do his best to destroy the soft crate.

Perrin and Sei both worked on backing up. For Sei, this was mostly just rear foot targeting. Perrin’s current back up is not continuous and he won’t go very far so I am reteaching it with the platform. It was originally taught with body pressure. Sei also worked on shaping going into his crate, and a bit of unstable front platform fitness work.

November 1, 2017- Learning Puzzle 5

We are continuing on with puzzle 5 from the  Brain Games- Puzzles for Canines   course (see previous post for details).

Game Sei Perrin



Tapping the Cup



Pointing with Foot



Both dogs really understood all of these gestures, consistently choosing the correct mug. Only 4 more to go to complete this game, but they are hard ones!