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We went to a Control Unleashed workshop today by Kienan Brown, former assistant to Leslie McDevitt, CU author. Leslie doesn't want to travel as much to do workshops, and Kienan has moved back to Southern California, where she's originally from, after working with Leslie for many years, so she's doing workshops out here.

This was a new environment for Keefer. He has been in obedience classes, but not in over a year and a half, and just for an hour at a time, not an all day thing where he had to chill in a crate. I had no idea how he’d do. He's very social off leash, but he can be reactive on leash, and tends to be barky and distracted in a class setting. He also has wicked prey drive, so he loses focus when there's activity and fast movement around him. I bought a new portable soft crate, which I set up at home a few times (mostly to make sure I didn’t have to fumble around with it too much at the workshop, lol!), so he’d seen it and gone in it a time or two, but it wasn’t “his” crate. I’d been doing Dr. Karen Overall’s Protocol for Relaxation as recommended by Leslie for the last 2-3 weeks. Prior to that I hadn’t done any mat work with him, so I bought a mat and used that for the Relaxation Protocol work. I have started to see him visibly relax, with soft eyes, as soon as he got on the mat recently, as we went through the day’s RP tasks.

One of the suggested things to bring was something to cover the crate, so I brought a sheet, and covered all the sides except for the front. Surprisingly, he was totally fine in the crate, no barking except for one point when he was doing so well that I decided he didn’t need the cover anymore, so I folded up the sides. But then a dog walked right past his crate and he barked, so I put the cover back. After that, I unzipped a small portion of the top opening and any time a dog came within sight I dropped a few treats on him, which warded off any reaction.

The first thing we did was bring each dog, one at a time, into the “box” of ring gates, drop the leash, and give the dog no cues at all to see how they would react. Keefer sniffed around at first, checked in with me a couple of times by running to me and jumping up. Kienan noted that he’s very high energy - he came right into the ring panting and amped up, and that I shouldn’t reward that kind of energy if I want him to be calm and relaxed, but rather wait for the behavior I wanted to see from him and give him attention for that. She said I should work on “off switch” games with him.

More sniffing, and then he settled down all by himself, and laid down in the middle of the ring, looking around. One of the few dogs to actually do that!
(There were 15 working teams there.) And then he even laid his head down on the floor, which I’ve been rewarding during RP. Next we each worked on having our dogs remain in the crate until released, and then re-orienting to us as they exited, and then we each went into the ring to practice. Keef did okay, so that’s something I’ll be working on with him. Basically she wants them to orient to us before crossing the threshold, release them to move forward, take one step, and have them reorient again, without any cues from us. He's very good at this at home, (at least the part about orienting before exiting, not as good after he's outside, something we need to work on), but it needs to be generalized - he didn't recognize the entry to the ring as a threshold, similar to the front and back doors at home, although he did great with the crate.

We each did some doggy zen work at our stations, where you hold a treat out at your side, and the dog has to look away from it as us, then click/treat. This was really easy for us since I’ve been doing it since he was a puppy, and have worked up to where I can hold a bully stick and wave my arms around and he’ll look at me and not the prized bully stick. Kienan came around, said he was doing great, and told him what a handsome boy he was.


We worked on the whiplash turn, where the dog is released to go away, then you call their name once and click the exact second their head turns towards you. Keefer did really well, as did many of the dogs. We each got a turn in the ring, and did it several times. Some dogs needed a distraction to get them to go away from the owner so that they could be called back. Ellen, who organized the workshop, was outside the ring calling Keef over to her, and there was only one time did he not immediately turn back to me and I had to make some noise to get his attention.Then she got in the ring with us, and he still did really well, running to her to get petted, and then running back to me when I called his name.

We did some work with just the people, a shaping game where we paired up and clicked each other for a predetermined action to show how hard it is for our dogs. My partner’s task for me was to sit in a chair and mine for her was to touch her nose. I flubbed it when she had her hand on her head and had started to move it towards her nose, but I wasn't quick enough with the click and she had already started moving it away again. Oops! We also did an exercise to see how many times we could click and deliver a treat into the other person’s cup within 30 seconds. Many CU exercises require a high rate of reinforcement, so that’s what the exercise was for. Kienan also talked about exercises to improve timing, since some people were not good at timing the marker.

Next we worked on sending the dog to a mat. Initially you shape by clicking and treating for any interaction with the mat, but work up to a default down and stay until released. Although this is the newest behavior for Keefer that I only started a couple of weeks ago, he was a champ! Ran to the mat, dropped into a down, rolled onto one hip, and stayed there no matter what I did. I released him and sent him back over and over again, and then I just left him there for awhile while he relaxed with his head down. Kienan again came around the room to help people, but she didn’t even stop at us because we so obviously were doing just fine, lol! I was very proud of my boy!


Although we hadn’t gotten to the Look At That! Game yet, where the dog is given permission to look briefly at a trigger, there were several dogs around us doing mat work within his sight, which normally would be difficult for him. Also, several people walked by with their dogs between 5 and 10 feet away - very distracting. But I’d done a little LAT work with him on walks, so every time a dog walked by and he looked at it I clicked, and he looked back at me and I gave him a treat. He did not bark ONCE, and remained calm and relaxed!


Because he was so great outside his crate on the mat, even when there were dogs in the ring not far away, I decided to keep him out there on his mat for awhile rather than putting him back in his crate like most of the other dogs. We got lots of opportunities to work on LAT, and he was barely looking at other dogs going by, even putting his head down on the mat. He was laying on his side a lot, and at one point he was flat out asleep! He opened his eyes when another dog barked, but didn’t even lift his head. Kienan worked with several dogs on the Off Switch Game, and Give Me A Break, (work with the dog, preferably at something high intensity, with a high rate of reinforcement, for 10 seconds then release the dog and go sit in a chair. Game starts again when the dog reorients to owner and requests to keep working), whoever wanted to, but I was so enjoying having Keefer in a relaxed state in such a distracting environment that we opted to watch. I’ll be working on them at home. She also went through a description and demonstration of LAT, but we didn’t work on it as a group, which was fine since I’d been doing it all day. I also used it when I took him out for a potty break. At first we were alone outside, but then another dog came out, and when I started to take him back in, another dog started coming out, so I was stuck until they cleared the doorway. He ended up barking once at the dog exiting, but was fine up until then with me clicking and treating for looking at the other dog, and he remained calm back to our seat.

At the end Kienan came around the room and talked to everyone, and she told Keefer again what a handsome boy he was and that she wanted to take him home with her, lol! We did have a slight meltdown as I was getting everything packed up to go. Because he was so calm on his mat I left him there, stepped on the leash, and started putting things in my pack. The owner of the agility place where the workshop was held, was standing nearby with her dog talking to Kienan and someone else, and this dog had walked past Keefer numerous times with no reaction from him. But my attention was on what I was doing, I just glanced at him occasionally and wasn’t actively doing LAT with him, and I allowed him to lock onto the other dog.
He jumped up and started barking at the dog, so I had to bug out with him to the back of the room. In retrospect, I should have either put him in the car as soon as the coast was clear (no traffic jams in the doorway), and then packed up my stuff, or at least put him in the crate. Oh, well, lesson learned.

Overall, I was very pleased with Keefer’s behavior and very proud of him.
 

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Quote:More sniffing, and then he settled down all by himself, and laid down in the middle of the ring, looking around. One of the few dogs to actually do that! (There were 15 working teams there.) And then he even laid his head down on the floor, which I’ve been rewarding during RP.
Forgot to mention that when Keef laid down and put his head on the floor while we were in the box I turned to Kienan and said that I directly relate him being able to do that with the Relaxation Protocol we'd been working on for the last couple of weeks. She said she thought he'd be able to do it anyway. I said "Ya' think?" and then I turned to Keefer and told him "She has more faith in you than I do", and everyone cracked up, including Kienan!


Love that bratty boy!
 

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Samuel, it WAS a long day! I talked to a woman auditing who was at the Suzanne Clothier seminar last year. I thought she looked familiar, so when we ended up washing our hands side by side in the bathroom I asked her if she had been there, and she said she was. We talked a bit and it turns out she's a shepherd person too, and had gotten one of her previous shepherds from Vom (or Von?) Falconer - isn't that where Kayla came from? During lunch she asked if she could meet Keefer, so she came over and we ended up chatting quite a bit, nice lady.
 

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YAAAAYYYY Keefer!! Keef is so much like my Grimmi... I love any and all Keefer stories. Especially ones where Keefer triumphs! Yu two did a great job. What a super team! This sounds intriguing and fun for both of you. You really gave Keefer a wonderful experience! CONGRATS!!!!!
 

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sounds like it was awesome! thanks for posting that, I enjoy reading your stories and experiences:)
 

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Thanks for slogging through my loooong post guys!
It was such a gratifying experience to be able to work with him with dogs in front and to the side of us, less than 10 feet away, and have him so relaxed, focused, and engaged. And just the one bark at the dog walking past his crate when I uncovered it, the one bark outside when there were 2 other dogs in the small pee area, and then the unfortunate incidence that was totally my fault at the end, he far exceeded my expectations! He was NOT the barkiest dog in the class!


If I had continued doing LAT while the other dog was there it would have been fine, but she was standing there with the dog for a while, and everyone was packing up their stuff to leave so I didn't want to wait to get started. I thought it would be okay since he'd already seen that dog cruise past several times, and she had been standing near us just a little earlier with the dog, talking to someone else, but at that point I was still sitting next to him on the floor doing LAT.

There was a lot of stuff to bring! Usually it's me, the dog, my purse, maybe a bottle of water, and I'm wearing the treat bag. We were told to bring "an absurd amount of treats", so I had the big ol' crate, a fuzzy mat, and a day pack with a water bowl, a ziplock bag of tiny treats plus an extra bag of Solid Gold Jerkey and Zuke's Mini Naturals, a stuffed Kong, a squeeze tube of peanut butter, a can of spray cheese, a sheet, the CU book, and a notebook and pencil in addition to the usual stuff - it was three trips to the car!
 

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ha, i got thru the whole thing, then had to take a nap just to reply


my first reaction was where the heck do i sign up!

keefer did an outstanding job IMO. a couple mishaps in basically a whoooooole day isnt much. how many hours were you there total?

i should probably skim thru the other post and see if there is any info there before asking a bunch of questions... okay... going to do that...
 

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You forgot the wagon to haul it all!!!!

Sounds like it was a really good day. Do you go back for another session in a month or so or was it just the one day deal?

I had done some of the CU stuff with Havoc but need to go back and do more. He is really pretty good but I want to keep it that way.
 

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Originally Posted By: Camerafodderha, i got thru the whole thing, then had to take a nap just to reply
Check-in was between 8:00 and 9:00 AM, (I got there about 8:30), and it was over a little past 5:00 PM. I thought he did really well too, he's barked more in a one hour obedience class than he did in the almost 9 hours that we were at the workshop.

Calone, you're lucky, Kienan lives in Southern California (Riverside maybe?) and I'm sure she does workshops and maybe even classes there. Have you read Control Unleashed? It's really a terrific book, and will give you an idea of the program, which is for reactive, or even just distracted dogs, either in the context of competing in agility or other sports, and also for companion dogs. http://www.controlunleashed.net/book.html There's a CU yahoo list to discuss training techniques, ask questions, and share successes, and a separate one for SF Bay Area events, and maybe other areas too. Leslie is on the main list daily, and is very good about answering questions.

Kathy, we're signed up for the next Continuation workshop, which will be in the middle of next month. It's shorter, 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM the evening before the next Intro workshop, and will have 10 working teams instead of 15. After we've all worked on the foundation work for a month, we'll do some of the games with two or more dogs.

The planned workshops were for a weekend in mid June, July and August, and Kienan does privates Saturday during the day, Continuation that evening, and then Intro all day Sunday. The plan is to try and get her up here on a regular basis, maybe quarterly, and some of the people on the SF list get together and practice.
 

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Originally Posted By: Cassidys MomThere was a lot of stuff to bring! Usually it's me, the dog, my purse, maybe a bottle of water, and I'm wearing the treat bag. We were told to bring "an absurd amount of treats", so I had the big ol' crate, a fuzzy mat, and a day pack with a water bowl, a ziplock bag of tiny treats plus an extra bag of Solid Gold Jerkey and Zuke's Mini Naturals, a stuffed Kong, a squeeze tube of peanut butter, a can of spray cheese, a sheet, the CU book, and a notebook and pencil in addition to the usual stuff - it was three trips to the car!
Next time you can borrow the dolly I have for trials and fun matches. A small motorized cart might do better!


Yes, Kayla came from Von Falconer.

OT - but did you notice or check out the bulletin board on the left as you came in. Saw a brochure there for a place in Half Moon Bay doing herding test. Thinking about checking that out since IMO Half Moon Bay would be a lot more pleasant than Fairfield.
 

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Wow. Sounds like the workshop was a lot of fun and that Keef did wonderfully. I wish something like that would come out here (or that I'd move somewhere it would) since I know it would be good for Risa to attend. Though she wouldn't be as well-behaved as Keefer.
 

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Originally Posted By: Everett54OT - but did you notice or check out the bulletin board on the left as you came in. Saw a brochure there for a place in Half Moon Bay doing herding test. Thinking about checking that out since IMO Half Moon Bay would be a lot more pleasant than Fairfield.
You know, I saw some stuff on the walls, but I didn't stop to read any of it. At lunch I asked Ellen where she went for herding, and she mentioned places in Half Moon Bay and Santa Rosa. I think it was the place in Fairfield that she said did not like CU dogs, so she doesn't go there. Apparently her Yoshi is pretty bad.

Jamie, I think you'd be surprised by how well Risa would do - Keef surprised the heck out of me! Other than that one brief moment at the end, which was totally my fault, it was easier to divert his attention back to me using LAT than I expected in that kind of environment. Up until then I had used it on a couple of walks, with dogs across the street, never up close and personal like on Sunday. I think being able to practice it so much in a relatively short period of time helped him to really "get" it.

Some people on the CU list were talking about one of the previous workshops and said that many people had their dogs hanging on on their mats by the end of the day. I thought "not my dog, no way will I be able to do that with him". Well, I did!
It's one thing to keep his attention when I'm actively working with him, since it was the down time between exercises when the instructor is talking about and demonstrating what we were going to work on next that I'd lose him in an obedience class. But to just sit there watching other dogs in the ring, with him laying calmly on his mat, either with his head down, or on his side - WOW!

It was definitely a "who are you and what have you done with my real dog" kind of day!
 
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