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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tracking (35)

This is the first time we've tracked since Gimme got her TD in November.  Nadine had some other things going on and I was very busy at work.  Gimme is not impressed with either excuse.

Conditions were icy-cold.  The ground was frozen solid... even the mole-hills were like concrete.  There was no breeze to speak of.  I don't have distances for the legs, but this is a good representation.  It was about 45 minutes old.

Gimme was very eager to get started on this track.  She wanted to do it without any delay, such as pottying.  I had some difficulty convincing her we didn't need to run full out.  A very good decision, since the frozen ground was very unforgiving and it was too easy to catch a foot on some concrete-dirt and go down, which Nadine did.  The black block is the start sock and red blocks are articles.

Gimme did well on all the field portions.  She overran the second turn and took a little bit to sort it out, but then was solid.  The dashed line shows where she knew the turn was there and I didn't believe her.  Nadine said she put in a road crossing for us and I had it in my head it would be straight ahead coming down the hill.  Gimme cooperated with me and then just kept pulling me right until she got us both on the track.  You have to love her persistence.  She had trouble with the two road crossings.  She spent a long time on the first one before she finally decided to sniff on the pavement.  The article there was at the foot of a telephone pole.  From there she was quite willing to track along the side of the road and back to the cars, ignoring the second road crossing.

Really I was pleased with her efforts, given we haven't been tracking in two months.  Our plan is to mostly focus on urban, following Sil's plan to the letter.  I want to start over, back at the very baby stuff.  Gimme has developed a tendency to "go visual" when tracking on pavement gets challenging, so I want to resolve this and build a better foundation.  One of the things we have to do is make sure she can't see food drops, so we'll be using beef jerky, which blends in with the pavement much better than cheese. 

At the same time we'll be doing field tracking as needed while Nadine figures out which trial she will enter with Cricket.  Gimme and Cricket were in the same trial, but Cricket got a more challenging field.  She doesn't have Gimme's persistence, so she got the dreaded whistle right after the first turn.  When we are doing field tracking, we'll be introducing some TDX challenges for Gimme.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

RFE Practice (34)

Gimme is going into her false pregnancy.  The baby isn't supposed to be due for another week, but she decided to bring bunny-baby to bed last night.  My plan was to work on basics and on some new stuff, making sure I broke stuff down to small increments and kept up a high rate of reward. I forgot my camera, so asked J'Anna to make a summary list of what we worked on.  Based on her list, this is what I remember.

Session 1
Door entry with automatic reorientation - I worked on some attention before we ever came through the door, so this went well.
"Set-up" - We did two on the way to the table.  We haven't done these for awhile and Gimme was excited to do them again.  I think she really likes it when she knows how to win.
"Wait" - I planned to use my phone to alert me when seven minutes had passed, so I could keep our sessions short.  I put Gimme in a sit stay while I went to the counter to get my phone and as I was moving -back toward her she broke her stay, so we worked on stays.  She just didn't seem clear in her head to resist distraction, so I kept having to break it down further and further.  When we finally got a couple good waits, I moved on other stuff.  But first I did some treat tossing, to bleed off frustration.  In hindsight, I should have done more active stuff and then come back to stays.
Heeling - We worked heel on both sides.  Gimme's left side "set-up" and "heel" was really nice.  She was giving me nice position and was tight and attentive.  On the right side, "set-up" was really good, "side" moving wasn't as good.  So we worked it a bit more.  We ended with some treat tossing.
"Center" - We did some center stand work, first holding position and then center-pivot in both directions.  Gimme really likes this and did well.
"Far-out" - I wanted to try what Kathy had suggested for teaching the distance "around" and "behind" (circling me).  Her plan is to first teach the dog to stay "out" by keeping the cones close enough to each other so they don't try to edge in between them.  I first set up 4 cones with about 3 feet between them.  Gimme couldn't do these consistently and seemed to be trying to weave them.  I'm sure from her perspective this seemed reasonable, especially with the hardscape weaves we've been doing in Parkour.  So I filled in the gaps with more cones, so the gaps were smaller and less attractive.  Then I stayed closer until she got the idea.  I did find she still tended to want to drift in between the last two cones, which was easily solved when I started tossing the rewards out in front of her.  Once we got the technical bits worked out, Gimme really liked this - lots of reward and movement always makes her happy.

Between sessions I set up some chairs and ring fencing to create a square space with barriers around it our back around training (I left my set of guides at home).  The green squares are chairs and the blue dotted lines are ring fencing. I didn't want to use just ring fencing because I don't think its stable enough.

Session 2
Door entry with automatic reorientation - Again went well.
"Set-up" - We did two on the way to the table. 
"Wait" - One quick stay while I got the phone.  I gave Gimme a reminder cue as I moved toward her and she did well. 
"Side" - We began with right side heeling, big lines, then around the chair square and around some of the course numbers.
"Far-out" - We did some in both directions.  Then I took out one cone creating a gap in the center of the line.  I wanted to start spreading them out, being sure to keep the spacing at the end of the line the same until she's sure on the behavior.  I tried to click faster movement, since I'd like her end behavior to be done at a very quick pace.
"Can" and "Pivot" - We used a prop J'Anna had set up to practice Gimme's "can" and "pivot" (forehand CCW pivot).  It took a bit to convince Gimme to actually listen to my cues and do those.  She assumed I wanted her to back onto the prop - which we've been doing a lot of with Parkour.  It occurs to me I should drop the "can" cue since its the same as the "table" cue I use in Parkour.  I should also use "hands" before "pivot" to clarify to front feet, since it shouldn't make a difference whether the prop is low or tall.
"Otto" - Gimme is just learning to back around me, starting and ending in heel position.  I've started fading the guides at home and learned then I needed to be slower about fading them behind me - probably using other barriers would help, though I have to be careful not to pick something she'd think she could back onto.  For these I just stood in the chair square and cued her to get into heel position, then a clicked any movement backward - the one time her fidgety feet come in handy.  Since she'd been doing full back arounds at home, it didn't take her long to work up to them here.  I am also starting to attach the cue. 
In case you wonder how I came up with the "Otto" cue.  I went online to translate "around" and "behind" into other languages.  I tried several and came up with Croation.  "Around" becomes "oto" and "behind" becomes "izu".  Both of which would be fine as cues, but to make them easier to remember I changed them to "Otto" and "Izzy".  This may all seem weird, but remember, cues only have to make sense to the person using them - me.
"Spin" "Turn" "Around" - The phone alarm had just gone off and I don't want Gimme to associate it with an end to work, so I wanted to do a couple of behaviors I expected her to know well. 
"Otto" - For the last back-around I had her do a twofer and then she got a huge reward, lots of cheese on the way to the table where she got several pieces of raw steak.

Session 3
Door entry with automatic reorientation - Solid.  I kept the phone in my pocket, so I just set it while she waited beside me.
"Can" and "Pivot" - We did a couple reps and then moved on.
"Far-out" - We did half a dozen repetitions with the gap in the center of the line.
"Otto" - I faded the barriers a
little more in two separate steps.  For the first one I removed the front and side ring fencing.  The main reason for the ring fencing had been so Gimme didn't think she was supposed to be doing something with the chairs.  We did a few repetitions and then I removed one of the side chairs.  Gimme really progressed nicely with this, especially since its the first time she's done it outside our living room.
"Table" and "Bacon” - We used the chair I'd removed as a prop for "table" (4 feet on) and "bacon" (back onto prop).  "Bacon" has become one of her favorite behaviors. 

Honestly backing up has become one of the things she really likes to do.  I'd tried to teach her the back-around before, but it just wasn't working for her.  I need to have it for the intermediate level of RallyFrEe (she has all the other intermediate skills), so decided to try it again.  Using the guides and free-shaping, she was giving me a full back-around in one session.  Its a lot of fun working with a canine genius.

Our sessions were much better timing than I've been doing.  The first two sessions were around 8 minutes.  We finished the third session before the timer went off, so it was probably around 6:30.  

Since she's been getting woofy in the evenings, I know she's moving into Mommy-brain.  Thus I was very pleased with how she did.  Too bad I didn't get it on video.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nosework (5/22)

We had an interesting nosework class this week.  Gimme had a good time and did well.  She did check to see if there was a box with a free toy for her - sadly not.  Too bad, since 247 toys is not enough... She thinks there should be a law saying every dog has a right to 200 toys, because then she'd be entitled to 153 more than what she currently has.  Just sayin...

Exterior 1 video - There were 2 hides on the posts of the business next door.  Gimme went straight to the first post and indicated.  I rewarded her before the instructor could tell me she hadn't gotten to source.  In hindsight I should have rewarded in a much more significant way when she did get to source, to make it more valuable in her mind than the first reward.  I think she just was caught up by it being the first odor smell of the evening and my action of putting my hand in my pocket made her think it was enough (which since she got rewarded, it clearly was).  She was much clearer about getting to source for the second hide. 

Vehicle 1 video - There were 3 hides on two vehicles.  Gimme was the only dog to go down the right side of the right truck, so Dorothy was unprepared to follow us for the video.  Clearly her first indication was a vigorous paw, since Dorothy could hear it from the other end of the van.  Gimme did a nice job turning back to look at me on the other 2 hides.  She had an interesting approach to finding the last hide - having gone past it and then deciding she'd missed something and swung back to a place well before it.

Container 1 video - We were given 1:30 for a blind search of 1 to 3 hides.  Gimme found the only hide pretty quickly, then went on to start playing with the little containers.  Partly it was just fun to bat them around, plus I think she tends to start goofing off when she knows there aren't any more hides.  I don't normally reward a second time on a hide, but since she'd been goofing off and then decided on her own to get back to business, I wanted to reinforce her decision.

Container 2 video - Here they replaced some of the small containers with boxes - with 2 hides.  Gimme found the first hide in a box in 32 seconds, going straight into demolition mode.  I was ready to reward her and she could see I had the treat, but I waited until she moved her paw off the box.  She found the next hide really fast.

BTW - in the new building we have side door toward the rear of the building, which will make it much nicer.  Overall it will make things run smoother since the next team can be ready and waiting in the heated entry room (store area).  It also relieves me of some wariness, since I never know if a classmate is right outside the door with the next dog, so I don't have to have Gimme on a really short leash just in case when I go out the side door.  All the people in our class are experienced dog owners, but still, they don't always make the best choices.

Container 3 video - There were 3 hides and we got to do this search off leash, which is not the norm for container searches.  Gimme went straight to the brick container.  She found the next hide in a box (21 seconds for the two, including time to get paid for the first one).  I again waited for her to take her paw off the box before delivering on her reward.  The third hide was challenging.  While she spent a lot of time checking out other stuff, Dorothy and I both thought she was still working out the puzzle of the third hide.  When she was checking out things not immediately relevant to the containers, I tried to use my movement to draw her back toward the containers without telling her what to do.  At one point when she seemed a little stuck, I went close to her and then moved away to make my movement more obvious.  Of course there was the shopping episode.  I just moved in until she became aware of me again, as a reminder of what she was supposed to be doing.  The look on her face when she "remembered" was priceless, kinda oops-like.  Interestingly, it was soon after this moment of being caught in the act, where she got down to business and concluded her search being more methodical. 

Also interesting, Gimme and Moxie (a Doberman) were both challenged by the little container in this third search, whereas the two small terriers had no problem.  We think maybe it was easier for them since their noses are naturally closer to these low hides with less obvious (visually speaking) containers.  The other larger dogs weren't in class, so we didn't get to see how they would do it.  I'd like to see a lot more really low hides.

I need to make a point to get around and see where the hides are on vehicle searches so I can reward her sooner - to avoid the pawing.  I notice she is back to thinking box demolition is the indication of choice when boxes are available.  She seemed a bit more excited in all her searches than last week, possibly because of having her nose back (post antibiotics).  She's better overall than a year ago about her indications, but I do think we need to go back and revisit some of the work we'd done before.  Sadly I just recently tossed all my nosework boxes in recycle, so I may ask if Dorothy will sell me 6 boxes. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Nosework (4/22)

Interior 1 video - Our first search was an empty warehouse.  Its actually our old classroom (class has moved across the street to the new building) and they had electricity for one more day so it was a good chance to do an empty warehouse search.  There were no hides and the goal was to see how the dog looked without odor.  Gimme was searching actively and in person I didn't see anything different, but on video I see she looks a bit casual.  She is searching persistently.  When she doesn't find any trace of odor in the first minute, you'll notice she starts looking higher and higher.  She loves high hides, so this doesn't surprise me.  I let her go on until she seemed like she was loosing interest.

Interior 2 video - This search was the same area, but with 4 hides.  The first thing I see different is actual changes of behavior.  Perhaps what I was calling "casual" in the prior search was an absence of COB, no sharp turns or anything, with more "sweeping" movement.  Another thing I noticed - when she gets close to odor there is a tendency for her butt to get in on the tail-wagging action.  Her tail never stops wagging when she's awake (and even some times when she isn't), but I saw a bit of butt swish on a couple of these hides.

Interior 3 video - Our third search was in the new building with 3 hides.  I didn't think she'd be so taken by this new area, since she's searched in strange places many times, but all the dogs were.  We concluded its the smell of familiar stuff in a strange place which threw them off their game.   She did a good job finding the hides, but took longer than I would have expected.  We'll see how she does this week since she will be familiar with the new setup. 

There was a large box of free stuff for the taking - things purged during the move.  It was a lot of interesting tins and such for hides, but I already have more than I need.  After our search the co-instructor was explaining about the free box and, although she'd showed no interest in the box before, Gimme immediately went over and stuck her head in it. 

Of course she finds the only toy in there - a food dispensing toy.  None of the other dogs got a toy, but Gimme doesn't feel sorry for them, since they all searched before her and had their chance.  She's been having great fun with it ever since.  Gimme had too many toys to count before Christmas.  She got a Boinga from her friends General Patton and Allikat, as well as 23 new toys from me and Santa (she hasn't even played with all of them yet), so I don't know why she thinks she needs ANOTHER toy.  Apparently I don't fully understand about such things

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Parkour (7/4)

NOTE: I actually prepared this blog entry a couple months ago, but it seems I forgot to "publish" it.  Just noticed it and published it today.  Our Wednesday night parkour class resumes on the 18th.  Gimme will be very happy, as will I.

Sadly we've just learned our Parkour class is cancelled for the time being - since I'm the only person who wanted to continue.  I was going to have to skip a session after the one that would have started tonight, because of how busy I'll get for Christmas, so its okay.  Hopefully classes will start up again after the first of the year. Do picture Gimme pouting...

"Thru" practice video - Gimme really did fine with this.  She likes active stuff.  As we went through in reverse direction, her leash caught on the framework, so I had her do it again. 

"Thru-out-thru" video - This was just the same thing, go "thru", then "out" around the cone and back "thru" again.  Easy peasy.

"Thru" video - Another "thru" obstacle.  Gimme enjoys this sort of stuff.

"Below" bench video - This one presented a little challenge for us.  I should say it presented a challenge for ME.  I was so slow on my cue timing, so Gimme wasn't getting the information in time to respond.  When I got it right, magically, so did she.

"Walkies-flip-walkies" video -  This is the first time Jo added the barrel to the board walk.  I'm not sure Gimme even noticed.

Sequence 1 video - This first sequence basically puts together all the things we'd already done.  Gimme loves it when we get to the sequences because they are more active.

Sequence 2 video - This is the same sequence, but trying to do it more controlled.  It improved mostly right after the first "thru" where I had to take her over to the board walk.

Creative sequence video - We were given the task of using a chair, a box and a cone and creating our own flowing sequence of 5 behaviors.  We did "out" (around the cone), "box", "below" and "table" (with the chair), and "hands" on the cone.  Gimme had already done "hands" correctly several times on the cone.  Naturally, being Gimme, she thought a little embellishment was in order, so she turned and did "bacon" (back-on).  Since it was technically two paws on, I chose to accept her variation.  After all, I surely don't want to suppress her creative endeavors.

Positions on board walk video - This is kinda hard.  The dogs have to organize their feet up under them, so its not something they'd choose to do.  Gimme did it, but was a little uncomfortable with it, so I chose to put a lot of money in the down-on-board-walk bank account.  The second time was on the narrower board, but she was still much quicker about it.  She got paid well.

Sequence 3 video - Here we put the positions on the board walk into the same sequence we'd been doing before.  Gimme did very well.

Sequence 4 video - This is the same sequence with just 3 changes.  1) as we get on the little table before the board walk, Gimme is supposed to do a 10 second "sit-wait", 2) the box is moved beside the second part of the board walk requiring a dismount, "box" and then get back on the board walk, and 3) at the end, instead of "table" she is supposed to do "hands" on the can, with a "pivot".  Gimme did really well at all of it, but couldn't remember what to do with the "pivot" cue.  I reminded her by making the can the pivot point for a center-front-pivot and then let her finish it on her own.

Sequence 5 video -This is a repeat, to smooth out the lumps.  Gimme completely remembered her "pivot".  Really its kinda neat that she was able to do it, since she learned it on a much smaller prop we call the brick, so transferring it to this much higher can is really smart of her.

"Box-out-box" training video - At the time I had the hardest time grasping why this was difficult for her.  Thank God for video, since I can now see the relative location of me to the cone made my hand signal look exactly like a lure for the "spin", which is exactly what she was giving me in the "box".  I was also using the wrong cue, "around" instead of "out".  Naturally a hand signal takes precedent over a verbal, so she was trying so hard to do what she thought I wanted - I was the one who wasn't getting it.  Then I got started using the wrong hand to motion with and other training errors on my part.

There is a reason dog trainers often say "dogs learn in spite of us, not because of us."  Fortunately I am blessed with a brilliant dog who never gives up and is willing to do what it takes to figure out what I want even if it doesn't coincide with what I ask for.

Monday, January 2, 2017

RFE Practice (33)

Once I started seeing the videos other participants did for the MDSA tribute, I realized my instructions to J'Anna to keep the whole working space in the field of view made our video look very different.  So I decided to try again.  While I was at it, I wanted to add a bit more movement to my body. 

Session 1 video - I was surprised to see we worked for almost 12 minutes.  Gimme often has so much fun and is willing to work so much, that its hard to have a sense of passing time.  I see I did not do as well about not rewarding the bouncing-babe behavior.  As I said before, this is very much about changing my behavior before I change Gimme's.  Interesting she is doing better about it in some of our daily behavior.  I started with a little warm-up at heeling, attention, and then refreshed the behaviors in our segment.  I learned I've created an unintended problem and Gimme now thinks when she's in center position, paw-on-knee is always what I want.  So I worked to clarify the bent knee is the cue, not the center position; its going to take more work.  This is what happens when I make something pay so well.  So now I need to make being still in any position pay well, to make stillness equally valuable.  (there is some weirdness in the video while J'Anna moves to a different position).  I ended with trying to teach Gimme a new behavior.  I want her to circle me like "around" and "behind, but with distance.  I set up some props for her to "out" around and got mixed results.  She didn't seem inclined to stay out there and J'Anna commented how all the rewards were coming close to me - good point.  I may try this again on our next session.  I don't have enough room to do this indoors and wouldn't want to waste all the time of her searching for treats in the grass.  Though I could try using her special bowl as a distance reward point. 

Session 2 video - If I was surprised to see 12 minutes for the last session, then 18 minutes for this one was even more surprising.  The first thing I noticed was how low my jacket hung.  I wondered if Gimme would object to it.  While she seems distracted at first, I think it was really because she'd just noticed the raw steak on the counter.  Note how she very pointedly sniffs in the direction of the counter.  I reminded her what I wanted once and then she was fine with it.  I can see on the video, there are slits on the side aligned right where she would come through - certainly no more challenging than an agility chute.  We ran through the sequence several times.  I think J'Anna had the field of view too close, but will wait to see what Kim thinks.   Then we did some more work on our new "loop" behavior.  In hindsight - we were already 10 minutes into this session, so Gimme may have been mentally tired.  And I don't know what I was thinking to try to fade four props down to two when she hadn't been correct doing the four.  I'm also wondering if the jacket sleeves weren't somehow changing the look of my hand/arm gestures and confusing her.  She was clearly confused.  We did finally get some nice figure-8-sends, but not consistently.  I wanted to end on a more positive note, so I pulled in the baby chair so she could do some "bacon" to it (one of her favorite behaviors.  Note how unconcerned she is about the chair tipping a bit while she's using it. 

MDSA takes video - I ended up with 7 takes... some are better than others.  The best are 3, 5, 6, and 7.  Of them, I thought 3 and 7 were better and we ended up using #7.

Session 3 video - Because she'd already worked so long (I didn't realize how long), I wanted to make this session simple and short.  I started out with easy behaviors, ones she knows well.  Then I switched to putting some money in the being-still account.  This was only moderately successful.  I should have stopped much sooner.

Gimme seemed off today.  I noticed she had a warm spot along her spine, about 4 inches in front of her hips.  She sometimes seemed unable to focus or listen.  Some cues she knows well were simply not available today.  And I noticed at times she seemed a little clumsy and she was tending to stand splay-legged in the rear.  She also nipped my finger in the course of taking a treat, something she never does.  Being a worried Mommy, I was concerned these could be symptoms from a pre-seizure aura.

Luckily we had a chiropractic appointment today with Dr. Powell.  He found the warm spot and fixed it, along with some adjustments to her hip joints.  These together could certainly explain what I was seeing in her movement.  The warm spot is gone now.  Doc also found her atlas vertebrae was out of alignment.  The atlas vertebrae is always suspect when there are issues with thinking.  He told me there is a probable connection between atlas misalignment and seizures - its just not known which comes first.  He said the atlas misalignment could cause a seizure and equally likely, the intense physical response during a seizure could cause the misalignment.

In any case, Gimme simply loves him.  He didn't have anyone in the slot before out appointment and was sitting on the couch reading a book when we walked in early.  Gimme climbed right up in his lap.  I am so happy we found him; what a blessing...

Trying Freestyle

You've seen what we did trying doing a little bit of choreography to video a 25 second segment of freestyle for the MDSA tribute to our freestyle dogs.  I found it amazingly hard to do it.  When I redid it and tried to add arm movements, I discovered I can't actually move my arms and count in my head at the same time.  Who knew?  Of course if I was doing a real routine, I'd have the music playing and could work to the beat, but technical difficulties got in the way this time, so I had to rely on my choreography and counting.

Here is the final video.  MDSA tribute video

Gimme's segment starts at 3:45.  I hope you enjoy it.  It was certainly a learning experience for us.  In case you didn't get your Dalmatian fix satisfied with Gimme's part, Kathy has 2 segments -- Wesley (at 2:25) and Nori (at: 4:30).