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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

RFE practice (45)

J'Anna had set up an intermediate level course-from-hell, which means it has a ton of the hard intermediate behaviors. She assures me you only see 2 or 3 intermediate behaviors in an actual titling course, so I entered for the West 1 Regional. We got the course the other day and while she is right, there are only 3 intermediate behaviors - two of them are ones we haven't mastered.

Session 1 video - I brought in our brick and special bowl (which I didn't ever use). I warmed Gimme up doing "pivot" on the brick. I had also set up our guides to work on "izzy", her clockwise back around me, which is one of the behaviors we don't have mastered for filming this Thursday. It was getting better, but has since fallen apart again. I am thinking I want to try free-shaping from a back-chaining approach. It is the end she has the most difficulty with and where she tends to turn around and try making it into "otto" (counter-clockwise). We also practiced sidepass toward me. Of course our West 1 course has a sidepass away, which we'd never even tried, but am making progress on it.

Session 2 video - This time I started with a refresher on backing up in "heel" position. From there we went straight into working the course. Ignoring a butt lick, a stepped on foot, misreading the course and a few other flaws, it went pretty good. Especially since we haven't done much course work in recent months. I realized later her reluctance to getting all four on J'Anna's prop was back discomfort. She had chiropractic later in the day and he said it was probably a factor.

Session 3 video - This time we started right off doing the course. Gimme was a little distracted by background noise, but overall she did well.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Parkour (7/7)

We had the substitute instructor. She had some interesting exercises for us.

Bridging practice video - We were to take two props and then teach our dog to get on one and then step just their front feet onto the other prop. Naturally Gimme thought this was easy peasy. It was so easy for her, I tried to get her to "bacon" from one to another. I haven't even taught her to back along a prop yet, so we didn't get anywhere with it. She just didn't have any idea what I was asking her to do. Doing it on the two oil pans was only partially successful. She could walk onto them, but if she stepped off, then trying to get her back feet on again made them move too easily until they were too far apart.

Backing corner practice video - We each had a channel to back through, with a corner in it. Gimme did really well the first direction, her easiest direction. All it took was a couple of tries for her to figure out what I wanted. Then we added backing through the channel without walking in first and lastly, removing panels. The second direction was harder for her, because she isn't as confident backing clockwise, but she did get it before we were done. We didn't get nearly as far clockwise, but it was a good opportunity to reinforce what we are working on for RFE ("izzy" backing clockwise around me). I can't decide if she was offering "hands" because she thought I wanted it or because she was frustrated.

Distance sequence 1 video - Here our goal was to get them to go out around the dividers and do "thru" the barrel. Gimme did a lot of distance work in agility, so this was easy for her. Gimme did things so well and easily, so she didn't get as many turns, but she got more time at once so she could show off.

Distance sequence 2 video - This time was the same sequence, but with a "box" to get in. Easy peasy. Gimme pretty much thinks she invented this stuff.

Distance sequence 3 video - This time was to a table, which was snagging the leash, so I took it off her. It makes me really uncomfortable to have her off leash with other dogs around, but she did well while she was working. She briefly started to go toward another dog after we finished working, but before I got her leash on. Fortunately she came back immediately when I said her name.

This was a fun class - the best one we've had with the substitute instructor.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nosework (6/25)

The idea for the first three searches (done back-to-back) was to take one trip around each vehicle and be able to say whether there was or was not a hide on it. I thought this would be harder than it was.

Vehicle 1 video - I must be learning to read Gimme (finally!) because I knew whether there was or was not a hide on the vehicle about halfway around. Even losing a couple seconds for me stopping to respond to questions, Gimme still had this done in 55 seconds.

Vehicle 2 video - Gimme did a lovely job on these, finding 2 hides in 51 seconds. She really didn't waste any time. Had we not been doing this exercise, I think she would have found the hide on the lift truck first.

Vehicle 3 video - Within 8 seconds into this search, I knew Gimme would be taking me to the other side to find the hide. I can't tell you what I saw, but I do remember thinking it. I've never understood why they want me to reward Gimme just for being in the vicinity of a hide, so I just don't do it. She's an experienced dog and this isn't a tough hide, so I want to see her to make a decision. Do note as we are coming up between the two vehicles and searching the second one, Gimme gives me a look clearly saying "And we are searching this one... why?" (at 1:13) I was sure then, but still waited for her to dismiss it from the other side because the direction of the breeze had changed.

The second set of searches, again back-to-back, had three vehicles with two hides. As handlers we were to say whether we thought the hides were accessible or inaccessible. This is a nebulous definition. Unless the dog can get their nose right up close to the hide, then I think its inaccessible. Since hides are placed so we can't see them, we have to go based on the dog's behavior. So if Gimme is really quick sourcing the hide, I say its accessible. If she takes her time sourcing the hide, I call it inaccessible.

Vehicle 4 video - Watching these on video, they were probably both accessible, but at the time I wasn't sure, so I called them inaccessible. Gimme initially wasn't interested in the third vehicle, but do note how Gimme humors me making a thorough search of it even though she knew there was nothing there.

Vehicle 5 video - Nice search and very direct. I would say Gimme seemed to like the speed in which we were doing these searches, i.e. no more than 30 seconds to make a decision. She could detail a specific area to find source beyond the 30 seconds, but I had to have made a decision at 30 seconds.

An interesting and fun class.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Urban Tracking (36) and Field (41)

On Thursday Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema. Gimme had the exact same tracks as before. Two tracks of 75 and 100 yards, 5 yard drops, 45 minutes age, cool and damp.

Gimme did a decent job of it, though not as precise as her last track. She missed several drops. At times it seemed she was going too fast to bother and at other times it seemed the treats weren't worth bothering over. I usually use beef jerky and Nadine either uses my jerky or uses her Chinese pork. This time she laid the track while I was still driving in (traffic was unbelievably bad) and used some commercial treats. Gimme ate them, but I didn't get the feeling she was impressed with them.

On Saturday I met Jon and Stella to track at Flaming Geyser. Stella and I both laid tracks at the same time. Since Gimme has her TD and Heidi doesn't, we ran Heidi first so her track was the younger one. She had some difficulty getting started and as a short little Cocker Spaniel, I don't think she cared for the really tall-thick grass. Happily, once she did get started, she did well.

Gimme's track was 415 yards, cool weather (about 62º), wet grass and 65 minutes old. We had a start sock, end article and an article midway in every leg except the last leg.

Gimme was on fire and really thought we should run the whole thing at top speed. I ran with her for short bits from time to time, just to make her happy. However, even if I could run full tilt for a quarter mile, I wouldn't in this terrain. She was pulling really hard and was very enthusiastic. Under these conditions it must have seemed like a scent freeway compared to the urban work we've been focusing on.  Getting a really fun track like this is good motivation for the girl.

We did have one little snafu at turn 3. The actual turn was 90º to the left, but Gimme only turned 45º left. She was pulling hard and steady, so I had no reason to think she was misbehaving. However, when she stopped briefly at a Ziploc freezer bag full of luncheon meat (red dot) and then kept going with another slight turn (dashed line)... I began to get suspicious. I knew there was another team tracking on the adjacent field and I thought maybe our tracks had overlapped and they were leaving meat baggies in lieu of articles. Now I think Gimme got to a point where she was circling at the corner and then got a whiff of the luncheon meat. Once she found it, she wanted to continue down their track to see what other presents they might have left for her.

Of course Stella ruined Gimme's little plan and called us back to the track. Once back on our track and re-scented... Gimme harrumphed "Dang, foiled again", and then motored down our track to the next article, right turn and then ending at a glove. She was paid heartily for those valid finds.  I let her eat every last treat from my pouch at the last glove, to give her added motivation to find our last glove.

Clearly we have to work through the distraction of baggies full of luncheon meat and other appealing goodies. If we don't, she could easily be lured from her work by a half-eaten sandwich left in the bushes on a college campus. Just sayin...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parkour (6/7)

The weather was unseasonably warm, in the mid-eighties.  Gimme repeatedly told me she was thirsty by going to an empty bowl in the building and trying to lead me outside to where the other bowl usually resides.  I ended up taking her out to the car to get her bowl and a coconut water.  She drank it down like she hadn't had a big bowl of water before we left home.  After class she got another coconut water before we headed home.  It was her day to pretend she's a camel.

Sequence 1 video - This was a simple little sequence starting with the narrow 6" boardwalk, then over the barrel onto the wider boardwalk, "flip" and then back to the beginning. There was a little table on either side of the barrel, so it wasn't too hard getting onto the next board walk regardless of its width.

Sequence 2 video - The idea here was to do "hands", "table", "thru", "out" (around the little blue chair now obscured by the bench in the foreground), then back to the beginning. The goal is to do the "out" without stepping over the boardwalk. We tried several times, but never could achieve the send. I tried tossing a treat, but the cheese stuck to my hand. I actually have a barrel, so we can practice this exact send. 

Sequence 3 video - This easy platform jumping sequence had such a small space between them, there was no jumping needed. Another goal was to have the dogs pause on each platform.

Sequence 4 video - These were a little farther apart, but still easily doable.

Sequence 5 video - These were even farther apart. Gimme starts out well, but then on the last segment decides she can't do it. I don't know why she suddenly couldn't do it, but after several tries, we ended without a reward. I have some unfinished platforms at home and when they are done we'll work on this, making the increase in spacing more gradual. Another option is to place a jump between them to encourage jumping.

Sequence 6 video - Here we put the three short sequences together into one sequence. We still had difficulty with sending to an "out". It's just something we'll have to work on.

Sequence 7 video - This short sequence was easy peasy for Gimme. Going up the boardwalk to the scaffold against the wall is challenging because it feels crowded, but Gimme quickly figured this out a long time ago. Her biggest challenge was keeping all four feet in the "box". She doesn't get her treat until she gets all four in, but it still remains a challenge.

Sequence 8 video - Here we added another segment to the sequence. We did a little better with my treat-tossing strategy to get the send to an "out", but then my timing was off, so she jumped onto the little table instead of returning through the barrel.

In watching this, I'm struck by Gimme's bit of reluctance to get all four feet onto the little stool. This hasn't been an issue before, but it did seem to be an issue this night. I'm thinking of this along with her sudden inability to jump from one platform to another and wondering if there is something more to this. It may be that she was experiencing some discomfort with the jumping, especially since she was jumping from a stand still and needing to land in a stop, as opposed to a jump in the context of multiple strides. In any case she has a chiropractor appointment scheduled for next Thursday. I'm making a mental note to not push her to do anything next Wednesday if she shows reluctance.

Sequence 9 video - Here we were to practice something with backing up. I chose to use a baby tunnel on its end, just because it would be a little weird. She did fine at it, though I do note a tendency to back through it and not stop with her back feet in and follow with her front feet. This may also be happening if she is having an issue with discomfort.  I'm sure glad we have an appointment scheduled.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Nosework (5/25)

The class focus was on endurance, so we only had two searches, both of which were really long. It was also pretty hot, about 80º.

Exterior 1 video - Gimme was going pretty fast off the startline and missed the threshold hide. She passed the second hide, but turned back to it on her own. She also overran the hide on the corner of the building, but came right back to it. There is another hide high on the building, about 6 feet before the drain spout (white), but Gimme gets caught in the scent of the rock hide. There was a hide about halfway up on the side of the dirt mound and it takes Gimme a verrrrry long time to find it. This was surprising to me, since she's gone up those mounds many times when there was nothing there and it was like she didn't believe there could be anything there. I wish the instructor had either moved closer or used the zoom, since you really can't see what was going on. It was amazing for her to get the wall hide from so far away and then she goes wide to the right side (past the rock hide) and then takes us back down to the mound area. She really checks all around the area and goes halfway up several times, before she finally goes straight up to it. She finds the threshold hide on the way out. This search lasted almost 6 minutes. 

Interior 1 video - There are four hides in this room - all inaccessible - in the stacks of chairs. Gimme worked for over 9 minutes, steadily. At one point she does find a ball and considers playing with it, but then left it on her own to go back to searching. The short stack of metal chairs against the wall is the easiest to find and the first one Gimme indicates, 5 minutes into this search. The tall stack against the far wall is the hardest for all the dogs. Based on watching Gimme when she's at the far end of the room, you know the hide is high - she's air-scenting high-headed and when she sniffs stuff, she's sniffing high on the stuff. I'm sure this is the longest search she's ever done and you can see she never gives up and is determined throughout to solve the puzzle.

When the instructor got out the smoke generator, we discovered all these hides, the scent was going straight up. The smoke disappears after a couple feet, but we figure it went up to a certain level and then spread out on a plane before falling down on other things. This is consistent with how all the dogs searched the area.  We think the heat on the roof was drawing the scent up.

After all this, Gimme slept soundly all the way home and then for several hours more.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Urban Tracking (34 & 35)

On Friday, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park for tracking. She laid a track for Gimme with lots of changes of surface and transitions. It was more than I really wanted, but none of them were too hard. The biggest problem was track age. If we both lay tracks for the other at the same time, then one of the dogs will get an older track. Since Cricket has more difficulty with urban, she usually goes first which means Gimme's track is older. I think next time I'm going to wait to start laying Cricket's track until I see Nadine coming back, then we can get the timing better for both of them.

This time Gimme's track was 1:05. She can do this age with many surfaces, but she's only done 45 minutes for hard surfaces (there were 3 different kinds), so it made this a very hard track.

Cricket's big challenge on her track was all the squirrels - she is really vermin obsessed. Gimme saw a squirrel on her track and stopped to watch it for a moment and when it scampered off she went on tracking. This week we are going to teach Cricket the Look-at-That game. I'm hoping it will work since the punitive method Nadine is using doesn't seem to be working. Given how soft her dogs are, it's not the right answer for them (not that I think it would be the right answer for any dog).

On Saturday, I laid more straight tracks in the Shopko and Burlington parking lots. The temperature was right at 60º and I aged them to exactly 45 minutes. The tracks were 70, 100 and 125 yards. I set food drops every 5 yards. She really motored down these tracks nicely. I saw she was more distractible about halfway through the third track. She could either have been tired or someone may have driven over her track (maybe more than once).  I could have adjusted some factors, but since her last two tracks were frustrating, I wanted to make sure this one was motivating for her.

We meet Nadine on Thursday for urban tracking at the Auburn Cinema and on Saturday we're meeting Jon and Stella at Flaming Geyser for some field tracking. It's supposed to be drizzling and cool both days, so it should be ideal tracking weather.