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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Parkour (7/6)

The new dog didn't show up for class. I hope we'll see him again. He's fun to watch and I think its good for Gimme to adjust to the presence of different dogs on a regular basis.

Multiple "out" video - The task here was to start the dog on a prop, send them "out" around a cone and then back to the prop, and repeat twice more. This was easy for Gimme.

Platform work video - The challenge here was having the wall directly behind the platform, so an inexperienced dog would think there wasn't going to be enough space. Gimme knows better. She also pretty much expects the wall to get out of her way.

Sequence 1 video - Gimme did very well with all of this except the last prop, the hoop stand. I kept trying to get ahead of her to lure her through the side hoop. In hindsight, I should have used "halt" to stop her in the stand so I could get ahead of her and show her what I wanted.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme did well until we got to the ladder and it wobbled as she was going over it. The substitute instructor reset it and then she did fine.

Sequence 3 video - Where this sequence started, Gimme had to pass by a dog just five feet away. Clearly she was distracted and it took her a bit to get focused on me. At the end she's moving toward the dog again and just the possibility of getting so close was distracting.

Sequence 4 video - This sequence started the same way, so I moved the divider so it was between Gimme and the dog five feet away. It helped a little, but she was still rushing to move away and we had to do the beginning over. She did well from there. She really doesn't like the swinging platform, so I steadied it a little with my foot while giving her lots of treats. Then I was able to move my foot away and since she was relaxed it wasn't moving.

Class was pretty good, though Jo's classes are much better.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nosework (4/24)

The first exercise was five large boxes set up against the walls with odor in them. As Gimme had a change of behavior related to the hide boxes, Dorothy, me and the other instructor would toss treats into the box. Gimme thought this was the best fun ever. I purposely tended to toss late, so she was inclined to wait for more pay. I don't know if she would have gobbled and run, but its been an issue before. No video.

The two other searches were these little maze searches, where the dog had to actually move away from odor to actually get to source. They need to have the confidence to go find a "back door". Gimme has already figured this out with vehicles, and knows sometimes despite where she smells it, it's actually on the far side. 

Interior 1 video - I thought this was much easier for Gimme, because her Parkour training teaches her to think of moving in and around things in her environment in a different way. For instance, she was so much more comfortable going under a chair (something she's done in Parkour class) to get to the last hide, making her route more direct. 

Interior 2 video - Dorothy changed all the mazes, so the dogs had to find a different way in. On the first (of four) Gimme was pretty insistent the back door had to be where she found it before, but then finally solved it. After realizing it was changed, Gimme was much quicker to abandon her first guess and explore for other options with the other mazes.

This was all so much fun. Gimme really seemed to enjoy these little puzzles and I enjoyed watching her solve them.

Urban Tracking (24 & 25)

Last Thursday Gimme and I met Nadine and her girls at the theater complex for urban tracking. We are continuing to lay tracks with food drops for Gimme in the open areas, coming up to an island curb and then heading out into the open again. Its coming along, slowly. Using treats which blend in with the blacktop is helping her to lose her dependence on solving the problem visually. The second track is always much better than the first.  I think its just going to take time to break the visual habit.

BTW on Sunday, Nadine and Cricket did a stellar job on their test track, giving our buddy a TD to follow her name. I was so happy for both of them.  I got the text right before the service started and I'm pretty sure the people in my church thought I'd finally lost it for good.

Today we met at the Game Farm Park. The traffic got really awful so I knew I was going to be late. I called Nadine and told her what I wanted -- a track starting in grass and at some point crossing the largest piece of hard surface she could get, with an angled turn of about 30° and food drops every couple of yards. We get lots of narrow hard surface turns there because of all the paved paths, but I wanted at least one where she couldn't dash across and find the track in the grass on the other side.

Nadine set what I asked for, except she forgot the food drops, which I think Gimme still needs to encourage her to keep her nose down. Gimme still did a nice job. The large pavement crossing had a small groove down the center, which had collected dirt and had a couple of tufts of grass growing in it. The track was 2 feet to one side of the grove, Gimme tracked right down the groove. We think it held more moisture in the dirt than the plain pavement did. She mostly kept her nose down.

Nadine put down a LOT of articles for Gimme - there were 8 of them, with treats. She had some peanut butter flavored commercial treats she put down on a couple of the articles. The first time she found the PB flavored treats, Gimme started to gobble them up, then phhhfltttt, spit them out and stared, before sniffing again and then eating them. I'm thinking the flavor wasn't what she expected from her most favorite smell. After the first encounter, she gobbled them up and Nadine gave me the bag which she'd gotten for a sample at the trial - they blend in nicely with pavement.

We stopped at McDonalds on the way and bought Cricket a sausage biscuit as a little gift for her accomplishment. Nadine used it to reward her for intermediate articles and the end article. After seeing how much more enthusiastic Cricket was about her articles, Nadine said she might spring for sausage biscuits herself. This would be great. I find Nadine is pretty stingy with treats, so if we can't get her to increase the quantity (Gimme gets 15-25 for every article), at least a higher value treat would be more motivating.

Gimme slept almost all the way home. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Parkour (6/6)

Tonight we had a new dog join class - large and dark. Someone in his past did a hatchet job on his ears, "because he's a fighting breed". I think it more likely he was intended to be a bait dog, but fortunately got rescued before that horrible end could play out. He seems really sweet and pretty bold, like Gimme, no fear. He just does everything and always fast. Gimme didn't notice him right away, but once she did he was quite a distraction.

"Thru" with obstacles video - Gimme went through this before I even cued it. At this point, she doesn't see the obstacles as obstacles at all.

Crawl trainer video - You'll see the new dog go by briefly. Now with one more dog in class, its a bit of a juggling game. In any case, Gimme thinks the crawl trainer is easy peasy.

"Table-thru-table" video - I wrongly assumed Gimme would listen to my verbal cue, so I didn't set her up on a path to make "thru" an obvious choice, so instead she gave me "hands". When I do set her up, she does it easily. Of course she can't resist hopping up on the boardwalk to the scaffold just because we walk by it.

Sequence 1 video - This was right after Gimme noticed the new dog and you can clearly see how unfocused she is. She is trying, but part of her brain is somewhere else. BTW the person and dog who are in the camera is the new team and if you look closely you can see his poor ears. 

Scaffold work video - Gimme is very unfocused here, to the point of not being aware of where her feet are at times, making missteps. I turned this quick exercise into a longer exercise by adding a control point at almost every step.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme was doing pretty good and focusing well, until we got to where she needed to go "below" the boardwalk. I had her "wait" so I could get positioned, but when she got through, she didn't see me where she thought I should be, so she went back and then hopped up on the boardwalk (which I was straddling). Clearly I should have used the "wait" to get all the way on the other side of the boardwalk. When we get to the end, Jo has us repeat the segment where we had trouble before and this time it was even worse. I'm not sure why... in hindsight I think she was simply getting tired.

Scaffold work 2 video - She was really unfocused at the beginning of this and I had to slow her down quite a bit. I do see in the video a couple of quick looks to the new dog when they are moving around, which is certainly a strong distraction. She stops looking when the owner sits and the new dog isn't moving. Anyway, slowed her quite a bit and then she did better. 

Free practice video - We were given time at the end of class to work on whatever we wanted to. I put out four props so I could have a variety of options and wanted to specifically put a lot of rewards into the waiting-for-cues account. Its a work in progress and sometimes it seems like those rewards aren't registering. Of course she has a very long history of getting rewarded for doing things to overcome. It occurs to me watching this, she may have been confused when I cued "stand", thinking I said "hands". They do sound a LOT alike. I thought she did well with the distraction of the tri-color dog moving nearby. She looked, but instantly turned her attention back to me. We did a few behaviors as part of her stretching: "hands" to the cone, "take-a", "spin" and "turn". We even tried "thru", but she'd started getting a bit wild, so I had her hold a "down" position to calm her. 

Working through the presence of a new dog in class was very hard for the munchkin, so she slept soundly all the way home.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Parkour (5/6)

I just discovered I'm behind on my parkour class reports, so you'll get two in a row. Gimme doesn't care as long as I don't fall behind in taking her to the classes.

Boardwalk & swaybridge video - Gimme still doesn't like the swaybridge, so I get her to do it a couple of times and pay her extra for standing still on it.

Sequence 1 video - Gimme normally likes the "thru" barrel, so I don't know what was going on with her. She seems so unfocused for this sequence, she was actually more focused when she was doing the evil swaybridge.
Sequence 2 video - I slowed things down a bit on this sequence to help Gimme get focused and she did do better.

Sequence 3 video - I slowed her down even more to get this right. The stay is something Jo suggested after the last sequence. You'll note there is a blip in the middle of this video - its a discussion I had with Jo and I couldn't understand her on the video, so I edited it out.

Creative sequence 4 video - This time we were to create our own sequence, trying to do some novel uses along the way. We made good use of Gimme's favorite "bacon".

"Hands" with "sit" video - The goal is to get Gimme to do "hands" on a prop and then "sit" and "stand" while keeping her paws on the prop. Jo says its physically challenging and I just assumed the challenge would be to come to a "stand", but what I see with Gimme is the challenge is to "sit". She just assumes she is supposed to "pivot" any time I have her put her paws on something low, so I have to physically block her to get her to listen long enough to realize I want her to do something else. She really always wants to do the things she's good at (who doesn't?). I have to push the treats toward her to encourage her to move her center of gravity back, otherwise the "sit" she gives me is really no more than a crouch. Jo wants me to encourage Gimme to be more still while she is doing things, which has always been a huge challenge. You can see how frustrated she gets when the treats aren't coming and she doesn't know how to make them come again. She goes into a little melt down when she doesn't understand how to get the system working, so we have to do some other stuff, so she can calm down a bit. After the break I start doing some stroking and touching to help her calm down. In the video it looks like I'm using her harness to push her into position, but I'm not - she likes it when I massage around and under the harness straps. She's always been very tactile, so I really should use touch more to calm her. After the second break I was using touch to calm her so I could reward being still. Of course her tail never stops.

Open practice video - For the last session we were given time to practice anything we wanted. I decided to use the mini-scaffold and see if I could get her to do side-steps with her feet on a high prop. It wasn't very successful, so we tried to do it with the barrel prop. The barrel was a little bit better. I want to try this on a longer prop and use a clicker to help her understand what I'm after. I think using the practice boardwalk I've set up in the yard would be a good place to start.

As always, a good class...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Nosework (3/24)

Container 1 video - We started with a blind search consisting of three rows of six egg cartons with two plastic eggs in each, and a total of six hides. We were told our handler challenge would be to keep track of where we'd been. I was thinking in terms of which parts of which rows we'd searched, not where she indicated. Keeping track of where Gimme indicated when there were six hides in a small area was far too confusing. I just now drew a little chart, numbering the boxes 1-6, 7-12 and 13-18 and marked them as I watched the video. Gimme actually found them all... I was confused and didn't acknowledge her find of #5 thinking she'd already found it when she hadn't and basically pushed her into indicating #2 twice (which I knew was a second indication).

The second part of this exercise was when we all came back in without our dogs and Dorothy asked us to go stand by the first box our dog indicated and then go stand by the last box our dog indicated. Consciously I had no clue, so I just picked the ones which felt more right than the others. As it turned out I was right on both first and last, so some part of my brain knew the correct answer. 

Exterior video - Here we had 6 hides in plastic eggs, three on each side of the sidewalk. Gimme got one right away and then pushed to the other end of the search area and started getting them on the way back. She missed one on the way back, which got cut off the video. Gimme was a little faster than the other dogs. 

Container 2 video - This time Dorothy had replaced the egg-carton-plastic-egg hides with plastic shoeboxes filled with tissue paper, two had hides in them. Gimme goes directly to the first hide at a run, almost directly from the start - she has it in 6 seconds. After the reward, she checks all the other boxes, pausing ever so briefly at the hide before checking the others, then goes back to it (21 seconds).

Fun class...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Great Weekend

It was a great 3-day weekend. We went to Longview/Kelso for a barn hunt trial and as it turned out, there was a weight pull there too. So Gimme and I did 9 events over three days.


Barn Hunt Trial 1 - There was only 1 rat and since Gimme prefers to find all the rats before she shares with me, so she didn't tell me where it was until after the 4 minute mark. That didn't leave us enough time and we ran out of time before she came out of the tunnel.  I wish there was some way to get her past this hump. She used to do it in nosework, but has pretty much quit since I raised the value of her treats. We can't have treats in the barn hunt ring, so I don't see how to get her past this. Hunting and our play with the rat tube is all the reward she gets and I think she doesn't want it to end.

Weight Pull day 1 - Gimme got to pull on dirt this time.  Because dirt is harder to get the cart moving than a smooth surface, the weights are a bit lower than when she got her UWP. She pulled 420 pounds, which is plenty for 5 points toward the CH. Her next time was 500 pounds and then 580 pounds. Anything over 564 pounds earned 10 points toward the CH. We had to do multiple pulls to get the last weight going, but she did it. Right now she is pulling just because I ask her to and she likes doing stuff with me (and she loves marshmallows). I want to protect her enthusiasm.  Gimme has to pull roughly another 200 pounds (depending on what her weight is on pull day) to get the next level of points, so I won't ask her to do any higher weights until we have our own harness and can do some training and conditioning. BTW there was a guy who took video of us on Friday and has promised to email it to me. When it comes I'll upload it.

Barn Hunt Trial 2 - There were 5 rats and Gimme got started a lot sooner telling me where they were. She really had fun and it went fast. She had 48 seconds to go (so much faster than 1-rat runs). This is the first of ten legs she needs toward her barn hunt CH.


Barn Hunt Trial 3 - We found 4 out of 5 rats. I think the one we missed was my fault. It was on the far side of a small pile of straw and I spent a lot of time standing with my back to it. Gimme has gotten rats on small piles with me standing in front of them, but this time the rat was on the far side, so I don't think she smelled it and I didn't do anything to help.

Weight Pull day 2 -
Pulling 420 pounds video - She did a nice job, pulling confidently. The lady who took our videos came over and coached me between each pull. For instance in this pull, I took my hands off Gimme as I was hooking her up. You are supposed to have contact with the dog at all times until the pull starts. It can be by leash, collar or otherwise touching the dog. They pull without their leash on and if you take the leash onto the lane with you, then you have to throw it back onto the cart.
Pulling 500 pounds faulted video - Its not clear from this video perspective, but I had her leash looped around my wrist while hooking her up. I don't know why she found this pull challenging, but she wasn't getting it moving, so I told the judge I'd take the fault and put my hand in her harness to give a little tug to help her start it. After the assist, she pulled it all by herself. It may be the tire was stuck behind a little bump in the dirt - starting the cart is the hardest part. The judge said in the future I should just ask the judge to give the cart a nudge.
Pulling 500 pounds video - The judge suggested I run with Gimme down the track so its clear to her what the goal is. Not sure if it works, but can't hurt. I find it interesting that Gimme is completely unconcerned by the spreader bar bouncing against the back of her hocks - something she's ignored since minutes into her first pull at a workshop. She asked for and got some reassurance from me, then was ready to go again. She did a nice job pulling this time.
Pulling 580 pounds video - After her struggle with 500, I was ready for Gimme to have difficulty with 580 pounds, but she pulled just "like a big girl". She earned another 10 points toward her weight pull CH.

Barn Hunt Trial 4 - There were 5 rats and Gimme steamed through them in 3:18, with 1:12 to spare. It was a very nice job. She really had fun. Now we need just 8 more qualifying legs to get her barn hunt CH.


Barn Hunt Trial 5 - There were 3 rats and Gimme found them all, then did the tunnel on her own. I took her around the ring on one last sweep. I was about to call "clear" when Gimme started barking at a tube on the ground. I was mostly sure it wasn't the real deal, but she persisted, so I called it. It was indeed a false alert. I'm sure she knows the difference between a rat tube and a dirty litter tube, so I'm not clear what was going on here.

Weight Pull day 3 -
Pulling 420 pounds video - You'll see Gimme starts to pull and then when she meets resistance, she looks back at the cart. Even when the cart comes with her, she tends to drop her effort until she almost has to restart the cart. She doesn't quite understand yet how to get the cart moving and to keep pulling even after it starts to move, until I stop her. Getting the cart moving is the hardest part. The woman who runs these trials lives about 45 minutes from home and has volunteered to work with me, teaching me how to teach Gimme what she needs to know. So once I get Gimme her own harness, then I'll contact her about getting together.
Pulling 500 pounds video - Gimme again turned to look at the cart. Its like she is looking back to see what is wrong with the stupid thing. Doesn't it know its supposed to follow her lead? Still she did a good job - she clearly gets better each time.
Pulling 580 pounds video - This was her best pull of the weekend. Mary (my videographer) suggested I keep my hands low to encourage Gimme to keep her head low. It worked really well and we earned another 10 points toward her weight pull CH. We only need another 70 points to get a UWPCH.

Barn Hunt Trial 6 - This time there were 4 rats and Gimme did a nice job of finding them. She indicated 3 rats, one after the other and then didn't seem to have any more. So I cued her to tunnel. She got a couple feet inside the tunnel then turned around, coming back out. I was about to cue "tunnel" again, when she jumped up on a bail right above and just a smidgen to one side of the tunnel entrance and quickly indicated a fourth rat. Then she did the tunnel and I called clear, with 45 seconds to go. This was our third masters leg toward her RATCH and we need just 7 more.

Once we get the RATCH I plan to try her out on Crazy-8's. Its a interesting game and its a hard title to get. It'll be interesting to see how she responds to having 8 rat tubes in her ring. 

BTW one of the last runs I watched this weekend was a guy and his BC who got 5 rats and called clear in 58 seconds. Unbelievably fast...

Gimme was happiest about the funny looking toy I won in the worker's raffle. Here's a picture of Gimme with all her loot (and all I got was a t-shirt).