Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nosework (5/20)

Dorothy wasn't there, only the co-instructor.  She'd set up an interesting set of searches.  Sadly I didn't have my camera, so no videos...  We had a set of three searches, followed later with a pair of two searches.

Search 1 - The first search was outside, about 20 pieces of footwear.  None of them had a hide and the idea was to see what the dog looked like in the face of interesting smells without odor.  I know I've mentioned that the best distractions in level 2 and above for containers aren't necessarily meaty foods, but rather novel smells.  At one NW2 trial, almost every dog fell for the Irish Spring soap.  Gimme was interested in the shoe smells, the only dog to stick her nose deep in a boot, but she was less intense than she would have been if she'd detected odor anywhere in the area.

Search 2 - Inside in the front area of the main class room (not the foyer) there was just one hide, set about 6' in the center of the big garage door.  The idea was to watch the height of the dog's nose.  I did see all the noses gradually (or in Gimme's case not so gradually) go higher, but it didn't seem like they ran around with their noses on a higher plane as the instructor suggested would be the case.  Instead, they'd move from object to object checking higher spots, but between objects their noses tended to be at their normal scanning height.

Some dogs really struggled with this, but Gimme was pretty darn fast.  She's always had a preference for high hides, so it was not a challenge for her to decide to go up.  The only dog close to her speed was JZ, a small terrier (who was High in Trial for the L2V we were at on Sunday).  We didn't time them, so its a toss up who was fastest of these two.  I think Gimme was clearer in her indication - putting her two front feet on the door and pointing her nose right up to the hide.

Search 3 - In the other part of the main class room, the hide was set in a crack in the floor.  Gimme hasn't been as fond of low hides, though she will find them without too much trouble.  I noticed she ran around with her nose at her usual height, scanning and then checking various heights on objects.  She ran around quickly, then suddenly pivoted and went right to it.  The only dog faster was JZ, who is half Gimme's height, so her nose was already closer to it.

For the second set of searches...

Search 4 - The co-instructor added two croc shoes with odor in them to the shoe search.  Here we were to watch to see how the dog's search style changed.  What I saw in all the dogs was a pretty clear demonstration of their expectations about the shoes.  They all started into the search as if they expected nothing from the shoes, just like last time.  We see expectations all the time - mostly from the dogs repeatedly checking objects over and over and over again, when the hide isn't even very close to them.  The dogs catch a drift of the scent and then run around checking objects they "see", rather than following their noses. 

In this case none of the dogs were interested in the shoes the second time around because they expected no odor.  There wasn't any breeze to carry the scent to them, so they had to get pretty close before they caught it in one of the two crocs.  After they caught it, then they got more intense looking for it again.

Search 5 - In the bigger area, the hide was now on the top edge of a ladder.  It was complicated by a table sitting right next to it on the side where the hide was, so the scent cone included the table top and all the stuff on it.  There were a lot of things on the table and if the dog showed any interest we were to get down the one they showed interest in so they could sniff it and dismiss it.  Of course Gimme thought me getting down stacks of boxes was just the neatest thing ever and had to bap each of them.  She really got back to work though, since it was clear there was no odor related to them. 

Interestingly none of the dogs searched the back half of the area, since the ladder and odor was in the front half.  Some did go into that area, but no one stayed there.  Gimme went there a couple of times, but my interpretation was she was clearing her head as she often does in a hard puzzle.  Once everything was off the table, then Gimme went up and sniffed more intently around the ladder, finally walking her feet up the ladder and pointing her nose up at the hide.  I'm pretty certain JZ beat her time on this one, but not by much.  No one else was even close.

Gimme thoroughly enjoyed these challenging searches and couldn't wait to get home and tell her toys all about it...

A One-and-One-Half Title Day

On Sunday we left early in the day for Portland and a level 2 Nosework element trial on vehicles.  It was supposed to top out at 84º, but when we were leaving (minutes after our last search), it was 87º.  Fortunately I'd gotten all the aluminet screens after the NW3 trial which got up to 103º, so Gimme and I stayed pretty comfortable.  The trial was held at the Alpenrose Dairy, which is also a dairy museum and kind of a dairy theme park.  Part of the property has been turned into a sports facility for the local community.

We had 4 searches, in two sets of two.  Gimme was the third dog on the list, so we got things out of the way quickly.

Museum Search - This was a search of just one vehicle inside, 1 hide, 1:00.  It was a finished garage, with other non-vehicle, but large, dairy related pieces.  The vehicle was a large cream-colored old-fashioned milk truck.  There was only about 3' between the truck and the other stuff, so Gimme was attracted to the other things, but I just encouraged her to come back toward the vehicle.  We entered the search from the rear of the vehicle, passed up the right side and around the front, down the driver's side.  It had big sliding doors and Gimme found the hide in the bottom part of the sliding door "hinge".  She did the search in 35 seconds (11th place).  In rewarding her I managed to drop several treats and I was sure the judge saw it, but the trial results don't show any faults.

Main Street Search - Here we had two vehicles, 3 hides and 2:00.  From the start line Gimme went up the right side of the near vehicle, then up the right side of the other vehicle.  As she got to the front she indicated on the license plate holder.  Then she started down the left side of that vehicle, taking a diagonal to the hide at the wheel.  From there I took her around the vehicles again and then between them.  I told her "check-it" pointing to the bumper of the nearest vehicle and that was when she found the third hide.  She did the search in 1:31 (11th place).  I again dropped treats, but the trial results don't show any faults.  Oddly they also didn't give us maximum time for my failure to say "finish" at the end of our search.

The whole treat dropping is because I was nervous and my hands were shaky.  Normally I use peanut butter in the go-toob, but haven't been using it in class because the co-instructor gets so impatient having to wait for Gimme to cleanse her palate.  I went back to the PB toob for the rest of the trial.

Circus Wagon Search - This search was three vehicles, 2 hides and 1:30.  The vehicles were three little mock circus wagons lined up askew in a row. Gimme went from the start line up the right side and found the first hide at the corner of the last wagon.  From there we went down the other side and she quickly alerted on the rear wheel of the vehicle closest to the start.   Gimme did this in 1:02 (19th place).

Hollywood Lights Search - This search was two vehicles, 1 hide and 1:30.  There was two vehicles lined up straight.  Gimme went up the right side, around the end and then came down the side to the first car's front tire and did a lot of sniffing.  She was pretty intent, but hadn't sourced it or alerted.  When they called "30 seconds" I walked her around to the other side and she paid a lot of attention to the other front tire.  I knew we were almost out of time and called "alert", about a tenth of a second after the timer called "time".  As it turned out, the hide was inaccessible and it was behind the first tire she showed interest in. We were assessed maximum time.

Gimme did a good job, she just ran out of time.  She didn't hesitate to come with me when I moved her away from where the hide was, so she clearly wasn't convinced it was there.  She's normally very good at inaccessible hides, but I think it was hot and it was also the last search, so she could have been a little tired.  The vehicles were standing out in the sun - all the "ring crew" were sitting in shade nearby. 

There were only 7 dogs who titled, out of 25 entered.  Gimme's total time was 4:39 (11th place).  Her placement should have been much lower, but the judge must've been half asleep and missed my two treat dropping faults.  Placement is based on faults, then time.  We had 85% which was well over the 75% needed to get a leg toward a title.  So now I have to find another L2V trial in the area.  Although I was disappointed to miss the title, I wasn't unhappy with Gimme's performance.  She tried hard, as always.

When we got home I found a notice in our email inbox notifying me Gimme had completed the requirements for her Level 1 title with All Dogs Parkour. So she now gets to add ADP-L1 to her long list of titles - this is title number 18.  Level 1 Video Submission

Gimme is still humble, but I'm not.  Just sayin...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Parkour (6/4)

Gimme and I continue to enjoy the parkour class.

Send away obstacle video - This obstacle is a large "c" shape of dividers and inside are little obstacles to step on and over.  Its a send away, because the handler can't go in it, though I suppose I could have run around the outside of it.  Gimme figured it out really quickly. 

Board walk video - A quick down and back, with the pool noodles to step over and then the sway bridge.  She's never really been concerned about either.

Hoop/barrel sequence 1 video - Gimme took a little short cut when I fell behind her.  I'm sure she doesn't "see" the channel made by the hoops in the same way we humans do.  She very quickly figured out what I wanted there.  As always.

Hoop/barrel sequence 2 video - The second time around we had a different objective and like most dogs, Gimme made an assumption about what we were doing.  Jo thinks this is often because I'm not fast enough giving her information; I think she's right.  Its not Gimme's natural inclination to take direction, certainly not to wait for it, so I really do need to be more timely - which isn't easy with such a speedy girl. The second time through we did better, but I was still late, so you'll see Gimme has to jump the cone instead of the jump bar.  The third time she did very well and was completely unconcerned when the jump got knocked over by the dragging leash.

Sequence 3 video - This time we put all three parts together.  Jo pointed out how Gimme spun as she got on the board walk, because she was trying to do the right thing and wait for information.  Again its a timing thing.  So Jo had me repeat the first two parts of the sequence with focus on my timing. 

Sequence 4 video - The time before as we were walking back to our setup, Gimme noticed a big fat bird outside the gate on the big door.  She remained alert to the bird possibility for the rest of class.  In hindsight, I probably should have taken a moment to address it with "whazzat" - bad me.  Once she returned her focus to me, she did well. 

BTW the spot where she keeps making a loop out of the turn after the jump (after the hoops) is where the young black dog sits near there.  She finds him very distracting mostly because he always wants to get to her, to play.  She pays almost no attention to the female border collie who pays no attention to her.

Sequence 5 video - Close to the beginning I had Gimme do the part between the send obstacle and the board walk over, because I knew I wasn't positioned right.  It was better, but only a little bit.  Its kind of hard because I have an idea in my head of how I'll handle something, but I don't get to walk it without Gimme so I don't really have a feel for how to actually do it with her.  Its also a challenge because there are times I need to move quite a bit faster, but at the same time, I don't want to speed her up.

Sequence 6 video - This was virtually the same except the direction on the send.  I was trying to use the time while she was in the send to position myself better and she still got ahead of me.  To her credit, when I said "wait" (our stay cue) she interpreted it correctly and stopped.  Good girl Gimme.   You might notice our chuckle (me and Jo) on this and the last sequence when Gimme got in the box - you can't see it, but she was being dramatically funny about how she was getting in and plopping all four feet inside.

Learning "perch" video - We again built value and then started the pivot.  Note she has better focus with the door shut.  I started trying to have her offer the pivot.  Jo thinks I should focus on the physical strength/control aspect - though she said I could teach it both ways, as physical conditioning and as a trick.  I intend to get an oil pan (and similar props), so I can work on this at home.

Learning "perch" 2 video - In watching this clip it occurs to me I need to start doing the other direction as well.  All these practices have been counter-clockwise, we need to practice clockwise.

Creative sequence video - The final exercise was to plan our own creative sequence with flow, using the props on the floor.  We could move them in minor ways.  I liked the sequence I came up with, which ended with one of her great behaviors - a forehand pivot on a low prop.  Unfortunately I didn't get the camera aimed just right, so you really only get to see her fanny swing by - really fast.

As she always does, Miss Gimme snoozed almost all the way home.  She loves our Parkour classes, but they do tire her out.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nosework (4/20)

This was a container day.   And most of those were boxes and we all know what Gimme thinks is the real reason for a box's existence - to be demolished. 

Container 1 search video - This search was paired and we were supposed to add more treats, by reaching in the box or can to keep their nose deep in the container.  Gimme had a good time finding hides in 2 cans and 4 boxes (some were found and then re-found).  The can hides weren't paired, so she wasn't as motivated to stick her head in there.  Still she was very excited about the exercise - one can never have too many treats doncha know.

Container 2 search video  Container 2 search video - This time there were 2 each can and box hides, unpaired.  Gimme really worked this out well and fast.  She was easily the fastest in class. 

Container 3 search video - This time there were 2 box hides, again unpaired.  As you'll see, she found one hide quickly, but then got frustrated.  She started indicating every box, trying to get me to hand over the treats.  She wasn't searching, she was just going through the motions and slapping every box she came to, in hopes I'd like one.  I had to get her to slow down and get back to searching.  Unfortunately in a trial, I would already have gotten a false alert.

Between this search and the next, I mentioned how Gimme often stops working and just starts flinging behaviors at me whenever I have the treats actually in my hand, which we were told to do in these searches.  I see it in RallyFrEe and in Parkour.  I don't see it in tracking, but then I've never had the food in my hand while being dragged down the track.  They poo-poohed my idea, which is often the reaction to my ideas/thoughts.  After all, I couldn't possibly have learned anything about my dog in the six years she's owned me. 

Their only explanation was to say she was frustrated and I needed to slow her down.  I don't buy this, she's been frustrated before without responding by indicating everything in sight.  To me indicating everything she comes to is a LOT like offering any behavior she thinks of.

Container 4 search video - This search was pretty much the same as the one before, 2 boxes.  The only difference - it was a blind hide.  The instructors believed she did better (not indicating everything) because we were moving a little slower.  They didn't even notice how I kept both hands on the line and didn't have treats in my hand. 

Is this search definitive proof of not having treats in my hands as the reason she did better?  "No".  Its also not proof saying having treats in my hands is not a factor in her doing poorly. 

This is probably the only thing I don't like about these trainers... the assumption I couldn't possibly know my dog.  Surely I can't have learned anything watching her do nosework searches for 300 classes (3-4 searches per class), watching her track 200 times and watching her do barn hunt 100 times.  I'm not a dope on a rope and I always resent the implication.  Which explains why the vast majority of the time I don't express my ideas - I don't have a burning desire to be talked to like I'm ignorant.

Fortunately Gimme is immune to this stuff and she always has a good time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Urban Tracking (20)

Last Friday Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park in Auburn for some urban tracking. It was bright, but cool with a very light breeze, and slightly damp.

Nadine laid a track for Gimme which turned out to be harder than I asked for.  She really had to work hard at it, but did manage to solve all the puzzles.  She had to restart herself after three poops, two people interruptions, one dog interruption and one child-on-bike interruption (twice).  It took her 27 minutes to get through the track, yet she never gave up. 

I tried to video her run with the chest-mount camera, but it didn't really turn out.  Still I did pull a number of still pictures from it and here they are in our Urban Tracking Slideshow.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Parkour (5/4)

We've just learned about another dog parkour organization, All Dogs Parkour.  Its similar to International Dog Parkour Association in some ways and different in others.  We are already busy preparing our first entry.

Class continues to be a lot of fun, with lots of new challenges.

Board work video - I'm so glad I taught Gimme to "flip" on cue, it really simplifies things.  She's rarely bothered by things underfoot.

Learning "perch" 1 video - We worked quite a bit on teaching the dogs to back onto something, stopping with just the two rear feet on.  Gimme and I have worked quite a bit on backing all feet on, so it took some time convince her to only put on two rear feet.  Part of the solution was to start putting it on a separate cue, "perch"; while "bacon" is to back all four feet on.  On this first video I put most of the time into building value for being still with just the back feet on. 

Sequence 1 video - Gimme always loves sequence work - she just likes to be moving and doing.  She was a little disconcerted when the bone-shaped fitness ball flipped on its side.  She was hesitant to step on it again, which made me wonder if she hurt her foot as it bumped the table when she slid off.

Sequence 2 video - The fiddling at the end of this was to get her to step on the bone-shaped fitness ball again.  Partly she doesn't see the point when its so easy to step over, and then it DID flip on its side the time before.

Sequence 3 video - Part of the challenge on this sequence was to send the dog out around the cone from the other side of the boardwalk.  Gimme has had difficulty with this ever since her seizure in March, when the "cane" and "orbit" behaviors were lost.  We've struggled to get them back since then, with minimal success.  So my solution here was to toss a treat for Gimme and then use my body movement (mostly not needed) to get her to come around the cone before returning to me - kinda pulling a fast one.  ☺ 

Learning distance "out" video - I wasn't happy with how this worked out.  We were supposed to be introducing the dog to doing the go-around-something behavior from the platform.  Gimme's platform wasn't stable and while it normally doesn't bother her, this night it was bothering her.  I didn't like the creepy association she was getting for her "cane" and "orbit" behaviors, which are already a trouble spot.

One other problem I see in hindsight was having her work facing the open door, where she sometimes sees the students with their dogs waiting for the next class.  In fact later in this class, someone came with their dog right up to the door.  Since then I've taken to closing the door partway through class.  I always set up our place in this spot because its gives us a private space away from the other class dogs.

As it turns out, over the weekend while I was teaching her to weave non-weave-pole prop sequences for ADP parkour (called Hardscape Weaves), I fell onto using the words "out" and "in" and she picked it up in mere minutes.  Of course it doesn't resolve her "cane" and "orbit" issue, where those behaviors are more of a loop (CCW and CW).  If anyone has a solution for getting those behaviors back - do let me know.  But at least we have something working for class. 

Learning "perch" 2 video - You can see her really getting the idea of what behavior I want here.  I need to get some similar props to practice this on.  She was getting the idea of turning with me and keeping her back feet on.  Then Jo had us do the same thing with another prop and Gimme had no issue with the change.  My attempt to lure the turning was completely unsuccessful. 

Jo thinks Gimme needs more rear end muscles.  I had a really hard time wrapping my mind around the idea, since rear end muscles is one thing Gimme has in abundance.  In thinking about it since then, I think Jo is looking for a different "type" of muscle (for lack of a better word).  Dalmatians are bred to run with a coach all day - essentially they are built like human runners.  They won't naturally build bulkier muscles, like a weight trainer.  This isn't to say they couldn't build them, rather its something we'd have to work toward specifically.

Learning "perch" 3 -  After our discussion, during which Gimme got paid for "chillax", we did another short session right before class ended.  We also did a couple "take-a" bows.

Gimme continues to love these classes.  And I like how Parkour encourages me to interact more with her during our walks.

Nosework (3/20)

We've been doing a lot of interior searches, this class was no exception.  Dorothy always finds a way to make them interesting.

Interior 1 video - Gimme found the first hide really quickly and then had to go check out the toy.  This girl loves toys and is sure she needs some more to add to her collection.  At least she leaves it more readily to go back to work.  (as I play the video, Gimme runs over to see where I'm hiding a toy)  She did check out the shelving where a bin of toys resides, but given the location of the other hide, enough scent could have drifted over there to justify a quick check of the bin, doncha know.  Given how quickly she got to the hide after checking the bin, this isn't unreasonable. 

Interior 2 video - Even with wasting 10 seconds to check on the toy, she was still the fastest dog in class to solve this hide.  Just sayin...

Interior 3 video - She only wasted 5 seconds checking on the toy this time.  Then there was the 8 seconds she spent being a social butterfly.  She was still waaaaay faster than the other class dogs, one of whom is a GSD who is much taller than she is. 

Interior 4 video - Immediately checking the toy whereabouts - she's certainly consistent, eh.  She was so fast on the prior search, so I was surprised to see her have difficulty this time.  Her search time was about the same as the other dogs.  I don't know why it was harder for her than the prior search, but you'll note she needed a toy-moment to release some frustration at about 2 minutes.  Interesting how she went from the stuff against the other wall almost directly to the hide.

Often dogs get information from something nearby.  Either because of scent settling on/near it to give them a clue where it is.  Some dogs, Gimme is one, often need to go out of the scent plume before going back in to sourse.  She could have been doing either in this case and I don't remember if the other dogs used the same stuff to get to it.  The difficulty may have been from them needing to come up between the two tables to source the hide.

Love my little genius.

BTW we have an L2V trial this weekend in Oregon.  Cross your fingers for us...