Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Nosework (2/21)

I was really concerned when I saw the search area.  It was a handling nightmare looking for a place to happen.

Interior 1 search video - These 3 hides were paired.  I made sure she knew I had raw steak, so she'd stick the hides and wait for my contribution.  Gimme did these really quickly and was happy to accept what I had to add.  She likes my steak doncha know.

Interior 2 search video - She was really interested in the fake gnarly hand on the floor.  No clue why Dorothy thought she was scared of it.  I think she just lost interest because it was held in place by the weight of the table.  Dorothy noticed Gimme was checking out the toy options this time, which she ignored the time before when the hides were paired.  I'll have to watch and see if this happens consistently in future paired and unpaired searches.  Gimme finds the first hide in the bathroom pretty fast.  Then she gets down in the corner and goes to work on the cabinet hide.  The last hide is in the bucket hanging from the hand on the ladder.  This proves to be very challenging for her, but not as much so for the other dogs.  A big part of this was because Gimme was the first dog searching this night and since the hide was deep in the bucket, it took a long time for it to fill up with scent enough so it spilled over.  Gimme really works the whole room to solve the puzzle of the elevated hide.  You can see how it suddenly becomes clear after she leaves the bathroom around 3:15...  From there she has the hide in 17 seconds. 

Interior 3 search video - The last search was on leash, which I'd been dreading.  We were asked ahead of time to tell how we planned to organize the search.  My plan was to work the perimeter and then gradually guide Gimme toward the middle.  I pretty much let Gimme start the search with her usual charge in, then guided her to the edge.  I knew in my head where we started working the perimeter, so had no problem knowing when to start working toward the middle.  She found the first hide right after we started the perimeter.  Then we worked around the room and she found the next one in the bathroom.  I didn't demand she work where I wanted; my plan was just to use my location to encourage her to search where I was.  On or off leash she's always well aware of where I am.  You'll see when she starts shopping for toys, I just gradually move away from her and this is all it takes to get her to leave those distractions.  When we got toward the middle, you can see she is really working that hide.  It was a very nice search and the handling wasn't quite the nightmare I thought it would be.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nosework (1/21)

I apologize for getting so far behind on blogging.  Things have been very hectic.

Vehicle search 1 video - The other instructor cautions me about running with Gimme into the search area for the millionth time.  I've explained why so many times and it doesn't stick, so I don't respond.  Gimme finds the first hide very quickly.  Gimme wanted to go to the grass and I didn't let her and moments later admonished her to get to work - she didn't pee when she had the chance, so I want to make sure she knows she doesn't get to pee during the search.  She does turn to go back to work and as luck would have it, immediately finds a hide.  From there she goes right to hide 3.  Dorothy has quite the challenge keeping up with us, which is complicated by not wanting to push us off a hide.  Gimme quickly finds the fourth hide.  Gimme is lured up, putting her feet on Dorothy's car by the presence of the jacket.  She hasn't put her feet on a vehicle in a very long time so I wasn't expecting it.  Since I chastised her about putting her feet up, Dorothy thinks I might want to reward a hide she'd already found to soothe any hurt feelings.  I don't think Gimme needs it.  Gimme takes another turn around the middle truck and this time just really nails the last hide.  The last hide was a really hard challenge because it was so close to the bumper hide.  Turns out Gimme was the only dog to go into the tight space between the two big trucks, but I always let her sort these things out in her own way.

Vehicle search 2 video - Gimme was really moving out in the initial trip around the vehicles and Dorothy was barely able to keep getting us back in the viewfinder - hence my backside plays a prominent role in this video.  Don't blink or you'll miss it when Gimme quickly checks the drain and then turns and goes directly to the nearest hide.  Gimme rechecks earlier locations and quickly dismisses the lingering odor.  I use the time while she is checking to back into the space between the two big trucks in anticipation Gimme will want to go there next.  Dorothy says the dogs use lingering odor to find new sources.  I think this really means they work through the lingering odor and once dismissed are able to work with what remains.  You'll see after the second hide, Gimme has no problem squeezing past me.  Seeing the jacket was still on Dorothy's car, I am prepared to body block if Gimme shows any interest there, but it isn't necessary.  I'm sure she remembered my stern "off" from before and was pretending there was nothing there.  It also helped to have a hide so close.  She heads a bit out of the search area and when I restrict her, she checks the drain again... and again goes right to odor.  Kind of amazing how the drain to odor thing works.

Vehicle search 3 video - By the time we start the third search its getting dark and its over in another parking lot with no lighting.  The two vehicles are a large glass carrying truck and a equipment trailer.  I didn't think there would be anything to show in the video, but you can see a bit of what's happening.  What is most interesting about this search is how Gimme knows the general location of the hide, but has trouble sourcing it.  As soon as I do-se-do to switch places with her, then she's right on it.  So, while she's perfectly comfortable pushing past me to get to where she wants to go, in this case (maybe because it was darker) her ability to work was hampered by social pressure.  Once the social pressure is relieved she immediately solves the puzzle.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Title - #19

Yesterday I got the email confirming Gimme has earned her ADP-L2.  This is title #19 for her.  You can see the video at ADP Level 2 submission video.  I was surprised to see it already has 106 views, since I haven't shared the link with anyone until just now.

It was a lot of fun doing this.  ADP encourages us to get creative with our selection of and use of a location.  So I decided to use my van's contents as one location.  Given all the stuff living in my van for our dog sport training - it was easy to come up with 12 behaviors.  I hope you enjoy watching it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

RFE Practice (27)

Last Thursday we got together with J'Anna and her dog for RallyFrEe practice.  Overall I think it went very well and I was happy with how Gimme worked.  I made a concerted effort to keep the sessions to around 8 minutes.

Session 1 video - The idea was to warm-up in the corridor outside the ring gates, then stand still at the gates as if waiting to enter, then enter and when you get a moment of good attention - go into reward mode.  Gimme started out with little focus, but got better.  It had been a month since our last practice.  I was using stopping and/or backing up/away a few steps to encourage her to pay attention on her own.  She has learned to like the up-touch game because I put a lot of early value into it.  After the center-front-pivot, I tried to make the reward period last longer by talking to her between treats (which Kathy suggested).  Gimme found this almost too exciting.  The second time I stayed bent over, keeping more at her level to encourage her to stay down.  When I entered the ring the first time, her attention wandered and I had to step away to get her to look to me, which I was able to reward.  I noticed she held attention better while we waited to go in the second time.  The third and fourth time were much better - showing it was working.

Session 2 video - This time I wanted to do "exploding tree".  Basically be still and wait for focus, then explode into excited play, carefully extending the time of focus needing to get the explosion and games.  I have some dead socks I meant to bring so Gimme could tear them up, but forgot.  You can see how much she loved this game, since she was about to explode herself in anticipation.  After the exploding, we got to work practicing our "out" behavior.  Gimme kept going the wrong way around the post. 

I got the feeling she didn't really understand why one try was rewarded and the other not rewarded, it was like she was just guessing. It was getting worse, I think because she stops thinking when she's frustrated.  So I put up a ring gate to set her up for success and make it clearer.  Thus we were able to end correctly. 

I realized after watching this - I'm oriented toward the prop the same way I am when I ask her to "cane" or "orbit".  For those behaviors I want her to go between me and the prop and then loop around it.  For "out" I want her to go directly around it.  (diagram)  I've been teaching "out" for parkour, so Gimme may also have been confused by seeing this new behavior in a different context.  Most often the way she was going wrong was when I was starting with her on my left, which is "cane" the stronger behavior of the two.

Session 3 video - Gimme started this session with a little more focus than before.  I think keeping the sessions shorter leaves her wanting more.  I started out with an exploding tree as soon as I could, to get her fully into the game.  We ended the session working on her backing between two props, "tween" will be the final cue.  She sure has a cute tushy when she's backing up.  She was getting it really nicely toward the end.

It occurs to me after watching this - I need to be throwing a treat to her when she backs up.  She looks to be developing a habit of taking a certain number of steps back and then coming forward again automatically.  I'd like her to go at least double the distance she is doing there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nosework (6/20)

We had 3 container searches and 1 vehicle. 

Container 1 video - Three paired hides in open containers.  As always I got comments for letting her dash off the startline.  She does better if I let her start her way, especially for the first search.  Yes, this does mean I'm not in position to add treats to the container when she gets to the first paired hide, but if it wasn't paired, then she would wait for me.  I understand the value of paired hides, but I also see a downside.  The down side becomes very obvious in the next search on the false start when they forgot to pair.  Also, I let her use the area the way she wants... she finds a lot of hides when the scent pools near something else in the room.  I think it makes more sense to be standing near the containers, to make it clear we are doing a container search, while still letting her use the length of the leash to check for pooling odor elsewhere.  Naturally given prior experience, I don't voice my thinking. 

Container 2 false start video - Supposed to be two paired hides in open containers and one unpaired hide.  You'll see here, when they forgot to pair, she didn't stick the hides.  Like most dogs, she does what she learned last, which was look for odor-with-food.  When she didn't find odor-with-food, she immediately moves on.  And even though she went by the hide in the luggage two times, she paid no attention to it, I think because it wasn't paired. 

Container 2 video - Dorothy comments this is a better start, but its the way Gimme chose to start.  If she'd wanted to dash out, I would have let her.  She slows herself down after the excitement of the first couple starts.  I see no advantage to frustrating her by holding her back.  She finds the two paired hides quickly and only then does she bother looking for the unpaired hide. 

Container 3 video - Two blind hides.  You'll see Gimme actually catches the hide in the luggage, but just keeps going, because I believe she's looking for odor-with-food.  She wastes 40 seconds looking for food before she settles down to search for just-odor - I don't see this as helpful.  Once she gives up on food it only takes her 20 seconds to find the first luggage hide.  It takes her almost 3 minutes to find the next hide.  She spends a bit of time checking the tall piece, where odor is pooling against it, but she never pays any attention to it after that.  Its in a little purse and she checked it early, but something about it throws her.  It takes a long time before she commits to it.

I find it interesting how Dorothy said I "get a bunch of behavior" from telling her what to do, but she never notices this same bunch of behavior when we are working on a short leash and Gimme is frustrated by the restriction.

It seems all the dogs had difficulty with this particular "container".  In my opinion, this would have been a really valuable time to pair the hide.  In the past when we set up a really challenging puzzle, we often pair it to help the dogs at first.  Then we'll do it again without pairing.  After they initially learn nosework, I think pairing for challenges is probably the best reason.  I know, at least for Gimme, every time we go through this pairing game - she seems to learn an unintended lesson and then has to unlearn it.  She's a really smart girl, so it doesn't take much to get her back to normal, but I don't see the point in "going there" in the first place.  Maybe dogs who aren't as brilliant as she respond differently to the game.  I'll have to watch for that next time we do this set of exercises. 

Vehicle search video - One hide, in front of  R-front tire.  Weirdly Dorothy is suddenly okay with me letting Gimme dash off the startline to the curb near the vehicle.  I don't see any consistency to her suggestions on this topic.  I thought it was very interesting how Gimme tried to use the curb to find source.  Of course, scent was pooling there.  And given her experience with curbs in urban tracking, it made sense to her to check it.  Gimme was the only dog to go around to the far side of the truck and only when she got to the far side did she get more purposeful, so she clearly got something from going around there.  I can't explain it, because there was almost no breeze and it wasn't going that way.  She was still faster than the others.

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...