Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
23 and counting...

Friday, March 24, 2017

New Title - 23 and counting

Last week I submitted Gimme's application for a Novice Trick Dog title.  To be honest they are pretty easy tricks and most of them are things a dog would learn in the course of learning to be an acceptable canine citizen.  With Do More With Your Dog, you have to start at novice, so we've completed the first hurdle.  She can probably do most of what she needs for the intermediate title.

Novice Tricks video - The 15 tricks we did were: come, down, doggie push-ups, fetch, figure-8 through my legs, follow a pointed finger, food refusal, kisses, paws up on an object, pedestal (pivot), shake hands, sit, spin, touch my hand, and walk on a loose leash.

This is title number 23, but who's counting... eh....

Nosework (1/24)

We had nosework class this week, but something happened to the videos.  Dorothy was gone this week; so, I don't know if the guy who was taking them for me didn't get them taken or if it was something I did.  But I did find the camera set to a custom setting when I retrieved parkour videos for the following night.  So its hard to say what happened to them... or if there even were any videos. 

We had two sets of three searches...  The first set was a 2 vehicle search, an exterior search and a 1 vehicle search.
3 vehicle search - This search was three big trucks.  Gimme totally ignored one vehicle and found the 1 hide pretty quickly.
exterior search - The exterior search was an odd "L" shaped area.  Gimme found both hides really fast.
1 vehicle search - Gimme nailed this hide in under ten seconds. 

Our second set was a search in the foyer, a search in the front half and and a search in the back half.  One of the things about these searches were they were really all mixed container/interior searches, as the interiors had boxes, but we weren't told if there were any hides in them or not.
foyer search - When we entered the foyer there were 5 large cat carrier boxes.  The hide was in the most central one.  Gimme paid no attention to the others.  When I encouraged her she checked around and quickly went back to the same box.
mixed container/interior front half - This area was cluttered with a lot of stuff.  There was a hide in a brick shaped box, under a stool and attached to the mop bucket.  Gimme raced around and found these very fast.
mixed container/interior back half - This area had a large L-shape made of tables with chairs all around.  Some of the chairs had boxes in them.  One hide was at the base of a book shelf and the other was under the lip of the easel.

Final speed-round search - For this search the prior hides in the back half were left in place and three hides were added in boxes sitting on chairs.  Gimme raced around and got these sooooo fast. 

In fact all her searches were very fast.  The slowest was the first one and after it, she just got faster and faster.  I'm inclined to think she is verrrrry interested in getting to the chicken nuggets and raw steak.  I did a side-by-side preference test, three rounds.  I showed her chickie-nugget in one hand and raw-steak in the other and then let her grab them.  All three times she grabbed the chicken nugget first and then grabbed the steak. 

Gimme thinks we should do this preference test a few more times, just to be sure the results are accurate.  You know my girl - always working the angles.

Urban Tracking (23)

Nadine and I met at the Auburn Cinema for rural tracking work.  Since the last time we did rural tracking there, I've been in an email conversation with Sil Sanders.  One of the things we realized is, the spacing between the islands at this theater isn't big enough.  There are one or two spots where its adequate, but not enough to follow Sil's plan. 

So for Gimme's track, we laid her track, starting at an island and then moving into open spaces of the parking lot, before getting back to an island then into the open and to another distant island.  Because we didn't have the benefit of working along a curb for most of this, I had Nadine lay out treats every two yards.  Later, since we had time available, Nadine laid another track, with treats every three yards. 

In both cases, Gimme did a good job.  She's working hard at it.  Because she's developed a tendency to "go visual" in this situation, she is having to learn how to track on pavement anew.  I plan to gradually space out the distance between treats until she develops this skill.  I know she can do it and given how much she loves to use her nose, I'm sure she'll figure out her nose is where its at here too.

Parkour (2/6)

Jo was not there tonight, so we have the makeup instructor.  She isn't as good as Jo, though the sequences are fun and its all good for Gimme to work in the presence of other dogs. 

Sequence 1 video - She had us do the tictac board as part of the sequence to show the other students how its done.  Gimme did pretty good on this for the first sequence of the night, though she wasn't especially focused on the first "below". 

Sequence 2 video - This was a repeat of the prior sequence and Gimme did a great job, to include wearing her leash across her nose for a bit at the beginning.

4 pylon sequence video - The idea was to go out around each pylon in a cloverleaf pattern, with "box" between each "out".  Gimme was a little distracted in the beginning, so I turned our 4 pylon sequence into 6 pylons.  Getting the last four smoothly. 

Raised ladder video - Gimme hasn't done the raised ladder in quite awhile, so I was so pleased to see her do such a nice job.  I still want to see a design for this ladder with an intermediate difficulty between 6" and 2" wide steps.  I have an idea for it and when my class gets going, I hope to get the guy who does the equipment building for Pawsabilities to design it for me.

Sequence 3 video - This was a nice sequence, with the 4 pylon sequence and the raised ladder.  I was especially pleased with Gimme at the very end.  If you watch, you'll see her glance over at the two young dogs and then turn her attention back to me.  I gave her a lot of extra peanut butter for her "good decision". 

I do have to say, these two new classmates are very new to the world of dog sports and I've been really happy with their efforts to keep their dogs quiet and relatively still when Gimme is on the floor working.  Both dogs are handled by older gentlemen and its clear they don't have any prior experience, but they are really working to be good handlers and responsible owners. 

Sequence 4 video - This was a nice sequence and Gimme did a great job with it, remaining focused the whole time.

Figure 8 video - This was really a simple thing to do, but we sure had our issues with the leash getting caught on the pylons and under my feet.  Gimme totally knows how to do figure 8s and I know how to handle it, but she sure got more than her fair share of unintended leash corrections.  Thankfully she is very determined and will work through such things.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nosework (6/23)

Vehicle 1 video - To make the search more "interesting" Dorothy purposely rubbed a piece of dried tripe on her bumper.  Needless to say, it wasn't beneath Gimme's notice.  To her credit she didn't get stuck there.  As she passed odor and was headed toward the evil bumper, she had no problem turning away from tripe-smell and back to odor.  We took another turn around the vehicle and this time she tried to ignore the bumper, until I swung her around so it was right under her nose and even then she didn't even pause for it, sniffing on the go.  Something you don't get to see, but that I love is when we go down the side of a vehicle, how she keeps walking, but her nose goes up and down and up and down as she goes, scanning.

Vehicle 2 video - All the dogs got stuck with the lingering odor on the back wheel.  It had only been a couple minutes since they'd found odor there and because of the search approach it was the first odor they smelled.  I just stood there and let her sort it out on her own.  The hide was on the front license plate and she was very clear about it.  She paid no attention to tripe-smell.  She half-heartedly tried to tell me the tire was it, but left it readily.  She was happy to get paid a second time for the real deal.

Container 1 video - Gimme did a really nice job on this search.  Having the containers up on chairs is different than what we'd see in a regular container search, but common for searches in a container element trial.  In her element trial container searches, Gimme saw boxes on higher surfaces multiple times.  She had it in 10 seconds.  She did a very nice job of checking the box on the chair in the corner - something which is often missed as dogs round the corners.

Container 2 video - This time the odor box was moved to the opposite end of the L-shaped line.  Dorothy moves the entire chair with the box on it, so there really shouldn't have been any lingering odor to speak of.  Perhaps she was just really eager to get to the raw steak and chicken nuggets I had for treats, since really good treats are sometimes a distraction.

Container 3 video - The time the odor box is on the corner chair.  Gimme was really happy to find it so quickly - 11 seconds.  I don't normally bring her around to find and be rewarded a second time, but if I have a specific behavior I want to cement I will.  In this case, since she was behaving a bit odd in the prior search, I wanted to double up on this search where she was searching clean and serious.

For these last two searches, the boxes were back on the ground in an unusual configuration. 

Container 4 video - Part of it was to experience how we would handle it when we got to the end of one leg of the "Y" and still had an un-searched leg.  Do we cross to the end of it or go back to the middle? Gimme finds the first hide in 5 seconds, stopping on a thin dime.  From there she went directly to the second hide in 3 seconds.  She found the third hide in 7 seconds.  Sometimes we spend more time getting rewards than we do searching.  As a training goal we want to always get to the boxes we missed, though it almost always turns out the dog already knows there is nothing there.

Container 5 video - The second search was an "L" shape.  Gimme had the first hide in 5 seconds.  She actually went steaming right by the first box, which contained a hide.  She got all the hides very fast.  I can't tell which she likes better, raw steak or chicken nuggets.

This kid is awesome...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Parkour (make-up/5)

We did an extra class on Sunday evening as a makeup for missing the first class.  This class is actually a beginner class, but there's still value, just working around other dogs.  The retriever mix she took a dislike to at the beginning of this session was supposed to be there and I was eager to see if she'd made any headway on look-at-that.  Unfortunately they didn't show up. 

We did several sessions working on cue discrimination (multiple uses of one prop) and obstacle discrimination (separate behaviors, different props).

Our first session (no video) was working the difference between getting "hands" (two-on) vs. "out" (go around); prop was a small upside-down bucket.  Gimme found this very challenging.  A big part of the challenge was simply working around strange dogs (3).  She'd never gone around a low prop before, so this was it's own challenge.  Initially she couldn't even follow my hand luring her around the bucket.  I need to slow the luring hand down until I found a speed she could focus on.  It took awhile, but we were able to get the "out".  Once I engaged her working brain, then we did some work switching between the two behaviors.

Our next session was working the difference between "box" and "out"; prop was a low box (again no video).  This again was a new concept, since she'd never gone around a prop she could get in.  "Box" is one of her favorite behaviors and the box was big enough she could still manage to get a foot or two in it, while following my luring hand, making this even more challenging. I resorted to tipping the box up on its end to introduce the idea.  The next step was tipping the box up on its side.  Then I laid it out flat, but stepped in the box to block her from getting in as I lured her around.  It took awhile but when she had the concept, then I was able to switch between the two behaviors. 

"hands" vs "table" video - This time we were to work on "hands" (2 on) vs. "table" (4 on) for the same prop.  Gimme finds this very hard at the best of times.  You can see how close the nearest dog was and there were two others working at the same time.  I often have to use "wait" to slow her down, so I can reward not-doing.  Probably the only issue with teaching a dog to freeshape is their lifelong tendency to tossing behaviors at you when they want another treat, which with Gimme is all the time.  Then again, as much as she wants to drive the train all the time, this likely would have been an issue even without her learning freeshaping so young.  Teaching her there is value in being still is an ongoing issue.  Jo came by and was coaching me.  Her first suggestion was for me to have Gimme wait briefly before getting the treat, so she would get rewarded for holding the position (to counteract the stealth foot-on).  The next suggestion was to separate the "yes" and the reward, for clarity.  The other thing I have to do is to slow down, because I get caught up in Gimme's energy, instead of her responding to mine.  When I get all my skills right, she does do better.  I am fortunate to have Jo as our instructor, since she has a good eye.

"over" vs "below" video - Again hard work to listen.  She gets it right a few times and then starts getting too demanding for treats, so we switch to her self-control-food exercise.  Jo thinks she's not exercising self control, but rather giving me the control.  I'm not sure what I think about this idea.  At some level I think she has to exercise self control to give me control, so perhaps its a moot point.  In any case, its been an effective way to slow her (and me?) down and get back to being more thoughtful.  Her very next try, she almost does it wrong, but then catches herself and realizes what I said and does it right, for which she got a jackpot.  Of course her next rep is wrong and then overall she gets more wrong than right.  This (all these exercises) need to be worked on at home when the weather gets better.  Since its so hard for her to begin with, I think she needs to be learning these things in a less distracting environment. 

"box" vs "table" video - This is just hard work, though I think easier than the cue discrimination exercises we'd been doing.  When we work on this at home, I want to first teach these behaviors with some distance, so I get my own movement out of the picture.  Jo thinks when I'm making her wait to do a behavior (trying to get her to understand not-doing has value), I should wait for her to offer me eye contact before I reward her with a cue.  Her thinking is, since Gimme really wants to work, then having her ask to work with eye contact builds on self control.  We haven't done much with eye contact for awhile, so I should probably work on this at home to remind her how the game works. 

hold on prop video - The goal was to have the dog hold in/on the prop.  Note how many variations Gimme offers.  For the first "table" I counted 7 other behaviors - such as, shifting, tap dancing, head bobs, sits, downs, re-positioning herself, head turn...  For "box" I counted 6 other behaviors. 

hold on prop 2 video - This time we just did the one "box" and I focused on rewarding more stillness.  Clearly this will be a work in progress.

This class was a lot of mental work.  Also, since the dogs were working all at once instead of taking turns on the floor, it was much more working time than usual.  Gimme slept soundly most of the way home, but then was wide awake and ready to be home.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tracking (39)

Last Friday we met at the Game Farm Park.  Nadine set up the 4-starts plan we'd talked about for Gimme the week before, while I set up the nearby leg challenge for Cricket. 

Gimme's training for starts was aged just under an hour and had four chances to figure out the track direction and each had a short leg to follow (about 50 yards), with an article at the end of the leg.  Gimme's path to approach each start is shown in a green dashed line, while Nadine's path is in red dots. 

Gimme struggled with the first one, she seemed to know which way it went, but wouldn't commit.  She finally did and after we got to her reward glove Nadine and I talked about it.  I said I didn't think what I was doing was "realistic", since in a real test I wouldn't stubbornly face away from the right direction, instead I'd treat it as a search circle.  So for legs 2 and 3, I did it as a search circle and Gimme did better. 

At leg 3 I noticed Gimme seemed to find/know the direction, but still didn't go down the leg until I happened to say "track on", our tracking cue. When she's searching, I say "search for it".  I noticed she tended to stall a bit on the second time around, so for leg 4 I cued "search for it", while she circled around me twice searching, and then I cued "track on" and she went right down the track.  We'll do this plan a few more times until Gimme and I gel on our system.  At least it seems we have a good plan.

For Cricket I laid out the same basic track as she'd had for the test, but with a shorter fourth leg, so the fifth leg and outgoing tracklayer path would be closer to the corner.  As it turned out the wind was conveniently in the same direction as on trial day and pretty strong.  We aged it about 30 minutes and then let her run it.  As we approached the startline we could see a group of people and two large loose dogs playing on the field where the track was laid, basically all over legs 2 and 3.  Amazingly Cricket aced this track.  She spent a little time on the second corner, but then made the turn.  My impression was she was trying to find where the turn was, sorting my path out from all the dog and people contamination.  She didn't seem to be challenged by my outgoing path.

Good job for both girls.