What a busy day we've had. Recently I decided (again) to work to get Gimme's car whining under control. It always occurs going TO some place and then the last five minutes coming home. Its more of a yodel than a whine, very loud and high pitched. Its quite stressful for me, as well as distracting. I've tried so many things and none have been successful.
I've tried filling a Kong before, but it didn't work well enough or long enough to get places. I now realize the Kong wasn't as big as we needed.... and I wasn't employing it in the right way. I've tried different things this last ten days and have hit upon a solution that works. For one thing, I have a Kong which is substantially larger than the other two. I'd purchased it for her stay at the kennel so she could take her evening meal in it, thus entertaining her more than just inhaling food from a bowl. I've tried peanut butter, but it takes sooooo much to cover the 25 minute drive to the fort, it would simply be unhealthy. So I'm now filling it with rice and raw hamburger and not giving her breakfast or if later in the day a very small breakfast.
It worked today and was just wonderful to have peace and quiet. Gimme only resorted to fussing when we actually got on the training area grounds. So I let her out of her crate and clicker trained her to sit in the front seat. By entertaining her while I drove (completely safe in this setting), she was able to be quiet.
Someone was parked in our usual spot, so we drove around to the top area and parked. I let Gimme out and we started walking. We hadn't gone more than 20 feet from the car when I noticed Gimme staring into a clump of trees and saw there were two people and two black dogs just 25 yards from us. I turned the other way and kept walking, calmly calling her to come with me and SHE DID! I rewarded her with a lot of peanut butter. I credit the peaceful ride with this success. We were both less stressed and able to respond calmly to this most challenging situation. I was so happy with her, I was nearly in tears. I continued praising and treating her as we walked another 50 feet... which I hope will leave a lasting impression.
After our walk we drove out to Susan's, with Gimme contentedly finishing off her Kong. We did several really nice nosework practice searches. The only real carrying on occurred when she realized there was stuff going on which I was involved in and she was still in the car. I'm not sure that will ever change, nor do I care. Gimme was very good and very focused. She continues to love having peanut butter as the reward for nosework.
After practice Susan and I watched some more of the Leerburg nosework training videos. Although I don't agree with everything they are teaching, there is a lot of value in it. Susan and I are both entered with our dogs in the Mt. Angel nosework trial and both of us are going up the night before. She changed to my hotel and we are planning to get together for dinner. We'll both search the internet for a pizza place in Salem with gluten free pizza.
From there I drove straight to Rochester for agility class. I was able to improve on all the things I'd noticed on the video's William took from several weeks ago. I used palm targeting immediately when I took her off leash and was able to get her to the start line the first time without big zoomies. There was just one tiny loop, so I just moved closer to her and got her focus back without clapping at her. We got to the start line and were able to work the course. Blynn noticed how much more focused Gimme was and how her ability to work through sequences was much improved. I was also able to focus on actually giving her the verbal cues in a timely manner and Blynn said it was much improved.
Gimme was so much better, thus Blynn was able to focus on teaching me two really challenging handling sequences. Gimme stayed with me and was able to repeat them multiple times until I got it right. It was great fun for both of us... because she was rewarded for trying even if I she went off course (obviously because my inaccurate handling sent her there). When I got my part right, Gimme ran flawlessly and it was the greatest feeling.
Then Gimme was quiet and contented on the way home. So all in all, a wonderful day with big improvements, which I think stem from being able to travel from place to place in peace and quiet for both of us.
I didn't think it was possible to love this girl any more than I already do. Still with such a perfect day behind us (rain and all), I'm just bubbling over with gooey love for my beautiful babe. So, now its time for us to snuggle on the couch.