We've been busy for the last few days. I bought a tree-stand platform at Home Depot and my neighbor (the guy who does my remodeling) helped me modify it to take care of the two things Kathy suggested about my props. So Gimme and I have been working on "orbit", "cane" and "can" as much as we can. She's having difficulty getting the difference in direction between "orbit" and "cane" and so I've started training them in different sessions. She didn't seem to have the same problem when I taught "spin" and "turn" in the same sessions, but I was using luring to teach them, so I think it helped her know which is which.
On Saturday after I taught pet classes, Gimme and I went for a walk. When we came back, no one was using the arena, so I did a quick session there. Gimme hadn't been in this arena for about a year, so she was really distracted to begin with. I just gave her the time she needed to acclimate and clicked/treated when she was close. I was beginning to think it wasn't going to be a good session, when suddenly she turned on and we had a fabulous session. I'm seeing this trend with her lately where she is totally focused when she is ready. Before it was a more gradual to go from the acclimatizing process to ready to work - now its almost like flipping a switch. This could possibly be the extra training we've been doing, but I also think it could be due to the recent flower essence remedy changes.
Sunday we attended a 2-hour NW3 workshop. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was looking forward to learning a lot. Unfortunately Gimme did not do her best searching, though some was really good.
The first search was a container search with lots of distraction and she did really well with it. After we found the four hides, Dorothy had us continue to walk our dogs around, basically being the dumb handler. The idea was to have the dog still only commit to real odor and not suck into alerting just to make us happy. Gimme did well. The second search was an exterior and Gimme was brilliant. I think she was much faster and more accurate than the other dogs I watched.
As I was walking her back to the car I went by a patch of wet shiny pavement and a splash of reflected sunlight hit me directly in my right eye - instant migraine. It came and went for the rest of the day. Our two interior searches were minutes later and Gimme didn't do as well for these as I would have expected. She couldn't get one and really struggled with an easy hide she's seen before. At the time I didn't understand was was going on, but in hindsight, I'm sure it was my migraine. I've seen before where she isn't as able to focus when I'm in pain.
Our third time was a vehicle search and where they had it set up was in deep shade, so the migraine abated a LOT and Gimme did much better. There were three vehicles lined up in a row and we had three minutes to find the hides. We were allowed no more than 1 minute per vehicle and once you left a vehicle, even if early, you couldn't come back to it. Gimme found the first hide fairly easy and so I walked her around it again with our remaining time. Just as we were about to get to the back bumper our one minute was up and we had to move on. Gimme found nothing on the second vehicle and wasn't even particularly interested in it - we walked around it twice. On the third, a long trailer, Gimme found a hide on the far side and then was showing a lot of interest on the top of the trailer. She could only get her front feet and nose up there, but kept walking the edge checking. After we were done Dorothy asked me where I thought there might be more. I said it was possible there was an inaccessible hide high on the trailer, but it could also be because air was moving from the hide-side under the trailer, then hitting a nearby wall and curling back on the trailer. She agreed with my assessment and then said the other hide was on the back bumper of the first vehicle - the one we ran out of time on. Gimme had sniffed it briefly on our first approach, but didn't indicate.
Try as I might to stay out of or face away from the sun, I still got eye-zapped several more times from reflective surfaces. I walked to the last search (exterior) staying in the shade, but then had to cross through sun again. By this time the migraine had really geared up. Gimme searched and found one hide really nicely. After it, she then got stuck fringing 12 feet from source, which is not like her at all. So again, I think she was distracted by my pain. Dorothy had us walk back and forth between the two small wood spools (one had odor, the other fringe). When she indicated the right one she was rewarded, when she stuck on the fringing one - nothing. This let Gimme sort it out for herself.
Last night in class we got 1 search, with 8 minutes to find as many hides as we could! The room had been set up this way all day, so there was a ton of odor. Of the eight dogs in our class, all but one found ten hides. Little blind, arthritic and slow-moving, deaf Hallie found eight hides. It was interesting to watch all the dogs go through this process. They each came in and found one or two hides pretty quickly, then they'd get kind of overwhelmed by how much odor was in the room. You could see in their behavior they just didn't believe there could be this much and weren't sure what to do. But then each dog would just hunker down and bring on their A-game to really focus and puzzle through the converging odor challenges.
Gimme could have been the dog to get 11 hides, but I messed her up. She went in the bathroom and sniffed around the edge, spending a little extra time on a heat vent on the wall. Then she went up on the sink and indicated the paper towel dispenser with enthusiasm - she really loves high hides best, as long as she can reach them. I rewarded her and then just left the bathroom. After all, everyone knows there is only going to be one in such a small space - except there was another in the heat vent. If I had waited and let Gimme be the one to make the decision to stay or leave, she likely would have gotten the second hide. Its common for dogs facing a converging odor challenge to find both without indicating, then indicate them one by one. So she might have gotten the 2nd one if I hadn't drawn her out of the bathroom by leaving it myself.
Since converging odor puzzles take extra time to work through, its interesting the time average per hide was 48 seconds for each of the dogs (except Hallie). I've always known she has good persistence. From her behavior, I'm sure Gimme would have found all fourteen if she'd had enough the time.