We started with practice last night at DaPaws. Gimme was the best she's ever been there. She was very focused, enthusiastic and generalizing well to this environment, things we'd only worked at home. Chris came in right before I ended the session and of course Gimme had to run say "hello". Then I asked Chris to stay while I spent a couple of minutes getting Gimme back to work and showing off her new move. It was great.
I thought we'd do really well in RallyFrEe class this morning. I was even more positive it would go well because she so quickly started offering me attention as we did our perimeter walk. But when it came time to work, she just was all over the place. In her defense, she is very close to coming in season - getting a good case of pudding-butt. But these were things she should have been able to do in her sleep. Kathy's focus for this 6 weeks is fluency, defined as: flowing effortlessly; polished, moving smoothly, graceful. It wasn't us this morning.
Our first task was two lines of short sequences to practice moving smoothly-gracefully. The stations were:
~ left heel forward, counter-clockwise spin, counter-clockwise
spin to center trx, free choice into left heel, and bow
~ right heel forward, clockwise spin, clockwise spin to center
trx, free choice into right heel and bow
We should have been able to ace these, but it wasn't happening. There was another person working on a trick nearby, so I moved further away and used the time to work on our bow. Despite how well she was getting it last night, Gimme couldn't do right heel at all today. In hindsight, I should have started out with basics like I did at DaPaws. So anyway, I spent the time working on her "salute" (bow). It was challenging, so we did go back to basics and saw some improvement.
Then for the next session, we worked in the other half of the room and there were seven stations. The idea was to do each station starting from all three positions: left, center, and right (if it could be done). Kathy gave me time to warm up and then came to video where we were at, as a baseline, but all from "side" our weakest. Gimme was still struggling with "side", because I hadn't tumbled to going back to basics. The first two stations were not good at all, the third she did well since she was able to keep moving, the fourth she had difficulty doing a wait while I did the behavior, on the fifth I told Kathy I wanted to take a few moments to do basics on side and then it was better, then the last two stations were easy for us. The stations were:
~ sit stand
~ down stand
~ front cross dog
~ front cross handler
~ into center & step back center x3
~ circle around clockwise
~ circle around counter-clockwise
The next thing to work on was teaching our dog to roll out the carpet. Basically you lay out a strip of carpet or an exercise mat, then space treats along the center and roll it up. When you present it to the dog the first couple of times, you make sure there is a treat sticking out right under the edge of the roll, so as they go for it their nose bumps the roll and this exposes another treat. Its easy and Gimme had fun with it. I have an exercise mat, so we'll be able to work on this. When everyone is ready, Kathy is going to show us how to teach the dog to roll up the carpet, which is a little harder, but basically the same principle.
From there we all practiced into behind. Gimme did well considering we haven't worked on this much. We'll get into this by next week. I thought she did better at home on her own platform. But Kathy identified an area I need to watch, so will be sure to set up mirrors next time.
Our last thing was to do some problem solving on J'Anna's attempt to teach her dog to cross paws. She showed what she was doing and Kathy helped with problem solving. Basically J'Anna moved on too quickly and the behavior was breaking down before she could get any duration. She thought the issue was duration, when it was really the dog not fully understanding what she wanted.
I talked to Kathy about where Gimme and I are in our "pivot" behavior (counter-clockwise pivot on the forehand). Gimme is amazing and fast at it using her brick, a 7" diameter wooden octagon. I have it on verbal, but without the brick, the pivot point moves well back of her shoulders, so it ends up looking very spin-like. I asked Kathy what I could do and mentioned how well Gimme had done when I tried it last night using one of those Frisbee rings. Kathy said we stayed with the target too long (I started this behavior a couple years ago, long before I had any plans for it), so now Gimme is target dependent. So the way to help her transition is to use as many different targets as possible, varying texture, size, shape, surface, height... anything I can vary, with a focus to get small as soon as I can. So I have my work cut out for me.
We also went tracking today and I'm eager to tell you about my little genius, but my back and shoulders are insisting I get away from this computer. Gimme is sound asleep on the couch without me, or she'd be insisting I get away from this computer. Gimme thinks electronic devices should be abolished, specifically computer, television and telephone - since they all interfere with my attentiveness. She also would like to get rid of the bathtub, but realizes it might be a necessary evil...