RallyFrEe (3/3) and a smidgen of nosework class...
I've been thinking about my concern about the nosework back-to-baby-basics emphasis by our co-instructor. My objection has been the tendency I've noticed after having already found an odor box and gobbled up the self-serve cookies, on Gimme’s second time back to the box she checks it for self-serve cookies and then quickly moves on. I don't see this as a good thing. So the solution I thought of and will try at the next class, is: when she is gobbling the self-serve, I will keep adding more treats; to keep her mindful of getting goodies from me, even after self-serve. Hopefully then when she doesn't find the self-serve cookies, she'll pause, giving me time to pay up.
RallyFrEe class on Thursday morning was great. Even though we had a skip week in there, I didn't get to work much on our two behaviors - due to a ten day migraine and extra work hours. I talked to Kathy before class and asked her if there was time, for help repairing Gimme's "side" (offside heeling) behavior.
Our first behavior we were working on was to tighten up her circle around me from the offside position. Gimme starts and ends in position, but is really wide in front and on my left as she makes the circle. I tried to work on it once and Gimme just didn't want to - it was then I realized she needed to see Tonya for body and energy work. It was a very interesting session. Afterward Gimme did better, was more willing. I then realized part of the reason she goes wide is probably because its her awkward turning direction. I was able to show some improvement for class. Kathy cleaned up some of my mechanics and we got even more improvement.
Part of the difficulty for me is using the clicker when I need to have my hands free to treat in any position and always wanting to make sure I'm not clicking in her ear. It hurts my ears when the clicker is too close, so I think it’d be worse for the dogs. Kathy suggested using a "mouth click" (making a click-ish noise with my mouth), but I can't due to the cleft palate. I've since experimented with a soft clicker I got from a friend. I'm going to try to get a second one and a wrist bungee for each. They are soft enough I wouldn't worry about clicking in Gimme's ear.
After this we worked on her "down" in the offside heel position. I hadn't done this at all in the two weeks since the last class and even had to look it up on the blog to see what our second behavior was. Its the down-stand behavior and I chose the offside position because it would be weakest. To start with I need to simply get her to down and remain aligned in position, since she tends to turn her butt out about 45° as she lays down.
Kathy had me do it with some barriers set up. At first Gimme was confused by the barriers, but then after she got used to them was fine. In fact, she was so fine, the third time when we were approaching, Gimme ran ahead to lay down in the place I’d given her the cue twice before. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I was happy to see her thinking and trying to be right. Afterward we varied where on the barriers I asked her to down and she did great. I need to practice this some more using natural barriers at home (different pieces of furniture) and then will start moving away from them and see if we can keep the position.
J’Anna, a classmate, wanted some help with her back-around and I wanted to play with the course Kathy had set up, so they went into a different part of the building so I could have Gimme off leash while playing with the course. Gimme was distracted by the Shelties who kept getting up to look over their barrier, but once I spent a couple of minutes working on basics, she did well. I found she was popping forward of both “heel” and “side” and so missing cues. For instance if the sign was a thru-transition and she doesn’t slow or stop with me, she is already too far out of position to do the thru when I cue it. This is a symptom of her broken “side”, though this is the first time I saw it infecting “heel” as well. Arrrrrgh.
Kathy was able to help me with this retraining “side”, which I’ve been trying to reteach the same way I first taught. Kathy had me shape it, by capturing moments when Gimme passed through the position and gradually ask for tighter and tighter requirements. I realized in doing this, I’ve been trying to work on too many criteria at once. Since she used to know it well, I was getting frustrated when she would sit or forge past me or any number of things. Gimme was well aware of my frustration and was avoiding me a little at those times when she thought it was most likely to happen – which was unfortunately adding to my frustration, thus we were in a downward spiral.
So the criteria for basic heeling, broken down to individual training items, is:
● loosely in position
● moderately in position
● tightly in position
● duration in position
● slowing with me
● speeding up with me
● stopping with me
● remaining standing after stopping (“side” position)
● remaining aligned after stopping
Gimme was willing to move with me, but the moment I slowed or stopped would move away. So Kathy had me abandon treating her in position and instead click in position and then throw the treat. I can’t do this at home because our living room training area is too small (5x10 feet) and tossed treats too often go under furniture. If we do it in the yard it would take forever waiting for her to find treats in the grass. Then I remembered the seldom used tennis courts, just a five minute walk from the house.
During class we were able to shape up to moderately in position with a little bit of duration in position. Kathy had me catch her in position, say the cue “side”, then click and toss the treat. Tossing the treat meant Gimme got to run out and pounce on it, introducing a bunch of fun into the training. Today we did a little bit of capturing of loosely in position during our walk when Gimme was able to be off leash, with clicks and tossed treats. Later we did a session at the tennis courts and once she got acclimated, Gimme did well. I got mostly moderately in position with a few tightly in position. The best part was getting some instances of enough duration in position so I could click/treat in position and then after a bit more duration, click and toss the treat. Gimme had fun and I was very happy with how it went.
I am very happy to have Kathy as a trainer. She’s very insightful and completely reward based. I am so glad to have her to train with. I’m sure Gimme is happy to have her too – she likes having someone she can rely on to straighten me out when I get crooked.
Well, I promised Gimme another training session today. Can’t keep the Empress waiting…