Gimme was overdue for a long walk, an important part of her regular mental enrichment, so it was very high on our list of things to do today. On the way over I decided to drive by the tennis court. I thought I was being foolishly optimistic to think there was any chance it would be available on a weekend, but since its only 1/2 mile from my house, driving by for a look-see is a worthwhile effort.
Amazingly it was vacant, but I almost kept going. There was a lady outside and just behind the courts, throwing a ball for her Golden. My initial thought was it would make it impossible to get any valuable practice in. But at the last moment my trainer brain kicked in and I decided to at least use the situation for distraction training. I took Gimme into the court and kept her on my 15' leash. We did a bunch of perimeter walking, clicking for offered attention. I usually just start at the gate and keep walking around the inside of the court, but this time I kept to a "C" pattern using the part of the court away from the distraction. We gradually got closer and closer.
Much quicker than I expected, we were able to work along the side of the court closest to the dog, within 15-20 feet of it running back and forth and Gimme was able to stay in her thinking brain! She was able to look and then voluntarily turn her attention to me. I was so proud of her. I could have left then and been completely satisfied with the session. However, the lady chose this time to leash up and head off... so I decided to see how much brain Gimme had left.
We did a bunch of "heel" and "side", along with moving "spin" and "turn" (she still needs a refresher before she can do it without me pausing). Then we did our variation of what I call "the move" (something I saw on a Julie Flanery video). It is: "left" "around" "thru" "right" "behind" and "thru". Its a cute little sequence I can start with her on either side and either end up with a side transition or back where we started. After this we did a 360 degree center front pivot, in both directions. She had plenty of brain to work with me, so clearly she was doing even better with the running dog than I thought. Yeah Gimme!
Afterward we went to the place we've been walking lately, for a 4 mile walk. We met a number of dogs and were able to manage space well enough with most of them to just keep walking by. For the one where we couldn't, I just lured her past with her peanut butter go-toob. After all this, she is contentedly snoozing.
I promised you a report on Gimme's tracking last week. She did nicely. Keep in mind our big focus right now is to reinforce nose-down tracking. She's always had a tendency to air scenting, so we'll need to really reward this to make it a strong tracking behavior. This week we did our drops at 12 yard and 6 yard intervals. Its 12 yards most of the time, with two 6 yard interval drops after each turn.
I got there early, so set a simple warm-up track (180 yards). Gimme seemed confused at first and I thought it was because she was unaccustomed to following my scent, though she'd done it when she was still a puppy. She got over it by 1/3 of the way down the first leg and then did very well afterward, finding all three gloves easily. When the other dogs worked this track, they also acted distracted in the same place on my track, so it may have been caused by previous visitors or wildlife passing through the area.
Once Nadine arrived, she set another course of 300 yards. We alternated back and forth between the two tracks, so Gimme got to run Nadine's track twice. The first time it was with the 12 and 6 yard intervals and then the second time it was a little bit variable from about the same interval. It seemed to me she paid closer attention and kept her nose down better with variable drops, but it could just have easily been because it was her third track of the day and she was getting more focused by then.
Gimme is a good tracker and really loves it. She spends much of the time waiting, whining in anticipation. When one of the other girls is out and tracking - Gimme steps the whining up to a proper screech. She does not think she should be kept waiting. And she especially doesn't think she should be kept waiting while some other d-a-w-g is having fun on the tracks. Just sayin...