Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
NW1, NW2, L1I, L1E, L1C, RATI, RATN, RATO, RATS, L1V, L2C, L2I, L2E, RATM,
R-FE/N, PKD-TL, PKD-N, ADPL1, ADPL2, TD, UWP, ADPL3, NTD, TKN, L2V, ADPL4,
SDS-N, ADPL5, ADPCH and ADPL1(2GC)... 30 and counting...






Monday, March 9, 2015

Practice & RallyFrEe (5/3)

Wednesday night we went to DaPaws for a practice session.   I had one big goal.  Gimme has this thing where she sees Chris and she can't really think until she's greeted her.  Chris is a friend Gimme met when she was a puppy and so there is a lot of love between them.  Chris is also the person who ran Gimme in a couple of agility classes last year when my hand had me out of commission.  I've basically ignored the issue, but decided recently it was time to address it.  So I emailed Chris ahead of time and asked her if she had time to be our big distraction.  

Initially Gimme was so distracted we had to sit Chris in a corner (she brought a book) so we could be far enough away for Gimme to offer me snippets of attention.  We needed 3/4 of the arena length to begin with.  We worked the basic plan from the distraction class Kathy taught us last week.  Our order of progression was: 
1 -- Start-work cue, then walk Gimme around from far away (3/4 of the arena
       length) and letting her look and sniff toward Chris and click/treat any
       offered attention.  End-work cue.
2 -- Start-work cue, cue “heel” and walk nearer and sorta toward Chris, still
       with enough distance so the Gimme could work (about 1/3 of arena width).
       If Gimme erred, I gently moved away (no leash correction) and restarted.
       Gimme could look, but needed to stay with me.  Click/treat for heeling,
       aiming for a steady stream of treats.  End-work cue.
3 -- Moved Chris to center of arena.  Start-work cue, cue “heel” and walk
      closer to Chris, about 10 feet.  If Gimme erred, I gently moved away (no
       leash correction) and restarted.  Gimme got clicked for staying in heel
       position and maintaining attention.  End-work cue.
4 -- Start-work cue, cue “heel” and walk ever closer to Chris.  Moved away as
       needed and click treat for staying in heel position and maintaining attention.
       By this time Gimme was totally into the game and I was able to heel around
       Chris, with just inches between us, with Gimme on both the outside and
       inside.  End-work cue.

As I said before, Gimme really likes the challenge of distraction work.  For her its one big game and she knows she can win.  I really should have been working it all along.  Now with this pattern to follow, I plan to do a lot more of it.

After Gimme showed she could work around Chris, I let her go off leash and she greeted Chris as her long lost buddy.  Then we did some easy stuff, to give Gimme a mental break.  At one point I sent her away to take a complete break and she sniffed briefly and was back in 30 seconds, demanding to work.  So I decided to work on a recently discovered flaw in her generalization of "spin" and "turn".   It seems Gimme believes you can only do a "spin" or "turn" from a stationary position (after all, its how I taught them).  She was adamant about it.  So, we decided to work on it.  

I'd forgotten my target stick, which I wanted to be able to "lengthen" my arm.  I originally taught it with luring, but figured this would work better, since I'd need her to move further away from me.  Chris found a 2ft length of PVC and I quickly showed Gimme it worked just like a target stick.  I tried clicking this myself, but it was just too awkward.  So Chris did the clicking for me and things went very well.  Basically we used it 3-5 times to get her doing the "spin" or "turn", then she'd start doing them when she saw my hand starting to move to bring the target stick down.  Chris has excellent timing so we made great progress.  Once Gimme started anticipating based on a hand twitch, I reattached the cue.  In 7 or 8 clicks total, Gimme was doing the behavior on a verbal cue, even with me moving.  Its so much fun to work with a genius.

I've noticed recently - Miss Gimme is finally getting verbal cues more readily.  Perhaps she is matured enough and has decided its okay to let me drive the train some of the time.  We are doing a lot of training now with the RallyFrEe class and this may make a difference.  Also it could be partly because of the flower essence formulations for her ADHD and stress.  It may even be partly because of the MareMagic (raspberry leaves) she is getting every day.  I'm sure all these things are coming together now.

Our RallyFrEe class last week was not as good as past ones.  Kathy had set up a short course and the second exercise was a side-step and neither of us had mastered the skill.  So we spent most of class trying to get it.  Kathy had us trying to capture/shape sideways movement with our dogs beside us, but we didn't make noticeable progress.  So Kathy removed the station from the course and we worked the course without it before the class ended.

I came home with the idea of using platforms to get the side-step.  I got Gimme doing it, but she always moved her front feet first, then her back feet.  I made sure to only click the back feet and thought she might learn to lead with the rear, but it never happened. Remember we want them to lead with the rear so we don't end up with a dog who follows your side-stepping at a 45 degree angle.

I checked on the internet and every link I found showed teaching side-step in center-front position.  It might help a dog learn footwork and I'll probably teach this using the platforms.  But I don't think it will translate well for side-step at "heel" or "side".  So I went back to the original way Kathy showed us to teach side-stepping several months ago. 


I found by focusing on this and clicking when Gimme moved her rear, she quickly started moving the moment I turn my foot.  This is great since it will work naturally as a cue for a side-step where my foot action is in grapevine style.  In the blog I noted Kathy showed us four different ways to move sideways using this foot cue, so I want to ask her to show them to us again. 
Anyway, I did it with the pivot platform until Gimme was moving her hips in on just the foot cue in "heel" position.  I repeated the lesson in "side" position and she did very well.  I want to repeat this once more, then I'll try it without the pivot platform.  
Gimme is standing beside my chair heaving ginormous theatrical sighs of impatience, so I better get off this computer.

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