Friday, April 24, 2015
Gimme wasn't her best self yesterday. I noticed right away it took her much longer in our periphery walk to give me her attention. We walked the same area several times. Fortunately I'd gotten there early, so had plenty of time.
Kathy had set up this course:
1. Right Heel Forward
2. CW Spin - Thru Trx to Left
3. Handler Front Cross - Dog Front Cross
4. 270º Left Turn
5. Free Choice Into to Right
6. CCW Circle
7. Right Turn Circle Trx
8. Thru Trx to Left
9. CCW Spin
10. Free Choice
11. Switch Back
We started by discussing our Free Choice moves and Kathy talked about what constitutes a Free Choice vs. a sequence (not acceptable). She also differentiated Free Choice signs from Free Choice Into signs. There are no extra points for creativity/difficulty with Free Choice Into signs, so you should always do something simple, choosing a move you can execute well. We each had to identify the Free Choice move we'd be using on this course.
I was going to use what I call "the Move". It is a short sequence, but Kathy said it would not be an unacceptable sequence. Starting from heel it would be: CW Circle, Circle Left Leg, Thru, CCW Circle, Circle Right Leg and Thru to finish. It normally goes very smoothly. However, when it came for our turn to demonstrate our free choice - Gimme just couldn't focus enough to do it. She kept offering other stuff and generally flailing around without paying attention to the cues I was giving her. She couldn't even follow a lure well.
She was getting frustrated, so not wanting to go there, I told Kathy we'd do our Twizzle instead. I don't have a cue for Twizzle, its just me pivoting toward Gimme in place (either side, but better at heel), while Gimme skip/heels backward around me, staying in "heel" or "side" position. This Gimme was able to do very well, with enthusiasm, to a lot of applause and flattering comments. Its very cute.
When it came time for us to do the course shown above, Gimme was still having trouble focusing and was again concerned about having people behind her at the start. So, instead of trying to set up with our back to our classmates, I heeled in from the side, turned and went to get her past it quickly. I started with C/T every other step and every sign, so about halfway through I had her tuned in to the Carla Channel.
She did well through to the end, with the exception of the Switch Back, when she wanted to do the Twizzle again. Partly this is due to her being oversensitive to any shoulder rotation since she so likes this move, so I need to practice Twizzle without any shoulder and probably should put it on a verbal cue. We worked through it and she did fine. As a reward I started throwing treats back and forth for her. This really got her excited and focused on me with glowing intense expression. In hindsight I should have gotten her to do something good before starting the course and then thrown treats, or picked something in mid-course to throw treats for. This led to the discussion about engaging the dog's seeking circuit.
As I said in yesterday's blog about nosework, this was all caused by me running out of Sepia, so she had to go without for three days. Gimme got her first dose last night and got much better right away. She is calmly waiting for breakfast as we speak...
I do have to say, even with her lack of focus, she was still the best in class. All the other dogs had to work on leash or they'd wander away. Gimme is just generally wonderful and also better trained, so she starts from a place of greater capability. Just sayin... And sadly, this was our last RallyFrEe class for several months. We may get together with Kathy on occasion like a mini-workshop, but no weekly classes. <sigh>