As planned, I set an article circle to practice Gimme's restarts. She loves articles, so its highly motivating for her. Its a large "circle" (or in this case an oval), created with many short straight lines, flags on each corner, and an article at the midpoint of every leg (eyeglass case, sock, plastic lid, sock, viewtainer, swatch of suede, glove). Its primarily used to train/strengthen article indications, but also works on corners. In our case, since Gimme totally loves articles and gets the game, its a great way to train her restarts.
Gimme did an amazing job at this, only getting a little sticky one time. I forgot to turn the camera on until I was at the second article. Someone at the tracking seminars mentioned they always push record as soon as they turn on the camera, since they forget if they don't - clearly I need to do this. I'd done a bad job of line handling on the first article and she got a big jerk when she got to the 20' mark as she led out from the prior article, so this is probably why she was hesitant. I spend a lot of time rewarding at articles, so when you have 7 in such a short track, it takes a long time. Thus, those excessively long pauses of just grass in the viewfinder are while I am dropping 15 treats on her head, one at a time, as she bows at articles. I did trim off the rewarding at the last article.
From there we went on to do the 385 yard track Nadine had laid. While she normally lets us go first, in this case, Nadine wanted to test Cricket on a TD-like track. As she ran it with Cricket, we dropped two extra articles for Gimme. Since she'd already run it with Cricket, I wasn't surprised to see Gimme get distracted wherever she went off course. Overall she did a good job and I think she was a bit faster than Cricket.
I forgot to turn the camera on, so this video only shows from the restart after the first article. The video quality is pretty poor because I'm trying to keep up with her, so its bouncing all over the place (those rubber boots sure are noisy). BTW the business at about 2:30 where I'm saying "tangle-tangle" is because Gimme has learned to pick up her front feet and step to the side when I say it, so I can move the line/leash as needed when we are walking. Here I'm trying to apply it in tracking. I loved at about 4:00 where I said, "where's the track" and she immediately started her circle-search. She had the track and then at 4:40 you see her go off to the left, which is where Cricket got distracted - she left it faster than Cricket had. At 6:00 she is trying to cut the corner, but I held her off it - she needs to follow the track without taking shortcuts. Overall, as I've noticed before, I don't think she does as well if it isn't a clean track.
We ran the article circle a second time and it didn't start out very well. Gimme was distracted by the large bag I had hanging off my belt to put the articles in and I got frustrated and spoke to her a little sharply. This upset her and then it took a long time before I was able to encourage her to work well again.
Thank God for video, because without it, I had a very different ideas of what the problem was. I see I really must learn to give her the reassurance she asks for when she asks for it. I also see on the video when she starts out, if I say "yes" too early, it draws her off the track, but once she is committed to the track it gives her the confirmation she needs/wants. While this video was painful to watch as I make mistake after mistake, I learned a lot from it. Happily we ended with some really good work where I was able to give Gimme a LOT of rewards and celebrate her success. She is more forgiving than I deserve. I needed to pick up the articles and flags and just thought it would be fun for her to do it again. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have asked her to, since it was her third run in two hours.
The good news is, Nadine got really good results from my coaching her with Skookum on the article circle. So much so, she is eager to do it again.
Nadine is checking out locations to see if we can find some places to work on urban tracking work. I'm going to do some internet searches and see if I can find any locations in Tacoma or Fife which might work. I can check them out one-by-one on my way home from Mom's on Thursdays.
BTW I just got notified yesterday - we moved off the wait list and are in the Level 2 Element trial for exteriors. Its this Saturday afternoon. Its less than 2½ hours drive, so it'll be nice to be able to go up and back on the same day. I'm looking forward to it. Cross any body parts you can spare for us...