Nadine and I met for our urban tracking practice this morning. It was cool and wet. We noticed all the dogs had a greater tendency to want to go up on the dirt/vegetation next to curbs at first. We think this is because the moisture intensified the smell of the dirt and vegetation, making it more attractive.
Gimme went first today. We did three tracks along the curb of 30, 50 and 90 yards, with food drops at 10, 25, 45, 65, and 80 - ending with a glove. As I said, all the dogs had a tendency to want to check out all the wet dirt/veg next to the curb, as did Gimme. Once she got her head back in this game, she got right down to task. On her third track she had to pass over a driveway between two parts of the curb. It was challenging, but not too hard for Miss Talented Nose.
When I'm laying tracks like this, I've devised a notation system, so I can take along a small piece of paper which keeps me on plan. I've checked my strides against a 50' tape measure and found I take 15 steps (counting both feet) for ten yards. So I break the food drops into steps, so I don't have to convert it in my head while I'm laying the track. My notes for today look like this:
Sugar had real difficulty focusing on task today. She has just come out of season, so its a real mental challenge for her. Next to Gimme, I think she has the most innate talent for nosey stuff of these four Dalmatian girls. It reminded me how truly blessed I am since Gimme isn't the least bit bothered by being in season. Anyway, we repeated Sugar's first track, but she still had difficulty. So for her third track we did the same length, but left a lot more food drops. I varied them between 5 and 10 yards apart. With this set up she was in this game and working well, so we stopped to be sure to end on a positive note.
After we did all the curb tracks, I laid a track on short grass, including a transition to cross a street and then turn to follow the curb. We crossed a second sidewalk. The small white circles on the pavement represent food drops. The blue square is a piece of denim for an article, plus the four gloves and a start sock.
She did not indicate the denim square article and while I stopped her and showed it to her, giving her a treat, I didn't do the metronome feeding to build value in it -- my bad. This weekend, I'll do an article exercise following the curbs at the motel, using some of my stash of urban style articles, and being sure to metronome feed the heck out of them to build lots of value.
Gimme is contentedly sleeping as we speak. There is nothing like tracking (or an evening finding 17 nosework hides) to leave her feeling satisfied. This girl really loves to use her nose.
We also did a short session of obedience stays and Gimme did about the same as last week. This is hard for her and I probably need to revisit stays away from other dogs, to cement the task since its been awhile. Then we worked on a stand for exam. Little Miss Wiggle Britches had a lot of challenge with this, so we simplified the task, having Nadine do air touches. Gimme kept wanting to come to me for treats after these stays, so I had to stretch out toward her, metronome feeding to reiterate the idea of waiting for the treats to come to her. We ended on a nice success with actual touches and I rewarded her mightily for her efforts.
We have another barn hunt trial this weekend. Cross your fingers for us. I'm really hoping the successes of last weekend weren't just a fluke. We need two more legs to finish our Master title (RATM). It'd sure make me happy...