RallyFrEe practice on Tuesday morning went very well. It didn't take her as long to acclimate this time. We worked the dogs out of our cars, so she had down time between her acclimation and working, and then between the working sessions (a total of 3). I was very pleased to see Gimme remembered some of the things we'd been working on and didn't need the lure-reminder. I worked on some new stuff and in hindsight, should have worked on the new things earlier in the practice when she was fresher.
I again noticed she was not as sharp at nosework class as she normally is. Four of the five were one-hide searches, but they weren't laid out in an obvious repeat of prior one-hide searches (except the high hide which she'd seen twice the week before). Each search presented an interesting puzzle. So I didn't get the impression Gimme was bored, just not her usual brilliant self.
I mentioned to my instructors at the end of class in the future I would not be doing a RallyFrEe class/practice on the morning of nosework class. They were both dumbfounded at my impression of Gimme as less than her usual brilliant self. They thought she did fine. Indeed if you compared her performance to the average dogs or less experienced dogs in class, then yes, she did fine. If you compared it to how SHE normally performs, then there was a drop off in acumen. Honestly they have so many nosework students, they probably don't remember a lot about individual students - I know I certainly find myself repeating myself a lot.
I have never seen this when we do tracking on the morning of nosework. But then I think of tracking, barn hunt and nosework as using natural dog skills. All dogs know how to use their noses, the only thing we do in training is to give them experiences to hone those skills. Whereas RallyFrEe doesn't use natural skills and is based on learned behaviors. As such, it uses a different part of the brain or at least uses the brain in the different way. I think it just makes her more brain-tired. I'm the one who schedules the RallyFrEe practices and our plan is for Thursdays, it just so happened we needed some fill in dates to get started. If we have to do a RallyFrEe practice on Tuesdays, I'll make sure Gimme's involvement sticks to things she knows well and keep it short and sweet.
Our first (and third) search is one we've done before, where the handler has to
remain in a box and let the dog move away to search on their own. The
idea is to eliminate handler behavior as an unintended cue to the dog.
The last time we did this, Gimme aced it and the instructors' comments
were along the line of how little she pays attention to me when she is
searching. (there was other stuff in the area, it just wasn't really
part of our searches)
This time, Gimme was still happy to search without me, it just seemed to take her a long time to find the two hides. The search is on leash, so I was sure happy for my longer line, since we didn't get tangled up in stuff. She had to check the stuff on both walls, ignoring the chairs at first. When she did decide to check out the chairs, then she found the first hide quickly. After I rewarded her and moved back into the handler box, it took her awhile to find the other hide.
The other search in this setup (our third search) was to test
the dogs' expectations. They'd found hides on the chairs and would
expect to find it there again. Usually Gimme very quickly eliminates
this idea, but this time it took her longer. She did go past the chairs
to find the hide under the red cart, she just wasn't her usual speedy
The other three searches (second, fourth and fifth) were using the bigger part of the room, again with chairs everywhere. The two brown circles are bar stools and the two light blue rectangles are foot stools. The two little blue circles along the left side represent the pipes on the wall. These searches were off leash.
For the second search (the first in this setup), the hide was high up between the two pipes on the wall. Gimme is the most experienced at high hides and yet she appeared to take a very long time to find this hide. She started down the left side (between the stools) then veered to the right corner, came along the back wall, then up the left side. As she passed the pipes I saw her nose go up, so I think she got the drift of it then. Instead of working the problem, she went up past the table and to the right side to snoop around. Gimme was actually the slowest to solve this problem of the class!
I got the impression she was saving it for later. It could be she remembered the hide location from the last class, where we did it twice. I often see evidence of her remembering things which other dogs don't. So I wouldn't be surprised to learn she knew immediately where the hide was.
For our fourth and fifth searches, they moved the high hide over onto
chairs in the right corner. It was very close spacing between all those
chairs, so some of the dogs were inhibited getting in there. The small
terrier did the best, since he just passed right under the chairs.
These were actually Gimme's best searches of the night. She seemed to
get to work more quickly and has never been inhibited by close spacing.
I don't want it to sound like she was "bad"... I'm just so used to her being the star of the class. So when she isn't star material, it really stands out to me. She was still the cutest, no matter how you parse it. Just sayin...