Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
UWPCH, ADPL3(2), ADPL3(GC), NC, NI, and NE... 41 and counting...

Friday, November 20, 2015

RFE Practice (2) & Urban Tracking (4)

Nosework class was cancelled Tuesday night because of weather.  It wouldn't have been an issue for most students, but a few do live far away.  Dorothy lives out past Rochester and holding classes would have left her going home in driving rain down dark country roads.  Clearly we need to keep her safe so she can come back and teach class.  I was glad they got the cancellation notice out by both email and text, since I would never have thought they'd cancel.

Yesterday we had RallyFrEe practice.  Gimme did well, though not quite as brilliant as I know she is capable of.  We were back in the big room so it took her three trips around the perimeter to be fully acclimatized and ready to work.  We clearly haven't worked with her Special Bowl enough in recent months.  Just the presence of it was a distration, though she got better working through it as practice went on.  Next Monday we practice the course for the World Wide video event and the following week we'll set it up again to video.

Today we did urban tracking and kept it kind of short since I needed to be back in town by noon.  Each dog got to go island-hopping, which means they track along the curb of a planting island and then across open pavement to pick up the curb of the next island.  Three of the dogs (Skookum, Cricket and Gimme) did four islands with three open pavement segments.

For Sugar, who seemed to struggle last time we did urban, we modified the exercise.  We set her track along a long section of curb with lots of ins, outs and corners.  I had extra food drops to ensure she stayed motivated (she really hates cold weather and was dancing her paws on the frosty pavement), then she had just one section of open pavement to an island.  She did very well with this and really showed what she knew how to do.  We are left with no clue why she had difficulty last time, but everyone has an off day now and then, dogs too.

This diagram shows the track for Gimme's island hopping adventure, starting on the right, with a start article and four articles on the track (red stars).  We placed a couple of food drops (yellow circles) on the open pavement segment.  She struggled with the first gap, did okay with the second gap and aced the third gap.  Her gaps were larger than the other dogs had, because she has more experience at this, having done it a few times at the Sil Sander's seminars.  From watching her, it wasn't a matter of not knowing how to do it, rather she wasn't clear what she was supposed to do. 

We had plenty of time, so I set up an article circle on open pavement, with 8 articles.  All the dogs have missed some of the urban articles, so we wanted to build their desire to find anything with the tracklayer's smell on it (not just field tracking articles).

Nadine's three dogs weren't really tracking (nose down to the pavement) and so I had her move them along in the general direction of the next article and party at it whether they found it or not.  They got into this game and continued, still not tracking, but at least trying to find articles.  I suggested she use some other cue to encourage them, rather than water down her tracking cues.  This worked well because they all need motivation on their articles, especially Skookum.  As they went around the oval of articles, you could see them getting into the game and indicating faster and faster, and with more emphasis.

Interestingly Gimme was the only one to keep her nose-down and track from article to article.  She'd use her nose to scent the direction and then as she got closer would look up and dash to the article.  She really does love her articles - of course it helps she gets paid so well for them (a minimum of 15 treats each).  I won't ask Gimme to go without treats for an article until we are being tested.  I was really pleased with her efforts as it was very clear she knew what to do.  Next time I plan to set the article circle first, to warm up her brain.

We were still well within schedule, so I was able to detour to the house, thus Gimme didn't have to wait in the car for my appointment and errands.  Instead she was able to enjoy a well deserved slumber on the toasty warm couch.  Just sayin...

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