Today J'Anna and I met to set up and practice the novice course for the World Wide RFE video event. When we get this third leg, it'll be a new title for Gimme.
I started the morning being awakened early (we were already getting up at the crack of dawn) by the Empress of the Cosmos who wanted a tummy rub. Naturally I obliged until the alarm went off. Then got up and speedily got ready, got Gimme's breakfast ready and carried all the stuff I'd stacked with my keys out to the car.
Then there was the ordeal of getting Gimme to go outside with me to get in the car. She'd already been outside for the fastest tinkle in earth's history, so she was certain going out again into those frigid conditions was not on her agenda. I did finally get her out to the car, put her vest on and cranked the heat up as far as it would go. Light was just starting to peep over the horizon when we left home.
Gimme acclimated faster than she had last time, but wasn't all that attentive when it came to work. I did get a quick practice on each of the exercises, and a refresher on the Free Choice behaviors I'd selected. She did okay, but I just couldn't get her really enthused and focused.
J'Anna and I decided to treat this like we were videoing for real, so the dogs would be used to having someone standing in the middle of the course. So I have a video from this morning. Its a very long clip, so I've removed some delays to make it a little more manageable (6 minutes after editing). Its a good thing we practiced videoing, since its really not clear enough for submitting. We'll have to work out something different.
This video is from almost the last of our training. I was using the special bowl and Gimme kept offering behaviors I hadn't asked for - basically offering bow all the time with a couple others thrown in. She's never done this before, so it took me a bit to figure out what was going on. After we did one reward with the special bowl, she was much more enthusiastic and focused. There was barking and whining from the day-camp room, which distracted her quite a bit too. It was hard for her, but she managed to work through it. I was very proud of how well she did the behind-right-thru-around-left-through sequence - we haven't practiced this in forever, not even a warm up lately, since I just remembered it in the middle of the night. When we did it so long ago, I was in the middle of teaching right and left (circling around one leg), so I was surprised to see she remembered it without a refresher. The second time we did it where she had the mistake, it was my fault, since I hadn't gotten my weight shift correct - which tells her which side to end on.
So what I learned right before this clip was to make sure the rewards I'm using in the special bowl pay adequately for what I'm asking her to do. Working without getting a treat every time is hard, so it has to be worth her while to work for it. I'd just started putting 15 pieces of cheese and 5 peanut butter chips in her special bowl. You'll see after the first reward, how much better focus she was giving me - she really wanted to win the "bowl" release.
Also, I think the earlier offering of bows (with other behaviors) shows she has realized how often "bowl" follows a bow. So she was trying to talk me into a bow. I've been trying to make sure we always do something else after the bow before I release her, but it seems clear it hasn't escaped her notice how "bowl" comes shortly after the bow, regardless of whether I insert another behavior in there. I think next week I need so do some simple "heel" and "side" work with bowl releases to get her to understand it could come any time. I also think I would get better work from the beginning if I just did some heelwork with a couple releases, then move directly into the course without making a formal break.
Kinks and all, I was still very happy with her work.