I didn't plan it this way, but am finding our break from RFE/tricks/obedience training has hidden value. When my father passed away, it threw me for a loop and really the only training I did was the classes we were in (nosework). We also went to a couple of barn hunt practices. And then there was tracking with Nadine and her spots. Also, we kept up with our annual walking goals, though we've gotten behind a few times and had to put in extra effort to get back on track. Plus we did go to three trials, resulting in two new titles.
So its not like we weren't doing anything. Still when we were home, I was pretty much a bump and Gimme made it clear she was bored. She's tried everything in her extensive repertoire to get me up and doing things with her.
With the RallyFrEe practices and now our third video entry for novice, in the last couple of weeks I've trained a few times. Plus there have been three group practices. But I was mainly working on getting Gimme a refresher on doing the station behaviors on a verbal cue. She is improving - yeahhhhh. This has been a big challenge ever since she went on medication for seizures. It got better when we went from 1500mg per day to 1000mg. Now we've bumped down again to 500mg, so hope to see even more improvement.
Anyway, last Thursday I was trying to remember what we'd been using for Free Choice behaviors and thought I'd try Gimme's forehand pivot. I didn't have our brick (octagon shaped wooden block), so borrowed a dog dish from the facility. Oddly, for the life of me I couldn't get Gimme to "pivot", instead she kept offering "can". This is a trick where she puts her back feet up on a platform and then walks her front feet around it. When we were working on this late Spring, she could only move her front feet a couple of steps and on the rare times when she tried to go further, she'd step off the platform with one rear foot. Yet here with this platform, she was offering a full rear-pivot and mostly keeping both feet on. Once I restricted rewards to only those where she kept both feet on, I got both feet on more consistently.
So I thought it was because the dish was much lower than the pretty patriotic themed can I'd been training her on. I got it out tonight, for the first time in about 8 months, and she got right on it and gave me the full rear-pivot. Again, once I kept rewards to only those where she kept both feet on - both feet on is what I got. Then I got out the brick and within minutes she was giving me those consistently as if we'd never quit practicing.
It was cool to see behaviors we haven't done in a very long time come back soooo strong, with just a little bit of practice. I'd heard this about taking a break on a behavior, but hadn't seen it so clearly.
Tomorrow J'Anna and I are getting together to practice the World Wide video competition novice course. Then we'll meet again the following Monday to warm-up and then video. Cross your fingers for Gimme and me - she only needs one more leg to get the RFE novice title...