We met at Pawsabilities yesterday for practice, doing course #126 from the book. Gimme struggled with focus and self-control the whole time.
For the first session, I started off with walking to the center of the room and cuing "whazzat" and getting Gimme to look around at things, then get paid for looking back to me (edited out). I didn't see where this was any better than what we'd been doing. Next time I think I will combine this with with a perimeter walk (from a distance of 10') and see if that helps. Of course, she was mentally "out there", so this may not be an adequate test.
Session 1 video - She started out well, but then showed confusion at the second station, probably because she was distracted and didn't hear the cue. She just didn't have the same level of attention throughout, her turns/spins/circles were wide and/or bigger than they should be and she was looking around. She was very distracted by the stuff in the first corner. On the second run through, on the second up-touch, I think she was either confused by my hand placement or the gitchy spot in her back is bothering her (we have chiropractor scheduled for next week - I've had to find her a new one). Another possibility is - the correction of backing up when she was distracted made her unsure. For the third run through I tried moving a bit faster and just forgetting about precision and it seemed to improve her attitude and focus a little bit. The one place where she got confused about the "turn" CW spin, I can see in the video I brought my right shoulder back, which she takes as a cue for backing around me in "heel" or "side" - bad me. You'll see at the end of this run through - she just couldn't get her "take a" bow right, though she did it well the first two times. She got into her food obsessed mode, where she just can't think for wanting food. This and the focus issue are related to the false pregnancy. I finally had to put my hand under her belly to remind her to keep her fanny up and then she was able to do it right several times (but the person videotaping cut this off).
Session 2 video - Our second session was less focused than the first. It didn't help for people to walk by right as I was asking her to do an "around" CCW circle. It took the longest time to get her attention back on me and even then it wasn't as good as the first session. I really should have stopped right then and done "whazzat" until she was done with the distraction. I tried various things to help her get focused. I used touch to bring her back, but it didn't work consistently. More rewards, didn't help. I broke off the course and just focused on heeling with thrown treats - helped a little. From there we did another run through and it was better.
Session 3 video - Parts of this session were good, parts weren't. I had added peanut butter chips to my mix of treats, thinking they might inspire more focus than cheese, but not so. They sure weren't enough to keep Gimme from sniffing for J'Anna's dropped food - which clearly shows they aren't as high in priority as I'd thought. I probably shouldn't have actually handed the bit of
food from the floor to Gimme, but it wasn't something I wanted to put in my pocket. We are missing a middle section of this video. Anyway, I started using the clicker and should have done so sooner.
This was really her best work of the day. I think the clicker has a positive Conditioned Emotional Response (CER) and it helped her break through the fog. Years ago when I had intact bitches and an intact male, when they were in season he couldn't function and could barely eat. But I could bring out the clicker and suddenly he was all there for me. I always have a clicker in my treat bag, but of late I've been working without the
treat bag in these practices. And I am lazy and don't want to break off
to get one from the car. I think I'll add a clicker to my music bag,
along with the iPod and speaker and such.
J'Anna said she didn't think it was as bad as it seemed to me. She thinks its because Gimme has been doing so much better lately and so my expectations have gone up. Maybe, then again...
Meanwhile Gimme is snoozing, still dreaming hopefully of another side-by-side preference test. Last time after I got off the computer she ran into the kitchen expectantly. When I didn't immediately produce peanut butter chips, she went over, put her paws on the counter and pointed to the go toob. Subtlety isn't in her nature, eh...