Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
NW1, NW2, L1I, L1E, L1C, RATI, RATN, RATO, RATS, L1V, L2C, L2I, L2E, RATM,
R-FE/N, PKD-TL, PKD-N, ADPL1, ADPL2, TD, UWP, ADPL3, NTD, TKN, L2V and ADPL4...
26 and counting...


Friday, April 29, 2016

Parkour (1/2)

Class was very active.  Jo set up a large balance course, so we didn't have a space cordoned off just for us, but it was okay.  There were only three dogs in class and Gimme did well with it.

The course Jo set up was a basic "U" shape and after we each ran through it she added things to make it more challenging.  It started with the two jump platforms with three cones between them for the dogs to step over, then a short ramp onto a round platform and over the sway bridge.  Then there was a square platform, a long ramp to another platform.  The things on either side of this ramp were PVC dividers.  From here we made another turn onto the narrow board, a platform and down another ramp.

Balance course A video - Gimme did really well with this.  She finds the narrow board challenging and I have a plan for training this at home.  She was distracted by stuff off to the side.  She wants to do everything zippity fast, which can translate to "unsafe" when I submit for titles.  Thus, my goal for these was to get her to move smoothly and controlled. I'm also being very careful how I use treats, since I want her thinking about what she is doing with her body and feet, not focused on food.  So she does each course with praise and support throughout and food only when she is done. 

For the next course, Jo added a small jump on the first ramp and some fitpaw pods on the last ramp.  Balance course B video  Gimme has no problem with these, but she did think she is supposed to step over/around the pods.  After the turn I told her to step on them and she did fine.  The golden you see at the turn around point is only about 7 feet away and while his presence was distracting, he's very calm so Gimme was able to work through it.  

This time Jo added a PVC framework with a bunch of colored straps hanging from it forming a curtain and a big box at the end of the end ramp. Balance course C video The box put us closer to the golden, but Gimme handled it well.  We are supposed to "spot" the dogs, especially when they are doing elevated stuff.  I find having my hand in Gimme's harness makes her tense, so I usually just hold onto the leash close to the harness.  There will come a time when I'll want to spot her with my hand in her harness, so I plan to get her used to this.  I'll likely use it consistently when we set up our balance board at home - starting when its still really wide.  This way it will feel familiar and not be a predictor of something challenging.


This time Jo added a pole, stuck through the
PVC dividers, for the dogs to go under.  Balance course D video Gimme had to sniff it and then went "below" for me.  On the way back I wasn't fast enough, so she jumped over it.  Then I had her go "below" twice. 

For the last balance course, Jo lowered the bar between the PVC dividers and added a group of items forming a side street (2 milk crates, 1 tub and 2 oil pans). Balance course E video Gimme did really well with this, though she thought it was especially dopey to crawl under the bar when she could so easily jump over.  The peanut butter go toob was sufficient motivation to convince her to do it my way.  The little side street took her straight to the toy on the wall from a couple weeks ago - which she clearly had not forgotten.  On the way back she wanted to bypass working the side street obstacles and just go straight to the toy.  I cued her to jump over the bar.

I really liked the gradual approach to adding these challenges.  You'll note toward the end Gimme was moving more comfortably on the narrowest board.  

While Jo took the course down, we were told to grab something and practice our 4-in behavior. I grabbed a milk crate. Box work video Gimme loves doing "box" work.  I have to make sure my timing for rewards supports an automatic wait as well as having all four feet in the box.  Of course she likes to embellish. I wanted Jo to see how she hopped both back feet in simultaneously, but when I tried to get it again, then she was trying to back on and stand on the rim at the same time.  Clever girl.

Then Jo set up the support framework for learning tic-tacs and we were each challenged to do as many Parkour things as we could. Creativity video We did "box", "gwon", "cane", "hands" and "bacon".  Gimme wasn't sure about some of this because I was using english instead of the cues she knows.  Plus she'd never done "bacon" on something so small.  

Then the last thing we did was get an introduction to the tic-tac trainer.  The idea with tic-tacs is for the dog to rebound off a vertical surface, placing all four feet on the surface.  This is trained starting with a slightly angled surface, which is gradually raised toward vertical.  Jo is very specific to get the dog's angle of approach right.  She told us having the angle too straight on (instead of 45 degrees from the side) encourages running the surface, which is a hard habit to break. Tic-tac video Gimme was very good at this, though it took me a few tries to get my part of it right.  I have the perfect thing to use for a tic-tac surface to train with at home - its a go-go dancer platform, which I took for the wood, but will now have a new life as a tic-tac trainer.

After this busy class Gimme slept contentedly on the way home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

RFE Practice (14) & Cuing Issues

Our RallyFrEe practice last week went well.  Gimme had more focus than I’ve seen for the last few sessions, though it didn’t last long.  For the last session I worked briefly on a few behaviors which seem to have fallen apart lately.  Candy and I talked at length later and I realized what I thought was happening wasn’t the case at all.  I hadn't realized the source because it occurred close in time to a period of false pregnancy and medication change, both of which affect focus.

In short, I thought I'd taught Gimme "thru" means pass from "heel" or "side" through my legs (front to back) and turn to end on the other side (like one pass of a figure 8). She also knows "left" and "right" meaning to pass from whichever side she's on, through my legs (front to back) and return to the original side (a leg circle). We also have "under" which means to come from behind me between my legs and stop there.

It seems as I've tried to reduce the amount of center of gravity (CG) shift (which indicated which way to turn) she's become confused. Apparently she didn't learn what I thought.  Lately she does "left" or "right" in response to "thru". In "left" or "right" I stand with my CG over the leg I want her to circle and just point with my toe/foot with the other leg to create the gap. And when this doesn’t' work, sometimes she will try to "under", passing through, turning 180 degrees and coming up under from behind. It was this solution which helped me realize what was going on.  These three behaviors have big similarities.  My only answer was to return to weight shifting and then remove it more gradually. But I know her well enough to know how fixated she can get on what SHE thinks the real cue is. So I posed the question on the MDSA workshop list.

Susan suggested I video several reps of each of these commands, with and without the weight shift, and look carefully at the replay for what my hips, hands, arms, shoulders, head and eyes are doing, as well as the lower body weight shift.  She suggested I think about whether I could change/exaggerate another physical cue. Unfortunately this won’t work since RallyFrEe focuses on getting behaviors on verbal cues, so any noticeable physical cue is points off.

Gimme always has difficulty with verbals. Teaching her behaviors is easy peasy. Getting them on a verbal cue can be hard on a legendary scale.

Ilona seconded the video idea and added she thinks it is largely a proofing and stimulus control issue.  She gave me a lot of ideas for how to approach this – starting with going back to the basic behavior and being very careful about the order of cues as I reattach the verbal cue.  She also proposed an idea I hadn’t heard (or hadn’t understood).  It is, after the verbal is solid, then you start proofing toward stimulus control by giving the old unintended physical cue and if Gimme does the behavior she gets no reward… she only gets rewarded for doing the behavior following the verbal cue.

I was also thinking how some behaviors seem to go on a verbal cue so easy. But in considering it further, I realized there are physical cues which are part of those behaviors. In Parkour Gimme will do "hands" and "table", but needs me to indicate which prop we are using.  She at least understands to use the verbal to determine which behavior will be paid for. On the other hand "box", she doesn't need an indication from me, other than proximity. Of course, the presence of an in-able prop is a cue in itself.

I did create the videos. I have to say up front they aren't pretty. We haven't trained in the yard for nine months, so she was very distracted. She's essentially out of the habit of paying attention in the yard which we need to work through again. The ground is rough under the straw I just mowed, so I am clumsy.  Behaviors with physical cues video  The first video is what the behaviors should look like. I don't usually have to use my hands, but she was very distracted. 

The second video is when I'm trying to remove the physical cues. She actually gets it right several times, but in viewing the video I can see she is cuing off of other body movements.  Without physical cues video  The first time my step to the side cues her which side to go to as I appear to shift my CG. The second one I started from a clean position and then she did "under". The third one she starts "behind" (CCW circle) then checks out to distractions. I edited out a bit of moving around to get her back to work. The next one seems to be right, but I think she cued off my hand movement as I smoothed my shirt. Another big check out and then I had her working for a few more. After this edit/break she did one right, which may have been cued by a bit of head/shoulder movement. The next couple are right, probably due to pattern training. Then when I switch to "right", she gives me two "thru" (AND I CLICKED! - bad trainer!). We did a couple "right" correctly, then I switched to "left" and got the same "thru" offerings, followed by a few correct.

Clearly we have some work to do and I plan to start with first getting the behaviors fast and correct with physical cues, making sure when I reattach the cues to get the order correct, then gradually remove physical cues.

Another suggestion from Ilona was to make it clearer to Gimme by cuing “thru-side” and “thru-heel”.   This could tell Gimme exactly what I want after executing the “thru”.  Asking her to move “to the other side” is a bit conceptual, but giving a position cue gives her all the information she needs.

It was interesting to read this suggestion, since I’d been thinking about it, but was "resistant" to doing it, probably because someone I train with has these long multi-word cues for simple behaviors and its a bit crazy making.   As I was considering my resistance, I realize I have no problem giving her paired cues for dog-front-cross, which are "switch-to-side" and "switch-to-heel". I even thought I could cue "switch-to-center", which now is just "center". Sometimes its a little slow, so perhaps adding "switch-to" would make it clearer for her.

I did a short test of these three options, along with a couple other ideas.
♥ “thru-side” worked perfectly the first time and every time, with zero body cues
♥ “thru-heel” worked perfectly the first time-every time, zero body cues
♥ “switch-to-center” didn’t work, resulted in a switch to "heel" or "side"
♥ from center “switch-to-heel” resulted in a circle
♥ from center “switch-to-side” also resulted in a circle
♥ from center “heel” and “side” she moved directly to the correct position
♥ from heel and side “center” she moved directly to the correct position

While I can’t really explain her choices in trying to sort out what to do for the 3rd through 5th options, it doesn’t matter. We have working cues for those options. I’m just happy to have a good solution to our problem. I didn’t do any tests related to "left" and "right" leg circles, which we haven’t trained much in the last couple of months. I decided to leave them alone, since I think they may be a little confused for her right now, due to the confusion over the "thru" behaviors.

Another realization from watching the videos. Recently I've been reading a trainer's suggestions about how she teaches attention. She does it both cued and offered, going back and forth between them. Her cue for attention is "ready". Before I start with her approach, I’ve been trying to think of what cue I would use, since I already use "readeeeeee" before her nosework release from the start line - where she doesn't look at me - and I didn't want to create a conflict. And yet I saw in the video in the yard, when I said "ready" she gave me attention right away. I realize it may be contextual, being at nosework with my hand in her harness, or I say them different enough so they don’t sound the same to her.  To me they are the same because they are spelled the same, to Gimme they are different.


Lucky girl, she gets to sleep through all my theoretical ponderings.  For her its all fun and games.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nosework (3/17)

Our first search was a simple container search and I forgot to hand off the camera.  Gimme briefly sniffed the nearest hide (noting it for later) and then moved on.  She stopped and indicated the farther one.  Then as we came back by the other she indicated it.  I took one more trip around and then called "finish" and was right.  After indicating the second one, she was trying to sniff other non-box stuff, so I was pretty sure I was right.



The other two searches were in two canopies outside (one with canvas and one without) and a ladder.  

Suspended hides search video 1 
The first search included the ladder and the canopy with canvas.  As you watch this, it looks like she's doing a lot of sniffing of other stuff (the hides were suspended in the canopy and the ladder) and I did think so myself.  It became apparent as I watched the other dogs, she was really chasing odor.  When she starts searching the canopy she goes vertical right away (on the leg).  She wasn't the fastest to find the hide under the canopy, but she worked nicely.  Then you see her wanting to go up the canopy legs some more as she is solving the converging odor problem between the canopy and ladder.  She briefly indicates a step on the ladder, but when I don't respond she goes right back to work.  I don't think she actually thought it was the hide, more like she threw it at me to see if it would stick.  She found the ladder hide quickly right after this.  

Suspended hides search video 2 
This time there is a hide in both canopies (with and without canvas - higher than before) and one was added to the ladder if the search took a long time.  No dog found the one in the canopy without canvas.   I think they might have found it, but they spent so much time solving the puzzle on the other canopy that we finished the search early.  Chairs were added to the covered canopy and we thought this would make the search easier; in fact, it made it much harder for most dogs.  Despite time spent working the curbs, fire hydrant, and truck, Gimme was the fastest to find this canopy hide.  Every time she got really in the canopy she tended to go vertical.  She had this hide in 2:10, which was awesome.  One dog took over 7 minutes to solve it.  The hide in the ladder was added to give the dogs a chance to find a hide if they got too frustrated, I didn't even take Gimme to it.  Unfortunately the camera was cut off, because as I took her through the uncovered canopy on the way to the car, her nose went up and she got light on the front end, but no one else saw it. 

Gimme checked the chairs quickly and then dismissed them, whereas other dogs seemed to obsess about them.  When the chairs were added it was thought they would provide surfaces closer than the curbs et al, to catch scent.  Instead for most of the dogs, they had strong expectations when they saw chairs, which meant they took a long time letting go of the scent pooling against and on them.  Gimme loves high hides, so she was more willing to give up on them.

And of course she's naturally brilliant, doncha know. 

** We entered another NW3 trial and while we didn't get in, we are on the waitlist at #18... so this is definitely a stronger possibility than the one we are waitlist #55.  Cross your fingers...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Parkour (7/1)

Tonight was our last Parkour class - we missed class last week.  Class is good for Gimme in many ways (working at something she loves around other dogs).  I've already paid to continue another seven weeks. We missed class last week and I am going to email Diane to see what we can do about make-ups.  Since class is on Sunday evening, there's going to be more of them.

We started class with a creativity exercise - how many different things can you do with one chair.  I could only come up with five things: table, hands, below, cane and orbit.  At some point she'll be able to do bacon as well (back on), but we haven't worked on such a high surface yet.  Gimme did well at it, though below was hard for her.  After we had time to train and warm-up, we got to show the others.  Everyone came up with the same things.  Unfortunately I had the camera set wrong, so didn't get it on video.

Our next exercise was to work on gap jumps.  They had two nice raised surfaces of equal height and set them up with a low jump in between.  Then the dogs were rotated through it and after they'd all been through, the gap was increased.  Gimme didn't find this hard at all.  Gap jumping even heights video  At the beginning you'll see Jo moving a divider, putting it between the gap jumping exercise and where another team (with dog) was resting.  They were probably far enough away from us, but I sure appreciate the thoughtfulness.  Every night, when I come in with all our stuff, Jo already has dividers up to cordon off a space for us.

From there we went to a set of three tables, with the center table about 5 inches taller than the two side tables.  The task was to get your dog to go over the three tables, then to crawl under the center table.  I've really only worked with Gimme doing "below" when the space she is crawling through is in front of me, so she's going from one hand to the other.  Since this didn't work here, I snuck the peanut butter go toob under the table and then tossed a treat on the far side of the table and then another to get her nose under the table.  I wanted to have her crawling toward me for the moment in time when I'd have to let go of her leash.  Not elegant, but workable.  Three table challenge video

There was a setup in the middle of the room with two longish ramps and then several different surfaced things for the dogs to get on.  It started with two low oil pans, then a plastic milk crate, a small round table (green), a smaller table (blue), a larger table (checkerboard), a round table (red), then two board ramps, one going across and the other going down.  

Surfaces video Gimme has walked on milk crates before, so I don't know why she avoided this one the first time.  The three larger dogs all stepped over the little blue table - not avoiding, just easy to step over.  What you don't see after she goes down the ramp the first time, is the toy hanging on a board on the wall.  Gimme really does think every toy should be hers - even though she has four baskets of toys at home (plus a whole bunch more she's never seen).  It took me a few moments to convince her she'd have to leave it behind.  The second time around I worked on getting her to slow down and be more thoughtful about her feet.  She always wants to rush through everything, but Parkour is about body awareness and interacting with the environment safely, not hurling yourself at things.  Sometimes it takes a bit to get her to take an easy approach.

More gap jumping video We ended with some more gap jumping between two surfaces of slightly different heights.  As I had in the surfaces exercise, I had to get food out of my hand to get her to focus on her body.  You'll notice how my sensitive little girl has to have reassurance when she realized she'd done something wrong by stepping down between the two surfaces when the gap expanded. The problem as I saw it was how she was trying to stop to stay on the platforms and I certainly didn't intend to tell her she was "wrong" with the tiny little "oh" the second time.  Once I got her to move faster and just go off the landing platform, then the issue was resolved. 

One thing which became clear to me in this class - I really have to watch my tendency to get drawn into Gimme's drama.  She was doing all this stuff when we were in our cubicle, acting frantic in an effort to get me to pay with peanut butter.  When I realized she was acting and not really frantic, I just cut her off and required her to settle down and then calmly rewarded it with cheese.  She'll do whatever she can to get me to pay with peanut butter and often she is really good at getting me to fall for her drama.  Its something I really have to guard against.  Once I changed the rules and required her to act calm to get rewarded, then she could do it and the frantic act went away.  I wasn't demanding, I just wasn't paying for crazy-acting.  

I also did a little bit of impulse control games while we were waiting and she was able to do it once she realized it was the route to a payoff.  I think we need to revisit all our old impulse control exercises.  Its too easy for to fall into blaming the medication (Keppra) for changes and just feeding the frenzy.  This doesn't do either of us any good.  I know it will be harder for her than it was pre-medication, but hard isn't bad.  In the end I think she'll be happier and more confident if she feels like she's in control.

As always, after class she slept most of the way home and is snoozing as we speak.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tracking Genius (26)

Yesterday Nadine and I met at Flaming Geyser for some field tracking.  

Two of her girls were in season and their minds were trailing their noses by a few feet, so I set up an article circle for them.  It was big, but very simple.  There were 12 legs, 30 yards each.  It was interesting to watch her girls, they each started out okay, and were doing well.  

Gimme would have done the whole thing several times through - as long as I didn't run out of cheese.  Nadine's girls each made it to a certain point and then it was like the brain was used up and they suddenly could barely track and stopped indicating articles.  Nadine doesn't pay very well for articles.  Gimme gets 15-20 treats for each article; Nadine maxes out the pay at 3 treats.  There's a reason Gimme loves articles, eh...  I suggested she just stop, ending the track on a good note, but she went through to the end.  Made me wish I'd laid a much shorter circle.

Nadine laid the tracks we needed for Gimme's remedial work.  We kinda ran out of space, so the second track was not quite according to what was on the plan, but it all worked for the good.  

The idea was for two tracks with three legs each; 60, 90 and 90 yards.  The first leg would have a start sock and flag and another flag at 30 yards.  There were no corner flags.  Legs 2 and 3 were essentially the same, with a glove at 30 and 50 yards and flags at 40 and 60 yards.  As a handler I wasn't supposed to be looking for the flags, but they were there to confirm a leg when I thought she was on it.  If she was accurately on the leg, then the two flags would line up.  If she was to the left of the track, then the first flag would be to the right of the second flag.  If she was to the right of the track, then the first flag would be to the left of the second flag.   
[If you can't wrap your head around this description - put your hands in front of you, extending your index fingers pointed to the ceiling and line up the two fingers so they overlap.  Then move your head left or right and you'll see how the near finger moves relative to the farther finger.]

Gimme didn't do very well with the first track.  There were some changes in how I was handling and it threw her off a little bit.  For one thing, I was waiting for her to pull out to 20 feet and this made her uncertain.  I've gotten in the bad habit of following her too soon and when I didn't she was not sure what to think.  We first resolved this last year at one of Sil's seminars by doing article circles and using the pattern of an article on every short leg to encourage her to pull ahead without me.  We may need to do that again.  Then again, maybe she will get back to it on her own.

But, more importantly, I was trying to pick up flags and load them in the tube, while quickly following Gimme at a walk-trot.  So my attention was divided and I'm sure she sensed it.  At one point I bent over to give her treats at one of the articles and the little wire flags all fell out of the tube onto her head.  As if this wasn't bad enough, then there was the hold-up and break in our rhythm while I picked them all up.  I at least had the good sense to drop the flag holder and extra flags at the start flag for the second track so poor Gimme didn't have to put up with it any longer.

Gimme can be very patient, but this nonsense was all too much for her and it showed.  She couldn't figure out what the heck she was supposed to do when I was being so weird.  When she lined out on the track, she was her usual self, though a bit slower.  Most of her uncertainty showed up when she needed to search for the corner, she just didn't want to go out at any distance.  On a positive note, through all this I was able to focus on walking myself up the line after each "corner which might go straight", so I had line to play out when I saw her change of behavior.  The other cool thing was being able to glance at the flags and see where Gimme's change of behavior and my stops were happening relative to the actual corner.  Gimme does clearly go past every corner, at least 15 feet.  For this track I was able to get stopped before I passed the corner.  Sil would be so proud...


As I said, we ran out of room on the second track, so there was an extra leg to get us across the road and around a bend.  Nadine put in 3 extra flags to get us over the road and around the bend without disrupting what we were actually working on.

Gimme did much better on this second track.  She was still over-running the corners, but was sticking much closer to the actual track, about 2-3 yards.  She goes pretty fast, so maybe she will always overrun corners.  Without me acting oddly, she went back to searching more confidently when there were corners, whether they went straight or not.  

One thing I didn't expect was for her to just zip across the road like she did.  She never lifted her nose at all.  Recently I'd noticed she was having a lot of trouble with transitions, so I was surprised to see her handle this like an expert.  It was beautiful to see.

By the end of this second track, it was clear she knew there would be lots of gloves (thus, lots of cheese) after the turns.  This is important if this process is going to work to build motivation and enthusiasm for staying close to the actual track. 

It was fun to see her having such a good time.  I had to laugh because she was so mad when I removed her harness when I took her back to the car.  When the harness comes off, she knows she's done.  She's used to getting to do two tracks and in this case she had done two tracks.  She made it very clear (loudly), she does not consider two short tracks separated by a play break as two tracks and I should be ashamed of myself for trying to cheat her.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Nosework (2/17)

Class the other night was all about intentional distractions in containers.  We were all supposed to bring a container with a distraction in it. I forgot mine so shoved some cheese into a water bottle.  Sadly I also forgot my camera, so no videos.

Our first search there was 17 containers and all had food distractions, with no odor.  There were also 8 empty, never-used odor tins.  The odor tins were included to preclude the possibility of dogs learning to alert on the smell of those tins.   No dog was interested in my boring cheese in a water bottle.  Some containers were more interesting than others.  Oddly, one of the most attractive containers had liquid hand soap in it.  Remember, dogs are often highly interested in novel smells, not just meat and cheese.  I remember at one trial a very large percentage of dogs false alerted on Irish Spring bar soap.  Our job was to let the dogs explore any container they were interested in, as long as they weren't destroying it.  If they started going Captain Destructo on a container or after a "reasonable" time of investigation, we were to move them on non-verbally, using our own motion and/or body language to help them move on.  

Gimme got interested in a couple of containers and was mostly able to move on without me helping her.  She didn't fall for the liquid hand soap.  Outside was a set of warm-up/recovery boxes.  So after searching this room without odor, we were able to take them out and reward them on odor.  (Gimme got rewarded on those boxes going both ways on all her searches). 

For the second search, they added five containers with odor.  These were strategically placed near the more attractive distractions, so we were able to maneuver the dog to odor the moment they left a distraction.  Across the board, all the dogs were less captivated by the distractions when there was odor available in the environment.  Gimme did very well, though she had one special container which still held her interest.  It was an ice-cream carton with a cheeseburger in it, a most irresistible combination, doncha know.  When she left it and hit odor nearby, I made sure it paid VERRRRRY well.

Our third search they just added 7 ORT boxes.  So we had a search area of 17 distraction containers, 8 blank odor tins, 7 ORT boxes and 5 odor containers.  It was a lot to keep track of, so the odor containers all had a large piece of blue painter's tape on top.  Gimme did well on this search too and this time left the ice-cream carton on her own.  Yayyyy.

It was a fun class with a nicely designed progression for teaching the dogs.  Gimme was content on the way home and snoozed all evening while I did my taxes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tracking Basic (2)

By day two the ear infection was worse (been to the ER twice as of today) and the pain was really intensifying.  I was able to gear up for the fun of working with Gimme, but much of the rest of the time I was a total blob.  

We started the day by meeting at Barkley Village (appropriate name, eh), a cinema parking lot for some hard surface tracking.  I paired up with a lady and her lovely Bernese Mountain Dog.  I laid their straight curb work.  The handler's timing was excellent and the dog caught on verrrry quickly.  

Then she laid an island hopping serpentine for Gimme.  Island Hopping Serpentine video Gimme did a beautiful job sorting out the direction for the first hop.  On the second hop, I may have messed her up when she steps up over the edge of the curb into the dirt and only a foot from an article.  I didn't immediately go with her because she wasn't down by the curb (subtle line tension, made not so subtle because the line had gotten completely loose just before then), but in hindsight, she was probably cutting the corner to an article she could smell and was confused by me holding her back.  At the third hop I couldn't see the chalk arrow and I think Gimme might have been momentarily distracted by me talking to the tracklayer/videographer.  The fourth hop she nailed it.

Overall Gimme does really well with hard surface.  Where she struggles is the transitions between hard surface to vegetated surface and back to hard.  Its hard for me to wrap my mind around this, but Sil says it is a hard challenge. I was reading his proposed manuscript for Modern Enthusiastic Tracking and he was talking about how some dogs struggle going from upwind to crosswind and back to upwind.  He proposed the idea of these smelling enough different so the dog isn't sure they are the same track.  So it makes sense the big difference between vegetated and non-veg would be even more of a difference and the dog could easily think they aren't the same, until experience teaches them otherwise.

I didn't want to put Gimme up without doing something closer to the kinds of things we are working on in our urban tracking practices, so I talked my training partner into laying a simple two-legged track with a turn against the curb.  She placed the article across a gap.  Gimme completely aced this. Hard Surface Turn Against the Curb video

From there we went back to the training center for more lecture.  Gimme had one more track in the afternoon, which was set up like a TD track, but with extra articles.  It had a total of 4 turns, 5 legs, one start sock, three articles and 455 yards.

Jon laid it and I have here a picture of his map.  He makes really good maps and aces the tracklayer-exercise-from-hell.  I didn't do well at all on the tracklayer-exercise-from-hell, so I'm really impressed with his ability.  Its one thing to know exactly where a corner or leg is when you have lots of time to consider it.  Its an entirely different thing to know when Gimme is flying down the track.

4/10/16 Track video  While the video quality is better this time, we are missing the first leg of the track - I think I may have accidentally deleted it when I was deleting trash off my camera.  So what you don't see is the time where Gimme flies off the start line, then is distracted as we passed the barn on our left.  A cat had rushed past us a few minutes before we started the track and it was headed toward the barn.  Gimme may have seen something move to our left, or just looked to be sure the evil cat-thing wasn't lurking nearby.  She let go of the idea by herself and then got down to tracking again.

This video starts partway into our second leg.  I'd asked Sil to stay closer to me and give me more immediate feedback on handling and/or change of behavior I might be missing from Gimme.  So when I heard him, I thought he was talking to me. One of the things Sil mentioned a couple times over the weekend is how I take several steps even after I see a change of behavior from Gimme.  Since she is going so fast, this often puts me past the corner and may make it so, even using all of our 40' line, Gimme doesn't have the opportunity to cross the track during her searching, so she can't find it.  This leads to her picking up a fringe from the track, which in this case was about 25' on a slightly diverging path (note the wind direction in the grass).  She was probably going to lose it, but they stopped and redirected us before this happened.  Once we were back where we should be, she did a great job on the next turn.

The final turn was a bit of a challenge because she got out on the dirt patch and hasn't really worked this surface, much less a transition to it.  She did get the turn and did well on a very long leg of 150 yards.  There was a "corner that might go straight" in a place where there was a change in cover as the silage thinned out.  Gimme did find the final article and it was pretty much right in front of her on approach.

Sil thinks Gimme is entirely too content to take a fringe track and even quite a distance off the actual track.  In thinking about this, it makes sense, because she's been rewarded for it.  Her love of articles and prodigious air-scenting ability, means she can be 40-50 feet from the actual track and still smell the article and then drive right to it.  When she finds the article, then she gets a lot of rewards.  So by her way of thinking - she's doing what she is supposed to do.  

Sil laid out a plan for us to build motivation and enthusiasm about being committed to the actual track.  In his first book Enthusiastic Tracking, this is plan 7f.  In the new book, Modern Enthusiastic Tracking, its plan C.  We'll be doing a series of 2-turn zig-zag tracks, two tracks per session. These tracks won't have corner flags and instead will have two flags close to the center of the 2nd and 3rd legs, which are separated by 10 yards.  When I see the two flags overlap, I'll know we are lined up on the leg.  Ordinarily he uses a series of five food drops separated by 5 yards, to build motivation and enthusiasm.  Because Gimme will readily leave a track to drive straight to food, we are going to use two articles 10 yards apart instead.  

Normally she is going so fast she overruns the corners, but I'm concerned she might cut corners to drive to articles since the legs aren't very long.  Sil said I could let her cut the corner by 15 yards (45') to start with, but to tighten this up over time.  He said in a tracking test, she could cut a corner by 15 yards and be okay because even at the farthest point, she'd still only be 7½ yards from some part of the track and judges won't be concerned by this.  I never thought of it in this way.  In any case, I'd like her to be a lot closer.

I've been thinking about why I take so many steps after I see her change of behavior.  I think its because I'm not consistent about walking back up the line to the 20' mark after a corner.  So its entirely possible I'll be quite close to the end of the line when we hit the next corner or one which might go straight.  Since I don't have any line to let out and don't want to give her an unintended line check, I'm unconsciously taking extra steps to soften the stop.  So the first part of the solution is to be more consistent about walking myself up the line to the 20' mark so I have line to play with.  Then the second part is to become more aware of what I'm doing with my feet when I see the change of behavior.

Sil says we are really close to being ready for certification.  My goal is to get certified by the end of these four seminars (the last one is in September).  With this plan in place to tighten up our skills, I think this is very doable.  Can't wait to go tracking later this week.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tracking Basic (1)

This weekend we were up in Bow/Bellingham for two days of a basic tracking seminar with Sil Sanders.  He really is the best.  He has a great eye and intuitive sense of individual dogs. He has a way of making you feel safe and appreciated, even while really taking you to task about handling or training issues.  Its a talent I envy.  I always come away just KNOWING he adores Gimme, doncha know.  He's a treasure and if you get a chance to attend one of his seminars - its in the don't-miss category.  I spent the weekend with a raging ear infection in my good ear, so its a wonder I learned anything. 

Really this seminar was too basic for us, but I was sure it was a good opportunity for Sil to clean up bad handling habits I'd picked up since last year.  He didn't disappoint me in that respect.  He also identified a training issue for Gimme, which I think has been going on for awhile, but was exaggerated by the infamous "Bow winds". 

I realized a possible explanation for the saw-tooth affect I often see on Gimme's first leg of our field tracks.  Sil was talking about how some herding breeds seem to get out to the edge of the scent cone and then sort of chase the scent back to the track.  It occurred to me when Gimme does her sawtooth, she may be finding the edge of the scent cone, much as I've seen her do in nosework with vehicles and containers.  After watching her track this weekend Sil said he saw her doing a lot of casting back and forth over the track, which I think may be because of the stronger winds.

Gimme did her first track in the afternoon.  We had five legs, with two extra articles and 440 yards, aged roughly 30 minutes.  I had someone video and she got it broken into four separate clips, so you will be a blue spacer page between the clips.  I apologize for the video quality - it seems she did the video zoomed in because she couldn't keep up, so it sometimes has a weird look to it.  Day 1 Track video  

On both the first and last legs, you will see a "corner that might go straight".  Sometimes dogs momentarily lose the track for some reason and we see a change of behavior and then they search for it.  As handlers we don't know when we see the change of behavior if its for an actual corner or a "corner that might go straight", but we still want to work it the same.

One thing I see right away on this track is that I am still in the habit of stepping out with her before she's pulled the line out to 20'.  I used to do this to support her and I don't think she really needs this, so its a habit I need to break.  At the one corner where you hear someone say "Wow, look at that.", Gimme was right and totally taking the corner without over-shooting it, but I didn't believe her.  I basically made her do the "find the track" circle around me until she lined out on it again.  This is when she started pouring on the speed - she's really beautiful when she's hunkered down in her harness hauling ass (hers and mine).  Gimme pulls me along and makes it happen.  When Sil called out to me to "climb up the line", it broke both mine and Gimme's concentration and she had to look for the track again.  What you miss in the second spacer was where Sil told me we were well past the track.  When this clip starts, you are seeing the spot where Gimme drags me from where we were telling her the track was, to the article that was on the actual track, which she'd been on.  Good dog!  Sil later told me he'd considered laying the turn one place, but then went on, but got it confused when we were running (guess who didn't make a map).  After this find, Gimme did an excellent job through to the end of the track.

Our next track was a basic contamination track on a school sports field.  We ended up added to the first group to fill in the end slot.  This put us next to the fence for the cow pasture.  The cows saw us moving around kinda close to the fence and came trotting over - musta been close to dinner time.  You know how Gimme loves cows, so while we waited she lay with her tummy pressed into the soft grass admiring her personal audience.  You know how she also loves an audience.


This diagram shows a straight one-leg track with an article in the middle and the end, and the diagonal line is intentional contamination of someone walking across our track.  The double-line at the top is the fence where the cows were watching.

While Gimme noted the contamination, she didn't even slow down for it.  However, right before she got to the first article, she noticed the cows were trotting along the fence following her movements and she paused,  looking at them like, "what the..."  After the first article she really dove into her harness dragging me to the end article.  Since she was moving faster, so were the cows.  Gimme briefly turned her head to see them, but continued on down the track without missing a beat.  

Our track was twice as long as the others and two people got to see Gimme tracking with her bovine Paparazzi.  How I wish I had this on video... I told Sil about what happened and he assured me he doesn't charge extra for these special experiences.

BTW I entered an NW3 trial and came back from the weekend to an email saying we are on the wait-list for the trial.  We are number 55, so I think I can safely plan something else for the weekend, eh...

Friday, April 8, 2016

Urban Tracking (12) & RFE Practice (13)

Wednesday Nadine and I met at the Auburn theaters for some urban tracking practice.  We are working on 90º turns.  We set up tracks for all the girls and then ran them.  I set a somewhat challenging track for Skookum (the most experienced) then a less challenging track for Cricket (moderate experience).  Nadine laid a track for Gimme and then an easy track for Sugar.  We ran Sugar first, then Cricket and both did well.  

Our plan was to have a little more age for Gimme's track, but timing got away from us and it ended up nearly an hour.  She can do an hour on field tracking, but this was too much of jump on asphalt.  Also it is much drier now, so it makes it a more significant difference.  She really worked hard on this track and it took her quite awhile and she needed some help at times, but we finally got through it.  I had given her some Phosphoricum Acidum and it helped to start, but as we got to the harder parts I didn't notice a benefit.  Its supposed to help with concentration, but I have no illusions and realize it won't make up for over-facing her.  She made a valiant effort, but honestly it was a puzzle she's not ready for.  When we did Skookum's track, which was just a bit over an hour, she had similar difficulty and needed help.  Bad trainers...

Yesterday J'Anna and I met for RallyFrEe practice.  Overall I thought Gimme did much better than the last two times.  I gave her Phosphoricum Acidum when I first arrived.  We did three sessions and each was better than the one before.

Session 1 video - I started by taking her around to each of her Parkour props - its pretty obvious she loves "box" the most.  Then I did some short bits of heeling, trying to click mostly in the first few steps, to get her to focus on them and hopefully overcome her impulse to burst forward.  It didn't seem like it at the time, but I can see in the video she started better than she ended either of the last two sessions.  One thing I noticed right away is, she seemed to have forgotten the distance send to her Parkour props.  She went 2 and 3 times farther before.  This is consistent with our previous experience when increases in her Keppra dose causes her to forget recently learned things.  She's also forgotten "center" (standing front) and had to be helped with it.  I think its interesting how she remembers the behaviors for recently learned Parkour (if not the send) and yet forgets so much of RFE which she's been learning literally for years.  This really brings home to me how much more challenging RFE is than the more natural Parkour behaviors (natural at this level).  I don't know what the whole neediness episode was about, unless its just her own awareness of how much difficulty she is having with thinking/remembering.  In the past I've had instructors say I was babying her to let her hug me like this, but I'm just not going to ignore her needs.  I've always found Gimme to have a real honest work ethic, so if she needs reassurance, she's going to get it.  If I ignore her when she wants reassurance, she gets a little frantic.  After the hug-fest, I probably should have spent a moment or two clicking for attention to get her back into her working brain.  It took us 7 minutes to complete the course - yikes! - though a full minute was spent hugging and there was a lot of "relearning" stuff.  I did some doodling with heeling and other things and thought she did well, then finished with a segment of the course.  I was shocked to see we'd worked for 15 minutes. 

Session 2 video - I decided to start this session by walking around the room doing "whazzat" (Control Unleashed look-at-that) to all the stuff at the sides, in a sort of distance perimeter walk (2:30).  She's seen all this stuff dozens of times, but I thought it might help if she had a couple minutes to look at it and let it go as a distraction.  As we got to the corner by the daycare room, she was looking at a young dog on leash about 12' away, but was able to move on after a couple of looks.   This time when we did the course we shaved two minutes off.  The whole session was just over 7 minutes.  I am going to find my timer and start bringing it to make sure I end sessions in a more reasonable time.

Session 3 video - For this session I did another distance perimeter walk from a bit further away.  I think it helped her get mentally prepared to work, plus I know she's ready to work when I point/indicate something and she doesn't bother looking.  Before we even start the course, you'll note we had a hugging session.  Sometimes its clear to me what she's unsure about, for instance if she'd just made a series of mistakes (being right is very important to her).  At other times, its not clear.  It makes me think I need to find some way to reassure her before we start.  We did the course and she started out a bit distracted, but then just got better and better.  This time it took just under four minutes, a significant improvement.

Another thing I want to do is bring a longish tab leash.  I have an old leather leash and I want to tie a knot for a handle and use it for the early work.  I'm keeping her on leash to prevent her from practicing wandering off, but at the same time, I'm have such crappy leash handling and I think it sometimes throws her off.  I'd like to try doing it with a long tab, so I can drop it and lure as needed.  In the future I plan to start the first session with a distance perimeter walk with "whazzat", then we can increase the distance and shorten the time.  Then I'll walk the course with her and basically do a short retrain/refresh for each exercise.  We had to do this before when she started on Keppra, so I'm just going to plan on it until its not needed.  It all came back to her before and I'm sure it will again.

Today I'm planning to get packed and leave home before noon to head to Bellingham.  We have the basic tracking seminar this weekend.  I hadn't planned to go up so early and really hoped to spend part of my day off working in the yard, but then I remembered how insane Seattle rush hour is on Friday and figured with nice weather in the forecast it could be even worse.  So it seems better to spend extra time relaxing and doing computer work in the hotel room than to spend 4-5 hours in traffic.  I'll look online and see if there is some good walking trails nearby.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nosework (1/17)

Class last night was focused on container searches.  There were two search areas set up.  One group of nine containers was outside the front door and another group of about twenty containers was in the main training room.  We'd been instructed to bring a novel container with odor already in it.  I was the only student who remembered to both bring a container and have odor in it.  Dorothy was gone, so there was only her assistant instructor.

Search 1 & 2 video - The outdoor search was set up with no hides, the idea being to get the dogs a little frustrated to see how it affected their next search with several hides.  We were to let them search in the first area until they showed they wanted to move on.  You'll notice Gimme was more interested in the bushes than the no-hide containers.  The red plaid bag was different/novel and she just had to stick her head into it.  
Inside she did a really nice job overall.  There are several places where she over-ran a hide, only to whip back to it.  The hide I'd brought was a round cookie tin with a ton of odor in it and two little holes drilled on the side, which proved to be a very hard hide for the dogs to find.  They all found it last.  Gimme spent 1:32 seconds on this search, which is pretty consistent with the time of all the dogs.

Search 3 & 4 video - The outdoor search was again set up with no hides.  You'll notice Gimme goes to the bushes much sooner.  She dutifully checks each of the containers for me, but really makes it clear there is nothing there of interest.
For the indoor search we were to direct the dogs on a short leash from container to container.  If they pulled to a hide we were to go with them, but then take them back to where they'd been. Gimme was pretty much amenable to working this search under my control - there was a time she could not have done it at all.  She spent 1:48 doing essentially the same search, so its pretty clear this is slower.  The advantage I think would be if you have a really confusing search area, and want to approach the search so its clear for the handler where they have and haven't been.

Search 5 & 6 video - This time we pulled a switch on the dogs and there was a hide in the outdoor search (pulled from the indoor search - so only five there).  You can see Gimme clearly thought "ho hum, same old nothing search".  You can also clearly see when she caught drift of odor and drove right to it.  
For the indoor search we were to let them go off leash, even though we'll never have an off leash container search in a trial.  Gimme clearly liked it.  All the dogs were attracted to a ball on the floor in the corner.  Gimme was more interested in the toy shelf, just checkin...  Here when my difficult cookie tin was placed close to the taller tool chest, the cookie tin virtually disappeared.  All the dogs found it last, if at all.  Gimme did this search in the same time as she did the first search on leash.

One thing I did different was to try a homeopathic remedy called Phosphoricum Acidum, which is supposed to help with lack of concentration due to overwork.  I would never say Gimme is overworked; instead I'm sure she thinks she doesn't get enough training.  But she tends to emotionalize things, so perhaps it feels like it.  Anyway this was the first time I tried it and I think it made a difference, especially compared to the searches over the last month.  I'll be trying it here and there to see if its a possibility to help her focus.

Right now she is snoozing because her life is just one boring horrible drudgery after another and she never gets to do anything fun, doncha know...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Parkour (5/1)

We started out with our usual warm-up and then got right into work with the balance beams.

Video Balance training (10½ and 6½) - The initial 10½ inch wide beam is like a freeway to Gimme, since she did so much agility.  Jo had me slow her down since the Parkour evaluators tend to view fast as unsafe, so she said I should create good habits now. Even the 6½ inch beam is pretty easy for Gimme, though stopping and doing "flip" 180º turns is more challenging.  My treat presentation was throwing her off balance, until I got it centered and lower.

Video Balance training (4") - (I edited out Jo's instruction, her accent is thick South African and I can barely understand her when she's right there)  With the 4 inch beam, it got really challenging.  We tried getting the treats lower and more centered and it only helped a little.  Gimme got a few of the "flip" 180º turns, but then would lose her balance in trying to get to the treat.  Toward the end I had to let go of treat timeliness because she was getting into feeding-frenzy mode.  Even when she stumbles and/or loses her balance, she never gives up and always gets right back on the beam.  This girl loves a challenge.  She really likes to try new things and conquer hard stuff.  She got farther and did better than any of the others, simply because she keeps trying.  Jo made sure we ended on the easier straight line, which was really easy compared to all the turns we worked on.

I want to teach this at home and will try a more systematic approach.  I've got a couple of 8 and 6 inch beams I inherited.  I plan to make a balance beam from them, with milk crates for the end stations.  Then will practice doing "walkies" and "flip" in a slow controlled manner.  When she can do it on the 8 inch 95% of the time, then we'll go to the 6 inch beam.  Since I have my own table saw, as she gets good at 6 inches, I can just slice off a quarter inch at a time until we get to 4 inches.

Also, I was reading the Parkour training group on facebook and one person made a great suggestion.  She taught her dog to sit on the narrow beams.  Her idea was, if the dog can sit, then they understand about getting their feet close together, which is what they need to do the turn.  She said once her dog understood this, then the turns were easy for him.  I think this is brilliant, so will be trying this approach with Gimme. 

Next we played with the sway bridge. This isn't part of Parkour, but its a good, safe way to help the dogs get used to things moving underfoot. 

Sway bridge video - Gimme wasn't the least bit concerned.  In the first part of this video you will see she seems distracted a couple of times.  There is a siren going off in the distance and she was listening to it, deciding whether to sing along.  Past the place where I trimmed off the video it got really loud as it passed right by the building.  Gimme started singing along as I was playing through it to make sure there wasn't something there I wanted to keep.  She's very melodious doncha know...

Gimme always sleeps soundly after class almost all the way home.  Of course by the time I get home she's ready for more training.  Tonight we just came home from nosework class and she's thoroughly disgusted because I'm on the computer instead of training her.  What is the world coming to?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tracking Genius (25)

Nadine and I met last Thursday for field tracking.  The weather was really nice: sunny, cool, moist ground (dew), and a light breeze.  Nadine and I each laid a track.  The track she laid was 535 yards and we ran it at 30 minutes.

Gimme started out doing really well.  She didn't seem to notice the first set of tire tracks and found the first article easily.  She dithered a little on the second turn, but got through it.  Then she had to decide about the tire tracks and actually made the third turn a little early.  When she got to the pipe (blue cylinder and black "X") she got distracted by seeing a group of a dozen children walking the path (lower x-x line) until they went out of view.  She just got to working the corner when they popped into view again (higher x-x line) and she just had to watch them.  They weren't really very close and I think it was a side-affect of the increased Keppra dose, which really hits her impulse control hard.  Once they were well past where we were, I encouraged her to get back to work and once she sorted out the corner, she was off and running.  Articles were start sock, an eyeglass case, a wallet, a small metal dish and the final glove.  Even with all the time spent watching the children, we still did the track in 18 minutes.  I was happy with her efforts.

The track I laid was 435 yards and we let it age for an hour.  Nadine ran it with Cricket.  As we were on the third leg the guys from the model airplane flying group started getting antsy because this leg was headed straight into their turf.  They had no way of knowing how short the leg was.  We are normally done with this area before they start, but since we let the track age so long, it put us out there close to when they start (we'll have to make sure we use the other field when we want to go for longer age).  Nadine finished the track and picked up the rest of the articles.  

Then I went out to pick up the start sock and two flags; I took Gimme with me to find the first article.  I noticed she was distracted to begin with... probably by Cricket's feminine odor (she's in season).  Also, she never has been very keen to follow another dog, so I usually don't ask her to do so.  We had a big party at the article and then turned off to the right to connect with the path and head back to the car.

Gimme loves her tracking and is normally very good at it.  Nadine and I are meeting Wednesday morning at the theater in Auburn for urban tracking.  Then Friday night we head up to Bellingham for a two day seminar on Basic Tracking with Sil Sanders.  This is probably too basic for us, but I thought it would be a good refresher and give Sil a chance to clean up any bad habits I've developed before we get into the harder stuff. 

Nosework (6/16)

Our first search (blind) was outside and had plastic Easter eggs in the grass strip next to the sidewalk.  The search area included the grass strip and the beauty barked area which is just out of the bottom of this picture.  The purple lines delineate the part of the search area where the hides were - all ELEVEN of them!  Basically every egg from the two purple eggs to the end had odor.  

Exterior search video - In the video you can see the two purple eggs which showed where the odor started.  So its interesting to see how much attention dogs paid to the eggs before they got to where odor was.  Some dogs spent a lot more time there than Gimme did.  There was a slight breeze, so scent could have been drifting toward the start and pooling against the empty eggs.  Gimme did well at this, finding 5 hides.  Only one other dog found this many.  This is really a scenting challenge, since odor is really saturating the area.  One of the eggs Gimme cracked open had a dozen q-tips in it, what we call an "odor bomb".  We were only given 1½ minutes for the search.

Vehicle search video - This blind vehicle search included two of the big boom trucks and a small black car.  I don't know why Gimme left the hide at the first steps she approached.  She looked at me as if she was waiting for me to do something.  Even though I was fairly certain there was a hide there, she didn't indicate, so I didn't call it.  She was a little distracted - you'll see how she stares off into space a bit before going back to indicate the hide on steps on the other side of the vehicle.  You don't see it in the video, but she was quite interested in the bumper.  I think it may have been channeling odor from the front step hide.  She made quick work of the hide on the car.  Then I helped her toward the middle truck, which she ignored and went back to the first hide.  I called "finish" just after the video cut off and was right (there were 3 hides and none on the center truck), but we were past time.  We were given 3 minutes for the search.

To me Gimme seemed a little bit unfocused.  Not in a huge way, just not her usual laser beam focus.  I've asked Dorothy if we could have practice boxes set out.  I think it would help Gimme get on task a bit faster. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Parkour (4/1)

I wasn't sure what to expect from Gimme in class, especially since this was only two days after increasing her medication.  I talked to the instructor about it and her solution was to cordon off a larger space for us, with barriers including a working space.  Before "our" space has been mostly a resting area.  I find Jo wonderfully supportive and she really looks out for Gimme's needs.  

"below" training video - We'd done one other session, so I started with a plastic chair, but I couldn't make it work.  As I'd try to get my hand in position, she moved around so fast the leash got caught on the chair.  I got a few good repetitions, but far more failed reps.  I thought it would go better since we had the head-under-chair training so long ago and I expected it to translate.  Then I tried a different (heavier) chair and it worked better, but still not a good enough success rate.  Then Jo brought us two large cones with holes in them, to make a jump or "below" pole.  In hindsight, because the pole was so short in depth and greater width compared to the chairs, it was much easier to get a treat (lure) into position before Gimme could move around it.  We were able to get several good reps quickly.  Note what a large space Jo had cordoned off for us.

Crawl training video - The next task was to do the crawl trainer.  Its a large PVC framework, with holes in the side legs to put the drape support poles in.  It started out with the drape so high all Gimme had to do was run the channel to me.  By the end of several different turns she was crawling the length of it.  Because there was a few seconds in time when there was no hand on the leash and since she could have zipped out the side, I rewarded this with peanut butter so she was extra motivated to come directly to me.  It didn't take anything for her to figure out how to win at this game.  Jo said she thought Gimme would still go through it on the lowest setting, but there was no reason to ask her, since it was way beyond what would ever be required.  Note the tail never stops wagging.

Hoop training video - Then Jo brought out another gizmo to teach the dogs to go down a set of hoola hoops, set as a zig-zag.  The other dogs had real difficulty figuring out how to do this, but Gimme didn't.  I lured her through once and the next time she did it perfectly on her own.  Needless to say (but I will) everyone was suitably impressed with how quickly Gimme figured this out.   

We followed this with a little session on jump training.  I used the same cones/bar set-up and lured Gimme over a couple of times.  Then our goal was to sequence two behaviors together, so I decided "below" a chair and "over" a jump.  I started by building value for being under the chair and then lured her through.  Gimme got this pretty quickly. Short sequence video We also did a three part sequence by adding another chair on the end for "table", but I didn't get it on video.

Overall I thought Gimme did well.  There's a somewhat frantic quality at times as she would be in a bit of a food frenzy, but we worked through it.  She was certainly tired and slept soundly most of the way home.  

Tonight we did another session on "below", shaping her to go under the grooming table.  She picked this up really quickly.  Where we ran into difficulty was when I tried to add a little distance between me and the table (like 1').  Sometimes Gimme did it, but mostly she didn't.  I finally figured out the problem was the hand and body signals I was giving her.  In agility we use our hand and body signals in a pretty specific way and I wasn't doing it like what she was accustomed to.  Even though we haven't done agility in a very long time, she still expected me to signal her using the Gimme-approved method and when I didn't, she couldn't make sense of it.  When I cleaned it up then she was almost 100%.  

She always keeps me on my toes.  Just sayin...