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.