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.