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Friday, May 27, 2016

What's in THERE?

I've often wondered what goes on in Gimme's mind.  On the other hand, there are definitely times I'd be afraid to know.  I just know she thinks about things, more than any dog I've ever known.

Recently with Kathy's help, we've been doing some back-to-basics training, with the goal of finding games and strategies I can use when Gimme goes into Mommy-brain.   With the intense false pregnancies she gets and resulting Mommy-brain for 6 weeks, I lose a lot of training time.  Losing 6 weeks out of every 6 months is bad enough, but its the backsliding which is really hurting us.  The ups and downs with her anti-seizure medication makes it worse.  So our goal for now is to just find a way to prevent backsliding.

Recently Kathy has coached me into a better way to reward Gimme for finding "heel" and "side" positions.  We are trying to make them super valuable.  Basically I'm tossing a treat and then rewarding strongly when she gets to whichever position I cued.  Some of her best treats aren't workable because I can't hold them in my mouth, or they melt, or are too obvious.  So mostly I've been using jackpots - five treats given one at a time.  I know the experts say jackpots don't work, but they haven't met Gimme.  Tonight I used some raw trimmings from steak, which Gimme clearly loved.

My living room is small and most of the time it looks like an explosion went off in a toy factory.  Gimme likes having all her toys on display, all over the floor.  Before we can train, I have to pick up all her toys and put them in one of her four toy baskets, or risk breaking my neck tripping on them.  The rest of the time I ignore them.  So, Gimme knows we are about to do some training the moment she sees me gathering her toys.  In the past, as soon as our training sessions ended, Gimme got really busy getting her toys out and scattering them all about (she has to play with each one, so this can take awhile).

Over the last week, Gimme is no longer getting all her toys out right away.  Sure she gets out a few, but the explosion-at-the-toy-factory decor hasn't been in evidence much this week.  And most unusual, sometimes she just sits next to the toy basket watching me intently. 

My sense is she is inviting me to train.  Its as if she is saying, "See, basket full, floor is clear - let's train something."  I haven't done anything when she does this, i.e. I'm not leaping up to respond to the hypnotic suggestion "training time".  And yet, the behavior persists.

What does it mean?  And most important - am I still in charge?

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