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...


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nosework (5/20)

Dorothy wasn't there, only the co-instructor.  She'd set up an interesting set of searches.  Sadly I didn't have my camera, so no videos...  We had a set of three searches, followed later with a pair of two searches.

Search 1 - The first search was outside, about 20 pieces of footwear.  None of them had a hide and the idea was to see what the dog looked like in the face of interesting smells without odor.  I know I've mentioned that the best distractions in level 2 and above for containers aren't necessarily meaty foods, but rather novel smells.  At one NW2 trial, almost every dog fell for the Irish Spring soap.  Gimme was interested in the shoe smells, the only dog to stick her nose deep in a boot, but she was less intense than she would have been if she'd detected odor anywhere in the area.

Search 2 - Inside in the front area of the main class room (not the foyer) there was just one hide, set about 6' in the center of the big garage door.  The idea was to watch the height of the dog's nose.  I did see all the noses gradually (or in Gimme's case not so gradually) go higher, but it didn't seem like they ran around with their noses on a higher plane as the instructor suggested would be the case.  Instead, they'd move from object to object checking higher spots, but between objects their noses tended to be at their normal scanning height.

Some dogs really struggled with this, but Gimme was pretty darn fast.  She's always had a preference for high hides, so it was not a challenge for her to decide to go up.  The only dog close to her speed was JZ, a small terrier (who was High in Trial for the L2V we were at on Sunday).  We didn't time them, so its a toss up who was fastest of these two.  I think Gimme was clearer in her indication - putting her two front feet on the door and pointing her nose right up to the hide.

Search 3 - In the other part of the main class room, the hide was set in a crack in the floor.  Gimme hasn't been as fond of low hides, though she will find them without too much trouble.  I noticed she ran around with her nose at her usual height, scanning and then checking various heights on objects.  She ran around quickly, then suddenly pivoted and went right to it.  The only dog faster was JZ, who is half Gimme's height, so her nose was already closer to it.

For the second set of searches...

Search 4 - The co-instructor added two croc shoes with odor in them to the shoe search.  Here we were to watch to see how the dog's search style changed.  What I saw in all the dogs was a pretty clear demonstration of their expectations about the shoes.  They all started into the search as if they expected nothing from the shoes, just like last time.  We see expectations all the time - mostly from the dogs repeatedly checking objects over and over and over again, when the hide isn't even very close to them.  The dogs catch a drift of the scent and then run around checking objects they "see", rather than following their noses. 

In this case none of the dogs were interested in the shoes the second time around because they expected no odor.  There wasn't any breeze to carry the scent to them, so they had to get pretty close before they caught it in one of the two crocs.  After they caught it, then they got more intense looking for it again.

Search 5 - In the bigger area, the hide was now on the top edge of a ladder.  It was complicated by a table sitting right next to it on the side where the hide was, so the scent cone included the table top and all the stuff on it.  There were a lot of things on the table and if the dog showed any interest we were to get down the one they showed interest in so they could sniff it and dismiss it.  Of course Gimme thought me getting down stacks of boxes was just the neatest thing ever and had to bap each of them.  She really got back to work though, since it was clear there was no odor related to them. 

Interestingly none of the dogs searched the back half of the area, since the ladder and odor was in the front half.  Some did go into that area, but no one stayed there.  Gimme went there a couple of times, but my interpretation was she was clearing her head as she often does in a hard puzzle.  Once everything was off the table, then Gimme went up and sniffed more intently around the ladder, finally walking her feet up the ladder and pointing her nose up at the hide.  I'm pretty certain JZ beat her time on this one, but not by much.  No one else was even close.

Gimme thoroughly enjoyed these challenging searches and couldn't wait to get home and tell her toys all about it...

A One-and-One-Half Title Day

On Sunday we left early in the day for Portland and a level 2 Nosework element trial on vehicles.  It was supposed to top out at 84º, but when we were leaving (minutes after our last search), it was 87º.  Fortunately I'd gotten all the aluminet screens after the NW3 trial which got up to 103º, so Gimme and I stayed pretty comfortable.  The trial was held at the Alpenrose Dairy, which is also a dairy museum and kind of a dairy theme park.  Part of the property has been turned into a sports facility for the local community.

We had 4 searches, in two sets of two.  Gimme was the third dog on the list, so we got things out of the way quickly.

Museum Search - This was a search of just one vehicle inside, 1 hide, 1:00.  It was a finished garage, with other non-vehicle, but large, dairy related pieces.  The vehicle was a large cream-colored old-fashioned milk truck.  There was only about 3' between the truck and the other stuff, so Gimme was attracted to the other things, but I just encouraged her to come back toward the vehicle.  We entered the search from the rear of the vehicle, passed up the right side and around the front, down the driver's side.  It had big sliding doors and Gimme found the hide in the bottom part of the sliding door "hinge".  She did the search in 35 seconds (11th place).  In rewarding her I managed to drop several treats and I was sure the judge saw it, but the trial results don't show any faults.

Main Street Search - Here we had two vehicles, 3 hides and 2:00.  From the start line Gimme went up the right side of the near vehicle, then up the right side of the other vehicle.  As she got to the front she indicated on the license plate holder.  Then she started down the left side of that vehicle, taking a diagonal to the hide at the wheel.  From there I took her around the vehicles again and then between them.  I told her "check-it" pointing to the bumper of the nearest vehicle and that was when she found the third hide.  She did the search in 1:31 (11th place).  I again dropped treats, but the trial results don't show any faults.  Oddly they also didn't give us maximum time for my failure to say "finish" at the end of our search.

The whole treat dropping is because I was nervous and my hands were shaky.  Normally I use peanut butter in the go-toob, but haven't been using it in class because the co-instructor gets so impatient having to wait for Gimme to cleanse her palate.  I went back to the PB toob for the rest of the trial.

Circus Wagon Search - This search was three vehicles, 2 hides and 1:30.  The vehicles were three little mock circus wagons lined up askew in a row. Gimme went from the start line up the right side and found the first hide at the corner of the last wagon.  From there we went down the other side and she quickly alerted on the rear wheel of the vehicle closest to the start.   Gimme did this in 1:02 (19th place).

Hollywood Lights Search - This search was two vehicles, 1 hide and 1:30.  There was two vehicles lined up straight.  Gimme went up the right side, around the end and then came down the side to the first car's front tire and did a lot of sniffing.  She was pretty intent, but hadn't sourced it or alerted.  When they called "30 seconds" I walked her around to the other side and she paid a lot of attention to the other front tire.  I knew we were almost out of time and called "alert", about a tenth of a second after the timer called "time".  As it turned out, the hide was inaccessible and it was behind the first tire she showed interest in. We were assessed maximum time.

Gimme did a good job, she just ran out of time.  She didn't hesitate to come with me when I moved her away from where the hide was, so she clearly wasn't convinced it was there.  She's normally very good at inaccessible hides, but I think it was hot and it was also the last search, so she could have been a little tired.  The vehicles were standing out in the sun - all the "ring crew" were sitting in shade nearby. 

There were only 7 dogs who titled, out of 25 entered.  Gimme's total time was 4:39 (11th place).  Her placement should have been much lower, but the judge must've been half asleep and missed my two treat dropping faults.  Placement is based on faults, then time.  We had 85% which was well over the 75% needed to get a leg toward a title.  So now I have to find another L2V trial in the area.  Although I was disappointed to miss the title, I wasn't unhappy with Gimme's performance.  She tried hard, as always.

When we got home I found a notice in our email inbox notifying me Gimme had completed the requirements for her Level 1 title with All Dogs Parkour. So she now gets to add ADP-L1 to her long list of titles - this is title number 18.  Level 1 Video Submission

Gimme is still humble, but I'm not.  Just sayin...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Parkour (6/4)

Gimme and I continue to enjoy the parkour class.

Send away obstacle video - This obstacle is a large "c" shape of dividers and inside are little obstacles to step on and over.  Its a send away, because the handler can't go in it, though I suppose I could have run around the outside of it.  Gimme figured it out really quickly. 

Board walk video - A quick down and back, with the pool noodles to step over and then the sway bridge.  She's never really been concerned about either.

Hoop/barrel sequence 1 video - Gimme took a little short cut when I fell behind her.  I'm sure she doesn't "see" the channel made by the hoops in the same way we humans do.  She very quickly figured out what I wanted there.  As always.

Hoop/barrel sequence 2 video - The second time around we had a different objective and like most dogs, Gimme made an assumption about what we were doing.  Jo thinks this is often because I'm not fast enough giving her information; I think she's right.  Its not Gimme's natural inclination to take direction, certainly not to wait for it, so I really do need to be more timely - which isn't easy with such a speedy girl. The second time through we did better, but I was still late, so you'll see Gimme has to jump the cone instead of the jump bar.  The third time she did very well and was completely unconcerned when the jump got knocked over by the dragging leash.

Sequence 3 video - This time we put all three parts together.  Jo pointed out how Gimme spun as she got on the board walk, because she was trying to do the right thing and wait for information.  Again its a timing thing.  So Jo had me repeat the first two parts of the sequence with focus on my timing. 

Sequence 4 video - The time before as we were walking back to our setup, Gimme noticed a big fat bird outside the gate on the big door.  She remained alert to the bird possibility for the rest of class.  In hindsight, I probably should have taken a moment to address it with "whazzat" - bad me.  Once she returned her focus to me, she did well. 

BTW the spot where she keeps making a loop out of the turn after the jump (after the hoops) is where the young black dog sits near there.  She finds him very distracting mostly because he always wants to get to her, to play.  She pays almost no attention to the female border collie who pays no attention to her.

Sequence 5 video - Close to the beginning I had Gimme do the part between the send obstacle and the board walk over, because I knew I wasn't positioned right.  It was better, but only a little bit.  Its kind of hard because I have an idea in my head of how I'll handle something, but I don't get to walk it without Gimme so I don't really have a feel for how to actually do it with her.  Its also a challenge because there are times I need to move quite a bit faster, but at the same time, I don't want to speed her up.

Sequence 6 video - This was virtually the same except the direction on the send.  I was trying to use the time while she was in the send to position myself better and she still got ahead of me.  To her credit, when I said "wait" (our stay cue) she interpreted it correctly and stopped.  Good girl Gimme.   You might notice our chuckle (me and Jo) on this and the last sequence when Gimme got in the box - you can't see it, but she was being dramatically funny about how she was getting in and plopping all four feet inside.

Learning "perch" video - We again built value and then started the pivot.  Note she has better focus with the door shut.  I started trying to have her offer the pivot.  Jo thinks I should focus on the physical strength/control aspect - though she said I could teach it both ways, as physical conditioning and as a trick.  I intend to get an oil pan (and similar props), so I can work on this at home.

Learning "perch" 2 video - In watching this clip it occurs to me I need to start doing the other direction as well.  All these practices have been counter-clockwise, we need to practice clockwise.

Creative sequence video - The final exercise was to plan our own creative sequence with flow, using the props on the floor.  We could move them in minor ways.  I liked the sequence I came up with, which ended with one of her great behaviors - a forehand pivot on a low prop.  Unfortunately I didn't get the camera aimed just right, so you really only get to see her fanny swing by - really fast.

As she always does, Miss Gimme snoozed almost all the way home.  She loves our Parkour classes, but they do tire her out.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nosework (4/20)

This was a container day.   And most of those were boxes and we all know what Gimme thinks is the real reason for a box's existence - to be demolished. 

Container 1 search video - This search was paired and we were supposed to add more treats, by reaching in the box or can to keep their nose deep in the container.  Gimme had a good time finding hides in 2 cans and 4 boxes (some were found and then re-found).  The can hides weren't paired, so she wasn't as motivated to stick her head in there.  Still she was very excited about the exercise - one can never have too many treats doncha know.

Container 2 search video  Container 2 search video - This time there were 2 each can and box hides, unpaired.  Gimme really worked this out well and fast.  She was easily the fastest in class. 

Container 3 search video - This time there were 2 box hides, again unpaired.  As you'll see, she found one hide quickly, but then got frustrated.  She started indicating every box, trying to get me to hand over the treats.  She wasn't searching, she was just going through the motions and slapping every box she came to, in hopes I'd like one.  I had to get her to slow down and get back to searching.  Unfortunately in a trial, I would already have gotten a false alert.

Between this search and the next, I mentioned how Gimme often stops working and just starts flinging behaviors at me whenever I have the treats actually in my hand, which we were told to do in these searches.  I see it in RallyFrEe and in Parkour.  I don't see it in tracking, but then I've never had the food in my hand while being dragged down the track.  They poo-poohed my idea, which is often the reaction to my ideas/thoughts.  After all, I couldn't possibly have learned anything about my dog in the six years she's owned me. 

Their only explanation was to say she was frustrated and I needed to slow her down.  I don't buy this, she's been frustrated before without responding by indicating everything in sight.  To me indicating everything she comes to is a LOT like offering any behavior she thinks of.

Container 4 search video - This search was pretty much the same as the one before, 2 boxes.  The only difference - it was a blind hide.  The instructors believed she did better (not indicating everything) because we were moving a little slower.  They didn't even notice how I kept both hands on the line and didn't have treats in my hand. 

Is this search definitive proof of not having treats in my hands as the reason she did better?  "No".  Its also not proof saying having treats in my hands is not a factor in her doing poorly. 

This is probably the only thing I don't like about these trainers... the assumption I couldn't possibly know my dog.  Surely I can't have learned anything watching her do nosework searches for 300 classes (3-4 searches per class), watching her track 200 times and watching her do barn hunt 100 times.  I'm not a dope on a rope and I always resent the implication.  Which explains why the vast majority of the time I don't express my ideas - I don't have a burning desire to be talked to like I'm ignorant.

Fortunately Gimme is immune to this stuff and she always has a good time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Urban Tracking (20)

Last Friday Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park in Auburn for some urban tracking. It was bright, but cool with a very light breeze, and slightly damp.

Nadine laid a track for Gimme which turned out to be harder than I asked for.  She really had to work hard at it, but did manage to solve all the puzzles.  She had to restart herself after three poops, two people interruptions, one dog interruption and one child-on-bike interruption (twice).  It took her 27 minutes to get through the track, yet she never gave up. 

I tried to video her run with the chest-mount camera, but it didn't really turn out.  Still I did pull a number of still pictures from it and here they are in our Urban Tracking Slideshow.

Enjoy...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Parkour (5/4)

We've just learned about another dog parkour organization, All Dogs Parkour.  Its similar to International Dog Parkour Association in some ways and different in others.  We are already busy preparing our first entry.

Class continues to be a lot of fun, with lots of new challenges.

Board work video - I'm so glad I taught Gimme to "flip" on cue, it really simplifies things.  She's rarely bothered by things underfoot.

Learning "perch" 1 video - We worked quite a bit on teaching the dogs to back onto something, stopping with just the two rear feet on.  Gimme and I have worked quite a bit on backing all feet on, so it took some time convince her to only put on two rear feet.  Part of the solution was to start putting it on a separate cue, "perch"; while "bacon" is to back all four feet on.  On this first video I put most of the time into building value for being still with just the back feet on. 

Sequence 1 video - Gimme always loves sequence work - she just likes to be moving and doing.  She was a little disconcerted when the bone-shaped fitness ball flipped on its side.  She was hesitant to step on it again, which made me wonder if she hurt her foot as it bumped the table when she slid off.

Sequence 2 video - The fiddling at the end of this was to get her to step on the bone-shaped fitness ball again.  Partly she doesn't see the point when its so easy to step over, and then it DID flip on its side the time before.

Sequence 3 video - Part of the challenge on this sequence was to send the dog out around the cone from the other side of the boardwalk.  Gimme has had difficulty with this ever since her seizure in March, when the "cane" and "orbit" behaviors were lost.  We've struggled to get them back since then, with minimal success.  So my solution here was to toss a treat for Gimme and then use my body movement (mostly not needed) to get her to come around the cone before returning to me - kinda pulling a fast one.  ☺ 

Learning distance "out" video - I wasn't happy with how this worked out.  We were supposed to be introducing the dog to doing the go-around-something behavior from the platform.  Gimme's platform wasn't stable and while it normally doesn't bother her, this night it was bothering her.  I didn't like the creepy association she was getting for her "cane" and "orbit" behaviors, which are already a trouble spot.

One other problem I see in hindsight was having her work facing the open door, where she sometimes sees the students with their dogs waiting for the next class.  In fact later in this class, someone came with their dog right up to the door.  Since then I've taken to closing the door partway through class.  I always set up our place in this spot because its gives us a private space away from the other class dogs.

As it turns out, over the weekend while I was teaching her to weave non-weave-pole prop sequences for ADP parkour (called Hardscape Weaves), I fell onto using the words "out" and "in" and she picked it up in mere minutes.  Of course it doesn't resolve her "cane" and "orbit" issue, where those behaviors are more of a loop (CCW and CW).  If anyone has a solution for getting those behaviors back - do let me know.  But at least we have something working for class. 

Learning "perch" 2 video - You can see her really getting the idea of what behavior I want here.  I need to get some similar props to practice this on.  She was getting the idea of turning with me and keeping her back feet on.  Then Jo had us do the same thing with another prop and Gimme had no issue with the change.  My attempt to lure the turning was completely unsuccessful. 

Jo thinks Gimme needs more rear end muscles.  I had a really hard time wrapping my mind around the idea, since rear end muscles is one thing Gimme has in abundance.  In thinking about it since then, I think Jo is looking for a different "type" of muscle (for lack of a better word).  Dalmatians are bred to run with a coach all day - essentially they are built like human runners.  They won't naturally build bulkier muscles, like a weight trainer.  This isn't to say they couldn't build them, rather its something we'd have to work toward specifically.

Learning "perch" 3 -  After our discussion, during which Gimme got paid for "chillax", we did another short session right before class ended.  We also did a couple "take-a" bows.

Gimme continues to love these classes.  And I like how Parkour encourages me to interact more with her during our walks.

Nosework (3/20)

We've been doing a lot of interior searches, this class was no exception.  Dorothy always finds a way to make them interesting.

Interior 1 video - Gimme found the first hide really quickly and then had to go check out the toy.  This girl loves toys and is sure she needs some more to add to her collection.  At least she leaves it more readily to go back to work.  (as I play the video, Gimme runs over to see where I'm hiding a toy)  She did check out the shelving where a bin of toys resides, but given the location of the other hide, enough scent could have drifted over there to justify a quick check of the bin, doncha know.  Given how quickly she got to the hide after checking the bin, this isn't unreasonable. 


Interior 2 video - Even with wasting 10 seconds to check on the toy, she was still the fastest dog in class to solve this hide.  Just sayin...

Interior 3 video - She only wasted 5 seconds checking on the toy this time.  Then there was the 8 seconds she spent being a social butterfly.  She was still waaaaay faster than the other class dogs, one of whom is a GSD who is much taller than she is. 


Interior 4 video - Immediately checking the toy whereabouts - she's certainly consistent, eh.  She was so fast on the prior search, so I was surprised to see her have difficulty this time.  Her search time was about the same as the other dogs.  I don't know why it was harder for her than the prior search, but you'll note she needed a toy-moment to release some frustration at about 2 minutes.  Interesting how she went from the stuff against the other wall almost directly to the hide.

Often dogs get information from something nearby.  Either because of scent settling on/near it to give them a clue where it is.  Some dogs, Gimme is one, often need to go out of the scent plume before going back in to sourse.  She could have been doing either in this case and I don't remember if the other dogs used the same stuff to get to it.  The difficulty may have been from them needing to come up between the two tables to source the hide.

Love my little genius.

BTW we have an L2V trial this weekend in Oregon.  Cross your fingers for us...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Certifiable"

Last weekend was our last tracking seminar for the year, Sil's TD/TDX clinic.  Its a chance to have help setting a track you need, laid by someone else and then reviewed by Sil.  There is so much to learn at this seminar.  I learned a lot listening to people talk about their needs/issues/goals and then how they approached planning a track to address them.  Sil chimed in as needed.  We also got to walk and learn while Sil explained from a judge's perspective how he'd use a site to meet needs/requirements/etc.  There are just so many things I would never think about.

There were 4 TD and 2 TDX teams. We each set a track for someone else, and those of us who were TD teams also laid crosstracks for the two TDX teams.

My goal for the summer of seminars had been to get Gimme's tracking certification before seminars ended.  I hadn't planned to wait until the last minute, but her false pregnancy created a wrinkle I hadn't expected.  Happily Sil invited us to participate in the last tracking exercise on the prior seminar (which I only audited) and Gimme did well enough I was sure she'd be ready by Sunday of the clinic.  If she wasn't, we'd turn it into a training track.

On Sunday we were the first run of the day.  I was very nervous - nearly puke-worthy.  Gimme just wanted to go play and couldn't understand the delay as we waited for the track to reach sufficient age.  The cover was lush, deep and green and it was still cool.  As I walked to the start, I could see the line of the track etched deep in silage.  Between half a dozen people walking it the day before and the tracklayer 30 minutes before, the track was very obvious.

Huhn?  Is this legal?  I trust Sil implicitly, but seriously, can a person get certified on a track the 3 blind mice would be hard pressed to miss?  I knew I'd have to be very careful to make it clear who was finding this track - you know, the short, bossy one.  I had no doubt, having listened to Sil as he critiqued other students throughout all these seminars and clinics, there would be no way I could pull a fast one.  This was going to be hard, since the tendency to "help" is often not under conscious control.

I need not have worried.  Gimme didn't need no stinkin' deeply etched track.  She had her nose down almost the whole time and was inclined to throw on the afterburners.  All I had to do was be there to support her efforts and do my best to not get my feet tangled in the line (yes, it has happened before).  Gimme made it very clear who was in charge - short, bossy one, indeed.

She was amazing and ran the track in just under 5 minutes.  If I wasn't so slow - she gave me "the look" a couple of times - she would have shaved off at least two minutes.  I do try to run with her part of the time, but I don't have enough stamina to run very far.  Sadly, I'm all she's got and "fleet of foot" will never be used to describe me.  Fortunately she is forgiving. 

Our training partner Nadine certified Cricket the same day.  Woohoo for both of us.

I was talking to Nadine this week about how obvious the track was and she reminded me, its entirely possible we could have an obvious track at a test.  For instance, there could be footprints through the dew, or other reasons to be able to see where a track was laid.  And the same rules exist, you can't guide the dog and judges are pretty clear on what guiding looks like.  So its valuable practice in case I'm ever able to see our test track.  Also, I learned it is possible for me to be mindful of not-helping and not-hinting for the legal length of a TD track.  Who knew!

I'd hoped to have a video of our run, but it didn't turn out.  Sil wears a chest camera and records a video.  However, he was far back, so I'm only a tall dark spot and Gimme is a short white spot.  You can hear what he said as we were running the track.  Its at:  Sil's commentary video

We started this tracking journey in January of 2015.  I'm a complete novice at this and Gimme is a natural genius.  Its not a new title, but its an important milestone which we have worked long and hard on.  Now we'll be entering tests and hope to get selected for one soon. 

Gimme and I are both very proud of her first official glove.












BTW later in the day a good part of a TD track was unused.  Sil didn't want to let it go to waste and besides someone had to get the glove, so it went by draw to those who wanted another run.  Gimme and I got it, which I was very happy about, since I didn't want to prepare an article circle for her before we started home (though its entirely possible she'd still think she hadn't gotten to do enough).

Gimme was just sure I should be able to run all out for two-thirds of a track. 
She was wrong...

RFE Practice (26)

On Thursday, 9/8, we met at Pawsabilities for RallyFrEe practice.  My goal was to see where Gimme was mentally.  During the last day of the tracking seminar the weekend before, I'd decided she was nearly out of the false pregnancy, but of course, that is tracking and its very different from RFE.

Session 1 video - We started with a couple of good reorients in the doorway, edited out because of glaring backlight.  Noticed a strong tendency to heel wide, so I side-stepped away to encourage her to get closer.  I did the same when she turned her attention away from me.  I worked some changes of behavior (down, sit, stand) and change of position (heel, center, side).  We also did a center front pivot, first time in quite awhile.  I need to do a better job of pivoting in place, each time I moved about a foot to the side as I pivoted. Gimme was really confused about backing out of the center position from the pivot, we always back from center.  She offers a lot of behaviors, which she does when she's confused.  Bringing out the target pad helped quite a bit.  I noticed she decided "side" can be with her butt swung out 45º, so we worked on this too.  My attempts to lure it didn't work well and just made her food focused instead of thinking.  Maybe because I'd fallen back into food in my hands.  She did well when moving, but swung the butt out every time we stopped.  I notice she was doing setup in side position well, but the moment she stood - the butt went out. Interesting when we did the pivot with her at side, she kept alignment really good.  I want to revisit "side" on the platform and with barriers at home and then without, as well as in the different behaviors, to reestablish the idea of alignment.  She loved destroying the big red sock - a satisfying ripping sound really charges her up.

About backing: we've worked on fading the target at home and in the yard and she does a great job there.  I think I need to fade the target in more locations.  And I probably also need to do "back" directly after other behaviors more often, rather than as a stand alone.

Session 2 video - I started with focusing on her side position and more stepping away when she turned her attention away.  We played at finding position using heel, side and center, sometimes with me moving.  I did see when she is coming in wide I have a tendency to close the gap for her - bad me.  I added in spins, turns, around, behind and thru - trying to reward good end positions.  Then we added under (from behind me) which we haven't done in ages; I was pleased she remembered.

Session 3 video - Because the other two sessions had been longer than intended, I intended to make this one short, but it actually turned out to be more like what I'm aiming for - clearly my sense of time is skewed.  What was left of the red sock was in my back pocket and Gimme pokes it with her nose at 1:00 (does the same in nosework class).  Looking at this its clear she wasn't really focused, probably brain tired from the other sessions.  There were a bunch of people coming, going and standing around the daycare door and someone running the vacuum - all big distractions.  I do notice in this and the other videos - I had my shoulders out of alignment a lot of the time.  It was really obvious when she was in "side" and I asked for a "turn" (spin from side) and she started to back around me, because she reads the shoulder turn as her cue to back in side/heel pivot toward her.  I need to work on "spin" and "turn" from center, since she gives me "spin" regardless of which I cue.  She did get it, but we need to have it more consistent (i.e. without reminder). She did well with around-under, but was inconsistent with behind-under.  I finally realized it was because of how I was opening up the gap.  Once I got my part right, behind-under was perfect. 

At the time this was a rather frustrating session, but in looking over the videos with a critical eye - Gimme was actually doing well.  We are miles ahead of where we've been following every other false pregnancy. 

I think this coming week I want to review the early exercises Kathy gave me, to clean up Gimme's understanding and our performance.  Then I know Kathy has some other exercises she wants to give me, which I  hope we'll be ready for the time after.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Parkour (4/4)

This is our class from Sep 7th.  Gimme was just getting out of her false pregnancy and back to normal.

Pool noodle obstacle 1 & 2 video -  Gimme seemed to start class in the do-do-do mode, all doing and no listening.  This video is two short sessions, she was more able to listen and control herself toward the end.  It helped a lot when I dropped the leash so I was able to get in a better position to show her what I wanted.

Sequence 1 video - She often steps on everything the first time and then skips some things the second time or on the way back.  There's nothing unsafe about what she does, its just the whole idea is to learn and demonstrate confidence doing stuff in a particular way.

Sequence 2 video - I didn't have the best position in the class to catch the whole course on video, so I've cut out the part where we are off camera.  Gimme did really good, except for jumping ahead on walking over the various obstacles, which is where I made her come back and do it right.  She again stepped over the one item, which mostly has to do with stride length.  I am thinking maybe I need to stop her on each one and pay for each of them, to give her a reason to step on each one. 

Sequence 3 video - This is just the very end of the next sequence, which is the part you missed in the prior sequence.  The first time she decided to do the jump-jump-jump-jump on her own, so I cued it this time.  I thought it was a cute solution - very Gimme.

Scaffold 1 video - Given how hard she rocked the scaffold the first time she jumped on, I thought she might hesitate or refuse the next time.  Note how I use her harness to keep her from landing hard on her front as she dismounts.  The second time she seemed to control her landing better, so it didn't rock so hard.  She likes jumping on the scaffold.

Scaffold 2 video - The cross plank was small, so she kinda looked it over before deciding to do it.  Its about the same size as the one we've been working on at home, but ours is only milk crate height.

Sequence 4 video - She started out well, but then was suddenly distracted by something on the floor.  I really think the issue was the load commanding and barking from the agility arena, which is on the other side of the pink wall.  She was trying to work, but after doing so well for much of class, she was suddenly out of listening mode.  She jumped on the barrel (slick surface) when I cued "hands", so she had to do it again.  You'll see she isn't really paying attention and then gets needy for face time before we start the pool noodle obstacle.  When I did get her to do the pool noodles, she just flung herself into/through them - so I took her back and made her slow down for it.

"Box" with big bucket video - The first time I asked her to do it, she checked it briefly and then jumped right in.  Then afterward, I had quite a time getting her to do it again.  After watching the video, I realize she was really just done, her brain was used up.  I think if we'd done this at the start of class, there would have been no issue.  I did finally get her to do it again and then paid her verrrry well (with peanut butter).  And we did it once more before quitting.  In hindsight I wish I'd realized where she was at mentally and then could have paid the heck out of the first time and ended on a high note.  I'm sure there was no harm, since she's amazingly resilient, but I'd prefer not to have to rely on her resilience to cover less effective training.

Gimme "likes" the border collie classmate, because for the most part it pays no attention to her.  Its owner is experienced and I know I don't have to watch them.  Gimme doesn't care for the young black dog because he's always 90% out of control and would be all over her (wanting play) in a nanosecond.  His owners are pet people and have all they can do between the two of them to control him.  I'm always watching them because I think some day there will be a lapse of control and I want to be ready for it.

Overall I thought she did very well. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Adv. Urban VST/TDX Seminar day 3

We got the results of the step counting exercise from the day before.   I did well, but not the best.  My count in the exercise ran 7 yards over, about 10%. Of course there is always some variation and I was breaking in new shoes, so I may have been taking shorter steps and it threw off my yardage. I'm going to do some step counting practice along my fence and then measure it.  I've been taking 13 steps to 10 yards.  Maybe my stride has changed.  Certainly 12 steps to 10 yards would be easier. 

Sil says he doesn't do math in his head, he just counts certain numbers twice.  So if I ended up at 12 steps to 10 yards, it would sound like, "one - two - three - four - five - five - six - seven - eight - nine - ten - ten."  We'll see how it turns out after I practice along my fence.

From my notes:

When looking for places to track:
▪  for urban lawns with paths and roads - use a campus
▪  for contamination - use urban sports lawns
▪  for hard surfaces - use parking lots (barefoot if needed)

If you need to setup a motivational track, make it shorter, younger and/or less contaminated.

Constrained turns are anything which dictates turn direction.  Such as:
▪  limited turn choices
▪  barriers

When working contamination, you have three choices: younger, older or about the same.  Be sure you sometimes set up contamination which is about the same age as your track, so difference in age isn't what the dog is tracking.  We don't want an artificial clue.  We want the dog to be tracking the actual scent they started with.

Scent trapping/channel is any situation where the wind is moving the scent abnormally, misleading the dog.  Said another way, its anywhere the scent gets pooled and is off the track.  One example would be when you are on a track toward a gap between two buildings, with the wind at your back, and the track actually turns before you enter the gap.  So the breeze blows the scent between the buildings and the dog could easily follow it into the gap, so when there's loss of scent, the handler has to recognize the trapping/channel possibility and organize the search so the dog has a chance to find it again. 

Sil has a cool visualization exercise to help handlers understand the challenge their dogs face.  We nicknamed it Tracking Twister.  He has a large paper panel on which he has spray painted dashed lines representing different tracks in many colors, crisscrossing over each other.  Some of the colors are obviously different and some are very similar (3 shades of blue).  Each of us gets an opportunity to wear the "snood", be led to the start of a track and then try to follow it.  Last year I got one of the dreaded blue lines; this year I lucked out and got the brown track.


That is me in stocking feet wearing the snood.  BTW Sil is not carrying a baseball bat in case we fail, its a fence post in the background.

Sil reminds us to make note of any difficulty our dog has and make a plan to work through it.  Its too easy to avoid distractions (guilty).  Instead you want to notice issues and plan to work through them.  Set them up when and where you can control the variables, so your dog has the best chance to learn how to overcome the challenge. 

Case in point would be my recent mention of deciding I need to set it up so Nadine and one of her dogs is in place to be an "unexpected" distraction.  I also made a note to be mentally ready to use the look-at-that game to help Gimme deal with dog distractions.  Note: As it turns out, during this morning's track, we had someone walking a dog cross our track close in front of us.  Gimme and I did "whazzat" until they were well out of the way.  It was still challenging for her to get back to work, but she did.  It occurs to me I probably should have done the same thing with the kid on the bicycle. The value of look-at-that is how the dog learns a predictable framework in the context of the game and then is able to dismiss distractions as part of the game rules. I would like to set up some intentional opportunities to be distracted during simple tracks and then use "whazzat" to work through it, so Gimme gets to experience it during a controlled tracking setup.

We spent the afternoon doing the last tracks for the working dogs.  There is so much to be learned by listening to people plan the tracks they want to address issues, then to watch how it works out.  This is really just invaluable as a learning opportunity.  Sometimes what I learned hits me as an a-hah moment, hours or days later.

Because we got done early, the working teams voted on what they wanted to do with the extra time.  They decided to do the distraction/contamination exercise again.  A couple of people left early, so Sil invited me and Gimme to play.  Remember this diagram?  Imagine Gimme running the blue track.

Since we got an end track, she only had a dog on one side of her.  As it turned out, just before we started to track, a couple showed up with their young child and were kicking a ball with her.  So Gimme did the track with a child playing with a ball on one side and a Bernese Mountain Dog tracking on the other side.  Initially Gimme mostly noticed the child/ball distraction, then when she looked up from her second mid-leg article, she saw the BMD "ahead" of her.  We'd gotten held up watching the child for a moment, so they were now nearly at the end of their third leg and in front of us instead of to one side.  Still the distance was good - about 50 yards, so Gimme was able to go back to work.  I'd asked the tracklayer to leave us something we could tear up at the end of the track and she left a circle of denim.  Gimme thinks ripping denim is a very satisfying sound.  I have a lot of old jeans, so will be making her some denim toys to rip up as a reward.

I was really happy to have Gimme show she was beyond the worst of the hormone issues which had been plaguing her.  My plan had been to end the summer with her tracking certification and our last chance to do it in conjunction with one of the seminars/clinics was the very next weekend. 

Adv. Urban VST/TDX Seminar day 2

We started the Sunday at a mall parking lot.  We all got to do an exercise to count our steps between four flags (creating 3 legs) and enter our yardage to win valuable prizes.  Sil said he’d give us the results the last day.

All of the working dogs got a chance to experience curb work and island hopping – matched to their skill and experience level.

Later we talked about choice points, of which there are three types:
1. transitions
2. contamination (and cross tracks)
3. funneling
Funneling is caused by buildings and other barriers that move the air and scent in ways that may not be consistent with where the track actually runs. 

Sil has a peg board he’s put a whole lot of bolts/nuts into, creating pegs that stick up.  Onto each peg he places a straw flag, 4 heights.  The straws fit very loosely on the pegs, so the flags move readily.  He sets up the “wind farm” with a fan blowing through it and then introduces different barriers like miniature buildings, fences, hedges, etc., to show how they affect air movement.  I’d seen it before, but this time he had some new barriers to simulate different features, such as chain link fences.   Its really cool to see the effects and get an idea of what puzzle the dog has to sort out.

After lunch we again laid tracks and watched dogs run them. 

After all was done, I laid another article circle for Gimme, with 7 legs and 9 articles.  One of the other students with a working dog joined us to train. Sil told her he only sets the articles 10-15 yards apart in his circles, with no corners, so I set ours smaller than I usually do.  Normally I set 40 yard legs with an article in the middle of each leg; I was reminded right away why I use bigger distances.  Because she is so fast, Gimme kept overrunning corners and articles. 

I was happy to share the exercise with the other student and it actually was a huge benefit to us.  I ran it first with Gimme and at the 4th corner, she was just so distracted and had the hardest time figuring out where the track went, so I finally had to help her out.  Then she got going so fast she overran the next article.  I assumed it was a symptom of her false pregnancy.  After this discombobulation we got through to the end easily.  When the other dog ran, I walked behind them picking up the flags, and saw she had trouble with the same corner and the same article.  This was a sports field in a public park, so clearly there was some unusual contamination throwing the dogs a curve ball.

Adv. Urban VST/TDX Seminar day 1

We audited this 3-day seminar on VST/TDX, September 3-5.  I learned a lot.

VST (and to a simpler degree TDU) tests the dog’s ability to work field and urban on the same track.  Issues are:
▪  heavily contaminated lawns
▪  turns near or onto hard surface
▪  hard surface transitions
▪  turns on hard surfaces (MOT)

The key to success is building value into every article.  Each and every article should be very exciting to your dog.
▪  have a small party at start sock and intermediate articles
▪  have a huge party at the end article

In training we may hint at the solution to help our dogs.  Over time we need to remove hints and shift responsibility to the dog for solving problems.  Hints are:
▪  facing in the direction of the new leg
▪  quickly following the dog when s/he is correct, but not yet committed
▪  taking suggestive steps in the direction of the new leg
▪  encouraging/praise talk when the dog is looking in the right area
▪  lead check/tension when the dog is heading in the wrong direction
▪  negative talk when the dog is checking the wrong area
▪  in a test, spectator movement before the dog/handler commit

Three methods to age the track:
A -  starting with a young age, adding steadily
B -  using older tracks for some TDX dogs
C -  same as A, but slower for less confident dogs

Do intentional contamination and island hopping tracks continually throughout the dog’s career – you are never really done with these.

Distraction/Contamination Exercise:



Sil set up 6 simple zig-zag tracks, 20 yards apart, but side-by-side.  There was a start flag, flags on both corners and at the end.  There was a start sock, end glove and an article mid-leg on each leg.  After they were laid, Sil and Kathleen walked a contamination pattern (dashed lines) over them.  The tracks were only aged as long as it took to lay them and get everyone in place to run them simultaneously.  All the dogs seemed to do really well at it.

During lunch I prepared an article circle for Gimme, with 7 legs and 9 articles.  She loves the predictability of article circles and always finds them very motivating.  On the second leg, right after the third article, she spied a plastic bottle to the side and had to run over and check it out.  She quickly dismissed the boring bottle, but then she was just standing there looking around, having “forgotten” what she was doing.  I encouraged her to return to the track, re-scented her and cued her to “track-on”.  From there to the end, she did very well, getting faster and more excited with each article.

After lunch we laid tracks and watched dogs run them.  I was only auditing, so there was a lot of watching for me.

Nosework (2/20)

Woohoo - I've finally got a good working solution to editing videos from the new camera.  If I'd pursued the suggestion by my awesome friend Stella right away - I could have solved the issue a week ago.  ☺

We got 6 searches on the August 30th class.  The first search of each pair was in a super cluttered area, and was on leash.  Gimme is the fastest moving dog in class, so leash handling was very challenging.  The second search of the pair was off leash in a more open area, with the dreaded toys on the floor, which Gimme completely remembered from the week before.

Truth be told, as I was editing these videos, every time the toy was squeaked in the video Gimme came rushing over and was trying to figure out where I was hiding the toy.  This afternoon after editing 3 videos, I laid down for a nap before taking off to Parkour class and Gimme kept looking around the table for the hidden toy for another 20 minutes.  She can be very persistent.

Interior 1 video - 1 Hide - This was the first of the crowded area searches and Gimme immediately pulled the leash out of my hand as she rushed over to the gate to look and see if the great toys from last week were still there.  It was a challenge to get her mind on odor, since she's never met a toy that shouldn't be hers.  Once she did get to work, she actually found the hide very quickly.  (0:48)

Interior 2 video - 2 Hides - Gimme reeeeeeally struggled to focus when she was in the part of the room with the toys.  It didn't help when I intentionally squeaked the toy I was holding.  She finally got the hide and then we played with the toy as part of her reward - which Dorothy didn't include in the video.  (2:27)

Interior 3 video - 1 Hide - I didn't notice it at the time, but you can see she's a bit stressed from the set of her mouth.  Dorothy actually mentions this in the last search.  This gives you an idea of how much she wanted those toys and what very hard work it was to resist them.  The thing I found very interesting was how her demeanor changed, away from the stressed look, when she got close to the hide and really got into sourcing it.  To me this says nosework is very high value too - just not quite as high as toys during a false pregnancy.  BTW I had a toy stuck in my fanny pack, to reward her at the end of the next search.  (1:47)

Interior 4 video - 2 Hides - This is a search in with the toys.  Please note I'm not pulling her away, just touching her to get her attention and encourage her to come away.  She gets repeatedly drawn back, but is trying.  It took several reminders/helps to get her on task, but she was able to find both hides.  Honestly, she's so fast, even with the time wasted on toy distraction she still had better time than most of the other dogs in class.  Dorothy cuts off the video right away, so you didn't get to see the maniac toy-tugging we did with the one I was carrying.  (1:49)

Interior 5 video - 3 Hides - Still going to look at toys in the other section, but moved on to search on her own.  Woo hoo.  She did a great job getting all three hides without getting distracted again.  (1:36)

Interior 6 video - 2 Hides - She worked really hard here, and I sure appreciate Dorothy noticing and commenting on her efforts.  She still needed some reminders, but did get back on task and worked quickly. (1:27)

So, a bit of analysis.

In the crowded area, with no toys and with toy distraction across the divider: Note the second round here was worse than the first, but the third was quite a bit better.
Interior 1 - 1 Hide - 0:48 (48 sec/hide)
Interior 3 - 1 Hide - 1:47 (53 sec/hide)
Interior 5 - 3 Hides - 1:36 (32 sec/hide)

In the open area with toys: Nice steady improvement.
Interior 2 - 2 Hides - 2:27 (74 sec/hide)
Interior 4 - 2 Hides - 1:49 (55 sec/hide)
Interior 6 - 2 Hides - 1:27 (44 sec/hide)

I love how she tries so hard, even when hormones are messing with her mind.  There was no class last week (9/6), but wait'll you see the progress from this week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Urban Tracking Seminar day 3

I've continued to have problems getting video files from the new camera edited.  Its frustrating beyond belief.  I think I'm going to have to get my laptop (newer and more powerful than the desktop) in on the job.  For the moment, I'm using another work around to get caught up while I explore a more permanent solution.

August 29, Day 3 - As I said, since her second track on Sunday was so frustrating, I wanted to make sure she had a really good experience for her next track.  I asked for a simple TD-like track, with a young age. 

Sports field track video - Gimme started out nicely and got to her first article quickly.  This track is fully marked, so when Gimme wanted to go check out the backstop, I knew not to go with her.  Everyone got a good chuckle at how Gimme used searching to get me to give her all the line, so she could then go check out the backstop from a different angle.  No one would ever say she's not a real smarty pants.  After she got her own way, then she went to work on the corner followed by the second article.  She was kinda on a roll after that and got through to the end smoothly.

One telling thing about this track is how it took 11:30 to finish it.  And yet this weekend for our certification, she did a somewhat longer track in under 5 minutes.  When I considered the time, I thought she was slow.  But then it occurred to me we spend 30-60 seconds per article and including the start, end and mid-leg, that is 7 articles, which adds up to 3½-7 minutes.  The track was really good for her, she was having fun, and it was only a tad slow.

For this last day of the seminar I wrote notes about just one thing, but its a very important one thing.  What do you do when your dog is lost or not committing?  How do you help your dog without doing too much?  You may have a good idea where your dog was last certain of the track, but you can't just take your dog back there - its called guiding and will get you the dreaded whistle real fast.  The only thing you can do is organize your dog's search so they get to search all the area they need to search, without ever looking like you are leading them to it.

You'll do this with what Sil calls a spiral search.  Basically the handler spirals out from a central point, with the dog searching in a circle around you.

In this diagram, the central point is the large red dot.  The black spiral is the handler's path.  Pink dots are places where the handler might be on the spiral and the green dotted circles are the dog's path around the pink-dot handler.  The three concentric blue dotted circles represent the dog's path using more and more line - assuming your dog is comfortable using the whole line.  As you can see, when the handler spirals out, the dog gets to cover a much larger area.

I hope this next diagram is clear.  If I move forward as the dog moves in the same direction, it could be interpreted as leading or guiding my dog, especially if she's searching close to me.

Instead, when I move, I try to move backing up (or sideways) so my movement can't be misconstrued. Since you are pivoting 90° at a time (about 30-45° ahead of your dog), you can move in any direction you want, as long as the dog is in the right relative position.  I want to use my dog's movement so it appears I am following her.

Put another way -
If your dog is circling clockwise, she'll be between 2 and 4 o'clock relative to you when you step backward.  If your dog is circling counter-clockwise, she'll be between 10 and 8 o'clock relative to you when you step backward.

Clear as mud?  Thinking of it this way works in my mind, so I hope clearer than mud for you. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Urban Tracking Seminar day 2

Cross your fingers - I think I have figured out how to get all the video's downloaded from the camera, converted to a single MP4 file (instead of the 4 files as it comes out of the camera), then converted to a .wmv file so I can edit it in Windows Movie Maker.  If this works, it just means I'll have to plan ahead so the conversions happen when I'm doing something else.  Cross your fingers.

August 28, Day 2 - On Sunday morning we met at the Barkley Village cinema for an urban tracking session.  Since we have been having problems with Gimme rushing across the gaps and then looking for the track on the other side (which will be no help when we get to moment-of-truth turns), I asked Sil on Saturday what I should do.  He suggested putting treats down in the gaps to get her nose down. 

Knowing how she will "go visual" in an instant, I knew I couldn't use white cheese against dark pavement.  So I bought a package of beef jerky and cut it into small squares the night before.  It was really kinda funny - as many things are with my girl.  As I cut it up, I gave her the occasional piece.  Then I decided to take the package out to the car right then, so I wouldn't forget in the morning.  Gimme was laying on the bed watching me.  As I picked up the package, her ears perked up.  Then when I started to open the door, clearly taking the jerky with me, her mouth dropped open in a classic look of astonishment.  I really wish I had a picture.

Island Hopping with jerky treats in the gaps video - I didn't think about it at the time, but in the video, you can see Gimme was a bit distracted right at the start.  She got into the game and did well from there to the end.  At the last gap, she assumed it would go straight across and then had to back track and find the scent.  I did notice most of the time she'd eat the first 2 of 3 treats which were laid down spaced across the gap and then just bypass the last treat to get to the curb.  So in the future, we'll just lay a treat at ¼ and ½.  No sense overfeeding the crows.

Sports field with intentional contamination video - The plan for the afternoon was to do intentional contamination tracks on sports fields.  Since Gimme had done the start and corner contamination before, I wanted to do it again, expecting her to ace it.  Boyoh was I wrong. 


She started well, stopped to pee and then got to the first article without a problem. From there she struggled.  The first contamination was at the start, but she didn't have a problem with it.  The next was right after the mid-leg article on the first leg.  I could see the corner flag, so I knew what was contamination and what wasn't.  When I wouldn't go with her she came up, laid down in the soft grass and said, "I quit".  I tickled the grass a bit to encourage her interest and then she started out again.  She struggled with the "slice" contamination at the first corner, but finally got through it and happily found the next mid-leg article.  She had more difficulty with the next "sliced" corner, but with encouragement got through it and on to the next article.  She actually did quite well with the third "bisected" corner and enjoyed another article find.  You can see then she is less enthusiastic about going on.  I encouraged her to keep going and she finally worked out the fourth corner, again "bisected".  She seemed to be doing well, but then got sucked in by the contamination leading her to the big tree.  Then there was some pee-mail.  She did decide to get back on the track and soon came upon the final article.

She is normally much more focused than this and had very little trouble with intentional contamination at corners when we did this exercise a few months ago, so I chalked it up to her hormonal condition.  I've been trying to understand why her tracking is affected during this false pregnancy, when she's never had a problem with any nose-oriented behavior before.  After thinking about it, I think its because we ran out of the flower essence remedies and I delayed getting them made up.  I have the recipes and make them myself, but sterilizing the bottles is a big convoluted process for me.  Normally I start the false pregnancy remedy about a month after her season ends, but I didn't this time, plus she wasn't getting her two other remedies for several weeks.  The false pregnancy remedy helps within a week, but one of the others takes 3-4 weeks to see results.  So I think her being off it too long contributed to the difficulty she was having, especially since it seemed to be a focus issue.  I'm going to buy a baby bottle sterilizer to I don't delay again.

Often we have to find ways to intensify scent so we can make a learning task easier for the dog without "help" or "hints" coming directly from us.  There are four main ways to intensify scent, they are:
  • Scent in a bottle - soaking handler's used t-shirt (not having been washed with bleach) in water (well water) , then putting it in a sprayer and spraying it on the ground as the track is laid.
  • Hydration - spraying plain water (from a well) on the ground as the track is laid.
  • Sandals or bare feet - leaves more scent than feet in shoes.
  • Hand swipes - swiping the hand on the ground (preferred) or a raised surface can be a help as well.
Since Gimme struggled and was frustrated with her last track of the day, I decided her track the next day needed to be simple, uncontaminated and relatively young.

Urban Tracking Seminar day 1

I apologize for the delay getting back to blogging.  Since I got the new camera, I've had all sorts of difficulty getting the video's off it and into a format I could use.  I'm still working on resolving these issues, but do have a few videos and pictures available.









We went to Bellingham on Friday, August 26th and here are some pictures I took of Gimme with the "baby".  The first one I call, "Like Mother, like Daughter."  Clearly she is still very much into her false pregnancy.





August 27, Day 1 - I didn't get a lot of notes during this seminar, much of what was covered I heard last year, so I mostly listened and reassimilated.  When the new book, Modern Enthusiastic Training by Sil Sanders, is available, be sure you get a copy.  If you've not done much tracking, start at the beginning and work through it, teaching your dog urban and field at the same time.  If you've been doing mostly field tracking and want to introduce urban tracking, start with Part 3.  Of course if you live in an area where field tracking is not an option, by the time its published Modern Enthusiastic Training will include a section for those who only want to focus on urban tracking.

As handler you must learn to recognize your dog's change-of-behavior, which will happen when the dog recognizes the scent has changed.  Early on in our tracking endeavors I spent a lot of time watching for Gimme's head to come up as her change-of-behavior.  It seemed like we were both always over-running the corners.  At one of the last seminars of last year I finally realized Gimme's change-of-behavior is actually to curl to one side or the other (not a head-up).  The common change-of-behavior indications are:  head-up, curl to either side, stop and/or detailing.  I could have gotten much further as a handler if I'd learned this earlier.

When searching and your dog is circling you, make your pivot about 30-45º ahead of your dog.  Be sure to pivot in 90º increments as this will make it easier for you to stay oriented in the field.  If you just keep turning ahead of your dog, you may lose the line you were on before the search began.

We had a distraction exercise which proved quite interesting.  Sil set up flags, and there were 6 handlers with dogs and 6 tracklayers.  The tracklayers laid the track (solid line) and then on the way back to the start contaminated its sister track (dashed line).  There was a start article, articles mid-leg and an end article.  All six tracks were run simultaneously.  Each track had color-coded start, corner and end flag.  The dogs were never close to each other.

Gimme and I had the blue track and pink was our sister track.  Sil knows Gimme is reactive, so he always puts us on an end.  Gimme did great with her track, really motoring along, up to the mid-leg article on the second leg.  As I cued her to "track-on", she looked up and saw the other dogs. 

I don't think she noticed pink track dog, but she surely saw the 4 dogs working on the orange, green, red and black tracks.  She was just stuck for a bit and didn't know what to do.  I had to help her get refocused and then she was able to finish her track.  I know they weren't too close for her to handle, I think she was just surprised by seeing them. 

In hindsight, I think I should have cued her "whazzat" (Control Unleashed, Look-at-That game).  Now I'm thinking this might be a good exercise to plan at some point, where Nadine and I set up a well marked track and while Gimme and I are working it, Nadine with one of her crew will appear at a predetermined place to be a dog distraction.  Plus I will have to get it in my head to remember "whazzat" for those times when we have naturally occurring dog distractions at Flaming Geyser.

In the afternoon I did the break-out tracklaying exercise with Patty.  Some of us met at a separate park and laid tracks.  We placed small markers on our corners (I used some of my golf tees) as we drew our diagram.  Some people don't draw, preferring to write a discription of what their sight markers are.  Then we gathered and talked for awhile, before being sent out to find our corner markers.  This is the third time I've done this exercise and I'm happy to say as I finished my count, I was within a foot of each corner marker and the end marker.  I remember the first time I only found the start marker, which was really disappointing.  Last time I found them all, but they were bigger markers than my little golf tees.

From there I went to watch some of the other showcase tracks.  Each dog gets two showcase tracks, along with the other exercises.  Gimme's showcase tracks were on Sunday and Monday.  You'll hear all about those in subsequent blogs.