This practice session was last Thursday and overall I thought it went well. We'd planned to go again today, but my work interfered so we had to cancel. Usually transition weeks don't run into Thursday, but since the holiday was on Monday, I couldn't start until Tuesday. It always takes three days to get all my accounts done (we have to get them all transitioned within 3 days of the holiday), so I had to work today. At least they are mostly done now, so I can relax a bit.
Session 1 video - My main goal was to tighten up the "heel" and "side" positions so I used a clicker to give me more precision in what I was telling Gimme with the rewards. I also wanted to put rewards in the being still bank account and for the most part didn't use the clicker for this, since click ends the behavior. I used "wait" to help her understand I wanted her to be still, though I do not want to have to cue "wait" in the final still behavior. Being still is so hard for her - she'd definitely be an action figure if they ever made a Gimme doll. I see I need to face the camera, since you can't hear what I'm cueing if I'm turned away. Gimme was doing a good job of following the cues, even though we haven't worked on "spin" and "turn" in "center" position. She was drawn to J'Anna's prop as we walked toward it, so I used it as a distraction. I cued "take-a" and got a "turn" instead - clearly the not-listening issue again. Then I kept getting "take-a" when I was cueing "center". I think I need to go back to working sequences of random cues, to strengthen her listening skills. I do see in the video I am giving her a lot of physical clues, but not clearly following verbal cues, so they aren't strengthening the verbals. Verbal cues are not her best skill and I see I'm not being clear enough to help her learn them. I have to get out of trying to stop her when she offers the wrong behavior - instead I think I should take several steps away, breaking off the behavior and interrupting the possibility of rewarding it unintentionally. I was intentionally feeding low to get her to stand. We did a little bit of treat tossing to relieve any stress and then ended with a bit of heeling. This session went on too long (10:00), but I thought she had a good attitude throughout.
Session 2 video - I don't know why Gimme had to have reassurance at the second sign. The reason I spoke harshly to her was she broke one of my two favorite chains. J'Anna was shocked since she's never seen me lose patience with Gimme (we have a very different idea of what constitutes loosing patience). I normally give her reassurance if there is any real reason to need it, but this time it was uncalled for. This is the first course we've done in a long time - it was set up so we could film for J'Anna's intermediate RFE entry. It took a bit to get Gimme to wait for a cue at the second Free Choice sign, but she finally did wait. I think it might be a good idea to do some course work again and just require Gimme to be still at each station (rewarding still) before I give her a cue to do a behavior so she gets out of the habit of throwing out behaviors to see which one sticks. I'm guessing she's been right often enough and gotten rewarded for it, so throwing behaviors is getting rewarded. I need to shift her mindset so she thinks waiting for cues is just as valuable, if not more so. This was a much better length session (7:30).
Session 3 video - I see I need to give more than one treat for being still, since she is tending to get the treat and then move out of position - so she's reading the reward as the end of behavior, an issue I've seen before. So something like behavior-treat-pause-treat might help give her reason to wait in position longer. After breaking out into play for reward, it takes a bit before she can do still again. Props are such a huge draw for her - at some point I have to work through the idea that the presence of a prop is not the cue for the behavior. Maybe some time we need to set up a course that has a dozen props, just everywhere and treat them all as distractions. Then mix in using them and having them be distractions. We run into a bit of difficulty with her getting into tap-dancing while being still. I don't want her to think this is part of the being still thing, so have to think of some way to help her understand all of her needs to be still. Not counting her wonderful wagging tail, of course. I almost wonder if I just did too much being-still work at one time. Maybe less-is-more would be better. Also need to increase the time more gradually and when there is more still time to work with, can then reward it randomly. I also see I'm not rewarding "center" with her in an accurate position. Bad me. Good session length (8:00).
Overall I was really pleased with how this went. She worked hard and there was quite a bit of improvement just in these sessions. Just today I noticed Gimme's heiney is getting a bit pudding looking, so just checked our chart and she is about due to come in season. One week from today will be exactly six months. So I have about 6 weeks before the whole false pregnancy business starts up again.
BTW got notice today that my entries have been received for both tracking tests. The one at Bow has already been drawn and we are second alternate. This is my preferred test because Gimme has tracked in the area many times and there will be lots of people I know to celebrate (or commiserate) with.