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Thursday, December 8, 2016

RFE practice (31)

This practice was last Thursday.  Overall it went well.  At the time I wasn't very happy with the third session, but now having seen what was really going on in the video, I feel better about it.

Session 1 video - I used the clicker this time to improve her understanding of what I was rewarding, since I wanted to work on the 180º turn and was planning to break it down better than before.  I started doing the 180º turn well away from the distracting corner and I thought it went well.  I jack-potted the especially nice efforts.  After I took her leash off, I backed up to a somewhat easier challenge.  She had one where she just lost focus entirely and I just walked away from her.  The next time she was still distracted - looking out, looking back, looking out, then back.  She was trying really hard, so I rewarded her effort and changed gears.  We did some positions ("heel", "center", "side").  She has a tendency to assume I want a "turn" when in "side" position, so she gives me "turn" the moment I speak without listening to the cue. I know she understands what the cue words mean, she just turns off her listening ears; its very frustrating.  We did center-front-pivots, which she's good at - she does better counter-clockwise.  Then we did heeling in reverse around me and the same with side in reverse - she's better in heel position.  We ended with some nice loops of heeling.

Session 2 - For the second session, we worked on being still.  This is really challenging for Gimme unless she's in an active stay.  And she doesn't truly believe this is a payable behavior.  Unfortunately J'Anna did something and stopped recording 40 seconds into the session, so I don't have anything to review closely. 

From memory though, I think Gimme needs platforms or some other stations to help her understand to just stand in one place between behaviors.  If there were sits between each station (more like obedience), I think she would do better, but RallyFrEe requires a stand.  I think its also complicated by them wanting a slight pause in the end position before moving on.  For instance, if we are doing a spin from heel position, the requirement is for the dog to spin 360º, then pause briefly in "heel" position before we proceed.  This feels unnatural to Gimme, and to me.  When Gimme doesn't get reinforcement right after the behavior is finished (moving forward again is a reinforcement too) then she thinks she should do something more.  Remember, she's a doer.  So part of the issue is about delayed reinforcement as well.

Her default is to keep throwing behaviors at me.  I need to teach her being still is a valuable behavior.  I plan to make a foam platform and they have a bunch of carpet samples there, so I will try to use them next time to give her a grounding target.  I'm hoping I can move her around between these and end on them, I just have to think through what I want to do and how, so I'm teaching her the right thing.  Meanwhile I'm doing Relaxation Protocol with her, to put a bunch of rewards into the being-still-bank-account.  Maybe I can arrive early enough to do a set of relaxation protocol on one of them before J'Anna arrives.

Session 3 video - For the third session, we worked the intermediate course we had set up for J'Anna's submission video.  Gimme knows a lot of intermediate level behaviors, but not all of them, so I haven't entered that level.  The two times J'Anna has entered, Gimme knew all the behaviors in the courses.  Of course, if I enter before she knows them all, then its a given the course will contain the behaviors she doesn't know. 

Gimme was unfocused because the course started in the distracting corner, thus I did three stations on leash before removing the leash and starting over.  We haven't done course work in awhile, so overall I was pleased with her efforts.  The third one is a series of 3 "thru" while stepping backward, which we hadn't ever tried and I did it just based on J'Anna's explanation.   Its a cobbly looking thing and I don't think I'd ever use it in a freestyle routine, certainly not for a large dog. 

On the second time through she did a better job with the first three stations.  For the free choice we were using J'Anna's hat prop and I wanted her to put her front feet on it and "pivot".  Obviously we've been doing a LOT of "bacon" (for Parkour) and she was just sure I wanted her to back-on the prop.  We need to do more "can" again.  I had to move in closer to help her understand what we were doing.  I see in the video I wasn't even using the "can" cue, just sending her and saying "pivot", so is surely added to the confusion. 

One thing I see in the video, which I didn't understand at the time, was how distracted she was by the clicker in my hand - more specifically by me moving it from one hand to the other - acting like she thought it might be a treat.  There are places where she is going to end a behavior right, but then is distracted by my hand movement.  I haven't' noticed this before, so I may need to carry the clicker (or some other small thing) even if I'm not using it, so the movements related to it become unimportant. 

The vacuum in the background was distracting and/or made it hard to hear.  I need to teach her to do "pretty" in heel/side positions.  I had to laugh when she offered a "take-a" at the course end before I cued it - obviously recognizing the picture on the sign.  She is scary smart.  We ended with a few "bacon" on the agility table leaned against the wall, since she loves doing it and had worked so hard.

We learn something every time.  I can't recommend highly enough the value of taping your training sessions so you can review the video.  I see something I didn't know was going on every time.  I invariably see something I thought was Gimme's doing, which has a different explanation.  Anyone who trains alone should be taping their sessions.  Likewise if you train with someone who isn't thoughtful about what they are seeing.

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