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, ADPL4,
SDS-N, ADPL5, ADPCH and ADPL1(2GC)... 30 and counting...






Thursday, March 30, 2017

Good Anniversary

Just checked the calendar and as of Saturday (March 25th), Gimme has been seizure free for one year!!!  Needless to say, this makes me very happy.  She seems to have adjusted to this dosage and there aren't any obvious signs of it affecting her thinking.  So she's still twice as smart as any dog we know.  Just sayin...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

RallyFrEe practice (39)

My goal for this week's sessions was to get back to some of the basics, working toward more precision.  We made it through the false pregnancy without any notable loss of performance - which is HUGE.  The only real loss was the precision, which I let slide to preserve attitude, knowing we'd have to go back and address it.  In addition, despite Mommy-brain, we were able to use the time to do some videos for the MDSA workshops.  We also did all the performing we needed in front of a witness to earn Gimme's Novice Trick Dog title. Have I mentioned this is her 23rd title? 

I set the alarm on my cell phone for a shorter time, so I did a much better job this day keeping the sessions a reasonable length.  They were 7½, 8½ and 7½ minutes. 

Session 1 video - Gimme was a little distracted, but came out of it quickly.  I used my own movement away from her to remind her the idea was for her to heel with me, not vice versa. I have a tendency to get stuck on one thing for too long, so I tried to change it up more.  We did a little bit of "Otto" and I clearly need to spend more time in the wire guides at home.  I also need to be careful to not unknowingly reward a sit at the end of "Otto", since it's not part of the final behavior.  For a break from brainwork, I tossed treats and then had her find a position.   We also did some "thru-side", "thru-heel", "right" and "left".  We hadn't done "right" and "left" in awhile, so I was happy she remembered them and the distinction between them and the very similar "thru" behaviors.  She did well with the "out" for a figure 8, which we'd just worked in parkour.  The distraction during "pivot" was because of 2 dogs walking by outside our space.  I thought her right "side" heeling was too wide, so decided I'd focus on it for our third session.  We put some rewards into the being still bank account - never her preference, as well as a short "wait" practice.  We ended with a "bacon", just because she likes them so much.

Session 2 video - We did some brief heeling warm-up before starting the intermediate level RFE course.  I used to always lose her to the distraction of corners, so getting her back with just her name is such an improvement.  She started out nicely and the first sign was a free choice so we did up-for-kisses.  I was pleased she was able to get back down readily and get into "side" on cue.  The  next sign was right-paw-lift, which we haven't worked on in a very long time.  After working it at home in the evening, it occurs to me part of the problem I have with getting paw lifts on cue may be the cues I chose.  They are "high" (right paw) and "five" (left paw), which sound too similar; don't know why I never thought of it before.  I'm going to try "fi-VER" and see if it makes a difference.   Its interesting how long it takes her to recover after the frustration built up by the paw lift confusion.  She is just certain there should always be more behavior-doing than waiting for cues.  I did the backward-walking-weaves wrong, so she was on the wrong side of me for the next station.  I went online since then and watched the example video on the RFE website.  So now I need to practice it.  The pivot in the corner would probably not get high marks because her front feet are supposed to be the pivot point and I taught it with me as the pivot point.  I'll have to think about whether there is a way I can do it to get her as the pivot point, otherwise will just have to take a hit in points.  Clearly we need to get back to work on the "take-a" bow.  Since its also her tracking indication, it has gotten out of position - she is supposed to stay aligned in "heel" or "side" position, not turn out 45°.  The alarm on my phone went off as we were working on the "take-a", so on our way to the leash I stopped to do a bit of "thru" figure-8. 

Session 3 video - My goal for this session was to work at tuning up her right "side" position, using the clicker to capture and reinforce the best parts.  [By the way, Gimme is laying beside me on the couch as I review the video and write this - she's absoluely certain I should have a bowl of treats beside me to reward her for all these clicks she's hearing.]  In the video, I have to laugh at how she manages to still get one foot onto the low bench as we go heeling by.  Props are always a biggggg distraction for her.  She does better when I move further away and then go close while moving faster.  After a couple times, then she gets it.  This makes sense, since the props themselves become a big part of the cue for some behaviors.  This is something we work on a lot in parkour in a way - using the same prop for multiple behaviors.  Notice later as we approach a big cone and she goes "out" around it, since its almost always what we do with cones.  We take a break from heeling with some tossed treats and position finding, sometimes mixed with behaviors.  Near six minutes you'll see her momentarily distracted and then come to me - there are strange dogs working in the next area over.  I always reward her for coming to me when she sees other dogs.  We end with some behaviors as a reward for all her hard work.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Parkour (3/6)

As I mentioned on the recent nosework blog post, my camera was acting up and I didn't know it.  It was saving the videos in a different file format and they are much harder to edit.  It takes about five times longer <sigh> and the trims aren't as accurate.

Distance "out" w/props video - This was about sending Gimme "out" around something a few feet away.  Clearly she knows this behavior with cones, so Jo changed us up to do it with a chair.  Gimme remembered her makeup lesson where we worked on this so much.  Since it wasn't a challenge, Jo brought us a low bucket (very "table" and "hands" worthy).  What I discovered was if I stepped up closer so my foot was a bit alongside the bucket, then Gimme understood what I wanted.  I was able to move my foot back a bit.  I would teach this differently myself.  Since she understands the concept with a cone, I'd place a cone next to the bucket and cue it - much like the way we teach backside jumps in agility.  Gimme did it well many times and then the first time she goofed was when Jo was watching - naturally.

Crawl trainer video - We haven't done this since we first started in parkour classes.  As you can see, Gimme didn't forget.

Scaffold sequence video - The challenge here was to slow them down when they got on the scaffold, since they couldn't see what came next as they were jumping up.  Gimme had no problem with this, though only pausing briefly.  The second time I added several control points to encourage her to be more thoughtful (and hinting perhaps I can drive the train just for a moment).

Classmate Ruby is super sensitive and her handler reflexively said "no" to her when she got on the scaffold and just jumped down and they couldn't get her on the scaffold again.  Jo is patient and slow, so they'll get it, but it's still sad to watch such a sweet dog deal with her confusion and lack of confidence.  The moment of jumping down was probably her most confident behavior and poor baby got what she perceived as a huge correction.  I look forward to seeing her grow.  The other dog is like Gimme, a bold and natural doer-of-things.

Multiple uses video - We were to take a chair and see how many things we could do with it.  We had "out" in both directions, "hands", "table", "below" and "bacon".  After the first round of doing them, Gimme was pretty certain my job was only to hand out treats.  She is also certain she'd get a whole lot more treats if I'd just go with the flow and watch all the cool stuff she's showing me.  Just sayin...

"hands" with sit video - The goal here is to have her "sit" and "stand" on cue while simultaneously doing "hands", not taking her feet off the prop.  This is both a physical and conceptual challenge.  We tried to do this with the bucket, but it was just too high.  When we switched to the lower prop she was able to do it, but it was still hard.  Her tendency was to just "sit" halfway, so when I gave her a treat I pushed it toward her to encourage her to drop back into a real sit.  I thought the physical challenge was going to a "stand" again, but as you can see, Gimme pops into a stand with no problem.  I had her do some "box" (out of sight) and "bacon" to break it up for her.  I have the perfect prop here at home for her to work on this some more.

"thru-out-thru" video - The sequence seems simple enough, but with a fast moving dog like Gimme, getting the "out" cue in a timely manner is very challenging.  It really needs to be "thru-out" instead of "thru" "out". 

By the way, this is the first time Gimme ever headed toward one of the other dogs in class.  I didn't intend the "No!"  Likewise stepping on her leash at exactly the right moment was also an accident.  My reactions are not so fast, so it was a happy accident.  Fortunately her "delicate" psyche was none the worse for wear.

Friday, March 24, 2017

New Title - 23 and counting

Last week I submitted Gimme's application for a Novice Trick Dog title.  To be honest they are pretty easy tricks and most of them are things a dog would learn in the course of learning to be an acceptable canine citizen.  With Do More With Your Dog, you have to start at novice, so we've completed the first hurdle.  She can probably do most of what she needs for the intermediate title.

Novice Tricks video - The 15 tricks we did were: come, down, doggie push-ups, fetch, figure-8 through my legs, follow a pointed finger, food refusal, kisses, paws up on an object, pedestal (pivot), shake hands, sit, spin, touch my hand, and walk on a loose leash.

This is title number 23, but who's counting... eh....

Nosework (1/24)

We had nosework class this week, but something happened to the videos.  Dorothy was gone this week; so, I don't know if the guy who was taking them for me didn't get them taken or if it was something I did.  But I did find the camera set to a custom setting when I retrieved parkour videos for the following night.  So its hard to say what happened to them... or if there even were any videos. 

We had two sets of three searches...  The first set was a 2 vehicle search, an exterior search and a 1 vehicle search.
3 vehicle search - This search was three big trucks.  Gimme totally ignored one vehicle and found the 1 hide pretty quickly.
exterior search - The exterior search was an odd "L" shaped area.  Gimme found both hides really fast.
1 vehicle search - Gimme nailed this hide in under ten seconds. 

Our second set was a search in the foyer, a search in the front half and and a search in the back half.  One of the things about these searches were they were really all mixed container/interior searches, as the interiors had boxes, but we weren't told if there were any hides in them or not.
foyer search - When we entered the foyer there were 5 large cat carrier boxes.  The hide was in the most central one.  Gimme paid no attention to the others.  When I encouraged her she checked around and quickly went back to the same box.
mixed container/interior front half - This area was cluttered with a lot of stuff.  There was a hide in a brick shaped box, under a stool and attached to the mop bucket.  Gimme raced around and found these very fast.
mixed container/interior back half - This area had a large L-shape made of tables with chairs all around.  Some of the chairs had boxes in them.  One hide was at the base of a book shelf and the other was under the lip of the easel.

Final speed-round search - For this search the prior hides in the back half were left in place and three hides were added in boxes sitting on chairs.  Gimme raced around and got these sooooo fast. 

In fact all her searches were very fast.  The slowest was the first one and after it, she just got faster and faster.  I'm inclined to think she is verrrrry interested in getting to the chicken nuggets and raw steak.  I did a side-by-side preference test, three rounds.  I showed her chickie-nugget in one hand and raw-steak in the other and then let her grab them.  All three times she grabbed the chicken nugget first and then grabbed the steak. 

Gimme thinks we should do this preference test a few more times, just to be sure the results are accurate.  You know my girl - always working the angles.






Urban Tracking (23)

Nadine and I met at the Auburn Cinema for rural tracking work.  Since the last time we did rural tracking there, I've been in an email conversation with Sil Sanders.  One of the things we realized is, the spacing between the islands at this theater isn't big enough.  There are one or two spots where its adequate, but not enough to follow Sil's plan. 

So for Gimme's track, we laid her track, starting at an island and then moving into open spaces of the parking lot, before getting back to an island then into the open and to another distant island.  Because we didn't have the benefit of working along a curb for most of this, I had Nadine lay out treats every two yards.  Later, since we had time available, Nadine laid another track, with treats every three yards. 

In both cases, Gimme did a good job.  She's working hard at it.  Because she's developed a tendency to "go visual" in this situation, she is having to learn how to track on pavement anew.  I plan to gradually space out the distance between treats until she develops this skill.  I know she can do it and given how much she loves to use her nose, I'm sure she'll figure out her nose is where-its-at here too.

Parkour (2/6)

Jo was not there tonight, so we have the makeup instructor.  She isn't as good as Jo, though the sequences are fun and its all good for Gimme to work in the presence of other dogs. 

Sequence 1 video - She had us do the tictac board as part of the sequence to show the other students how its done.  Gimme did pretty good on this for the first sequence of the night, though she wasn't especially focused on the first "below". 

Sequence 2 video - This was a repeat of the prior sequence and Gimme did a great job, to include wearing her leash across her nose for a bit at the beginning.

4 pylon sequence video - The idea was to go out around each pylon in a cloverleaf pattern, with "box" between each "out".  Gimme was a little distracted in the beginning, so I turned our 4 pylon sequence into 6 pylons.  Getting the last four smoothly. 

Raised ladder video - Gimme hasn't done the raised ladder in quite awhile, so I was so pleased to see her do such a nice job.  I still want to see a design for this ladder with an intermediate difficulty between 6" and 2" wide steps.  I have an idea for it and when my class gets going, I hope to get the guy who does the equipment building for Pawsabilities to design it for me.

Sequence 3 video - This was a nice sequence, with the 4 pylon sequence and the raised ladder.  I was especially pleased with Gimme at the very end.  If you watch, you'll see her glance over at the two young dogs and then turn her attention back to me.  I gave her a lot of extra peanut butter for her "good decision". 

I do have to say, these two new classmates are very new to the world of dog sports and I've been really happy with their efforts to keep their dogs quiet and relatively still when Gimme is on the floor working.  Both dogs are handled by older gentlemen and its clear they don't have any prior experience, but they are really working to be good handlers and responsible owners. 

Sequence 4 video - This was a nice sequence and Gimme did a great job with it, remaining focused the whole time.

Figure 8 video - This was really a simple thing to do, but we sure had our issues with the leash getting caught on the pylons and under my feet.  Gimme totally knows how to do figure 8s and I know how to handle it, but she sure got more than her fair share of unintended leash corrections.  Thankfully she is very determined and will work through such things.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nosework (6/23)

Vehicle 1 video - To make the search more "interesting" Dorothy purposely rubbed a piece of dried tripe on her bumper.  Needless to say, it wasn't beneath Gimme's notice.  To her credit she didn't get stuck there.  As she passed odor and was headed toward the evil bumper, she had no problem turning away from tripe-smell and back to odor.  We took another turn around the vehicle and this time she tried to ignore the bumper, until I swung her around so it was right under her nose and even then she didn't even pause for it, sniffing on the go.  Something you don't get to see, but that I love is when we go down the side of a vehicle, how she keeps walking, but her nose goes up and down and up and down as she goes, scanning.

Vehicle 2 video - All the dogs got stuck with the lingering odor on the back wheel.  It had only been a couple minutes since they'd found odor there and because of the search approach it was the first odor they smelled.  I just stood there and let her sort it out on her own.  The hide was on the front license plate and she was very clear about it.  She paid no attention to tripe-smell.  She half-heartedly tried to tell me the tire was it, but left it readily.  She was happy to get paid a second time for the real deal.

Container 1 video - Gimme did a really nice job on this search.  Having the containers up on chairs is different than what we'd see in a regular container search, but common for searches in a container element trial.  In her element trial container searches, Gimme saw boxes on higher surfaces multiple times.  She had it in 10 seconds.  She did a very nice job of checking the box on the chair in the corner - something which is often missed as dogs round the corners.

Container 2 video - This time the odor box was moved to the opposite end of the L-shaped line.  Dorothy moves the entire chair with the box on it, so there really shouldn't have been any lingering odor to speak of.  Perhaps she was just really eager to get to the raw steak and chicken nuggets I had for treats, since really good treats are sometimes a distraction.

Container 3 video - The time the odor box is on the corner chair.  Gimme was really happy to find it so quickly - 11 seconds.  I don't normally bring her around to find and be rewarded a second time, but if I have a specific behavior I want to cement I will.  In this case, since she was behaving a bit odd in the prior search, I wanted to double up on this search where she was searching clean and serious.

For these last two searches, the boxes were back on the ground in an unusual configuration. 

Container 4 video - Part of it was to experience how we would handle it when we got to the end of one leg of the "Y" and still had an un-searched leg.  Do we cross to the end of it or go back to the middle? Gimme finds the first hide in 5 seconds, stopping on a thin dime.  From there she went directly to the second hide in 3 seconds.  She found the third hide in 7 seconds.  Sometimes we spend more time getting rewards than we do searching.  As a training goal we want to always get to the boxes we missed, though it almost always turns out the dog already knows there is nothing there.

Container 5 video - The second search was an "L" shape.  Gimme had the first hide in 5 seconds.  She actually went steaming right by the first box, which contained a hide.  She got all the hides very fast.  I can't tell which she likes better, raw steak or chicken nuggets.

This kid is awesome...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Parkour (make-up/5)


We did an extra class on Sunday evening as a makeup for missing the first class.  This class is actually a beginner class, but there's still value, just working around other dogs.  The retriever mix she took a dislike to at the beginning of this session was supposed to be there and I was eager to see if she'd made any headway on look-at-that.  Unfortunately they didn't show up. 

We did several sessions working on cue discrimination (multiple uses of one prop) and obstacle discrimination (separate behaviors, different props).

Our first session (no video) was working the difference between getting "hands" (two-on) vs. "out" (go around); prop was a small upside-down bucket.  Gimme found this very challenging.  A big part of the challenge was simply working around strange dogs (3).  She'd never gone around a low prop before, so this was it's own challenge.  Initially she couldn't even follow my hand luring her around the bucket.  I need to slow the luring hand down until I found a speed she could focus on.  It took awhile, but we were able to get the "out".  Once I engaged her working brain, then we did some work switching between the two behaviors.

Our next session was working the difference between "box" and "out"; prop was a low box (again no video).  This again was a new concept, since she'd never gone around a prop she could get in.  "Box" is one of her favorite behaviors and the box was big enough she could still manage to get a foot or two in it, while following my luring hand, making this even more challenging. I resorted to tipping the box up on its end to introduce the idea.  The next step was tipping the box up on its side.  Then I laid it out flat, but stepped in the box to block her from getting in as I lured her around.  It took awhile but when she had the concept, then I was able to switch between the two behaviors. 

"hands" vs "table" video - This time we were to work on "hands" (2 on) vs. "table" (4 on) for the same prop.  Gimme finds this very hard at the best of times.  You can see how close the nearest dog was and there were two others working at the same time.  I often have to use "wait" to slow her down, so I can reward not-doing.  Probably the only issue with teaching a dog to freeshape is their lifelong tendency to tossing behaviors at you when they want another treat, which with Gimme is all the time.  Then again, as much as she wants to drive the train all the time, this likely would have been an issue even without her learning freeshaping so young.  Teaching her there is value in being still is an ongoing issue.  Jo came by and was coaching me.  Her first suggestion was for me to have Gimme wait briefly before getting the treat, so she would get rewarded for holding the position (to counteract the stealth foot-on).  The next suggestion was to separate the "yes" and the reward, for clarity.  The other thing I have to do is to slow down, because I get caught up in Gimme's energy, instead of her responding to mine.  When I get all my skills right, she does do better.  I am fortunate to have Jo as our instructor, since she has a good eye.

"over" vs "below" video - Again hard work to listen.  She gets it right a few times and then starts getting too demanding for treats, so we switch to her self-control-food exercise.  Jo thinks she's not exercising self control, but rather giving me the control.  I'm not sure what I think about this idea.  At some level I think she has to exercise self control to give me control, so perhaps its a moot point.  In any case, its been an effective way to slow her (and me?) down and get back to being more thoughtful.  Her very next try, she almost does it wrong, but then catches herself and realizes what I said and does it right, for which she got a jackpot.  Of course her next rep is wrong and then overall she gets more wrong than right.  This (all these exercises) need to be worked on at home when the weather gets better.  Since its so hard for her to begin with, I think she needs to be learning these things in a less distracting environment. 

"box" vs "table" video - This is just hard work, though I think easier than the cue discrimination exercises we'd been doing.  When we work on this at home, I want to first teach these behaviors with some distance, so I get my own movement out of the picture.  Jo thinks when I'm making her wait to do a behavior (trying to get her to understand not-doing has value), I should wait for her to offer me eye contact before I reward her with a cue.  Her thinking is, since Gimme really wants to work, then having her ask to work with eye contact builds on self control.  We haven't done much with eye contact for awhile, so I should probably work on this at home to remind her how the game works. 

hold on prop video - The goal was to have the dog hold in/on the prop.  Note how many variations Gimme offers.  For the first "table" I counted 7 other behaviors - such as, shifting, tap dancing, head bobs, sits, downs, re-positioning herself, head turn...  For "box" I counted 6 other behaviors. 

hold on prop 2 video - This time we just did the one "box" and I focused on rewarding more stillness.  Clearly this will be a work in progress.

This class was a lot of mental work.  Also, since the dogs were working all at once instead of taking turns on the floor, it was much more working time than usual.  Gimme slept soundly most of the way home, but then was wide awake and ready to be home.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tracking (39)

Last Friday we met at the Game Farm Park.  Nadine set up the 4-starts plan we'd talked about for Gimme the week before, while I set up the nearby leg challenge for Cricket. 

Gimme's training for starts was aged just under an hour and had four chances to figure out the track direction and each had a short leg to follow (about 50 yards), with an article at the end of the leg.  Gimme's path to approach each start is shown in a green dashed line, while Nadine's path is in red dots. 

Gimme struggled with the first one, she seemed to know which way it went, but wouldn't commit.  She finally did and after we got to her reward glove Nadine and I talked about it.  I said I didn't think what I was doing was "realistic", since in a real test I wouldn't stubbornly face away from the right direction, instead I'd treat it as a search circle.  So for legs 2 and 3, I did it as a search circle and Gimme did better. 

At leg 3 I noticed Gimme seemed to find/know the direction, but still didn't go down the leg until I happened to say "track on", our tracking cue. When she's searching, I say "search for it".  I noticed she tended to stall a bit on the second time around, so for leg 4 I cued "search for it", while she circled around me twice searching, and then I cued "track on" and she went right down the track.  We'll do this plan a few more times until Gimme and I gel on our system.  At least it seems we have a good plan.

For Cricket I laid out the same basic track as she'd had for the test, but with a shorter fourth leg, so the fifth leg and outgoing tracklayer path would be closer to the corner.  As it turned out the wind was conveniently in the same direction as on trial day and pretty strong.  We aged it about 30 minutes and then let her run it.  As we approached the startline we could see a group of people and two large loose dogs playing on the field where the track was laid, basically all over legs 2 and 3.  Amazingly Cricket aced this track.  She spent a little time on the second corner, but then made the turn.  My impression was she was trying to find where the turn was, sorting my path out from all the dog and people contamination.  She didn't seem to be challenged by my outgoing path.

Good job for both girls.




Monday, March 13, 2017

RallyFrEe practice (38)

One of my goals for this practice was to run through each of the behaviors I needed for a novice trick dog title.  I asked J'Anna to be our witness.  All the behaviors I chose from the list are things Gimme already knows, so it was a matter of warming up her brain and then demonstrating them to J'Anna's satisfaction.  I have to get the novice title before I can proceed.  Gimme already knows most of what she'll need for the intermediate title.  Then for advanced and expert we'll start learning new stuff.

I have to say I did get the alarm on my phone to work right this time, but still ended up with each session running 9-10 minutes, when my goal is no more than 8 minutes.  It doesn't seem like I'm working this long after the alarm goes off at 7 minutes, but clearly I am.  So next time will set the alarm for a shorter time, since my own sense of time is hopelessly skewed.  <sigh>

Session 1 video - We start by Gimme getting completely tangled in her leash.  Normally I can cue "tangle" and she'll stop and step her feet out of the leash, but not today.  We started with a bit of "with me", which is loose leash walking (not heel).  Then we did "kisses", where Gimme puts her feet up on my arm (butler style) to give me a kiss.  From there we did "down" and then worked on our doggie pushups, "down"/"stand".  Gimme is strong on "down"/"sit", but the "stand" is harder for her.  I thought she'd done it well enough, so I moved on to the pedestal trick, which is her "pivot" on a prop.  From there we demonstrated her "sit", then did a bit of heeling.  This is followed by a demonstration of her "spin" and "turn", and then "come". 

I thought the figure-8 would be so easy, but have discovered a problem.  She does sometimes miss the space, but I understand this.  However, since we started working on going "thru" a smaller space, we've lost the movement to the other side during the figure-8, while the walking weave is unaffected.  The problem is more noticeable with "thru-heel" and you'll see there is a back spin behind me before she shows up on the correct side - probably because she is more limber curving her body in the other direction.  I think the reason is because a smaller space requires her to curve her body more, so there is a tendency to continue the same curved-body movement.  This results in "right" or "left" (leg circles) instead of "thru-heel" or "thru-side".  With the bigger space, she was basically slicing the space between my legs, so it was pointing her right toward the other position.  This was very frustrating for both of us and something we'll have to work at.  Kind of amazing how much difference a small change can make in how the dog is able to perform a behavior which was well-known.  Also makes me wonder just what she "knew" about this behavior, eh.

After this we demonstrate following a pointed finger, hand touch, pushups, and finished with paws up on an object.

Session 2 video - We did the last three behaviors we needed for the title.  First was shake hands, which she gets right away, even though we haven't done it in a very long time.  Then I showed J'Anna our food refusal version, which is a self-control exercise I started teaching Gimme when she was only a couple months old.  It took her a long time to get enough self-control to be successful at this when she was a baby, but now she nails it.  I love how she self-regulates by not even looking at the "mine" treats.  Then we did the fetch.  Gimme gets rather toy-manic right after a false pregnancy.  Remember how she went to the table when I took the leash off - it was to check out the toy I'd placed there for this exercise.  It wasn't one of ours, but she still knew it was there.  It occurs to me I should be using her toy-mania.  One of the things I've wanted to get started on was to end the continual stream of treats since she's no longer in Mommy-brain.  Using toy-play could be part of this.

For the balance of the session we worked on some heeling then finding position.  J'Anna's prop becomes a huge distraction, as would be anything one could use for "bacon", doncha know.  We did a little work with "under" and then revisited the figure-8.  She got it much faster this time, but its going to take some time to get it solid again.  I tried to get some good "under" behaviors, but Gimme was unfocused and not listening to cues.  Listening skills is one of the things which disappears when she's worked too long and it should have been a dead giveaway about the time (8:30).  We finished up with some heeling and then pivoting in side position.

Session 3 video - In an effort to start weaning Gimme off the non-stop treats, I brought in our special bowl.  Its been a long time, but she definitely remembered it.  One of the cool aspects of using it is how it is both a reward and a distraction.  Mostly we did some doodling.  One rule I've established is - the click marks the behavior as correct, but only "yours" releases her to the bowl.  After all, I might reward her from treats I have on me.  As a reminder, Gimme has her own rule about special bowl.  If the bowl is on the floor and I add treats to it, those are hers right away.  If I pick it up, add treats to it and then set it on the floor, then she has to work to earn those.  As you can see heeling right by the bowl is very hard work, but you have to love her determination.  Special bowl brings out her work ethic - mostly.  She is briefly distracted by the beginning of a puppy play session in the next area over.  Sometimes Gimme thinks it is time and she can go to the bowl on her own.  Mostly she rethinks it and turns back to me.  Occasionally its clear no rethinking is going to happen and a sharp "no" escapes my lips.  I don't intentionally use "no", it just happens.  She's heard it seldom and mostly its just an interrupting sound, her name would work just as well. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Parkour (1/6)


This is our first night in the new session of class.  Neither the evil Poodle or the Aussie returned for this session.  The new classmates are both younger inexperienced dogs.  Gimme was pretty wound up.  I've noticed recently a tendency for Gimme to "act" distressed and concluded I was unintentionally sending her the wrong message when I upped the number of rewards she was getting in an effort to help her focus.  So, I spent much of the evening making sure the timing of my rewards would encourage calmness and thoughtful behavior.  I had some success at it, but I think I can do better.

Since these students didn't know about Gimme's issues, we dawdled on our potty walk so Jo had time to talk to them about giving her space.  Then class started with a free practice (with all 3 dogs on the floor at once) of different behaviors as a warm-up.  The idea was to do a few of most of the behaviors.  Jo is good about making sure there are sufficient props close to our cubicle for us to work on without having to get in the midst of the others.  BTW she is also always very good about positioning herself so she'd be between Gimme and the other dogs when I have to drop her leash and we're approaching them.  Gimme works hard to respond when I call her, but its good to have Jo there as a safety net, just in case.

Later when Gimme's focus seemed to be fading, I took her outside for a brief potty walk and mental break.  We were only gone about 3 minutes, but I noticed she did better when we returned.

Multi-prop sequence video - This was a line of props set up to form a walking sequence.  I put in a couple of control points to encourage thoughtfulness.  Part of the sequence was a table (2'x2'), milk crate and table.  None of the dogs stepped on the milk crate.  They weren't avoiding it, they are all just larger dogs and it was easy to step over it, so I tried to get Gimme to step on it, which she did very briefly.

Sequence 2 video - Here we had "below" the bench, "hands" to a chair, "walkies" on a boardwalk and then ending with the multi-prop "walkies" from before.  Toward the end of the sequence I start to see her getting a bit obsessive about the next treat.  This happens now and then throughout class and is something I'll want to address in later classes, likely by asking her to do more for each treat.

Sequence 3 video - You'll see Jo moving as we start so she'll be positioned better when I have to drop Gimme's leash and she'll be moving generally toward the other dogs.  The sequence is the same as before - "below" the bench, "hands" to a chair, "walkies" on a boardwalk and then ending with the multi-prop "walkies".  Gimme cuts the corner on a boardwalk, so I bring her back to do it correctly.  Then we add "below" the chair, "box", "out" around the big cone, then reverse the course going back to the beginning.  Gimme is distracted and loses her focus at the "out", but when I restart her from the "box" and get her to "wait" there for a moment, then she does it flawlessly.  Sometimes she needs some help to slow down and be thoughtful. 

Hoop trainer video - Gimme gets this perfectly the first time.

Sequence 4 video - While Gimme did the hoop trainer flawlessly before, when Jo moved it over to make it part of the sequence, she suddenly notices stuff on the bench against the wall and in going to check it out manages to get the leash tangled in the hoop trainer.  Gimme actually does really well for the rest of the course.  There where you see Jo walk up to me, the fiber of my sweater got caught in the zipper of my treat bag and she had to come rescue me.  Fortunately Gimme was exceedingly interested in all this apparent attention we are paying to my treat bag, so she is all about staying right there.  Nothing like a wardrobe malfunction to bring a bit of comic relief into the evening, eh.

I don't have any more video, but Gimme and I worked quite a few things after this.  Jo sat with the other students and talked to them about things they could do as part of a warm-up routine.  So she had us do some free practice on the floor during the discussion.  Then we all worked on the floor at the same time, doing each of the suggested warm-up moves.  Naturally we worked in a few "bacon" so Gimme could end class with her all time favorite behavior.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nosework (5/23)


It was another night of container searches.  I had some leftover chicken nuggets, which I cut up and added to our treat mix.  These turned out to be highly motivating to Gimme.  My plan was to be sure I worked our indicator in all our searches.  These especially motivating treats were a bit of a challenge, since Gimme was distracted by the possibilities, so not thinking clearly.  After class was over, Dorothy was changing out the odor boxes and replaced two of them, so she gave me the two crumpled ones (which were partly smashed before Gimme got to them, just sayin...).

The searches were all set up the same, boxes in a square.  We each brought distractions.  We were to continue the search and cover all the boxes, regardless of whether there were any more.

Container search 1 video - 1 hide, no distractions.  I didn't catch Dorothy's first comment about "so attractive" and don't quite get it in context, unless it's because Gimme started reverse sneezing partway down the first line of boxes.  Still it didn't hamper her and she found the hide in 15 seconds.   She got the first piece of chicken nugget at the end of working the indication.

Container search 2 video - 2 hides, 3 distractions.  Gimme found the first hide in 4.5 seconds.  Excluding the time spent on working her indication, she found the second hide in 1.5 seconds.  She went directly to it, so it sure seemed she knew exactly where it was.  Clearly she likes those nuggets.  She paid no attention to the distractions.

Container search 3 video - 3 hides, 6 distractions.  I'm not sure what Dorothy didn't like about our start.  I thought Gimme did fine.  She was a little bit all over, but found all the hides very quickly: 7 seconds, 5 seconds and 15.5 seconds.  The length of time finding the third hide was more about me swinging her around to make sure she covered all the bases.  She again paid no attention to the distractions.

Container search 4 video - 3 hides, 11 distractions.  Gimme finds the first hide in 3.5 seconds, second in 3 seconds, and third in just under 12 seconds (including the time spent checking the distraction box with the cat toy inside).  Her interest in the cat toy, while defined by her hatred of all things feline, was exaggerated when she stepped on the box "poofing" it.  The last box she showed interest in, was a bacon cheeseburger.  I let her decide to leave it on her own and then rewarded her when she made the choice to return to an odor box.

Overall I thought it was a very good class and Gimme did really well ignoring most of the distractions.  I had purposefully planned to do two things - work her indications and work my plan to keep moving when she hit on a distraction.  I didn't really need to work my distraction plan until the last search and then didn't really do it.  Then again, odor boxes were clearly marked, so it was easy to know when she was sucked into a distraction.  Still I should do it to keep clean habits for when I'm at a trial and don't know which is odor and which is a distraction.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tracking (38)

Our track was 740 yards long and aged 1:30.  The weather was cool, damp and breezy.

Gimme again had difficulty committing to the start when I'm not facing in the general direction.  She starts and then comes back to me, because I don't immediately follow her.  I want her to have the confidence of her convictions to haul me down the track whether I know to follow or not.

Once Gimme got the start, she had to follow it across a short mowed path to the area between the path and a ditch.  Her first turn was 45° and ran parallel between the path and the ditch.  The next turn was also 45° and led to a cloth glove.  Then we came to another turn that led to the gravel path/road, which went up hill.  The part of the track on the gravel wasn't really a straight line, more of a soft curve.  Gimme got distracted and went out to a water pipe (blue circle) which sticks out of the ground.  When she finally got back on track, she took another 45° turn which led her to a leather glove.

Then another turn for a short leg through a patch of tall grass.  The next turn brought her out in the open and then into another patch of tall grass, where she found an eyeglass case.  The last turn was in the middle of this tall grass.  Then straight ahead to find a glove at the base of the telephone pole.

Gimme really struggled with finding the start direction without my "support" and then struggled throughout this track - the oldest she's ever had.  Kudo's to my little girl for sticking it out and for continuing to try.  Honestly, we gave her too much at one time.

So Nadine and I talked about how we could separate the start issue and the age issue into different training days.  We devised plans to address the training, which can be done both at Flaming Geyser (fields) and Game Farm Park (sports park).  It is: 
  1. For the start issue we've drafted a rough plan of 4 starts, with a short leg to a glove.  Its rough because we have to make sure we set it up so any breeze we have isn't giving Gimme a hint of where the glove is.  The start legs will only be 30 minutes old.
  2. Then for age, we'll have 1 long straight leg with a glove at the end...  so all she has to do is pick up the scent and follow in a straight line to the article.  Once she is comfortable with straight legs and age, then we'll start adding some turns.  
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This weekend Gimme and I spent the night in Everett, with the plan of watching Nadine and Cricket on their 2nd TD tracking test. 

*** This picture is Gimme waiting impatiently for something fun-for-Gimme to happen. You'll note there is a hint of exasperation in her expression... as we'd just arrived after a long drive and I'm already on the laptop.

I also hoped to watch Jon and Cherry run, but traffic interfered and I arrived just a few minutes too late.  The site was really nice cover, but very windy and cold.  Only 2 dogs qualified out of 6 runs.

The track was a perfectly reasonable TD track, but the wind (blue arrow) threw in a twist.  As Cricket went down the second leg, she missed the second turn.  Nadine said she was pulling hard and steady and we are certain she could smell the tracklayer's scent on her exit path (dashed line), so Cricket thought going straight was the right answer.  If the track had been flipped, she would have aced it.  Cricket's weak area is usually the first leg and amazingly, this time she did her best first leg ever.

At least we can train for this.  We don't get the strong winds here like they have in Bow, so we'll make a parallel path much closer than the rules permit to create a similar challenge.  I'm sure they'll get it.  Cricket is a good little tracker - she just had bad luck both tries.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Parkour (7/5)

I wasn't sure how class would go after our experience walking the night before.  Shall we say it was "interesting".  Gimme was higher than a kite and her "energy" affected the other dogs.  The Aussie who is always so well behaved was quite flighty.  Gimme was very intense throughout class and was really rough when I gave her treats.  This sometimes happens when she's anxious about something.  Oddly the white standard poodle who was the source of all this was the best behaved in class - they said they'd taken a hint from us and were using string cheese for treats.

"Out" sequence 1 video - There were four props, 2 chairs, a pylon and a cone, and we were supposed to plan a route and then have our dog go around each of them.  I thought I was pulling a fast one by turning the stool so Gimme wouldn't see the shorter side and be inclined to do something other than "out".  Naturally Gimme still managed to do "hands" to it.

"Out" sequence 2 video - This time I had my route planned a bit better, so it went very smooth and fast.

Sequence 3 video - This sequence started in a "box", "out" around a chair and ending with "thru" the barrel.  Gimme did it beautifully.

Sequence 4 video - This sequence was a reverse of the time before, starting "thru" the barrel, "out" around a chair and ending with "box".  Gimme did it beautifully again.  She was really getting grabby for the treats and hurting my fingers, so we worked on this.

Crawl trainer 1 video - Took just a moment for Gimme to remember what this was about.  It took her much longer (edited out) to decide she could take treats without drawing blood.  Okay it's an exaggeration, but not by much.

Crawl trainer 2 video - Gimme did well again, but still took time to control herself taking treats.

Sequence 5 video - Here we put it all together.  Started with the 4 prop "out" sequence, crawl trainer, "table", "box", "out" around the chair, and "thru" the barrel.  We could do this much faster, but I was trying to encourage a little self control.

Sequence 6 video - "Thru" the barrel, "out" around the chair, "box", "table", "table", "below" the chair, crawl trainer, "walkies" on low board walk, and "out" sequence with 4 props.  Gimme's leash snagged on the pylon and brought it crashing after her.  You'll see Gimme wasn't the least bit concerned by the thing chasing her.

Sequence 7 video - We repeated the same sequence and Gimme did well.

Sequence 8 video - For this last run, we each got to come up with our own idea for a sequence, using each prop.  We started "thru" the barrel, "hands" to the stool", figure-8 "outs" to the pylon and cone, "hands" on the step ladder, "walkies", crawltrainer, "below" the chair, and then to make her happy - ended with "bacon" to both tables and into box.

Gimme was quite tired after class, as was I.  Unfortunately I didn't get to take a long nap during the drive home like she did.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nosework (4/23)

I made sure to get to class really early so Gimme and I could go for a walk at LOTTS park, which is part of the water treatment facility.  Things went well until we came up on the path from out in the fields, to see a loose dog, 50' from its owners.  I just backed us into the field and a couple minutes later when they went by, the owners had leashed the dog.  What I found interesting was how intense Gimme was about this dog.  She's seen a number of dogs since the incident in Parkour class and hadn't seemed any worse for wear.  This dog was large, lanky, blonde retriever type.  Gimme was really certain we needed to catch up to them and "do something".  The dog she had the incident with in class is a white standard poodle.  So it would seem she has concluded large light-colored dogs are a problem. 

This night's nosework class was all container searches, in different configurations.  The handler challenge was to do the searches using only 6' of leash.  Gimme seemed to do okay with the shorter leash.

Container search 1 video - This was a traditional ORT setting, two rows of 6 boxes, and one hide.  Gimme did a lovely job, finding her one hide in 10 seconds. 

Container search 2 video - The second search was three rows of 4 boxes.  We were all told before this search started by the co-instructor, "If your dog puts paws on the boxes, I will kill you."  Which really means, get in there and reward quickly.  You can see the way Gimme did her find, dashing over to the hide unpredictably, there was no way to prevent her from pawing at the boxes.  Thus my comment, "You are getting me in trouble, I'm dead now."  Gimme found this hide even faster, 3 seconds.  We were instructed to be sure we covered the whole area, even if they found it right away.

Container search 3 video - This search was set in a circle, with two hides.  Gimme found the first hide in 3 seconds, again.  The co-instructor made a snarky comment again (and from time to time I get the benefit of seeing her eye-rolling and hair-tossing in the video, which is so unprofessional, mainly because she's behaving this way in front of other students). I thought Gimme did a great job in this search.  It is really hard to handle a fast dog, manage a shorter leash than usual and have food in your hands all at the same time.  Thus, food in the hands didn't happen.  I started working my indicator training plan in this search, with or without support - I just have to do it.

Container search 4 video - This search was a giant "X" shape, with three hides.  Gimme finds the first hide in 4 seconds.  I worked all her indications this time, so it was a longer search than it needed to be. 

I continue to be annoyed about this whole business about indicator styles.  NACSW is adamant about not teaching the dogs an indicator.  Their idea being if the dog has a learned indicator it keeps the handler from learning to read their dog.  While there is some merit to this idea, it also leaves those teams with paw-oriented dogs up a creek with no paddle.  If I'd been given some constructive help early on, then we might not be facing this.  Instead all I got was negativity.  Thus I've had to devise my own plan, which works when I work on it.  BUT the drag is... I'm not supported when I work on it in class. 

I would caveat this with the fact of my starting nosework with another instructor.  However, another dog in our class has done all her nosework training with Dorothy and the co-instructor, and she has every bit as vigorous of a paw indication.  So it doesn't look like we would have any different issues if we had started here. 

In reality, indicator style isn't a big deal unless the dog is damaging things.  There is some variation among judges; some are unusually strict, while others are very lenient.  Also, the rules say you can only be given a particular fault one time per search.  So even if the dog paws every box in a container, you only get the fault once.  Some judges will assess another fault of a related type, such as the one about disrupting the search area.  You are allowed three faults total for a trial.  Gimme has never faulted out because of pawing.  I don't live for nosework, so its hard to find the motivation to work on this outside of class, but I guess I really should.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tracking (37)

It was a cold, 35 degrees, with scattered hail still on the ground.  We aged the track one hour.  There were two paved road crossings, two mowed path crossings, a section of dirt trail through the woods and one gravel road crossing.

Gimme had trouble finding start direction when I faced a different direction.  She did find it but wasn't sure she should take it if I was looking elsewhere.  I'd like to set this up with an early article to reward her persistence.  The circle on the first leg of the track represents a hump in the terrain.  Green lines are mowed paths she needed cross and track beside without following them.  Dark green squiggle shape is gnarly apple tree, with the turn a few feet from its base.

She was slow to decide to cross roads.  On the first road crossing she followed her nose across.  For the second road crossing she just pulled across to find the track on the other side.  When we get further along in our remedial urban training, then I hope these road crossings will be more purposeful.

I think the dirt path would have been easy for her, but just as she was about to start up (green), she saw a loose dog at the top of the path (red).  The dog left quickly, but I held her back to be sure he was gone.  Good thing since he soon reappeared with his owner, who kindly went elsewhere when he learned we were doing "search dog training".  When we got past the top of the path, Gimme got distracted off to the right into some long grass (pee-mail?).  She had no trouble crossing the mixed dirt/gravel road and found last article easily.

RallyFrEe practice (37)



My plan was to come up with a sequence to music for the current MDSA online workshop on Transitions.  It's really been a good workshop.  I learn from all of them, but this one was stellar.

Session 1 video - I took my shoes off because I've recently learned how much they influence what I can do in freestyle.  Gimme used to have really great stays - now, not so much - clearly need some work.  I just had a thought and am wondering if it hasn't become weaker due to all the times I gave her the "wait" cue, but then moved in a way she interpreted as a behavior cue, thus she's confused about it.  She seemed distracted this day, but I was able to get her attention after we worked a little bit.  I'm wondering if it was because of the dog invading her space the night before.  I've been giving her less reward for jumping up on me to ask for reassurance, so she doesn't do it as often.  This time I think she did it because I had taken her by the collar to move her back to our start, so she knew she'd misbehaved.  Bold as she is, she is really quite sensitive too.  She did pretty well on the sequence first time through.  As is her current trend, she'll try to turn almost anything into "Otto".  I had to do the center-front-pivot with my hands down as a guide to remind her how it goes.  Then we broke off for a bit of healing.  She's just sure we should be using any prop we get close to, so they serve as good distractions.  Once we do go to the prop, she is sure we should be doing "bacon" or "table", so it takes a bit of maneuvering to get her to "pivot".  I think my biggest project this year has to be cue discrimination, since it's an issue that comes up time and time and time again.  We practiced bits and pieces of the routine some more.  I kept expecting the alarm to go off at any moment and it should have by then.  I put some effort into tightening up her "around"; and later this would lead to her checking my right hand for a treat repeatedly, but she got past it when it didn't pay anymore.  I see I've gotten sloppy about working with treats in my hands too often - need to work on this.  She's better at the inside-"spin" than the inside-"turn", yet another thing needing more work.  When I finally check my phone to see when the alarm is coming, for some reason it stopped a few seconds in, so I must have hit the button twice.  This session ran 14 minutes, which is terrible.  Actually Gimme handled it quite well.  Partly because I kept her moving and didn't get stuck in hard stuff and partly because she's getting out of Mommy-brain.

Session 2 video - Since the first session was far too long, I wanted to make this one short.  We did a run-through to music.  Gimme was startled by the guy shaking out a plastic trash bag.  To her credit she instantly went back to work.  Then the same guy wanted to traipse through the part of the room where we were working, another distraction.  He is one of the autistic kids that come to do light cleaning here (the same one that made weird noises at Gimme several weeks ago).  He did go a different way when J'Anna told him we were taping. 

After our run-through, we did a "bacon" into a chair.  This is the first high "bacon" since Gimme's discombobulation started.  I wouldn't have required her to finish with her front feet if she didn't want to.  I thought she acted like she thought it was going to hurt, but did it with just a little encouragement.  We had the follow-up with the chiropractor later and he said everything was holding good.  Our next appointment is in four weeks.  We usually space them 6 weeks apart, but thought we'd make this a little closer, in case she needs fine tuning.

Session 3 video - We started with a bit of heeling and then did 4 run-throughs.  There were things I liked about each and things I didn't like.  I ended up using the first for the workshop submission.  Overall it was the smoothest, with the least little errors.  My version of the walking weave looked the best in the second try, Gimme did a great job on the circle and thru transitions, but then I messed up the figure-8-grapevine.  She did a nice job on the center-front-pivot even though my transition into it wasn't effective.  The best thing about the third try was how well Gimme did the fancy first corner transition.  She added a spin to the third corner thru transition, but it really looked okay.  By this time she's getting a bit more insistent about treats and its creating errors.  (she's finally out of Mommy-brain, so I'm eager to get back to not having a continual stream of treats)  Gimme seemed to enjoy all this dancing.  I think it's the movement and predictability.  Here is our submission for the Transition workshop wk4 video.

Julie made a suggestion for how to improve the setup for the first corner.  Her idea was to have me do a spin before starting the backing-up pivot, since this would have Gimme's rear swinging in the direction it would need to move for the pivot.  I also thought our invented move, the Spinotto, would do the same thing.  Spinotto is a "thru", ½ inside "spin", then ½ "Otto".  I decided to do another training session and video to work on these.  I didn't get the timing right for the spin lay-up, which I asked Julie about and she agreed I needed to complete the spin before beginning the turn.  The Spinotto worked well enough, but could have been better.  The weather was nice so there were a ton of people walking their dogs and Gimme was having a little difficulty concentrating.  Training session video -   I also played with the walking weave, which just didn't look as good on video as it seemed in my head.  This was a little better, but still not what I wanted.  Julie suggested I was taking much bigger steps than I needed.

I did another training session in the house (no video) and when I let Gimme finish the spin before starting the turn, she was so much faster on the pivot.  Fast enough so I had to quit after a couple of repetitions, because she was making me dizzy!  Even the Spinotto was faster.  Then I tried training the walking weave without taking such big steps.  I had to lure Gimme through a couple of times for her to believe I really meant for her to do it.  Even though the smaller steps were a big improvement, Gimme really had backing up on her mind, so I knew I was going to need another session where she wasn't primed for backing up.  When I did do a second session, she was practically slithering through the opening.  I'm sure I need a couple more sessions to build up the "thru" bank account.