Sunday, March 12, 2017
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.