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.