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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nosework (2/25)

Here is a picture of our container search layout for class. How would you work it? Do you see any pattern?

Dorothy asked us right off the bat what strategy we would use on this search. Everyone else was really at a loss, whereas I saw three circles of boxes with a box in the middle. So I said my strategy would be to work the circles or at least be aware of how Gimme had worked them, without getting stuck in the middle and blocking the center box.

I can't say why, I just saw it. I was sitting there looking at it and thinking about strategy while everyone was chatting before class, and then I just saw the circles. Probably my arts/crafts background. Dorothy said only one other person saw the circles. My classmates needed to be shown the circles. Here is the same layout with the circles in different colors.

Container 1 video - The first search was just one hide. Gimme finds it really quickly and then checks the other boxes. One of the things we were watching was to see if the dogs seemed to react to the circle shape. Dorothy has seen dogs react to the 2 lines of boxes for an ORT, but she said it wasn't clear here. Gimme seemed to be doing the third circle, but it could also be she'd done the other two and they were behind her, so it made sense to travel the perimeter.

Container 2 video - Dorothy changed the boxes and put a different odor in the spot of the hide from the first search and you can see Gimme doesn't alert to it right away because it doesn't smell "right" to her. Clearly she remembered from the time before. This time there were two hides and she gets them both fast. Note how her intensity drops after the second hide, as if she knows there aren't any more. She still checks the last group and then goes back to the second hide. I don't usually pay her again, but did this time and then she heads to the door on her own.

Container 3 video - This time there were three hides and we did the search off leash. You'll almost never get to do an off leash container search. Gimme was much faster off leash, 20 seconds less than for two hides. On the second hide she hadn't really indicated. I thought she was going to and had started to move in, but she was moving away by then. She notices I'm coming in and hops back to the hide. I'm sure she thinks she's training me.

Container 4 video - This time Dorothy moved all the hides to the edge of the circles. It looks a lot more like Gimme is responding to the circle shape without the center boxes. Gimme was another 6 seconds faster here. Clearly I and my leash are just one big impediment!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Urban Tracking (30)

Last Sunday I set another track for Gimme and let it age while I worked my Safeway store.  It was one hour old, cool and damp, with no breeze.  I started on the left side of the picture and went back behind the store and to a space in parking on the right side.  Red line is the track and light blue is what Gimme did.  Dark blue dots are articles.

I wanted to try it again to see if what I saw the day before was really dependence on other stuff instead of following my track on hard surface, OR if it was because she was uncertain about following my track after so long.  What I see is, Gimme is still tending to use grass and curbs and the edge of the building to find the track.  If it weren't for articles bringing her along and the constraint of the area, I'm not sure she would have gotten to the end.  It's also possible I'm unconsciously helping her.

We didn't have tracking this week because Nadine had a conflict.  So tomorrow (Saturday) I'm going to lay simple straight line tracks in the parking lot behind Shopko.  Its a very big space with no curbs.  Thus, there will be nothing else for her to rely on.  It's either sink or swim.  I've seen her be able to do it when there are no "crutches" to use, so I expect she'll be able to do it there. 

I think maybe we need to do this many times until she has confidence in her ability to follow those tracks and then maybe she won't be tempted to take the easy way out.  Normally she loves a challenge, so I think she'll do it when she realizes it'll show off how smart she is.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parkour (3/7)

We had class outside and there were a dog Gimme hadn't seen before, two newer dogs (Akita and Tevuren) as well as the dog we've been in class with for a couple of months. Overall she did very well with this. The Akita was very distracted, so his owner didn't take any turns. I certainly appreciate how very careful she is. 

"Out" practice video - Jo had us each pick an item or two and warm-up by practicing "out" on it. I decided to use the tree right on the edge of the area behind our cubicle, though it was challenging for leash handling, since I didn't want to let go of her leash until I was sure she was focused. Jo brought me a flowerpot to use as well. I was very happy to see Gimme start off so well, usually she can take a few turns to get her brain in gear. BTW you'll also see Jo carrying out a divider to put in front of our cubicle. I was going to get one, but she beat me to it. 

Sequence 1 video - Easy sequence, but Gimme was distracted by the front of the child's kitchen. Jo said all the dogs with nosework experience had been the first time and she thought it might have been used for a hide, especially since they were all sniffing the front side of it. BTW this sequence ended with "hands" to the low rim around the tree planter. "Hands" on low things has been a challenge for us; Gimme loves to turn them into "table", but she followed my cue this time.  

Sequence 2 video - Walking on the rim of the tree planter and then onto the narrow board was added to the sequence. All the other dogs had a real challenge making the turn from the rim to narrow board. Gimme got it easy peasy. 

Sequence 3 video - Jo added a lot this time. I had Gimme repeat a couple of behaviors because they weren't crisp enough. They would have been okay and I did reward her for them, but wanted to encourage her to do a nicer job. 

Sequence 4 video - Jo added a couple more items. One thing you can't see is the little riding toy (after the table-out-table combo). We were supposed to get the dog to do "hands" on it. The challenge was that it moved. Gimme was the only one who could do it - moving stuff just doesn't bother her. 

Sequence 5 video - This is another short sequence. Gimme did nicely for all of it, though she did manage to turn one of the "hands" into "table" as she was supposed to be getting off of it. So, I had her do it again. Otherwise she did nicely at everything. 

There was one more sequence, which I suggested as Jo was pondering what to have us do next. I suggested we do a creativity sequence where each of us have to figure out our own route and try to come up with novel uses. Jo correctly figured out I suggested it because Gimme hadn't gotten to do even one "bacon" for the whole class. When we did our sequence, I had Gimme "bacon" onto several things, ending with her very talented "bacon" onto the narrow board. Sadly I messed up and so I don't have video. <pout> 

Everyone was suitably impressed and we got clapping and cheering for Gimme's special talent.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Nosework (1/25)

We had two searches of a huge exterior area. We were told there was an unknown number of hides. We were also told we would have 3:00 minutes to complete the search, wouldn't get a 30 second warning, couldn't go over time and must be prepared to say how long we'd been in the search area at the end.

Exterior 1 video - Gimme dives into the search area, clearly heading for the other end, so I was certain she'd gotten no hint of anything at the start end. Of course right after I thought this, she curls back along the building toward the start. I'd forgotten entirely about her crossing the start end of the search area and checking down the other side on her way to go to the far end. I remember, after she spends some time on the small rocks pile, thinking I needed to make sure she got into the side away from the building. I was pleased with myself for not getting sucked into a false alert when she spent time sniffing at the small rocks pile. Gimme is so good about not peeing in the search area, I really think she thought... "There's nothing here, maybe we are really just taking a walk, so I can pee now." There were no hides.

When asked how long I thought we'd been in the search area, I said 2:15 seconds. Honestly I have such a skewed sense of time, so I always say 2:15 and some day I'll be right. But not this day, since we ran to 3:20, well over time.

Exterior 2 video - The wind died down right before our search which probably accounts for why Gimme was the only dog who didn't immediately turn to the building. Right after she gets to the far end, a little breeze kicks up. She comes up the side away from the building catching the rock hide at 40 seconds. While it's almost a minute to find the next hide, 15 seconds of it was spent on rewards. So she was actually pretty direct.

When asked how long I thought we'd been spent on this search, I again said 2:15 and I was still wrong. It was more like 1:40. Its interesting how Gimme finds two hides in half the time she spent finding no hides.

They'd only planned for the two searches. While Gimme was substantially faster the second time around, the other dogs weren't so fast, so we were really close to the end of class time when we finished all the dogs. It just so happened we also had a very full class.

I no longer have quilting on Tuesday nights, so Gimme enjoys having me stay at home with her and spending part of the evening stroking her tummy. As Empress of the Cosmos, she deserves special treatment. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Urban Tracking (27-28-29)

I have three urban tracking reports for you. I have just learned how to download images from GoogleEarth and edit them to show a bird's eye view of our track. This will have multiple advantages. First, I can show the track and how Gimme worked it. Second, I can give Nadine a printout of the area and ask her to mark it showing where the track went.

Third, when I want something very specific I can send her a picture via email showing what I want. My descriptions over the phone never seem to result in the track I envision (especially when we are at Auburn Cinema). I'm reviewing Sil Sander's manuscript for his new book, starting from TD training to a VST. Doing the manuscript review makes me eager to find where we are and then follow the plan he's provided. The book includes a plan for teaching urban to a dog who is already well-skilled at field tracking. Sil is brilliant at breaking things down in a logical flow, with everything you need to teach your dog the skills they need. So with the plan as he's laid it out and the ability to give Nadine a picture of what I want, I'm hoping to move along without any more problems.

Last Friday we met at the Game Farm Park. I asked Nadine to lay pretty much the same track as two weeks before, but to turn the opposite way after the large hard surface crossing, then to come around the other end of the ball park and see if she could get another hard surface crossing.

This track was 1:20 minutes old. The conditions were wet and cool, with minimal breeze. The day before there was a huge thunderstorm  traveling up the I-5 corridor, so the ground was saturated. Nadine went through the edge of a large puddle in the parking area on the last leg. Gimme did a better job with the first hard surface crossing than she had two weeks earlier. She goofed off under the trees, checking for squirrels methinks. She found the transition back to hard surface challenging and resisted, but finally did it. Gimme declined to actually step in the puddle, skirting around the edge and then going straight to the last article.

Thursday of this week we met at Auburn Cinema. I asked Nadine to lay us a 4-corner zigzag and to avoid the curbs where she could, though she could start along a curb. When it comes to large expanses of hard surface, Gimme either shops for anything that "looks" like it could be a treat or article and/or try to find the track along curbs. Both are habits we need to move beyond.

Her track was 1:20 old, damp conditions, cloudy sky. It wasn't what I was aiming for. We spent far too much time near curbs, so when we did have to move out into the open, Gimme wasn't doing very well. I find she does better if we spend most of the track out in the open, so she doesn't start out in curb-dependent mode. As we got closer to the end, there was one turn to the right.  Gimme started to take it, but not very close to where it actually went, so I wasn't ready for her and she got an unintended correction. That was enough for her to decide I didn't want her to go there, making an entire third of the compass off limits. Thus, she'd only try toward the other two-thirds and we were both getting frustrated. I got her moving around me in a circle, searching, but initially she would move only 2 feet from me on the side where she'd gotten the correction. As she moved a little farther from me on the "bad" side, I side-stepped a bit toward her and each time around she moved more strongly toward where the track went. So we finally were able to get going again and she finished nicely, despite a car being right on top of her track. She never hesitated and just curved around the car and continued past it confidently and was rewarded with a nice fat article very soon after. At least it ended very well.

I had to work two accounts today and I decided to lay a short hard surface track at the second store. This is normally our long walk day, but the sky was looking dicey, so on the chance we wouldn't be able to walk, I thought we could do a short track. Even  if we ran it in substantial rain, we could be home and dry 15 minutes after we finished. As luck would have it, the weather held so we did get to walk 4 miles, after we tracked.

I laid a track starting on one of the side areas of the parking lot, passing behind the Safeway and then coming up on the other side, ending in grass. I don't know what I was thinking, since I didn't put out any food drops for her. Bad me.

It was 1:15 old, on wet pavement and grass, with almost no breeze. This is the first time Gimme has followed one of my tracks in a long time. She seemed uncertain about doing it. When she did get going, she was determined to follow scent as it drifted against curbs or buildings. She started out following the curb to our right, which was diverging from the track. When it hit a bump out toward the track, she crossed over and followed alongside of the building, still not on the track. She did get to the curb behind the building where I'd bumped against it and made a 60ยบ left turn. She followed along the curb until she caught the scent of the first article, then turned straight to it. After the article she moved along the building on the other side until she got to the place where the track turned left and onto the grass. She got the next article quickly. She had no issues crossing a 30ft paved circle, back onto grass and then to the final article 15 yards beyond it. 

Between tracking and a four mile walk, Gimme is snoozing contentedly beside me.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

RFE Practice (42)

Session 1 video - For the first session, we worked on our segment for the MDSA video.  I wanted to use "touch" in our routine, so we did a bunch of those in our warm-up. Then we did dry runs for the choreography I'd planned. Naturally, once I put the music on, it had to change. Gimme was really distracted by the corner, so I had to work though this with click/treat for turning with me. On one run (you'll hear a crackly noise) it is from the little speaker vibrating itself off the table and then starting across the floor. We had to put it in a little corral. The last two runs, starting at about 6 minutes, are the best.  I have to get together festive ring markers and wear the right outfit (khaki pants and bright top) during the final filming.

Session 2 video - We started the second session working on "fanny", where Gimme is in position behind me and follows me. In hindsight, I think this would be better in a channel of guides. Next we practiced "otto" (backing around me from and back to heel position). J'Anna set up an oval of signs she wanted to work on, so we tinkered with them. On the handler-dog-handler-dog front crosses, I have to remember to take a step forward before I turn to cross, otherwise Gimme assumes she's supposed to turn with me - whether I say "wait" or not. She's been reading the shoulder movement too long and I can't convince her it doesn't mean anything.  Sometimes it does mean something, so I guess she's right.  Our last thing was backing in side position.  As much as Gimme loves backing up, I was surprised at her difficulty. I get a few steps, but she really didn't understand what I wanted. When people started filing by with their dogs for another class, I switched to easy behaviors, so she could stay engaged with me. She couldn't do this last Fall. We ended with some quick heeling. BTW you have to forgive J'Anna. She gets distracted watching Gimme and forgets to turn the camera.

Session 3 video - I used a different approach to working backing in heel using a target (carpet square). Gimme is quite adept at backing to any kind of target, so this made things easier to understand. After she was doing this well, I changed my relative position in a couple of steps until it was what we needed. She did really well and then suddenly kept trying to turn it into our "spinotto". I can't see any reason in the video why she was doing this - maybe just a bit brain tired or bored with too many reps or both. From there we switched to working on "away", where she is in front of me, but facing away. The target stick just wasn't working, so I did a bit of naming the position.  I think using a platform would be helpful in training this.  Then we did more heeling and working the distracting corner (where all the stuff happens). Last was treat tossing with finding position. 

All in all, it was a good session. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Parkour (2/7)

The Akita didn't show up. Instead we had a big calm Tervuren boy. He was very well behaved and they did well. His owner was suitably impressed with Gimme, so I'm sure she is brilliant.

Interestingly with the recent Wait For The Cue work we did, Gimme was much better in class in a couple of respects. Usually as we walk out to the start point for a sequence, Gimme is trying to do 3-5 things on the way. You never see this because I edit the videos to only include the actual sequence, not the silliness on the way. This time there was almost no silliness. Also, I reminded her one time to wait for my cue to do the first prop and rewarded her waiting, and she waited every time after. I'm surprised and pleased at this. I like what we are doing with WFTC, but I really didn't think we'd gotten very far with it, so wasn't expecting it to carry over.

Sequence 1 video - I left in the video the reminder about waiting at the first prop. The second board was one of the narrow boards. Gimme has done boards skinnier than this one, but she wasn't expecting it. Our classmates in the classes this year have been just fresh out of beginner class, so this is the first time we've seen this one in a long time.

"thru-out-thru" video - Sorry I didn't aim the camera better. This was just too too easy.

Sequence 2 video - I was especially pleased with her quick response to the first "halt". Normally we have to do a couple before she is fully focused. I made it a point to do a control point on the narrow board so she has to focus to balance on it. Slow and/or stopped is often harder than fast. Try it yourself some time.

Sequence 3 video - I asked Gimme to "sit" on the narrow board for an added challenge. She had to remember what to do with her feet to get her heiney down on this smaller space.

Sequence 4 video - Gimme remained very focused for this sequence, even though we added little excursions off the boardwalk.

Sequence 5 video - Same sequence. I'm seeing a lot better focus during this class, almost no instances of her missing a cue or doing her own idea. She really had her listening ears working.

Send practice 1 video - Here we have a bit of individual practice for sends.

Sequence 6 video - Here we added the sends into the sequence. The first one we hadn't done even close to it, so Gimme needed a little help. The second one was just like what we'd done before, just with me a bit further back, so naturally, she aced it.

Sequence 7 video - This was so funny. I'd been paying Gimme for waiting for the cue, so when I said "box", she wasn't sure. Then when I encouraged her, she had to do it with flair, hopping in sideways. She can be such a clown at times. Of course, then she was so impressed with her own cleverness, so she turned off her listening ears for a minute. Seriously, this was her 9th time working, so she may have been getting a bit brain tired.

Sequence 8 video - Same sequence. This time I didn't have to help her with the first send.

Send practice 2 video - This shouldn't have been so hard to start, but I think the appearance of an open door distracted her. Speaking of which, I made sure we finished our send work before people would be likely to start showing up outside the door. After more distance, we switched to using the toy bucket for an added challenge. Overall she did very well, given having two distractions at one time (toy bucket and open door).

With only two dogs in class Gimme got a lot of working time, so she was sound asleep before we got out of the parking lot.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Nosework (6/24)

Exterior 1 video - There were 7 hides set in the potty area!  The idea was to have a lot of opportunities to reward the dogs for working through this level of distraction. We were given all the time we needed and we spent 4:45 doing this search. Gimme did a great job resisting any urge to mark the many marking posts. When we left the search area and crossed into a grass patch, she immediately dropped her heiney to do her "business". I was so proud of her.

Exterior 2 video - This time there were still 7 hides, but they were moved closer together, increasing the scenting challenge in this very distracting area. Gimme was treated to a really strange noise coming from the truck yard at the end of the search area. As I was editing this video, she was laying beside me on the couch and as the sound came up, Gimme lifted her head and listened again. She did a nice job, working this out in less time by a full minute, despite the increased difficulty of the hides. Only two dogs found the high hide on the mailbox and Gimme was faster by a significant amount.

Container video - This was a simple row of boxes on stools, run three times with the instructors moving the 1 hide each time, (while we faced away at the end of the room). There's a funny thing about my comment "good sticking it on the stool". Each dog knocked the box off the stool and the co-instructor kept trying to stick the box down, to no avail. Well she finally got it well stuck, as evidenced when Gimme knocked the whole stool/box over. This went really fast for all the dogs, but Gimme was the fastest tonight.

Great class!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Wait For The Cue (2)

WFTC, session 1 video - I repeated the sessions from last night, so this was "stand" and "down". I really do know I'm supposed to click, then treat, but I was trying to keep her still as I got the behaviors. I also accepted her coming up into a "stand" from "down" before it was cued, because I wanted success and no frustration. It'll be harder, later. She is already getting the idea somewhat, and I'm able to pull my hand away between treats. This was a big improvement already from last night. 

WFTC, session 2 video - This time the two behaviors were "turn" (CW spin) and "paw" (touch whatever body part I offer with your paw). Gimme keeps touching my hand with her nose, the "touch" behavior, as well as trying to offer other "paw" behaviors ("high"). I get the "paw", but after "touch" and had the same issue the night before. It takes me awhile, but I come to realize she is simply confused and unable to transition from lots of treats from the hand and "paw" to hand. At some point I need to work through the distinction between "touch" (nose touch) and "paw" (paw touch) to my hand, but this is not what we are trying to achieve today. When I start offering my knee for "paw", then she does a great job. At one point she is losing focus and not hearing me, so I gently put my hands on her, with some stroking on her neck, and then she is able to come back. She's very tactile, so touch can be soothing for her, but I can't get grabby about it (which has happened when I've gotten frustrated). Both hands up is a "I don't want this" marker. I don't use it very often and only did so here because I couldn't stop her "turn" offering. We end with a nice "paw" to knee where she holds her position and then gives me a good "turn" on the first cue. Nice work there. 

WFTC, session 3 video - This time we have "touch" (nose touch to hand) and "sit". Gimme starts off with a bit of mugging me, which needs to be worked through. BTW the criteria for stillness is related to the behavior if it has a specific position (like "down" or "sit" or when she sits to "paw"), otherwise I want her to stand, since I need this the most for RallyFrEe. You can see she is getting the idea since she holds the sit while I fish in my pocket for more treats. This wasn't the best of the three sessions, but it was still an improvement from the night before. 

Another part of this process is to teach Gimme a green light cue for offering, "show me". So we are doing some free-shaping sessions where she is free to offer whatever she wants. I am trying to only click the same thing 2 or 3 times, though I made an exception here and there for behaviors I might want to use. She is tending to repeat behaviors she knows, but is starting to think. The other night when we did this I got only known behaviors and a whole bunch of "bacon". Today I think she did better. 

Free-Shaping, session 1 video - For this first session I had a tote lid available for her to interact with and predictably got "bacon" right away, but she did move on to other things when I didn't click it again. I think I've lost my eye, it takes me a bit to recognize the little things with promise. We clicked: "bacon", barking, head turn to the left, sneezing, brief stillness in front of me (to get off the barking), backing in a clockwise arc, head turn to the right, front paw lifts, right paw raise, and "high". 

Free-Shaping, session 2 video - This time I didn't have any prop for her to interact with, hoping to get more behaviors (since she can get quite stuck on "bacon"). We clicked: "thru", "heel" position, "stand" in front of me, head turn to the right, swinging toward "side" position, "sit", "turn", and backing in a clockwise arc. I kept this session a bit shorter. 

This is turning out to be a very interesting process. We'll see where it takes us.