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 and ADPL4...
26 and counting...


Friday, June 30, 2017

Barn Hunt Weekend

Last Saturday we went to Canby, Oregon, for a barn hunt trial. I was hoping her false pregnancy would hold off until after the trial. It did, starting this Wednesday.

On Saturday morning we had our first try at Crazy-8's. Gimme got 50 points. It takes 500 points to get each Crazy-8's title. She did well in Masters, finding three rats. Gimme did the tunnel several times and normally I can only get her to do it once and only after she finds all the rats. So I thought she must be done and called "finish", but there was one more rat tube. Later I talked to the judge and she said the final rat tube was positioned over the first turn in the tunnel and she thinks some dogs could smell it there and were attracted into the tunnel. Makes sense.

In the afternoon we got 40 points in Crazy-8's. I was just opening my mouth to call another rat when I heard the judge say "time". We got a nice Q in Masters, her fourth leg toward a barn hunt championship (6 to go). I was really proud of her since it was very hot by then. 99º according to my car, which may be a couple degrees low.

Sunday morning Gimme again got 50 points in Crazy-8's. It's a fun and low stress class. In Masters, Gimme smelled a rat from under a leaner bale and indicated it to me by barking, and after I called it the judge said it was a false alert. Her nose was only inches from the rat tube, so I think it was a bad call. I'm sure we'll get other generous calls to make up for it.

In the afternoon, Crazy-8's didn't go as well. Gimme found a rat, climbed and did a tunnel, bringing her points to 30. She then caught her toenail in the ring fencing which scared her, so it took a bit for her to get back to searching and her next alert was a false alert costing us 20 points; there wasn't even a tube there. She was able to find one more rat, so we ended with 20 points. Scoring: climb, rat1, tunnel, false alert, rat2  (10+10+10-20+10=20 points)

Unfortunately, because of the heat, which was several degrees hotter than the day before, some people went home early, so we got moved up into an earlier blind. This meant Gimme didn't get a break or a chance to cool off between Crazy-8's and Masters. I could see she wasn't really into it, but was making an effort because I asked her to. I was even thinking about calling "finish" early, but didn't have to since she did a false alert.

We were both happy to get the car packed up, crank the air conditioning all the way up and get on the road heading home. BTW having just cleaned out the car, I can tell you Gimme drank 14 coconut waters last weekend. She also munched a lot of ice cubes and tanked up a lot in the hotel room.   She was just so thirsty.

While not wildly successful, it was still a good weekend. We came away with 160 points in Crazy-8's (one-third of a title) and our fourth leg toward a RATCH. Since Gimme had not done Crazy-8's before and the temps were so high, I'm pleased with her efforts. Not sure when our next trial will be.

RFE practice (46)

The goal was to video for the RallyFrEe West 1 Regional event, which we entered at intermediate for the first time. We had a backup date for Monday, in case it didn't work out. Good thing too, since we needed it.

Session 1 video - The first thing Gimme did was head straight for the nuggies (chicken nuggets). She really loves those things and we've been using them lately to train the harder behaviors and like magic, not so hard anymore. We used this session to practice the individual behaviors, starting with "bacon" to her red/white/blue can. From there it was "pivot" on the brick, where I was trying to get three reps in a row. We went on to the dog front cross sign and there you see a bit of not-listening and offering instead. Although our side-pass was good initially, it fell apart just days before this practice. We went on to practice "izzy", which had been going better at home. Gimme was having difficulty getting started, then I hit on the idea of doing a right side reverse-pivot, to get her to start backing up from "side" position. It initially seemed to work, but then it didn't. I finally get a small part of the behavior and release her to "bowl", hoping to prime the pump. What finally worked was to use the wall in place of our guides, to get her started. Ya gotta laugh at her use of nearby broad jumps for "bacon" - she is consistent - but I wasn't going to reward it. So we walked over and picked up her bowl and ended the session with no reward. What I didn't realize at the time was how close we were getting to her false pregnancy, so she was already getting easily frustrated and not thinking clearly. Her false pregnancy started last night with nesting.

Session 2 video - J'Anna had technical difficulty and didn't get the first part of this session. We come in where I'm refreshing Gimme on her free choice behavior, then we moved on to sidestepping. I didn't realize until much later what was the source of this behavior falling apart. Gimme was learning two behaviors which both started in "side" position. Since we put a lot of effort into "izzy", she thought any time she was there and I stopped moving, I might want her to do "izzy". When it wasn't successful she was confused and frustrated. We practiced "pivot" and again had difficulty getting to three reps, even though she's done it before with no issue.

Session 3 video - This time we started with backup in "heel" position. I find it I can get her to stop and pause in position before we start these behaviors, then they go better. This time I brought in the guides to help Gimme get started with "izzy". As we got further down the course, I was totally baffled by Gimme going into a bark and offering fest when I was asking her to do her fave "bacon". We tinker with some other behaviors and then end for the day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Parkour (1/8)

There were five dogs in class, including Gimme. One she didn't know and three she'd seen before. It used to be this would have been very challenging for her, but this time she was quite calm about it.

"Box" practice video - We were supposed to practice having our dog get into something, "box". Of course Gimme used this opportunity to practice "bacon" a few times. She is certainly consistent.

Crawl trainer video - Gimme totally rocks the crawl trainer. This was too too easy, since she's done it set much lower. It takes too long to reset it, so she did it the same height as the beginner dogs.

Scaffold sequence video - The challenge here was how the two scaffolds were set staggered, creating a narrow space to get from one to the other. Gimme did fine with this, naturally.

Sequence 1 video - This little sequence was pretty easy. To make it more interesting for Gimme, we did a number of control points - "halt" and "flip". They used to be so hard for her, but now she's really used to them.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme did a great job on this. None of it was hard for her and we had a lot of fun with it.

Sequence 3 video - This sequence had a couple of tight spots and Gimme did very well with them. As we approached the crawl trainer I noticed a treat had been dropped inside it and was sure she'd notice and clean it up as she went through it. She didn't notice it, so I pointed it out to her when we finished.

Another great class and a contented Gimme all the way home.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nosework (1/26)

Dorothy was instructing solo and as usual she had a great plan for searches.

Interior 1 video - This search had four tables set up with chairs around them. We were to treat them like a vehicle, so search on leash. Each table/chair grouping was a "vehicle" and we had to make sure we got around all four sides before moving on. Gimme did a good job, despite her initial detour to a nearby tennis ball. She left it on her own when she got the drift of odor. The second table had no odor and you can see she's not very uninterested. She tries to go to the next table and when I prevent her, she heads for nearby shelving. She quickly caught the drift of odor on the third table and turned back toward it. She was very efficient with the fourth table and stood her ground despite me continuing to move.

Exterior 1 video - This search was three groups of chairs along the back wall of the building. We've seen before how the air can swirl around back there, so we thought it might be a little difficult for the dogs. Honestly I thought Gimme had little challenge, so either the wind wasn't doing its thing, or the chairs were too close to the building and thus not caught in the vortexes. We were told to take up to two passes along the chairs and then declare whether there was or wasn't odor. Gimme was completely uninterested in the first group of chairs, so I knew it was a blank area. You'll note the difference as she stops at the second chair of the second group and sticks with it, even though I move on at least ten feet. Gimme did a fabulous job working out the odor blowing from chair 2 onto chair 3. For the third grouping she stops at chair 4, but then moves to and indicates on the last chair. Ya gotta love her talent and attitude.

Interior 2 video - This time we did the same interior search of the table/chair combos, but off leash. You'll see without my "interference" Gimme shaves 40 seconds off her search time. This, even though she spends a lot of time racing around like a "Girl's just gotta have fa-unh". Then suddenly gets down to business and indicates all three in rapid succession. It's a fun search to watch, especially as contrasted to the first time on leash.

We won't have class nosework class for the next two weeks. I'm sure Gimme will miss it, as will I. Maybe I'll make more progress on my own home project.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Urban Tracking (37)

I've gotten behind again on my blogging. I try to keep up, but Gimme has these ideas about how much time I'm allowed to spend on the computer. Her tummy needs to be stroked and there are other important duties for me to attend to, doncha know.

Last Saturday we went out for some hard surface tracking. I'd found a huge building with an equally large parking area on GoogleEarth. When I got there I discovered it was a regional center for Target and their parking area is fenced in. However, the security guard was really nice and told me where there was a building nearby with large parking. Since the pictures on GoogleEarth are sometimes very old (the pictures of my house are at least ten years old), this building didn't show up. He said he thought it was unoccupied. It is now occupied by Medline, a medical equipment company.

The building is not as big as the Target center, but the parking area is the same size. To give you an idea of the size of the place, it has 80 loading docks and parking in between them for another 80 semi-trailers, plus another 40 semi-trailer spaces across the end. Employee parking has space for about 400 cars, with lots of islands and such. The morning we were there, only 5 cars were present. This is going to be a great place for us to train, with a host of options.

I was able to set three tracks down at the warehouse end. They were 75, 100 and 125 yard tracks, aged 45 minutes, with food drops every 5 yards. The longest track was set as a serpentine.  Temps started at 60 degrees when we arrived and were up to 65 by the time we finished tracking.

On the first two tracks Gimme did a great job. I noticed she was challenged when we passed two storm drains. In nosework we've seen and discussed the effect storm drains have on exterior searches, so I knew exactly what was going on when I saw it. She really motored down these two tracks, snatching up all the bits of beef jerky.

On the third track, it didn't go as well. I didn't mark the track with chalk, thinking I'd be able to see where it was based on the beef jerky. Unfortunately the jerky blended in a lot more on this asphalt. So between the blending and Gimme's speed, I was not really clear about where the track went. As a result, my handling was not as good. Also, Gimme tends to be less accurate on the third track, so this was a factor. I'm trying to think of something long-handled I can use to hold my chalk so I don't have to bend over a million times while laying a track. Gimme was able to find the final article despite my poor handling.

After tracking we went for a 2-mile walk. Then we came home and Gimme rested while I worked on several projects around the house.

We haven't been tracking since then and probably won't for the next couple of weeks.  Nadine has several conflicts. It'll be a good time for a break during this unseasonably hot weather.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

RFE practice (45)

J'Anna had set up an intermediate level course-from-hell, which means it has a ton of the hard intermediate behaviors. She assures me you only see 2 or 3 intermediate behaviors in an actual titling course, so I entered for the West 1 Regional. We got the course the other day and while she is right, there are only 3 intermediate behaviors - two of them are ones we haven't mastered.

Session 1 video - I brought in our brick and special bowl (which I didn't ever use). I warmed Gimme up doing "pivot" on the brick. I had also set up our guides to work on "izzy", her clockwise back around me, which is one of the behaviors we don't have mastered for filming this Thursday. It was getting better, but has since fallen apart again. I am thinking I want to try free-shaping from a back-chaining approach. It is the end she has the most difficulty with and where she tends to turn around and try making it into "otto" (counter-clockwise). We also practiced sidepass toward me. Of course our West 1 course has a sidepass away, which we'd never even tried, but am making progress on it.

Session 2 video - This time I started with a refresher on backing up in "heel" position. From there we went straight into working the course. Ignoring a butt lick, a stepped on foot, misreading the course and a few other flaws, it went pretty good. Especially since we haven't done much course work in recent months. I realized later her reluctance to getting all four on J'Anna's prop was back discomfort. She had chiropractic later in the day and he said it was probably a factor.

Session 3 video - This time we started right off doing the course. Gimme was a little distracted by background noise, but overall she did well.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Parkour (7/7)

We had the substitute instructor. She had some interesting exercises for us.

Bridging practice video - We were to take two props and then teach our dog to get on one and then step just their front feet onto the other prop. Naturally Gimme thought this was easy peasy. It was so easy for her, I tried to get her to "bacon" from one to another. I haven't even taught her to back along a prop yet, so we didn't get anywhere with it. She just didn't have any idea what I was asking her to do. Doing it on the two oil pans was only partially successful. She could walk onto them, but if she stepped off, then trying to get her back feet on again made them move too easily until they were too far apart.

Backing corner practice video - We each had a channel to back through, with a corner in it. Gimme did really well the first direction, her easiest direction. All it took was a couple of tries for her to figure out what I wanted. Then we added backing through the channel without walking in first and lastly, removing panels. The second direction was harder for her, because she isn't as confident backing clockwise, but she did get it before we were done. We didn't get nearly as far clockwise, but it was a good opportunity to reinforce what we are working on for RFE ("izzy" backing clockwise around me). I can't decide if she was offering "hands" because she thought I wanted it or because she was frustrated.

Distance sequence 1 video - Here our goal was to get them to go out around the dividers and do "thru" the barrel. Gimme did a lot of distance work in agility, so this was easy for her. Gimme did things so well and easily, so she didn't get as many turns, but she got more time at once so she could show off.

Distance sequence 2 video - This time was the same sequence, but with a "box" to get in. Easy peasy. Gimme pretty much thinks she invented this stuff.

Distance sequence 3 video - This time was to a table, which was snagging the leash, so I took it off her. It makes me really uncomfortable to have her off leash with other dogs around, but she did well while she was working. She briefly started to go toward another dog after we finished working, but before I got her leash on. Fortunately she came back immediately when I said her name.

This was a fun class - the best one we've had with the substitute instructor.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nosework (6/25)

The idea for the first three searches (done back-to-back) was to take one trip around each vehicle and be able to say whether there was or was not a hide on it. I thought this would be harder than it was.

Vehicle 1 video - I must be learning to read Gimme (finally!) because I knew whether there was or was not a hide on the vehicle about halfway around. Even losing a couple seconds for me stopping to respond to questions, Gimme still had this done in 55 seconds.

Vehicle 2 video - Gimme did a lovely job on these, finding 2 hides in 51 seconds. She really didn't waste any time. Had we not been doing this exercise, I think she would have found the hide on the lift truck first.

Vehicle 3 video - Within 8 seconds into this search, I knew Gimme would be taking me to the other side to find the hide. I can't tell you what I saw, but I do remember thinking it. I've never understood why they want me to reward Gimme just for being in the vicinity of a hide, so I just don't do it. She's an experienced dog and this isn't a tough hide, so I want to see her to make a decision. Do note as we are coming up between the two vehicles and searching the second one, Gimme gives me a look clearly saying "And we are searching this one... why?" (at 1:13) I was sure then, but still waited for her to dismiss it from the other side because the direction of the breeze had changed.

The second set of searches, again back-to-back, had three vehicles with two hides. As handlers we were to say whether we thought the hides were accessible or inaccessible. This is a nebulous definition. Unless the dog can get their nose right up close to the hide, then I think its inaccessible. Since hides are placed so we can't see them, we have to go based on the dog's behavior. So if Gimme is really quick sourcing the hide, I say its accessible. If she takes her time sourcing the hide, I call it inaccessible.

Vehicle 4 video - Watching these on video, they were probably both accessible, but at the time I wasn't sure, so I called them inaccessible. Gimme initially wasn't interested in the third vehicle, but do note how Gimme humors me making a thorough search of it even though she knew there was nothing there.

Vehicle 5 video - Nice search and very direct. I would say Gimme seemed to like the speed in which we were doing these searches, i.e. no more than 30 seconds to make a decision. She could detail a specific area to find source beyond the 30 seconds, but I had to have made a decision at 30 seconds.

An interesting and fun class.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Urban Tracking (36) and Field (41)

On Thursday Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema. Gimme had the exact same tracks as before. Two tracks of 75 and 100 yards, 5 yard drops, 45 minutes age, cool and damp.

Gimme did a decent job of it, though not as precise as her last track. She missed several drops. At times it seemed she was going too fast to bother and at other times it seemed the treats weren't worth bothering over. I usually use beef jerky and Nadine either uses my jerky or uses her Chinese pork. This time she laid the track while I was still driving in (traffic was unbelievably bad) and used some commercial treats. Gimme ate them, but I didn't get the feeling she was impressed with them.

On Saturday I met Jon and Stella to track at Flaming Geyser. Stella and I both laid tracks at the same time. Since Gimme has her TD and Heidi doesn't, we ran Heidi first so her track was the younger one. She had some difficulty getting started and as a short little Cocker Spaniel, I don't think she cared for the really tall-thick grass. Happily, once she did get started, she did well.

Gimme's track was 415 yards, cool weather (about 62º), wet grass and 65 minutes old. We had a start sock, end article and an article midway in every leg except the last leg.


Gimme was on fire and really thought we should run the whole thing at top speed. I ran with her for short bits from time to time, just to make her happy. However, even if I could run full tilt for a quarter mile, I wouldn't in this terrain. She was pulling really hard and was very enthusiastic. Under these conditions it must have seemed like a scent freeway compared to the urban work we've been focusing on.  Getting a really fun track like this is good motivation for the girl.

We did have one little snafu at turn 3. The actual turn was 90º to the left, but Gimme only turned 45º left. She was pulling hard and steady, so I had no reason to think she was misbehaving. However, when she stopped briefly at a Ziploc freezer bag full of luncheon meat (red dot) and then kept going with another slight turn (dashed line)... I began to get suspicious. I knew there was another team tracking on the adjacent field and I thought maybe our tracks had overlapped and they were leaving meat baggies in lieu of articles. Now I think Gimme got to a point where she was circling at the corner and then got a whiff of the luncheon meat. Once she found it, she wanted to continue down their track to see what other presents they might have left for her.

Of course Stella ruined Gimme's little plan and called us back to the track. Once back on our track and re-scented... Gimme harrumphed "Dang, foiled again", and then motored down our track to the next article, right turn and then ending at a glove. She was paid heartily for those valid finds.  I let her eat every last treat from my pouch at the last glove, to give her added motivation to find our last glove.

Clearly we have to work through the distraction of baggies full of luncheon meat and other appealing goodies. If we don't, she could easily be lured from her work by a half-eaten sandwich left in the bushes on a college campus. Just sayin...

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parkour (6/7)

The weather was unseasonably warm, in the mid-eighties.  Gimme repeatedly told me she was thirsty by going to an empty bowl in the building and trying to lead me outside to where the other bowl usually resides.  I ended up taking her out to the car to get her bowl and a coconut water.  She drank it down like she hadn't had a big bowl of water before we left home.  After class she got another coconut water before we headed home.  It was her day to pretend she's a camel.

Sequence 1 video - This was a simple little sequence starting with the narrow 6" boardwalk, then over the barrel onto the wider boardwalk, "flip" and then back to the beginning. There was a little table on either side of the barrel, so it wasn't too hard getting onto the next board walk regardless of its width.

Sequence 2 video - The idea here was to do "hands", "table", "thru", "out" (around the little blue chair now obscured by the bench in the foreground), then back to the beginning. The goal is to do the "out" without stepping over the boardwalk. We tried several times, but never could achieve the send. I tried tossing a treat, but the cheese stuck to my hand. I actually have a barrel, so we can practice this exact send. 

Sequence 3 video - This easy platform jumping sequence had such a small space between them, there was no jumping needed. Another goal was to have the dogs pause on each platform.

Sequence 4 video - These were a little farther apart, but still easily doable.

Sequence 5 video - These were even farther apart. Gimme starts out well, but then on the last segment decides she can't do it. I don't know why she suddenly couldn't do it, but after several tries, we ended without a reward. I have some unfinished platforms at home and when they are done we'll work on this, making the increase in spacing more gradual. Another option is to place a jump between them to encourage jumping.

Sequence 6 video - Here we put the three short sequences together into one sequence. We still had difficulty with sending to an "out". It's just something we'll have to work on.

Sequence 7 video - This short sequence was easy peasy for Gimme. Going up the boardwalk to the scaffold against the wall is challenging because it feels crowded, but Gimme quickly figured this out a long time ago. Her biggest challenge was keeping all four feet in the "box". She doesn't get her treat until she gets all four in, but it still remains a challenge.

Sequence 8 video - Here we added another segment to the sequence. We did a little better with my treat-tossing strategy to get the send to an "out", but then my timing was off, so she jumped onto the little table instead of returning through the barrel.

In watching this, I'm struck by Gimme's bit of reluctance to get all four feet onto the little stool. This hasn't been an issue before, but it did seem to be an issue this night. I'm thinking of this along with her sudden inability to jump from one platform to another and wondering if there is something more to this. It may be that she was experiencing some discomfort with the jumping, especially since she was jumping from a stand still and needing to land in a stop, as opposed to a jump in the context of multiple strides. In any case she has a chiropractor appointment scheduled for next Thursday. I'm making a mental note to not push her to do anything next Wednesday if she shows reluctance.

Sequence 9 video - Here we were to practice something with backing up. I chose to use a baby tunnel on its end, just because it would be a little weird. She did fine at it, though I do note a tendency to back through it and not stop with her back feet in and follow with her front feet. This may also be happening if she is having an issue with discomfort.  I'm sure glad we have an appointment scheduled.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Nosework (5/25)

The class focus was on endurance, so we only had two searches, both of which were really long. It was also pretty hot, about 80º.

Exterior 1 video - Gimme was going pretty fast off the startline and missed the threshold hide. She passed the second hide, but turned back to it on her own. She also overran the hide on the corner of the building, but came right back to it. There is another hide high on the building, about 6 feet before the drain spout (white), but Gimme gets caught in the scent of the rock hide. There was a hide about halfway up on the side of the dirt mound and it takes Gimme a verrrrry long time to find it. This was surprising to me, since she's gone up those mounds many times when there was nothing there and it was like she didn't believe there could be anything there. I wish the instructor had either moved closer or used the zoom, since you really can't see what was going on. It was amazing for her to get the wall hide from so far away and then she goes wide to the right side (past the rock hide) and then takes us back down to the mound area. She really checks all around the area and goes halfway up several times, before she finally goes straight up to it. She finds the threshold hide on the way out. This search lasted almost 6 minutes. 

Interior 1 video - There are four hides in this room - all inaccessible - in the stacks of chairs. Gimme worked for over 9 minutes, steadily. At one point she does find a ball and considers playing with it, but then left it on her own to go back to searching. The short stack of metal chairs against the wall is the easiest to find and the first one Gimme indicates, 5 minutes into this search. The tall stack against the far wall is the hardest for all the dogs. Based on watching Gimme when she's at the far end of the room, you know the hide is high - she's air-scenting high-headed and when she sniffs stuff, she's sniffing high on the stuff. I'm sure this is the longest search she's ever done and you can see she never gives up and is determined throughout to solve the puzzle.

When the instructor got out the smoke generator, we discovered all these hides, the scent was going straight up. The smoke disappears after a couple feet, but we figure it went up to a certain level and then spread out on a plane before falling down on other things. This is consistent with how all the dogs searched the area.  We think the heat on the roof was drawing the scent up.

After all this, Gimme slept soundly all the way home and then for several hours more.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Urban Tracking (34 & 35)

On Friday, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park for tracking. She laid a track for Gimme with lots of changes of surface and transitions. It was more than I really wanted, but none of them were too hard. The biggest problem was track age. If we both lay tracks for the other at the same time, then one of the dogs will get an older track. Since Cricket has more difficulty with urban, she usually goes first which means Gimme's track is older. I think next time I'm going to wait to start laying Cricket's track until I see Nadine coming back, then we can get the timing better for both of them.

This time Gimme's track was 1:05. She can do this age with many surfaces, but she's only done 45 minutes for hard surfaces (there were 3 different kinds), so it made this a very hard track.

Cricket's big challenge on her track was all the squirrels - she is really vermin obsessed. Gimme saw a squirrel on her track and stopped to watch it for a moment and when it scampered off she went on tracking. This week we are going to teach Cricket the Look-at-That game. I'm hoping it will work since the punitive method Nadine is using doesn't seem to be working. Given how soft her dogs are, it's not the right answer for them (not that I think it would be the right answer for any dog).

On Saturday, I laid more straight tracks in the Shopko and Burlington parking lots. The temperature was right at 60º and I aged them to exactly 45 minutes. The tracks were 70, 100 and 125 yards. I set food drops every 5 yards. She really motored down these tracks nicely. I saw she was more distractible about halfway through the third track. She could either have been tired or someone may have driven over her track (maybe more than once).  I could have adjusted some factors, but since her last two tracks were frustrating, I wanted to make sure this one was motivating for her.

We meet Nadine on Thursday for urban tracking at the Auburn Cinema and on Saturday we're meeting Jon and Stella at Flaming Geyser for some field tracking. It's supposed to be drizzling and cool both days, so it should be ideal tracking weather.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

RFE practice (44)

We are getting ready to enter an intermediate level RallyFrEe video trial; so much of what we did today was to get ready. We still have some behaviors we need to learn and some to tune up.

Session 1 video - We started with a couple of setups to warm up Gimme's brain. Her "side" is weaker than "heel", so I do try to spend more time there. I even try to give her the bicycle PB in "side" most of the time, to increase the value for being there. I started working on backing up in "side" position, but it's not as clear for her as it is in "heel", so we usually end up using a target. I have her doing it at home without a target, but it's not strong enough to do elsewhere. 

On the course, the second sign is for the position behind me, which we call "fanny", followed by the third sign where she walks behind me. We had just started learning this the other night. Part of the cue will be when I put my hands on my hips. The idea is for me to feed her from either or both hands, randomly, hoping she will stay more centered. This is the first time we've tried to do it outside my living room, so she really did fine. I thought we'd already worked every possible spin or circle variation, but apparently not. Still Gimme very quickly picked up the "around" with me turning the opposite direction. After our free choice with her pivoting 360º in "center" position I messed up and put her on the wrong side. We haven't done "otto" in awhile (though she sometimes offers it), so it took her a moment to be clear I was really asking for it.

After we finished the course we practiced backing up in "side" position. I was concerned she might be thinking any time I stopped she was to back up, but such was not the case.

Session 2 video - I started with some more backing up in "side" position. I find she gets it better if I heel across the target and then stop and back up to it. She's getting it - I just need to practice it more. This, the "fanny" behaviors and "izzy" need the most work.

On the course, on the far corner, I was confused about which side she was supposed to be in and thought it was wrong when it wasn't. I did do it wrong the time before and hadn't realized it. Fortunately Gimme doesn't care how confused I get as long as I pay well. Then follows a big discussion with J'Anna, which I've edited out. J'Anna sometimes gets to watching us and forgets to keep us in the viewfinder. You just can't get good free help these days!

The point at which I took her by the collar, there were two loose standard poodles right outside our ring gate. The person was getting a tour of the facility and I wanted to be sure what was going to happen next. She used to do a lovely forehand "pivot" on props, but nowadays it's all about backing up. If I decide to use it as a free choice move, I'll have to bring in our brick prop. We ended with a bit of "izzy" practice, but it really begs the use of guides. I've set it up with chairs before and that is workable.

Session 3 video - Before I went out to get Gimme, I set up the chairs and ring gates to form a small space to work "izzy" in. The key thing to getting this to work right is to do my shifting in the right order and timeliness... clearly I wasn't getting my part correct right away. We got some good ones, but I finally decided to create another side to our guide. I need to pack one of my extra guide sets in the car so I'll have it when I need it. She first learned stepping to her right with her back feet, so she's very good at that. I waited far too long to teach her the other direction. We worked on it until she got a couple of good repetitions and then moved on.

She does a pretty good job on the course. Do note at the end how ready she was to do "take-a". When it comes to bowing at the end, she learns the pattern very quickly. Then we end with a bit more backing up in "side".

From there she spends the rest of the day in the van while I visit my Mom and then do a long shopping trip in the wholesale Costco in Fife. Gimme is always eager to get home after any outing, but especially after a long day in the van.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Nosework (4/25)

The layout was exactly the same as two weeks ago, containers inside a circle of containers, times three. This time the boxes were on chairs. I didn't see the circles this time, I think because the chairs were facing every which way, so it had a more chaotic look.

Container 1 video - Gimme has seen containers on chairs before, both in class and in element trials. She actually sniffs the second hide she comes to, but then moves on. Dorothy makes the point about how elevating the containers changes the scent picture for the dog, so they may not recognize it right away. Overall she did a lovely job, finding all three in 1 minute.

Container 2 video - Dorothy moved the hides and Gimme was even faster. She seems to think this is a lot of fun.

Interior 1 video - This time Dorothy removed all the boxes, putting the hides on the chairs. Gimme finds the first hide pretty fast and the second hide shortly thereafter. Then she gets a little stuck and has to check out the rest of the room... and even the boxes on the shelving unit, as if she thought it might be in a box. Then again, as Dorothy mentions, odor hadn't been sitting very long. Gimme was the first dog for every search in this class, so the hides didn't have very long to cook which adds to the challenge. I don't know why the one hide was so much more challenging than the others, but she's seriously working the problem (i.e. not goofing off) so I'm sure there was something different she needed to work through.

Mixed search 1 video - This time there were 2 box hides and 1chair hide, so I think of it as a mixed search, though I suppose it's really an interior search, since there could be boxes in an interior and it's possible a hide could be slipped in one. Gimme found the two box hides quickly, but it took her a little longer on the chair hide. It was a respectable time of 1:25.

It was an interesting class, as always. I love the clever ideas Dorothy has for searches. Even though we never go on field trips, she manages to expose our dogs to a huge variety of search experiences, which is key to success.