On Saturday, July 1st, we again went to Medline for some urban tracking. I emailed Sil Sanders and asked him how I should increase factors to get Gimme moving along, since she is now consistently following her nose on asphalt/pavement. I wanted to know whether I should increase space between food drops or increase age first, assuming we continued to track at roughly the same temperature. I had noticed Gimme takes the first third of the 75 yard track to warm up to the task and does well through the end and on the 100 yard track. On the 125 yard track her focus seems to drop off, so I asked him about this as well.
Sil suggested a couple of things. He suggested doing two tracks of 75 and 125 yards, so we end while she's doing her best. He also suggested I focus on getting her food drops less and less frequent, and at some point more toward articles for reward stations. He also told me where we are in the new book, which has the plan for transitioning a field tracking dog onto urban.
So for this day's tracks (75 & 125 yds), temperatures at 60º, with a light breeze. There were food drops every 7½ yards and the track was aged 45 minutes. Gimme did very nicely. Once she does the first 25 yds, then she gets in her groove and keeps her nose down almost the whole time. This time it took her less time to track it than it took me to lay it, so obviously starting to spread out the drops didn't bother her.
On Tuesday, July 4th, we went to Medline early in the day. Temperatures were again 60º, with a light breeze. I moved the food drops out to every 10 yards, keeping the age at 45 minutes.
I thought it might be time for Gimme to do something besides straight lines, since I don't want her to get stuck assuming it will always be thus. Her first 75 yard track was straight, and into the breeze. She had a lot of difficulty getting started. There was a Golden running around loose, who startled the --- out of me as I got out of the car and suddenly there's this big dog 2 feet away. So it's quite possible the dog had been running around where the beginning of the track was laid. Once she got going, Gimme did just fine.
For the second track, there was 30 yards crosswind, cross a curbed landscape strip, 10 yards to an article, 20 yards, then a right turn and 80 yards to the end article (right before a storm drain). There were also food drops every 10 yards - wherever there wasn't an article or the obstacle or the turn. It looks something like this.
Gimme went straight over the curbed landscaping like it wasn't there. She didn't hesitate or raise her head. I had the impression she saw the article and was just headed toward it, not working out the challenge. NOTE to self, do a better job matching articles to background. She really struggled with the corner, which further made me think she'd seen the article. She did finally find the new direction and then motored down to the end. I'm certain she didn't see the end article, but found it quickly, before passing the drain, about a yard away.
Overall I thought she did a fine job and clearly was okay with moving the drops to every 10 yards. I love having a nice big space like the Medline parking lot to work in. It's 12 minutes from home and there are quite a lot of things we'll be able to do there while we work on urban.