Last Thursday Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking. She laid exactly what I asked for and we aged it just exactly to what Gimme and I had been doing. The temps were mild and everything should have been great. Instead Gimme struggled.
Since she's in a false pregnancy, she tends to be more emotional and easily frustrated. She still wants to do things, but if it gets challenging, then she gets frustrated. For instance, she should have been able to do these tracks easily, but instead she got pouty and wanted me to help her.
I discussed this with Sil and his inclination is to take a break from tracking to protect her motivation. Since Gimme wants to do-do-do, and gets sulky if I cut back, I didn't want to do anything so drastic. Gimme still yelled in the car on Thursday, impatient waiting her turn and even with having to potty first. She dragged me to the start, so, I didn't think it's a motivation issue.
What I do see in her other training is: she lacks impulse control and focus/concentration. I think this makes simple challenges more difficult, so she works harder and it takes longer to achieve success and get rewarded. Since she tends to be more emotional during this time, she gets frustrated easier.
So the plan for Saturday, after discussing it with Sil, was to do simple straight tracks on pavement - no corners, no changes of cover, keeping food drops every 15 yards and cutting the time in half (25 minutes). I included intermediate articles as reward points. If Gimme seemed to be getting really frustrated, I could treat one of the intermediate articles as the end of the track.
We ended up with 90 yard straight tracks, it was 74 degrees, aged to 25 minutes. There was either a food drop (beef jerky) or an article every 15 yards. So it was: start sock, drop, article, drop, article, drop, end article.
Gimme did well, kept her nose down and followed the track finding everything easily. She was slow to get going on the second track and I was debating leaving it, but just then she motored on. She got to eat the remainder of all the cheese outta my treat bag at the last article, sticking her whole head in to gobble them up. All in all she got 10 sticks of cheese worth for her efforts (that's how much I cut up while waiting for the track to age). No one will EVER accuse me of being stingy with rewards.
We normally go for a walk after tracking, usually 2-3 miles. I noticed after the first half mile Gimme had stopped sniffing/snooping and was just walking along with me. Since our walks are more about mental refreshment than exercise, I turned around then.
I was wondering why she is having difficulty this time around, when she's always had false pregnancies and they haven't impacted her tracking before. At first I thought it was because of the heat. It used to be she just sailed through all her nose sports during this time (tracking-nosework-barn hunt) and she is still doing great with nosework. So it occurred to me the difficulty is because we happen to be focusing on urban work. Of the two tracks she struggled with, one was sports field and unintentionally was far too old and the other was all pavement. I think field is just easier for her (because she learned it first), so even with diminished focus it was easy enough for her to have quick success to stay into it and enthusiastic - I barely noticed a difference. Whereas hard surface and short dry grass is just plain harder.
So, Saturday's plan worked well and I know what to do going forward. I'll be watching for her to signal she's ready to go back to more challenging stuff.