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Sunday, August 20, 2017

RFE practice (51)

This is an extra session to video J'Anna and Glory for their intermediate entry. I didn't enter because I think we need much more practice. As it turns out this course was much easier and we could have done this. Then again, on this day, perhaps not. It was clear Gimme was very distracted the moment we came in the door. She seemed anxious to me. I never figured out what was bothering her, but she worked through it; especially in the second and third sessions.

Session 1 video - I tried warming her up with some heeling before starting the course. It didn't really help and I think I should have worked a lot more on focus, starting with where she was mentally. I had the clicker, but didn't use it initially - what was I thinking? At the time I thought she was bothered by the ring fencing, but in watching this, I'm not so sure. As we start the course, the place where she starts smelling through the ring gate, Glory actually jumped the ring gate and went over to sniff up close. Through this course, there are places where she looks like she is starting to focus and then it falls apart again. Gimme doesn't like J'Anna's can, though she usually works better with it. The size is the same as ours, but the rim sticks up and pokes her feet. I cut a piece of foam to size for ours and glued it on. I had to laugh at Gimme including the sign in her "around". Where did that come from? She seemed to get happier and more focused at the end where we were working on some individual behaviors. I can't believe it took us just over five minutes to do this course and so badly. I really should have stopped and worked on where she was mentally, rather than spend the time practicing bad course work.

Session 2A video - I started with clicking for attention. When I asked her if she was ready to work, Gimme gave me some backing up, which is the same thing she did last week.

Free-shaping "tivo" video - I actually tried to work on "tivo" in parkour class the night before. She did well, but not as good as I'd hoped. Here I was trying so hard to click sooner and watching the other leg. It's better, but I'm still clicking late - video doesn't lie. I did step in with one foot for a gentle body-block if she started to "pivot", to remind her it wasn't what I wanted. Tossing the treat to my left set her up nicely, but I was still only getting a step or two and then she'd rotate back to "center". So I started using treat delivery/timing to get her to move further. I start this at 1:50. I click, then hold the treat to her lips at the side of her face, so she turns her head and her back feet continue the pivot. I give her the treat after a few more steps. This seemed to work the best and she figured out the best way to get a treat was to continue the movement. It only took 30 seconds after this change before she offered the first full "tivo" (no cue yet, obviously). And of course, mega-jackpots make a huge impression on Gimme (despite what the science says).

Session 3A video - For this session, I wanted to work on dog-inside pivots. While I do this, I'm coaching J'Anna since side-steps are a weak behavior for Glory.  KathyW taught this as a first step for teaching side-steps when the dog is coming close, so I thought J'Anna would be more amenable to an idea that originally came from Kathy. It was far too soon to remove the brick for the dog-inside pivot. You have to appreciate her backing/side-stepping to the brick when I gave her the toe-out cue. Only Gimme would be so brilliant. Unfortunately as we were setting up to try it (brick on the chair), she jumped up and snagged my bracelet, breaking it and sending amber everywhere. So we had a break while I retrieved all the beads.

Session 3B video - Gimme was stressed by being held by J'Anna while I picked up the beads. Partly I'm sure this is because I shrieked when my bracelet broke, so she knew I was unhappy. I didn't want her to eat any beads, but I should have gotten the leash for J'Anna. So when we restarted, I tossed some treats for Gimme to run after, to bleed off any angst.

She did okay when I pivoted toe-out around an imaginary brick, but I really want to go through the fading process. Gimme has a very long history of backing around me instead of pivoting, when I'm turning toward her. I think I'll want to make some other thinner platforms to use as we fade the brick. I'm even thinking of painting sandpaper the same color and in gradually smaller sizes as a step along the way. I may also want to put the behavior on a verbal cue, but haven't decided if this will be of value. I did find making the steps smaller seemed to help her pin her front feet in place. I also noticed her putting the near paw on my foot, as a substitute brick. Clever girl.

When I switched to using the toe-out cue for side-stepping, it took Gimme just a moment to get it, but when she did, it was really nice. The butt swing out I think is a product of moving slowly. The answer until we get this to speed is to give her treats from the outside of her face, which creates a slight head turn and keeps the butt in. I think this was a very credible first effort.

The day's training started out poorly, but it certainly ended nicely. Gimme likes behaviors more than heeling. Clearly I need to put a LOT more value in heeling.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Parkour (1/9)

Glad to have Jo back, she always gives us a better class. There was only one other student tonight, so it made it easier for Gimme. Of course this owner is not very careful, which is not so easy for me, since I have to watch out for her.  At least her dog is nice, mild mannered.

BTW you'll see Gimme gets distracted here and there. I learned there was a bitch in season in an earlier class. Gimme gets over it pretty quickly. 

"Thru" video - This was a simple "thru" exercise. Gimme didn't hesitate the first direction. I did have to encourage her a tiny bit for the second direction; she knew there was stuff on the other side she couldn't see. Jo also had us do a sequence, but there's no video because I had it zoomed in for the "thru" exercise. It's pretty much the same as this next video. 

Sequence 1 video - This was a fun sequence. The pivot on the bucket needed to be done in both directions. Gimme does CCW "pivot"  independently, but we are still working on CW "tivo". 

Free-shaping "tivo" video - We are working on Gimme's clockwise pivot, "tivo". I waited too long to start on it, so it's a challenge, since she has a huge success and reward history for doing it CCW. She was also more likely to get on with 4 feet with this larger diameter prop, especially toward the end of the session where she was getting frustrated. I used a little bit of movement to get her started. The suggestion on the MDSA workshop list was for me to toss her treats to my left, since she likes to be in front of me and this would encourage her to step in the right direction. Oddly, she wasn't as likely to center herself with this higher prop - I guess she sees things different when we are doing parkour. I saw she was tending to just do two steps and then stop. What I did learn from the workshop list was to watch the far back leg, since she moves it before moving the near leg. This was very helpful, but I really need a mirror to see it and respond with any timeliness. I thought Gimme did very well given I wasn't using a clicker, which improves my marker timing. The session was a bit too long - cutting 2 minutes would have been more effective.

I chose to end the session when the other student walked her dog right past us. I caught her in my peripheral view and was able to move away before she got too close. If I'd been thinking ahead, I would have set up to train with me facing the other direction, then I would have seen her much sooner. Lesson learned. 

Sequence 2 video - Most of the sequence wasn't hard, but this thing with weaving through the PVC ladder was. Gimme just didn't seem to understand what I was trying to get her to do. The first time I was able to lure her through it. The second time, we really struggled. It was like she didn't see the third space - she'd go right up to it and then turn to go into the space on either side of it. I'm going to start wearing my wristband clicker to class - I think I could have gotten this easier with it. Jo's suggestion worked well - to move her away, do something else and then come back to it. At the time I thought I might be crowding her off the third space, but it doesn't look like it on video. One thing you'll notice is, no matter how frustrating this must have been for her, her tail wags constantly. As I've always said, her tail is useless as a barometer of her emotional state. I do know a place nearby where we can train this on something really similar to the ladder. I'll have to remember to take my camera to video the session. Gimme also got a little stuck when I wanted "table" on the flat disc, she was just sure she should "pivot".

For the last session of class we were given the option to work on whatever we wanted. I wanted to go back to weaving through the ladder, but decided (after the other person moved on) to work on backing through the ladder instead. 

Cue discrimination video - The goal here was to get Gimme to listen to the cue and do the behavior I asked for. She had two choices, "jump" and "below". Of course, listening has never been her strong suit, so this is particularly challenging. She does seem to be picking it up toward the end. Part of the challenge may have been that we were so close to our cubicle and she wanted to go there - she gets peanut butter after every turn, so returning to the cubicle is high value. We need to work cue discrimination a lot more. 

Gap jump video - This video shows three separate turns. Jo increased the space between the props with each turn. She wanted to make sure the dogs stepped on each of the three props, so I encouraged Gimme to stop on each one for a treat. She did well. Watching this I do think I should have paid her for stopping on the planter too. 

Ladder back-up video - This is the final free-practice session. We worked on backing through the ladder. I don't need this behavior, but my thinking is this will prepare her for confidently backing up on an elevated prop. She does some really nice work toward the end. I love her willingness to try anything.

There was a lot of brain work in this class, so Gimme slept soundly most of the way home.

BTW we are working on our videos for ADP Level 4.  Today after urban tracking we went by Long Lake Park and I walked the park planning our behaviors.  Then we had a short training session to prepare Gimme for one of the things we'll need to do.  Afterwards we headed to our usual spot and walked two miles.  It was a busy day for the girlie.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Nosework (5/26)

It was good to get back to class after two weeks off for hot weather. 

Interior 1 video - Three hides set on three different "seats", at three different levels, in three groupings - off leash. I stayed in the doorway to encourage Gimme to work the threshold. This time it worked and she had it in 9 seconds. She did well on the other two hides, but first had to work through the realization she wasn't going to be able to get the toy out of the expen. I called her away from the toys, so she makes a quick tour around the room and ends up back at the same toys. "Do I have to leave these toys too?" You gotta love her thinking. After she finds the second hide, she goes right back to the toys, suggesting a chicken nugget and a new toy should be her reward for every hide. I tell her 200 toys is enough, but I'm not sure I've convinced her. 

Interior 2 video - This time we had the same set up, but the hides were set elsewhere on the same seat. Gimme again goes to check out the toy, but when I approach her she leaves it and doesn't go back. I got close to her, but didn't need to body block. She understands social pressure, so she quickly got my message. She did a much nicer job and cut her time in half. All the dogs were bemused by finding a hide on the bottom side of the little stool turned upside down. 

Interior 3 video - This time we had just one hide, in a crack in the floor. It was fascinating to see how sure the dogs were of their belief hide-must-be-on-stuff. They just couldn't accept a hide on the floor for an interior. Surprisingly, given her love of high hides, Gimme was easily the fastest to find this. I never expected this. She would have been even faster if she didn't have to check on the toys (just to be sure one hadn't climbed out of the expen). Such a goof!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Urban Tracking (47)

We went out earlier than usual on Saturday to beat the heat. I can't really explain why, but I had a sense Gimme was ready for more challenge. The temperature was 65° with a moderate intermittant breeze. I set up a simple square, crossing landscape strips three times and three corners. I kept the food drops at 15 yards and aged only 30 minutes.

I set it up so there was an article (blue squares) at the start and end and after every landscape crossing.  Otherwise there were food drops (circles) every 15 yards.

Gimme did very well. It took her a moment to get focused, but she was well into the task by the first crossing. The first corner was a bit of a challenge, since the breeze was coming from behind her, causing her to overshoot the turn. Still she had it pretty quickly. She aced the second corner, since the breeze was blowing the track scent right to her. The third corner was the hardest for her. She indicated loss of scent really quickly, but then just couldn't seem to pick it up again. Not sure why.

All three landscape crossings were easy peasy. She barely hesitated at all. Once we get those solid with more age, then we'll have to find another site.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

RFE practice (50)

Let me preface this with an explanation of Gimme's broken spins. A few nights before I'd been trying to teach Gimme the rock-n-roll move, which is a series of interrupted spins in "center" position. She did it twice and then decided I didn't know what I was doing and thus she wouldn't "spin" or "turn". I think what we were doing somehow violated her rules about what "spin" and "turn" are and what they are not. We worked on it a few times and I thought we had them back, but I was wrong and we still have some work to do.

During our chiropractic appointment later, we discovered Gimme's atlas vertebra was misaligned on two different axis. If the atlas is subluxated it affects the ability to think and focus.  Between this and the partially broken spins, we have an explanation for our difficulty to begin with. 

Session 1a video - My plan here was to warm up her "otto", which went well, and then go on to add the "spin" in front for her "spinotto". I'd also hoped to video her "turnizzy" for the MDSA workshop. I found her distracted and unsure to begin with - which I now realize was because of the issue with her atlas. I know when mine is misaligned, I tend to have a migraine, so perhaps this is why she was less confident. At one point when she was having difficulty I tried some heeling to help her focus. It helped a little, but wasn't a lasting improvement.

Session 1b video - After a brief break, I resumed with heeling. Gimme was still unfocused, but at this time I didn't know why. From there I did a bit of finding position, hoping the activity would release any stress she might have. Then we did an "otto" and I tried to move on to the "spinotto". The way she was acting, being unable to remember cues and respond to them, reminded me of how she acts after a seizure and I wondered if she'd had one I didn't know about. Finding out later about the atlas issue is a great relief. Gimme has difficulty with "thru", which she knows well. When I got a couple good ones I tried to get her to do an inside "spin" and she just couldn't. What I've since discovered is she really is only doing outside spins in either heel position and even then still needs a lure the first time or two. Spins in center or inside spins from either heel position, are just not back. I see I have a bit of work to do to get them back to normal. Watching the video, I can now see her reaction to the cue for the inside "spin" was to try to get to "heel" side, where she could do a regular spin. It happens a couple of times, so I don't think it was just by accident. We weren't going to get a "spinotto", so I brought out the brick and switched to "pivot" work. We also free-shaped a bit of "tivo" and she did pretty good. She would do better with this free-shaping session if my timing was better - most times I was clicking when she had stopped moving, instead of when she was moving her back feet to pivot clockwise. BTW when she gets distracted and is staring in the distance, I use the stroke of my finger down her side to get her back. She ends with one full "tivo" and gets a jackpot for her efforts. I chose that moment to end the session on a positive note.

Between sessions I sat with Gimme in the van for a little bit, to assure her of my love and devotion. Then I gave her a peanut butter Kong, her comfort food. I'm sure this was more assurance than my words and company.

Session 2 video - I started the second session clicking for offered attention. When I asked her if she was ready to work, she started offering me "back". This was an interesting choice since the last thing we worked on in parkour class the night before was elevated "back". We tinkered with "spinotto" for a couple minutes, but it wasn't coming together, so we went on to work with the brick to teach her the RallyFrEe pivot. For the dog-inside pivot, the dog's front feet are the pivot point. Since we've always done it with the handler as the pivot point, this is taking some training and I've gone back in my notes to find how KathyW taught this. She taught us to step in front of the brick with the nearest foot, turning the toe out (¼ turn per step) and then close with the outside foot. In time you make the step smaller (⅛ turn per step). Then you get to where you can just make a series of small steps around the dog's front feet and she will pivot in place. Meanwhile she's learned the physical cue of toe out means she is to pivot with her front feet in place, i.e. shifting her rear close. This comes in handy when you want to teach a closing sidestep - you just have to learn how to incorporate that particular step into your side-stepping. Gimme picks up the CCW dog-inside pivot easily, it's is her best direction. I quickly go on to work CW dog-inside pivot. The method is really easy and she picks it up well. I realize I am crowding her off the brick and when I give her more space she does much better. We ended with a couple "izzy". It takes a moment to convince Gimme, since she's all ready to go on otto-pilot. She got another peanut butter Kong when she got back to the car.

Session 3 video - During the break J'Anna and I were talking about our hopes to do VALOR agility league and she asked if Gimme knew how to do weaves. I said she used to, but it's been 2 years. Just checked and it's actually been almost 3 years. I'm sure she'll pick it up again with a short refresher course. 

Then we go on to work the dog-inside pivot. I thought it was interesting when I switched sides and Gimme was out of position (i.e. not in "heel"), when I turned my foot as if she was in position, she moved herself to get there. It looks to me as if she is already learning the toe out cue. Then we did one "otto" followed by some "thru" repetitions. From there it was on to inside "spin" work followed by some circles. And then a quick trip back to try getting a "spinotto" and success!

She did well considering her atlas was out of whack.  She worked hard and I am proud of her efforts.

Parkour (7/8)

We had a substitute instructor. This is the last class of the session and we were told our next session would start an hour earlier. This session was 15 minutes earlier than before. Apparently they have huge enrollment for STAR Puppy classes and so we get moved to accommodate the puppies. If they don't move us and put the puppy classes before and after parkour, she says all the parkour equipment has to be moved an extra time. I'm not sure this makes sense. It has to be set up and then taken down each time, since there is only one parkour class on Wednesday, so whether it happens before the puppy classes or between them - it seems like the same amount of work to me. Perhaps there is some other factor that wasn't shared with me.

I'm going to try the earlier time, but I'm not sure how well it will work. I'm already cutting a work day short to get there, because I have to leave so early to beat the rush hour traffic. I usually have to wait 45 minutes for class to start. If I try to leave later I get stuck in rush hour and arrive halfway through class. Perhaps I can just leave half an hour earlier. I'll see how it goes.

Warm-up-A video - The Akita person is working in the foreground, so it's hard to see what we're doing. I wasn't sure how Gimme would do with the other dog out working at the same time, but she was fine with it. The Akita's owner is very careful, which you can see from time to time when she stops and stands with her dog behind a divider. It sure helps knowing she's not going to do anything dopey like less experienced classmates are prone to.

We started working on some warm-up using the elevated ladder walk and the pvc ladder on the ground. Gimme also had to figure out to go around the tree and "thru" the barrel, with the goal being for me to not pass the tree (so no body blocking the gap). The challenge is that I also use "thru" to mean go between two things, so she was correct to think I meant go between the tree and the barrel. I used "chute" to cue the collapsed tunnel in agility, which she understood. Since she hasn't done agility in almost 3 years, I'm amazed she remembered it.

Warm-up-B video -
We switched sides with the Akita team. This was a short little sequence of: below, walk-on, around and thru. Gimme did it well and completely ignored the Akita working nearby.

"Walkies" video - This was short and sweet.

Sequence 1 video - This was a nice little sequence, bringing together most of what we'd already done. Then we did it in reverse.

Sequence 2 video - The instructor added the narrow board to make it more challenging for Gimme. The Akita still won't get on any board higher than his elbows. He's really young and so clumsy and it's part of parkour philosophy to not push him beyond his comfort zone. Unfortunately the last 2 props are outside camera view.

Sequence 3 video - This is mostly the same, except the instructor wanted me to add a front cross in a spot where it didn't work and there were two more props added - again outside camera view.

Elevated back-up video - We put the ladder down on the ground so I could work with Gimme about stepping backwards through it. I didn't really expect she would do much, rather I wanted her to be really conscious of her feet.

From there we went to the ladder, which is also a bit elevated. This was challenging because she needed to step between the rungs and when she got all four feet in one rung space, it pushed her hocks against the next rung. Rung height was just above her point of hock, so in order to take another step back she had to pull each back foot forward and then step back with it. Sadly this was outside camera view, so you don't get to see it. Right at the end, she backed through two rung spaces. She was (and always is) fabulous.

Just sayin...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Urban Tracking (45 & 46)

Last Saturday

Gimme and I repeated the 90 yard straight tracks. It was 72 degrees, aged to 20 minutes. There was either a food drop (beef jerky) or an article every 15 yards (start sock, drop, article, drop, article, drop, end article)

Gimme kept her nose down the whole time, finding everything easily. There was no delay to get going on the second track and she was done in less time than it took me to lay the tracks. 

I intended to go to McAllister Park to walk Gimme and plan our parkour entry. When I got there I saw there were a number of loose dogs, so just drove around and planned what I could from the car. It was just as well, since I pretty quickly got hit with a "digestive disturbance" and had to race home. I would have been in a real fix if we were walking at the time.


Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park. She just had knee injections, so we kept things very simple and stayed on the flat areas. We each laid an article circle for the other. She went around hers twice with Cricket, who did a nice job. (Sugar is making puppies so she's not going out in public)

Gimme started out well, but then got a bit off. Unfortunately Nadine didn't know exactly where the corners were and as Gimme would find an article anyway using her prodigious air-scenting capability, it was pretty clear the corners weren't where Nadine thought they might be. We missed one article because Nadine said it wasn't one she left as Gimme was headed toward it, and so I pulled her away.

I don't think this was a good tracking experience; we didn't learn anything new or even practice anything that will serve us in the future. Gimme doesn't mind because she got plenty of treats for each of the articles she found. Which I guess is the thing that was good - Gimme still thinks articles are the best thing ever...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Our Week

Last Wednesday I came home to discover Gimme had shredded her bed under the computer desk. This is why I shut the door to the bedroom during this time. She gets a serious case of the nestiez and sometimes overdoes it, ripping coverlets.

Thursday was our planned video day for the current MDSA collaboration, Phantom of the Dogera. Gimme really struggled the whole time to work, but we finally got a segment to use. It wasn't what I planned, since Gimme had her own ideas on choreography. Gimme's Phantom Segment video It never seems very good at the time. However when I look at it later, it's much better. I guess I need to clear my head of the frustration to see the good in it.

We didn't track on Friday because I had an overnight inventory in one of my accounts. It finished at 4a.m. which means I didn't get to sleep until an hour later.

Gimme continued to be really whackadoo about her imaginary babies. Some nights our bed got really crowded by the time she brought all the kids in. Getting this picture with all the babies was really challenging, since I'm not allowed to actually touch them. She sometimes brings one and places it carefully in my lap, but if I touch it, she takes it away. Apparently I can't do
anything right.

Saturday morning it occurred to me to check her homeopathic remedies using kinesiology. Sure enough, there were a lot of changes. I think I need to get in the habit of checking once a week when she's in her condition. The change made a big difference and she was much more relaxed.

I decided to skip tracking Saturday as well. We also didn't do any of our usual long weekend walks. Gimme isn't as obsessed with her babies now. She's still taking care of all the ones in the picture, though spending most of her time on three favorites. At night she only brings two babies. One on the bed and one on the floor next to the bed. The new Owl toy is the one on the bed each night, the floor baby is rotated through her very large family. It's a good thing she isn't bringing any more for the floor, since she gets outraged when I step on one and make it squeak during my middle of the night trek to the toilet.

Now we are having a week of unseasonably hot weather. Both nosework and parkour classes have been cancelled due to the heat. Today missed its high by four degrees. Thursday was supposed to be the highest, but has now been downgraded to 101ยบ. Since we haven't been out for a walk in over a week, I'm hoping to get in gear and take her for a walk tomorrow morning before it gets hot. We'll see how she feels about leaving the kids.