Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
SDS-N, ADPL5, ADPCH, ADP1(2), ADPL1(GC), ADPL2(2), ADPL2(GC) and UWPCH... 34 and counting...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Two New Titles

I just got the certificate for Gimme's United Weight Pull Championship (UWPCH).  With it came two other certificates for titles Gimme achieved along the way.  She was awarded her Versatile Puller Novice (VPN) and Advanced Puller (AP) titles. 

That brings her up to 36 titles!!!

With the titles we expect to get at our next UKC nosework trial, we'll probably meet our goal for 2018 and only be one week into April.  Looks like I have to revise our goals...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

UKC Nosework Trial

A week ago Sunday we went to our first UKC nosework trial. I was confident we would do well, since we got HIT for everything at the UKC nosework match we attended. My RFE practice buddy, J'Anna, was there and her dog was in a different level, so we were able to videotape each other. Ribbons were self-serve, so I didn't wait around after our last class.

Container search video - Gimme did a lovely job in this search. She was fast and not abusive of the boxes. Gimme got 2nd place with a time of 21.4 seconds.

Exterior search video - The UKC novice classes are really easy - note the tiny search area. Of course small spaces present different problems, but not for Gimme. She came away with 1st place and High In Trial with a time of 15.8 seconds.

UKC trial, Interior search - This search was done inside a bathroom in an area of just 100 square feet, so there was no room for J'Anna to video. Gimme did a nice job, getting 2nd place with 12.6 seconds.

Vehicle search video - In novice vehicles the hide will only be on a front bumper, so you only need to check the area in front of the tires. The breeze was blowing right at the start line, so Gimme knew exactly where to go. She didn't bother with the first two vehicles, barely turning her nose toward them as she dragged me to the last vehicle. She won another 1st place and High In Trial with a super fast time of 6.9 seconds.

Since I didn't stick around, I don't know if there is an award for overall ranking.  I won't know until they get the trial results up online; they are only up to mid February.  Gimme did all four searches with a total time of 56.7 seconds!

Gimme did a great job with this trial. I think she really enjoyed the simple hides. She is basically halfway to five new titles - which we could finish at our next trial on the first weekend in April. Here is Gimme with her ribbon haul.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Urban Tracking (78-82)

I'm so far behind on tracking entries. I have to use the desktop to create the map pictures, so it sometimes takes a bit before I get to it.

On Friday, March 9th, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park and laid tracks for each other. We planned it out in advance so we could lay cross-tracks for our own tracks. So I laid a well-marked track for Cricket and as I finished each leg, Nadine would lay the cross-tracks we planned. Then we went to where Gimme's track was to start and as Nadine laid Gimme's track, I did her cross-tracks. The dark line is the main track and the grey-dotted line is my cross track. Gimme's track was aged 70 minutes.

Gimme did a great job and I didn't see any sign that she found the cross tracks a challenge. She sniffed about 2 feet of the first one and then went right back to the track. She really went fast, almost running, which led to her overshooting the 3rd turn. Of course that meant that she caught my cross track when she was a bit past the real track. So she zigged and zagged and circled. In my impression she wasn't fooled by the incoming cross-track, she just didn't know what to do and hadn't run across the real deal. I was just about to give her some help by organizing her search, when she caught the scent of the article and drove right to it. From there to the end she was flawless.

On Saturday, March 10th, Gimme and I went to Medline. Since she had struggled so much the week before with a 1 hour track, I decided to make this one just 50 minutes and made sure it was relatively simple. When I laid the track, the breeze was in my face, which I thought would be a great way to start.

When we ran the track it was at my back, so Gimme was really challenged to get started. It didn't help that there were two sources of contamination. The first was someone walking across the track and the second was a car (dotted lines). Just about the time we were ready to cross the second landscape strip, the breeze changed to come across the track from the left. She did a little better to finish this leg and the third leg, but then struggled with the second and fourth legs. The breeze stayed like this through the end, which explains why the last leg was the best, since it was blowing the track scent right into her face. I am sooooo thankful Gimme is persistent.

This Thursday, March 15th, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema. The tracks were supposed to be 150 yard straight lines. We put a bend in Gimme's second track. Time got away from us, so her 45 minute track was actually aged 75 minutes.

Gimme had no difficulty doing these two tracks... she just really pushed along like she'd been doing old tracks on pavement all along. As it turned out, something happened to the second and final articles on her second track - they were simply gone. So when Gimme was circling looking for them, I tossed out the end glove from the prior track. Gimme ran to it and then gave me the oddest look. I'm sure she wasn't fooled and knew she'd already eaten cheese off this glove. Still, she is Gimme, so she was happy to go along with the game and do it again.

Yesterday, Saturday, March 17th, Gimme and I went to Medline for tracking. Since I hadn't gotten a reply from Sil for my recent questions, I decided to do something different.

I've noticed Gimme can be very visual. She's happy to follow her nose when it seems to work for her, but she is likely to switch to visual mode if it's challenging. This is especially true on pavement where it's so easy to see articles from a distance. Gimme has gotten very good at spotting even just a line of shadow from articles which otherwise blend in. So I made her some new weighted cloth articles, more likely to blend on pavement and really small. I also cut up some of the articles to make them even smaller. The largest article was just 2½ by 2½ inches and some were only 1 inch by 1 inch.

I laid two straight line tracks, with a start sock, 4 or 5 articles and then an end article. I tried to make everything really blend in, or hidden. It seemed she still saw a third of them! So back to the drawing board. I want to be sure we have articles she can't see so she has to rely on her incredibly talented nose. The track was only aged 30 minutes, so she thoroughly enjoyed running it.

I got a reply from Sil in the evening. The two questions and answers were:

1) Recently I've noticed what seemed to be a trend where Gimme does great on older tracks laid by Nadine and then still has trouble with tracks I lay. So I wondered if dogs have a harder time following their owner's tracks, since they live with the scent all the time. We know dogs don't habituate to scents in the same way humans do, but I wondered if being around the scent made it not stand out for them.
          Sil said it was not generally a problem. He thought it more likely
I wasn't aware of some other factor, or factors, creating a challenge.

2) I asked him if I could use scent intensifiers in aging. It seemed like a possibility, but I wondered if intensifying the scent defeated the purpose of aging it.
          Sil said there were two factors to track age. One is the weakening of scent, which would apply to scent intensifiers just like normally laid tracks. The other factor is how tracks change chemically with age. So in a sense, starting with a stronger scent splits the task into two parts. Gimme can be learning about the chemical change while still working with a stronger smell. So, I'll be playing with this to help her get over the hump.

Today, March 18th, we didn't get a chance to go for a walk and because of my schedule I needed to have Gimme with me so she could get her medication on time.

Since she had to stay in the car all day, I laid her a track outside MCSA. It was just a short track, mostly on grass, with one road crossing. It was aged 90 minutes.

I didn't mark the track or even make a map, so when she got off the track, up under the trees where the ground was covered in needles, I couldn't be sure how to organize her searching. She finally decided on something I thought was too far down, but it got her close enough so she picked up the track in a place where I knew it was and then dragged me to the glove. She got all my cheese and when we got to the car, got her pill in peanut butter.

NOTE TO SELF ---> I really must not take shortcuts when laying a track. Surely I've proven my memory is not accurate enough to rely on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

RFE practice (65)

Thankfully the screechy dog wasn't in daycare this time.  There was still distraction, just not a distraction that was stressful.

Warm-up video - I started with a little bit of warm-up on the course, including some simple behaviors. My goal was to click randomly when she was heeling. When she got distracted enough, I gently took her by the collar and led her back into position. This is somewhere between a very mild correction and information. I see I'm missing a lot of good opportunities to click. The spot mid-course where I throw my hands out a little bit, is my realization that I failed to arrive with her on my right so I could do this behavior, i.e. nothing she did wrong. Both times I remembered to take a step forward before crossing on the alternating front cross, so Gimme was steady for her part. She gets distracted at the sign in the corner, so misses the "spin" cue. She was tending to come off the brick during the "pivot", so we did a couple extra, feeding her in place. She loves behaviors with props, so she had a little difficulty leaving it. I do think I should have used a different method to get her back in heel, like using "around" to have her circle me. This would have created a better heel position and made the draw toward the brick less of an issue.

Heeling video - This time I wanted to do heeling without the other behaviors. Gimme gets distracted in the corner, so I take some time to work through it. Working through distraction always gets her super focused - maybe I should set up a distraction and work through it first thing in every session. The first click was just as she happened to turn her head a little more toward me - it seemed to get her into the game.

Pivot dog-inside video - Gimme really does this nicely. It's clearly time to start fading the brick. I need to create a thinner prop - I'm thinking painted sandpaper.

"Beep" video - Gimme was a little sensitive about this, so I slowed it waaaay down. We just did the one and then moved on.

"Fanny" video - I started with building value in position. Then moved her out of position and cued it. This set her up nicely to get in "fanny" and get rewarded. This worked well, so I want to do more of it.

Down-Stand video - I know it looks like I'm clicking late, but I was waiting for her elbows to touch the floor. The other thing I was working on was alignment, since she tends to down with her butt angled away. Gimme immediately starts anticipating, so I give her some wait-for-the-cue cookies. The cleaning crew is a group of young people with handicaps and they can sometimes be boisterous, giving us another chance to work through it with some "whazzat". Gimme's alignment in "heel" needed a special emphasis. Once I get "near" and "close" on cue, it'll be easier to work on this - though you can see she responds well anyway.

Spins & Circles video - This was just a quick little sequence to get in some spins and circles. It's easy to forget about the beginner behaviors as we work on more advanced stuff.

Figure-8 & Center video - Just a quick bit of doodling between figure-8's, finding "center" and then following in center position as I back up.

Center-front pivot video - Gimme does these nicely. She's faster and smoother as we turn CCW, but it's always been her better direction. She's gotten so much better going CW, really a lot of improvement.

Sidepass in center video - She's actually getting a little bit better as we've been practicing "near", to take a step or two CW. It was most evident at the end. I really haven't even started on "close", but she does so well CCW, it doesn't hurt to start using the cue when I know she'll do the behavior.

Sidepass at heel/side video - She's really making progress here. I think I need to take smaller steps, to make it reasonable for her to be successful. There were a couple of places where she was really smooth and coordinated and not always in her best direction.

Backing in heel video - There was an interesting challenge to start - Gimme was stuck on moving her back feet sideways, since our last two behaviors were sideways movements. So it took a few tries to convince her we were now backing up. I see I need to be more careful with my reward delivery, since I'm rewarding her too often well behind heel/side positions. I'll need to clean this position issue up at some point, but to start with I'll just work on rewarding in position.

I thought this was a more productive training session than usual. I created a Word file and started tracking what I'd been doing in training sessions, lessons learned, ideas for what to try next, training plan, etc. So now I have that information and can quickly review it. I think it keeps me more focused and organized and thus, Gimme is getting better training. She sure seems to be enjoying it and making faster progress.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Nosework (4/30)

This is our first time back in class since the two week break. Tonight started with handling exercises.

Our first task was to bring all our leashes/lines in and lay them on the table. Then we paired up to try out the different leashes. Janice and I took turns being the dog or handler and tried all the leashes. In the end we each concluded we liked our own the best.

Interior 1 search video - The first exercise was for the handler to practice letting the line out smoothly. Since I've been working with a longer line all along, this was pretty easy. There was no real searching, but Gimme enjoyed the free cookies in the box, which also contained odor, so we were effectively reinforcing for being at source.

Interior 2 search video - This time there was a row of 4 chairs with odor on each one. The idea was for us to practice our handling in four different ways. For the first time through the hides were paired - we did it with the dog leading, paying out then gathering up line. Second time through we did it with the dog on our right, rewarding on our own. Third time was dog on the left. The fourth time was handler's choice. I confess I don't understand what their newfound objection is to me saying "Thank you, find another one", which I've been doing for years (this is our 30th round of classes)! The co-instructor said, it's because there might not be another one. Seriously, I know Gimme is brilliant, but the cue isn't about the words... it's just telling her "I'm done here, search more" or put another way "No more pay here". In any case, Gimme was getting really frustrated by the lack of information, so on the fourth run, I gave her the same info by gently moving into her space to encourage her to move on. She was happier and they didn't even notice.

Exterior 1 search video - Our last search was three hides in a large exterior area. She started to go left and then was drawn directly to the hide on the right side of the area. I really don't know what was going on with the second hide; she went by it several times. I do sometimes think she ignores hides, just to prolong the search and I thought so at the time, but in the video it doesn't look that way. She did a great job with the third hide. Overall she did a great job.

Gimme was definitely not impressed with taking a break, since she's certain she doesn't get to do enough stuff now.  She was really glad to get back to class.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Urban Tracking (76 & 77)

There haven't been any tracking reports for the three weeks prior because we were trying to get photo's for our advertisement in the performance issue of The Spotter.  The first two times we were trying to use my camera and just couldn't get the kind of resolution we needed.  I was able to persuade Carol to do a photo session with us.  Her camera is amazing and we got much nicer shots.  Here is the picture I selected:

It really is a lovely picture and shows off Gimme's beauty, her flawless conformation and her intensity and drive. Looking at it on Carol's laptop, it was amazing - you can see every hair!

Last Thursday, March 1st, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking.  The conditions were nice, a cool 49 degrees, damp, and only a very slight breeze.  It was supposed to be a 150 yard straight track, but we threw in a shallow curve.  It was also supposed to be just 45 minutes, but Gimme's track was one hour old. 

To my surprise, Gimme aced this track.  We'd only gotten to 40 minutes at Medline, so this was a big jump.  In hindsight I think the dampness helped a lot.  It only took her 5 minutes to run the track.

Before we ran Gimme, I laid a track for Cricket.  While we waited for it to age sufficiently, I laid an article-U for Sugar, with treats at every article.  This is her first track since before she was bred and those pups are now 6 months old.  It took her a bit to get into it, but she got better toward the end.

While Sugar ran her track, I followed along adding more cheese along the track and on all the articles, for little puppy Ember.  She didn't seem to be getting into it, so I walked the track ahead of her, stepping over the cheese, and then facing her from behind each article.  Nadine needs to do more work with her at home so she understands to put her nose down and follow the scent without someone in front of her.  After Sugar and Ember, Cricket ran her track and did well.

On Saturday, March 3rd, Gimme and I went to Medline.  I decided to age it to 60 minutes.  It was just 52 degrees and dry, with no breeze.  However when we got out of the van to potty before her track, the breeze had picked up and was pretty substantial (light blue arrow).  The white oval is where the van was parked.

Between the breeze and the dryness, this was much harder than I anticipated.  At the start, Gimme kept looking at me with this weird expression - she seemed to think I might have forgotten something important, like actually laying a track.  I encouraged her and she was finally able to find the track.  She struggled with the first turn and then found the two articles.  She got across the road and then had to transition onto grass.  She's normally so good on grass, but still had some difficulty.  Happily she got the article and then motored on.  Of course she no sooner got into tracking on grass, than it was time to go back to pavement, with a turn in the first 10 feet!  (what was I thinking?)  Once she got across the road, she did a great job on the last two turns and articles. 

It took Gimme 26 minutes to run the track; I spent 12 minutes laying it.  She usually does a track just half again longer than it takes me to lay it... so when it goes substantially longer, I know I threw too much at her.  I'll make sure her next track is less challenging to ensure tracking remains a fun game.
Sil and I have "talked" since then and he reminded me to plan the track for one big challenge at a time.  This track had three distinct challenges: breeze, age and transitions.  The dry conditions weren't a big deal until you add the breeze, then they made the aging much harder.  Since her last track at Medline was aged 40 minutes, jumping to an hour was too much, especially with the conditions (though the breeze was unanticipated).  If I hadn't included 2 surface transitions, this would still have been a challenge, but more fair.

As I look at the picture, I can see things I could have done different, to make the transitions more fair.  I think I'll print all the GoogleEarth images I have and put them in document protectors.  Then I can use a dry erase pen to plan my tracks better.

In any case, I'm certainly proud of my little girl.  She never ceases to amaze me.