Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
ADPL4(2), ADPL4(GC), ADPGCH and ADPL5(2)... 51 and counting...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

RFE practice (75)

In case you wonder why we've been quiet, it's because our last 3 nosework classes have been cancelled due to excess heat and there was no class the week we had the NW3 trial. This RFE practice is the first thing we've done and we didn't work very much at this.  Gimme is not appreciating the break.

I was rear-ended by a careless driver on the way to practice. Gimme seemed fine, totally unconcerned by the experience. But, I wasn't and she sensed it. So we only practiced a little bit, then I headed home hoping to get in to see my chiropractor. I saw him the next day and have seen him several times since. I assumed she was going as slow as I was in the stop and go traffic. Now I think she may have let a gap open between us and then sped up to close it before some other car moved in between us and then couldn't stop fast enough. This is the only explanation for over $6K in damage to my car.

I have whiplash in two directions in my neck (she hit me TWICE and by the second hit I was turning my head to see what the heck was going on) and in my mid-back. Fortunately I'm making good progress restoring my parts to normal. Unfortunately, although she admitted fault to the state patrol, she hasn't admitted fault for insurance purposes, so restoring my van to normal is taking longer. I'm just lucky I can drive it without issue.

I apologize in advance for the background noise in these videos. J'Anna wanted to video from near the big doors, which are open for ventilation, otherwise it would be too hot. The noise you hear is from one of the big rigs sitting behind the building running its engine.

"Wait" on platform video - I started with reinforcing her staying put on the platform, hoping this would make it easier to maneuver around her to set up for the "beep". I just did a little moving around her on the platforms, which I hoped would help stabilize her position. They were a little help. I found I had to repeat the reinforcement of stay when she was positioned facing the other direction (not in the video).

I was reminded today while teaching parkour about how to teach "wait" as a function of rewarding the release. This concept is something I learned from Chris and is actually how I taught Gimme to "wait" when she was a puppy. I thought it was really successful. Over the last year her "wait" has lost much of its reliability and I've been trying to repair it by rewarding the wait. Maybe I need to go back to the original process of rewarding the release.

"Beep" w/platforms video - I was hoping using platforms here would help Gimme feel comfortable knowing where she needed to go. I didn't see any big improvement.

"Under" video - I have decided part of Gimme's problem with this move is a bit of discomfort with being "under" me. All her experience with under is with me straddling her where she can look up and see my face; she's been fine with this. I think doing it from side-to-side is just different enough to be weird. So I've been focusing since this practice session on doing "under", the old way (from behind-facing-forward) and both side-to-side directions. It occurs to me I should also teach her to do it from the front-facing-back - though this might need a different cue. Anyway, it seems to be helping, so I need to just keep doing it for awhile.

"Spinotto" & "Turnizzy" video - I wanted to end the session with some fun stuff. So we did these two combo moves. They work because the "spin" ends with her rear moving in the right direction for "otto" to begin, and "turn" ends with her rear moving in the correct direction for "izzy". We haven't done these combo moves in awhile, so I kept the cuing separate. I don't put them together very often or Gimme starts thinking every "spin" and "turn" are just the start of her backing moves.  You know how she is.

"Around" video - I have stumbled upon a way to get Gimme to tighten up her "around" and "behind" circles. She goes wide on the far side of the circle, away from where the treats are delivered. So for the short term, I will reward her there, have her finish the circle and immediately cue another. I hope this will create a habit of tight circles, then I plan to be variable about when and where the reward comes.

Even though this was a short practice compared to what we normally do, I still picked up some good stuff.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Third NW3 Trial

We were so lucky to get in this trial, which was supposed to be in Chehalis (30 minute drive), but was moved to a church in Tumwater, just 12 minutes from my driveway. We got to the trial site early, so we went over to Home Depot for a long potty walk. It was a beautifully cool breezy day, with the occasional light drizzle.

Remember, at this level we don't find out how many hides there are in each search area until the end of the day. In exterior, container and vehicles there can be 1 to 3 hides. In interior, there are multiple rooms, each can have 0 to 3 hides, and each room is an independent search, where you call "finish" for each. It's nerve-wracking to wait all day to know how you did.  The only time you know how you did is if you call a false alert and the judge says "no".

I took several pictures of each search area during the walk through and have edited them together to give you an idea of what the searches looked like.  Some are better than others.

Exterior search - 2:30 allowed. It was a medium size area including a small paved courtyard, a grass stretch and areas with beauty bark/rock. Gimme moved up the right side and across the end, then turned left cutting off the far grassy area to sniff a utility cover in the middle. She then went directly to the wall and quickly worked the edge of the building and alerted. I caught her look before the paw, called "alert" and was right. I walked her around the edge twice more, being sure to catch the far grassy area. I also took Gimme up the middle twice, to catch the deep center crack and a drain. She was happy to sniff everything again and even stopped in a couple of places, but never detailed. So, with great trepidation I called "finish" and left.
Her time was 2:11.85 and Pronounced. The judge's comments were:
"Very nice, thorough search - Great energy and alert from dog. Well done!"
In his debrief he commented about handlers not searching the middle of the
search area, even though there was a deep crack and small drain in which
a hide could be placed. He said only 3 teams searched this area, so I'm
sure our search of the middle is why we got Pronounced.

Interior search - 2:30 allowed for each room.
Room 1 - She found 1 hide at the base of the music stand, then false alerted on a cabinet ("x" at the end of the room). It looked like an indication to me, but she may have smelled something interesting and just looked at me to see what I thought. That's what I don't like about "the look" as an indication; sometimes a look is just a look. I need to get serious about training the sustained-nose-touch as an indication, since it can't look like something else. I forgot to say "finish", which would be more points off, but it's a moot point since a false alert in any search means we can't title.
Her time was 49.9 seconds, 2 faults.
Room 2 - She found 2 hides in the second room.  The first hide was in the stack of chairs by the door on the far wall and the other was in the wheel of the AV cabinet, a threshold hide inside the door (and just outside the view of this photo montage).  We scanned some more and I sent her to some nooks and such. She dutifully checked and then gave me the "stupid ideas" look, so I called "finish".
Her time was 2:14.38, 1 fault. Score sheet was changed 
 from 0 fault to 1 fault. Hmmmm.

Room 3 - She found 3 hides in the third room, fairly quickly, I called "finish" and we were done there.  The hides were on the fan on the far wall, in the handle of a blue tote under the table to the left and on the edge of a small trash can just out of sight on the right side of the picture.
Her time was 1:48.51, 1 fault. 
Total interior time 6:32.89.

During the debrief, this judge said, "if you waited for your dog's paw to come off the ground before calling alert, then you got a fault." Basically she is admitting she faulted any paw lift, which is not in accordance with NACSW rules. So it's probably a good thing Gimme and I had a false alert or I would have raised a stink, asking to have the videos reviewed. I volunteered on Friday and since my migraine got better, I even stayed through awards. I noticed she did not make the same comment during the debrief Friday; I assume the certifying official talked to her. I doubt I will enter under this judge again, probably a moot point since it's so hard to get into NW3 trials.

Vehicle search - 2:30 allowed. Gimme raced down the right side (as we faced them), stopped at the back wheel of the first vehicle (truck) and indicated. She ignored the second vehicle and went to the license plate on the third vehicle (van) and alerted there. We came up the other side, went around the second vehicle once, then I had her humor me to check the near side of the truck. I called "finish" and we were outta there.
Her time was 1:07.56 and Pronounced. The judge's comments were:
"Excellent overall search, alerts, teamwork! Well done!" 

After a break for lunch we did the Container search - 2:30 allowed. (the blue bar in the foreground is the startline)  They were all plastic containers. Gimme found one hide and with a deft bap of her paw exploded the box, breaking the lid in pieces! She was pretty impressed with herself. Cheap damn box.
Her time was 1:01.03. The judge's comments were: 
"Rambunctious to say the least - got the hide tho. Good job!"

This was our third attempt at NW3. For the two prior attempts we only got 1 search correct. This time we got 3 out of 4 and two of them Pronounced. Clearly solid improvement.  I'm liking it.

On Friday I was there to volunteer and during lunch I got to sit with the judge who liked Gimme so much. He remembered her and remembered details about her searches. I asked him about his background with detection dogs and got to learn a lot from his experiences. He had great answers to my many questions; I could have listened to him for the rest of the day. When it was time to get back to volunteering I had to shovel down my lunch... I guess I forgot to eat while he was talking. I don't recall ever forgetting to eat, eh...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Urban Tracking (99 & 100)

We usually have nosework class on Tuesday, but we're having another few days of unusually hot weather and class has been cancelled.  I'm cancelling the parkour class I teach, yet again.

On Friday, July 27th, Nadine and I met early at Game Farm Park. It was still cool, about 68º and in some places the grass was still moist from the watering. Nadine laid this simple little track for Gimme and we ran it right away, so it was only 15 minutes old.

Gimme did reasonably well with it, but I could sure see the difference between when the grass was green and when it was dry and brown. Although it looks lush and green in this picture, the open field was all dried out. Gimme had trouble with the fourth leg and fourth turn. She got across the path to the article on the fifth leg, but then struggled to find the end. These allergies are really making it hard for her.

This last Saturday, August 4th, I went to Medline. They still haven't fixed the truck gate, so I can still use their parking lots, per the security guy. I laid four short tracks. When we crossed landscape strips, I crossed at an angle. I put pieces of beef jerky on the track at intervals. Each track had a start sock, a mid-leg article, a shallow turn, and an end article; the first track (close to the front of the building) had a second turn. It was 67º and dry as a bone. We ran them right after I laid them.

It was a bit of a challenge to convince Gimme there was anything there, but once I did she went right to work. She missed about half of the beef jerky that was still there - the crows got all of them on the second track and one from the third track. Gimme got better as it went along. She has no problem crossing landscape strips at an angle; the issue is all mine.

Can't wait for the pollen to go away. I want to see her natural brilliance come back. That being said, I certainly appreciate her persistence.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

RFE practice (74)

I am still working on basics...

Heeling warm-up video - I started with c/t for offered attention, then went to heelwork. When she is out of position, I'm stopping or moving sideways away from her, instead of backing up - hoping it feels less aversive. It was hard for her to work through the distraction of having a strange dog with someone standing right outside our gate, but she persevered and did pretty good. Then they moved to the adjacent training space and were training/playing, which was even harder. Kathy always says I should stop while I'm rewarding her, but in this case I wanted to keep moving, to keep her attention on me. I certainly would have had her attention while I was rewarding her when stopped, but it would have lapsed as we tried to restart. She had a brief confusion in "side" and "setup" - she kept trying to give me an "izzy", but we got through it.

From heeling we went on to work on backward weaves using something I'd done at home. While it worked well at home, it wasn't working here. Since then it doesn't work at home either. I've decided to go back to my original idea and will progress much slower. I'll be luring her through my legs and then getting her to back "beep" to where she was. I will start with her in heel on either side and then step forward with the far leg. I'll need to treat her in place several times before cuing "beep", because before she started to automatically back up again and I don't want to ruin other behaviors. Knowing how she is about assumptions, I think I just need to take it much, Much, MUCH slower and be sure I reward all the pieces. Time will tell.

I think in RFE you can fail one exercise as long as you attempt it - maybe even attempt it more than once. I would know we can't do it, but can pretend we are trying to do it. It'd be a poor score, but oh well...

Circles video - I'm continuing to work on getting tighter circles. "Behind" is tighter than "around". I want to work on it at home with barriers, so I can refresh the physical habit. I can do it with the guides and also using natural barriers (furniture).

"Cane" & "orbit" video - I recently realized the source of Gimme's confusing between "cane"/"orbit" and "out" had to do with similar physical cues. So this is my first session trying to introduce a different physical cue. Of course have since learned this cue would be deemed luring and cost us points. I'm glad I've only done the one session, so I can still refine it. You can see Gimme obviously thinks one good turn deserves another. You can also see she obviously doesn't listen to me much, eh.

Mixing "out", "cane" & "orbit" video - Here I tried mixing them up a bit. It was really far too soon to be testing her understanding, but she did surprisingly well. I kept it very short.

Heeling and behavior sequences video - I am still doing short sequences with multiple behaviors (2) and ending with a reward on heeling. Soon we'll add a third behavior. Remember this is all about helping her value heeling; even with the disruption to flow caused by the other behaviors.

Center front pivot video - Gimme does these pretty good, but she has a tendency to turn the CCW pivot into an "otto". J'Anna had a good idea about doing a quarter turn in one direction, then reversing direction, so I ended with that.

Heeling pecks video - We got in one good sequence, then Gimme was distracted by a little girl she saw just as they squeaked a toy in daycare. That's a huge distraction for her and it took her a moment to give it up, but she did. She was still a bit distracted when we started up again, but got better as we worked.

Backward heeling video - She did really well in "heel". In "side" it's always harder because of her tendency to swing her heiney CCW, into an "otto". I love her "otto", but the dang thing does tend to creep into everything.

"Izzy" and "otto" video - "Otto" is still stronger than "izzy", probably always will be. I see I need to make it a point to reward in a precise ending position, especially for "izzy" since her heiney tends to swing wide at the end.

I was really pleased with Gimme's efforts, especially given how much barking, squealing and other noises we had to listen to. She tries so hard.