Don't get me wrong... she wasn't bad or misbehaving. I just thought she wasn't really focused or putting in her best effort, even though I managed space so she was clearly well under threshold. My thinking is that, we've been to class often enough and had it go awry often enough, that she's developing a habit of being inattentive. Of course that is my fault. I wasn't managing the pressure well enough and as a result didn't feel right about expecting more from her. Thus she is thinking that's the new normal.
Kathy once shared with me the idea of taking her many different places and working only attention. What was a great about the idea was the suggestion that in a large enough parking lot you can get back in the car, drive two rows over and get out to train again and its just like a new location. I used to do that a lot and was seeing good results.
I decided to use much the same technique and just pull over every little place on the way to the fort's training areas. I am also using a technique to measure and track attention that I saw described on line. It was such a good idea that I've kept the email for 15 months. I'm such a procrastinator that I haven't done anything with it for 15 months. The idea is:
With a dog that gives you attention, go count out 20 treats, and go somewhere new. Time how long it takes 1) for the dog to give attention when you get there, and 2) how long it takes him to earn the 20 treats for returning attention with distractions of the new location or by visibly working to maintain attention under the circumstances. Write these numbers down. You should see decreases in both numbers, the second one helps you know that the dog is learning to rebound from distractions. This is important. HOWEVER, the FIRST number is the one you *really* need because that's the one that tells you how much time your dog needs to adjust to the surroundings before entering a ring.I modified this to ten treats, just so it would go faster. I also did a baseline at home to teach her the game. At first she thought we were free-shaping something and so was throwing behaviors at me and that ate up a lot of time. After that first round I put her on leash to limit her options. At first she found that frustrating and was snapping at the leash. But you can see she really started getting the rhythm of it for the last two rounds.
Then we took it on the road. She did okay to begin with, then regressed substantially. The last two were her best and I was very happy with them.
I found it a useful exercise and plan to do it once a week. These Out and About we did on the way to the training areas and it added almost an hour to a 20 minute drive - so it isn't something I'd do all the time - at least not ten rounds. Two to four rounds could be doable when I'm out doing something or when I'm on the way home from classes. I also plan to incorporate the rhythm of this into classes - to teach her that attentiveness is important no matter where we are.
From there we went to the fort's training area and walked 3 miles. It was hot and dry and now my feet hurt...