Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
NW1, RATI, RATN, RATO, NW2, L1I, RATS, L1E, L1C, L1V, L2C, L2I, L2E, RATM, R-FE/N, PKD-TL, PKD-N, ADPL1, ADPL2, TD, UWP, ADPL3, NTD, TKN, L2V, ADPL4, SDS-N, ADPL5, ADPCH, ADP1(2), ADPL1(GC), ADPL2(2), ADPL2(GC), VPN, AP, UWPCH, ADPL3(2), ADPL3(GC), NC, NI, NE, SCN, SIN, SEN, CZ8B, NV, NN, ADPL4(2), ADPL4(GC), ADPGCH, ADPL5(2), RATCH, CZ8S, AI, TKI, AV, AE, AC, AN, R-FE/X NW3-V, NW3-E, SI, RN, R-FE/NS, CZ8G, SC, SV, SE and SN. 70 and counting...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Public Dog (12)

Yesterday was our 12th Public Dog class.  Since it was Thursday, the day we are all crammed in the training building (last night 7 teams), I gave Gimme some supplements designed to help with stress.  Its hard to say if it worked, since every class is different and thus, its hard to gauge whether its better or not.

They didn't have any barriers up for this class.  As I'd said, I set up in the area closest to the little door and parked my car right outside that door.  During class, on an as-needed basis, I took Gimme out for brief breaks.  We went out 5 times, and just long enough to visit the grass strip and have an opportunity for a pee break.

First, Ursula on crutches and then Elizabeth in a wheelchair came around to visit each of the dogs.  Gimme is totally unconcerned with the medical equipment...  her biggest problem is no greetings until cued and then calm greetings.  Anyone wanting to bask in the fullness of her glory is just so very exciting.  I could have worse problems, eh.

Later on, Ursula came by with a broom sweeping around us and then asking us to move so she could sweep under the dog.  Gimme thought this might be a new game that her best friend Ursula wanted to play with her.  She's never paid any attention to my housecleaning efforts.

Then we worked on teaching the dogs another secondary reinforcer (besides clicker and marker words).  The goal is to have 3 additional secondary reinforcers.  Fortunately we already have one that I never intended, but works anyway because I'm in the habit of using it at the end of weave poles (a holdover from agility with Michael) and its always followed by very generous rewards.  Its the word "woohoo" said with enthusiasm - it gets Gimme's tail wagging faster every time. 

The idea behind these other secondary reinforcers is that we can use them as rewards, to wean the dogs off food... just being sure that we continue to pair them with food 80% of the time.  Unlike the clicker, which should be paired with food 100% of the time to keep the association pure.  I first heard about this concept the day I audited Public Dog Class.  Since then I read that Ken Ramirez promotes this method.  I plan to also condition a thigh slap.  Gimme is very tactile, so any touch is possible - though I'm finding that she's especially fond of deep ear rubs.

After that we worked on toy play.  I hadn't brought any toys, so was happy to see that Ursula had a Skinneez, which is Gimme's favorite toy.  She played with it long enough to demonstrate that she's an avid tugger AND has an awesome "release" on a verbal cue.  Then she noticed other dogs watching her play and wouldn't play in the building again.  However, I took it outside with us on our next break and she was quite happy to play with it outside.  BTW she's also fine with HER watching them play with toys, just doesn't want THEM watching her - kinda like the way most kids think, eh.

The last part of class was more greeting practice.  We set the dogs on a sit-wait and stood beside them.  If they broke the sit-wait when the "stranger" approached, then we moved to body block, followed by resetting them in the original spot and trying the stranger's approach again.  Gimme broke on the first two strangers, but on the third one she started to and then caught herself.  So, on that success we partied all the way to the car (it was the end of class in any case).

Overall I thought the strategy of setting up near the door went well.  I do still need to improve my own skills.  I believe I'm too slow to interrupt when she gets stuck (like watching the other dogs play).  Also, I need a better gauge of when she needs a break than just noticing that her ability to reliably/promptly respond to cues is falling off.  Ideally I want to give her that break just before she needs it. 

We had walked 3 miles on the fort earlier in the day.  Then after class, met Mary and Grafton for another 2 miles on the Capitol Campus.  I did notice that Gimme's LLW was nowhere in sight, but I figured her brain was gone from class.  My feet still hurt today...

BTW I'm reading Temple Grandin's book, Animals in Translation.  Temple has autism of a high functioning type.  She believes that the way people with autism view the world is very much like the way animals do - with visual thinking.  Everything she says rings true with my experiences and I expect to learn a lot from the book.  It is a very interesting read and one I highly recommend to anyone who works with and/or loves animals.

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