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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Public Dog (17)

First, I'm rereading "When Pigs Fly" by Jane Killion.  I wanted to review some of her excellent ideas.  I was fascinated to realize how often she talks about Gimme in her book, which was written in 2007, many years before my girlie was born.  At one point she says of pigs-fly dogs, "You are not going to get a Gimme when it comes to attention."  How did she know that Gimme would have such good attention skills (well, most of the time).  She mentions her many times in the book, but this one really stood out to me.  <g>

Today in Public Dog class Gimme did so well - the best she's done since we started this ten week round of classes.  I was careful with management - especially so after going in the training room to set up and having Max (giant Schnauzer) go off on me.  He's unpredictably reactive and his owner just corrects him for it, but isn't really working on the issues that set  him off.  So I made sure there was a good visual barrier between where we were setting up and where his owner was sitting with him.  I absolutely wasn't going to risk him going off when Gimme was near.

Our exercises were interesting and challenging.  First we were to walk a figure 8 with a dish of french fries for one pole and a person in a wheelchair for the other AND we were not supposed to cue "leave it".  One of the goals for this class is to get such things on an auto-leave-it when the dogs are working.  We were supposed to body block any attempt to engage either.  Obviously we want the dogs to be friendly and comfortable with people in wheelchairs, but we also don't want them to assume they are free to greet any person they see.   As it was set up, there was also the man with the creepy shepherd sitting nearby to observe, so Gimme had to walk between them and the person in the wheelchair.

I was very pleased with how she did.  It took a couple reminders to start with to get her into LLW mode, but then she was really very good.  As we went back in the building, they remote rang the doorbell - which was of no interest to Gimme, unlike two other dogs that had a barking fit.

After that we did a session in a cordoned off section of the room with Ursula for "join up".  I'm not totally sold on the concept of this, but still it can't hurt and Gimme enjoys the treats.  Once she realized I was going to pay with peanut butter, she was almost unable to be distracted from me.  That is no small feat given that Ursula was using a whole jar of peanut butter (opened) to distract her.  After that we went out to repeat the exercise in the fenced in play yard.  By then Gimme realized Ursula was back to her old tricks of trying to distract her but never paying up... so she did really well and didn't fall for it (well hardly ever).

Then we did a session with Elizabeth and her dog as one post and the food as the other post, again with the man and creepy shepherd observers.  So LLW between Elizabeth and her dog and the man and the shepherd was a significant task.  I cut the space in half and paid well the moment after we passed between them, so the second time Gimme never even looked at them.

Then Elizabeth had us stop and she cued her dog to bark for us.  That's a special trigger for Gimme and I didn't expect it to go well.  However, it was a single controlled bark and she barely took notice of it.  We were able to get within about 6 feet and she was still able to "whazzat" for a treat.  Then we lined up for down stays and rewarded the dogs heavily for staying put as Elizabeth heeled by with her dog.  Gimme did great.  She did not do as well when she went behind us.  In her defense the poop bucket was between us and the wall and when they detoured around it, their their line of motion changed so it was headed more toward us.  I made sure when I reset her in the down that I moved her a couple feet forward and the next time she did great.

Then Elizabeth cued her dog to get crazy with active play and barking.  That was almost too much for Gimme and I had to move her a little further away.  With a little more distance she was able to work through it nicely - about ten feet away.  Given that kind of thing is very difficult for her, it was a huge achievement.  We ended with a short session of all the dogs LLW around randomly in the play yard.  After all the other exercises, this was pretty easy for Gimme.

All in all it was a very challenging class and I was totally happy with how Gimme did.  She got stuck once or twice, but her recovery was excellent.  She was quiet and content up until I had to leave to meet friends at the Freedom Shootout.  I left her loose in the house for what turned out to be 4.5 hours (the longest time I've done this) and she was a good girl (she likes having light classical music playing on the TV).  I think she is showing that she has fully recovered from our earlier discombobulation and is ready to work on some of the bigger challenges.

An interesting note from the Freedom Shootout -- where we got to shoot trap, which I hadn't done in 20 years and have a major bruise already coloring up.  We got to shoot some practice rounds with an instructor to coach us and the one I got was very good.  He figured out right away that I am left-eye-dominant, so was able to tell me what to do to correct for it.  As he talked I was reminded of stuff Lanny Bassham says in his book "With Winning in Mind".

Its not at all easy to keep your mind out of the way and to go with your unconscious mind.  I was thinking as my instructor was talking about how easy it is for us to go on a sort of auto-pilot when we are free-shaping a behavior.  If you wait to consciously note the behavior, your click is always too late.  So, I found if I treated pulling the trigger like clicking a clicker, that it went much better.  After that, for my round I hit 17 out of 25.

I understand that is considered very good and people who shoot a lot don't do that well much of the time.  One guy at our table had shot 23 the first round and 3 the next... so I beat him percentage-wise and he shoots all the time (I was uncharacteristically gracious and didn't say anything).  Still the word got around and a few people came up and congratulated me on doing so well.  I don't know of any other sport where a 68% success rate is considered good - I've gotten so used to dog sports where the standard for success even at the lowest level is much higher.

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