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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween At The Train Museum

Ever since Gimme first entered my life she has wanted to drive the train.  Not once has she ever contemplated letting me drive.  So for Halloween, we decided to celebrate by going to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum.  They have train rides and other events, such as a dinner train, Santa train, and Polar Express. 

Like any kid, Gimme wore her best train outfit for our adventure.

"Can't we get this old thing moving?"

This train was so old and rusty, nothing could make it look good - except when Gimme graced it with her own lovely self.

"I don't think this old rust-bucket is going anywhere."

"Here's the ticket... wait at the station, surely ours will be along very soon."

"Did you hear that?  I think its coming now..."

"I hate waiting."

"It's been hours.  Are you sure they are coming?"

Broken Indication, NW (3/16)

Classes have been getting increasingly frustrating over the last three weeks.  By the end of class tonight I was certain I'd broken her indication for good.  She was so frustrated and she was pawing worse than ever, having a hard time settling in.  Poor kid – she was just so confused.  This is in large part because of the recent focus on containers, with lots of boxes which we weren’t ready for.

She has a long history of having fun shredding boxes.  So they get her really excited, just by being there.  Then you add odor, which also has a long history of excitement attached... and she's just mighty revved up.  We weren't  ready to focus on containers and I didn't have an adequate plan for when they showed up in class.

I tried to manage the issue, but that was just confusing to Gimme.  I tried doing some extra training outside class to work with boxes, but that only confused her more and got us both frustrated.

Candy and I have talked about it and have concluded that I need to have the behavior solid before I bring in boxes, the ultimate in distraction factor.  I've tried working on it since we talked and Gimme just seemed to get more and more frustrated.  So the container part of class tonight was pretty awful.

Fortunately we ended class with a multiple room search.  Joyce put a single box in each of four kennel rooms, with the doors propped open.  Rooms 2 and 4 had odor in their boxes.  We were to walk down the hall and see whether the dogs were interested in going in any of the rooms.  Noting how you could tell from their behavior which rooms had odor and which didn't (getting ready for clear rooms in NW3).

Gimme did EXACTLY what I thought she would.  She'd sniff at the clear rooms, without entering and veer slightly away, pointedly ignoring the rooms with odor.  This is exactly what she does with a line of sheds at Home Depot.  She walks down the line and veers away from any that have odor, every time.  As with sheds, when I walked her to the door of one she veered away from, she goes in and goes straight to odor.  I made a joke about her being a contrarian.  In reality Gimme just loves the hunting more than the finding, so she sometimes tries to make the search last.

Anyway, I was thinking about her indicator on the way home and pondering what I could do to make it clear to her.  I've been focused on teaching her that the "paw" cue means paw & hold, not pawing.   Initially that was working well and I was already seeing a bleed over of more moderate paw action in searches.  That is, until recently when we started doing all the container searches.  Once frustration kicked in, her pawing went into overdrive - especially tonight.

So then it occurred to me that she knows to paw and hold on my hand... so why not add odor to that particular picture and build up from there.  So I got one tin of each odor and worked them one-by-one.  I held a tin in my hand and extended it to her.  Naturally she sniffed and then I cued "paw".  I started by just recuing "paw" each time she put it down, while giving her a continual stream of treats for holding it there.

Then I used the same technique to add in a nose-touch along with the paw-hold.  By the end of three tins and 45 treats, Gimme would put her paw up and hold it there and then bump-bump-bump... clearly showing me where it was... and she'd get a rapid string of treats.  She was so happy to know exactly what I wanted and I was thrilled at how fast she picked it up.  It was honestly a beautiful thing to see.

Next step is to set up hides and then as she finds them, I'll move my fist in and let her paw-hold with nose-bumps... gradually transferring it to the hide itself.  If tonight's little session is any indication - this should go quickly.

Cross any body parts you can spare.

Agility Girlie

The most exciting thing to report about agility class, isn't agility per se.

A long time ago I brought one of my expens to the class location for our use and its been really handy.  Since then Blynn has taken to using it for all the classes.  That way we can form an expen bubble (for the hold) right at the giant sliding arena doors.  It saves trying to move those things or having to come through the side door and speeds up getting in and out.  Usually the sliding doors are open just far enough to squeeze in and the expen forms a 4x4 foot enclosure - the hold.

So Gimme and I were in the hold watching the dog before us running and practicing "whazzat" whenever it was in the near end of the arena.  At the end of its run, the BC jumped the last jump and then ran full tilt toward us, heading for the water bowl, just 8 feet away.  Gimme watched intently, but did not do anything inappropriate, no vocalizations or anything.  When she was satisfied that all was well, she turned to me and gave the look that sez, "more treats please."  I was just thrilled at this clear evidence of the progress she's made this summer.

As for our run, there were some good things and some not so good.  For the first time Gimme let me converge on her line and didn't push out around the next jump.  So she is getting more comfortable with the understanding that coming into my space (and vice versa) is a good thing.

Her weaves appeared to be irreparably broken, until we figured out what was going on.  Suddenly she has decided to turn up the speed another notch and I was still moving at the old speed.  In looking toward me to see what I was doing, it was causing her to pop out.  When I got my pace right and smooth, she did fine and significantly faster.

She got a couple of really tough weave entries, though having difficulty holding onto them afterward. To motivate her to work harder at holding on, I showed her the goodies I had and then set her up for another try.  She nailed it and blazed through to the end.  Then she demanded her pork loin.  She's never been shy about such things...

Ya gotta love her 'tude...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Public Dog (28-29-30)

I've been remiss in keeping up with the blog.  Classes have been good - though challenging.  The goal of these classes is to get the dogs to work reliably off leash and without treats on our person.  These three classes met, twice in Ursula's new training room (above the kennels) and once in a tennis court.

We do a lot with the dog dragging the leash - in fact virtually the whole class is with the leash on the ground.  We also station our treat bag... in the building the first time mine was on the floor behind a divider and across the room, the second time was up in the window sill.  At the tennis court, I started with it on the ground, but my back was bothering me, so I hung it on the fence so I didn't have to keep bending over.

Gimme is into the concept of helping herself... and each time Ursula needs to remind me to use body blocking instead of a hand signal (for wait).  I can use the hand signal and Gimme will wait, but have to use it every time.  When I do use the body blocking, it only takes once or twice and she remembers it for the rest of class.  She completely gets what it means.  It just is not my first inclination.

Class is following a pattern.  We let the dogs drag the leash and then one by one walk out to the center of the training area, cue a behavior, verbally mark it and then go to our treat station to reward.  Gimme is completely fine with working without the treats on me - she gets the concept of delayed reward since its something we've done before.  Once or twice we unhook the leash, letting it fall to the floor and do the sequence completely off leash.  Over a few repetitions, we advance to asking for two and then three behaviors.  In that case we only verbally mark the last behavior - the reward for the first (and second when there are three cued) is another cue.  This is called Tertiary Reinforcement which you can find by following the link - the explanation is about halfway down in the entry.

Anyway, once we've done several repetitions, then we start going out in pairs and later threes and finally all of us (4 or 5).  The pairs don't bother me, but more than that I find stressful.  In addition to going out on the floor with another team that is moving at the same time, we are supposed to go someplace different than the middle of the room.  Each time after that we are supposed to go someplace in the room we haven't been before.  This usually means passing each other.  When we get to three or more teams going at once, its quite a circus.

That is a lot of chaos and stimulation and moving dogs in close proximity and Gimme does okay with it, she really tries so hard. Sometimes it just amazes me how much progress she's made.  I think its more stressful for me than it is for her, because:
  • There are two dogs in class who's owners don't have good control AND are so slow to react.  When those dogs get out of control they always seem to rush in our direction.  So I have to pay attention to instructions, work with Gimme and watch both of them all the time.  Both are friendly dogs and I certainly appreciate their owner's efforts to continue with training; still it adds a lot to my "job" while in class.
    • In the tennis court, Echo (smooth collie) came rushing at us and the owner barely got her back before contact.  Gimme had just realized the dog was there when it was already being moved away.  I gave her treats and congratulated her on being such a good girl.
    • Then yesterday in the training room, Lily (labrador) went out on the floor for her first exercise and immediately rushed over to us.  I grabbed Gimme’s leash to do an emergency u-turn, just as she hit the end and it flipped her on her side.  She scrambled up and ran with me, not seeming any worse for wear.  Though I noticed a bit later she had that look in her eyes telling me she was having difficulty.  So I took her outside for a potty break and to decompress.  She didn’t potty, just sniffed around.  When we went back in she was ready to work again.
  • When we are out on the floor as a group, it seems there is always someone sneaking up behind us.  Okay, I realize they aren't "sneaking", still they are often crossing so close right behind or to the side outside my view.  Even if they aren't right there, when I verbally mark a moment of good behavior and turn around to head back for our treats, there is always someone within one step.  I can literally feel my blood pressure spike at these moments!
So for me, the class is stressful and I'm always tired afterward.  I'm happy with Gimme and certainly thrilled with her efforts and progress, I just have zero moments when I can let my guard down.  I feel like I need a couple extra sets of eyes.  I have come up with a couple ideas to take the pressure off me a little bit.
  • When we are waiting our turn, my tendency is to have Gimme sitting on the side of me,  between me and the nearest well-behaved dog (Tor or Tucker).  Which means when I am focused on her, my eyes and attention are turned away from the dogs that have been an issue.  So in the future, I'll have her on the side that is closer to them... so at least I'll see them coming with my peripheral vision and have more time to react.
  • And when we are doing the group exercises, when I mark a behavior, I always do a sharp 180° turn.  So effectively I'm turning sharply into a blind spot.  My plan is to try more of a wide arcing turn, so I'll see what's behind me with my peripheral vision before I'm stepping right into it.
I had something else to talk about, but this is already quite long, so it'll have to wait.  Besides its late and Gimme and I are due for a couch snuddle...

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013

    Nosework (1/16 & 2/16)

    The last two classes have been focused mostly on containers.  Once last week we also did a vehicle search on two caterpillar backhoes that were parked at the parking lot (empty store) where we were practicing.  Tonight we were indoors at Ursula's new building, using the downstairs open area where they have not yet put in the runs. 

    Gimme did great with the vehicle search.  She is doing well with the container searches as far as resisting distractions and in finding odor.  However her paw indicator is still a work in progress.  

    We've hardly done any containers this summer, so I've been working on her paw indicator.  I've been focused on clarifying what I expect of Gimme when I say "paw", which is, that I want a paw-hold instead of pawing.  I've been doing it on all kinds of different things, but have not yet put it together with odor. 

    So when it was presented last week, with odor and in a cardboard box, that was really too big of a jump for Gimme.  I was working with her to understand the training applies here too, when Joyce snatched the box away.  Joyce neither agrees with or understands what I'm trying to do - even though I have explained it to her more than once.  Very frustrating.

    Happily when we did the other container search, with odor in an upright bag, Gimme did her paw indicator the way we have been practicing, so she got multiple cookies.  Tonight when we searched, she got it faster for most of them.  However the one that was in a box, still threw her.  I had asked Susan to put it in an open bag I'd brought just for that purpose, but Gimme still had a lot of difficulty with that one. 

    It occurred to me on the drive home, while I've practiced her paw behavior on a lot of different things, I haven't practiced on enough different kinds of bags that are more like what she'll see in a container search.  I'm thinking that may be why putting the odor box inside my open bag didn't work - she gets it right on stuff that is more like luggage.  So when I got home I brought almost all of my bags in the house and we'll just have to practice with each one.  I'll also have to bring in some paint cans and other weird stuff from the garage.  The more variety the better.  Then we have to add odor into the picture.

    We have also been putting in some odd distractions for the container searches - not food or toys.  Instead its been things like hand sanitizer, cleaning soaps, make-up, deodorant...  I thought that was maybe some new trend in trials and Joyce explained it tonight.  It seems they are finding some dogs are really attracted to novel smells and many of the bags and such used in trials are coming from thrift stores.  When one dog spends a lot of time investigating a novel smell, then other dogs will be attracted there because of the smells the first dog left behind and they were excitedly investigating in one spot.  So there can be a lot of false alerts once one dog gets a bit excited, because the other dogs react to that dog's smell.  So the trend is to make sure the dogs experience a huge variety of novel smells in containers, so they don't get sucked in. 

    I haven't blogged about Public Dog class, though I have a lot of interesting news to share.  It'll be a long post, so I'll wait until after class tomorrow...

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Agility Rock Star

    We got in a three mile walk before driving to class, so Gimme was pretty focused.  We were held up in traffic, so was 25 minutes late, still Blynn had us come out and I just made up a couple quick sequences. 

    First, Gimme was inclined to run amuck right off the bat and I used Blynn's suggestion from our last class - multiple hand touches - left-right-left-right.  Gimme finds that very fun and its like a reward by itself.  I was trying to think of what I was actually rewarding, so I guess its more like a game that increases focus.  Anyway, once we do it, she's really engaged with me.

    For our quick sequences, we did an opening that included two jumps and a tunnel.  Then we moved down course and did the weave-poles multiple times and from various angles.  Blynn pointed out that when I give Gimme a challenging entry and she misses it, I reset her for the challenge, but then I manage the entry.  So I'm not actually setting her up to learn something from it.  That is something I wouldn't ever see on my own. 

    Gimme did some really good weaves and a couple times was blazing fast.  Sadly, like an idiot, I did it too many times.  I was trying to get too much and forgetting that "less is more".  So our last weave while successful for a tough entry, was pretty slow - slower than usual.  I knew as I was leaving I'd overdone it and essentially made weaves not-fun.  I should have not done the last couple of challenges and ended with the earlier successes.  Bad me.

    When we came in for our second run on a course I had walked, it started out nicely.  However when we got to the weaves, Gimme simply wouldn't do them.  It was kind of weird what she was doing - trotting by and tipping her nose toward each gap in the poles as if she was going to go through, but not doing so.  In a way, I think she was saying "I know what to do, I'm just not going to do it."  So I finally walked her through once and then we moved on down course.  We bypassed them using jumps when we came back to that part of the course later.

    Parts of the course were really great.  Of course, my bypassing the weaves when I hadn't walked that option led to a crunchy effort.  I am not really good at handling on the fly.  Still some of our best work was in the second half of the course.  Gimme got up to full speed.  Its awesome.  I've always known she is going to be fast, but tonight I was seeing speed I had not anticipated at all.  It was killing me trying to keep up.  I'm gonna need oxygen when I start running her for real.

    Interestingly, while I was still trying to get her to do the weaves and some other small bobbles... Blynn kept telling me "don't reward her for that".  She said that so often in a short space of time that I realized how often I reach for my treat bag... whether I intend to give her a treat or not.  Too strange.  I had no idea I do that. 

    As a result, I handed the treat bag to Blynn.  There was no sign that Gimme even cared.  While we were running and jumping and go-go-going, she was having a blast.  Sure she was happy when I said "woohoo" and then ran to Blynn for the treat... but mostly she was just having fun doing agility for agility's sake.  This tells me its time to take it to the next level...

    Another cool thing, there is a gal in class with a reactive terrier and we are going to do some training together.  She's a snowbird, and so this is her last class until February.  But, once she returns and it starts staying light later, we'll be working together after class - doing BAT set-ups outside.  That's a nice thing to look forward to.

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Public Dog (27)

    Gimme and I have walked a lot, trying to get ahead of plan since we'll be separated for a week while I'm in California.  I want to be sure to make our annual 500 mile goal together.  Meanwhile Gimme claims I don't do near enough with her.  We also got in some other light training over the weekend.

    Today was Public Dog class at Auto Zone.  I was glad there were only four of us, because it was a small store.  We all started by handing over our treat bags to Ursula.  Its another exercise to work without food on our person -- the idea being to work a little bit and when we got something particularly nice... verbally mark it and then rush over to Urs for treats.

    I tried this, but every time I tried to go to Urs for treats, there were one or two other dogs right there and it would've been too close for Gimme.  I think having to walk the dog-gauntlet to get treats would have really taken the fun out of the cheese.  We did get treats twice, but it was 15 minutes into class, just not a high enough rate of reinforcement.  So when I could I told Ursula it wasn't working for us and why.  She gave me our treat bag, told me to put it on a shelf and work away and then back to it.

    I did that and it worked very well.  I moved our treat bag to other locations (4 different places), so we weren't working in the same spot.  I have to say Gimme got a real charge out of this exercise and even the worst of her efforts, still had a lot of good attention to it.  Ursula noticed and said the same.

    I've said before I think I'm boring.  That's why I'm really looking forward to the Denise Fenzi online academy courses that we'll be starting in December.  I'm sure that will help me be less boring and more fun.  As I see how Gimme responds to these different challenges - I also realize I don't challenge her enough.  I've always said she thrives on challenge and I clearly am not giving her enough.

    When I got to class, Gimme was very unfocused, but this level of challenge just sucks her right in.  She just can't resist it.  We did a sit stay with Tor, just 7 feet away (I even dropped the leash and was about 8 feet away from her).  Gimme was completely fine with it -- that's pretty close to the separation we'd have in competition.  We even did a sit stay with me at the end of the leash when the black Lab was standing nearby and just as they moved away, Susan and Tucker walked by kinda close.  

    What excited me the MOST was the unintended exercises in Sudden Environment Change.  Any dog with issues is likely to be really challenged by SEC and Gimme is no exception.   Because the racks in the store were so tall and the aisles so narrow, there was really no way to know if someone was about to walk by as we'd come to the end of the aisle.  Repeatedly  we'd be within a foot or two from the end when a team would walk by suddenly and close.  Gimme was fine every time.  She'd watch the dogs, but showed no concern.  Of course, she knows these dogs from class, but its still huge progress.

    In thinking about this after class I realized that in our other walks, she has stopped scanning the horizon looking for other dogs.  At some point, she dropped her constant on-alert behavior and I didn't even notice it.  This is really exciting....

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    NW Practice & Public Dog (25 & 26)

    Monday's Public Dog class was at Lowe's and Miss Gimme was not mentally present.  I lose one to two days when she is in season.  I just worked on attention and by the end of class I had a bit of really nice focused work.  When I could, I wandered away from the group and meandered over to electrical to get something I needed - rewarding Gimme for attention along the way.  I think relieving the pressure of the proximity of other dogs helped a lot. 

    When we got back to the group, the task we did the best on was to pick an aisle and walk around and around and around the same aisle, clicking and treating as we went.  The idea was that each time we were walking the same area, so it would be less and less distracting and the dogs should be able to go further between clicks.  The goal was to see how infrequent we could get the c/t, the ultimate goal to get around with just one c/t.  Our first aisle had guys working on shelving at the other end, so I moved over an aisle.  Despite her mental condition, Gimme was able to go all the way around on one c/t. 

    Wednesday we met Susan and Tucker for nosework practice.  I set tins low on the uprights of the fencing around a tennis court.  Diagram shows black dots for fencing uprights, purple for odor and orange for prime pee places.  When I devised this plan, my idea was to give the dogs multiple low and easy hides.  First we went in one direction and then took a brief break (walking the dogs out far enough and offering them the opportunity to potty).  We first searched coming in from the right and even though we couldn't detect the breeze, both dogs would over-shoot odor by a foot and come back to it.  I hadn't planned for the pee distraction, but realized as we were doing it that the distraction was there.  Its feasible to run into it in a trial, so certainly worth training through.

    After the potty break Gimme tried to pull a fast one, running to the nearest post and indicating before sniffing.  It was kind of funny as she then brought her nose down and realized there was nothing there.  After that she checked very carefully.  Tucker had the opportunity to work through his greatest distraction BALLS!!!  There were kids playing ball in a field really close and he was strongly attracted to them, got very aroused and had to let it go to work.

    Our second search set was also a bunch of low hides in an area of landscaping.  I set the first two hides on two posts with a chain between them (to keep people from driving on the park grass), then four in the landscaping.  As I was setting the other hides, I saw someone walk their dog along and it peed on the post right where I'd placed the odor.  I was glad that I had placed that one about 12" off the ground, so the tin didn't actually get peed on.  I'm sure those two posts and the one tree were prime pee spots for dog walkers.  So both dogs got to work through that distraction yet again.  

    So while the hides were easy, the distractions were hard.  Happily neither Gimme or Tucker even tried to mark over any of the pee-mail they found.

    Today we had Public Dog class at Ursula's new training building and got a tour of the new facilities.  It is very nice.  The kennels consist of a separate room for each dog.  Ursula reports that most dogs are much happier and calmer in these.  The floors are heated concrete.  There are still the traditional chain link kennels for those dogs that object to the isolation.  There are now two large play yards and they have plans to add four smaller play yards.  There is circulating air exchange for each room.  They have electronic combination locks at each door for security for the boarders.  It will be interesting to see which Gimme prefers.  I think the rooms would be less stressful; on the other hand, she may not like the social isolation.

    The training room is upstairs and about twice as big as the building we've been using.  Today we did exercises to wean the dogs (and ourselves) off treats on our person.  Gimme was a little distracted by the totally new environment, but got into working nicely.  We did three sequences.
    1. With treats placed on chairs at each end of the room, we each practiced LLW in a zig zag path around a series of small room dividers.  Ursula reminded us of the human tendency to wait until we are close to the food to mark and then reward.  It is as much our reliance on food as it is the dog's that we have to wean away from.  I was third, so picked a bit of good LLW to "yes" and then raced to the food stations.  Gimme thought that was fun.
    2. Using the dividers to form two "gates" we practiced having the dog go through and then reorient to us, marking it and then returning to the nearest chair.  Again, we each showed our reliance on food by tending to non-verbally require another behavior when we got to the food, before giving the dog the treat they'd earned at the gates. Gimme totally knows this behavior at home, as she basically pivots through the gate to end facing me for her treat.  I realized that one reason she doesn't transfer the behavior to class and other locations may be that I don't use the "g'won" cue at home - so she sees them as separate things.
    3. The last exercise was to place two treats on each chair and leave our treat bag in our chair.  Then we'd walk to the center of the room, cue a behavior the dog knows well, verbally mark it and walk to a chair to give one treat.  Then repeat three times.  I cued "down", "touch", "sit-wait" and walk around, and "grape".  Gimme did really well with this and was the only dog who clearly understood that a verbal marker still counts even when the food is 25 feet away.  You could tell whether the dog understood by observing their body language when they heard the marker.  Of course, we've done a similar exercise a long time ago.  Interesting though, when she realized that was the game we were playing, she voluntarily slipped into heel position on the way to the chair.
    I'm thinking she got her brain back...

    Tuesday, October 8, 2013


    I've been busy cleaning and repairing gutters.  Not a formidable task, but my foot limits how long I can stand on the ladder, as well as the number of trips up and down it.

    I've been working on Gimme's fence running and barking all summer.  She's gotten so much better, now seeing it as a big game that she plays with me.  That's good because she doesn't bark as much, plus the attitude is better, thus no risk she'll decide to not-like what she's barking at.  Though she does still have 'tude about people who walk dogs past our house (we'll do set-ups to train that separately).

    Gimme now stands eagerly watching from one of the two front corners of the yard, looking up the street for something bark-worthy, wagging her tail in happy anticipation.  She had to learn that stuff 2 blocks away, doesn't qualify for cookies.  She is always trying to game the system.  She sometimes doesn't bark, but then if I'm not paying attention has to bark to show me that she's not barking, doncha know. 

    Anyway, she's making headway.  However being up on a ladder puts a kink in the training, since there is no way to give her the favorite - anything peanut butter - from up there.  Multiple trips up and down the ladder really shortened my ability to make headway on the gutter project.  And coming down the ladder to reward her is not timely.

    Then I hit on the brilliant idea of buying her Nutter Butter cookies, since they have real peanut butter in them and would be a big enough chunk (even broken in pieces) to throw down to her.  So I bought a bag of Target's generic version and had them in my work bag when I came home.  Gimme is really good about not getting into things, so I didn't think anything of setting it down with the cookies in it. 

    I didn't think anything of it, until I went looking for them and discovered the plastic bag and cookies were missing.  I figured she'd gotten out the dog door with them when I wasn't looking and made short work of them.  Imagine my surprise to find she had stashed them in the corner behind my sewing table, without opening them.  I think she put them away for safe keeping, especially after seeing me give Grafton one of her rawhide chews (for his birthday).  I guess she didn't want me to get carried away with the whole gifting thing.

    Anyway, the PB cookies are working great and she's made good progress over the weekend and today.  I've even started tossing her the random cookie for just hanging out near me without scanning for bark-worthy things.  A couple of times when I saw her in time, starting to run up and bark at something, when I called her she turned on a thin dime to get back to me.  Yay Gimme...

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Nosework (6/15)

    I set the hides in the same place as I'd done for Friday, but at 10:00 a.m. for a 6:00 p.m. class.  And, of course, making sure I had fresh q-tips for the tins.  

    Gimme did a great job with the sheds, getting the ground hide outside shed 7 first.  Then she got the wall/vent hide in shed 9, followed by the hide in the door crack.  She kept bypassing shed 4, actually veering a little bit away from it.  So I didn't want to guide her, but instead to act like I might in a trial.  In a trial I if I knew/thought there was more odor and was presented with this set up, I'd take her briefly into each shed, so that's what I did.  I started at shed 1 and went down the line.  When we entered shed 4, she found it almost right away.  I asked Joyce what she thought of that handling strategy and she said it was okay - but that if I took her in one and she wanted to leave, I should let her (which is what I did).  She did these four hides in 3:18... real close to what she did on Friday.

    For the interior with the converging odor and fresh q-tips, she was very fast.  Again finding the high hide first and then the lower hide.  Interestingly, this time several of the dogs were catching odor for the low hide in the shelving on the same side about 15 feet away.  We think it was somehow getting sucked along the back behind the boxes and coming out there.  The dogs would get stuck in that area for a bit and then decide to work further, carefully checking everything on that side until they got to odor.  Gimme did this search in 2:48, compared to 7:09 on Friday.

    Gimme spent too much time checking high when the odor was lower.  It occurs to me that we've been doing a lot of high hides with her lately.  So I'm going to make it a point to do a bunch of low hides in the coming weeks.

    The last search I forgot to start my stopwatch, but I'm thinking it was about a minute, a LOT faster than Friday.  I was conscientious about making her wait at the start line and about 5 seconds into the wait, she started to pull to the right, so I let her go (which was direct to the threshold hide).  The second hide was on the back side of a front shelf support, in the middle of the shelf.  There was no bottom shelf, just some boxes on the floor.  Once Gimme had the general location, she went under the shelf, turned around and put her nose right on it.

    All in all a very good class.  We had a lot of people, since it was a combined class.  We have no class next week.  At least we'll be resuming Public Dog, so Gimme won't be too bored. 

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

    Agility Moments

    Gimme is so good for me.  I know I wouldn't get a tenth of the exercise if it weren't for this kid.  Today after work, I was ready to go home, prop my feet up and take a nap before heading out to class.  Instead, knowing how much Gimme needed it, I went to the training areas and walked 3.5 miles with her.  Happily, my foot was still okay after that much walking, so its improving.  However after the little bit of running in agility class - its really hurting, but not as much as it has before.  So again, improving.

    Gimme is in season - today is day 6.  I've always noticed while in season, she still wants to train and is eager for any opportunity to work me for good stuff.  The downside is that her focus and impulse control take a nose dive at this time.  Around day 15 she has a day, or two at most, where she's not able to focus much on training, despite how much she wants to do it.  It was the 15th day where she failed an ORT.  We work on very easy stuff then.

    Blynn again commented on how much Gimme is maturing.  That's the fifth time in a row that she's made similar comments at the beginning of class.  She also said she thinks we are "almost too closely bonded."  She was referring to how we want to be close and yet how Gimme needs me to work at a distance.  Its interesting she said that, because its similar to something Ursula has said.   She said we are so closely bonded that it seems like we are always trying to occupy the same space.  Hence her encouragement for us to separate a little more. 

    Tonight Gimme was eager, but unfocused and lacking impulse control, just as I expected.  I focused on basics, setting her up for success to get opportunities to reward her.  I also made sure she knew there was plenty of PB available to win.  Sometimes she got cheese, sometimes PB. Toward the end of our first set, she was doing nicely, though not as good as I know she is capable of. 

    She started off unfocused again in the second set, but came around much quicker.  Toward the end of that we pulled off a sequence that was freakin' amazing.  It was not an easy sequence, but the way we got it was so smoothe.  For parts of it, Gimme had to come in really close and for other parts she was working independently at a distance.

    Now I know exactly what agility is going to be like with this girl.  It is going to be fast.  It is going to be hot, and it is going to be really fun.