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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Agility (1/2)

Gimme has had quite the full day.  We did nosework practice with our friend Susan.  Overall there were 8 hides.  Gimme didn't have any difficulty with any of them.  I'm practicing seeing when she gets in odor and trying to define the behavior change I see.  For now I would just say she gets very "busy" and more focused in an area, as opposed to loosely scanning, which she does the rest of the time.  She sure loves getting peanut butter to reward every time she finds odor.

Afterwards we went walking and put in 4 miles.  When we got home, I took a long nap and woke with a migraine, but it was time for class, so off we went.

Overall I was pleased with Gimme.  Her first session started off unfocused, but I really think she was responding to how muzzy-headed I was.  Once I was up and moving for a bit, my head cleared and magically, she was suddenly focused.  For our second sequence, she did well the whole time.

Blynn had me do one section over a couple of times until my handling was sufficient to cue Gimme to collect.  The first time she literally landed on my foot.  The second time she missed my foot, but bumped my leg in finishing the turn.  The third time I got it right and so did she.  Its really cool to see how she responds so naturally to good APHS handling.  Blynn also worked on the same segment with other students and it was interesting to see how much harder it was for their dog's to make the change.  It sure makes a big difference how athletic Gimme is, as well as how body aware she is.  I'm sure a lot of it comes from the body awareness exercises we did when she was a puppy.

William tapes many of our classes... so here's two...

This is from last week when Gimme started out so unfocused.  She sure doesn't tolerate late handling.  Frances always fixed my mistakes, Michael not so much, Gimme not at all.  I can see I spend a lot of time "naming" what she's doing, like saying "jump" when she's in the air already. 

This second link is the second run of the same night when I totally couldn't remember the course.  When my handling was clear (despite whether I was on course or not), Gimme did well.  I hate it when people clap to get their dog's attention - had no idea I'd fallen into such an ugly habit.  I gotta make it go away.  I can also see where I'm crowding her space, which causes her to move out around the jumps.  She really wants to handle at much more of a distance. 

From some of the other vids, I see... 
  • Gimme really likes doing multiple hand touches and I want to try using it as I take her harness off, instead of after she takes a loop around the arena.  It would be nice to just start off working, rather than recapturing her attention.
  • I see I've been naming obstacles for quite awhile.  I've emailed Blynn and asked her to help me focus on either being more timely with verbal cues or just shut up, eh.
  • I also see the clapping at Gimme in a couple other videos and have asked Blynn to help me eliminate it.
And now Miss Gimme and I are going to go snuggle on the couch...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Epiphany = a sudden realization of great truth.  I’ve had two this week.

I’ve been reading a book, Zoomility, and am using colored pens along with my highlighter, to say different things about why I highlight (it’s a take-off from an inductive Bible study I’m doing).  By doing it this way, I am forced to slow down and give more thought to why I am highlighting a particular portion of the text and what it means to me – what I want to learn and remember from it.

(Epiphany #1) This week I was reading a section about least reinforcing stimulus (LRS) and was thinking about it.  One of the training issues I’ve struggled with is trying to get a straight “front”.  Gimme always angles her fanny to one side or the other – which I know is my fault and I’m sure I carefully, if unintentionally, shaped the angling behavior.  I’ve also been trying to get her to come in closer.  She is coming in close enough to not be faulted, but figuring on a behavior deteriorating under the stress/distraction at a trial… it could be close.

So the way LRS applies is the intentional application of 3 – 5 seconds on non-response.  We always try to fix the dog’s mistakes, which unfortunately risks rewarding the behavior by paying attention to it.  At the very least you create a dog who waits for you to give them the second cue before getting the behavior correct.  In the case of a crooked front or one which isn’t close enough, my fix has been to take a step back.  Over time it’s turned into me pushing my knees back, while not moving my feet (a nonverbal cue, eh).

I decided to use a small platform to give Gimme a physical target and one in which she feels when she’s not right, because she slips off the side.  I was very conscious to do nothing if she wasn’t right.  I also thought ahead about how and when I would reward her efforts.  Assuming I am facing 12 o’clock… if her butt angles toward 1 o’clock, the treat comes from my right hand, which causes her to turn toward it, thus straightening her butt.  If her butt angles toward 11 o’clock, the treat comes from my left hand, causing the same straightening.  If she comes in straight, she gets treats from both hands.  Note she gets a treat either way, whether she is straight or not, though she doesn’t actually get the crooked cookie until she has straightened some. 

When she is close enough, she gets a treat spit out of my mouth, which just barely clears my body.  If she is too far away, she has to move closer to catch it.  So she quickly tended to come in closer.  I was able to add the refinement where she got cookies from both hands if as she sat down from the catching, if she was straight. 

Needless to say, it took very little for my little genius to figure out the pay differential.  The difference was dramatic and in just two short sessions she was really working to be straight and close – taking responsibility for getting it right.  You know this kid always works the angles…

(Epiphany #2) At nosework class Dorothy asked me how our trial went and what I learned.  In the course of talking about it, I explained how frustrated Gimme got about not getting peanut butter when she thought she was supposed to and the disastrous consequences in containers. 

Which led to Dorothy asking me, and discussing with the class, why I/we weren’t using our best motivators for nosework.  (I always love how she uses examples from her own training too)  An odor obedient dog is one who actively searches for and goes to source odor and odor obedience is only as strong as the association a dog has between odor and the reward for finding it.  So… why wouldn’t a person use their dog’s highest value reward?

In my case, its been twofold.  One, using peanut butter is time consuming.  Gimme has to spend time licking the go toob and if she gets a blob, then she has to lick her leg to clear her mouth.  This will cost us in nosework where placements are separated by just a few seconds.  Two, I could use peanut butter cookies (as I do in agility), but if any crumbs drop on the floor, we’d be faulted.  So, those are the reasons I had for not using peanut butter.

The next day I was thinking about it and pondered whether there were such a thing as peanut butter chips (like chocolate and butterscotch chips).  A quick internet search and I discovered there are – they are made by the Reese’s division of Hershey’s.  So today I checked my local grocery and found them.  I tested Gimme when I got home.  Given a choice between PB chips and garlic pork - chips won, paws down.

Gimme and I have already started working with them.  I just did a quick session offering her two hands – one with odor and one with PB chips.  She quickly learned mugging the hand with the PB chips got nothing, while paw-hold and multiple nose-bumps to the odor hand made PB chips land there.  I was even able to really strengthen the concept by teasing her with the PB chips while she was doing the paw-hold/nose-bump to odor and she caught on to this distinction as well.  Lo and behold, resisting the distraction/attraction of PB smell gets you PB chips.  Who knew?

In class/training/practice I will mostly use peanut butter from the go toob (which isn’t going to result in a sugar high), because time isn’t a factor.  I could even use PB cookies at those times because crumbs won’t cost me.  But from time to time I’ll use the PB chips, so I can be practiced at using our highest value reward for a trial. 

I’m really excited to see how Gimme’s nosework changes when she realizes she gets her all-time-favorite-number-one-highest-value goodie.  She’s always been pretty solid at odor obedience, but I’ll be watching to see if it gets stronger.  You know I’ll tell you when it does…

Monday, February 24, 2014

Agility (6/1) & Wknd Recap

Tonight was nosework class and they taped all the runs (if we brought our own camera).  I'll wait to blog about it until I have time to review those and can upload them.

Last Thursday was agility class.  It went well enough, but I really don't have anything special to report.  I'd gotten Gimme out for a run on the Fort Lewis training area earlier, so she was pretty focused.  During our first turn, she was avoiding jumps.  I'd had her treated recently, so I knew she should not have been uncomfortable.  I slowed everything down and just got her to jump a half dozen jumps one-by-one.  Afterwards she was fine and the rest of our turn was lovely.  I think she remembered being uncomfortable two weeks before and since we haven't practiced since then, I believe she thought jumping might still hurt.

For our second session, it was a disaster - all because of me.  For the life of me I could not get the course to stick in my head.  We never did do more than short smidgens of the course, but Gimme was doing everything I cued... so I was certainly happy with her efforts.  I can't explain why I couldn't remember the course, I just couldn't.  Oh well...

I do want to talk about our last weekend, but not the nosework trial, which I've already covered in another entry.  We went down to Cowlitz for a barn hunt workshop.  It was just a basic workshop, which we don't need, but I'd talked to the organizer telling her what I wanted to do - which was basically to have Gimme experience multiple rat finds.  I didn't think she would have any difficulty with it, but did want to try it before I entered a trial.

Mock Instinct Test
So we did the whole basic workshop.  I have to say every time this girl gets near rats, her intensity just doubles.  During the "introduction to rat" when she gets to smell them and see them in a little cage, she was completely over the top.  I was barely able to drag her away.  All the other people were amazed to see how intense she was.  She did fine on the mock instinct test - no surprise, since she already has the instinct title twice.

obligatory Barn Hunt butt shot
Then she did a regular novice run.  She discovered, when I'm "undressing" her (the dogs have to run naked), she could just back out of my arms and take off without waiting for me to release her.  Fortunately I experienced this in the workshop instead of a trial.  The next run I got down on my knees behind her instead of beside her, her essentially sitting in between my knees - thus no place for her to back up and it worked well.

Second Find
I have since bought her another different harness to use in barn hunt, so hopefully we can get back her loose leash walking if she never gets to pull like a maniac in her front-hook walking harness again.  I need to practice our starts using the new harness.  I'm going to use a Kong with peanut butter in it as the "lure", so I can figure out where to place my hands while I'm unhooking it and she's less than cooperative.

Our last run was a two rat search.  When Gimme found the first one, she was being her usual over-the-top self and trying to keep it from being taken away, when I told her "Thank you.  Find another one."  I use this cue in nosework to tell her to look for more odor.  Amazingly, she just stopped, looked at me for an intense half-second, then took off to find the other rat.  I was just so proud of her.  To see her respond correctly to a cue she'd only heard in the context of nosework, in this entirely different context - well, it was cool.  But then we already knew she's a genius.

I'd seen a group holding a weight pull in a nearby building.  I asked if it was possible to try it with my dog and the lady said if someone had a harness in her size, they could let us try it at the end of the day after the trial ended.  So after our workshop was over, I watched weight pulling through to the end.  It is mostly Pit Bulls, but a smattering of other breeds, to include one woman with four toy poodles.

There was a harness available in the correct size, so Gimme got to try weight pull.  I was so proud of her because the woman who dressed her was pretty rough and intrusive, without any introduction or finesse.  Gimme handled it well, though I could tell she thought her very rude.  Gimme pulled the cart three times.  The first time she was kinda worried about the feel of the harness straps against her legs and the bar moving behind her, but was willing to pull while licking peanut butter.  The second time she was a little more comfortable and pulled with the peanut butter just as a lure, despite turning to look at the huge old cart coming after her (there is a person behind it acting as a brake to make sure it doesn't run up on the dogs).

The third time she just pulled because I was in front of her and cheering her on.  I could tell she was kinda enjoying the experience.  I was pretty certain she would like the challenge.  The cart she pulled on smooth and level ground weighs 340 pounds.  For the novice title she would need to pull eight times her own weight, so between 360 and 400 pounds, depending on how much she weighs at weigh in.  So her easy pull was nearly enough to qualify for a title leg.

To get a weight pull championship, she'd have to accumulate 100 points.  Points are assessed based on how much weight she pulls successfully each day.  They can earn 5, 10, 15 or 20 points.  She'd get 5 points for pulling ten times her own weight (450-500 pounds).  I'm sure she could do it, since the 340 pounds was so very easy for her.

I'll want to do some training and conditioning for her.  I'll have to buy the pulling harness for her, as well as a 4 wheel garden cart from Home Depot.   We can start just pulling it around the neighborhood.  Then I can load it up with cinder blocks and let her pull it around for conditioning.  We have some shallow inclines which would be good for conditioning.

I just love seeing all the things this girl can do.  So far I'm thinking Barn Hunt is her all time favorite.  Still she likes doing new things and conquering challenges, so we have plenty of things we can do together.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trial Report

I didn't intend to take so long to report on our weekend, but wanted to wait for the final results to be posted.  Gimme did very well, but one little goof and we missed the title.  The show site was was a manufacturing company and it really worked out great.  The weather was N-A-S-T-Y, but we lucked out to have the rain hold off when we were running outdoors.  The group that held the trial did a fabulous job AND got us out of there by 4:10 p.m.  A first, since I've never left show grounds before 6:30 p.m. before.  They need to bottle what they are doing and sell it.

Exterior  We started with this HUGE area, that contained miscellaneous junk and a large boat.  It also had two areas that we were restricted from entering (for dog safety), so I was glad we'd covered that concept in a recent class with Dorothy.  The wind was blowing hard all day, but the search area was in the lea of a very large/tall building so it wasn't a problem.  I was quite concerned about the size of the area, but need not have been.  Gimme was focused and sure, dismissing much of the search area with a casual sniff toward it.  She found both hides very quickly (one on some large metal contraption and the other on the boat trailer) and came away with 2nd Place for a time of 56.53 seconds.  If I were quicker to call alert we'd'a had first place, which we missed by just under 3.5 seconds.  (31 out of 34 dogs qualified in the exterior)

Vehicles  This contained a large truck and three forklifts.  I was glad that in our various practices we had already done forklifts.  Gimme dismissed all three as she went by them on the perimeter.  She quickly zeroed in on the back of the truck and then scooted down the side of it and got the other.  Gimme found both in 47.45 seconds, taking 1st Place.  We were ahead of the second place dog by just under 3.5 seconds.  Good thing Gimme didn't waste any time on the forklifts.  (24 of 34 qualified in vehicles)

Gimme and I lounged around in the car for quite awhile, sharing strawberries.  After lunch we did the next two elements.

Interiors  These were both fairly small rooms.  There was 2 hides in the first room and 1 in the second. 
Room 1 -- Gimme blasted by the threshold, but I didn't feel like I could hold back since the workers and everyone were coming in right behind me.  I guess I could have, making them watch through the open door.  Gimme sniffed a binder clip laying on the floor, but didn't alert.  I wondered if it had odor in it, especially since it was just laying there right out in the open and Gimme seemed to be checking everything around it.  Finally she sniffed it again and then alerted.  I really think she just didn't believe it could be there.  Then she scanned around the room in various places, but wasn't settling on anything.  There was one desk area she hadn't been around, so I moved toward it to draw her to it.  In doing so, I drew her past the threshold hide, which she quickly sourced and alerted.
Room 2 -- Gimme went behind the desk in the room and very quickly focused on a metal thing that looked kinda like a tow bar.  She detailed it and alerted in just over 11 seconds.
Her total time for interiors was 1:23.47, bringing her in at 8th place.  I think we wasted far too much time on the first hide, thus I foresee some interior searches with office supplies on the floor.  (18 of 34 qualified in interiors)

Containers  This proved to be our undoing.  Unfortunately after interiors the steward told me to have a seat and she'd come back to get me, so I thought we had time.  Gimme asked me for peanut butter and I started getting it out for her when the steward showed up.  So, knowing how long it takes her to finish clearing her mouth when she has a big glob, I only gave her a little lick.  I should have just made them wait on us (we were the last dog for the day), because not getting what she thought she was about to get really frustrated Gimme.  I knew she was frustrated by the way she left the start line and searched the area.  And sure enough, after barely searching, she alerted on a big empty bag and was scratching the dickens out of it - so I called it.  "So there!" she said.  (5 of 34 qualified in containers)

Only one dog actually titled at this trial.  Gimme's total time (including a full time assessment for the failed containers) was 5:07.45.  The overall first place dog's time was 5:58.66... So had we gotten that container hide, Gimme would have been high in trial with a comfortable margin of 51 seconds.

The Certifying Official really loved Gimme.  She raved about her so much, I was glad to know Gimme was safely locked in the car.  Penny Scott-Fox, the CO, gave the best and most informative debrief of the trial elements and what we should be working on.  Keeping in mind that at NW1, 95% of the responsibility is on the dog.  For NW2, the dog's job gets harder because of intentional distractions and inaccessible hides, while the handler's job increases in difficulty a LOT and in ways that aren't apparent.  At NW2 the responsibility is pretty much 50/50.

The container that 29 of us missed was an upright bag with the odor in a front pocket and facing out of the search area.  Anyone who didn't check it from the "outside" wasn't likely to catch odor.   She said at this level we should start every container element as a perimeter search, going around the outside of every bag, and work with no more than 6 foot of line. 

The biggest thing we need to work on is me being more directive in the search on the container element.  In the past Gimme hasn't been inclined toward being guided, but in a recent class we discovered she is more willing to accept it now.  Originally we searched containers on a 25 foot line and now I'm using about half that, so getting down another half will be challenging.  Still, I think its doable if I let her blast off the start line as she always does - then carefully reel her in and take more control.  I'm hoping doing so gradually will keep her from getting frustrated while allowing me to take advantage of Penny's advice.  I also realized I have all "flat" stuff for my container practices, thus I see a trip to Goodwill in my future.

Friday, February 14, 2014


I didn't check the mail before doing the earlier post and picture of Gimme with her rat toys.  Just came back from servicing one of my accounts and decided I better check it.  Lo and behold, two packages and more rats!  

Here is a series of pictures I took.  I gave Gimme all three of the plush rats and she just laid there and played with them... first one and then another - for the longest time.  She was really quite gentle; she usually dispatches plush toys pretty quickly.  I'm wondering if one or all of them will become the pseudo babies the next time it rolls around.


Okay, I admit it.  I really have nothing better to do on Valentine's than to take pictures of too-cute-for-words Gimme playing with her stuffed rat toys.  It works for us...

Valentine Dreams

Here is my little sweetie, dreaming of a Barn Hunt workshop with real rats and a nosework trial.  She's getting quite the little collection of rat toys...  The one in the middle is the newest, from Auntie Tana... its much cuter than is evident in the picture...  

I've always been fascinated with the all the heart-shapes Gimme has.  She has a lot of interesting shapes besides hearts...  Can you see Mickey?
Admittedly, some of the hearts I see are a bit fanciful, but some are quite distinct.  Since they are dark chocolate and on my sweetie... it seemed only appropriate to include pictures for this Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I do love my smarty-pants girl.  We've done several different nosework practices today and she's been brilliant at all of them.

We started with two different sessions on her indicator.  Remember, I want paw-hold and multiple nose-bumps.  So I started with an anise tin in my hand and rewarded her for putting her paw on my hand and repeatedly nose-bumping it.  Then I did some with it held between my knees, rewarding the same thing - paw-hold and multiple nose-bumps.  Then I placed the tin on our "ottoman" (a pile of cushions).  She got rewarded as long as the tin stayed put AND there was paw-hold and multiple nose-bumps.  This means she had to exercise extra care with her paw-hold, to be sure she didn't accidentally knock it to the floor.  Naturally there was no punishment for knocking it to the floor... just no treat and delay while I picked it up and replaced it. 

An hour later we did the same thing with a birch tin.  First in my hand, then between my knees and then on our "ottoman".  Gimme did much better this time at not knocking the tin to the floor.  She's brilliant methinks.  Her taking extra care with her paw-hold is a new step that I want her to start thinking about.  I probably won't work that again between now and the trial on Sunday, because I don't usually like to introduce new stuff within a week of trialing. 

After that I went to work and when I came back I set two threshold hides... three feet from the office door (in the hallway) and just three feet apart.  I learned a valuable thing with this...  *I* need to take care to not blast into the search area.  Gimme's tendency is to blast in and I just go with her.  However, if I stay put near the threshold, lo and behold, she comes back to search it more carefully.  She found the birch hide quickly... the anise took longer.

Then back in the office she went, while I set an inaccessible hide (both odors) in the crate in the living room.  When we did the search, it took her awhile to find it, but when she did, she was very definite.  She got a treat for finding it and telling me, then I opened the crate and let her go in and get a lot more treats for multiple nose-bumps.  This is something I was reminded of from the Advanced Nosework course in the Fenzi Academy.  To be fair, I learned to make it accessible in the Inaccessible Hides seminar, but I had not been doing it.  And the times it was happening in our old classes, we hadn't been making them accessible either - which accounts for why Gimme is so willing to alert on fringe odor.  That reminder itself is worth what I paid for the bronze membership.

And then back in the office she went while I set two more hides, well apart from each other.  When we went in to search again, Gimme was checking out the crate, so I opened the door and let her go in.  She snooped and then left it.  I was still getting the crate door latched, when I looked around and realized she had alerted on the birch hide, just four feet away and was staying right there with it.  Demanding payment, doncha know!

Afterwards she spent an excessively long time looking for the anise hide.  She went so close to it so many times and was so obviously still looking, so I concluded the q-tips must be weak.   It took her significantly longer than I thought it should to find the anise tin on the threshold hides.  Thus, I've since refreshed the q-tips in that tin with new ones in case we do more searches tomorrow.

She just went outside to tinkle and when she came back in gave me the most disgusted look.  Clearly I had plenty of time to set more hides and failed to do so.  What is the world coming to?!?!

Nosework (4/1 & 5/1)

Gimme got to see her Tonya yesterday for bodywork and energy work.  Tonya said her energy is very "sticky" right now (as opposed to "stuck").  I also got Tonya to do energy work on my left foot, the one with the plantar fasciitis.  It was very interesting and I'll definitely be doing some more of it.

I didn't report on last week's nosework class, partly because I found it frustrating.  Most of it was very good, but it ended on an annoying note.  We started with a big bunch of boxes (about 30) and revisited what we did when they were first learning, which was, food in the boxes so the dogs can reward themselves.  The idea is that it builds drive and enthusiasm to revisit the basics from time to time.  Gimme thought that was a ton of fun.

After that we had an exterior search, in a very challenging area.  It was challenging because of the way the breeze was moving and having an area restriction.  Its possible in a trial we might be told not to let our dogs step in a specific area or put their feet on specific shelving/furniture.  In this case it was a very inviting strip of grass that had been peed on by coyote.  Gimme did really well and wasn't even too interested in the coyote smell, probably because she has smelled it so often on the Fort Lewis training areas.  One cool thing I realized was how much better she is doing with restrictions and not getting frustrated right away.  She's growing up...

Our last search was to go back in and revisit the boxes, now set with an odor.  Gimme found it right away and did a very nice indication.  I was thrilled and gave her copious rewards.  Then Dorothy had us move away while she set another hide and moved the first one.  This time Gimme was pawing the first one she found and went completely over the top on the second one.  For some reason she'll gets more excited when she gets to come back right away to search again.  We had the exact same pattern occur a couple weeks before when class was three back-to-back searches on boxes (1, 2 and 3 odors).  The first was good, the second was worse and the third over the top.  It just frustrates me because I know this sets us back a few steps - leaving me with extra work at home to regain that ground.  I realize as long as I'm in classes this is going to be the case, but its annoying nonetheless....

Last night we did three interesting searches.  We came in to see 40 empty water bottles laid around the sides of the room.  About ten of them had odor in them.  The first search was to bring the dogs in and turn them loose... observe how they reacted to so much odor and reward any odor indications.  Gimme ran around the room, sniffing all the time, without stopping to follow any particular scent cone to source.  After a little bit, she got down to business and started indicating.  Once she got to work with this new puzzle, she did very nicely.

The second search, all the bottles with odor remained against the walls and the empties were moved to the center of the room.  Again an off leash search.  Gimme was very attracted to the big visual picture of the bottles in the center of the room, so it took her awhile to decide to investigate bottles along the wall.  Once she did though, she did very well finding them all.  There was one in the front corner that was a challenge and she spent a lot of time investigating all over a bunch of stuff across from it, before following the scent cone to the bottle.  Something about the room's air current must've been moving the odor over to the stuff and then it was lingering there.

The last search, all but four of the odor bottles were removed and they were placed in among the bottles in the middle of the floor.  This we did on lead.  Gimme did very well.

I got asked if I do a lot of high hides with her, which I don't.  Her high-head searching is a by-product of our prior classes where the instructor's only idea for how to vary searches or make them inaccessible was to go high.  I've always had to spend at least a week doing a lot of low hides before a trial.  Two-thirds of the hides we did at Susan's were low and all these bottle hides were low... so I don't think I'll have to emphasize it as much this week, though I will do some more.

Remember we have a trial in Clackamas on Sunday.  We are stopping in Cowlitz on the way to the hotel on Saturday, for an afternoon Barn Hunt workshop.  I've worked a deal to get some multi-rat searches for Gimme.  She's totally going to love that.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Walking in the Snow

Yesterday, Gimme, Linda and me went walking on Fort Lewis.  There was a tiny bit of snow.

Here a picture Linda took of Gimme posing...  She's very consistent... the minute she sees a camera, she stops and poses.

Later that day, it started snowing to beat the band.  Woke up this morning to about 5 inches of it.  Here are some pictures I took.

Gimme cavorting in the snow in our yard...  She was too busy cavorting to stand still and pose doncha know...

My side yard, snow on the tunnels.

I thought it interesting to see a snow ball formed on top of the fence post.  Also, here is the water dish - a frozen block of ice inside and cute little snow ruffle on top.

About 2pm its supposed to start raining, its already warming up and the snow is melting.  Then we will head out to Yelm to meet Susan for some nosework practice in her garage.  If its as warm as its supposed to be, we may also take time to watch her nosework video from Leerburg.  They have some interesting training practices.

I've also been taking the Advanced Nosework class from the Fenzi online dog training academy.  In some ways its been disappointing.  In other ways I am learning interesting stuff.  Not sure I'd recommend it to someone who didn't already have a good idea of what they are doing, but it has value for someone who is more experienced.

We are looking forward to getting with Tonya tomorrow afternoon.  After our walk I noticed the hot area in her back had returned.  I did some energy work on it and got some improvement, but I think it was still uncomfortable - hence the crabbiness last night. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Agility (4/1 & 5/1)

I didn't post about last week's class.  So will catch up both at once.

Gimme did well last week, but was a bit wild.  We didn't get in our usual Thursday walk on the fort, so I'm sure that was why.  Once she settled down she did very well and I was really pleased with her.

Blynn gave us two training tasks for the week.  One is to teach Gimme to take jumps when I run by them without me having to cue them; it should be an assumption on her part (assuming I'm not giving her other instructions).  Second was to teach her to do the send to the back side of a jump on a verbal cue.  Gimme does it when my handling is correct, but there are times when it would be more convenient if I could cue her verbally to do it and get to moving down course knowing she would do it.

So it could be something like this.  Its not a hard sequence, but depending on what comes after #3, it might be better if the dog could do it independently.  Blynn is seeing a lot of these sends to the backside in Excellent.

I used the hoop in the house to teach it to her.  "Send" with her on the right was easy, but with her on the left it was really challenging.  I finally concluded its because she turns so much easier to the right, so the moment I stopped handling it (adding distance), she was trying to get to the hoop - going between me and it.  So I taught it to her starting with the hoop set so the side was pointed at us... then gradually rotated it clockwise until it was presented the way we would expect to see a jump.   That mostly went well...   There was another brief segment where she went back to taking it from the front.  I remembered sometimes the best approach with her is to let her sort something out. She did it four times and didn't get rewarded for it, so she went back to doing it my way.

Class tonight started very well.  We did have a fly-off from the dog walk - something she rarely does.  So we did it over and it was perfect then.  Then we got a bail from the teeter.  Did it again and then she was flawless and F-A-S-T for the rest of our turn.  William may have caught it on tape and if I see it I'll post a link.  There was a segment with with back-to-back half-front-crosses and it was very challenging.  I got through it both times and was moving so fast to keep up with my speed demon, I fully expected to have body parts flinging off of me.

For our second session, she just didn't do well.  She didn't want to do the tire again - even though she did it on the earlier session.  We tried working through it with some success.  Then she bypassed a jump and only took it when I presented it extra clear.  I've noticed a pattern with her that she will go under the tire or bail on the teeter if she's not comfortable and sometimes bypasses jumps too.  So we stopped trying to do the course and did a few tricks for Blynn so we could end on a positive note.  It may be that the dogwalk fly-off jolted her back and it just took a bit for it to bother her.

I'm going to email Tonya and get her in as soon as I can for a treatment.  Next week is conveniently a skip week for agility.  And so now I'm going to camp out on the couch with my little girl.  I found a warm spot on her back, so will try to do some energy work for her.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rooting for Home Team

I'm not much of a football fan, but Gimme was quite interested as I'd pop in and out of the game to see what the score was.

Gimme rooted for the Seahawks and they WON a decisive victory.  I'm just sayin...