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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nosework (4/2)

I really don't have anything special to report.  Class was held outdoors with hides in the lawn area alongside the sidewalk.  The first search had 6 hides in the grass.  The second had two higher ones (on a fire hydrant and an electrical conduit box).  The third had both of them, plus two higher ones.

Gimme didn't do very well in the first search.  She finally found them all, but was clearly unfocused - though working.  I realized today is day 16 of her season... and that's about the time that she temporarily looses her working ability.  The ORT that she totally blew, acting as if she'd never heard of odor before was on day 15.  Funny I don't find she has trouble with other work - like obedience or tricks during her hot days, but any scent work seems to be more challenging.

I'd forgotten to bring pairing cookies, so just used some bits of marshmallow that were in the car (in the tin of treats for agility class).  For the second and third searches I smeared the tiniest bit of peanut butter on them and that helped cut through the fog for her.

Dorothy made a comment about how much better Gimme is doing using peanut butter as her sole reward and especially how her paw indicator isn't so forceful.  Of course, there wasn't a box in sight, so I'm sure that was the real reason.  <g>

This is a skip week for agility, so she'll get a break.  I'm planning to take her out to the fort for a romp first thing tomorrow morning - if its available for use.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

NW2 Trial Report

Our trial was a good experience...  Gimme did very well.  I messed her up on the very first search - the exterior.  She was working in the dreaded panties and as usual, paid almost no attention to them, though she did get progressively more resistant to letting me put them on as the day wore on.  We went up the night before, staying at Motel 6.  Susan and I went out for gluten free pizza.

Gimme did well, but I didn't work my plan.  The size of the area was reasonable, not nearly as large as at Clackamas.  I had noticed the cracks in the black top when we did our walk through, but didn't notice the two drainage grates, so my plan was to do a perimeter search, followed by checking the middle of the area and in particular the cracks.  We did the perimeter and then I noticed the grates for the first time... so I had her check them (she was decidedly not-interested), meanwhile checking the cracks flew out of my head.  I should have made it a point to have her check the middle ground of the area, with or without cracks or grates.  Gimme showed some interest in the edge of the vegetation on either side of where the hide actually was and I basically "sold" her on one spot... part of me knew she wasn't committed, but I was also so close to time, so I still called it.  This was a small courtyard, enclosed on three sides with only slight air movement - so she was probably catching odor from the hide where it drifted over and clung to moist vegetation.  When the judge had me walk her along the crack she found it in just seconds.

I called the false alert at 2:25.65, with available time of 2:30.  The judge's comment was "Search was good & dog indicated a couple of times near hide location - Keep workin' it!"  She absolutely did not "indicate" near the hide location... she did show interest, but it wasn't her indication.  Given he saw how her indication looks when she actually found it, I don't know why he used those words.  Sometimes I think because the judges know where the hide is, they read into the dog's behavior, things which aren't definitive for the particular dog.

I have two things I would change.  I had decided since the area wasn't big, to do the search on our 15' line, instead of the 25' line I usually use for exteriors.  Had I been using the longer line, I would not have been as close to Gimme's line of travel, working further from her.  Thus she might have moved closer to the actual hide location on her own.  I'm sure I walked right over it a couple of times, thus making it harder to find.  I'm equally certain others had too, so there was a lot of trace odor tracked all over the search area.  The other thing I'm thinking of is to make a "sleeve" I can wear on my arm with a plastic cover, so I can slip a list behind it to remind me of things I saw in the walk-through.  Even if I forget to check it, I think purposely deciding which reminder words to write might make it more memorable.  In this case, I would have chosen: perimeter, cracks, center, finish.

Gimme did a great job in interiors.  The first room had one hide and 2:30 in time.  Gimme found it in no time (likely 10 seconds), but I fiddle farted around rewarding her, clipping her leash on and was preparing to walk out when I noticed the judge looking at me with his head quizzically and expectantly tilted, and then remembered to call "finish", a new requirement.  We aren't faulted for not doing it, but the time keeps running until we do, so our time of 35.83 seconds doesn't reflect Gimme's efforts.  For the second room we had two hides and 3 minutes.  Gimme nailed both of them and I called finish in a timely way, so our time was just 44.89 seconds.  Our total time was 1:20.72 and we got 3rd Place.  Given how long I took calling finish in the first room, I was not expecting a placement.  It'll be interesting to see how far we were behind the first and second dogs, so I can berate myself for costing us a higher placement.  The judge's comment was "Nice job!"

One thing I was especially pleased to see happened with the second hide of the second room.  Gimme localized where the odor was, but kept on detailing until she was sure exactly where it was on the swivel chair - and then she marked the exact spot with her paw.  Ever since we did the Inaccessible Hides seminar last Fall, Gimme has lacked precision, tending toward "good enough".  I always prized her accuracy before, so was really happy to see signs she is getting it back.

A funny thing happened in the second room.  As I was rewarding Gimme I knelt down to make it easier to clip the line on her harness.  Although she loves her new PB chips, she thought she deserved more and did a nose dive into my treat back just as I was trying to stand up.  Gimme has learned to pick her feet up off the ground when she bag-dives, to make it harder for me to dislodge her.  In this case, not only couldn't I dislodge her, I could barely get to my feet.  Everyone found it quite amusing.  I love even the twit in this girl.

There were 24 containers (4 boxes and the rest all luggage and small containers) set in four parallel lines.  I did stick with my plan to let her rush in and then gradually become more directive.  Gimme squashed a couple boxes stepping on them, but then got fixated on a black bag at the far end.  I could tell she wasn't giving me all four parts of her container indication, but was still sticking to the bag.  So I said to her, "I can tell you are lying, so lets move on."  To which she gave a very audible and theatrical sigh before moving along.  The spectators were really struggling to keep the tittering down to a dull roar (people were still talking about the "lying Dalmatian" as I was getting into my car to leave 2 hours later.  I guess we all have to have our own claim to fame.

From there Gimme went on to find the real two odor bags.  She wasn't locating the second one, until I remembered to make sure I moved her around the outside of the containers (a perimeter) and then she was right on it.  Our time was 2:04.08, out of 3 minutes.  The judge's comment was "Search pattern might help so you don't miss anything.  You might get faults in future NW if dog continues to be overzealous w/container pawing _ Just a suggestion.  Otherwise, very nice search."

Personally I thought she should have been faulted - I would have had I been the judge.  She did so well with her indicators in the last two trials, so I admit I've been lax about her indicator training since then. Clearly, since pawing is such an ingrained preference for her... keeping up with the moderated paw-hold-nose-bump indication training will be something we need to continue throughout her nosework career.  Funny the judge thought we might benefit from a search pattern - he was seeing us with a search pattern.  <eg>

Incidentally, there was NOTHING in the lying bag...  no distractors, no nothing.  However it turns out a number of dogs alerted on it and were quite persistent.  Since we were last for being in season, Gimme was catching the smell of their excitement and likely reacting to it.  Thank God I can read her and know the difference between what she did and the real deal.

Gimme was brilliant!  There were three trucks and a tractor towing a disc grader.  The disc grader probably had dead vermin smell on it and they said a lot of dogs were fascinated by it.  Gimme never went near it.  As we crossed the threshold, she did the head/shoulder wag Dorothy saw at our last class, then turned left between the two nearest trucks.  She briefly sniffed the near side of the third truck and then sped around it to nail odor on the back tire.  She was moving so fast, I was only barely able to keep up.  We called "alert-finish" at the 19.77 second mark (3 minutes allowed).  Judge commented: "Nice job."  We got 3rd Place for our efforts.  There was less than 2.5 seconds between first and third placements, so I don't think we could have improved our time.  Gimme was delightfully direct.

I do think Gimme is really liking the peanut butter rewards.  It doesn't mean she doesn't try to get me to give her PB while we are waiting, but she is not frustrated if she doesn't get it.  And, I can always give her PB chips instead.  I actually played Ping-Pong treats with her while waiting to go into the vehicle search, keeping her well entertained.  Interestingly, vehicles were our fastest and most focused search, despite being the end of a long day.  So I'll be trying Ping-Pong while waiting for all the elements at our next trial to see if it helps overall.

I was very happy with her efforts.  I just wish I could get some decent handling and trial strategy instruction instead of learning everything the hard way.  Based on my conversations with other competitors, handling and strategy does not seem to be available from CNWIs.  Which explains why so many people are spending an inordinate amount of time in NW2.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Agility (4/2)

We started the day going to Susan's for nosework practice.  Gimme did well.  As we were setting up we saw a little mouse running along the edge of the wall and then saw it here and there throughout our practice.  I was sure that would be the end of things for Gimme and I was happily shocked to see her ignore the enticing mouse smell with just the tiniest reminder.  I sure didn't expect that, given her fascination with all things rodentia.

I wasn't entirely committed to getting out to the fort for a walk, but decided after being such a good girl about the mouse, she deserved a walk where she could poke her nose into any mouse hole she could find.  Six, to be exact.

Tonight she was especially good in agility class.  It was the fastest and longest run-yo-kiester-off course Blynn has ever set for us.  There were four puppy accelerators (tunnels) and one place the course had three of them set back-to-back.  Gimme was a tiny bit unfocused on her first run, but once she got focused, she was great. 

For the second run, she was just plain brilliant, so Blynn was able to really focus her attention on my handling.  Because we were able to refine my handling, we got through a couple of really challenging sequences.  Gimme continues to astound me at how quickly and confidently she picks up totally new stuff in agility.  I think since she's only seen APHS handling, which is so intuitive to the dogs, she is able to make big leaps in understanding.  Its unusual for me to need to show her something a third time.  She doesn't always generalize something new, especially if we don't see it again right away, but overall I think she does generalize faster than the average dog. 

Sadly I forgot to take a disc with me, so don't have videos for you.  However William is going to hold them on his computer, so I can probably get them next week. 

We are off to Salem Oregon for an NW2 trial (Saturday).  I'll be leaving mid-afternoon tomorrow.  So there probably won't be another blog entry until we get back.  Cross any body parts you can spare.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nosework (3/2)

Since its light out later and the weather is improving, all our searches were outside - though it was still pretty brisk. 

We had two back-to-back exterior searches.  One was a smallish area and Gimme got caught up in lingering odor from the prior class' second hide.  Also, to be fair to her, the actual odor source was blowing right over it, so she was getting fresh odor as well.  When I didn't pay for it, she then tracked it down to source.  Fortunately we should never get lingering odor in a trial, because she believed it and was indicating like it was the real deal - so I would have called it.

For the second of the two searches, it was a very large area.  Gimme went past the near hide and got to the farther one very quickly.  Then she moved away, got another lingering odor and followed the scent plume out to its end and back again before locating the other hide.  She's done this before and I've heard from several knowledgeable sources, some dogs just hunt using this technique, so I don't worry about it.

For our second run, they moved the first hide in the small area, as well as the near hide from the large area.  Gimme went to where she'd found it before and then quickly sourced it to the place she'd caught lingering before - giving me a look to say, "see, I told you it was here."  The larger area she also went to the near location where she'd found it before, went pretty directly to the one which hadn't moved, then went on to quickly locate the new one (lingering she'd found before). 

This is kind of hard to describe and so don't feel bad if you can't picture this.  It was frustrating to me because she was getting caught up in lingering and buying into it.  On a positive note, Dorothy pointed out a thing Gimme does where she swings her head/shoulders back and forth very quickly when she is trying to make a decision.  Whether the decision is between two odors or what, its just a tell which says she's at a decision point and I'd never noticed it before.  Dorothy saw her do it twice on these searches and I missed it both times.

However our third search was vehicles and she did it right off the startline.  She was facing the rear end of a vehicle and the breeze was blowing from about 10 o'clock.  These were two vans set bumper to bumper, with odor on both bumpers.  This is the same hide she did so well on at Nooksack.  From where we started, she could actually have been getting both odors.  She finally decided on going up the near side, but not before I got her all tangled up in her line.  She found the first hide very quickly, then passed between the two bumpers and up the far side... when she got to the other end, somewhat in the lee of the building, she followed the plume directly to the second hide.  It was pretty nice to see.

Our class discussion was about the affect of cold on scent.  Which then morphed to cold and moisture and from there to hydration for the dog.  With my recent weekend experience, I introduced the hydration issue and it was nice to talk about it.  On the way home I was contemplating other things I could do to get Gimme to drink more water if I ever leave home unprepared again.  Given how much she loves peanut butter, I could simply smear a bit on the bottom of the dish and cover it with water.  She'd have to drink the water to get to it.

Barn Hunt Trial Rpt #2

First off, I have corrected the day one report.  I was mistaken about how much time the dogs had for a run in Open... so Gimme actually finished her run with 35.41 seconds to spare.  Yeah Gimme.

Day two she was a good girl, however I should be flogged.  For our first run I totally blew it, stealing a perfectly good run from Gimme's capable paws.  She was repeatedly sniffing a high spot and then leaving it.  I was thinking to myself, maybe it was a rat when I heard someone say "Rat"... and then looked down to see Gimme had already left it.  Bad me, blurt alert again.  Keep in mind at Open level they are required to set one up above ground level.  At Senior and Masters they can be at any level. 

The judge said "no" and started to direct me to the nearest rat - because they always want the dogs to end with a rat (even at the highest level).  So she's showing me a rat saying, "Here's a rat", then turns and says, "or you could go with the one your dog found."  And I turn to see Gimme has located the other rat tube and is going ballistic on it.  Clearly someone needs to learn to keep her mouth shut and watch her dog work.

In the afternoon I definitely kept quiet until I was 150% sure Gimme was on a rat.  She found the first rat pretty quickly.  She's happy to leave them now, when I say "Thank you, find another", but comes right back when she sees the rat wrangler removing it saying, "Hey, I get to keep one as a prize, so just put it in our car."

She found the second rat fast, but left it and went to check around the ring.  Then she came back, left it and checked the ring again.  Since she wasn't committing to it, I used my movement to get her into areas she hadn't searched yet.  When she didn't show any real interest in those, I went back to the spot and asked her to check it again.  Oftentimes we can see or figure out where tubes are, so its a rule: handlers have to use a sweeping motion in place of pointing.

Gimme went right to it and wasn't showing strong commitment, so I asked her to "show me."  She didn't do anything overt, but stayed there and just looked at me, "So whadya want Mom, written instructions?"  I called it and we were right.  She finished our run with 17.37 seconds left.

I don't know why she didn't indicate the second rat strongly like she ususally does.  There could be several reasons.  It was in a somewhat awkward location.  She could be developing a pattern of being more subtle after her first rat find.  Maybe she doesn't like someone "stealing" her rats after she finds them.  Then again, it was the end of the weekend, so she may simply have been a little tired.  So I'll be watching and considering in subsequent trials to see if there is a pattern.

Of course there is no sign here to show she was tired when we got home.  I notice this morning all her toys are scattered around the floor from last night.    There are six in the office where she brought them as I checked email.  There are three in the bathroom, including the one she "accidentally" allowed to fall in the tub. 

By the way... my system of taking her outside the ring to a place where I've stashed a peanut butter cookie, is working.  She now knows the routine and is coming to me in the ring when I call her to have her collar put back on and then drags me to where I showed her the hidden.  And she continues to be less interested in other dogs when she knows there are rats to be found.  She wasn't quite so blase' about them as the last trial, but then she is in season.  One person walked by within five feet of the ring with her dog (they are supposed to stay back 10 feet) just as I released Gimme on her second run and she headed toward it.  I thought she was going to yell at the other dog, but she was really just going to search the area first.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Barn Hunt Trial Rpt #1

We had a good day and I'm exhausted.  Gimme apparently is not tired, since she keeps bringing me toys.

For our first Open run, Gimme did a good job, finding both rat tubes and coming away with 2nd place.  One of the rat tube placements was kinda challenging.  She wasn't blazing fast, but still came in at 35.41 seconds under course time.  On her second run, she just couldn't find the second tube, though she never stopped looking.

In hindsight, I don't think I kept her hydrated well enough during the day - which is crucial for any kind of scent work.  Those nasal passages have to be really moist to do their best work.  On the way back to the car after our second run, Gimme drank a lot at a puddle.  Thus I realized I hadn't made sure she drank enough water during the day.  We just got home minutes ago and she was insistent I fill her bowl immediately and she polished it all off. I'm putting some of the leftover chicken stock cartons in the car (I got them when she was at the kennel last November).  They are easy to store, I can use them to add flavor to her water to ensure she drinks water during the day.

I also plan to make another modification to her Barn Hunt harness... just a simple change so it will come off easily in the ring.  The new rules go into effect in June and we can be penalized for delay before and after the run. 

Gimme did a great job responding to "Thank you, find another one".  Each time, she took off to look for another rat.  However, when she saw the rat wrangler taking the tube she just found, she came back and bounced up and down, offering to take the rat to our car.

Now she and I have a date with the couch. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Agility (3/2)

We started the day with a 2.5 mile walk, which is always enjoyable.  Often we just walk and other times I try to train something.  Today we worked on learning to tug away from home.  This has been something I've wanted to get her doing for a long time.  Gimme loves to tug at home, but has almost no interest any other location.  Something Ian Dunbar said (two evening seminars this week) really clicked in my head and I tried it.  What he said wasn't new, it just clicked in the moment for this particular thing.  Happily it worked and we got some nice short tugs.  So we're on our way.  We also worked on her emergency recall.  Now that summer is coming, we'll be seeing a lot more of other walkers with their dogs, so I wanted to give it a tune up, which went well.

From there we went to Home Depot where we met Susan for a nosework practice.  There was nothing really special about it - just good searches.  We did vehicles, interior and exterior.  Gimme did a nice job, but then she always does.

Agility class tonight presented some interesting challenges.  One of which I will try to set up and train.  William taped them for us.  He's found it is just entirely too time intensive to download them to youtube because of how big the files are.  So now we are each bringing our own disks and he loads them up and sends them home with us.  I have to run a conversion on them so I can edit them with the software on my computer. 

Gimme did really well in class and especially considering she was doing it all in the dreaded panties.  Actually she doesn't pay much attention to them.  I was glad to use them in class because we'll be running Barn Hunt in them this weekend, so it was nice to gear her brain up to them before then.  There were a couple of distracted moments, but overall I thought she showed nice focus. 

We had a problem with a specific jump to aframe sequence.  Gimme going in the tunnel under the aframe and she isn't a tunnel sucker.  Of course the real problem was my line to the aframe, at the last moment I'd have to move wide to keep from tripping over the tunnel myself and Gimme would then get drawn right into the tunnel.  We did several things to work her through it.  I thought Blynn was going to die when I gave Gimme the "creativity cookie" for jumping on the tunnel and side-mounting the aframe (when Blynn was blocking the tunnel). 

In the end it wasn't Gimme's problem.  Dogs will always pay more attention to motion cues.  If there is a conflict between motion cues and verbal cues, motion cues win.  Because of the location of the other jump, I couldn't take the sequence in a straight line.  The solution was to simply give Gimme the verbal "climb" cue much sooner, so she could move ahead of me and take the aframe before I needed to move away.  Well duh...

She did a good job on her second run.  The stop in the poles was a total crack up... I swear the way she snapped back, it was like there was odor there.  She's never done that before, so it was kinda weird.  I can see the rear cross on the flat before the weaves was really bad handling... so we could practice that.  Still I was pleased with both runs how nicely she got into the weaves on challenging entries.  I couldn't figure out at the time what Blynn meant when she said I stepped right in front of her at the double, but on video you'll see that I stepped into her at the end of the weaves, which changed her line and made the double "inconvenient". 

The sequence I want to try working on at home is the first part of this course, the way Blynn had me try to work it at the end of this run.  I want to do it the way I teach a 270 turn... starting with the jumps set for a 180 and then gradually move the second one until it turns into a 270.  I'm sure that would make it very clear to Gimme what I was trying to get her to do.  She got through it, but it was far from smooth and I'm thinking she didn't really learn anything. 

This weekend we are going to our second Barn Hunt trial, competing at the open level.  We'll have four runs and only need 3 legs to title.  Cross your fingers for us.  No matter how it goes, Miss Gimme will have a blast.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nosework (2/2)

Just came from class, it was interesting.

They had cordoned off the front one-third of the room and using expens and sheets, made three long narrow channels.  The channel next to the wall was a dead end.

The first time we came in there was no odor in this area.  They set a single hide in the bathroom, but the door was shut.  Our task was to simply observe how the dog acted (off leash), what they looked like when searching an area with no odor.  Then when we thought they'd done all the looking they wanted to, we took them to the bathroom to end with an easy hide.

Interestingly all the more experienced dogs put effort into searching an area where they smelled no odor - they seemed to trust that if we said search there must be something there.  Gimme was even making that chuffing noise, which I only hear when she is working especially hard.  Still her demeanor was very calm throughout.  As I put my hand on her harness to guide her toward the bathroom, the bathroom door was opened and you could really tell the instant she caught the odor even though we were still 20 feet away and around a corner.  Suddenly she was very intense and very interested.

For our second run there was one hide on a chair at the far end of the channel by the wall.  The sheets didn't go all the way to the ground, so all the dogs caught it from the middle channel.  Of the dogs I got to watch, Gimme was the only one that figured out without help to go to the other end of the middle channel so she could get into the channel by the wall.

From there we went back into the entry alcove while they set a second hide.  As we re-entered the area, Gimme immediately went to the far channel to the first hide she'd found.  She never forgets something she gets peanut butter for finding.  Then she found the other one pretty quickly.

Our last search was the other two-thirds of the room, where they had 9 plastic chairs set in a 3 by 3 grid and three hides forming a triangle.  The search would have been really easy, except they had all the overhead fans on.  Gimme found two hides really quickly, but the third one just seemed to take her a long time.  In hindsight, it reminded me of when she got caught in converging odor at the Nooksack trial interior. 

I wish I had taken a moment to put her on leash.  She's the fastest dog in class and sometimes that works to our detriment.  I think she slows down and gets more focused when I put her on leash part way through a search, so it would have been an interesting experiment to try it here where she was having difficulty. 

BTW she is coming in season and so will be wearing the dreaded panties for the Barn Hunt trials this weekend and for the NW2 trial the following Saturday.  Naturally the NW2 trial is at exactly the hardest part of her season for her to focus... wouldn't ya know it...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fun Day & Agility (2/2)

What a busy day we've had.  Recently I decided (again) to work to get Gimme's car whining under control.  It always occurs going TO some place and then the last five minutes coming home. Its more of a yodel than a whine, very loud and high pitched.  Its quite stressful for me, as well as distracting.  I've tried so many things and none have been successful.

I've tried filling a Kong before, but it didn't work well enough or long enough to get places.  I now realize the Kong wasn't as big as we needed.... and I wasn't employing it in the right way.  I've tried different things this last ten days and have hit upon a solution that works.  For one thing, I have a Kong which is substantially larger than the other two.  I'd purchased it for her stay at the kennel so she could take her evening meal in it, thus entertaining her more than just inhaling food from a bowl.  I've tried peanut butter, but it takes sooooo much to cover the 25 minute drive to the fort, it would simply be unhealthy.  So I'm now filling it with rice and raw hamburger and not giving her breakfast or if later in the day a very small breakfast. 

It worked today and was just wonderful to have peace and quiet.  Gimme only resorted to fussing when we actually got on the training area grounds.  So I let her out of her crate and clicker trained her to sit in the front seat.  By entertaining her while I drove (completely safe in this setting), she was able to be quiet. 

Someone was parked in our usual spot, so we drove around to the top area and parked.  I let Gimme out and we started walking.  We hadn't gone more than 20 feet from the car when I noticed Gimme staring into a clump of trees and saw there were two people and two black dogs just 25 yards from us.  I turned the other way and kept walking, calmly calling her to come with me and SHE DID!  I rewarded her with a lot of peanut butter.  I credit the peaceful ride with this success.  We were both less stressed and able to respond calmly to this most challenging situation.  I was so happy with her, I was nearly in tears.  I continued praising and treating her as we walked another 50 feet... which I hope will leave a lasting impression.

After our walk we drove out to Susan's, with Gimme contentedly finishing off her Kong.  We did several really nice nosework practice searches.  The only real carrying on occurred when she realized there was stuff going on which I was involved in and she was still in the car.  I'm not sure that will ever change, nor do I care.  Gimme was very good and very focused. She continues to love having peanut butter as the reward for nosework. 

After practice Susan and I watched some more of the Leerburg nosework training videos.  Although I don't agree with everything they are teaching, there is a lot of value in it.  Susan and I are both entered with our dogs in the Mt. Angel nosework trial and both of us are going up the night before.  She changed to my hotel and we are planning to get together for dinner.  We'll both search the internet for a pizza place in Salem with gluten free pizza. 

From there I drove straight to Rochester for agility class.  I was able to improve on all the things I'd noticed on the video's William took from several weeks ago.  I used palm targeting immediately when I took her off leash and was able to get her to the start line the first time without big zoomies.  There was just one tiny loop, so I just moved closer to her and got her focus back without clapping at her.  We got to the start line and were able to work the course.  Blynn noticed how much more focused Gimme was and how her ability to work through sequences was much improved.  I was also able to focus on actually giving her the verbal cues in a timely manner and Blynn said it was much improved.

Gimme was so much better, thus Blynn was able to focus on teaching me two really challenging handling sequences.  Gimme stayed with me and was able to repeat them multiple times until I got it right.  It was great fun for both of us... because she was rewarded for trying even if I she went off course (obviously because my inaccurate handling sent her there).  When I got my part right, Gimme ran flawlessly and it was the greatest feeling. 

Then Gimme was quiet and contented on the way home.  So all in all, a wonderful day with big improvements, which I think stem from being able to travel from place to place in peace and quiet for both of us.  

I didn't think it was possible to love this girl any more than I already do.  Still with such a perfect day behind us (rain and all), I'm just bubbling over with gooey love for my beautiful babe.  So, now its time for us to snuggle on the couch.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nosework (1/2)

Peanut butter as the exclusive reward for finding odor is already having some positive results.  Not to mention, Gimme just loves it.

Tonight there were three search areas, the entry, the front one-third of the main room and the back two-thirds.  Expens with sheets draped over them separated the two parts of the main room.  Odor had been out for over 24 hours, so it was sure to present an interesting challenge.  The first round was off leash and paired.  The second round unpaired and on leash.

The entry had one hide and the odor was inside a rubber toy on a shelf (its the store).  Apparently a lot of dogs had difficulty with that rubber toy and many dogs were attracted to the crack under the door leading to the office, which is where they store and prepare odor.  Gimme checked the crack under the door, but quickly left it.  She found the odor pretty quickly both times.

The front one-third of the main room had three hides with two tables, a dozen chairs, a wheelchair and miscellaneous stuff.  The hides were 1) on the center of the garage door, about two feet off the ground, 2) centered under the seat of a chair and 3) at floor level right next to the door to the bathroom.  All the boxes with distractions still in them from last week were stacked against the wall in the bathroom, for added challenge.  The first time paired she did a nice job, being quick to get the odors - first the one by the bathroom, then the garage door, and last the chair.

The back two-thirds of the main room had 38 green plastic chairs in it.  The one hide was actually in a little hole in the wall behind an electrical conduit, about 2.5 feet off the ground.  The chairs were a total physch out for both people and dogs.  Many of the dogs spent a lot of time checking the chairs, which may have had pooling odor since the hide had been out so long.  Gimme was pretty direct, catching odor from across the room and quickly working her way to source.

The second round on leash was challenging in the two parts of the main room, simply because of all the stuff to catch it on.  Even though odor wasn't paired for the second round, Gimme was still fast and direct.

Two things I noticed were...

She is already working stronger and more focused using peanut butter as a reward.  There was no hint of "cataloging" (where she notes odor, but then moves on to find the other odor before coming back to indicate the it).  I do think she actually prefers real peanut butter to the PB chips.  She likes the chips plenty, but she was more excited and more driven for the second round when she realized I was using the go toob.  For the second round with the real peanut butter, she went directly to the chair (4 ft from the door), then to the garage door and last to the hide by the bathroom -- pretty much from closest to middle distance to farthest.  I can use real peanut butter in classes and practice, but its far too time consuming to use in a trial, except for the last search of a set (usually two elements are done pretty much back-to-back).  When we got to class Gimme was pretty frustrated already, so I was prepared for her to not work her best.  I let her know what I was using and the frustration just disappeared.  Too bad we hadn't started doing this before our last trial - we could have avoided her frustration before containers and probably would have titled.  So clearly, peanut butter is work well for us in the long run. 

And second, she is really a better hunter than the other dogs in class.  I'd never seen a couple of them work before, but since we were first tonight we got to watch everyone.  Two of them are competing at the NW3 level.  A couple dogs did better/faster work than Gimme here and there, but she excelled overall.  Her biggest challenge is going to be her handler...

Cool Beans "Fronts"

To follow up on my post Epiphanies...

Today I did another session on "fronts".  It was just a short session with 30 treats.  The first time Gimme went back to angling her butt to my right, toward 1 o'clock.  It was hard for me, but I just waited and waited and waited.  She tried several different things to get me to pay up (cocking her head to one side sticks in my mind as particularly cute), she fidgeted a LOT and then...  finally she got up and repositioned herself.

It wasn't perfect, but MUCH better, so I rewarded liberally.  After that she did a number of fronts that were pretty darn good.  Not exactly perfect, but good enough that only a really picky judge would fault them.

So, I'll want to do this same thing for several more sessions (using the platform and the rewarding pattern), then at some point when she is consistently coming in straight and close the first time, then I will try a "front" without the platform.  Incidentally, all the fronts were much closer than we've gotten in the past.

As in life, sometimes the best thing you can do -- is to do nothing.

Nosework (6/1)

Here are the videos from last week's class.  I haven been able to upload videos to blogspot for quite awhile, so I've put these on youtube.

The set up was 25 boxes with distractions in them.  The first run was just distractions with no odor.  You get to see a perfect example of what Gimme does when frustrated.  We were instructed to not give the dogs a search cue, rather to move through the area like we were on a walk.  Even without a search cue, the dogs have an expectation of nosework in this location and they get right to work with their noses.  In Gimme's case, not finding any, she decided to entertain herself with a little serial box trashing.

For the second video, you could see that she was catching odor right before we left the startline.  There is still a little box bashing, but when she catches odor at about 20 seconds, then her working style changes from scanning to detailing.  She starts working her way toward odor, starts up the 3rd line with me and cuts it short when we leave the scent cone.  You'll note when she gets to the real deal, I can walk all the way around her and she doesn't leave it.  Dorothy commented that Gimme would "poof" the distraction boxes, stomping them and then smelling all the extra smell that came out. 

For the third video, she is again catching odor from the startline.  You can see her look around briefly, check out the person videoing us, and then pull slightly forward, which is when I release her.  She finds the first one right away, but then gets a bit frustrated and starts trashing instead of actively searching.  She's not really indicating the second box, but Dorothy has me take her back to it and reward it.  I wasn't too keen on rewarding her for not doing her "job", but the results on the last search seem to show that it worked. 

For fourth and final search, she again catches odor from the startline.  I found it interesting that she caught, but continued past the one she'd found before, searching for the new one instead.  She worked through all three of these and did so with a nice fast time - under 1 minute.           02/24/14 Fourth Run

Sunday, March 2, 2014

NW Trial picture

Although the trial was in January, they have just posted the pictures from the container.  The sequence for Gimme starts with #211... so you have to click to forward in groups of 25 pictures to the one that starts with her.  You can also click on slideshow, but it starts at the beginning, so you have to click on the right arrow at the top of the slideshow.  If you click it a lot and fast, it moves forward in jumps.  When you see the spotted shorthair, there is just one more dog until Gimme.


If you start with the picture just as we come in the door, its a lovely sequence that shows how nicely Gimme did this search and what a great indication she did.  I especially like the picture that is all blurry when she blasts off the start line.  After that she slows down and goes right to work.  The box she snapped back to had peanut butter on a muffin inside it, which she left as I moved by it...

You'll see how I move all the way around her as she is detailing the odor bag.  You can also see that I was a bad handler and rewarded her up in the air, instead of rewarding by the odor.