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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
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Monday, March 16, 2015

RallyFrEe (6/3) & Nosework (5/8)

RallyFrEe class last week turned into an interesting lesson, which wasn't part of the planned curriculum. Gimme was really distracted, mostly because we hadn't been walking since the Saturday before and even it was a short walk.  Kathy had set up a course for us to work and there was not much good about Gimme's first attempt.  She just had no focus.  Then J'Anna and her dog had pretty much the same issues.  Both of our girls were out in LaLaLand.  

So when Kathy was about to work with Dennis, she gave us instructions to take our girls into the other part of the building (adjacent to where we have class, but dividers between the two areas) and work on focus.  We were to try three different techniques.  She gave us two: capturing attention and eye contact game.  Then we were to pick a third technique on our own.  

When we went into the area, Gimme was very distracted by the presence of J'Anna and her Beauceron, Ginger, so we did some "whazzat'.  Then I started with my perimeter walk, which is very Give Me A Break (from Control Unleashed) as Gimme got used to the area.  Its what I do any time we are working in an area away from home.  It took Gimme about two minutes to be ready to work and I considered this my picked technique.  After Gimme was checking in, then I started capturing attention and she was more and more focused.

I was quite surprised to find eye contact game was the one that really got her intense about focusing on me.  I taught this to her as a puppy and got very little effectiveness from it, even though I teach it to all my students and get good results.  So I left it and waited for her to grow up some more.  We tried it some more after she was a year old and she was better at it, but still it wasn't as effective as I expected, so didn't do anything more with it.  Yet in class, she was totally turned on by it.  The harder I made it, the more she got into it.  This is really consistent with who she has become - because she loves a challenge.  I got her to the point of having my hands with treats moving on both sides of her muzzle, while expecting eye contact.

Then we got to do the course again.  Since there was a little break.  I warmed Gimme up with 30 seconds of clicking offered attention... then some eye contact game.  This time our work on the course was much better.  She was a very different dog - yeahhhhh.  Afterward we each practiced whichever move we had difficulty with (we did prop weave followed by switch back).

For nosework class, we had some interesting work.  We were told last week to bring a LOT of large throwable treats.  So I brought 12 sticks of string cheese, in addition to our regular treats (small cut-up cheese and peanut butter).  

Our first search was outdoors with the odor under water.  All the dogs got it, though of course Gimme was the fastest.  She was walking through the center of the search area and then made an abrupt turn and a beeline to the odor from 20 feet away.  The other dogs needed to be within 5 feet to catch odor.  I think Gimme knows this puzzle because when we walk on the fort, I often drop chunks of cheese in puddles as we walk out, so then Gimme gets to find them on the way back.

The large treats were used in two interior searches.  The co-instructor took half our cheese and we had the other half.  The search area was mostly an interior, with five large sturdy open boxes set on their sides with odor in them.  The box was to help us have a target area to throw treats.  If the dog went near the box, both handler and instructor would start lobbing treats in.  If the dog came out or left the box or looked at either person, the treats stopped.  

All the dogs found this very fun and it was a lot of fun for the people as well.  Gimme quickly figured out the rules and would just stand with her head in the box snarfing up the cheese chunks until I cued "thank you, find another".  She thinks this might be the best game she's ever taught us.  She ate at least 11 sticks of string cheese between the two searches.

Our last search was an odor tin stuck to the leading bottom edge of a cart on wheels.  In front of it, blowing across the odor was a fan.  About five feet behind it was some chairs.  The dogs were allowed to work the puzzle, then we moved them away and the instructor turned the cart around.  So the first time the odor was being blown under the cart toward the chairs and the second time it was turned so odor was blown directly to the chairs.

Gimme had a little challenge in sourcing it the first time.  She checked the chairs and then went to the cart.  She went around it a couple times and gave me a half-hearted indication at the far end of the cart, but when I didn't rush in to pay, she continued working and pretty quickly got to source.  When the cart was turned around, she caught the odor again from about five feet behind the chairs, went directly to the cart (skirting around the chairs) and had her nose on source in two seconds.  

And now, being full of cheese, she's resting comfortably, though I'm sure she'd be up for training if it was offered. 

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