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Friday, April 17, 2015

Nosework (2/9) & RallyFrEe (5/4)

I didn't know how Gimme would do with nosework, given her mental state over the weekend.  I need not have worried - she did great. We started with three vehicle searches in very windy conditions.  The first search had 1 hide on the wheel of the van closest to the wind.  Then they added a hide on the back bumper of the other van for the second search.  For the last search a hide was added to the step on the big truck.

The green symbol is the startline.  All the other dogs started down the right side of the truck (as viewed from the startline).  For the first hide Gimme went down the left side of the big truck and then passed in between it and the vans.  She caught the scent from the other side of the van and quickly moved herself to the other side.  This is a challenge she understands and always goes on her own to the other side.  It took awhile before she pinpointed source, which makes sense given the scent was being blown away by a strong wind.  The second time she again went down the left side, passed in between and barely moved past the bumper before turning back to go get the tire hide.  From there she went around the back end of the vehicle (with deviation - see below) and picked up odor on the tire near the hide, before identifying source.  For the third search when there was an actual hide on the big truck, she went down the right side and pinpointed the hide on the step.  As strong as the wind  was, I don't see how she could have smelled the hide there, but she did.  From there she went down the outside of the one truck to the hide on the bumper and then (after deviation) went right around to the hide on the tire.

One odd thing she did twice was to leave the vehicles heading out toward the orange blob ("deviation").  I let her go each time because she has often chased odor out and back, doing it the most on vehicle and exterior searches.  But in this case she was going well away from the vehicles (20 feet) and didn't come back on her own.  I couldn't understand this behavior, until our fourth search, which was an exterior search right where she was headed.  Clearly she was picking up residual odor from earlier classes.  None of the other dogs even noticed it.  When we did this search, she went from hide to hide to hide, with no real searching.  If it weren't for the time it takes her to get the peanut butter out of her mouth by licking her leg, she would have completed the 3-hide search in under 30 seconds.  Clearly being in a false pregnancy wasn't affecting her.

For RallyFrEe class yesterday, we were focusing on circle behaviors.  I noticed Gimme was not very focused when we did our perimeter walk.  The first exercise had a chair in the middle of the room and we each drew a behavior.  One-by-one we took our dog, did a short warm-up, and practiced the behavior.  Then we went to the chair, sat down, and cued the behavior to see how our dog would do.  I drew the CCW Spin.  Gimme was trying to work until we got to the chair and then she was totally confused.

If I wasn't in the chair, she spent all her time trying to get in the chair - being magnetized to it just like she is to platforms.  She was getting a little frustrated, so we didn't work through it.  I'll need to practice the concept of not getting on chairs just like I did with the platform.  I expect it will go faster with the chair, since getting on things is a cued behavior, unlike platforms.

Then Kathy set out a straight line of signs which have a circle behavior as their base.  They were: Circle Around CW, Circle Around CCW, Left Turn Circle Trx, Right Turn Circle Trx, Circle Around 3x, and Circle Around Handler 2x - Handler Opposite.  Gimme was the only dog in class who was able to do each one.  We had to do the first two more than once to get a nice tight circle.  And we worked our way through the last one with multiple tries.  She's done circles with me turning the opposite direction, but was a bit confused by me doing it more than once.  Still she figured it out.

Our last exercise was to have all the dogs out on the floor at once and practice the 270º Left and 270º Right turns, with the dog on either side.  Kathy reminded us this is a heeling exercise and should not look at all like a pivot.  The size of the handler's circle depends on the size of their dog and which side the dog is on.  For Gimme, this meant we were making a circle the size of a garbage can lid.

Since Kathy was going around to watch all four teams, we had a bit of time between our exercises.  I spent the time just doodling at heeling with a farely high rate of reinforcement and Gimme got really into it.  I find I really have to concentrate to keep from slowing down when she errs.  Its a bad habit I've gotten into and only makes things worse.  When I focused on nice brisk heeling, Gimme gave me beautiful, precise and animated heeling. It makes me all warm and gooey to see it.

I know I brag about Gimme a lot, but its all true doncha know.  Yesterday, even though she was not her usual laser beam brilliance, she was still more focused than any other dog in class.

Kathy did tell us we have one more class in this session and then there will be a couple months break.  She and her husband are going to Greece on vacation for two weeks and when they return they are moving.  So this will be a perfect time for us to get back into Ursula's Public Dog classes.

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