Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, December 29, 2016

RFE Practice (32)

These videos are from two weeks ago.  I figured I needed to get them posted before I post the videos from today.  ☺

My whole goal for the session was to come up with a plan for 25 seconds of video for the dog's of freestyle workshop with MDSA.  You'd think 25 seconds wouldn't be hard, right?  Wrong!  And its really only 20 seconds with the pauses at the beginning and the end.  I had to make a couple of changes to my plan to get in something good to look at and still end up where I wanted to be. 

My changes:
♥    took out an "around" on the first leg,
♥    changed the turn from a 270° back-around, to a simple "around" to center
♥    took out one pass through on the second leg
♥    changed the end position from an up-kisses to a sit with a paw on my knee

Session 1A video - I started with some focus work.  BTW I am trying to break Gimme's habit of being the bouncing-babe when it comes to treats, but first I have to break my habit of responding to it.  Its been a challenge to become mindful of it, but I'm making progress at home and on walks.  I do think I did better at it during today's sessions, but I also see times I rewarded her bouncing and mugging my hand.  After a little bit of heeling, I start practicing the around-to-center move, which was smooth and took a lot less time than the 270° back-around.  While this turn-transition worked well here, it works even better later when I speed up my heeling and the momentum carries Gimme around and into position.  My goal was to work on each of the pieces and then put them together.  Of course, a big part of what needed to be worked through was keeping my third foot from tripping up the other two - I have no clue how Gimme manages her four feet.  Our first run-through was 45 seconds.  As I muddle through this, if you feel inclined to comment, do so gently.  I've never been described as graceful - just sayin...  While I was learning what number of steps to take and how to cue it in my head, as well as how to present it to Gimme, she was learning what I wanted and what paid.  For example, I put a lot of treats into the paw-on-knee bank account.  She learns fast so this became a very valuable behavior in short order.  Part of figuring this out was me learning when to give cues so Gimme could do the behavior with more flow.  Plus I had to learn Gimme did the paw-on-knee faster and could hold it better if I cued a sit first.

Session 1B video - After a bit of a break to discuss camera and other stuff, we did another very short session.  Our first run through here was 40 seconds, still need to trim.  We did a couple runs, trying to sort out the footwork, but it wasn't getting smoother.  So I put Gimme up and we did a couple with just me.

While J'Anna was working her dog, I played with the camera viewfinder to determine the best position/angle for the camera.  I also moved the cones farther down the room.  My goal was to have a single position so its consistent with others who might have to video with their camera on a static tripod.

Session 2 video - During the session without Gimme I decided to drop one "thru", just doing the two on the side which put Gimme toward the camera.  Even with that change it was still taking far too long.  Part of the issue was how I saunter along.  Kathy will no doubt love my discovery of how much better it went when I move out like I'm going somewhere.  Part of this session was teaching Gimme the body cue for paw-on-knee is just the bending of the near leg after a stop.  We worked this a few times with the better timing.  

Session 3 video - To begin this session I worked more on the body cue for paw-on-knee.  Gimme is so smart, so anything which gets her treats is quickly learned.  By the time we are done with this session, Gimme is raising her paw as she is sitting.  If you watch her as we are doing the sequences, when she knows its coming she's trying to raise her paw up while we are still moving.  Anything to get to the treat faster, doncha know.  Since we'd already worked for 21 minutes before we even started this session, I tossed treats between sequence runs to bleed off any pressure. 

MDSA 5 takes video - These are the final five best takes.  I knew right away the best takes were 2, 4 and 5.  Later I watched very critically and decided 4 was the best one for both Gimme and me.  Can you tell why? 

I'm looking forward to seeing the final product when all 15 teams are combined and will post the link when its available.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Nosework (3/22)

Getting caught up on blogging again.

This is the last class for the year.  We were told the week before to bring a Christmas container with a distraction in it.   I brought a large Christmas tin with an open container of cinnamon in it.  The key thing with distractions is for them to be novel scents.  None of the dogs were taken in by my cinnamon.

Containers 1 video - This was a blind search of 16 chairs with 16 boxes.  We were given just one minute.  Gimme only found one hide.  To me she was still struggling to follow her nose, which I attribute to her being on antibiotics.  She has another 8 days before she takes the last of them.  We were told after these searches that we all showed a disinclination to go between the chairs, especially between the row of backs.  I see on this video I went through a row of backs and the row of fronts.

Containers 2 video - This is the search with our Christmas containers and distractions.  The hides were all in the green brick boxes.  Gimme did better with this, partly because these boxes have loose seams (especially compared to the red boxes), so I think there was more scent available.  She was still a little distracted by non-container things, but wasn't sucked in by any of the intentional distractions.  Not even the paper bag with the chicken sandwich in it!  Good girl Gimme!

Containers 3 video - For this search, the green box hides were replaced with hides in large "candy canes".  Because the hides were inside the canes (toward one end or the other), they tended to channel and direct the scent.  It was interesting to watch all the dogs.  Gimme did a really nice job at this, indicating the first hide in 13 seconds.  This time Gimme did show attention to one of the distraction containers, which happened to be the one I brought and was close to one hide.  Whether it was the cinnamon or my scent on the container, we don't know and Gimme isn't telling.  It took 25 seconds to find the second hide and then 13 seconds to find the third hide.

Containers 4 video - This time we got to repeat the search of 16 chairs with 16 boxes.  After we were done, we learned there were 8 hides out there - two per row, one in each red box.  This time Gimme found two hides, doubling what she'd done before.  If you watch the video carefully, you can see she spends a fraction more time sniffing the red boxes, but doesn't commit or indicate.  I think the antibiotics were interfering and with these tight boxes, there just wasn't enough scent to convince her they were source.

I'd love to do this search again when class resumes next year, to see how she does when her abilities aren't being interfered with.  In any case, I made sure everyone knew "Gimme doubled the number of hides she found".  They were impressed... I didn't give them any other details.  Its all in the presentation, doncha know.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my Mommy
gave to me...  a big basket for all of my
new toys.

On the second day of Christmas my Mommy gave to me...
a second Mr. Inchworm toy,
in the basket for all of my new toys...

On the third day of Christmas my Mommy gave to me...
three stuffed duckies,
with Mr. Inchworm,
in the basket for all of my new toys...

On the fourth day of Christmas my Mommy gave to me...
four tug toys,
with the three stuffed duckies
and Mr. Inchworm,
in the basket for all of my new toys...

[And then Mommy couldn't stand the torture any more, so we jumped ahead to the Twelfth Day]

On the twelfth day of Christmas my Mommy gave to me...
a stuffed dog, a moose, a rabbit, a Magpie duck, a stuffed purple dog, a zebra, two new balls, a squeaky Santa, a sailor, a purple bear, a squeaky ball, a yellow Poodle, a skunk, a lion, an orange squirrel and a spotted elephant...
all with my four tug toys, three stuffed duckies and Mr. Inchworm,
in the basket for all of my new toys...

 Let the play-fest begin...

Let it be known....

Gimme is not spoiled
     she deserves every one of these

Let it also be known...
     Carla needs hearing protection
     there's a whole lotta
     squeakin' going on...

We sincerely hope you get everything you deserve for Christmas and in the coming year.

Merry Christmas...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Toy

Naturally, everyone knows Gimme is all about toys.

Her friends General Patton and Allikat gave her a cool new ball for Christmas.  It has a name, Boinga, and she knows it.  If I say "Where is Boinga?"  She'll go to where it is and point it out to me.  Sometimes she even retrieves it.  She's given it so much attention in the last two days, it already looks well-loved.

The other day I was in a store and they had some great animated stuff on clearance.  I couldn't pass up the singing dog with the flopping ears at just $12.  I think he's adorable.  Gimme is pretty certain he's offensive.

Singing dog toy video

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Number 22!

Today we got the notice - Gimme met the requirements for her All Dogs Parkour Level 3 title. We are both having so much fun with this.  I love the creativity aspect of finding ways to use a single location in twelve different ways.  So fun.  Of course Gimme loves just getting out and do, do, doing.

For Level 3 we had to do three qualifying entries:

Chehalis Trail - ADP-L3(a) - We did this video on the Chehalis Trail between Pacific and 14th Avenue.  Gimme and I walk there 2 or 3 times a week.

Little Baseball Park - ADP-L3(b) - This video was created in the upper ballpark area of Little Baseball Association park.  There is another section of the park for playground and picnic use and we will do another video submission there someday.

Our Yard - ADP-L3(c) - Our third video for this title was done entirely in my yard.  I had to submit a revised video because I made a mistake, so I was lucky it was this one.  It only took a few minutes to go outside and shoot another video and I had it turned around (and title confirmation) in about two hours.

We will definitely be going on with this, but probably not until after the first of the year.  And come Spring I'll get back to training toward our Intermediate IDPKA title.  Some of those behaviors are a bit trickier, so I want to make sure the equipment we train on isn't slippery due to rain or ice.

Also, I will start teaching Parkour at Pawsabilities in late January.
I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Nosework (2/22)

This class was this week, so now I'm caught up with blogging.  I'm nowhere near being caught up for Christmas.

Container 1 - The first search was a container search outside, with three hides.  It was about 28º, so I was feeling pretty whiny about it.  Gimme didn't seem very focused, gave me a two false alerts and missed one hide.  Dorothy forgot to video, so I don't have anything to look at.  In hindsight we concluded the cold was keeping odor really close to the cans, so there wasn't much scent plume to work with.  Gimme wasn't getting much scent, so she just started alerting any time she did smell odor.

Container 2 video - Our instructions were to take them down the line of luggage and then move on to the containers (boxes) on chairs.  There were no hides in the luggage and 2 in the boxes.  You can see Gimme was initially attracted by the luggage, but then had no interest in it.  She finds the white box hide pretty quickly, but then really struggles to find the red box hide.  The red boxes have extra flaps, so they hold odor in more.  I was confused and thought they were both in white boxes, so when she did find it, I didn't believe her.  Dorothy cut off the video so you don't get to see Gimme get six treats for being so persistent.  Its probably criminal how inept her handler is.

Container 3 video - Two rows of luggage and buckets, with three hides.  The comment "we left those deliberately" refers to two balls on the floor, which Gimme  has been distracted by in the past.  She certainly noticed them this time.  She gets them all, but not as fast as I've come to expect. 

Container 4 video - Again 2 hides in boxes on chairs. Gimme quickly finds the hide in the white box.  It takes her a little longer to find the red box hide and I needed to keep bringing her near it. 

Gimme was not her usual stellar self this evening.  She usually aces her searches, leading the class.  Instead she was having more trouble in the hard parts than her classmates.  She was tending to get "distracted" more than usual and initially I thought it was a focus issue.  But then I realized its probably related to the antibiotics she's getting for an anal sac infection.  She was taking antibiotics last week and had no problem, which is why I initially discounted the impact.  Then it occurred to me, there's been a switch to a different antibiotic since then.  She'll be on this one for another two weeks.

BTW expressing her anal sacs and antibiotics haven't been enough to get this under control.  So Wednesday morning she had to be sedated so they could flush her anal sacs and fill them with an antibiotic gel.  Please do pray this does the trick.  Otherwise it may become necessary to have them surgically removed - which, like all surgery, is risky.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

RFE practice (31)

This practice was last Thursday.  Overall it went well.  At the time I wasn't very happy with the third session, but now having seen what was really going on in the video, I feel better about it.

Session 1 video - I used the clicker this time to improve her understanding of what I was rewarding, since I wanted to work on the 180º turn and was planning to break it down better than before.  I started doing the 180º turn well away from the distracting corner and I thought it went well.  I jack-potted the especially nice efforts.  After I took her leash off, I backed up to a somewhat easier challenge.  She had one where she just lost focus entirely and I just walked away from her.  The next time she was still distracted - looking out, looking back, looking out, then back.  She was trying really hard, so I rewarded her effort and changed gears.  We did some positions ("heel", "center", "side").  She has a tendency to assume I want a "turn" when in "side" position, so she gives me "turn" the moment I speak without listening to the cue. I know she understands what the cue words mean, she just turns off her listening ears; its very frustrating.  We did center-front-pivots, which she's good at - she does better counter-clockwise.  Then we did heeling in reverse around me and the same with side in reverse - she's better in heel position.  We ended with some nice loops of heeling.

Session 2 - For the second session, we worked on being still.  This is really challenging for Gimme unless she's in an active stay.  And she doesn't truly believe this is a payable behavior.  Unfortunately J'Anna did something and stopped recording 40 seconds into the session, so I don't have anything to review closely. 

From memory though, I think Gimme needs platforms or some other stations to help her understand to just stand in one place between behaviors.  If there were sits between each station (more like obedience), I think she would do better, but RallyFrEe requires a stand.  I think its also complicated by them wanting a slight pause in the end position before moving on.  For instance, if we are doing a spin from heel position, the requirement is for the dog to spin 360º, then pause briefly in "heel" position before we proceed.  This feels unnatural to Gimme, and to me.  When Gimme doesn't get reinforcement right after the behavior is finished (moving forward again is a reinforcement too) then she thinks she should do something more.  Remember, she's a doer.  So part of the issue is about delayed reinforcement as well.

Her default is to keep throwing behaviors at me.  I need to teach her being still is a valuable behavior.  I plan to make a foam platform and they have a bunch of carpet samples there, so I will try to use them next time to give her a grounding target.  I'm hoping I can move her around between these and end on them, I just have to think through what I want to do and how, so I'm teaching her the right thing.  Meanwhile I'm doing Relaxation Protocol with her, to put a bunch of rewards into the being-still-bank-account.  Maybe I can arrive early enough to do a set of relaxation protocol on one of them before J'Anna arrives.

Session 3 video - For the third session, we worked the intermediate course we had set up for J'Anna's submission video.  Gimme knows a lot of intermediate level behaviors, but not all of them, so I haven't entered that level.  The two times J'Anna has entered, Gimme knew all the behaviors in the courses.  Of course, if I enter before she knows them all, then its a given the course will contain the behaviors she doesn't know. 

Gimme was unfocused because the course started in the distracting corner, thus I did three stations on leash before removing the leash and starting over.  We haven't done course work in awhile, so overall I was pleased with her efforts.  The third one is a series of 3 "thru" while stepping backward, which we hadn't ever tried and I did it just based on J'Anna's explanation.   Its a cobbly looking thing and I don't think I'd ever use it in a freestyle routine, certainly not for a large dog. 

On the second time through she did a better job with the first three stations.  For the free choice we were using J'Anna's hat prop and I wanted her to put her front feet on it and "pivot".  Obviously we've been doing a LOT of "bacon" (for Parkour) and she was just sure I wanted her to back-on the prop.  We need to do more "can" again.  I had to move in closer to help her understand what we were doing.  I see in the video I wasn't even using the "can" cue, just sending her and saying "pivot", so is surely added to the confusion. 

One thing I see in the video, which I didn't understand at the time, was how distracted she was by the clicker in my hand - more specifically by me moving it from one hand to the other - acting like she thought it might be a treat.  There are places where she is going to end a behavior right, but then is distracted by my hand movement.  I haven't' noticed this before, so I may need to carry the clicker (or some other small thing) even if I'm not using it, so the movements related to it become unimportant. 

The vacuum in the background was distracting and/or made it hard to hear.  I need to teach her to do "pretty" in heel/side positions.  I had to laugh when she offered a "take-a" at the course end before I cued it - obviously recognizing the picture on the sign.  She is scary smart.  We ended with a few "bacon" on the agility table leaned against the wall, since she loves doing it and had worked so hard.

We learn something every time.  I can't recommend highly enough the value of taping your training sessions so you can review the video.  I see something I didn't know was going on every time.  I invariably see something I thought was Gimme's doing, which has a different explanation.  Anyone who trains alone should be taping their sessions.  Likewise if you train with someone who isn't thoughtful about what they are seeing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nosework (1/22)

Sorry to get so far behind - been busy at work and making Christmas presents.  This is from nosework class on 11/29.

Interior 1 video - This first search was of 2 hides on two chairs.  Our job as handler was to stay on the rug.  We could step in to reward at source, but then had to return to the rug.  Gimme did a nice job working through this.  She did her usual approach of checking things around the odor and then following the plume to source.  Note at 42 seconds how she sniffs the edge of a nearby table and then goes DIRECTLY to the hide 4 feet away.  A lot of people discourage their dogs from checking out other stuff, but I always remind myself this is just Gimme's way of searching and let her investigate other stuff (though I do cut her off more quickly when she's investigating the toy shelf).  She does this search in 45 seconds.

Interior 2 video - This search had three rows of chairs and 6 hides.  As handlers we were supposed to keep them on a set of chairs until they finished the problem, without letting them go back to a hide they'd already found.  There were two hides on pairs of chairs.  They were all close together in the pairs, with some closer than others.  Gimme went first to the set where the hides were the closest together.  She did a great job finding all six hides in 1:50.

Interior 3 video - This search was off leash, with 6 hides along the wall, either nose level (for Gimme) or at the floor.  All the dogs were drawn to the chairs and stuff because searches of stuff is what they've seen the most of.  Gimme was the fastest, finding all the hides in 1:28.

Interior 4 video - Again off leash with 6 hides.  Some of the chairs in the room were moved in front of the hides.  Gimme wasn't at all bothered by the chairs in front of hides, clearly not seeing them as "barriers" at all.  One hide was moved to a crack in the floor and Gimme found it second, which is unusual since her preference is high hides.  Another hide was moved to a chair, she found it fourth.  The fifth hide was again low and it took her awhile to find it, though if you watch her head carriage after the fourth hide, it gets lower and lower, as she scans around and around to find it.  The last hide was challenging, but she worked it out nicely. 

I'm always amazed when she trots around the room scanning for "another one" when she's already found some.  We've established before that the dogs are not using vision, so with 6 hides and only 3 different odors, she's looking for something different.  I don't understand what the quality of "different" is for her.

Merry Christmas One And All...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

UWP Picture

Forgot to add this to the earlier post about her new title.

This is Gimme resting after the long weekend, with her ribbon haul.

 She may be a tough little tomboy, but she still enjoys her creature comforts. 
 Just sayin...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gimme UWP

While we didn't do well in barn hunt (not for lack of enthusiasm), Gimme did great at the weight pull.  It was really chaotic for me, dividing my attention between the two venues and running back and forth to make sure we were where we needed to be.  I won't enter two events on the same day again.

Each trial she starts with a pull of 420 pounds, which is already more than enough for a qualifying leg (340# cart, plus two cinder blocks).  For her second pull they added two more cinder blocks, bringing the pull weight up to 500 pounds.  This is actually enough weight for her to earn points toward a weight pull championship, if she had the first title already.

Saturday - trial 1
We were loaned a harness which fit her reasonably well.  On her first pull, when the cart didn't move as easily as her prior pulls had, she spun around and ended up with the harness twisted around her body.  I couldn't touch her without ending the run, so since her legs weren't fouled, I encouraged her to pull anyway.  Being a game little tomboy, she did.  On her second pull, she understood not to get twisted, plus I stayed a little closer to her. Gimme was confused when the cart didn't move with the same amount of effort and just stopped and gave me a look, saying, "Mom, its broke."  I encouraged her and she tried again and was successful in getting it moving.  We came away with our first leg toward a title.

Saturday - trial 2
For her second trial, she did better than the first on both pulls and her improved time reflects her understanding of how to win this game.  I was careful to stay closer and really cheer her on when she starts pulling.  Gimme did a nice job with improved times.  We came away with our second leg toward a title.

Sunday - trial 1
Gimme was really eager to get started and tried to lead me toward the building, when we still needed a potty walk.  After I dressed her in her harness, she was very determined and dragged me in the building.  I was able to set up the camera ahead of time, so I have a video of her runs. She did a fabulous job, with great times.  You will see in the video - her tail wags constantly and she's quite proud of herself.  This weekend's title is United Weight Puller (UWP), making 21 titles.
Gimme's titling pulls video

Other than the first 500# pull, where Gimme was surprised by how much more effort was needed, you can see her times improve with each pull, even as the pulls get heavier.  The judge was really impressed with how she did.

So now I'll be ordering a custom fit harness for her and then we'll begin conditioning and training for heavier pulls.  She needs to learn to lean forward and down into her harness to get the cart started.  She could get 5 points toward a UWPCH for her 500# pulls.  Since she needs 100 points, with $20 per trial, the title would cost $400.  Obviously I want to get up to higher point pulls.  Time will tell how far we will go with this - certainly as long as she can do it and is having fun.

Our barn hunt efforts were not rewarding.  Gimme had a lot of fun and was very enthusiastic.  Still she reverted to finding a rat, back 5 feet away and then barking at me.  It makes it very hard to know where she is indicating.  Both times we found one rat and then had a false call.  I need to go back and review what I've written before about how we had this communication sorted out and then need to arrange some training runs to get us back to doing it well.  When I was bemoaning our lack of success, Janet said to me, "You know, its really unfair to bring her out after a year away and expect perfection right away."

I replied, "Seriously!?" In all honesty, I know Gimme knows how to find the rats... its just the communication aspect we need to revisit.  Still, she had a lot of fun.  Someone described her barking as piercing - its not her usual low throaty bark.

Friday, November 25, 2016

RFE Practice (30)

Session 1 video - I decided this time to try more use of backing up to indicate when she is well out of position.  She reads this as information that she's doing it wrong and always does better right afterward - there's no sign that she finds it aversive.  It used to deflate her, but I think she now has a much better understanding of what I want, so its just information.  I started out with a little warm-up heeling and then got to doing 180º turns.  We spent much of the session doing these.  I don't think I did a good enough job breaking down the task for the turn at the distracting end of the training area.  I was also far too late to respond when she started to distract.  We do a short bit of "side" and then switch gears.   When she jumps up on me, I just gently help her down and then go right to work - since this has become something she does unnecessarily (i.e. not because she's uncertain).  We practice finding "center" and then doing "spin" and "turn" in center position - something we've been working on at home.  She still has trouble with "turn" in center position, so I have to lure a couple times to remind her.  She showed she thinks its icky when I grab her to interrupt her, so I tried to do the same thing, but slower and less grabby and then she was okay with it.  The idea was to get her more comfortable with my hands "grabbing" her.  She did well with doing "spin" and "turn" strictly on a verbal in center position, but then offered another when I asked for "around", so I had to interrupt her again.  Her distraction at 8:30 is because of hearing the phone alarm, which I hadn't used in that setting before.  She hears it at home and isn't distracted by it, but in my little living room its louder with an obvious source.  I was aiming for a shorter, but 9:15 wasn't too bad.

Session 2 video - Started with some "side" warm up.  I don't know what J'Anna was doing with the camera - something to do with the new monopod I guess.  We did a little bit of rewarding for being still and waiting for cues - a hard concept for Gimme.  Then we did a little work on side passes, something really new to us.  I should have been using the clicker to isolate rear end movement.  When I tried to work on it in side position, she was doing a weird pivoting thing I didn't want, so I got out a barrier to help her stay at my side.  It went much better with the barrier to limit her options.  A clicker would have helped here too.  Even without it, she still picked up what I wanted really fast.  She's so darn smart.  We did a little more heeling and then switched to "back".  This was her first time without a foot target here. I don't know why she turned and wanted to back over to one side, unless she was thinking to target the barrier.  When she got a really nice one, she got multiple treats and we ended.

Session 3 video - Gimme really likes backing onto things, "bacon".  So this session was a lot about it.  We ended up with an impressive audience of observers.  She makes it look really easy.  We did some "out" alternating chairs to form a figure 8, working on distance.  She did a nice job with these.  We ended with some "bacon" to the chair.  Its really hard because the chair is so high and a small footprint with the chair back in the way, so she really has to work to get her front feet up there.  I was really impressed to see her work out how to do it, which requires quite a bit of core strength.  You have to appreciate her thinking and trying getting on frontward, just to see if I might be willing to pay for this too.  We switched to a bit of heeling and it was interesting to see what a big distraction the chairs became then.  Gimme just couldn't believe I really wanted to only walk around them when she knows she can do much more impressive stuff.  At 6:15 she is again distracted by the phone alarm.  We ended with a sidepass with her in center position.

Overall I thought these were really nice sessions.  She sure has come a long way.  We have 4-5 weeks before she goes into Mommy-brain, but she's making such nice headway, so I'm not as worried as before.

BTW she is entered in a barn hunt this Saturday and Sunday.  This is the first barn hunt we've done this year, since I've been so focused on tracking.  Gimme needs 10 masters level legs to get a RATCH (barn hunt championship).

Also, as it turns out they are sharing the site with a UKC group, so we are going to try weight pull at the same time.  She's entered in three pulls and since she needs three legs to get a title, its possible she could come home with a new title.  Otherwise there is another weight pull the following weekend.  It'll be a fun weekend.  I know Gimme will be thrilled to hunt for rats and I expect she'll like weight pulling, since she's shown such an affinity for it in the past.

Do cross any body parts you can spare for us...

Nosework (6/21)

These searches were set up with hides very close to each other (2 or 4 per table), so the dogs had a big puzzle to figure out.  My job as handler was to direct her searches, keeping Gimme on one table until she found all the hides, while making sure she didn't go back to a hide she'd already found (hard to do with them so close together).

Interior 1 video - This search had ten hides - 2 on the first table and 4 each for second and third tables.  It was especially challenging to keep Gimme from going back to prior hides in this search because she had no concern about stepping on the tables.  Gimme was checking stuff near the second table and then working the scent back to the hide.  I don't think she needed to do it this way, its just what she is used to doing.  On the third table, I came up with backing around the table, so that as I moved I was opening up the space for the next hide.  This worked well here.  Not sure how I'd use it in a blind search, but she figured out what I was doing and so was the most efficient of the dogs;

Interior 2 video - Gimme does a great job finding the two hides on the first table and my backing up technique works well.  On the second table it seemed to start well, but then she just dashes around me to the other hides.  Clearly she knows more than me about what the scent picture is saying, so I go with her and then restart my pattern and it works fine for her from then on.  For some reason the first hide she found on the second table was interfering with her ability to find the hide I originally presented.  For the third table the hides were set high and low.  Gimme was the only dog to get the four hides on the third table in order as she moved around the table, making her more efficient.  All the other dogs got the two low hides, then the two high hides.

Interior 3 video - This time there were 8 hides, two per table and then two on the red cart.  Its interesting on the first table how she gets the first hide from the back side of the table and then gets the second hide bouncing off the nearby wall.  She goes straight to the first cart hide from there.  For the second cart hide she kept wanting to go to the next table instead, but then she gets it.  She was very fast at getting the two hides on the next table, despite me getting in the way.  She was the fastest to get the second hide on the final table, doing it in just 11 seconds.  The next fastest class dog took 1:20 seconds to find the second hide on the final table and the others took longer still. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016


GIMME DID IT!  She passed her TD on her first try, in challenging conditions, while in season.  Gimme Rocks!!!

The track was 465 yards and 45 minutes old.  The ground was very moist (a good thing), but the cover was rather sparse, though consistently so.  The day was cool and overcast, drizzling off and on.  The breeze was nominal.  The field was very muddy and I walked the last leg with 3" high mud "stilts" stuck to the bottom of my shoes.

Gimme has never tracked in this kind of cover.  The cover at Fort Lewis was sparse, but still longer than this.  She once did a track in Bow that was sparse like this, but the grass was longer than today's grass.  Nadine's Cricket had sparse cover on her track, but not like this.  The grass was similar, slightly longer, but in rows, with mud between the rows - so she basically got a change of cover every six inches and couldn't figure it out.

We were the last TD dog because of Gimme's "condition".  When we went out on the field the prior dog was still finishing his track and Gimme was a little distracted, but he was far enough away that she was able to get to work.

She did her usual saw-tooth routine on the first leg.  She circled the second flag repeatedly, then stoped to circle halfway between it and the corner, then again at the corner.  She was back and forth and would take up lines of direction and then abandon them to come back to the track.  The drawing above is based entirely on combining the two maps the judges provided.  If you had asked me how our track was shaped, I would have drawn a pretzel.  All I could do was focus on the last learned lesson, to only go with her if she had her nose down in the track - clearly it worked.  I really was clueless otherwise and was just assuming she was doing well since I hadn't heard the dreaded whistle.

On the last leg she'd been gradually moving wider and I assumed we were on the track since it was generally in one direction.  We were actually well to the side of the track - 15 yards at least - and getting wider.  And then Gimme just stopped (at the red "x") and turned to look at me like, "Whaaaaaat?"  I just encouraged her.  Her nose went up, she stood still considering for what seemed an eternity, and then drove in a straight line to the glove.  I wasn't sure if I should go with her, since she didn't have her nose down, but given my stilts, I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter.  By the time we got back to the car she was ready to go again. 

Gimme did this track in 12 minutes, which is kind of long for her.  She was clearly frustrated on the first and second legs, but then got into it and soldiered on.  Since it was so slippery, I was glad she wasn't hauling-A like usual.  As a measure of how challenging this was for her, I re-scented her three times.  Most of the time I don't have to re-scent her and I've never done it more than once in a track.  The judges thought she was a really good tracker and surprisingly to me, had a lot compliments about my handling.  I didn't feel like I did anything more than just be an anchor, but I guess I anchored at the right times.

I am so totally proud of her for this accomplishment.  She went into really unusual conditions and worked it out on her own.

Here's a picture of Gimme with her haul.  She really doesn't care much about ribbons, gloves or crystal, but does love it when I show my appreciation with steak.   

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nosework (5/21)

We had two sets of three back-to-back searches.  The first time through they were blind searches.

Interior 1 video - Gimme makes quick work of this room and when she was sure there was nothing there, switches to toy shopping.  Be sure you note the look of disgust she gives when I take the toy and set it back where it was.  It was pretty easy for me to call this a clear room (correct).  She paid a little attention to the crack under the door of the adjoining storage room, but left it on her own.  She paid more attention to the crack under the door going to the class room (where there was odor).

Interior 2 video - This room was more challenging because there is food stored in it.  She started off searching and then went toy shopping again.  I didn't actually call this room, as we ran out of time (just 1:00), but was asked what I thought.  I said if there was any hide, it would be on the shelving to the right, but Gimme didn't persist there, so I was inclined to go with clear.  This would have been correct.  Interesting, if a room has a toy-shopping option, it seems to be a good barometer for whether there's any odor there.

Interior 3 video - Gimme finds the first (and only) hide very quickly.  After it she is quite willing to keep searching.  I can see the difference in her intensity between this room and the two prior rooms.  But, I still can't see the drop in intensity after she's found the hides in a room she's in.  Dorothy says she can see it, but I still haven't picked up the difference, so if you see something in this video that can help me, please do share.   Gimme will thank you...

The second time around there is one hide in each of the small rooms and still one hide in the bigger area.  The idea was for us to get to see the difference in how the dogs acted entering a room with odor in it.

Interior 4 video - As you can see, the difference for Gimme was total.  She nails the hide and indicates in 3 seconds!  She had no doubt and went directly to it.

Interior 5 video - She was not quite as fast for this room, but then there was a bin of toys right at nose level.  Still, including the check on the toy bin, she had this hide indicated in just 6 seconds.  Silly Gimme girl.

Interior 6 video - Gimme was very fast on this hide as well - faster than the first time and I don't think the hide was really any easier.  I think finding two hides so quickly in the prior rooms just had her intensely focused for this search.

This next search was an interesting combination.  The dogs first had the front part of the room with a hide, then the larger back part with no hide.  When we thought they were done in the second area, we could take them back to the first area to search again.

Interiors 7 video - What was interesting about the search of the first area was how Gimme got the hide and her reward and then went straight to the gate into the other area.  Clearly she knew there was no more to be found there.  The dogs all seemed excited to go in and search the bigger area.  You will notice Gimme skids a few times, changing direction.  Had I not known there was no hide there, this might have been a challenge for me to interpret, since change-of-behavior is a big clue to the handler that the dog was near odor.  In this case, I think Gimme was just scanning the area and then thinking, "hmmmm chairs - better check them."  The only thing which would have saved me was how quickly she left them.  Dorothy thought Gimme was responding to me "talking to yourself".  I think she knew I was asking her something and her going repeatedly to the divider was her answer.  I always find it interesting when dogs re-search an area they've returned to, instead of going directly to a hide they've already found.

Overall this was a really fun class.  Gimme certainly enjoyed it.

Today (Saturday) we are going for a walk and then I'll be packing up the van for the weekend.  This is the weekend of the tracking test.  Say prayers.  While Gimme is great, I could use divine intervention.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Nosework (4/21)

We started with two exterior searches.

Exterior 1 video - This exterior search had two hides.  Gimme started by running to the landscaping and squatting as if to pee, which I interrupted.  I didn't see her actually pee, but the instructor thought she had.  She did a nice job finding both hides.  I thought it interesting she went so far out to the right before she caught the second hide, which she turned back to on her own.

Exterior 2 video - This video is harder to see as the area is darker.  Actually both hides were pretty close to each other.  Gimme finds one right away.  Then she has to go well down the way into the dark before coming back to where the hides were.  She went up with her feet on the panel quickly and then "walked" herself around to show me where the hide was.  It was quite nice.

Interior searches 3 & 4 - There is no video for these because they are done all in the dark.  They have a bunch of glow stick necklaces which are sprinkled through the area enough so we can move without running into stuff.  We also make a glow stick "collar" for the dogs, so we can see where they are moving around.  Really that is all you can see.  What was really interesting was how much more aware I was of the huffing noises Gimme makes when she is searching.  I've noticed them before, but when there is minimal visual, the things you hear are much more noticeable.  Gimme did both searches very quickly. 

She don't need no stinkin' lights...

Walking Free...

Now that the fort is opening up training areas again, Gimme and I got out for a walk.  Here's some pictures from our first off leash walk in a couple of years. 

It was restorative for both of us.

Obviously we'll be going back.

Getting to snoop and sniff is important for a little spotty girl.

Gimme thinks its her duty to go ahead and clear the road of wildlife.  She gets outraged when she sees birds, deer or any other critters on "our road".

We walk on the roads, but these are views on either side.
 I'd love to have this view in my backyard.
What is Washington without a pond.
Gimme thinks I'm slow, really slow. She gets a LOT of exercise running ahead, then running back to see if I'm still moving.

I sure wish we could get out there before we take off for the tracking test this weekend, but sadly this training area is closed.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Tracking Genius (34)

We met at Flaming Geyser, which was supposed to be all reopened, only to discover they've extended the time of the partial closing, so we were restricted in the area we could use.  I was really late, so Nadine had already set tracks for Cricket and Gimme.

The conditions were cool and moist, lots of dew/wet grass.  Our track was 470 yards and about an hour old.

Gimme started off well, doing her usual saw-tooth pattern on the first leg.  She did really well on the second and third legs.  The extra article on the fourth leg was too close, so she cut the corner to get to it.  Since this was a short leg to begin with, after she left the article, she got a head of steam going and really overran the turn to the fifth leg. 

She didn't act like she was finding a track and then suddenly started pulling hard straight ahead.  I caught that she didn't really have her nose down, instead it was about level with her back - which was what I had told myself I wanted to watch today.  She sometimes just starts pulling, which Sil calls "taking you for a walk".  She has huge article drive and call smell the darn things from 30 yards and at this point she was only 15-18 yards from the final article which just so happened to be directly in line with the fourth leg.  If I hadn't had it in my head to watch for whether or not she had her nose down in the track, she would have left off three legs.  
Anyway, I didn't go with her and based on her behavior thought we were well past the turn, so I organized her searching (going with her when she's headed in the direction I want to go, thus elongating a loop) and after moving back about 10 yards, she caught the next leg.  She had to work on the 5th turn, which was on a short-mowed path instead of the longer cover we'd been working on.  From there she was pretty much flawless to the end.
I'm very happy to have worked out this issue, but not sure I want to be learning something so important right before a test.  Still, I guess its better than learning it AFTER the test.

Gimme and me (and Nadine and Cricket) got into the trial in Oregon for next weekend.  I would prefer to have gotten into the one up north, because I know more people in the tracking community there and I know Gimme is familiar with the conditions.  Since Nadine will be there I'll have someone to celebrate or commiserate with.  Who better than my tracking buddy for almost two years, eh?  Nadine said the conditions on the site should be very similar to what we see at Flaming Geyser, so I'll try not to work myself into a lather about it.   

Of course, Miss Gimme is coming in season as we speak, which hasn't been an issue in tracking before, though she can be a little distracted until she gets in the rhythm of things.  I'll set her up an article circle at a nearby park on Friday morning.  I plan to drive down Saturday afternoon and stay overnight at a hotel.

Say prayers for us and cross any body parts you can spare - we'll take any help we can get.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

RFE Practice (29)

This practice session was last Thursday and overall I thought it went well.  We'd planned to go again today, but my work interfered so we had to cancel.  Usually transition weeks don't run into Thursday, but since the holiday was on Monday, I couldn't start until Tuesday.  It always takes three days to get all my accounts done (we have to get them all transitioned within 3 days of the holiday), so I had to work today.  At least they are mostly done now, so I can relax a bit.

Session 1 video - My main goal was to tighten up the "heel" and "side" positions so I used a clicker to give me more precision in what I was telling Gimme with the rewards.  I also wanted to put rewards in the being still bank account and for the most part didn't use the clicker for this, since click ends the behavior.  I used "wait" to help her understand I wanted her to be still, though I do not want to have to cue "wait" in the final still behavior.   Being still is so hard for her - she'd definitely be an action figure if they ever made a Gimme doll.  I see I need to face the camera, since you can't hear what I'm cueing if I'm turned away.  Gimme was doing a good job of following the cues, even though we haven't worked on "spin" and "turn" in "center" position.  She was drawn to J'Anna's prop as we walked toward it, so I used it as a distraction.  I cued "take-a" and got a "turn" instead - clearly the not-listening issue again.  Then I kept getting "take-a" when I was cueing "center".  I think I need to go back to working sequences of random cues, to strengthen her listening skills.  I do see in the video I am giving her a lot of physical clues, but not clearly following verbal cues, so they aren't strengthening the verbals.  Verbal cues are not her best skill and I see I'm not being clear enough to help her learn them.  I have to get out of trying to stop her when she offers the wrong behavior - instead I think I should take several steps away, breaking off the behavior and interrupting the possibility of rewarding it unintentionally.  I was intentionally feeding low to get her to stand.  We did a little bit of treat tossing to relieve any stress and then ended with a bit of heeling.  This session went on too long (10:00), but I thought she had a good attitude throughout.

Session 2 video - I don't know why Gimme had to have reassurance at the second sign.  The reason I spoke harshly to her was she broke one of my two favorite chains.  J'Anna was shocked since she's never seen me lose patience with Gimme (we have a very different idea of what constitutes loosing patience). I normally give her reassurance if there is any real reason to need it, but this time it was uncalled for.  This is the first course we've done in a long time - it was set up so we could film for J'Anna's intermediate RFE entry.  It took a bit to get Gimme to wait for a cue at the second Free Choice sign, but she finally did wait.  I think it might be a good idea to do some course work again and just require Gimme to be still at each station (rewarding still) before I give her a cue to do a behavior so she gets out of the habit of throwing out behaviors to see which one sticks.  I'm guessing she's been right often enough and gotten rewarded for it, so throwing behaviors is getting rewarded.  I need to shift her mindset so she thinks waiting for cues is just as valuable, if not more so.  This was a much better length session (7:30).

Session 3 video - I see I need to give more than one treat for being still, since she is tending to get the treat and then move out of position - so she's reading the reward as the end of behavior, an issue I've seen before.  So something like behavior-treat-pause-treat might help give her reason to wait in position longer.  After breaking out into play for reward, it takes a bit before she can do still again.  Props are such a huge draw for her - at some point I have to work through the idea that the presence of a prop is not the cue for the behavior.  Maybe some time we need to set up a course that has a dozen props, just everywhere and treat them all as distractions.  Then mix in using them and having them be distractions.  We run into a bit of difficulty with her getting into tap-dancing while being still.  I don't want her to think this is part of the being still thing, so have to think of some way to help her understand all of her needs to be still.  Not counting her wonderful wagging tail, of course.  I almost wonder if I just did too much being-still work at one time.  Maybe less-is-more would be better.  Also need to increase the time more gradually and when there is more still time to work with, can then reward it randomly.  I also see I'm not rewarding "center" with her in an accurate position.  Bad me.  Good session length (8:00).

Overall I was really pleased with how this went. She worked hard and there was quite a bit of improvement just in these sessions.  Just today I noticed Gimme's heiney is getting a bit pudding looking, so just checked our chart and she is about due to come in season.  One week from today will be exactly six months.  So I have about 6 weeks before the whole false pregnancy business starts up again.

BTW got notice today that my entries have been received for both tracking tests.  The one at Bow has already been drawn and we are second alternate.  This is my preferred test because Gimme has tracked in the area many times and there will be lots of people I know to celebrate (or commiserate) with.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tracking Genius (33)

Last Friday we met at Training Area 23 again.  There was a light breeze and it was cool and overcast.  This is the dogs' second time here, with rocky glacial till.

Gimme's track was a simple chair shape, with an article on every leg.  Without intending to, her track was aged 1:55.  This is the oldest track she's ever done, so she ended up with two challenges to work through - the longer age and the unusual ground and sparse cover.  Gimme did a better job than the week before and clearly got better as she went along.

Here are two pictures Nadine took...


Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

For Halloween, Gimme dressed up as a well-known literary character.  

We really had to shop around to get all the clues in.  Can you decipher the clues and detect who she is? 

Nosework (3/21)

I came to class with a migraine (a mild one I've had for a week) and let them know if Gimme had any issues, to blame it on the tall end of the leash, since I wouldn't be as focused or quick to respond.  Actually Gimme did quite well and didn't seem bothered by my issue - clearly she doesn't need much input from me, eh.

Interior 1 video - We again had all the dividers set up, but more in rows so it was less intimidating.  We had to explain our strategy for working this on leash.  I said I would let Gimme burst into the area and go with whichever side of the middle she picked, and then would encourage her to check that out before moving to the other side.  The first thing she paws at is a hand on the floor, just like last week - this was unpaired, so it seems to fit with what Dorothy said about her being more inclined to get into toys or shopping when the hides aren't paired.  I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this information.  She did a very nice job.

Gimme was the third dog to search this week and we noticed all the dogs tended to find the bucket hides first, then the ones on chairs.  I shared my idea, which Dorothy agreed with:  I think the buckets "concentrate" the odor and the dogs find it rewarding to stick their head in the bucket. Kind of like the way dogs stick their heads out car windows, for the rush of scent they get.  So I think when buckets are available, they check them first and only after they've found all the in-bucket-hides, then they switch gears and look elsewhere. 

Interior 2 video - This search was off leash and my strategy was to simply stay upright and not get in her way.  Gimme continued her strategy of checking all the buckets a couple of times before checking anything else.  I don't recall noticing this with other containers, such as boxes, but it maybe be more pronounced since the buckets are novel and they see open boxes all the time.  Its kind of interesting on the video to see how she worked the final hide off the bathroom and stack of step platforms.  Plumbing tends to suck odor to it (as do drains outside), so it makes sense to see her work it so directly after she checks the bathroom, then to the platforms between the bathroom and the hide.

Interior 3 video - This final search was all blind hides and we were told they weren't going to answer if we said alert. The hides were visible when we got there, so we didn't need their confirmation, but I didn't ask what the purpose was for not answering.  Knowing Dorothy, I'm sure there was a reason.  Gimme did a nice job on this search.  She stuck with her buckets-first strategy. 

She always does so well in nosework.  I'm glad to see she wasn't negatively impacted by my migraine and muddled head.  I love her independence and take-charge approach. 

Since then I've entered her in our first (and only) barn hunt trial this year for Thanksgiving weekend.  I've also entered two tracking tests on the same day (mid-November).  One in Bow and the other in southern Oregon.  I really hope we get into Bow.  For one thing, I'll see a bunch of people I know and I'd love to have them there for celebrating (or commiserating).  And since Gimme has tracked there so many times in all the various seminars and workshops, its a good area where I know she'll be familiar with the environment and challenges.  Cross your fingers for us...

Tracking Genius (32)

A week ago on Friday, Nadine and I met at training area 23 of Fort Lewis.  These are very different conditions than what our dogs are used to.  There is rocky glacial soil and sparse vegetation.  Nadine and I are going to different places as we both prepare for tracking tests.  We'll come here a few times, until the dogs have mastered these conditions, and then will be looking for someplace else.

Gimme's track was 475 yards and 1:35 in age.  There was low clouds and fog when it was laid in very damp grass.  All of this had burned off by the time Gimme got to run it.

This is one of the oldest tracks she's ever run - which had not been our plan, but time got away from us.  She did well even though she's never done tracking here.   This drawing shows how she actually ran the track.  She overshot all the corners, but got better with each one.

Here are two pictures Nadine took of us back in April.  This is the type of environment she is used to.  Even late in the summer when the grass is all dried out, the dirt is all dirt and the grass is still plentiful.

She's a cutie, doncha know.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

RFE Practice (28)

I'm a bit behind, so this practice was actually 9 days ago.  I left the tripod in the car so my "videographer" would do more than just sit behind the camera.  She's doing a much nicer job.  But she said her shoulders are bothering her from holding the camera and trying to work the zoom, so I'm going to see about getting a handheld "tripod" or "monopod".

This was not our best day - mostly because of me.  I had a slight migraine and was impatient and not thinking as well as I could have.  Gimme still managed good stuff, even if I wasn't at my best.

Session 1 video - Gimme was a little snoopy as I was getting my jacket off, but was trying to work with me.  My stay signal was unclear, hence her moving with me.  We haven't done many stays of late, so she took it upon herself to break from it as I was returning.  She did well with the reset through my return.  We worked on focusing and rewarding with some play.  She loves the play and I want to use more of it.  The trouble I see is how she tends to spiral up until she has no self-control.  This is something I'm sure we need to work through (i.e. not avoid), so I'll have to get an explanation of how to approach this.  Gimme is such a great dog I'm sure she'd be doing much better with someone with more experience.  Thank God we have Kathy to coach me and the progress since we started has been huge.   I continue to see Gimme heeling wide and I want to focus on this to bring her closer.  I'm not sure why she's doing this, but suspect its something I allowed to develop while we were going through the false pregnancy, preferring to maintain attitude and attention.  The 180º turns at the camera-end of the room are worse than elsewhere, because that is where all the distraction occurs.  I think I need to increment this better - maybe by making the turn in that direction at the desk, and then repeating it just a couple feet closer at a time until she is able to maintain focus.  Its a distraction issue and I'm sure I could do a better job helping her understand how to win in that situation.  And of course, I see the one time she did it brilliantly, I failed to reward it enough to show how much I liked it.  <sigh>  After we tighten up heel position, I also want to work on Gimme noticing when I change pace as she is tending to keep going at the same pace whether I am or not.  You'll see after our first play explosion entering the "ring", she can't listen and so misses when I cue her to go to "side" position.  This is all part of the impulse control and over excitement issue.  She can learn it, I just need clarification on how to teach it to her.  We ended with a series of "thru" and she did them beautifully.  I did a good job stopping the session at a shorter time (8:30).

Session 2 video -   You'll see Gimme starts well, but then starts anticipating what I'm going to ask for and does what she thinks I'll say instead of what I asked for.  Such as "around" instead of "side".  Then she offers "turn" before I cue it.  I was going to cue it, but she doesn't wait.  Sure looks like I've developed a pattern which she's correctly figured out.  In watching the video, I think the first couple times I try to steady her in position with my hand, she thinks its rewarding (like petting).  But then she decides it isn't a reward and finds it deflating.  She's right, I shouldn't have used my hands on her to stop the offering.  We've been down this road before.  I wish I were better at analyzing on the fly and switching gears.  She starts getting it, in spite of me, not because of what I was doing.  I do want to set up platforms at home and work on her switching between "heel", "side" and "center".  "Center" is the weakest one and I think I just need to put a lot in the position bank accounts.  Gimme really likes backing up, but has developed a chain of her own - back a few steps then run forward to get a treat.  I was trying to toss the treats to her to get her to stay back until I called her to "center" again.  She started getting it once I got my treat tossing timely and accurate.  I am a treat-dropping-master, a real challenge.  You'll see she again has difficulty actually listening to the "side" cue, just assuming its "back" because that's what we've been doing.  There was about another minute to this video, but J'Anna had to answer a call she'd been waiting for and didn't catch it.  Again a nice length session (7:00).

Session 3 video - This video misses a minute because of difficulty getting the camera to record.  The display got changed and I haven't figured out how to get it back to "normal".  Gimme does a nice job on the 180º turn closer to the distracting end of the room, where I wasn't so far down.  On our first play reward in the "ring", Gimme enjoys it but then has to shake it off after its done.  So its clearly arousing for her.  Her 180º turns at the distraction end are still good, though a tad wide.  She stays excited and can't just-be-still...  This is hard for her when she isn't excited by play reward or a lot of food reward, so its something we need to work through.  Again, I should have been keeping my hands off her, since it only adds frustration to her challenge.  Part of the problem was that I was also wanting her to remain standing in "heel" and "side", which is what we do for RFE.  Next week I'll put a lot more reward into still-in-position.  I know tossing treats is rewarding her for being away from me, but it also helps to bleed off frustration (which, in this case, I caused).  In the backing, I notice a tendency as we add more distance, for her to curl clockwise.  I'm not sure how to fix this, so have to think about it.  I tried adding extra rewards when she ended up on the carpet square, to encourage her toward it and thus to backing straight.  I'm not sure it worked.  I may need to slow down in adding distance.  She was adding the down on the matt on her own - not sure why - so I just made sure she didn't get any rewards while down.  This session lasted too long (10:00).

I talk too much about what needs work, so I want to say, I know Gimme works really hard and has improved a lot this year... 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Nosework (2/21)

I was really concerned when I saw the search area.  It was a handling nightmare looking for a place to happen.

Interior 1 search video - These 3 hides were paired.  I made sure she knew I had raw steak, so she'd stick the hides and wait for my contribution.  Gimme did these really quickly and was happy to accept what I had to add.  She likes my steak doncha know.

Interior 2 search video - She was really interested in the fake gnarly hand on the floor.  No clue why Dorothy thought she was scared of it.  I think she just lost interest because it was held in place by the weight of the table.  Dorothy noticed Gimme was checking out the toy options this time, which she ignored the time before when the hides were paired.  I'll have to watch and see if this happens consistently in future paired and unpaired searches.  Gimme finds the first hide in the bathroom pretty fast.  Then she gets down in the corner and goes to work on the cabinet hide.  The last hide is in the bucket hanging from the hand on the ladder.  This proves to be very challenging for her, but not as much so for the other dogs.  A big part of this was because Gimme was the first dog searching this night and since the hide was deep in the bucket, it took a long time for it to fill up with scent enough so it spilled over.  Gimme really works the whole room to solve the puzzle of the elevated hide.  You can see how it suddenly becomes clear after she leaves the bathroom around 3:15...  From there she has the hide in 17 seconds. 

Interior 3 search video - The last search was on leash, which I'd been dreading.  We were asked ahead of time to tell how we planned to organize the search.  My plan was to work the perimeter and then gradually guide Gimme toward the middle.  I pretty much let Gimme start the search with her usual charge in, then guided her to the edge.  I knew in my head where we started working the perimeter, so had no problem knowing when to start working toward the middle.  She found the first hide right after we started the perimeter.  Then we worked around the room and she found the next one in the bathroom.  I didn't demand she work where I wanted; my plan was just to use my location to encourage her to search where I was.  On or off leash she's always well aware of where I am.  You'll see when she starts shopping for toys, I just gradually move away from her and this is all it takes to get her to leave those distractions.  When we got toward the middle, you can see she is really working that hide.  It was a very nice search and the handling wasn't quite the nightmare I thought it would be.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nosework (1/21)

I apologize for getting so far behind on blogging.  Things have been very hectic.

Vehicle search 1 video - The other instructor cautions me about running with Gimme into the search area for the millionth time.  I've explained why so many times and it doesn't stick, so I don't respond.  Gimme finds the first hide very quickly.  Gimme wanted to go to the grass and I didn't let her and moments later admonished her to get to work - she didn't pee when she had the chance, so I want to make sure she knows she doesn't get to pee during the search.  She does turn to go back to work and as luck would have it, immediately finds a hide.  From there she goes right to hide 3.  Dorothy has quite the challenge keeping up with us, which is complicated by not wanting to push us off a hide.  Gimme quickly finds the fourth hide.  Gimme is lured up, putting her feet on Dorothy's car by the presence of the jacket.  She hasn't put her feet on a vehicle in a very long time so I wasn't expecting it.  Since I chastised her about putting her feet up, Dorothy thinks I might want to reward a hide she'd already found to soothe any hurt feelings.  I don't think Gimme needs it.  Gimme takes another turn around the middle truck and this time just really nails the last hide.  The last hide was a really hard challenge because it was so close to the bumper hide.  Turns out Gimme was the only dog to go into the tight space between the two big trucks, but I always let her sort these things out in her own way.

Vehicle search 2 video - Gimme was really moving out in the initial trip around the vehicles and Dorothy was barely able to keep getting us back in the viewfinder - hence my backside plays a prominent role in this video.  Don't blink or you'll miss it when Gimme quickly checks the drain and then turns and goes directly to the nearest hide.  Gimme rechecks earlier locations and quickly dismisses the lingering odor.  I use the time while she is checking to back into the space between the two big trucks in anticipation Gimme will want to go there next.  Dorothy says the dogs use lingering odor to find new sources.  I think this really means they work through the lingering odor and once dismissed are able to work with what remains.  You'll see after the second hide, Gimme has no problem squeezing past me.  Seeing the jacket was still on Dorothy's car, I am prepared to body block if Gimme shows any interest there, but it isn't necessary.  I'm sure she remembered my stern "off" from before and was pretending there was nothing there.  It also helped to have a hide so close.  She heads a bit out of the search area and when I restrict her, she checks the drain again... and again goes right to odor.  Kind of amazing how the drain to odor thing works.

Vehicle search 3 video - By the time we start the third search its getting dark and its over in another parking lot with no lighting.  The two vehicles are a large glass carrying truck and a equipment trailer.  I didn't think there would be anything to show in the video, but you can see a bit of what's happening.  What is most interesting about this search is how Gimme knows the general location of the hide, but has trouble sourcing it.  As soon as I do-se-do to switch places with her, then she's right on it.  So, while she's perfectly comfortable pushing past me to get to where she wants to go, in this case (maybe because it was darker) her ability to work was hampered by social pressure.  Once the social pressure is relieved she immediately solves the puzzle.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Title - #19

Yesterday I got the email confirming Gimme has earned her ADP-L2.  This is title #19 for her.  You can see the video at Van Contents - ADP L-2.  I was surprised to see it already has 106 views, since I haven't shared the link with anyone until just now.

It was a lot of fun doing this.  ADP encourages us to get creative with our selection of and use of a location.  So I decided to use my van's contents as one location.  Given all the stuff living in my van for our dog sport training - it was easy to come up with 12 behaviors.  I hope you enjoy watching it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

RFE Practice (27)

Last Thursday we got together with J'Anna and her dog for RallyFrEe practice.  Overall I think it went very well and I was happy with how Gimme worked.  I made a concerted effort to keep the sessions to around 8 minutes.

Session 1 video - The idea was to warm-up in the corridor outside the ring gates, then stand still at the gates as if waiting to enter, then enter and when you get a moment of good attention - go into reward mode.  Gimme started out with little focus, but got better.  It had been a month since our last practice.  I was using stopping and/or backing up/away a few steps to encourage her to pay attention on her own.  She has learned to like the up-touch game because I put a lot of early value into it.  After the center-front-pivot, I tried to make the reward period last longer by talking to her between treats (which Kathy suggested).  Gimme found this almost too exciting.  The second time I stayed bent over, keeping more at her level to encourage her to stay down.  When I entered the ring the first time, her attention wandered and I had to step away to get her to look to me, which I was able to reward.  I noticed she held attention better while we waited to go in the second time.  The third and fourth time were much better - showing it was working.

Session 2 video - This time I wanted to do "exploding tree".  Basically be still and wait for focus, then explode into excited play, carefully extending the time of focus needing to get the explosion and games.  I have some dead socks I meant to bring so Gimme could tear them up, but forgot.  You can see how much she loved this game, since she was about to explode herself in anticipation.  After the exploding, we got to work practicing our "out" behavior.  Gimme kept going the wrong way around the post. 

I got the feeling she didn't really understand why one try was rewarded and the other not rewarded, it was like she was just guessing. It was getting worse, I think because she stops thinking when she's frustrated.  So I put up a ring gate to set her up for success and make it clearer.  Thus we were able to end correctly. 

I realized after watching this - I'm oriented toward the prop the same way I am when I ask her to "cane" or "orbit".  For those behaviors I want her to go between me and the prop and then loop around it.  For "out" I want her to go directly around it.  (diagram)  I've been teaching "out" for parkour, so Gimme may also have been confused by seeing this new behavior in a different context.  Most often the way she was going wrong was when I was starting with her on my left, which is "cane" the stronger behavior of the two.

Session 3 video - Gimme started this session with a little more focus than before.  I think keeping the sessions shorter leaves her wanting more.  I started out with an exploding tree as soon as I could, to get her fully into the game.  We ended the session working on her backing between two props, "tween" will be the final cue.  She sure has a cute tushy when she's backing up.  She was getting it really nicely toward the end.

It occurs to me after watching this - I need to be throwing a treat to her when she backs up.  She looks to be developing a habit of taking a certain number of steps back and then coming forward again automatically.  I'd like her to go at least double the distance she is doing there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nosework (6/20)

We had 3 container searches and 1 vehicle. 

Container 1 video - Three paired hides in open containers.  As always I got comments for letting her dash off the startline.  She does better if I let her start her way, especially for the first search.  Yes, this does mean I'm not in position to add treats to the container when she gets to the first paired hide, but if it wasn't paired, then she would wait for me.  I understand the value of paired hides, but I also see a downside.  The down side becomes very obvious in the next search on the false start when they forgot to pair.  Also, I let her use the area the way she wants... she finds a lot of hides when the scent pools near something else in the room.  I think it makes more sense to be standing near the containers, to make it clear we are doing a container search, while still letting her use the length of the leash to check for pooling odor elsewhere.  Naturally given prior experience, I don't voice my thinking. 

Container 2 false start video - Supposed to be two paired hides in open containers and one unpaired hide.  You'll see here, when they forgot to pair, she didn't stick the hides.  Like most dogs, she does what she learned last, which was look for odor-with-food.  When she didn't find odor-with-food, she immediately moves on.  And even though she went by the hide in the luggage two times, she paid no attention to it, I think because it wasn't paired. 

Container 2 video - Dorothy comments this is a better start, but its the way Gimme chose to start.  If she'd wanted to dash out, I would have let her.  She slows herself down after the excitement of the first couple starts.  I see no advantage to frustrating her by holding her back.  She finds the two paired hides quickly and only then does she bother looking for the unpaired hide. 

Container 3 video - Two blind hides.  You'll see Gimme actually catches the hide in the luggage, but just keeps going, because I believe she's looking for odor-with-food.  She wastes 40 seconds looking for food before she settles down to search for just-odor - I don't see this as helpful.  Once she gives up on food it only takes her 20 seconds to find the first luggage hide.  It takes her almost 3 minutes to find the next hide.  She spends a bit of time checking the tall piece, where odor is pooling against it, but she never pays any attention to it after that.  Its in a little purse and she checked it early, but something about it throws her.  It takes a long time before she commits to it.

I find it interesting how Dorothy said I "get a bunch of behavior" from telling her what to do, but she never notices this same bunch of behavior when we are working on a short leash and Gimme is frustrated by the restriction.

It seems all the dogs had difficulty with this particular "container".  In my opinion, this would have been a really valuable time to pair the hide.  In the past when we set up a really challenging puzzle, we often pair it to help the dogs at first.  Then we'll do it again without pairing.  After they initially learn nosework, I think pairing for challenges is probably the best reason.  I know, at least for Gimme, every time we go through this pairing game - she seems to learn an unintended lesson and then has to unlearn it.  She's a really smart girl, so it doesn't take much to get her back to normal, but I don't see the point in "going there" in the first place.  Maybe dogs who aren't as brilliant as she respond differently to the game.  I'll have to watch for that next time we do this set of exercises. 

Vehicle search video - One hide, in front of  R-front tire.  Weirdly Dorothy is suddenly okay with me letting Gimme dash off the startline to the curb near the vehicle.  I don't see any consistency to her suggestions on this topic.  I thought it was very interesting how Gimme tried to use the curb to find source.  Of course, scent was pooling there.  And given her experience with curbs in urban tracking, it made sense to her to check it.  Gimme was the only dog to go around to the far side of the truck and only when she got to the far side did she get more purposeful, so she clearly got something from going around there.  I can't explain it, because there was almost no breeze and it wasn't going that way.  She was still faster than the others.