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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

RFE Practice (8) & More

Last week my sister needed someone to cover parent-sitting because her husband was having eye surgery early the next morning.  Ordinarily I don't do the overnights because there's a cat there and I don't think its fair to make Gimme sleep in the car all night.  As it turned out, this was a night we weren't having nosework class, so I decided it would be a good opportunity to let her stay overnight in the kennel I will be using in the future. 

When I got there and saw the kennels, I had my reservations.  They were built a long time ago, and while well maintained and clean, the aisle-ways are very narrow, just 2 feet.  Thus, in order for Gimme to go anywhere - like to the big play yard, she would have to go between multiple dogs close on both sides.  The space between the front of her indoor space and the front of her neighbor was only 2 feet and the space between her covered outdoor run and the dog across from her was also only 2 feet. 

I was just sure she'd have difficulty with these close confines.  Instead she acted like it was no big deal.  We let her in her run and laid down her blanket, then took her to the play yard.  There was no sign she even noticed the dogs on either side of her.  I'm sure she must have, she just paid no attention to them.  Janice, who I've known a long time, said Gimme was the model boarder.  While she initially yodeled her objections, as soon as I drove out the gate, she was quiet and remained quiet until I drove back in the gate 15 hours later.  Gimme got cookies at the end of each time running "the gauntlet" and was pleasant toward her neighbors.  This is just not the report I expected.

On Wednesday during our walk, I tried some different things. When we see a cyclist coming, she still gives me her communication from a place well-forward of heel.  Then I cue her to heel or side, and when she gets there, she gets rewarded with p.b. in position as we move along.  I thought it would be better to reward in heel/side position and build value for being there.  The first couple of times I did it she looked at me like I was nuts, but then she did it very smoothly.

I also noticed another thing we do on our walks which is probably contributing to lack of duration.  We have to cross as many as 5 roads; the first one is busy, but the others are generally quiet.  I've been teaching her to stop at the roads and wait for me and she gets a treat when I get to her (she's on a 25' line).  Then we cross the road "with-me" (loose leash fairly close to me, but not heel) and she gets a treat when we are across.  This pattern works well and I usually don't have to cue "halt" or "with-me" anymore.  But, I noticed as soon as she gets the treat after we cross the road, she disengages on her own to go back to sniffing.  So, I've unintentionally taught her get-a-treat-and-you're-done and I think its morphing into our other training. 

So Wednesday, after the first treat I re-cued "with-me" and we kept walking until she got as many as three more treats (variable).  After the first two times, I didn't have to re-cue "with-me" and she just stayed close to me.  Then I released her with "all done" and she was sent to go sniffing.  I think the release is going to be very important for clarity.  Gimme figured this out very quickly... she's all about getting her treats, so she's very adaptable. 

On Thursday we met for RallyFrEe practice.  I think things went much, much better.  Gimme's performance was much improved.  I was really happy with how things went. 

Session 1a I started with our modified perimeter walk.  Overall I thought she did well with getting some time to acclimate, even if its less than usual (look, but don't touch), with click/treats for offered attention.  We'd set up a simple course of side transitions.  Gimme is confused by the Front Cross Handler, so I stopped trying and will have to work on it separately.  After studying the video, I think she's confusing by what I'm doing with my hands while handling the leash and what I do with my hands during a center-front-pivot.  Clearly there's a reason I don't normally train RFE on leash - the leash handling is a pain.  I also had five little dishes of treats out, so sometimes we could run to the treats.  She's getting the idea about working in heel/side better, but we need more duration.  The person taping us stopped the camera, when I planned to do some finding heel/side, so you know what is in this video Session 1b  I thought she'd lost some focus at this point, but she wasn't stressed and was working through it, so I continued for a couple of minutes.  You'll note the last trial of this session, I started making her stay in heel/side to get the treats, since she was getting obnoxious about treats.

And yes, I'm aware she's breaking her "wait", but I'll focus on this in a different session.  Partly I think its sloppy hand signals and so I need to work through a training plan to make it verbal only, eh  Also, she's never been taught to hold a wait when I move behind her at a distance.

Session 2  Gimme is distracted in these sessions by me bending over and passing the leash through my legs.  We've never trained this way before, so she is trying to figure out what I'm wanting her to do.  Another part of what is throwing her off is my hands holding the leash.  Normally for RallyFrEe heeling I have the hand nearest her dropped down at my side (up at my waist if I want her to sit when I stop).  With two hands on the leash the hand nearest her is in a weird halfway position and she seems a bit confused by it.  Since she was working well, I took the leash off her with as little fanfare as possible for some finding heel/side.  During this session is when I realized she is cuing off my head for which side to go to.  So this explains why she does better when she's coming from behind me, since I'd had a tendency to look over the shoulder to the side I wanted her to come to.  Smart dog, dumb handler.

Session 3  In this session I only worked on heeling duration.  There were some parts I really liked.  She tries so hard.  

Next time we practice, I'm going to do my first session with heeling only and just ignore the stations.  I'd like to warm her up for one or two sessions, so I can have her off leash for when I do the stations and don't have to fool with the leash.  She tries so hard and you have to admit, she's dang cute.

BTW I have since realized she's coming into her false pregnancy a bit early - probably because she skipped a season in August.  By Saturday she had completely lost her self-control and suddenly couldn't do things she'd been doing very well just days before.  Its gradually coming back.  Today I checked all her supplement needs using kinesiology and she's on her full false pregnancy regimen.  So she'll probably get her brain back in a few days.  Fortunately nosework and tracking aren't usually affected by her false prenancies.

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