Yesterday was our RallyFrEe practice and it was fun. I set up a "playground" to encourage less formal heeling. It looked like this diagram, with 4 poles for serpentine, 4 chairs grouped to heel around and practice corners, 3 ring gates for channels with send poles off one end, which could be used in multiple ways. There were 6 stations, which were: 1) Right 270º, 2) Left 270º, 3) 180º U-turns, 4) Switchbacks, 5) Spins and 6) Circle Around.
I did some more playing with free movement. At one point in the second session I thought Gimme was getting a little frustrated, so I turned up the dial on my movement to get her playing with me and we developed a cute "move". I don't know if it would be usable as a Free Choice move for RFE and plan to send this clip to Julie for her opinion. In any case it was fun to play with and I think we could use it in Freestyle if I ever make up a routine. I made one little clip of our little "move". Serpentine-Play
Session 1 - I thought Gimme did a nice job. Our first segment of heeling was good and she worked well for 40 seconds without a treat. I realize that isn't huge, but its good duration for us. I think the playground is good for her and she likes music. Maybe she likes music because I tend to move faster when its playing. I was very pleased to see her completely ignore the barking dogs in the background. Our first attempt heeling around the chairs wasn't effective - it worked better later when I had her on the inside of the turn. Last week I found I was crowding her line for heeling through the serpentine. I didn't think I was this time, but perhaps these poles look too much like what we use to train "cane" and "orbit". It took a couple tries to get her to understand what I wanted. The first time I cued her to go around me, the cue should have been "behind", but I said "around". I thought her solution to go to the start/end position for "around" was clever.
Overall I thought she was a little more distracted this time (but not by the barking or vacuum). It could be because of where she is at in her false pregnancy. Also I am reducing our perimeter walks. I am going to play with something different next time. I will try standing in the middle of the ring area, pointing at things and cue "whazzat" (Control Unleashed look-at-that). She has a really good understanding of what it means, so perhaps it would work better to get her over the hump as we try to reduce our dependence on the full perimeter walk. I think it really would have helped on our third session where we had such a large audience show up.
Session 2 - This session started out good, despite short acclimating. Gimme couldn't remember what "cane" and "orbit" meant, despite doing them so well 2 weeks ago. I spent a short time trying to work through it and after a couple of successes decided to let it go. Mostly I focused on doodling about with heeling and things she should know well. Sometimes she seemed to know what to do and other times not.
Session 3 - Gimme is a big favorite at Pawsabilities, so we often have someone watching, but this time there was a big audience of several people. Gimme did well until we got to where she saw them all standing together and then her attention was really divided. I really should have stopped to do "whazzat" about the people. And then I should have dropped back to really basic stuff. I tried out moving with my hands on my hips and it didn't work cleanly for us, though I may try it another time. Mostly I just tried to keep her engaged with me.
Tonight as I was waiting for videos to get saved/uploaded and was doing other things, I discovered Gimme is in the process of selecting a Baby. She had one overnight on Monday, but then it went back to being a toy in the morning. At the moment its a toss up between Mr. Big Cow and Brown Bunny (bunny seems to be in the lead). For the most part she did real well at the practice, but occasionally it seemed she couldn't think. So this may explain the times she was distracted, the times when she had to be reminded what cues meant ("spin", "turn", "cane" & "orbit"), and the few times when she couldn't finish the behavior correctly despite starting well.
Next time and thereafter we'll be going back to course work for a bit. There's a video competition in March and J'Anna wants to enter. I will probably enter at the novice level and get started working on an Encore title. I'm also going to keep having J'Anna video our practices and when we have enough, I'll edit them together and enter for a Skills title.