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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

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.