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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

RallyFrEe practice (35)

Gimme is fully into her false pregnancy now.  She keeps changing her mind about which toy is "the baby" and brings a different toy to bed each night.  I thought the bunny toy was going to be the winner, but she's been obsessed with the little purple dog toy for 24 hours.  Today when we left home she insisted we bring it along and when I get her out of the car, she has it in her mouth and wants to take it into the building.  I have to remind her it will be safe in the car. 

First let me say I still have no recognition of the passage of time.  I had set my phone to chime at 7 minutes.   I thought then I'd spend another minute and then end the session at a nice 8 minutes.  Instead, this session was nearly 11 minutes... so even "1 minute" takes on a life of its own.  Next time I'll try setting it at 5 minutes. 

Session 1 video - My goal was to keep her busy working, with a good rate of reinforcement and mostly work on things she knows well.  I wanted to make it a point to start working heeling in "side" position.  Most of the time I start in "heel" position and then switch and I don't think I give it equal time, which I think is part of why her right side heeling isn't as good.  I kept the heeling short and sweet and then switched to other behaviors.  Putting her feet on things is a big favorite and especially backing onto things.  That is a high chair for her size and its hard to get her front feet up in it - takes a lot of core strength.  She almost always has to put her front feet on it first, I guess so she knows its safe.  I tried to work a bit on distance spins, but she wasn't getting it, so I went on to other things.  She knows the difference between "spin" (CCW) and "turn" (CW) in "center" position and from watching this video, I think she though this was what we were doing.  I'll work this at home using the wire guides to get success.  We've been working on "Otto" (back around me) and so she gave me one when I asked for "behind"; it was a pretty nice one.  She backs half the way and then tends to flip her rear out, so we still need the guides to clean it up while we make a correct habit.  And with the guides, then I'll be able to really jackpot when she does it correctly.  I'm surprised at how well this behavior is going - she does love backing up.  She tends to get stuck on whatever we've been working on and then throws it in when I've asked for something else.  Case in point, I was working a center-front-pivot and she turns it into "Otto".  BTW I completely understand this tendency.  If we've been working on something new, then it has a huge and recent reward history, so of course she'll be drawn to it.  It certainly doesn't help when I sometimes get caught up in her ideas.  :)  I did get back onto the center-front-pivots and she did nice ones, in each direction.  Then we worked on waiting for the cue for the paw-to-knee behavior.  (she's never been convinced I should get to drive the train)  We finally get back to "behind" which is what I'd cued when she offered "Otto" and successfully got me to play her game.  We worked with "behind" and "around" to get to "under".  Having her come up into my arm from "under" is completely new.  I thought she did well at it.  Its cute and simple.  I want to work it where I'm not standing with such a wide stance. 

Session 2a video - One of my goals for today was to get posed freestyle picture of Gimme and me for a photo tribute MDSA is doing.  So this second session is a short general warm up, a warm up of the paw-to-knee behavior and getting Gimme used to what I wanted to do with the hat.  Here's the photo we got.  [Sometimes her tail wags too fast to be captured on film]

Session 2b video - We did the intermediate course I'd set up for J'Anna.  At the first station, Gimme started "Otto" very well, but then flipped her butt out to face me.  Clearly it needs more work with the guides.  I didn't really plan out which behaviors we'd do at the FreeChoice signs, so things weren't as smooth as they could have been.  Right as I heeled off from Otto, Gimme heard a squeak toy (probably from the day care room).  She would always be distracted by this sound and it is something we need to work through.  But when she's having a false pregnancy, she is super distracted by squeaks.  There was a toy on the table, but it wasn't the source of the sound.  Just as I was getting her brain back, there was loud barking from daycare.  We haven't done plain backing up, so she wasn't sure what I wanted after the corner.  (you'll have to excuse J'Anna, she gets so involved watching beautiful Gimme, she forgets the camera)  She got a bit more focused on the "thru" sequence, so I did a couple extra and she ended up on the wrong side.  I messed up the switchback - you have to be smarter than a dog to train one. 

Session 3 - Because the prior session went poorly, I wanted to end with one short session, with good focus, doing well known behaviors.  Unfortunately J'Anna only thought she was taping us.  Too bad, because it was a really nice session, about 4 minutes.  We did ”side", "heel", "around", "behind", "under", "thru", "spin", "turn" and "pivot".  It was a very good recovery session.

Overall, I thought Gimme did a nice job.  There was a lot to like here, even with her being in Mommy-brain...  We owe most of this to Kathy's great coaching.  It has helped bring clarity to the training, so Gimme is doing better in her training.  We didn't backslide during the last false pregnancy and I feel confident we'll do the same this time.

Sadly we didn't get any enrollment in the Parkour class I'm contracted to teach at Pawsabilities, so we are doing some other marketing things to promote it.  One really cool thing - they've added Parkour as one of the electives (must do 2 electives) for their owner-trained service dog program.   A lot of people in the program have PTSD, so getting them out and about with their dogs is a real plus.  It'll be exciting once it gets going.  BTW, as a Pawsabilities employee now, I don't have to pay for floor rental, saving me about $250 per year.  Nice!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Parkour (2/5)

Our return to parkour class was long awaited and Gimme and I were both excited.  Unfortunately I couldn't find the tripod in the car, so didn't get videos.  This class has four other students, making it bigger than before and all are unfamiliar dogs.  It didn't help when one owner let her 14 month yellow Lab stand behind our car barking before class started.  Gimme pretty much ignored the other three dogs, but has decided this one needs to be given what-for, which is aggravated by the dog's tendency to bark shrilly and repeatedly at anything strange to her.  With both dogs wanting to get to the other, it made it very challenging to move around class.  I finally got my brain in gear and played "whazzat" with Gimme, using the other dog to look at.  So then the last time we walked by it was better. 

Personally I think the other dog is a bit reactive and could get worse if not dealt with, but she's not my student.  I am going to look up some references and share them with Jo, suggesting, at the very least, they should teach her the Look-At-That game, which could be used to get her off the shrill barking.

To start with, we were each to warm up our dogs using equipment in the room.  Since I didn't know the other people/dogs, there was no way I was going to venture onto the floor among them.  I got a box and an upside down tub and we played with those within our space (behind a barrier).  It took a bit for Gimme to really get to work, but then she did nicely.

Our next task was to teach our dog to start from a 4-on position on a prop and step just the front feet off.  It was very easy to get Gimme to do this.  I'm sure Gimme thought I was having a senior moment, because if this is what I wanted, I should have cued "bacon", which she repeatedly showed me.  Still trying to drive the train.  I did get her to do the exercise my way and we started naming it "step".

Jo had set up 2 boards (stripes) with the 2 scaffolds (orange), so the dogs got to walk them in sequence.  Gimme loves this kind of stuff.  I was happy to see she remembered "flip" (180ยบ turn) cue, even though we haven't done it since we were last in class, 4 months ago.

Then we had a series of distance exercises.  The basic setup was the PVC flap thing - I call it the carwash (pink), because there are about 20 straps hanging down the dog has to push through.  On both sides were PVC barriers (zigzag pattern), angled back toward the handler.  There was a prop on the other side of the carwash and we were supposed to teach the dog to interact with it, even though
we didn't go with them.

The first time there was a cone about 4 feet past the carwash which she needed to go "out" around.  Gimme did it twice really nicely, but when we tried to get her to go the other direction, then she got confused.  For the second direction, she was turning toward other dogs and I'm sure it was just too distracting.  To her credit she didn't leave me, she just couldn't focus.  I went ahead and broke it off since she was wildly throwing behaviors at me and we weren't accomplishing anything. She can do sends, but it seems the barrier confused her. I have a LOT of old PVC, so I may make a carwash to train this option (and then will have it when I start teaching).

I don't think Jo's way of teaching this send exercise to the dogs was effective.  She basically had us standing behind the carwash, gesturing and repeating the cue.  If the dog couldn't do it even when we leaned way over the carwash, she moved the prop.  I will teach this entirely different.  In Gimme's case, she will do a send to "out" from 15 feet, but its always been with a different approach - the PVC barriers prevented the approach angle she was used to, adding to the difficulty.  So I'll be factoring this in to how I teach it.

The second time the send was to a "box" and this was beyond easy for her.  The third time there was the barrel part of an agility chute.  She was supposed to go "thru" the carwash, "thru" the barrel, then turn right or left to come back to me "thru" the carwash.  This was a little more challenging, but a few tossed treats solved the problem and she was able to do it nicely afterward without tossing treats.

Then we did a longer sequence starting with the boards and scaffolds.  As we came off, the dog was sent around a cone and then to do 4-on with a low platform.  They were supposed to "wait" on the platform for ten seconds.  Gimme didn't do her stay very well, starting to come with me.  Its quite possible I didn't pause as I was giving her the cue, so she was following my motion and not really hearing the verbal cue.

To end class we were to pick a prop and work whatever we wanted on it.  Gimme was pretty tired, so I thought she'd enjoy doing "bacon".  She did it nicely into a chair, pretty high seat so she had to put extra effort into getting her front feet up.  I wanted to do it on the wall too to show off for Jo, but Gimme wasn't very enthused, plus the wall is not textured, so it was slippery.  I just encouraged her and rewarded strongly for trying, even though she only kept her feet up for half a second.  The floor was slick too, making it even harder. 

We'd ended up on the far end of the room from the door and Gimme was really done by this point.  So, I waited until the yellow Lab left before we moved through the room.  She'd worked so hard and I didn't want to risk ending on a poor note.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Last Week

I had a medical issue last week and wasn't sure how the ER folks at Madigan would deal with it.  So I took Gimme to Janice's kennel for the day and we left it open ended as to when I'd pick her up.  Without going into detail, things went well and we opted for the simpler procedure.  Unfortunately it took so long, I was too late to pick Gimme up - certainly too late to get her and head to Maple Valley for what was supposed to be the first class as we resume parkour.  This also meant I couldn't meet Nadine for tracking at the crack of dawn - turned out well since she had a conflict come up.

Later in the evening I got a text from Gimme (channeled through Janice doncha know), telling me she missed me and to sleep well.  I sent a text back.  There was another text I couldn't open.  I figured it was pictures, but my cell-phone is an "antique" and can't do pictures. 

Here are two of the pictures. One is of Gimme grinning.  She really likes Janice and grins at her all the time.  The other is her snoozing with Bunny-baby, who has since been replaced with PurpleDog-baby.

Apparently the drugs I was taking for pain made me more susceptible to Gimme's influence.  She woke me twice during the night to hold up the covers so she could get in bed.  I'd swear I was awake and could see her by the light of my diffuser.  While its possible Gimme just planted this in my dreams, she still had to be in my head.  I'd never put the diffuser in the bedroom before, so she wouldn't have known what the room looked like by its light, unless she'd gotten the picture from my head. 

Then the next day, before I could get her, I had to change the dressing on my owie and was taking a long hot bath to soak off the old dressing.  I was in the midst of peeling the bandage off when I distinctly heard "squeak-a squeak-a squeak-a squeeeeak squeeeeeak squeak-a squeak".  This is how Gimme plays with her squeak toys, making a long string of squeaks.  While I distinctly heard the squeaking, it did sound a little fainter, like she was farther away. 

Too too strange.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nosework (6/22)

I'm showing you the searches for this class out of order (grouping interiors, then containers), because of the discussion about each.

We had a series of three interior searches and four container searches.  For the interior searches, they weren't hard, in fact the hides were pretty obvious.  After the first search Dorothy explained the idea was to test a concern from the last class where the dogs had so much difficulty with odor in small plastic containers.  They all had holes, so scent should have been plentiful.  The other instructor thought maybe the dogs were unfamiliar with odor-in-plastic.  They've not shown any trouble with odor in plastic tubing or in water bottles, but there are many different kinds of plastic.

Interior search 1 video - You'll see Gimme sniffs the odor container almost right away, but then leaves it.  Hard to believe it took her 1:09 to find it in this little room.  I thought she was goofing off.  While it did look like it, Dorothy said all the dogs were having trouble with this search.  We discussed the purpose for these searches after everyone went through the first one.

Interior search 2 video - We didn't have any reason for why she was acting so silly.  It might be because Auntie Janice (Freedom Kennels) was there and it was such a small room - it was her pockets Gimme tried to raid.  It just seemed to take a bit for her to get to work.  Even including the silliness, she still trimmed her time substantially, getting the hide in 44 seconds.

Interior search 3 - There is no video for this search.  Dorothy wasn't quite ready for Gimme to burst across the start line and by the time she hit record, the search was over.  It was a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it kinda search.  Great job Gimme.

The other searches were all box container searches.  I told Dorothy before we started I planned to work Gimme's over-exuberant indication.  Not surprising to me was the other instructor's feedback - she and I have disagreed on just about everything, so I've come to expect it.  I found Dorothy's feedback very helpful and spot-on, as always. 

Gimme has been faulted exactly 1 time for pawing (over 11 trials) and the judge who did it explained her stand was to fault any touch.  It was actually one of the gentlest paw indications Gimme has ever done. I see no point training toward every possible rules interpretation by judges, just as I wouldn't train obedience next to a moving forklift just because its "possible" you could see one at a trial.  This is Gimme's natural inclination and I'm not going to require her to completely change for a dog sport - she isn't working as a bomb detection dog.  I'm simply training toward a gentler version of it.  If she morphs to no-touch on her own and its still clear, I'll go with it, I'm just not going to require it. This is my philosophy and I'm sticking with it. 

Container search 1 video - Just 1 hide.  Gimme did a nice job stopping me for the odor box, even though we were moving at a pretty good speed.  Her first indication was pretty vigorous. I did have to ignore the second one, but then she got milder with each subsequent one.  Overall I thought she did a very nice job.

Container search 2 video - 2 hides.  This time I ignored the first two indications because she was raking her foot across the box... on the third one her paw (while still a strong "bap") wasn't moving so I rewarded it.  With just that little bit of warm up, you'll notice on the next hide (blue box), her indication is deliberate, a bap, but not raking at all.

Container search 3 video - 3 hides.  Hide 3 was challenging because it was so close to hide 2.  Gimme was more reasonable in her indications.  No raking with any of these. 

Container search 4 video - 4 hides.  Gimme is completely unfazed by getting her head stuck in the first box hide.  She did a nice job on all her indications, with no raking.

I need to work this system in all her searches, all the time (not just containers).  What was particularly noticeable to me, was how she got more and more excited with each search, but was able to carry over what she was learning about modifying her indication from one search to another.  In the past when we've done multiple box searches, she's gotten more excited with each search until she just starts trashing boxes without even checking for odor.  So this was a huge improvement.  Its nice to work with a genius.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tracking (35)

This is the first time we've tracked since Gimme got her TD in November.  Nadine had some other things going on and I was very busy at work.  Gimme is not impressed with either excuse.

Conditions were icy-cold.  The ground was frozen solid... even the mole-hills were like concrete.  There was no breeze to speak of.  I don't have distances for the legs, but this is a good representation.  It was about 45 minutes old.

Gimme was very eager to get started on this track.  She wanted to do it without any delay, such as pottying.  I had some difficulty convincing her we didn't need to run full out.  A very good decision, since the frozen ground was very unforgiving and it was too easy to catch a foot on some concrete-dirt and go down, which Nadine did.  The black block is the start sock and red blocks are articles.

Gimme did well on all the field portions.  She overran the second turn and took a little bit to sort it out, but then was solid.  The dashed line shows where she knew the turn was there and I didn't believe her.  Nadine said she put in a road crossing for us and I had it in my head it would be straight ahead coming down the hill.  Gimme cooperated with me and then just kept pulling me right until she got us both on the track.  You have to love her persistence.  She had trouble with the two road crossings.  She spent a long time on the first one before she finally decided to sniff on the pavement.  The article there was at the foot of a telephone pole.  From there she was quite willing to track along the side of the road and back to the cars, ignoring the second road crossing.

Really I was pleased with her efforts, given we haven't been tracking in two months.  Our plan is to mostly focus on urban, following Sil's plan to the letter.  I want to start over, back at the very baby stuff.  Gimme has developed a tendency to "go visual" when tracking on pavement gets challenging, so I want to resolve this and build a better foundation.  One of the things we have to do is make sure she can't see food drops, so we'll be using beef jerky, which blends in with the pavement much better than cheese. 

At the same time we'll be doing field tracking as needed while Nadine figures out which trial she will enter with Cricket.  Gimme and Cricket were in the same trial, but Cricket got a more challenging field.  She doesn't have Gimme's persistence, so she got the dreaded whistle right after the first turn.  When we are doing field tracking, we'll be introducing some TDX challenges for Gimme.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

RFE Practice (34)

Gimme is going into her false pregnancy.  The baby isn't supposed to be due for another week, but she decided to bring bunny-baby to bed last night.  My plan was to work on basics and on some new stuff, making sure I broke stuff down to small increments and kept up a high rate of reward. I forgot my camera, so asked J'Anna to make a summary list of what we worked on.  Based on her list, this is what I remember.

Session 1
Door entry with automatic reorientation - I worked on some attention before we ever came through the door, so this went well.
"Set-up" - We did two on the way to the table.  We haven't done these for awhile and Gimme was excited to do them again.  I think she really likes it when she knows how to win.
"Wait" - I planned to use my phone to alert me when seven minutes had passed, so I could keep our sessions short.  I put Gimme in a sit stay while I went to the counter to get my phone and as I was moving -back toward her she broke her stay, so we worked on stays.  She just didn't seem clear in her head to resist distraction, so I kept having to break it down further and further.  When we finally got a couple good waits, I moved on other stuff.  But first I did some treat tossing, to bleed off frustration.  In hindsight, I should have done more active stuff and then come back to stays.
Heeling - We worked heel on both sides.  Gimme's left side "set-up" and "heel" was really nice.  She was giving me nice position and was tight and attentive.  On the right side, "set-up" was really good, "side" moving wasn't as good.  So we worked it a bit more.  We ended with some treat tossing.
"Center" - We did some center stand work, first holding position and then center-pivot in both directions.  Gimme really likes this and did well.
"Far-out" - I wanted to try what Kathy had suggested for teaching the distance "around" and "behind" (circling me).  Her plan is to first teach the dog to stay "out" by keeping the cones close enough to each other so they don't try to edge in between them.  I first set up 4 cones with about 3 feet between them.  Gimme couldn't do these consistently and seemed to be trying to weave them.  I'm sure from her perspective this seemed reasonable, especially with the hardscape weaves we've been doing in Parkour.  So I filled in the gaps with more cones, so the gaps were smaller and less attractive.  Then I stayed closer until she got the idea.  I did find she still tended to want to drift in between the last two cones, which was easily solved when I started tossing the rewards out in front of her.  Once we got the technical bits worked out, Gimme really liked this - lots of reward and movement always makes her happy.

Between sessions I set up some chairs and ring fencing to create a square space with barriers around it our back around training (I left my set of guides at home).  The green squares are chairs and the blue dotted lines are ring fencing. I didn't want to use just ring fencing because I don't think its stable enough.

Session 2
Door entry with automatic reorientation - Again went well.
"Set-up" - We did two on the way to the table. 
"Wait" - One quick stay while I got the phone.  I gave Gimme a reminder cue as I moved toward her and she did well. 
"Side" - We began with right side heeling, big lines, then around the chair square and around some of the course numbers.
"Far-out" - We did some in both directions.  Then I took out one cone creating a gap in the center of the line.  I wanted to start spreading them out, being sure to keep the spacing at the end of the line the same until she's sure on the behavior.  I tried to click faster movement, since I'd like her end behavior to be done at a very quick pace.
"Can" and "Pivot" - We used a prop J'Anna had set up to practice Gimme's "can" and "pivot" (forehand CCW pivot).  It took a bit to convince Gimme to actually listen to my cues and do those.  She assumed I wanted her to back onto the prop - which we've been doing a lot of with Parkour.  It occurs to me I should drop the "can" cue since its the same as the "table" cue I use in Parkour.  I should also use "hands" before "pivot" to clarify to front feet, since it shouldn't make a difference whether the prop is low or tall.
"Otto" - Gimme is just learning to back around me, starting and ending in heel position.  I've started fading the guides at home and learned then I needed to be slower about fading them behind me - probably using other barriers would help, though I have to be careful not to pick something she'd think she could back onto.  For these I just stood in the chair square and cued her to get into heel position, then a clicked any movement backward - the one time her fidgety feet come in handy.  Since she'd been doing full back arounds at home, it didn't take her long to work up to them here.  I am also starting to attach the cue. 
In case you wonder how I came up with the "Otto" cue.  I went online to translate "around" and "behind" into other languages.  I tried several and came up with Croation.  "Around" becomes "oto" and "behind" becomes "izu".  Both of which would be fine as cues, but to make them easier to remember I changed them to "Otto" and "Izzy".  This may all seem weird, but remember, cues only have to make sense to the person using them - me.
"Spin" "Turn" "Around" - The phone alarm had just gone off and I don't want Gimme to associate it with an end to work, so I wanted to do a couple of behaviors I expected her to know well. 
"Otto" - For the last back-around I had her do a twofer and then she got a huge reward, lots of cheese on the way to the table where she got several pieces of raw steak.

Session 3
Door entry with automatic reorientation - Solid.  I kept the phone in my pocket, so I just set it while she waited beside me.
"Can" and "Pivot" - We did a couple reps and then moved on.
"Far-out" - We did half a dozen repetitions with the gap in the center of the line.
"Otto" - I faded the barriers a
little more in two separate steps.  For the first one I removed the front and side ring fencing.  The main reason for the ring fencing had been so Gimme didn't think she was supposed to be doing something with the chairs.  We did a few repetitions and then I removed one of the side chairs.  Gimme really progressed nicely with this, especially since its the first time she's done it outside our living room.
"Table" and "Bacon” - We used the chair I'd removed as a prop for "table" (4 feet on) and "bacon" (back onto prop).  "Bacon" has become one of her favorite behaviors. 

Honestly backing up has become one of the things she really likes to do.  I'd tried to teach her the back-around before, but it just wasn't working for her.  I need to have it for the intermediate level of RallyFrEe (she has all the other intermediate skills), so decided to try it again.  Using the guides and free-shaping, she was giving me a full back-around in one session.  Its a lot of fun working with a canine genius.

Our sessions were much better timing than I've been doing.  The first two sessions were around 8 minutes.  We finished the third session before the timer went off, so it was probably around 6:30.  

Since she's been getting woofy in the evenings, I know she's moving into Mommy-brain.  Thus I was very pleased with how she did.  Too bad I didn't get it on video.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nosework (5/22)

We had an interesting nosework class this week.  Gimme had a good time and did well.  She did check to see if there was a box with a free toy for her - sadly not.  Too bad, since 247 toys is not enough... She thinks there should be a law saying every dog has a right to 200 toys, because then she'd be entitled to 153 more than what she currently has.  Just sayin...

Exterior 1 video - There were 2 hides on the posts of the business next door.  Gimme went straight to the first post and indicated.  I rewarded her before the instructor could tell me she hadn't gotten to source.  In hindsight I should have rewarded in a much more significant way when she did get to source, to make it more valuable in her mind than the first reward.  I think she just was caught up by it being the first odor smell of the evening and my action of putting my hand in my pocket made her think it was enough (which since she got rewarded, it clearly was).  She was much clearer about getting to source for the second hide. 

Vehicle 1 video - There were 3 hides on two vehicles.  Gimme was the only dog to go down the right side of the right truck, so Dorothy was unprepared to follow us for the video.  Clearly her first indication was a vigorous paw, since Dorothy could hear it from the other end of the van.  Gimme did a nice job turning back to look at me on the other 2 hides.  She had an interesting approach to finding the last hide - having gone past it and then deciding she'd missed something and swung back to a place well before it.

Container 1 video - We were given 1:30 for a blind search of 1 to 3 hides.  Gimme found the only hide pretty quickly, then went on to start playing with the little containers.  Partly it was just fun to bat them around, plus I think she tends to start goofing off when she knows there aren't any more hides.  I don't normally reward a second time on a hide, but since she'd been goofing off and then decided on her own to get back to business, I wanted to reinforce her decision.

Container 2 video - Here they replaced some of the small containers with boxes - with 2 hides.  Gimme found the first hide in a box in 32 seconds, going straight into demolition mode.  I was ready to reward her and she could see I had the treat, but I waited until she moved her paw off the box.  She found the next hide really fast.

BTW - in the new building we have side door toward the rear of the building, which will make it much nicer.  Overall it will make things run smoother since the next team can be ready and waiting in the heated entry room (store area).  It also relieves me of some wariness, since I never know if a classmate is right outside the door with the next dog, so I don't have to have Gimme on a really short leash just in case when I go out the side door.  All the people in our class are experienced dog owners, but still, they don't always make the best choices.

Container 3 video - There were 3 hides and we got to do this search off leash, which is not the norm for container searches.  Gimme went straight to the brick container.  She found the next hide in a box (21 seconds for the two, including time to get paid for the first one).  I again waited for her to take her paw off the box before delivering on her reward.  The third hide was challenging.  While she spent a lot of time checking out other stuff, Dorothy and I both thought she was still working out the puzzle of the third hide.  When she was checking out things not immediately relevant to the containers, I tried to use my movement to draw her back toward the containers without telling her what to do.  At one point when she seemed a little stuck, I went close to her and then moved away to make my movement more obvious.  Of course there was the shopping episode.  I just moved in until she became aware of me again, as a reminder of what she was supposed to be doing.  The look on her face when she "remembered" was priceless, kinda oops-like.  Interestingly, it was soon after this moment of being caught in the act, where she got down to business and concluded her search being more methodical. 

Also interesting, Gimme and Moxie (a Doberman) were both challenged by the little container in this third search, whereas the two small terriers had no problem.  We think maybe it was easier for them since their noses are naturally closer to these low hides with less obvious (visually speaking) containers.  The other larger dogs weren't in class, so we didn't get to see how they would do it.  I'd like to see a lot more really low hides.

I need to make a point to get around and see where the hides are on vehicle searches so I can reward her sooner - to avoid the pawing.  I notice she is back to thinking box demolition is the indication of choice when boxes are available.  She seemed a bit more excited in all her searches than last week, possibly because of having her nose back (post antibiotics).  She's better overall than a year ago about her indications, but I do think we need to go back and revisit some of the work we'd done before.  Sadly I just recently tossed all my nosework boxes in recycle, so I may ask if Dorothy will sell me 6 boxes. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Nosework (4/22)

Interior 1 video - Our first search was an empty warehouse.  Its actually our old classroom (class has moved across the street to the new building) and they had electricity for one more day so it was a good chance to do an empty warehouse search.  There were no hides and the goal was to see how the dog looked without odor.  Gimme was searching actively and in person I didn't see anything different, but on video I see she looks a bit casual.  She is searching persistently.  When she doesn't find any trace of odor in the first minute, you'll notice she starts looking higher and higher.  She loves high hides, so this doesn't surprise me.  I let her go on until she seemed like she was loosing interest.

Interior 2 video - This search was the same area, but with 4 hides.  The first thing I see different is actual changes of behavior.  Perhaps what I was calling "casual" in the prior search was an absence of COB, no sharp turns or anything, with more "sweeping" movement.  Another thing I noticed - when she gets close to odor there is a tendency for her butt to get in on the tail-wagging action.  Her tail never stops wagging when she's awake (and even some times when she isn't), but I saw a bit of butt swish on a couple of these hides.

Interior 3 video - Our third search was in the new building with 3 hides.  I didn't think she'd be so taken by this new area, since she's searched in strange places many times, but all the dogs were.  We concluded its the smell of familiar stuff in a strange place which threw them off their game.   She did a good job finding the hides, but took longer than I would have expected.  We'll see how she does this week since she will be familiar with the new setup. 

There was a large box of free stuff for the taking - things purged during the move.  It was a lot of interesting tins and such for hides, but I already have more than I need.  After our search the co-instructor was explaining about the free box and, although she'd showed no interest in the box before, Gimme immediately went over and stuck her head in it. 

Of course she finds the only toy in there - a food dispensing toy.  None of the other dogs got a toy, but Gimme doesn't feel sorry for them, since they all searched before her and had their chance.  She's been having great fun with it ever since.  Gimme had too many toys to count before Christmas.  She got a Boinga from her friends General Patton and Allikat, as well as 23 new toys from me and Santa (she hasn't even played with all of them yet), so I don't know why she thinks she needs ANOTHER toy.  Apparently I don't fully understand about such things

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Parkour (7/4)

NOTE: I actually prepared this blog entry a couple months ago, but it seems I forgot to "publish" it.  Just noticed it and published it today.  Our Wednesday night parkour class resumes on the 18th.  Gimme will be very happy, as will I.

Sadly we've just learned our Parkour class is cancelled for the time being - since I'm the only person who wanted to continue.  I was going to have to skip a session after the one that would have started tonight, because of how busy I'll get for Christmas, so its okay.  Hopefully classes will start up again after the first of the year. Do picture Gimme pouting...

"Thru" practice video - Gimme really did fine with this.  She likes active stuff.  As we went through in reverse direction, her leash caught on the framework, so I had her do it again. 

"Thru-out-thru" video - This was just the same thing, go "thru", then "out" around the cone and back "thru" again.  Easy peasy.

"Thru" video - Another "thru" obstacle.  Gimme enjoys this sort of stuff.

"Below" bench video - This one presented a little challenge for us.  I should say it presented a challenge for ME.  I was so slow on my cue timing, so Gimme wasn't getting the information in time to respond.  When I got it right, magically, so did she.

"Walkies-flip-walkies" video -  This is the first time Jo added the barrel to the board walk.  I'm not sure Gimme even noticed.

Sequence 1 video - This first sequence basically puts together all the things we'd already done.  Gimme loves it when we get to the sequences because they are more active.

Sequence 2 video - This is the same sequence, but trying to do it more controlled.  It improved mostly right after the first "thru" where I had to take her over to the board walk.

Creative sequence video - We were given the task of using a chair, a box and a cone and creating our own flowing sequence of 5 behaviors.  We did "out" (around the cone), "box", "below" and "table" (with the chair), and "hands" on the cone.  Gimme had already done "hands" correctly several times on the cone.  Naturally, being Gimme, she thought a little embellishment was in order, so she turned and did "bacon" (back-on).  Since it was technically two paws on, I chose to accept her variation.  After all, I surely don't want to suppress her creative endeavors.

Positions on board walk video - This is kinda hard.  The dogs have to organize their feet up under them, so its not something they'd choose to do.  Gimme did it, but was a little uncomfortable with it, so I chose to put a lot of money in the down-on-board-walk bank account.  The second time was on the narrower board, but she was still much quicker about it.  She got paid well.

Sequence 3 video - Here we put the positions on the board walk into the same sequence we'd been doing before.  Gimme did very well.

Sequence 4 video - This is the same sequence with just 3 changes.  1) as we get on the little table before the board walk, Gimme is supposed to do a 10 second "sit-wait", 2) the box is moved beside the second part of the board walk requiring a dismount, "box" and then get back on the board walk, and 3) at the end, instead of "table" she is supposed to do "hands" on the can, with a "pivot".  Gimme did really well at all of it, but couldn't remember what to do with the "pivot" cue.  I reminded her by making the can the pivot point for a center-front-pivot and then let her finish it on her own.

Sequence 5 video -This is a repeat, to smooth out the lumps.  Gimme completely remembered her "pivot".  Really its kinda neat that she was able to do it, since she learned it on a much smaller prop we call the brick, so transferring it to this much higher can is really smart of her.

"Box-out-box" training video - At the time I had the hardest time grasping why this was difficult for her.  Thank God for video, since I can now see the relative location of me to the cone made my hand signal look exactly like a lure for the "spin", which is exactly what she was giving me in the "box".  I was also using the wrong cue, "around" instead of "out".  Naturally a hand signal takes precedent over a verbal, so she was trying so hard to do what she thought I wanted - I was the one who wasn't getting it.  Then I got started using the wrong hand to motion with and other training errors on my part.

There is a reason dog trainers often say "dogs learn in spite of us, not because of us."  Fortunately I am blessed with a brilliant dog who never gives up and is willing to do what it takes to figure out what I want even if it doesn't coincide with what I ask for.

Monday, January 2, 2017

RFE Practice (33)

Once I started seeing the videos other participants did for the MDSA tribute, I realized my instructions to J'Anna to keep the whole working space in the field of view made our video look very different.  So I decided to try again.  While I was at it, I wanted to add a bit more movement to my body. 

Session 1 video - I was surprised to see we worked for almost 12 minutes.  Gimme often has so much fun and is willing to work so much, that its hard to have a sense of passing time.  I see I did not do as well about not rewarding the bouncing-babe behavior.  As I said before, this is very much about changing my behavior before I change Gimme's.  Interesting she is doing better about it in some of our daily behavior.  I started with a little warm-up at heeling, attention, and then refreshed the behaviors in our segment.  I learned I've created an unintended problem and Gimme now thinks when she's in center position, paw-on-knee is always what I want.  So I worked to clarify the bent knee is the cue, not the center position; its going to take more work.  This is what happens when I make something pay so well.  So now I need to make being still in any position pay well, to make stillness equally valuable.  (there is some weirdness in the video while J'Anna moves to a different position).  I ended with trying to teach Gimme a new behavior.  I want her to circle me like "around" and "behind, but with distance.  I set up some props for her to "out" around and got mixed results.  She didn't seem inclined to stay out there and J'Anna commented how all the rewards were coming close to me - good point.  I may try this again on our next session.  I don't have enough room to do this indoors and wouldn't want to waste all the time of her searching for treats in the grass.  Though I could try using her special bowl as a distance reward point. 

Session 2 video - If I was surprised to see 12 minutes for the last session, then 18 minutes for this one was even more surprising.  The first thing I noticed was how low my jacket hung.  I wondered if Gimme would object to it.  While she seems distracted at first, I think it was really because she'd just noticed the raw steak on the counter.  Note how she very pointedly sniffs in the direction of the counter.  I reminded her what I wanted once and then she was fine with it.  I can see on the video, there are slits on the side aligned right where she would come through - certainly no more challenging than an agility chute.  We ran through the sequence several times.  I think J'Anna had the field of view too close, but will wait to see what Kim thinks.   Then we did some more work on our new "loop" behavior.  In hindsight - we were already 10 minutes into this session, so Gimme may have been mentally tired.  And I don't know what I was thinking to try to fade four props down to two when she hadn't been correct doing the four.  I'm also wondering if the jacket sleeves weren't somehow changing the look of my hand/arm gestures and confusing her.  She was clearly confused.  We did finally get some nice figure-8-sends, but not consistently.  I wanted to end on a more positive note, so I pulled in the baby chair so she could do some "bacon" to it (one of her favorite behaviors.  Note how unconcerned she is about the chair tipping a bit while she's using it. 

MDSA takes video - I ended up with 7 takes... some are better than others.  The best are 3, 5, 6, and 7.  Of them, I thought 3 and 7 were better and we ended up using #7.

Session 3 video - Because she'd already worked so long (I didn't realize how long), I wanted to make this session simple and short.  I started out with easy behaviors, ones she knows well.  Then I switched to putting some money in the being-still account.  This was only moderately successful.  I should have stopped much sooner.

Gimme seemed off today.  I noticed she had a warm spot along her spine, about 4 inches in front of her hips.  She sometimes seemed unable to focus or listen.  Some cues she knows well were simply not available today.  And I noticed at times she seemed a little clumsy and she was tending to stand splay-legged in the rear.  She also nipped my finger in the course of taking a treat, something she never does.  Being a worried Mommy, I was concerned these could be symptoms from a pre-seizure aura.

Luckily we had a chiropractic appointment today with Dr. Powell.  He found the warm spot and fixed it, along with some adjustments to her hip joints.  These together could certainly explain what I was seeing in her movement.  The warm spot is gone now.  Doc also found her atlas vertebrae was out of alignment.  The atlas vertebrae is always suspect when there are issues with thinking.  He told me there is a probable connection between atlas misalignment and seizures - its just not known which comes first.  He said the atlas misalignment could cause a seizure and equally likely, the intense physical response during a seizure could cause the misalignment.

In any case, Gimme simply loves him.  He didn't have anyone in the slot before out appointment and was sitting on the couch reading a book when we walked in early.  Gimme climbed right up in his lap.  I am so happy we found him; what a blessing...

Trying Freestyle

You've seen what we did trying doing a little bit of choreography to video a 25 second segment of freestyle for the MDSA tribute to our freestyle dogs.  I found it amazingly hard to do it.  When I redid it and tried to add arm movements, I discovered I can't actually move my arms and count in my head at the same time.  Who knew?  Of course if I was doing a real routine, I'd have the music playing and could work to the beat, but technical difficulties got in the way this time, so I had to rely on my choreography and counting.

Here is the final video.  MDSA tribute video

Gimme's segment starts at 3:45.  I hope you enjoy it.  It was certainly a learning experience for us.  In case you didn't get your Dalmatian fix satisfied with Gimme's part, Kathy has 2 segments -- Wesley (at 2:25) and Nori (at: 4:30).

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year from Gimme (soon)

I wish you all a blessed new year through all of 2017. 

Gimme will wish it for you too, when she gets up. Every morning she gets up early to go outside and take care of business. Then she runs back in and gets under the covers for another hour. I guess when you are Empress of the Cosmos, its okay to make the world wait on you.  ☺