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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Parkour (6/5)

Jo is back.  Yayyyy.   We learn so much more with Jo's exercises.

Distance sequence video - The goal was to leave Gimme in a "wait" in the "box" and move a bit ahead and to the side and then send her "thru" the tunnel and onto the "table".  The first time she did great, but I wasn't very far away and was moving alongside.  The next time she got "thru", but wasn't too sure about "table" since I wasn't moving with her.  The third time with the same distance and not moving with her, she needed a reminder, but was able to get it.  When the weather gets better, we'll be working distance behaviors at home.  We'll work this in with the cue discrimination I want to work on.

"Thru" chute video - This was really an easy behavior for Gimme.  What was challenging was focusing while two other students were doing stuff with their dogs so close.  Jo had them move so Gimme could have the space, but I guess they didn't really understand the point of moving.  Still Gimme did well with this.

Moving boardwalk video - The board was set on two bone-shaped fitness disks, so it wobbled when walked on.  Gimme was momentarily surprised, but then was non-plussed.  Because Gimme is much more advanced than her classmates, Jo had us do some control points on the board.  Gimme was fine with sit and down, but it took her a few moments to focus enough to respond to "stand".  She did what so often happens, offering me the last thing she got rewarded for, instead of listening to the cue I gave her.

Sequence 1 video - This was just a short little sequence putting together what we'd already done.  Gimme did very well and completely ignored the dogs in the corner.

Free practice video - We were to pick an item and do at least two behaviors with it.  I used the big cone and practiced our "out" a couple of times.  Then I asked her to do "hands" on it.  She has done this before, but its very hard because the top of the cone really isn't big enough for both feet and she has to position her feet just right to get both of them on it.  Even then I don't think it's exactly comfortable.

As I went to turn off the camera, I momentarily had my back turned to the room - which of course was the exact moment when the standard poodle owner lost control of her dog.  The dog came running up to Gimme.  Nothing happened, since I reacted so quickly and the poodle owner was just moments behind her dog -- the interaction was only 2 seconds.  But so much could have happened in that time.  Needless to say, Gimme was higher than a kite and really primed to take someone on.  I just couldn't get her attention, so we went outside for a walk and time to calm down.

When we came back in, I started working "whazzat", looking to the other dogs.  Gimme did it just three times and then said she didn't want to look at the other dogs. Instead she pulled me to her matt where she could be behind a visual barrier.  So I spent quite a bit of time rewarding pretend calm behavior.  I was really pleased with her efforts to self-regulate her arousal; such a smart girl.

Jo came over and set up another layer of barriers when it was time for the standard poodle to work the next exercise, which is done off leash.  She offered me the opportunity to go outside while they were working off leash, but I assured her I'd be watching and if the dog did come in our direction I was confident I could handle it.  I was certain a forcefully shouted "No! Bad dog!" would make her rethink approaching us. The dog is actually quite soft, but not well trained and not much of a relationship with her owners; I really feel sorry for her.

Rebound 1 video - We did two rebound sessions, but I goofed on the second session and only thought I was videoing.  The second session went pretty much like the first.  Gimme is on the highest setting of the rebound trainer.  She still has to learn her footwork, since she's tending to run the board, instead of rebounding against it.

I was really pleased to see Gimme trying so hard to work after the incident.  I used her peanut butter go toob to help her focus.  I don't think she was really in her working brain and there was a somewhat frantic edge to her rush for a reward, but she was purposeful in her efforts to do what I was asking and win the peanut butter. There was a time when she wouldn't have been able to return to work afterward, no matter how much peanut butter I had, so I am happy to see this improvement. 

Gimme slept all the way home, only waking up one minute from our exit.  Normally she starts whining about ten minutes from our exit.  Clearly she was very tired after this class and the additional stress.  It will be "interesting" to see how she handles the next class.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tracking (36)

Nadine entered Cricket in a trial March 5th, so we are doing some extra field sessions.  We should hear soon whether they got drawn.  I told Patti I'd lay track for her if she needs me.  If Nadine and Cricket get in, I'll go up to watch, whether I'm there to lay track or not.  Of course, if I am laying track, Nadine and Cricket can't run it. 

The track we had was fairly simple.  The ground was damp and there was a very light breeze.  The track was about 30 minutes old.  There was no direction shown on the first leg, we had one acute turn and we crossed short mowed grass three times.  Gimme did well with all these. 

Gimme came in to the start flag on the dark dashed line.  She's found the start direction on her own before, so I wasn't surprised to see her master it.  The brown striped thing is a ditch, which the track stopped short of. 

Probably the most challenging aspect was the acute turn.  The three green arrows show where the ground went uphill, right next to the turn.  Gimme checked toward the uphill slope a number of times. 

Naturally I was pleased with her efforts.  Then again, I'm always pleased with her efforts.  Which is easy since she's naturally brilliant.  Besides, she is the Empress of the Cosmos, doncha know.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Parkour (5/5)

We had another substitute instructor and he wasn't nearly as good as who we had last week, who is nowhere near as good as Jo (she'll be back next week).  He's the person who teaches agility for this facility and now I know why his students don't do well and why the facility isn't well thought of in agility circles.  So, we didn't really learn anything new tonight; the sequences were pretty simple.  Its just as well, because the dog Gimme took a dislike to 3 weeks ago was back and she struggled to  focus.

The owner had moved them to a Sunday night class and was just here for a make-up class.  The dog is a very shrill barker and disrupts the focus of all the dogs, not to mention frustrating the heck out of her owner.  On a positive note, I was able to talk to the owner after class and she was very receptive to my suggestions.  I knew class was about to end, so I quickly took Gimme out to the car so I could talk to her.  I pointed her toward Control Unleashed and especially the Look-at-That game.  She said someone else told her to get the new BAT book.  So, as a graduate of their instructor course, I was able to tell her what was good and not so good about the program.  CU is really much better for her needs and the problems the dog is exhibiting.  In a few weeks I'll be taking a Sunday class as a make-up, so maybe we'll see some clear progress.  Hoping so.

Sequence 1 video - In any case, this is a clear example of totally unfocused Gimme.  Happily her tail is back to normal.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme did much better this time.  I had trouble all evening getting my timing right to call her out of the hoop stand on the side.  She wasn't focused and my timing was off. 

BTW the reason I call her so quickly as she comes out of the barrel is because there is another dog just out of sight behind the PVC barrier to the left.  In fact that dog is only about 5 feet from us all through class, with just a sheet over another PVC barrier.  It was hard for Gimme to have another dog so close for so long.  I did a lot of rewarding calm behavior and calm looks at it and other dogs as they came into view.

Sequence 3 video - Gimme did much better with this one.  Partly I think it was because the sequence started at the other end, so far from the other dogs.

Boardwalk with control points video - He wanted us to do the boardwalk up to the scaffold again, but adding control points.  Gimme knows how to do this, but it took her a moment to remember she knew - then she was awesome. 

Sequence 4 video - This time we combined the two sequences into one.  I worked control points through the whole thing, but still couldn't get the turn I wanted coming out of the hoop stand.  At least I got it going into the hoop stand on the return trip. 

Sequence 5 video - Gimme was supposed to do "hands" (2 on) to the step, but it was big enough, so she ignored me and jumped on with all 4 feet.  This is a continual problem for us.  I got the hands and then moved her away to re-present it to her and this time she offers a "below".  Still didn't get the turn out of the hoop stand.  Again she gives me 4 on to the bench when I cued "hands".  She did quite well with the "box" to "box", only inches apart, especially since she'd never seen this combination before.

"Table"-"hands" discrimination video - The task here was to do both "table" and "hands" in an unpredictable sequence to work on discrimination.  I basically didn't reward her when she didn't follow my cue.  She was starting to get it. 

I need to think of some obstacle I can have at home which has several different behavior possibilities, including "hands" and "table", so we can spend some time working discrimination. I may have to make something.  I have lots of cinder blocks and some scrap wood, so it wouldn't be hard to some up with something safe and suitable for "hands", "table", "out", "below" and "bacon".  I just think it would be really helpful to be able to work off leash. I also want to be able to cue not-doing (i.e. waiting for a cue), so being off leash would make this go really well.  And, of course, conveniently training at home whenever I had time would be a big plus. 

"Box" to "box" video - This is an interesting challenge for the dogs.  I think having the two boxes right next to each other makes it seem like just one box, so Gimme didn't see any reason why she couldn't have her front feet in one box and her back feet in another.  Once she got it right and got rewarded, then she figured out the deal.  She had this MUCH faster than the other dogs. 

Of course she is a genius, doncha know.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nosework (3/23)

Several class members got into a trial this weekend, so the plan was to have one search of each element.  Dorothy was the "judge" for the interior and container searches.  The co-instructor judged the exterior and vehicle searches.  It was set up with searches going on in two different places, just like a real trial.  There was also one extra search at the end.

Exterior search - This search was of a large L-shaped area, with a lot of stuff creating barriers and challenges.  I asked the "judge" to video us, but she must've hit the button twice, because there was only 4 seconds.  Gimme did a really nice job and I let her make her own decisions about where she went.  She found two hides, and then I took her back to an area I didn't feel she had really given any attention to - as opposed to seeing her briefly check and then discount it.  She gave it a quick sniff for me and then tried to drag me to a hide we'd already found, so I called "finish" and was correct.

Interior 1 search video - So Gimme races in and nails the first hide in 4 seconds.  Quick or what!  I learned later the sniffing she did at 25 seconds was where a dog had bloody diarrhea the day before - one of our classmate's dog got totally stuck there and couldn't leave it.  Gimme nailed the second hide in 27 seconds, including the time spent where the accident had been.  When I said "find me 'nother one", Gimme went to the gate between this and the other search area.  Maybe she was trying to tell me something.  She diligently continued searching for me and was at least rewarded by getting a treat out of the plastic shoebox on the grooming table.  Knowing there was nothing else, she tried to tell me about the chair hide she'd already gotten and I still wasted another ten seconds.  I could have saved 35 seconds of search time had I taken her word for it when she pointed out "nother one” was in the other search area.

Container search video - This is a good example of me not-working our indicator; despite recently saying I was going to every time <sigh>.  I also didn't work my container plan when she got to the bag.  I should have kept moving around her and then she would've been more likely to leave it and not have sucked me into her interest in the Butterfinger distraction.  You'll see once I said "alert" she's pretty insistent she should get rewarded even though I caught her in a lie.  When we got moving again and she went to it, I kept moving and she didn't even pause.

Vehicle search video - Sorry this video is so hard to see; it's very dark over there.  She finds the first hide in 44 seconds.  She finds the second one in 50 seconds.  Then I call finish because "we can only have three".  Except we only had 2 hides, so they made me keep searching.  There were only two hides and after I had her check the whole area again, then they accept my finish call. 

I normally can count beyond 2, so I think there were two things going on.  First, I noticed her tail was getting droopy looking as we walked over there, so I was distracted.  Then between the two hides she paid a little attention to the back bumper on the truck and I made a mental note to get back there... hence three hides in my distracted head.  BTW I wasn't really aware of the rain, but you can clearly hear it on the video.

Interior 2 search video - You can clearly see in this video how droopy her tail was.  It just droops limp behind her and while she can wag the end of it, much of the movement you see is caused by her movement.  When she moves faster, the tail comes up a bit and she can almost wag it normally - which goes with Doc's idea of it being a "power" issue, caused by interference with nerve transmission. 

You can also see she is still eager and happy to search and nails the first hide in 10 seconds, the second - 18 seconds later, and the third 24 seconds out.  Droopy tail and all, she is still significantly faster than her classmates, by half a minute or more.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gimme's wiggy-wagger

As I mentioned about the Parkour class last Wednesday, Gimme was unable or unwilling to pull her front feet up into the chair for "bacon".  This is unusual for her, so I was happy to know we had a chiropractic appointment scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

During the RFE practice on Thursday, I noticed Gimme wasn't listening to cues well at all.  At the time I chalked it up to her false pregnancy, but in hindsight I'm sure it was also hard to focus through the discomfort.  Its a tribute to her tenacity how she keeps trying - she's always been very persistent.  At the end of the third session, I tossed a treat for Gimme and she flipped to get it and halfway fell.  From then to just before her chiropractic session, Gimme wouldn't or couldn't lift her tail or wag it normally.  It started to come back right before her appointment.  As I reviewed the video of the practice sessions, I see a number of stumbles and missteps by her rear.  I couldn't see it in real time because with her positioned next to me, this was happening behind my field of view.

Dr. Powell found she had one subluxation in her thoracic area and three in her lumbar region.  Her hips and other joints all seemed good.  He did a number of things to work on loosening up what was going on.  We discussed whether it was too painful to lift the tail or what.  He thinks the subluxations were interfering with nerve transmission, so she wasn't getting good info to her rear end for it to have normal strength and coordinated movement.  Based on what I see on the RFE videos, this seems likely.  At the end of the session, Gimme had her tail back to wagging normally.

By evening her tail was drooping again, so I cancelled our tracking for Friday morning, not wanting to have her out in the cold.  I contacted Doc about another session and he was able to fit us into an appointment for Saturday morning.  I hated having to wait when Gimme was so uncomfortable, but at least it wasn't too long. 

I assumed some part of the adjustment didn't hold.  Instead Doc found the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae were just as he'd left them and the problem was now a tipped sacrum.  He explained it was likely her body had to readjust its balance after the Thursday adjustment and the sacrum just ended up out of alignment.  I've actually experienced this myself, so it made sense to me.  Gimme seemed to be tip top and initially there was a lot more tail action than usual, as if she was trying to make up for lost wag-time.

Unfortunately it didn’t last.  She started out okay in nosework class, but then I noticed her tail drooping.  It was so pronounced others could see it.  Gimme didn’t act like it was uncomfortable, like before.  However, at one point she saw Janice and ran over to see her and scooted her butt low to act silly and in doing so, I think she jammed her tail against the floor – which clearly was painful.  Poor baby.  I contacted Dr. Powell the next day and the earliest opening he had was Saturday morning. 

Gimme's tail was coming back up and sometimes even looked normal.  Then during the evening, she came to put her feet next to me on the couch and yelped in pain and then wouldn't come near me.  She obviously thought *I* did something to make her hurt.

Saturday (today)
We met Dr. Powell this morning and he found a couple vertebrae in her lumbar region were jammed up again.  I asked him if there was anything I could do to help her body re-balance.  So, he taught me how to do the "tail pull" he does.  I was really surprised to learn how hard he pulls on her tail - dang near pulled my finger off.  Anyway, its also a lot to do with the pull angle and how I support her loin area, providing resistance, during the pull.  Gimme really seems to like it, so I hope it helps.

We  have a follow-up appointment on Thursday.  Cross your fingers for my munchkin to get back to normal...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

RallyFrEe practice (36)

As I said before, this month we are doing a Transitions workshop with MDSA.  Our assignment for this week was to turn in a video of some variations of spins, circles, and throughs, toward transitions.  So my goal for these practices was multi-purpose.  First I wanted to keep Gimme busy, happy and working with focus.  I wanted to be sure to keep the sessions closer to my target time of 8 minutes.  I wanted to play with some ideas I had for the Transitions workshop.  And I wanted to do a better job of keeping Gimme moving more.  Kathy pointed out to me after reviewing videos from our last session, I tend to get stuck working behaviors and she thought Gimme needed the hard stuff broken up with more movement.

Session 1 video - We started with some heeling on the left and then switched to "side" position for more heeling.  Gimme clearly wanted to work, but if you watch carefully, you'll see she's not consistently responding to the cues I'm giving.  Much of the time she's hearing me speak and then just doing the last thing she was rewarded for.  So we did some "side" position setups and single steps of heeling to get more focus.  Whenever I could, I tried to break out into rapid heeling - which Gimme liked.  Of course, she tried to throw in a few "Otto" reps here and there.  Interesting that her understanding of "wait" was almost completely gone this day.  One of the things I wanted to include for the MDSA assignment was the move Gimme created when I was first trying to teach her an inside "turn" - so starting from "heel" position, its "thru", followed by ½ "turn" and ½ "Otto", back into "heel" position.  When she did it on her own, it was smoother, but I like it and want to keep it as a move - which we'll call Spinotto.  Catchy name, doncha think.  We haven't done the "thru-right-behind-thru-left-around" sequence in awhile, and especially the "right" and "left" (single leg circles).  So I had to warm it up before we could get the sequence successfully. 

I made a new rule for myself about how many behaviors I'd do after the alarm goes off, since my sense of time is completely skewed.  I will do either 2-3 repetitions of well known behaviors or work on 1 behavior.  As a result, this session came in right at 8:00 minutes, which is what I'm usually aiming for. 

Session 2 video - I had an idea for a handler-front-cross and dog-front-cross repetitive sequence, so we played with it.  Gimme needed the support of my hand to hold her "wait" while I did my movement.  It's not fancy, but I think it could be cute with some dance movement on my part, after we get her "wait" back.   You'll see what I mentioned before about her not really listening to cues, but just repeating the last thing she was paid for.  So after the hfc/dfc sequence, we heeled a bit and then I wanted to work on "Otto".  Given how much she loves the move, for her to not respond to the cue really surprised me.  In hindsight it's pretty clear (see below).  I gave up on "Otto" and decided to work on inside spins.  I was having difficulty getting these at home.  I'd lure the inside spin and before I could reward it, Gimme would back-spin, as if to show me how it's supposed to be done, because the inside spins are the reverse of what she'd expect for the position based on all the training we've done to this point.  By moving forward immediately, it interrupted the tendency to back-spin and got me the chance to reward what I was trying to get.  This session was 7:45.

Session 3 video - For this third session, I worked on a couple of sequences I'd thought of.  Some things are just better in my head than on the ground, eh.  Some feel okay, but then look awful on video.  Pawsabilities has some handicapped people doing simple jobs for them and at one point one of them did something to attract Gimme's attention, which she found very distracting.  I felt I needed to report it to the front desk.  I didn't report it because it was a problem for me, but rather had J'Anna been working her dog, it would not have been pretty since her dog is not people social.  I heartily support the program, I just think there needs to be more supervision for safety.  Just about 45 seconds before the end of this session, I tossed a treat for Gimme and it seemed to me she lost her balance in jumping to get it. 

Now that I have the video to review, it looks more like her rear crumpled under her.  From then until just before her chiropractor appointment 4 hours later, she was unable to lift her tail or wag normally.  The chiropractic went well and I hoped this would be the end of it.

BTW the assignment for MDSA I submitted is Transitions 2 homework video.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Parkour (4/5)

The dog she had a problem with during the first class was again not present.  Hope everything is okay with them.

"Thru" sequence video - It's not easy to see them, but behind the carwash are several things (foot obstacles) to walk over.   If you watch you'll see Gimme's head get higher.  None of this is a challenge for her.

Ladder work video - The ladder is set with the easy side up.  The dogs have 5½-inch wide steps to work with and Gimme finds this really easy.

Sequence 1 video -  This sequence starts with the carwash and foot obstacles, then the hoop stand, the ladder, a box (out of video), ladder, hoop stand, foot obstacles and carwash to end.  Gimme does great with it - she loves to do-do-do.

Boardwalk video - The boardwalk is set up using two benches, so the dogs have to step over the arms of the benches to walk the boardwalk.  Gimme is completely unconcerned by this challenge. 

Sequence 2 video - You'll notice right away that I was having Gimme "halt" (stop) on the boardwalk.  Since Gimme was so unconcerned about the boardwalk made of benches, our guest instructor wanted me to up the ante by adding repeated control points on the boardwalk - always a good idea with Miss Go-Go-Go.  I was proud of her responding so well to the cue and once I was even able to "halt" her with her front and back feet on either side of the bench arm.  From there she has a chair to go "below" and a milk crate to do "hands" (2 on), which she turns into 4 on.  It takes me a moment to get positioned so I can interrupt her and get the "hands" I wanted.  From there we do the hoop stand, ladder, and box.  You'll see while we are practicing our stay in the box, the guest instructor turns the ladder over, so Gimme now only has 1½-inches to work with.  Initially I was moving her too slowly, but once I moved her faster and got her to think about what she was doing (instead of thinking about the treats I had), she got it pretty well. 

Putting on my trainer hat, I think it's too much of a change in increment to go from 5½-inches to 1½-inches.  I've been thinking about it and have come up with a way to add a mid-point increment to the basic ladder.  I'm going to talk to the guy who does the building of stuff for Pawsabilities about building the ladder the way I'd want it with the ability to set it up with a 3½-inch surface for training.  It's really not that hard to make the change and would be very secure/stable when using it. 

Sequence 3 video - A plastic tarp was put down as part of our sequence.  The other dogs danced around it before getting on it, while Gimme walks right up and starts walking on it while she checks it out.  It just doesn't occur to her to do otherwise.  Another change was to reverse the order of the foot obstacles on the other side of the carwash, making an additional challenge for the two taller dogs, since they needed to bend a bit to step up on the higher platform while they were still under the carwash.  From there we did the hoop stand, ladder, open barrel, box, open barrel, hoop stand, foot obstacles, carwash and back over the plastic tarp. 

Sequence 4 video -  For this sequence, the tarp has been moved inside the open barrel and a small platform has been placed where it was.  The sequence is boardwalk, go below a chair, 2 on a milk crate, hoop stand, ladder, open barrel with tarp, 4 in box, barrel with tarp, ladder, hoop stand, carwash, foot obstacles and table for 4 on.  Gimme really enjoys the sequences. 

"Bacon" 1 & 2 video - Gimme tried throughout the evening to sneak in "bacon" at any opportunity.  So when we were given the chance to do individual work, I gave her a chair to "bacon" onto.  She's done higher obstacles and this kind of chair before, so I was surprised at her reluctance to get her front feet into the chair.  I gave her a couple of chances before moving to a lower obstacle.  I wanted her to end on a positive note.  Gimme is very honest and doesn't just refuse to do something without good reason.  She so loves "bacon", when she wouldn't finish the behavior, I had to assume something was bothering her.  So, I was glad to know we were scheduled for a chiropractor appointment the next day.

Nosework (2/23)

Too dang cold to be outside playing nosework, just sayin... 

Exterior search 1 video - The search area was about 40 feet of sidewalk and either side of it.  The other instructor just walked down the sidewalk and tossed two tins into the snow.  Gimme was the only dog to start her search going to the right, though she doesn't stay there; later you see her checking the pee-mail there.  Every dog checked the pipe coming out of the ground.  Even with the time she wasted reading pee-mail, Gimme still completed the search in equal or less time than her classmates.

Interior search 2 video - At the very beginning of this search, you'll see the red cart against the wall.  One dog paid attention to it and when they checked, they found there was a hide left on it from the Friday before - so five days old.  The dog that found it is the slowest in class and was also the first dog to search, so the door nearby hadn't been opened and closed multiple times.  The search was set up to try to duplicate an "impossible search" from Friday - which the instructors' practice group dogs had so much difficulty with it.  While the hides were set the same, there must've been some other variable that changed, because none of our dogs found it impossible.  The first hide Gimme found was the one her classmates found second.  She did an awesome job finding the second hide.  The one on the chair was oddly the most challenging for all the dogs - she checked it four times, sniffing quickly and then moving on.  When she tried to get me to pay her again for her first hide, I chose to put her on leash.  I thought it might help her slow down and focus on the chair.  She still checked the chair three more times; third time was the charm.  It took her 2 full minutes to find the third hide.  Although the room configuration is a mirror image of the old building and the fans are the same, we do think its somehow different, based on how the dogs act.

Interior search 3 video - For this search they moved the 5-day-old hide to the edge of the grooming table right inside the door and we were instructed to move our startline to the door.  You'll see she spends more time at that end of the room, but doesn't settle down to find it.  Of course, she was responding to my behavior, since I was staying toward that end of the room (just like I do for thresholds in trials), to draw her in that direction.  I didn't move with her to the other end of the room until she was clearly working a hide there.  She had to sort out source for the hide on the exposed beam - which I didn't expect to be such a big deal.  This time the chair wasn't nearly as hard, having been moved about 15 feet - location-location-location.  The hide on the shelf bottom was easy.  From there she spends 2½ minutes finding the 5-day-old threshold hide.  I supported her by hanging out in that area.  If you watch her, when she can't sort it out, she starts sniffing high, but finally gives that up.  Bless her persistent little heart, she never gives up.  She got a lot of goodies for that hard find.

One thing that is different about this training building is the exposed steel beams at each end.  I wonder if they do something to change the airflow.  I know I've learned a lot from Sil about how tiny changes can make a huge difference in the way air moves.  For instance chainlink fences do really bizarre things with scent.  So, its conceivable the beams could be making a big difference.  There is also the back door, which is opened and closed with every dog that leaves.  I'll see if Dorothy will bring her smoke toy to class some day.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Freestyle Doodling and BH practice

Last Saturday was a busy day for us. 

I know I've told you I'm a member of the MDSA online workshops list.  If you are interested in canine musical freestyle, I highly recommend it.  At just $25 a year, its well worth it. 

Last month we did a tribute to our living and past freestyle dogs.  You may remember I posted this posed picture with Gimme and I "doing freestyle" and submitted pictures of Lucy and Michael.  I tried freestyle with both of them.  Michael just didn't get enthused about it, preferring the high activity level of agility.  Lucy loved learning the tricks and dancing with me, but was adamantly opposed to "performing".   Our Freestyle Journeys video

This month's workshop is about transitions and the instructor is none other than Julie Flanery (creator of RallyFreestyleElements).  Our first assignment was to post a video of our baseline spins, circles and through - from both sides.  So before heading over to the Barn Hunt practice, I squeezed in a quick session at the tennis court, where I could safely have Gimme off leash and not get my shoes soaked by wet grass.  After a quick potty walk, Gimme performed flawlessly and I thought surely this would go quickly.  I put her back in the car and set up the camera. 

For our second session, she was so distracted and unfocused.  I really couldn't understand where her brain went.  Since we haven't worked there in 6 months, I think she needed more time to acclimate.  So, in hindsight the potty walk before the first session served as a "perimeter walk". Another thought I had was, the time in the car was only a couple minutes and usually at our RFE practices in Fife, she gets at least 15 minutes down time to regroup mentally.  I should have spent a lot more time warming her up mentally, but the camera was sitting exposed in the rain and I was in a hurry (next time I'll put a plastic bag over it).  It took 7½ minutes to get good repetitions of just 6 behaviors. Transitions 1 video

From there we drove to Eatonville for a Barn Hunt practice.  The last time we trialed (Nov. 2016) I found Gimme had forgotten how to tell me where the rats were hidden.  She totally remembered how to find the rat, but thought standing in the middle of the ring barking at me would be enough to show me where it was.  Janet pointed out that its not fair to not do something for a year and then expect to come out and be perfect again.  Well duh... 

So I rejoined the practice group in Eatonville and this is the first time we've had a chance to get over there for a practice.  As it turned out, on this day Gimme communicated her finds very nicely.  I set up the camera to record a video: Second practice session.

Since its 1:20 drive each way and we were there over 2 hours, this pretty much ate up the rest of the day. Gimme was sooooo ready to be home resting with her babies.  I was myself soooo ready for a long soak in a hot bath.

Urban Tracking (22)

We met at the Game Farm Park in Auburn to track on sports fields.  Since Gimme's last experience on a sports field was frustrating, I wanted this one to be a little easier.

The weather was cool (low 40's) and the grass was damp.  No breeze to speak of.  I asked for a longer pavement crossing, since Gimme has figured out to just cross sidewalks and look for the track in the grass on the other side.  Nadine set this track and we ran it about 15 minutes later.

I thought the pavement around the restrooms would work.  However, Nadine laid it so we were on the narrow pavement side and Gimme's solution was to follow the scent where it pooled on the grass at the edge of the pavement.  She had zero difficulty with the three sidewalk crossings. 

Gimme rounded the third corner, and angled herself up onto the actual track.  Where I've placed the "X" is where Gimme stopped to watch a jogger with a large dog (red line on sidewalk).  She went right back to work after they passed, but had a bit of a challenge finding the track again.  As it happened our pause was in the middle of a bunch of evergreen trees and so the ground was covered in pine needles.  It took her awhile to find the leg and then the corner.  If she had continued to struggle, I would have encouraged her to search and would have "organized" it to present her with the track on plain grass (closer to the sidewalk crossing).

The last 2/3 of the last leg was a terraced amphitheater (we were going downhill) and she tended to track parallel to the actual track on the uphill side.  I would have expected just the opposite.  In any case, as she got close to the end, she angled in and came up right on the article.  She's a good girl and I was thoroughly pleased with her efforts, especially since she was deep in Mommy-brain.

I sent Sil an email asking his advice about what we did the prior week.  I wrote, "I had Nadine space 3 treats across the gaps, start sock and end article.  Gimme got the first two treats, but tended to overrun the third one.  I was holding her back until she found it.  But I'm not sure I should hold her back.  What do you think? Another option is to simply put down two treats, spaced closer to the first half of the gap.  Then when she gets the scent off the curb she can go for it."

His answer, after he got done acknowledging how brilliant Gimme is, was: 
  1. if Gimme is paralleling the track across the gap within 6-10’ of it, don’t hold her back.  This is a shaping exercise where the dog learns that there is a track on the flat.
  2.  nothing wrong with putting 3 treats across the gap plus the one on the far side curb.  It is a form of luring which is OK so long as you drop to 2 treats, then 1 treats then none and she continues to focus on the track across the flat gap.
I think the treat on the side of the curb where she is supposed to go is the key were were missing. So we'll be trying this next week.  If she leaves treats we'll leave them for the birds.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Parkour (3/5)

Sorry I'm so far behind - life has been BUSY for the last 2 weeks.  This parkour class was 1½ weeks ago. As it turned out, the dog she had a problem with during the prior class didn't show up, so we didn't have to worry about training through it.  She wasn't much concerned with the other dogs.

Sequence 1 video - This was a simple up and over, around a cone and then up and over on the way back.  Since this was our first bit of work, Gimme was pretty distracted.  I worked on getting attention, with a little success.

Sequence 2 video - For this sequence, Jo added two steps right next to the scaffold, so we were to get on using the steps, walk the plank down, around the cone, back up and over using the planks.  Gimme had other ideas.  It sometimes takes a bit to get her into her paying-attention brain.  She just loves do-do-doing and doesn't really think listening should be a factor in our work together.  Fortunately she is bold and bodacious, so losing her balance because she wasn't paying attention and trying to do something she didn't have enough leash for is just not of concern to her.  I'm pretty certain she thinks *I* should be paying more attention to her cues and not vice versa. 

Sequence 3 video - There was a woman and her dog just out of view on the left, so I asked Jo to step over there, just in case Gimme got distracted, since I'd have to drop her leash to do the sequence.  The first time, I did it from the far side, so the presence of the other dog was less of a factor while she was learning what I wanted. 

Sequence 4 video - You'll see Gimme insists on going up the ramp, even though she again doesn't have enough leash, she's really pulling. She got high enough so I didn't let the leash stop her until she got onto the scaffold, giving her no option but to come back down, but not risking getting her off balance. She does "box" and then wants to "bacon" trying to be the boss of me.  I cued the "sit" and paid for it to get her into listening.  You'll see I get out the peanut butter go toob and show it to her, to help her focus when we do the ending bit near the other dog, who instantly ceased to exist.   

Sequence 5 video - This is a very simple little sequence.  I was pleased to be able to do the whole thing just on verbal cues.  The other dogs in class are just out of beginner parkour, so we are the most advanced in the class.  They get to watch Gimme and see what is possible, at least once she starts focusing on cues.

Sequence 6 video - For this course, Jo puts together everything we'd already done.  And, now Gimme really starts to focus, its evident as we walk to the start.  I had her repeat the "out" around the cone because she didn't come right back to me, and I wanted her to do it right.  Otherwise she did a lovely job.

Sequence 7 video - This time Jo added some stuff on the end of the prior sequence.  Gimme does everything perfectly until we get to the green tub where she is supposed to do the "hands" (2 on); instead she gives me "table" (4 on).  This is a common issue for her. She really thinks if its big enough to get all four feet on it, then she should, and my opinion is really of no consequence.  The other issue is the "below" for the bench. We haven't done this behavior in several months, so I had to remind her what the cue means.  Its completely open on the sides and since crawling under there is hard, its only natural for her to think she can come out anywhere. 

"Pivot" & "Tivo" video - Gimme does "pivot' (counter-clockwise) completely on cue.  I waited far too long to put it on cue, so it's been a challenge to get the "tivo" (clockwise) behavior and we aren't even close to putting it on cue.  Jo thinks I should have Gimme do her "pivot" slower, for fitness reasons.  I'm not sure how this would work for "fitness", but perhaps she thinks of coordination as "fitness" and slower does require more thoughtfulness about foot placement.  Right now she is really good and coordinated going in one direction (CCW) and not as much going the other direction (CW).  In "pivot", the curl of her body is CCW.  I want to get the other direction and to improve the tightness of behaviors requiring her to curl CW, so I can ensure her body is in balance.  Because she's better in one direction than the other, just doing it is reinforcing. 

"Hands" "Out" & "Table" video - Here we worked on simple behaviors.  Getting Gimme to "table" (4 on) with this chair was not so simple.  She's been on that chair several times before without an issue, but tonight she was sure she couldn't.  And when she did get up and it moved, OMG!  I couldn't get her up there again.  I think this issue was twofold.  1) the false pregnancy makes her more emotional, and 2) it was the end of class and she was a little tired, so she was running out of boldness.  We'll do it again, somewhere down the road, but not until she gets out of her false pregnancy.

"Rebounds" video - Here's our work on the rebound board.  Can't wait until spring when I get our rebound board finished and can work on this regularly at home. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Nosework (1/23)

These searches were a return to the basics, paired-hides in open boxes.  We were told not to pay unless the dog went back to a hide they'd already done.  In the past every time we've done this, I've noticed when we went to the next stage with unpaired hides, Gimme would check them and finding no treats, would move on without indicating.  I don't like this side affect, so I asked if I "could" add more treats when she was cleaning out a paired-hide location.  I didn't bother to explain why I wanted to, since it would result in a response from the other instructor disagreeing with me. 

Container 1 video - Gimme did move off and not get my treats twice, but overall she stuck around for them and was looking at me expectantly.  This went well and was a fast search.

Container 2 video - For the first search, all the hides were on the perimeter and there was nothing in the middle of the room.  The dogs all worked the perimeter.  So this time, the hides were still on the perimeter, but stuff was added to the middle of the room to see if it changed the dogs' search behavior.  There was some checking of the middle - every dog checked the pool, where we had "pooling odor" (pun intended).  Gimme sniffed toward the bathroom, but moved on without checking it.  She's done that before, "saving" a bathroom hide for later.  In this case, she always passed the bathroom from then on.  Dorothy mentions and you can see it in the video, she starts in the bathroom and then, turns to see if I'm coming and then moves on.  Its like she got distracted by checking on me and then forgets to finish the bathroom, and thereafter thought she had done it.  When she gets the drift off the nearby chair, then she goes in and nails the bathroom hide.  I was far enough away and didn't see her stop at the bathroom threshold, so if this happened in a trial, I don't know if I would have taken her in or not.  Interesting.

Container 3 video - For this search, we were to work on leash and let the dog pick a direction, clockwise or counter-clockwise and then stick with it.  Also the hides were now unpaired.  Gimme was the only dog in class that didn't check-and-move-on as I'd noticed before, showing my approach was right.  All the other dogs check-and-move-on and it was frustrating for those dogs and their handlers to have to readdress indicating and waiting for pay.  Gimme did a really nice job with this search.  The big hubbub about the bathroom hide, which you can't see on video, is how a treat got wedged under the flaps of the box where they were folded in.  Gimme was absolutely certain we couldn't move on until she got the morsel.  Of course in a trial I would never toss treats, so this isn't an issue.  This is the second time Gimme's gotten her head stuck in a box - its a good thing she doesn't get upset about such things, eh.

BTW her false pregnancy is continuing - she's doing well overall, but is obsessed by motherhood.  She's settled on PurpleDog as her baby, but hasn't completely left her other toys out of the family.  She has about a dozen other toys that she keeps moving around to be part of the litter.  There is a pile in her bed under the computer desk, a pile on the couch and a pile on our bed.  She moves them around from time to time, but its PurpleDog she is most obsessed with.  He's the one she always has with her and takes with us when we leave the house.  She's doing well with all her walks and classes and practices, despite having all these kids she's responsible for.  When it seems most to be an issue is when we are moving back toward the car from a walk or class, then she's in a rush.  When we are driving and getting close to home, then she gets loudly fussy and wants to be home RIGHT NOW!  She carries PurpleDog in her mouth for the last five miles, races in the house and checks on all the others in their three nests and then wants to settle down close to me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Urban Tracking (21)

Last Friday we did our first urban practice since September.  As I said, we are backing up to the beginning for the pavement stuff, to install good habits and get rid of bad ones. 

Gimme has developed a tendency to "go visual" when things are challenging.  She can spot a treat very easily.  So at the last urban tracking seminar (early September) we came up with using beef jerky cut in small pieces (less than ½ inch square).  They don't seem to show up against the blacktop we mostly end up working on. 

For our practice, we started with one island hopping around three islands, with a sock at the beginning and article at the end.  Nadine put one treat between the islands.  Gimme did well, but seemed to struggle with the gaps.  I don't go forward with her until she puts her nose down.

The second time we did the same exact islands, but added two more.  I had Nadine space 3 treats across the gaps, with same start sock and end article.  What I found was Gimme got the first two treats, but tended to overrun the third one.  I was holding her back until she found it.  But I'm not sure I should.  I need to email Sil and see what he recommends.  Another option is to simply put down two treats, spaced closer to the first half of the gap.  Then when she gets the scent off the curb she can go for it.

We are meeting tomorrow at the sports fields complex in Auburn.  Gimme should do well at this, but I want to make sure we don't overdo the time.  She's good on sports fields, but last summer I think we increased the time too quickly, which led to some challenging and frustrating experiences.  Certainly right now while she's in her false pregnancy, I want to make sure it goes well and is lotsa fun.