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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wait For The Cue

Recently it's become really apparent what an issue it is for Gimme to be in charge of over-offering behaviors which stems from not listening, all rolled up with problems about stimulus control. It has been a weak area all along, I just haven't put the focus on it. Its not an issue in some sports, where it's perfectly alright for Gimme to be in charge, such as: nosework, barn hunt and tracking (all sports which rely on her special nosey talent for success). Naturally, I don't blame Gimme - she is just doing what has worked for her all along. It's my job to wrestle to controls from her and be the grown-up here.

This last month we've been looking at cleaning up the alignment in her "take-a" bow behavior, since she's developed a tendency to swing her butt out 45º. I think this might be because she also offers "take-a" as her tracking indicator, where she swings out so she can look back and see if I've noticed and am dutifully trotting up to reward her find. In any case, her tendency to go right to offering when she thinks she knows what we are doing made it hard to get more than one or two reps in before she started offering. I needed to start her from a balanced stand to get a clean "take-a" and when she's offering, she's not balanced.

Anyway, efforts to teach her the value of being still as suggested on the list weren't working, so I decided to revisit a wait-for-the-cue game from yesteryear. To get ready I listed seven behaviors she knows well and can do in a small space. Then I used a random number generator to create a long sequence of numbers from 1 to 7, replaced the numbers with the behavior names and made up behavior lists... starting with 2 in a row (8 sequences), then 3 in a row (8)... and so on.

We couldn't get correctly through the first one! With all the work we've been doing with "take-a", Gimme decided any "down" from a "stand" (the first sequence of 2) really means, "stand"-"take-a". So I had to teach her she really can do "down" from "stand". The time it took me to realize what was going on gave her time to get frustrated, so she started throwing every behavior in her book at me - especially "bacon" (her fave). This game involves a lot of treats for waiting for the next cue, but she wasn't waiting long enough for me to get treats in her so I could interrupt the offering. Once I achieved teaching her she can "down" from "stand" I broke off the training and thought about it.

I decided to do short mini-sessions with the plan of focusing on one two part sequence at a time. I planned to start with a constant stream of treats and then gradually start to space them out from 1 nano-second to 1 milli-second to 1 micro-second to 1 centi-second to 1 deci-second to 1 second and so on...

So after 45 minutes, we did another session, with thirty treats and just the two behaviors "stand" and "down". I cued "stand", clicked it when she assumed it and then rapid fire fed her 8 treats... then cued "down" (lured and waited for the rump to drop) clicked and then rapid fire fed 10 treats... then cued "stand", clicked it when she assumed it and then rapid fire fed her the remaining treats...

This went better, she didn't have a chance to offer other behaviors and the behaviors I got were clean, even though I had to lure the down and wait on her rump. Then I cued "all-done" and went back to my evening project. She stood there dumb-founded for several minutes, "what the................." I finally had to call her to get on the couch to convince her it really was "all-done".

An hour later we did another quickie with the next sequence of two behaviors, "sit" and "turn" (CW spin). This went well and I was able to insert tiny pauses between treats. Gimme was a little more accepting of my "all done", though I still needed to call her to the couch.

Much later we did another sequence, "touch" (nose touch to hand) and "sit". This went really well and I was able to begin to take my treat hand away from her lips briefly, while she remained pretty still. When I said "all done", Gimme sighed, but then was ready to go to bed. I was nearly 1:00 a.m. after all.

I think this is promising and will likely improve as I work out some more bugs. I notice my click timing is not as good as it should be. Fortunately Gimme is pretty tolerant of my ineptitude.

Urban Tracking (26)

We met at Auburn Cinema for tracking.

I had Nadine lay a track for Gimme, which I wanted to be mostly out in the open area, but both starting and ending at curbs. Nadine started with set of 5 island hopping sections before turning out into the open area. Gimme really struggled with this transition. She only started to really get confident about what she was doing on the last leg. It was one long straight leg with a slight breeze coming into her. Someone made off with the final article, so Nadine arced out beside us and tossed a glove into position at a moment when Gimme had turned away.

Then we laid and ran tracks for the other girls. I'm trying to encourage Nadine to get serious about training Skookum for urban tracking. She's an older dog and Nadine just doesn't think she'll be able to do the training through to a TDX. So since I want to focus on urban for awhile, it's a good time to work Skookum toward it too. She does nicely and I think she'd be happier with more than baby tracks.

Since we got done faster than we expected, I asked Nadine to lay another track for Gimme. It was all on the pavement, no curbs and sort of a big C-shape. I also had her put out a bit more food drops. Gimme did a very nice job with it and I was really pleased. Maybe more treats was a factor, but I've noticed she tends to do better on the second track.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Parkour (1/7)

 There was a new dog in class, a large black Akita. If you look past us on the videos you can see the handler's head above the divider. She is really careful with her dog and I assumed he was reactive. Jo said he's still quite young and the handler, knowing the propensity of her breed, is doing everything she can to make sure he doesn't become reactive.

We had one specific layout created with 8 dividers and pool noodles. They were set up with:

1. pool noodle between divider 1 and 2
2. space between divider 2 and 3
3. pool noodle between divider 3 and 4... and so on

We did a different sequence each time, sometimes building on what we'd done before and sometimes changing it. We also used some props set up at the ends of the channels. The channels with pool noodles were for the dog's to go through and the ones with space (no pool noodle) was for the handler.

Sequence 1 video - This time it was very simple - "jump", go "out" around cone, "jump", turn, "jump", go "out" around cone, and "jump". Then we reversed direction. Ya gotta love Jo's ability to rhyme on the fly, "Your dog was great and you were late."

Sequence 2 video - This time we changed it up, making it - "below", go "out" around cone, "jump", turn, "below", go "out" around cone, and "jump". Then we reversed direction. Gimme found it challenging to respond to the "below" cues. She didn't get a sequence with a "below" correct the first time until the last sequence where I slowed her down a lot.

Sequence 3 video - This time it was the same sequence, but with a "wait" in the "box".

Sequence 4 video - Jo replaced the cones with a "table" and the carwash "thru". We still needed to do the "wait" in the "box". On the reverse direction, it almost seems like Gimme thinks if I am late with the cue on the first try, then she is under no obligation to listen for the cue on the next few attempts. Or maybe she had no plans to listen anyway.

Sequence 5 video -
This time Jo replaced the carwash with a "thru" barrel. Then as we finished the sequence in the first direction, there was "out" around a cone, then go right into the reverse direction (no "wait" in the "box"). I'm having to really slow her down so she can do it right and hear my cues.

Sequence 6 video - This time we did one turn through and then ended with a short sequence of parkour behaviors: "box", "table", "below" and "hands". I took Gimme through it slowly, reinforcing a couple extra times for her "wait" in the "box", and she got it all right. Good girl!

Gimme didn't seem to pay any attention to the Akita, in fact I never had a moment when I thought, "she just noticed him." Of course, she was having a little difficulty with focusing on my cues, so perhaps she had noticed. Then again it was only the "below" cue she seemed to have a problem with, so maybe not. Don't you love how decisive I am?

I've noticed a warm spot between her shoulder blades since then... which I think may be from all the jumping. We work on rubber mats, so it could just be from doing so much jumping at a slow speed, which is physically entirely different from doing a lot of jumps when running. Of course it could be from something else. I have to check my calendar for her next chiropractor visit.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nosework (5/24)

What a fun class. We started with two exterior searches, then came inside for more maze searches.

Exterior 1 video - This search had two hides, one high and one low, but we didn't know the height. Our goal as handlers was to verbalize what we thought our dog's behavior was telling us about hide height. We were given 2½ minutes for the search and Gimme only used 1:45. You'd think as much as I talk I could talk and handle at the same time - it's surprisingly hard. Fortunately Gimme doesn't need any more from me than to stay out of her way, eh...

Exterior 2 - There was only one hide, at waist height and Gimme found it in 22 seconds. (no video)

Then we did two maze searches. They had set up one really large maze for the dogs. It's just fascinating to watch. And interestingly even the dogs who normally want their handlers close were able to work this out all by themselves.

I found it particularly interesting how, after working out how to get to all three hides, Gimme then retraced her steps directly to get to me. All the dogs were pretty good at finding their way out. I think this means dogs have an innate mental "map" of where they are and have been. There are those in the scientific realm who believe dogs (animals) don't have spatial reasoning. I think they are seriously wrong. After seeing this consistent showing between our four class dogs, I'm sure they have spatial reasoning within the two dimensions of their experience.

Unfortunately Dorothy stopped the video before you could see Gimme's direct route out of the maze (both times). If we ever do this again, I'll ask her to film Gimme's exit too.

Interior 1 video - I was surprised to see Gimme solved this maze in 1:21, since it seemed much longer to me. Gimme found the entry in 20 seconds; got the first hide 5 seconds later with 46 seconds between it and the last hide.

Interior 2 video - Between runs, they changed the maze. We also entered/started from the other door to give them a completely different picture. Gimme took longer to find the entry, 41 seconds; got the first hide 15 seconds later, but only 38 seconds between it and the last hide.

Gimme thought this was six kinds of fun. Knowing how she can be, we were all amazed that she didn't deconstruct the maze to get to the hides. She certainly could have and has shoved stuff out of her way to get to hides in the past.

I thought she enjoyed the maze searches last week and now, again this week. I know I did. I think this could be a whole new nosework class. I'd enter just to watch her work it out. I wish I had enough stuff to make mazes of my own.

I have to add, I find corn mazes very creepy and you'd have to pay me a LOT to get me to go in one again. Just sayin...

Monday, April 24, 2017

RFE practice (41)

I was trying something a little different. I brought Gimme's matt to use for a reset when she starts offering me behaviors when I don't want offering. It didn't work for what I intended, but did have other benefits. One of the drawbacks is the inability to use my timer to tell me when I should be getting ready to end the session, since there's no way to accurately determine in advance how many 1 minute matt resets we might do. Thus the sessions are longer than I want, even factoring out the time on the matt.

Session 1 video - We started out working out the distraction issue with the stuffed toys J'Anna had set up for the prop weave. Once Gimme realized we were playing the distraction game, then she did really nicely. We did this on both sides. Gimme's heeling was pretty loose, but I was willing to accept it as long as she was ignoring the toys. Then we did "pivot" on J'Anna's prop. After I took her leash off, we tinkered with side-stepping. I think Gimme will be better at this when she understands it. She's better stepping to her right, which is her best direction on most things. Going to her left went much better when I waited until she shifted in that direction and then moved with her, otherwise she kept trying to "Otto". Tossed a few treats to let her loosen up and move out. Then did treat tossing to set her up for "thru-heel" and "thru-side". I don't reward any instance where she does a backspin behind me before coming up into the correct position. I thought we had this sorted out, but perhaps its asking too much of her to hear and respond to a compound cue when she's already moving. She seemed to do better when she was close to me and/or not moving when she heard the cue. I have some other ideas to work on this. We started to work on "take-a" bow alignment. I first gave her treats for standing balanced and then lured "take-a". The first one was really nice, but then she started offering, assuming she knew what to do next (listening not required). We did matt reset. Then moved back to where we'd done it before (where I could see her whole body in the only mirror). She pattern trains so easily, so as soon as we got close, she starts offering "take-a", so fast I can't get in any rewards for waiting for the cue. After another reset, we did more heeling around the props and I sprung in another lured "take-a". We ended with a bit of "thru-heel" and "thru-side" with mixed success. Editing out the resets and accounting for walking to/from the matt, this was a 10½-minute session - too long.

Session 2 video - We started with a bit of rewarding stillness in "side" position. Then we worked some more on side stepping. From there we did some right "side" heeling around the stuffed toys. When we get to the end of the line and she stares off in the distance, its because one of the doggie daycare stopped there and spoke to me, with large black dog in tow (we talked about this later). I was proud of Gimme for how she handled this. When I stared behind me, it was because I heard a noise like the door opening. We latch it so it shouldn't happen, but I'm only mortal and could forget. We practiced a simultaneous counter-circle and you can see Gimme was still distracted because she didn't even know "behind". There were new dogs in the day care, so more noise than usual. Gimme asks me to go to her matt. Good girl. We tried to do the course, but Gimme was still too distracted by the day care noises, so we played "whazzat" for a bit. It took a couple tries to get through the first station. The second station was a free choice, so I cued her for "kisses", which I figured she would need/want to do anyway. Later I get her to an "Otto" (back around me) for a free choice and then when I want her to back up beside me at the next station, she's just sure we should do "Otto" again. After we finish the course we do matt time again. From there we practice backing up in heel position. 

Session 3 video - I decided to focus on lots of fast heeling for this last session. After the initial 30 seconds getting her full attention, we did 3½ minutes of non-stop heeling, mostly on the right "side", with treats as we went. As we finished, Gimme jumped on me for kisses/reassurance. I was glad I had the matt there, since she went over to it to tell me she needed a break. I don't think the communication would have been as clear to me without the matt. After the break we did "heel" for 1½ minutes. From there I put some rewards into the being still at "heel" account. I slipped in a lured "take-a" when she wasn't expecting it and it was lovely. Then I did the same thing on the right "side", with another quick lured "take-a". This was the shortest of the three sessions, at 8½ minutes.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Parkour (7/6)

The new dog didn't show up for class. I hope we'll see him again. He's fun to watch and I think its good for Gimme to adjust to the presence of different dogs on a regular basis.

Multiple "out" video - The task here was to start the dog on a prop, send them "out" around a cone and then back to the prop, and repeat twice more. This was easy for Gimme.

Platform work video - The challenge here was having the wall directly behind the platform, so an inexperienced dog would think there wasn't going to be enough space. Gimme knows better. She also pretty much expects the wall to get out of her way.

Sequence 1 video - Gimme did very well with all of this except the last prop, the hoop stand. I kept trying to get ahead of her to lure her through the side hoop. In hindsight, I should have used "halt" to stop her in the stand so I could get ahead of her and show her what I wanted.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme did well until we got to the ladder and it wobbled as she was going over it. The substitute instructor reset it and then she did fine.

Sequence 3 video - Where this sequence started, Gimme had to pass by a dog just five feet away. Clearly she was distracted and it took her a bit to get focused on me. At the end she's moving toward the dog again and just the possibility of getting so close was distracting.

Sequence 4 video - This sequence started the same way, so I moved the divider so it was between Gimme and the dog five feet away. It helped a little, but she was still rushing to move away and we had to do the beginning over. She did well from there. She really doesn't like the swinging platform, so I steadied it a little with my foot while giving her lots of treats. Then I was able to move my foot away and since she was relaxed it wasn't moving.

Class was pretty good, though Jo's classes are much better.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nosework (4/24)

The first exercise was five large boxes set up against the walls with odor in them. As Gimme had a change of behavior related to the hide boxes, Dorothy, me and the other instructor would toss treats into the box. Gimme thought this was the best fun ever. I purposely tended to toss late, so she was inclined to wait for more pay. I don't know if she would have gobbled and run, but its been an issue before. No video.

The two other searches were these little maze searches, where the dog had to actually move away from odor to actually get to source. They need to have the confidence to go find a "back door". Gimme has already figured this out with vehicles, and knows sometimes despite where she smells it, it's actually on the far side. 

Interior 1 video - I thought this was much easier for Gimme, because her Parkour training teaches her to think of moving in and around things in her environment in a different way. For instance, she was so much more comfortable going under a chair (something she's done in Parkour class) to get to the last hide, making her route more direct. 

Interior 2 video - Dorothy changed all the mazes, so the dogs had to find a different way in. On the first (of four) Gimme was pretty insistent the back door had to be where she found it before, but then finally solved it. After realizing it was changed, Gimme was much quicker to abandon her first guess and explore for other options with the other mazes.

This was all so much fun. Gimme really seemed to enjoy these little puzzles and I enjoyed watching her solve them.

Urban Tracking (24 & 25)

Last Thursday Gimme and I met Nadine and her girls at the theater complex for urban tracking. We are continuing to lay tracks with food drops for Gimme in the open areas, coming up to an island curb and then heading out into the open again. Its coming along, slowly. Using treats which blend in with the blacktop is helping her to lose her dependence on solving the problem visually. The second track is always much better than the first.  I think its just going to take time to break the visual habit.

BTW on Sunday, Nadine and Cricket did a stellar job on their test track, giving our buddy a TD to follow her name. I was so happy for both of them.  I got the text right before the service started and I'm pretty sure the people in my church thought I'd finally lost it for good.

Today we met at the Game Farm Park. The traffic got really awful so I knew I was going to be late. I called Nadine and told her what I wanted -- a track starting in grass and at some point crossing the largest piece of hard surface she could get, with an angled turn of about 30° and food drops every couple of yards. We get lots of narrow hard surface turns there because of all the paved paths, but I wanted at least one where she couldn't dash across and find the track in the grass on the other side.

Nadine set what I asked for, except she forgot the food drops, which I think Gimme still needs to encourage her to keep her nose down. Gimme still did a nice job. The large pavement crossing had a small groove down the center, which had collected dirt and had a couple of tufts of grass growing in it. The track was 2 feet to one side of the grove, Gimme tracked right down the groove. We think it held more moisture in the dirt than the plain pavement did. She mostly kept her nose down.

Nadine put down a LOT of articles for Gimme - there were 8 of them, with treats. She had some peanut butter flavored commercial treats she put down on a couple of the articles. The first time she found the PB flavored treats, Gimme started to gobble them up, then phhhfltttt, spit them out and stared, before sniffing again and then eating them. I'm thinking the flavor wasn't what she expected from her most favorite smell. After the first encounter, she gobbled them up and Nadine gave me the bag which she'd gotten for a sample at the trial - they blend in nicely with pavement.

We stopped at McDonalds on the way and bought Cricket a sausage biscuit as a little gift for her accomplishment. Nadine used it to reward her for intermediate articles and the end article. After seeing how much more enthusiastic Cricket was about her articles, Nadine said she might spring for sausage biscuits herself. This would be great. I find Nadine is pretty stingy with treats, so if we can't get her to increase the quantity (Gimme gets 15-25 for every article), at least a higher value treat would be more motivating.

Gimme slept almost all the way home. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Parkour (6/6)

Tonight we had a new dog join class - large and dark. Someone in his past did a hatchet job on his ears, "because he's a fighting breed". I think it more likely he was intended to be a bait dog, but fortunately got rescued before that horrible end could play out. He seems really sweet and pretty bold, like Gimme, no fear. He just does everything and always fast. Gimme didn't notice him right away, but once she did he was quite a distraction.

"Thru" with obstacles video - Gimme went through this before I even cued it. At this point, she doesn't see the obstacles as obstacles at all.

Crawl trainer video - You'll see the new dog go by briefly. Now with one more dog in class, its a bit of a juggling game. In any case, Gimme thinks the crawl trainer is easy peasy.

"Table-thru-table" video - I wrongly assumed Gimme would listen to my verbal cue, so I didn't set her up on a path to make "thru" an obvious choice, so instead she gave me "hands". When I do set her up, she does it easily. Of course she can't resist hopping up on the boardwalk to the scaffold just because we walk by it.

Sequence 1 video - This was right after Gimme noticed the new dog and you can clearly see how unfocused she is. She is trying, but part of her brain is somewhere else. BTW the person and dog who are in the camera is the new team and if you look closely you can see his poor ears. 

Scaffold work video - Gimme is very unfocused here, to the point of not being aware of where her feet are at times, making missteps. I turned this quick exercise into a longer exercise by adding a control point at almost every step.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme was doing pretty good and focusing well, until we got to where she needed to go "below" the boardwalk. I had her "wait" so I could get positioned, but when she got through, she didn't see me where she thought I should be, so she went back and then hopped up on the boardwalk (which I was straddling). Clearly I should have used the "wait" to get all the way on the other side of the boardwalk. When we get to the end, Jo has us repeat the segment where we had trouble before and this time it was even worse. I'm not sure why... in hindsight I think she was simply getting tired.

Scaffold work 2 video - She was really unfocused at the beginning of this and I had to slow her down quite a bit. I do see in the video a couple of quick looks to the new dog when they are moving around, which is certainly a strong distraction. She stops looking when the owner sits and the new dog isn't moving. Anyway, slowed her quite a bit and then she did better. 

Free practice video - We were given time at the end of class to work on whatever we wanted to. I put out four props so I could have a variety of options and wanted to specifically put a lot of rewards into the waiting-for-cues account. Its a work in progress and sometimes it seems like those rewards aren't registering. Of course she has a very long history of getting rewarded for doing things to overcome. It occurs to me watching this, she may have been confused when I cued "stand", thinking I said "hands". They do sound a LOT alike. I thought she did well with the distraction of the tri-color dog moving nearby. She looked, but instantly turned her attention back to me. We did a few behaviors as part of her stretching: "hands" to the cone, "take-a", "spin" and "turn". We even tried "thru", but she'd started getting a bit wild, so I had her hold a "down" position to calm her. 

Working through the presence of a new dog in class was very hard for the munchkin, so she slept soundly all the way home.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Parkour (5/6)

I just discovered I'm behind on my parkour class reports, so you'll get two in a row. Gimme doesn't care as long as I don't fall behind in taking her to the classes.

Boardwalk & swaybridge video - Gimme still doesn't like the swaybridge, so I get her to do it a couple of times and pay her extra for standing still on it.

Sequence 1 video - Gimme normally likes the "thru" barrel, so I don't know what was going on with her. She seems so unfocused for this sequence, she was actually more focused when she was doing the evil swaybridge.
Sequence 2 video - I slowed things down a bit on this sequence to help Gimme get focused and she did do better.

Sequence 3 video - I slowed her down even more to get this right. The stay is something Jo suggested after the last sequence. You'll note there is a blip in the middle of this video - its a discussion I had with Jo and I couldn't understand her on the video, so I edited it out.

Creative sequence 4 video - This time we were to create our own sequence, trying to do some novel uses along the way. We made good use of Gimme's favorite "bacon".

"Hands" with "sit" video - The goal is to get Gimme to do "hands" on a prop and then "sit" and "stand" while keeping her paws on the prop. Jo says its physically challenging and I just assumed the challenge would be to come to a "stand", but what I see with Gimme is the challenge is to "sit". She just assumes she is supposed to "pivot" any time I have her put her paws on something low, so I have to physically block her to get her to listen long enough to realize I want her to do something else. She really always wants to do the things she's good at (who doesn't?). I have to push the treats toward her to encourage her to move her center of gravity back, otherwise the "sit" she gives me is really no more than a crouch. Jo wants me to encourage Gimme to be more still while she is doing things, which has always been a huge challenge. You can see how frustrated she gets when the treats aren't coming and she doesn't know how to make them come again. She goes into a little melt down when she doesn't understand how to get the system working, so we have to do some other stuff, so she can calm down a bit. After the break I start doing some stroking and touching to help her calm down. In the video it looks like I'm using her harness to push her into position, but I'm not - she likes it when I massage around and under the harness straps. She's always been very tactile, so I really should use touch more to calm her. After the second break I was using touch to calm her so I could reward being still. Of course her tail never stops.

Open practice video - For the last session we were given time to practice anything we wanted. I decided to use the mini-scaffold and see if I could get her to do side-steps with her feet on a high prop. It wasn't very successful, so we tried to do it with the barrel prop. The barrel was a little bit better. I want to try this on a longer prop and use a clicker to help her understand what I'm after. I think using the practice boardwalk I've set up in the yard would be a good place to start.

As always, a good class...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Nosework (3/24)

Container 1 video - We started with a blind search consisting of three rows of six egg cartons with two plastic eggs in each, and a total of six hides. We were told our handler challenge would be to keep track of where we'd been. I was thinking in terms of which parts of which rows we'd searched, not where she indicated. Keeping track of where Gimme indicated when there were six hides in a small area was far too confusing. I just now drew a little chart, numbering the boxes 1-6, 7-12 and 13-18 and marked them as I watched the video. Gimme actually found them all... I was confused and didn't acknowledge her find of #5 thinking she'd already found it when she hadn't and basically pushed her into indicating #2 twice (which I knew was a second indication).

The second part of this exercise was when we all came back in without our dogs and Dorothy asked us to go stand by the first box our dog indicated and then go stand by the last box our dog indicated. Consciously I had no clue, so I just picked the ones which felt more right than the others. As it turned out I was right on both first and last, so some part of my brain knew the correct answer. 

Exterior video - Here we had 6 hides in plastic eggs, three on each side of the sidewalk. Gimme got one right away and then pushed to the other end of the search area and started getting them on the way back. She missed one on the way back, which got cut off the video. Gimme was a little faster than the other dogs. 

Container 2 video - This time Dorothy had replaced the egg-carton-plastic-egg hides with plastic shoeboxes filled with tissue paper, two had hides in them. Gimme goes directly to the first hide at a run, almost directly from the start - she has it in 6 seconds. After the reward, she checks all the other boxes, pausing ever so briefly at the hide before checking the others, then goes back to it (21 seconds).

Fun class...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Great Weekend

It was a great 3-day weekend. We went to Longview/Kelso for a barn hunt trial and as it turned out, there was a weight pull there too. So Gimme and I did 9 events over three days.


Barn Hunt Trial 1 - There was only 1 rat and since Gimme prefers to find all the rats before she shares with me, so she didn't tell me where it was until after the 4 minute mark. That didn't leave us enough time and we ran out of time before she came out of the tunnel.  I wish there was some way to get her past this hump. She used to do it in nosework, but has pretty much quit since I raised the value of her treats. We can't have treats in the barn hunt ring, so I don't see how to get her past this. Hunting and our play with the rat tube is all the reward she gets and I think she doesn't want it to end.

Weight Pull day 1 - Gimme got to pull on dirt this time.  Because dirt is harder to get the cart moving than a smooth surface, the weights are a bit lower than when she got her UWP. She pulled 420 pounds, which is plenty for 5 points toward the CH. Her next time was 500 pounds and then 580 pounds. Anything over 564 pounds earned 10 points toward the CH. We had to do multiple pulls to get the last weight going, but she did it. Right now she is pulling just because I ask her to and she likes doing stuff with me (and she loves marshmallows). I want to protect her enthusiasm.  Gimme has to pull roughly another 200 pounds (depending on what her weight is on pull day) to get the next level of points, so I won't ask her to do any higher weights until we have our own harness and can do some training and conditioning. BTW there was a guy who took video of us on Friday and has promised to email it to me. When it comes I'll upload it.

Barn Hunt Trial 2 - There were 5 rats and Gimme got started a lot sooner telling me where they were. She really had fun and it went fast. She had 48 seconds to go (so much faster than 1-rat runs). This is the first of ten legs she needs toward her barn hunt CH.


Barn Hunt Trial 3 - We found 4 out of 5 rats. I think the one we missed was my fault. It was on the far side of a small pile of straw and I spent a lot of time standing with my back to it. Gimme has gotten rats on small piles with me standing in front of them, but this time the rat was on the far side, so I don't think she smelled it and I didn't do anything to help.

Weight Pull day 2 -
Pulling 420 pounds video - She did a nice job, pulling confidently. The lady who took our videos came over and coached me between each pull. For instance in this pull, I took my hands off Gimme as I was hooking her up. You are supposed to have contact with the dog at all times until the pull starts. It can be by leash, collar or otherwise touching the dog. They pull without their leash on and if you take the leash onto the lane with you, then you have to throw it back onto the cart.
Pulling 500 pounds faulted video - Its not clear from this video perspective, but I had her leash looped around my wrist while hooking her up. I don't know why she found this pull challenging, but she wasn't getting it moving, so I told the judge I'd take the fault and put my hand in her harness to give a little tug to help her start it. After the assist, she pulled it all by herself. It may be the tire was stuck behind a little bump in the dirt - starting the cart is the hardest part. The judge said in the future I should just ask the judge to give the cart a nudge.
Pulling 500 pounds video - The judge suggested I run with Gimme down the track so its clear to her what the goal is. Not sure if it works, but can't hurt. I find it interesting that Gimme is completely unconcerned by the spreader bar bouncing against the back of her hocks - something she's ignored since minutes into her first pull at a workshop. She asked for and got some reassurance from me, then was ready to go again. She did a nice job pulling this time.
Pulling 580 pounds video - After her struggle with 500, I was ready for Gimme to have difficulty with 580 pounds, but she pulled just "like a big girl". She earned another 10 points toward her weight pull CH.

Barn Hunt Trial 4 - There were 5 rats and Gimme steamed through them in 3:18, with 1:12 to spare. It was a very nice job. She really had fun. Now we need just 8 more qualifying legs to get her barn hunt CH.


Barn Hunt Trial 5 - There were 3 rats and Gimme found them all, then did the tunnel on her own. I took her around the ring on one last sweep. I was about to call "clear" when Gimme started barking at a tube on the ground. I was mostly sure it wasn't the real deal, but she persisted, so I called it. It was indeed a false alert. I'm sure she knows the difference between a rat tube and a dirty litter tube, so I'm not clear what was going on here.

Weight Pull day 3 -
Pulling 420 pounds video - You'll see Gimme starts to pull and then when she meets resistance, she looks back at the cart. Even when the cart comes with her, she tends to drop her effort until she almost has to restart the cart. She doesn't quite understand yet how to get the cart moving and to keep pulling even after it starts to move, until I stop her. Getting the cart moving is the hardest part. The woman who runs these trials lives about 45 minutes from home and has volunteered to work with me, teaching me how to teach Gimme what she needs to know. So once I get Gimme her own harness, then I'll contact her about getting together.
Pulling 500 pounds video - Gimme again turned to look at the cart. Its like she is looking back to see what is wrong with the stupid thing. Doesn't it know its supposed to follow her lead? Still she did a good job - she clearly gets better each time.
Pulling 580 pounds video - This was her best pull of the weekend. Mary (my videographer) suggested I keep my hands low to encourage Gimme to keep her head low. It worked really well and we earned another 10 points toward her weight pull CH. We only need another 70 points to get a UWPCH.

Barn Hunt Trial 6 - This time there were 4 rats and Gimme did a nice job of finding them. She indicated 3 rats, one after the other and then didn't seem to have any more. So I cued her to tunnel. She got a couple feet inside the tunnel then turned around, coming back out. I was about to cue "tunnel" again, when she jumped up on a bail right above and just a smidgen to one side of the tunnel entrance and quickly indicated a fourth rat. Then she did the tunnel and I called clear, with 45 seconds to go. This was our third masters leg toward her RATCH and we need just 7 more.

Once we get the RATCH I plan to try her out on Crazy-8's. Its a interesting game and its a hard title to get. It'll be interesting to see how she responds to having 8 rat tubes in her ring. 

BTW one of the last runs I watched this weekend was a guy and his BC who got 5 rats and called clear in 58 seconds. Unbelievably fast...

Gimme was happiest about the funny looking toy I won in the worker's raffle. Here's a picture of Gimme with all her loot (and all I got was a t-shirt).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

RallyFrEe practice (40)

I am behind in posting... but working on it.  This is for the practice last Thursday.  I had a good plan, but unfortunately left home without my camera and by the time I remembered, it was far too late to go back.  J'Anna made a list of all the things we worked on.

Session 1 -
On leash we started with a bit of focus work, then heeling.  I encouraged heeling with more attention.  I had Gimme do a couple of side changes, going from "heel" position to "side" and back to "heel" and ending in "side".  Then we did some right "side" heeling with attention.
Off leash we again did side changes, ending in "side", then adding a "turn".  From there it was find "center" and I put treats in the standing-still bank account.  She really doesn't see value in standing still, so I practiced "wait" in a stand at "center" position.  Then we did some food tosses, throwing treats for her and sometimes with "thru" and sometimes without to find whichever position I cued as she was coming toward me.  Last we practiced luring "take-a" in both positions, with lots of treats for duration.  Remember I am working on getting "take-a" while remaining neatly in "heel" or "side" position, instead of swinging her butt out 45º.

Session 2 -
On leash there was just a bit of attention work.
Off leash we did "bacon" to a platform.  I set up the platform before I brought her in, but then couldn't remember why I wanted it, but of course, Gimme will "bacon" to anything.  Because we often have distraction issues as we pass the corners (though much better than before) Kathy suggested I do call-front from the corners. The first corner it was hard for Gimme to realize she could actually "wait" with her back to the stuff, but with a little help she got it. The second corner was still a challenge, but she got it with almost no help (one repeated command). The third corner (the one where she often gets sucked in) was the best. The fourth corner was with her back to the door to the day care and there was a dog moving around in there, who came up the gate/door (only 15' from us). She stayed put, but had her neck craned around to watch. I didn't go as far away before calling her.  Then I remembered why I wanted to platform, to practice "high" and "fiver".  Remember I realized "high" and "five" sound too similar, so I changed it to "fiver".  I still don't think they sound different enough, so I'm going to change it to Spanish, "cinco".
Then we did the course which included: "side", "otto" for free choice, right paw lift, "turn", "behind", "bacon" to J'Anna's prop, "spin" to center, "thru" to "side", "center" with 360º pivot, back-up "thru" 3 times, 180º pivot, simultaneous "spin", ending with "take-a" bow.

Session 3 -
All off leash.  I wanted to work on her paw lifts and started with a small foot stool, but it was too small and Gimme was putting her focus on staying on it, rather than working on paw lifts.  So we changed to a chair and then worked on them.  We used the platform to work on her "center" position without movement.  Then did a couple of "bacon" to it.  Then we ended with some more work on "take-a". 

All in all a good practice, with nice short sessions.  Too bad I didn't have it on video.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Parkour (4/6)

It was a good class, though a bit different than our usual.

270°-"jump"-"thru" video - The goal was to have the dog "jump", turn 270° and then come "thru" the carwash.  Gimme didn't know what I wanted the first time, but when I lured her to get the "thru", then she totally had it.  The second time she was flawless.  She did so well Jo suggested we do "thru" the dividers-pool-noodles setup.  You can't really see it on video, but Gimme always likes it.

For much of class, Jo set out props near the 270°-"jump"-"thru" setup and we were to create our own sequence using all of them at least once.  Each round she added a few more props.  Here are the videos from our work.

Handler sequence 1 video - Easy stuff.

Handler sequence 2 video - I tried to get her to "bacon" on the stool, I knew she couldn't get up in the seat but she has put her back feet on the rungs before.  With Gimme's penchant for interacting with the props before I tell her to, we had a good laugh saying perhaps our goal should be to use each prop "only once", instead of "at least once" like our classmates.

Handler sequence 3 video - You have to be impressed with Gimme's efforts to "bacon" into a high-sided box.  She clearly has her own idea of what this might entail - so clever.

Handler sequence 4 video - This time we were supposed to try and find ways to use the props in unusual ways.  Since we've done "hands" to a cone before, I started with it.  I was quite proud of her jumping up into the stool since it's the first time she's been willing to do so.

Back around video - We were given time to work on some unusual use of a prop.  Something I've been wanting to teach Gimme to back away from me, around a prop and continue backing up until she is in heel position again.  I saw a youtube video showing how one person taught this using a platform and I've wanted to do it ever since.  I didn't have our platform, so I grabbed a flat fit-disk to use in place of one.  I started with simply paying Gimme for packing onto the disk.  Then I set up a ring divider for her to back along to the disk.  Then I progressively moved the disk around the end of the divider, so she had to back along the divider and then turn to back on the disk.  As it got harder, she tended to back up to near it and then touch it with her front feet before swinging her back feet onto it.  I rewarded this anyway, since I knew she was still learning what I wanted.  You'll see the third time she turns partway to look at where it is, then swings her butt to back onto it.  Because I was worried about the instability of the divider and to start fading the divider, I moved a cone into position at the end of the divider.  Then I removed the divider and replaced it with a couple of cones.  At this point she starts trying some "bacon" options with the cones, but finally gets around to the disk.  After this I moved the disk again and approached it a little more like regular back-chaining.   I will play with this some more at home and maybe will bring out the guides and see if that makes it clearer for her.  Of course, what I was doing here was really pushing the limits and not doing the kind of fine increments I normally do. 

Chair tunnel video - We were instructed to play with props and Jo suggested we use the first chair as a tunnel, because it's challenging to go through for a larger dog.  Gimme got it right away, so I added chairs in front and then after it to create a tunnel of chairs.  She really thought this was easy peasy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Nosework (2/24)

Despite a lot of drizzle, three of our four searches were outdoors.  You will see in the videos strips of surveyor tape.  They were set up at nose level so we could see what the wind was doing at dog-nose-level. 

Vehicle 1 search video - One vehicle, two hides. Gimme starts the search going down the right side of the vehicle and then veers out to the landscaping.  You will here the co-instructor say, "tha's a lotta leash for a vehicle".  Yes it is by traditional standards, but I know Gimme.  Do note how Gimme turned back to the vehicle on her own.  The leash looks tight, but its sliding through my fingers, so it isn't me pulling her back.  Despite her taking a moment to catch the scent off the landscaping, Gimme still had the hide in 13 seconds, faster than the other dogs. Then I used front crosses as turns to get her back to the vehicle, since the wind was blowing the scent away. She did a nice job finding the other hide.  I confess I didn't really have time to pay attention to which way the surveyor tape was blowing during the search, but it was interesting when I made a point to watch it on the video.

Too many times to count I've seen Gimme veer out to something off to the side and then follow it right to the hide, which is exactly what she did here.  So, I haven't changed how I handle her on vehicles and I won't, no matter how often I get told its too much leash.  Before I started training with Dorothy I went to a nosework seminar where the presenter, one of the NACSW founders, talked about this very thing in her lecture.  Then in one of the searches Gimme did it and she pointed out to everyone how Gimme had just demonstrated what she'd been talking about earlier.  I've also had a judge comment favorably on it.  I figure if one of the founders and a judge have seen it enough times to identify it as a valid strategy for some dogs, who am I to argue with my brilliant girl.

Vehicle 2 search video - Three vehicles, 5 hides.  For much of this search she wasn't getting the same amount of wind as the other dogs.  I think she missed the first bumper hide simply because she was going too fast and it was blowing toward the next bumper where there was also a hide.  You'll see she goes past the hide on the third bumper to the landscaping, then turns back on her own going directly to the hide.  When we go up between the big truck and little truck, there is almost no wind until we are leaving, so Gimme doesn't get anything from the other side of the big truck, which is where the hide is.  As we are going along the bumpers, she catches the drift from the one she missed, which is now blowing into her face. When we go up between the two big trucks the first time, you'll see the tape blow strongly away from Gimme, which is why she misses the hide.  When we go back there a second time, the wind has dropped a bit and she finds it easily.  I'd love to do this kind of search off leash and see if she is faster - I believe she would be.

External search video - This was a huge search area, 3 hides, and we were encouraged to use a long line, so while I usually would use my 25 foot line, I thought Gimme would enjoy being unencumbered and used our 40 foot tracking line.  I let Gimme make her own decisions about how to cover the search area, except for one time when I encouraged her with my location to swing around and get into the corner made by the vehicle, which she'd passed when she rounded the corner.  Otherwise it was all her and she was really fast compared to the other dogs, which is often the case. Gimme passed by the area where the first hide was located, but then caught it when she was almost on top of the second hide, so she went back to it from there, sourced and indicated.  This was really nice to see because she could easily have gone straight to the second hide since she was so close.  You can tell as she goes from the first to second hide, she knew exactly where it was.  This was such a beautiful search.  I do have to confess, 40 foot of line is really too much to handle in a nosework search; though its fine in tracking because you can let it drag along behind you.

Container search video - Don't blink or you'll miss it.  Six seconds, start to finish...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tracking (40)

We met at Flaming Geyser last Friday.  I asked Nadine to lay another series of four tracks, where we focused on her finding her starts.  Specifically I wanted 4 short straight tracks from start to glove, with multiple opportunities for Gimme to find the start direction.  Note I said "short-straight", but I guess I didn't emphasize the "straight" part enough.  Instead, Nadine laid 4 L-shaped tracks.  The red dashed line is Nadine's path from one end to the next start and the green line is Gimme's path.

There wasn't really any problem with L-shaped tracks, except me not knowing.  So when Gimme came to the first corner and turned, I knew better and didn't go with her.  Nadine said, "the glove isn't at the flag, it's farther down the track."  Since I was expecting straight, I pushed Gimme to search in the area indicated past the corner on track one.  Bless her, she did search where I urged her, but refused to be sold on something which wasn't there.  I asked her to "search for it" which is our cue to go around me in a circle looking for the track and she repeatedly indicated down the second leg.  After repeatedly ignoring her, Nadine told me, "trust your dog"... and when I did, just like magic she found the glove.  Imagine...

I am so blessed to have a girl who will keep trying no matter how dumb my handling is.  I wonder sometimes what she thinks as I'm urging her to search when there is nothing there.  Then again, maybe it's better I don't know.