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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Parkour (6/8)

Gimme killed her bed under the computer desk before we headed off to class. She's also become a little more obsessed with babies. It might be time to adjust her remedies. I wasn't sure what to expect for class.

Crawl trainer - I didn't get a video for this. Gimme has done it before and it wasn't set very low, so she just zoomed through it and back. It was great to have something easy to start class with.

Sway bridge video - Gimme isn't really fond of the sway bridge so she tends to race over it. I let her race the first time and then inserted a control point on the way back. She stopped very nicely and you can see her  relaxing as she's getting the treats. 

Hoop trainer video - Gimme has a bit of a challenge with the hoop trainer. We work on it and get some success, but not quite what I'd like to see. It's hard because she gets ahead of me so quickly. In hindsight, I should have used our "halt" as a control point to help her listen better. 

Sequence 1 video - Gimme does a good job with this, though not perfect. She misses the "halt" cue on the sway bridge, but then does the hoop trainer perfectly. She's doing much better than I expected. 

Cue discrimination video - This exercise was about cue discrimination. We had two platforms on the ends with the barrel between them. The discrimination was between "hands", "out" and "table" using the end platforms. Gimme did well with the "hands" and "table", but not with the "out". She was getting ahead of me, so I couldn't use my motion to help her. I tried to use "halt" to slow her down coming out of the barrel, but she wasn't responding to it. Jo thought "halt" and "out" sounded too much alike. They do, but if this was the issue, I would have expected Gimme to do the "out" instead of getting on the end platform. Once I got the "halt" in as a control point, then she did the "out" nicely. 

Sequence 2 video - This was our final sequence and Gimme did a really nice job. I was ready to add a couple of control points, but found we didn't need them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nosework (4/26)

We only got two searches, but they were extensive (especially the first one) and both were interesting. 

Interior 1 video - There were three hides on chairs (in four groups of 4) to be done off leash. A ground level fan and both ceiling fans were running, so adding to the challenge. The nearest to the start was at seat height, the next group was ground level and the farthest at seat height. The idea was to watch your dog and note their preferred search height and after finding a hide at one level, if the dog tended to search at the same height. Knowing Gimme I expected her to look at nose level or higher, her preference. When we were discussing this, I noticed a toy on the floor, so I made sure I brought my own, but Dorothy had picked it up, saying it wasn't part of the lesson.

Gimme found the seat level hide of the farthest group first - about 50 seconds. She found the other seat level hide 1:30 later. At about 3:50 into the search she is so close to the final hide (floor level), but doesn't stick to it. She is at 6 minutes when she finds the last hide. Her nose had gone down well away as she was moving toward it and then she just went straight to it.  Despite the heat, her condition and the challenge - I have to love her willingness to work over 6 minutes to solve this puzzle. 

Interior 2 video - For this second search, it was pretty much the same, except the hides were moved in location within their grouping and two of them changed height. We were looking to see if they had noticeable expectations about where the hides should be.

She finds the first hide, again in the farthest chair grouping and at seat level in 40 seconds. She finds the second hide, second grouping at back rest height in 53 seconds. This is her preferred height. She finds the final floor level hide about a minute later. Overall she was MUCH faster this time. The thing that fascinates and perplexes me is how her nose can pass within two inches of a hide (twice this time) and her not immediately find it. It seems like she should, but clearly scent does things we don't understand.

The last two classes have presented hides which were similar to what our dogs have seen a hundred times before, and yet all the dogs find them a challenge now. Partly, I think the fans do weird things with the scent. I think the ceiling fans suck scent up and away from the hides. What scent is left is then pushed down the room on a plane that tended to obscure the floor level hides. I also think when the dogs are really warm, like they were on this 89º day, they are already panting, so it has to affect how they move scent in their mouth and nasal cavity. Plus I think panting all day tends to dry out their nasal cavity, which negatively impacts scenting ability. No matter how much we give them water, there's only so much we can do to compensate. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Urban Tracking (43 & 44)

Last Thursday Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking. She laid exactly what I asked for and we aged it just exactly to what Gimme and I had been doing. The temps were mild and everything should have been great.  Instead Gimme struggled.

Since she's in a false pregnancy, she tends to be more emotional and easily frustrated. She still wants to do things, but if it gets challenging, then she gets frustrated. For instance, she should have been able to do these tracks easily, but instead she got pouty and wanted me to help her. 

I discussed this with Sil and his inclination is to take a break from tracking to protect her motivation. Since Gimme wants to do-do-do, and gets sulky if I cut back, I didn't want to do anything so drastic. Gimme still yelled in the car on Thursday, impatient waiting her turn and even with having to potty first. She dragged me to the start, so, I didn't think it's a motivation issue.

What I do see in her other training is: she lacks impulse control and focus/concentration. I think this makes simple challenges more difficult, so she works harder and it takes longer to achieve success and get rewarded. Since she tends to be more emotional during this time, she gets frustrated easier.

So the plan for Saturday, after discussing it with Sil, was to do simple straight tracks on pavement - no corners, no changes of cover, keeping food drops every 15 yards and cutting the time in half (25 minutes). I included intermediate articles as reward points. If Gimme seemed to be getting really frustrated, I could treat one of the intermediate articles as the end of the track.

We ended up with 90 yard straight tracks, it was 74 degrees, aged to 25 minutes. There was either a food drop (beef jerky) or an article every 15 yards. So it was: start sock, drop, article, drop, article, drop, end article.

Gimme did well, kept her nose down and followed the track finding everything easily. She was slow to get going on the second track and I was debating leaving it, but just then she motored on. She got to eat the remainder of all the cheese outta my treat bag at the last article, sticking her whole head in to gobble them up. All in all she got 10 sticks of cheese worth for her efforts (that's how much I cut up while waiting for the track to age). No one will EVER accuse me of being stingy with rewards.

We normally go for a walk after tracking, usually 2-3 miles. I noticed after the first half mile Gimme had stopped sniffing/snooping and was just walking along with me. Since our walks are more about mental refreshment than exercise, I turned around then.

I was wondering why she is having difficulty this time around, when she's always had false pregnancies and they haven't impacted her tracking before. At first I thought it was because of the heat.  It used to be she just sailed through all her nose sports during this time (tracking-nosework-barn hunt) and she is still doing great with nosework. So it occurred to me the difficulty is because we happen to be focusing on urban work. Of the two tracks she struggled with, one was sports field and unintentionally was far too old and the other was all pavement. I think field is just easier for her (because she learned it first), so even with diminished focus it was easy enough for her to have quick success to stay into it and enthusiastic - I barely noticed a difference. Whereas hard surface and short dry grass is just plain harder.

So, Saturday's plan worked well and I know what to do going forward. I'll be watching for her to signal she's ready to go back to more challenging stuff.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Parkour (5/8)

While her false pregnancy hasn't been as intense as in the past, it's slowly gearing up, so I wasn't sure what to expect from her in class. She did well, it just took a bit to get her brain into what we were doing. BTW the reason I think her f.p. is less intense has to do with the addition of Sabina (a homeopathic remedy). We added it last time, but she was already halfway through the false pregnancy - this time we started it much sooner and it seems to make a big difference. She's still not as focused and easily frustrated, but far better than the past.

2-on moving prop "hands" video - This was easy for Gimme. She spent time on the egg ball when she was a puppy of just a few weeks old (while still with the breeder) and she's been on mine, so this just doesn't bother her. Being paid for something so easy is a really great deal for her.

Scaffold work video - Again, easy for Gimme. So easy she just wants to go ahead and do without waiting for me. I add two control points to encourage her to listen/wait for me.

Going "thru" props video - Gimme cut the corner, which was a natural mistake. I tried repeatedly to get her to "wait" so I could get a little ahead and help her. She knows her stays very well, but was unable to focus enough to stay put. Maybe focus isn't the right word - it is more an issue of impulse control. I'm sure it's related to the false pregnancy. Anyway, once I got a tiny little stay, then she did it beautifully and was equally flawless on the way back.

Boardwalk video - This was a simple sequence and I just let Gimme do it without any control points. Sometimes my little girl just deserves to have a some fun.

Sequence 1 video - This was a nice little sequence putting together everything we'd done thus far. Gimme did a nice job.

Sequence 2 video - The was the same sequence, only in reverse. I still hadn't gotten Gimme's full attention, so I added a lot of control points this time. I know they aren't as fun for her as going-going-going, so I try to pay well for each "halt" to make it worth her while. After all, food is always fun for this girl.

Sequence 3 video - This sequence was a shortie - using the bench boardwalk and ending with an under-over. I sent Gimme "below" and then called her to come. I assumed she would jump over it, since she likes jumping. She assumed I meant to come back "below". Clearly I need to be more specific.

Sequence 4 video - Another simple sequence with a couple of obstacles added in. We did control points and you can see on the video she is really thinking and listening better.

Sequence 5 video - Again a reverse of the last sequence, with control points.

Sequence 6 video - Another sequence with a table send added in the middle. Gimme did a great job with this.

I love parkour for Gimme. She always wants to do-do-do and parkour gives her plenty of things to play with. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nosework (3/26)

Dorothy wasn't there, so we only had the co-instructor.

Interior 1 video - The idea for this search was to start with the first two chairs and let the dog search without the handler crossing the line, except to reward. There was two hides on the chairs, and then 3 others on tables. Gimme did great with the chairs, not really caring whether I moved with her or not. After the chairs we were allowed to let them go off leash. The table hides were low (on the foot), medium (diagonal support) and high (under edge of table top). Gimme found the low hide really quickly. All the other dogs had a real difficulty with the high table hide and they were all really checking out the purple stepstool multiple times. Gimme found the high hide second, but seemed to find it a bit of a challenge. The third hide she found was easy to find, but first she had to move away from it, and then when she came back it was very clear. We never were able to figure out why all the dogs had difficulty with the high table hide. They've seen similar hides a thousand times, so why it was challenging this time is a real mystery.

Interior 2 video - This time there were 3 inaccessible hides, off leash. One of things you will see a lot with inaccessible hides is all the bracketing behavior as the dogs try to figure out how to get to odor. Gimme demonstrates this beautifully with the hide behind the expen panels. It's also common for them to go back and forth and then go really wide before coming back. Gimme has enough experience to make her own decisions, so I waited for it before rewarding her. Her look at me comes when she's decided. She decided much faster with the hide in the file cabinet, probably because it was enclosed, so there wasn't as much scent coming out to make it seem like she could get to it by bracketing. For the third hide under the red cart, all the dogs spent a lot of time before deciding. Gimme seemed to want odor to be on the top - she does love high hides. She leaves it and trots around the room, then when she comes back, she decides quickly.   A very nice job.

Interior 3 video - The last search was 3 accessible hides, off leash. It's always best to follow inaccessible hides with accessible hides. A couple of dogs had difficulty with the hide on the bottom of the red cart. Gimme was awesome fast with this search. Three hides in 1 minute - what's not to love...

A funny thing, I was still so far away when Gimme made her decision on the hide at the front of the room, so she looked at the closest people - just in case one of them wanted to pay her. Funny girl...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Urban Tracking (42)

I asked Nadine to lay a fairly simple track, with just a few narrow crossings. I thought Gimme was due for an easy motivational track after all the hard work she's done lately. When I got there I laid a track for Cricket, which we ran right away. I should have run Gimme first, but since I saw Nadine coming back as we got there, it didn't seem like the track would be very old.

The track started out well. As we crossed an intersection of paved paths, a woman came at us with her dog. I started moving us out of range and naturally the idiot owner is telling me her dog is friendly and ignoring what I'm telling her, whilst turning to come straight toward us. They got far too close for comfort. It really messed with Gimme and it was hard to get her back into tracking mode. Fortunately Nadine knew exactly where the track was and when Gimme was ready, we were able to guide her to a known spot for a restart. The next article was about 50 yards, so she got rewarded amply for finding it - a good reward for restarting despite the idiot owner and the dog-intruder.

From there we crossed another paved path and headed out into a large open field. Gimme got another article while we were still close to the trees. As we moved out into the middle of the field the grass was very dry and Gimme missed the turn. She repeatedly tried to lead me to the right, the exact opposite of where the track was. We did a spiral search and Gimme wasn't having any success finding the track, even when we were crossing over a place we'd been and where she'd seemed to be certain. By this time the track was nearly 2 hours old and it was at least 80º. Nadine didn't make a map, so she wasn't certain where the corner was and we never did find the corner (or the golf tee marker). I "organized" Gimme's search until she got into a shady area under a group of trees where Nadine knew the track passed through. Gimme was able to pick up the track there and follow it through to the end with two more articles as reward points.

This certainly wasn't the easy track I wanted. Since Gimme is in false pregnancy she is not as focused as usual, is easily frustrated and inclined to give up and ask me for help. Fortunately there were lots of articles, so with subtle helps from me she was able to find them and be rewarded for her efforts.

Clearly Nadine and I both need to get back to drawing maps.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

RFE practice (49)

We continued recording baselines of intermediate behaviors and then some work with Gimme with me in costume. I also did some work in the counseling room, getting ideas for the MDSA workshop backdrop.

Baseline C video - We started with some heeling warm-up. Due to her condition, it took a little bit to get focus, but when focus arrived, we went right to work. I started off with some work on the props J'Anna had gotten out. Gimme enjoyed playing with the paw pods. You can see she isn't entirely focused as she starts getting inventive, instead of sticking with what I'm clicking. Then again, maybe she was offering because the rate of reinforcement was falling off as I was trying to refine the behavior.
#53 Back Up in Center 4x ("back") - We haven't done this in a very long time, so it takes awhile for Gimme to understand what I want. Since her special power is backing up, this should come quickly.
#39 CCW Spin Simultaneous ("spin") - Done flawlessly.
#38 CW Spin Simultaneous ("turn") - Not recorded. I'm sure it's good.
#49 Through to Front 3x ("thru") - This is more challenging for me than for Gimme. I  have to remember to start by stepping back with the leg nearest Gimme. 
#52 Back Up in Right Heel 4x ("side") - Gimme doesn't yet understand I want her to maintain "side" and keeps trying to back behind me.
#54 Back Around Handler (from right "side" - "izzy") - We just started learning this for the recent entry. Gimme still makes it into a two part behavior.
#54 Back Around Handler (from left "heel" - "otto") - We haven't done this for awhile as we were learning "izzy", she's apparently forgotten it.
#51 Back Up in Left Heel 4x ("heel") - We were just working on this for the video entry, so she gets it much quicker than #52.
#50 Cross in Front Alternating 3x - Gimme can do this much better than what you see, but we'd already been working a long time and I didn't want to belabor it when we still had behaviors to do.
#41 Pivot Left 360 (dog outside) - Beautiful job, all she has to do is "side".
#41 Pivot Left 360 (dog inside) - This is much harder because Gimme's front feet now become the pivot point and all this time we've been doing back around in "heel". I need to review my notes from when we were taking class with KathyW - I think she recommended some footwork to make this clearer to the dog, to distinguish it from other behaviors.
#40 Pivot Right 360 (dog inside) - We have the same issues here as we did for #41.
I didn't record the right and left 180 pivots - if she can do the 360 she can do the 180.

Session 2 video - Our second session was focused on working Gimme while I was wearing my cape for the MDSA workshop. She wasn't bothered by the cape before, but this day she decided it was creepy. We were able to work through it, though I can't say she likes the cape. I tried some different variations on the routine. The best one was the one Gimme offered at the end, but I haven't been able to get her to do it as nicely since.

Since we'd already worked quite a bit, I didn't bring Gimme in for a third session. She'd already done quite a bit and given her condition, I didn't want to push her. She's a good girl for tolerating all this craziness.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Parkour (4/8)

Gimme is in her false pregnancy, so I wasn't expecting a lot from her. It took a little bit to get her brain focused, but then she did nicely. About a half hour from home, she had a meltdown. The first thing she did when she got home was run to her new blue bear toy. Later she got big bunny out of the bottom of her toy basket and laid down with it for awhile. So I'll make sure to take both whenever we go anywhere until this passes. There were five dogs in class, including Gimme.

"Below" video - This was an easy "below" to do, just with a different prop. Of course, I did have to remind Gimme to actually listen to me.

"Walkies" video - This was easy enough, but again Gimme needed a reminder to listen to me, not just assume what I wanted.

Sequence 1 video - Gimme was getting better focus at this point. It was a little challenging for me to think ahead of where to put my front crosses in so I could direct her efficiently. I missed one.

Sequence 2 video - She did a really nice job with this, staying well focused the whole time. Good work for such a large class of five dogs.

Sequence 3 video - This was a repeat of the same sequence and Gimme got distracted by me having food when she was on the boardwalk, so we went back and started at the beginning of the boardwalk. She tends to easily get food obsessed when she is in a false pregnancy, so I put in a control point to help her remember to think about what she's doing. We had to do this again when she forgot to think about where her feet were and what they were doing.

Sequence with gap jump video - Here we go back to the original "walkies" sequence with a little gap jump added. Gimme does it nicely.

Sequence with bigger gap video - Same sequence with a bigger gap to get to the tub. Gimme did well with this.

Gap jumping video - Gimme was kinda hit and miss with this. She seemed to do better going toward the tree planter - probably because the landing was so much larger. Going the other way to the tub didn't leave any room for an additional step or two on landing, so it was more challenging. Plus I really don't think she saw the point to it. Of course, once I decided to bring out the PB gotoob for a reward, she no longer cared whether there was a point to the exercise. As far as Gimme is concerned, peanut butter is all the point she needs.

Between peanut butter and chicken nuggets, Gimme will do anything she can physically accomplish to be certain she gets her share. Ya gotta love working with a dog who is so easy to motivate, eh.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Nosework (2/26)

I thought it was going to be really hot, but it was only 78º in the shade. Gimme was eager to get back to class. From the moment she realized where we were going until I took her out of the car for her first search, she "yelled" at me nonstop. I forgot my camera, so no videos this time. Too bad because the searches were interesting, to include Gimme finding her "baby" during the interior search.

Our first search was the interior. They'd set up 7 tables with lots of chairs scattered near them. There were two hides. One on the bottom of a table, the corner nearest the door (start line), about 5 feet. The other hide was on the bottom of a chair, which was on top of a table at the other end of the room.

Gimme blasted into the room and went midway down the room where she found the baby (a bright blue bear toy), which she proceeded to squeak excitedly. I told her to "bring" it to me and then "release" it, which she did. Then I cued her "wherezit". As she went back to work, I dropped it behind me. After she found the threshold hide, she headed to the other end of the room, finding the toy again. Again I cued her to "bring" it and "release" it, reminding her to "find another one". Dorothy thought I was crazy for dropping it again, but my thinking is she needs to learn she has to work when it's time to work. While working the second chair-on-table hide, Gimme saw the toy and headed for it. I did a little body block to remind her not now. So she went back to work and found the hide. As soon as she'd finished her nuggies (chicken nuggets), she ran over and grabbed the toy and carried it to the door. Clearly she knew there were no more hides and evidently thought the toy was her reward. She was pouty when I took it and left it on the shelf.

Our second search was a very large exterior with three hides. We were given 3 minutes. Gimme had the first hide in 11 seconds, Dorothy said I had it at 20 seconds. From there she got over to the far end of the search area and found hide two in the end of a long pipe. She wasted no time getting from there up the other side and finding hide three at the bottom of a drain spout. Gimme had all three hides in 1:20 - she was easily the fastest. Dorothy said I got faster in calling them after the first one.

The third search was an exterior with heavy equipment in it. There were two hides and we were given 2½ minutes. Gimme really took her time with this one and used almost the whole time. She finally found a hide in the end of another pipe. I had noticed her giving the opposite end a good long sniff, so it was likely channeling. Then when the instructor called 2 minutes, I moved her back near the startline where she had shown some interest. She found the second hide on the front corner of one of the pieces of heavy equipment. From the way she went off the startline, she never really went by the front, so only caught a drift of it.

This was a complicated messy search area. She's searched on big equipment many times, but there was a big muddy mess and other strange things, so I think it was just a lot of new smells. It's also possible she was annoyed at me. After the other exterior search, she'd headed to the door to the building, clearly wanting to go in. Maybe she thought she was getting the toy again. I did offer to buy it for her, but Dorothy said she could have it. She was very happy to have it, carried it in the house and slept with it all evening.  She even took it to bed. Maybe the reason she hadn't selected a baby was because she needed some new toys to choose from. Or else she's messing with my mind (because she can).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Urban Tracking (41)

Last Saturday, July 8th, we did two tracks at Medline. The drops were all 15 yards apart, track aged 50 minutes and it was 68 degrees with a light breeze.

Track 1 - A straight track of 90 yards - starting with a sock, goes 50, crosses a curbed landscaped island, then on to the end article. The food drops were 15 yards apart. What little breeze there was blew right into her face. Gimme did a really nice job with this; her nose never came up.

Track 2 - This track was a 160 yard L-shape. It starts with a sock, goes 52 yards and turns left, with an article 15 yards after the turn. This leg continues until it crosses the curbed landscaped island. There was a drop 15 yards after the island, then straight ahead to the final article. At the corner Gimme circled a two and a half times before she picked up the outgoing leg. At the curbed island she went up and down the curb using almost the whole 25' line, started across the beauty bark, came back to go up and down the curb a couple more times and then finally took the line and got to her article. From there to the end article was easy peasy.

I was actually pleased to see her working out the corner and even the extensive effort to work out the transition to cross the curbed island (this "island" is really a landscaping detail which is 40 parking spaces long). It tells me the drops are now far enough apart so they aren't doing the work for her, rather rewarding her own efforts. Also, I clearly selected articles which blended in, so she wasn't solving the track visually. This is all really great stuff.  I'm very proud of her and how she is coming along.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Urban Tracking (40)

I laid the track when I arrived at my Mom's and we ran it right before leaving, 90 minutes later. It got a LOT hotter and was about 90º when we ran it. I was prepared to toss a glove in front of her and call it quits, but even though we haven't tracked in really hot weather before, Gimme did fine with it. About half the track was in the shade and it was a very short track, so these two factors made a difference.

We started at the leftmost blue star (articles) at the start sock. The ground there was rocky and vegetation was sparse. She had short starting distance and then came upon an 8 yard blacktop crossing. She really struggled with the crossing, but finally went across and found the track on the far side. The lime green is also sparse grass, but more than the rocky ground where we started (is mowed). The two light blue-green rectangles are buildings. When we got behind the building where the first article was supposed to be (white star), it was gone. Gimme briefly looked for it then continued on. The textured avocado colored shape is an area of woods, where the ground is just solid pine needles. I really thought Gimme would struggle with this, but she zipped through it, making both turns as if she'd been tracking on pine needles all along.

The track came out of the little woods onto more rocky ground with sparse vegetation. She made the next turn nicely and found the second article 20 yards from the turn. The transition onto mossy grass was no problem. The track proceeded right beside a tree (about 4' away) and then turned left alongside of the other building. I see I actually drew this wrong, she could have gone straight there. I'd read in Sil's manuscript about turns very close to trees being a challenge, so I wanted Gimme to experience one. She did pause to check out the tree, which should not be a pee-marked tree. Then left it on her own, made the turn and got to the article. What isn't shown is the distraction of my mother sitting in a lawn chair 10 yards past the final article. Gimme was thinking of going to her, but stopped to tell me about the article. Good girl.

There really was so much to love about this track and her efforts. In hindsight I should have just started the track on the blacktop. I was very happy with her multiple transitions from one type of cover to another. She did so well on the pine needles - making both turns without hesitation. I really expected this to be a bigger challenge. And most exciting, she did so well despite how hot it was.

Good girl Gimme, best dog ever...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Urban Tracking (38 & 39)

On Saturday, July 1st, we again went to Medline for some urban tracking. I emailed Sil Sanders and asked him how I should increase factors to get Gimme moving along, since she is now consistently following her nose on asphalt/pavement. I wanted to know whether I should increase space between food drops or increase age first, assuming we continued to track at roughly the same temperature. I had noticed Gimme takes the first third of the 75 yard track to warm up to the task and does well through the end and on the 100 yard track. On the 125 yard track her focus seems to drop off, so I asked him about this as well.

Sil suggested a couple of things. He suggested doing two tracks of 75 and 125 yards, so we end while she's doing her best. He also suggested I focus on getting her food drops less and less frequent, and at some point more toward articles for reward stations. He also told me where we are in the new book, which has the plan for transitioning a field tracking dog onto urban.

So for this day's tracks (75 & 125 yds), temperatures at 60º, with a light breeze. There were food drops every 7½ yards and the track was aged 45 minutes. Gimme did very nicely. Once she does the first 25 yds, then she gets in her groove and keeps her nose down almost the whole time. This time it took her less time to track it than it took me to lay it, so obviously starting to spread out the drops didn't bother her.

On Tuesday, July 4th, we went to Medline early in the day. Temperatures were again 60º, with a light breeze. I moved the food drops out to every 10 yards, keeping the age at 45 minutes.

I thought it might be time for Gimme to do something besides straight lines, since I don't want her to get stuck assuming it will always be thus. Her first 75 yard track was straight, and into the breeze. She had a lot of difficulty getting started. There was a Golden running around loose, who startled the --- out of me as I got out of the car and suddenly there's this big dog 2 feet away. So it's quite possible the dog had been running around where the beginning of the track was laid. Once she got going, Gimme did just fine.

For the second track, there was 30 yards crosswind, cross a curbed landscape strip, 10 yards to an article, 20 yards, then a right turn and 80 yards to the end article (right before a storm drain). There were also food drops every 10 yards - wherever there wasn't an article or the obstacle or the turn. It looks something like this.

Gimme went straight over the curbed landscaping like it wasn't there. She didn't hesitate or raise her head. I had the impression she saw the article and was just headed toward it, not working out the challenge. NOTE to self, do a better job matching articles to background. She really struggled with the corner, which further made me think she'd seen the article. She did finally find the new direction and then motored down to the end. I'm certain she didn't see the end article, but found it quickly, before passing the drain, about a yard away.

Overall I thought she did a fine job and clearly was okay with moving the drops to every 10 yards. I love having a nice big space like the Medline parking lot to work in. It's 12 minutes from home and there are quite a lot of things we'll be able to do there while we work on urban.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

RFE practice (48)

We met on Thursday for our regularly scheduled practice. I thought it was a good time to video a baseline of each intermediate behavior. We didn't get through all of them because J'Anna needed to leave a little early. I was also a little late, which also cut into our time.

Baseline A video - I started off with some "heel" and "halt" to get her brain in gear. She knows "halt" from parkour and I'm finding it useful to help her understand to stop and remain standing. Here is my baseline analysis
#34 Circle Handler 3x ("around" from "heel") - She's a bit wide on the far side and checking my hands each time for treats. I need to cue earlier for each repeat so she keeps going.
#34 Circle Handler 3x ("behind" from "side") - Again a bit wide on the far side and checking my hands each time for treats. I cued a little earlier for each repeat so she kept moving better. Need to improve her stop in place.
#33 Into Behind ("fanny" from "side") - Not clear for her, she was trying to turn it into "izzy". When she did get in position, her butt is angled out. Maybe platform work would bring her into better alignment.
#33 Into Behind ("fanny" from "heel") - This time I tried using "spin" to get her into "fanny" and it worked a little nicer. Her alignment was better.
#48 Follow Behind - She starts out nice, but has a tendency to go wide to try and get into either "heel" or "side", whichever side the last treat came from. I think this will improve when she understands "fanny" better.
#35 Circle Handler 2x Handler opposite ("around" from "heel") - Starts off wide. Needs better cue timing so she'll understand to keep going and not check hands for treats.
#35 Circle Handler 2x Handler opposite ("behind" from "side") - Needs better cue timing so she'll understand to keep going and not check hands for treats.
#37 CCW Spin to Center trx ("spin-center") - She seemed to be trying to turn this into "izzy". We need to put more value in "center" so she is happy to stay there and not try to turn it into something she thinks pays better.
#36 CW Spin to Center trx ("turn-center") - We had the same issues, though slightly less intense.  Again, need to put more value in "center".

Baseline B video -
#40 & 42 Pivot Right 360/180 and #41 & 43 Pivot Left 360/180 - Reviewing these is when I realized I'd been doing it wrong all along, as reverse pivots. I also did them wrong for my intermediate entry.
#44 Center Pivot 360 - (CW) - Gimme does this nicely once she gets into "center". She had a tendency to try and finish by pivoting right into "side", which we had to work through.
#44 Center Pivot 360 - (CCW) - Same issues, though she didn't try to finish by pivoting into "heel".
#46 Sidepass Right (moving close) - This is coming along, needs more work to get more steps at one time.
#47 Sidepass Left (moving away) - She needs to get better at moving her rear at the same time, instead of leading with the front and following with the rear.
#46 Sidepass Right (moving away) - She did a better job here than she did for our intermediate entry.
#47 Sidepass Left (moving close) - This was the weakest for this day.

Session 3 video - In watching J'Anna do the pivots with her dog I realized she was doing it different than I, so I brought Gimme in to try it the correct way. We tinkered with it for just a couple of minutes and the foot platform worked the best.

Gimme was getting close to her false pregnancy. In fact, I saw the first symptoms when I got home. This explains her tendency to go into food frenzy and to not listen well (at least worse than usual). So we'll probably be spending a lot of time on basics over the next 6-8 weeks.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

RFE Entry Results

Just got the news and amazingly we passed with a fourth place, so Gimme got her first leg toward an intermediate title. My practice buddy J'Anna got first and third placements. Her third place dog finished her intermediate title and her score was just 11 points higher than Gimme's 137 (they need 125 to pass). Wild Glory got first place with a nice score of 164. J'Anna has been working a lot more on the intermediate behaviors than we have. I only just started teaching many of them a month before we entered - no sense in getting ahead of myself.

You can compare the scoring to the video if you like.  I've shown in parenthesis the score I would have given myself with comments in blue.
West 1 Regional RFE Intermediate video

Keep in mind the judging criteria is subjective, but is generally:
Performed with Significant Deficiencies - 1-3 points
Performed Adequate to Well - 4-7 points
Performed Very Well to Superb - 8-10 points
Points after a plus sign is a 1-5 point difficulty award on free choice behaviors.
  • Back around handler - "Rear didn't maintain lead" 7 pts (5 because it was a two part behavior, which should be on the low end of "adequate to well)
  • Free choice - "hand touch" 10 pts +1 (8 she wasn't back in heel before we moved off
  • Right turn thru trx - "bit wide" 9 pts (7 she was distracted and more than just a "bit wide" by my standards)
  • Pivot left 360 - "out of position, backing rather than pivot" 4 pts (2-3 this is the one we did the wrong behavior - my bad. I don't see how it can be considered "performed adequate to well" when it was the wrong behavior)
  • About U180 - "wide" 8 pts (8)
  • Free Choice - "leave to front, paw touch" 8 pts +2 (8)
  • Back up in left heel x4 - "inconsistent position, hesitant" 7 pts (6 what she said, plus there was a second cue)
  • Switch back - "loss of attention, wide, out of position, hand cue" 4 pts (4 Gimme knows this very well, but was momentarily distracted by squeak toy in the daycare, there was also a second cue)
  • Free choice - "slight hand cue, handler aid end position, pivot pot" 7 pts +3 (5 this is the one that was supposed to be a send to "table" and instead I got "hands" and a partial pivot, I assume the bit she says about handler aid means getting Gimme back into position before moving off)
  • Side pass right - "dog didn't execute the move" 3 pts (she really didn't do any side pass steps and so I wouldn't have awarded any points)
  • Left turn circle trx - 10 pts (9 a bit wide on the far side of me from the camera)
  • Free choice - "distance behavior, pivot pot, hand cue" 7pts +4 (7)
  • 270 right - "partial pivot" 6 pts (7 this is a hard one to prevent Gimme from pivoting because she has such good rear awareness and movement, thus I have to make a HUGE 270 turn to keep her from doing any pivoting steps.  I think I need to ask about this is on the RFE facebook list)
  • Front cross: dog - "Nice!" 10 pts (9 needs to be faster)
  • Bow - "2nd cue" 8 pts (6 - 2nd cue and rear out of alignment 45 degrees)
  • Heelwork-Attention-Teamwork - 6, 6, & 7 pts (agreed)
So she gave me 137 and I would have given me 126 - qualifying with just one point to spare.
Judge's general comment: Your dog doesn't keep position through the course, which is a shame. There was quite a lot of distraction as well. But some moves were done superbly. Well done. Free choice at station 9 was a bit far from the sign.  Gimme can do better heeling, but she was doing well considering she's coming into her false pregnancy.  I certainly appreciate the judge noticing the distractions - even though I couldn't hear them on the video.  I don't know why she thought the free choice at station 9 was "a bit far from the sign"... if it had been closer, it would have been a temptation as we heeled by it.  Not sure why she didn't think of it as a distance behavior, like station 12, which was closer.   

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Parkour (2/8)

This class started off with 5 dogs, including Gimme. There was one behind the fencing (behind Jo in the first video), one who camped to the back of the room and then two more on the left side of the room. Gimme was a bit distracted, but handling it. Then the nice calm Tervuren showed up and it really was too much for her. I didn't realize at the time she was starting into her false pregnancy - I saw the first real signs when we got home. The next day in RFE practice she also showed signs. So far she hasn't gone over the edge into false pregnancy, but according to my calendar, it'll be this coming Saturday.

Boardwalk work video - This was just a little bit of work on the boardwalk with extra control points along the way for Gimme. It is easy for her, but it was also a good chance to work through the distraction of two other dogs somewhat close.

"Thru" obstacle video - The obstacle was a channel with a 90º bend with pool noodles stuck through it at various heights and angles. Gimme has seen this set-up several times, so it was easy for her. She wasn't even distracted by the proximity of the Akita, about 6' away.

Sequence 1 video - This is not a challenging sequence, but you might be able to see the increased distraction. Her effort here was just moments after the Tervuren arrived. She normally "likes" him, because he's so calm and well-behaved. In this case, I think his late arrival created sudden environmental change (SEC). She wasn't too bad, just a somewhat frantic edge to her - I see it. To her credit, Jo notices it too.

Multiple uses video - We were to take one prop and use it in as many ways as possible. We used the barrel and did: "thru", "hands" (2 ways), "table", "out", and "bacon". Oddly the "out" was the hardest to get.

Multiple uses 2 video - This is our chance to show off to the class what we've done. I added her doing "bacon" into the barrel and doing "bacon" on the barrel tipped on its end. This turned out to be easier than "bacon" to the side, because she had traction available much lower.

Special uses video - She set out a large group of props and we were to find unusual ways to use them. Obviously, we did "bacon" to everything... because we can. I didn't realize the cone would flip up against her. The other challenge was the little step platform - I thought she would back onto the low step on the end. When she tried to get on the top, it kept scooting away from her. I love how Gimme is so willing to try, even when things don't cooperate. I asked the lady who owns the Tervuren guy if she thought we were overdoing our "bacon" skill. She said, "Never. Always go with your strength."

Gimme was so tired she slept all the way home and didn't wake up until I stopped to get our mail. Poor baby.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

RFE Practice (47)

This was our last day available to video runs for our RFE intermediate West 1 entries. J'Anna got a good video for Glory on Thursday, so she brought Ginger. Those two dogs are as different as night and day.

Session 1 video - Gimme was highly distracted by the open garage door. I'm sure it doesn't help that this is where are the mouse smells are. We closed it because the bright back light made the video hard to see. Even after we shut the door Gimme was still distracted. Trying to work on "pivot" was unsuccessful, so switched to a bit of off "side" heeling. I'm sure with all the focus I've put on learning these intermediate behaviors, I haven't been rewarding enough "heel" and "side". After just a bit of heeling, Gimme does a much better job on "pivot". When I take her over to work on "izzy" I showed Gimme the nuggies waiting for her. I know she was well aware of where here nuggies were the moment she came in the door; just wanted to make sure she knew I knew where they were, as well as their availability to be earned. I've noticed recently she isn't stopping with me during heeling, so I put some rewards into the stopping bank account. I also started using "halt", a parkour cue, to help her know what to do. I love her ability to apply a cue from one sport to another. Sometimes her "izzy" is a two-part behavior. It's something we are working on and when she does it without turning the wrong way and then flipping back into it, then she gets a huge jackpot. Remember, "izzy" is hard because the turn is in her less comfortable direction - so uncurling in the middle of it surely feels more natural. It was a big step for her to simply stop for a treat and then finish for the next treat without uncurling. She did a lovely job on the reverse pivot. Unfortunately we will earn a substantial deduction since the sign is for a pivot. I've been doing it wrong a long time and J'Anna has never noticed. The good news is - I can now go back to using it as a free choice move. We work on some more of the course before we get to sidestep right. As I watch this video I realize how food obsessed she is getting - which I now know is related to her impending false pregnancy. 

Session 2 video - J'Anna thought she needed to make different videos of each of my course attempts because she doesn't know how to edit hers, thus the blip early in. For this session we mostly did run-throughs, with focus on the problem areas as they cropped up. When I was trying to get a "center-sit", Gimme gave me the best "izzy" ever and of course, I rewarded it. I sure wasn't going to let it slip by. Thinking Gimme might be confused by the proximity of where I wanted "izzy" and where I wanted "center-sit-paw" I rearranged the location of my free choice behaviors. In hindsight I realize she was actually confused by her location relative to me, not the room. Moving this helped, but it didn't clear up the "bacon". Later in the week I get her an adjustment, since I had noticed a warm area in her back over the barn hunt weekend. J'Anna comes up with the idea to abandon "bacon" and just go for "table", because the judge doesn't know what you planned. This morphs into "pivot" because she resists getting all four feet on the prop. She usually will do almost anything for treats, so I assume she's uncomfortable with it. 

Session 3 video - This time I started with backing up in heel; given how much she loves backing up you'd think she'd be totally into this. I have to believe she just doesn't yet understand what I want. One time we got two-thirds of the way through before the first completely failed behavior.

I took the opportunity to reward two weak points and then did another run-through. It wasn't perfect, but I felt it was as close as we were going to get. Knowing now how I was doing the pivot wrong, it's even further than I thought. It's okay to not pass... we've learned a lot in the last couple of months getting ready for it and I've learned a lot from the video attempts. RFE West 1 Intermediate Entry video.

Gimme is pretty much in a false pregnancy now, even though early stage. So we'll be focusing on basics with a lot of motivation for the next six weeks. I can work gently on improving the intermediate behaviors as well. The timing should work out for us to enter the RFE World Wide video show in December.

Meanwhile I'm studying up on RFE judging parameters. I plan to analyze my video, one behavior at a time, and see how my critique stacks up with the report I get from the judge. I think it will be a good exercise to improve my scores over the long haul.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Barn Hunt picture

No, it's not a picture of Gimme doing barn hunt...

This is Gimme resting in the hotel room on Saturday night.  Isn't she cute? 

Oh wait - you can't see her, because she's resting stealth style...