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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Parkour (6/9)

We have one more session from this class and then will have a break for a few months. There are only two of us continuing, which isn't enough to hold class, though they did for this one session.  Plus, I was going to have to break pretty soon for the holiday season anyway. Jo's other classes are doing great, but this is the only time I can make it and it's not a popular time. <sigh>

Personal session video - I brought Gimme in the building and set up the board for a bit of practice the way we'd been doing it. She was doing pretty good, then I realized I hadn't gotten the button pushed on the video camera. She didn't do as well on the second try, but warmed to it. This board is a lot narrower than she'd ever need to do for a video. Plus she'd never need to back off the end - even this low I can tell it concerns her.

It just occurred to me, I should try using a long board flat on the ground and then put the foot target up a bit, so it would be like her "bacon", for which she has a ton of confidence. Then if I gradually raise the board, it might be less intimidating to her, since she'll always be moving toward a behavior she loves. Can you say Premack?

Sequence 1 video - A simple sequence of props, "out" at the end and then back down the row. Her biggest challenge was to do one prop and wait for a cue to do the next  It may be, because they were so close together they reminded her of the way Jo often lines up a bunch of props to form a walk-on. She clearly didn't think she could do a "pivot" in this line, though she finally remembers how. She has to back-up chasing the tall box which keeps moving away from her when she bumps it with her hocks. It takes her a few tries to realize she needs to lift her feet higher.

Sequence 2 video - Another simple sequence with different props. Not sure why she found the second prop so sniff-worthy. However, our classmate often drops treats, so she may have smelled something. We could do any behaviors we wanted. I notice Gimme is more comfortable doing "bacon" to the yellow donut prop than she is doing "hands".

Sequence 3 video - This sequence has three prop pairs and we are to do something on the near prop, send out to interact with the other prop, then do the near prop again. Gimme did well with all of these, best with the third one.  By then I'm sure she figured out the drill.

Sequence 4 video - This was a walk-on, leading to a ladder, off onto a low platform, then reverse course. Easy peasy.

Sequence 5 video - Another simple sequence. It was so easy it was almost no fun.

Sequence 6 video - Again, a simple sequence.

Sequence 7 video - On the third prop when Gimme turns to the floor behind her, it's to retrieve a dropped treat - no food gets by her nose. Jo is steadying the board on the green tub and wanted Gimme to just step over her foot. I didn't know she was going to want this because she moved out of the way for the other dog. Thus, I backtracked to get on the other side (didn't want to drop the leash with Gimme facing toward a dog). The deal with the box was Gimme taking her feet out of it when she'd see a treat coming - I'm trying to impart the feet-stay-in-the-box-until-released rule. Gimme thinks 4-feet-in is a nebulous concept which may not always apply.

Practice "flip" video - The plan was to practice her 180º "flip" on the narrow board. Gimme did it once and then the second time she was offering me backing up. I know it wasn't what I asked for, but given how hard the concept has been for her, I paid for it anyway.

Practicing "back" on board video - We were given the chance to work on anything we wanted at the end of class and I chose backing on the board. Gimme did pretty good. I totally understand this is a confidence issue for her, since it's a very unnatural behavior.

Gimme was so focused during this class, I think the pre-class session went a long way to getting her in training mode. I may do this for our RFE practice sessions as well, since I always get there before J'Anna and could easily bring her in for a quick attention session. 

Nosework (4/27)

I was busy researching online about something the vet told me in the hours before going to class, so I forgot to grab the camera. Sorry, no videos.

Vehicle 1 search - This was a fairly simple search of a flatbed truck, unknown number of hides, startline approach from the back of the truck. Gimme briefly paused and sniffed the tow bar, then passed up the right side and stopped at the front tire. She told me source was behind a bit of grill on the side, just in front of the tire. She was exactly precise about the location. Nice job.

Vehicle 2 search - They added a hide inside the tow hitch. Gimme should have caught the scent from the startline, but instead literally ran up the right side and showed me the same hide from before. I've noticed lately her tendency to remember where hides were from prior searches and she will run to the spot. The good news - she actually sniffs the spot to make sure the hide is still there before indicating. After this hide, she went on around the truck and quickly found the hide on the tow hitch.

I did ask if they'd run this search with the hide on the tow hitch before our class. Yes, they did, but it was 24 hours earlier. I wanted to know why Gimme showed interest in the tow bar on the first search and it's possible she smelled odor from the day before. Dorothy thought it was more likely because the dog searching before us paid a lot of attention to the tow bar and may have drooled or left other smells.

Exterior 1 search - This was a one-hide search down a sidewalk, including the grass on both sides. The point was to search an area of mostly just grass because people get worried when they see a featureless grassy search area. We have searched this area many times, so it wasn't worrisome to me. Two dogs had soiled the area before our search. One pooped in the grass on the right and another peed in the grass on the left. Gimme immediately sniffed where the dog peed and I encouraged her to move on. She went down to the end of the search area and found odor on the way back, a tin on the fire hydrant. I didn't see it, but two students said she started to squat as I was moving her away and did actually squirt a bit of pee. Too bad I didn't have video to verify it. Wish I'd known when it happened, so I could have immediately ended her search, sending a clear reminder reinforcing our no-peeing-while-searching rule.

Exterior 2 search - This time they added a hide on a wooden step thing sitting on the sidewalk near the end of the search area. She didn't go directly to the hide on the hydrant. This time Gimme didn't pay much attention to the pee spot - perhaps my "Don't even think about it" verbiage made her think better of it. Of course, since no dog over-marked her squirt, she may not have felt the need to reply to her own pee-mail. She went quickly to the end of the search area, just like before, finding the added hide, then caught the one on the hydrant on the way back.

All were good searches, she was fast and efficient. I am, however, concerned about her peeing during a search and getting to continue without having her search interrupted. We had several pee instances in nosework after she learned it is okay to pee during tracking and we had to work through it. I don't like this inconsistency on my part. We have two nosework trials in October and I don't want her to think it's now okay to pee.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weight Pull Training

At the recent weight pull Angela kindly loaned me a harness "for as long as you need it", so I could give Gimme weight pull training. She's also been a veritable fount of information about how to go about training. On Thursday I collected a bunch of heavy junk from my parents' place, to use in drag training.

Friday was our first try at it. After tracking and then going to Nadine's to see the puppies, we went outside and did a bit of dragging. Gimme got very vocal when she saw me moving the harness. I discovered there is a ring on the top of the harness, so now I can tell the top from the bottom. Great, now I need never put the harness on her upside down in public again. We dragged a bunch of chain down Nadine's driveway and across the yard and back. Gimme would drag a little bit and stop, drag a little more and stop. I just figured she didn't know what we were doing, so I didn't think much of it.

On Saturday after our tracking at Medline, I again got out the chains and harness for a quick drag. We went up and down a tiny hill and here and there in the parking lot. Again, Gimme would drag a little bit and stop, drag a little more and stop. When she stopped, she looked at me expectantly. Then I realized what was going on. In weight pull they only have to pull the cart 16 feet. Gimme was going about 20 feet and then stopping. I think she must've read the rules when I wasn't looking and believes she should get paid after every 20 feet of pulling.

Funny thing - when I wanted to head back to the car, we turned around a small landscape island. As the chains ran against the curb, it created more friction and Gimme just stopped, looking at me as if to say, "hey, it's broke." I told her she better hurry up because there's peanut butter in the car (about 40 feet away). She dropped her head and leaned into the harness and pulled that chain fast, all the way to the car.

This one is such a character, just sayin...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Urban Tracking (53 & 54)

Friday, 9/22 Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park. We set up the tracks for U2.1, which is a sports field zigzag track with intentional crosstracks mid-leg. Nadine laid my track and I laid the crosstracks. We wanted to put down extra articles, but they were mowing and we didn't know where they might go next.

I laid track for Nadine and she laid her own cross tracks. It didn't seem like Cricket ever noticed the crosstracks, since she didn't start tracking until after the crosstrack on the last leg. There were a huge number of squirrels all over the place and it just blew her mind. She was deep into squirrel-prey-drive, so she was still looking for them even after we were out in the middle of the field and away from the trees.

Gimme did this style track a couple of times in seminars with Sil Sanders last summer.  At the time she did very well with it. It was more challenging for her this time; still she did figure it out in time for the last leg. I think the big difference was encountering my scent crossing her track vs. a stranger's scent crossing the track.

Solid line is the track, dashed red is my crosstrack and dotted blue (right side) is the other contamination.  I helped her by re-scenting her with the start sock each time she struggled. By the fourth leg, she'd encounter my crosstrack and then work it out without needing help. Right after she breezed through my last crosstrack, she was puzzled by another crosstrack. As we were laying the track and crosstrack, I saw a man pushing a wheeled thing they use to lay chalk lines on a sports field and it was in the vicinity of where my last crossing was. Between the man and the wheels, it was a big challenge for her, but she did figure it out. She got a LOT of treats when she found the final article.

Saturday, 9/23 Gimme and I went to Medline again. Last time we were there I noted she was tending to come to a strip of landscaping and just zoom across it without really checking for the track until she got to the far side. So I wanted to set up a track where she didn't always cross right away. The first encounter was a left turn at the landscape strip, following along the strip, then turning right to cross it. The second encounter was straight across. The third encounter was a right turn, following along the strip, then turning left to cross it.

The first time she zoomed right across and kept looking for the track on the other side. I had to encourage her to come back and find the track where it went along the curb. She overshot the turn and had to look for it and find where it actually crossed the landscaping. The second time (no turn) she followed it across. The third time she got halfway across the landscaping before she realized the track wasn't there, then she came back and found where it went. She didn't overshoot the corner this time. Nice, clear progress.

She did seem to be doing a lot of "shopping", checking out trash, leaves and bits of debris. I think she was trying to find food drops. I had to lay this track without food drops because of the wasps. They get so mean this time of year and I didn't want her getting stung again.

I want to do this same track again. Then I will do a series of variations on the theme, such as approaching the curb at different angles, going part way across before turning, turning right at the far side. It may take a bit of playing around with it as we get Gimme used to the new no-food-drops plan. I have some new articles for use on concrete that are less visible, and plan to make some fabric ones as well. I think Gimme has gotten good at seeing anything that is not flat to the pavement.

There are some TDU trials next year: January, February, June and November. I'd like to enter the one in June if I get Gimme more consistent on her tracking with pavement. She'll get it, but it's going to take time. I understand TDU is much easier than what we are working at, but I don't want to enter on the basis of a wing and a prayer. I'd rather be confident she'll ace it, thus the over-training approach.

Gimme doesn't care if we over-train - it's all treats to her.

After tracking on Friday, we went to Nadine's to see her puppies.  They are 3½ weeks old and four of the fattest little spotted sausages I've ever seen.  Sugar is doing a fabulous job with them; she's a good Mommy.  They aren't playful fun at this age, but I have so much going on in the next month, I wanted to be sure I saw them before they went to new homes. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Weight Pull ribbons

Here is the prettiest girl on the planet, posing with her ribbons from last weekend's weight pull.

RFE Practice (53)

We started with a short attention warm-up. I'm going to do the videos a little different; they'll be about behaviors, not sessions. I think it'll make a better reference for me. 

"izzy" & "otto" video - This was the first thing we worked on after attention warm-up, so it took her a couple tries to transfer from offering attention to listening and responding to cues. After the mistake she needed a little reassurance and of course, the moment I had her get down she was distracted by a Great Dane walking by (her last distraction for the day). I got her back, cued "otto" and she did it flawlessly. She seemed a little concerned about the guides (some avoidance), but got over it quickly. Maybe residual from last time when she may not have been feeling well. Even though she backs into the guide the first try on "izzy", she doesn't show any more concern. She's just a little more careful and does a nice "izzy". Note she wants to show me a "bacon" on the guides - she does love her "bacon" behavior. The last "izzy" is easily the best one she's ever done. She is finally realizing this isn't a two part behavior. YAY!!! 

Backwards walk-on video - My plan was to use the yellow mouse pad as a foot target. It starts out well, but when I try to get more distance, she starts treating it as if it's her "mark" target, so I abandon using it (they are similar). Then I try using the row of carpet samples with some success, but even though it's better, it still doesn't seem clear. I try one of the step platforms and find Gimme is still stuck on stopping as soon as she's done what she thinks is "bacon". She doesn't continue moving back unless I put pressure on her space. My attempts to encourage her to continue backing leads to frustration and offered behaviors. I try J'Anna's longer platform and end up with pretty much the same things I got last night at our practice in the parkour building. It was a valiant effort on Gimme's part, since they started playing with another dog in the next ring. I decide to add the carpet square as a foot target in an effort to backchain the behavior, but I start with it too close and didn't use small enough increments of the amount of platform. This actually is where we end the first session, because I needed to think about it.

When we come back, I increase the distance between the platform and the carpet square, so I can get a stronger back up going. It also enables me to use smaller increments when she starts stepping on the platform. When she gets her feet on more platform, she goes into offering... I think it's just a huge physical cue for her and I decide to wait her out. While she doesn't back to the carpet square, she does go to it, so I click. My goal was to get her to back off the platform, so I could shape her backing the length of the platform. I thought this would give me an opportunity to click her early before she went off the end, thus clicking backing up while still on the platform. She was doing well, then seemed to lose her momentum. She gets frustrated, but works through it and we end with a jackpot. I think we now have something to work with. YAY again! 

Training "mark" video - This is the behavior we need for stunt dog and there could be a trick in there too. The requirement is for Gimme to go away from me to the target and stay with her feet on it. I've decided to train her to lay down on it and place her head down. So it only takes a moment for us to get to where we were two weeks ago, then she gets to head down quickly and we go on to distraction proofing. My treat tossing is to set her up so she goes straight to it instead of backing onto it. When she starts offering down on the "mark", I move in to toss treats right on it, for duration. If you are wondering why I don't click some of the head down, it's because she's hovering with her head just a bit up. By the way, there is some debate about whether you work distraction or duration first. In my training I used to work duration first, but then changed to distraction first. I find working distraction gets you duration as a byproduct, but the opposite is not the case, so distraction first is more efficient. I love the subtlety as she starts to understand what is happening and her head comes up less and less when I move my hand, until it doesn't come up at all. 

"cane" with handler circling opposite video - The goal behavior: handler holds a cane, dog circles in one direction, while handler circles in the other direction. Gimme and I dabbled with this once years ago. J'Anna is trying to get it with her dogs and having difficulty with the method she chose, so I showed her how I'd done it before. This is only the second time Gimme and I have trained this. With all the backing around we've done, Gimme is certain I'd want her to back around here. My clicker is stuck and so I'm getting only half a click. I let her do the backing version, then when I put my hand on the "cane" top, she starts going forward. It amazes me the things she remembers. Isn't she the best demo dog on the planet! I'd been trying to explain to J'Anna how we'd done it and she couldn't visualize it. After seeing this, she tried it with Glory and made more progress in one session, than she's gotten in many sessions before, with my coaching on specifics. I guess we'll both have this behavior for our next intermediate entry.

Heeling & misc video - I borrowed J'Anna's clicker for this session. I wanted to end on a simple note. We started with heeling (aren't you proud of me for remembering to start with "side"?). Then "behind", "turn", "around", and "spin". I did a quick "center"-front-pivot in each direction, then ended with finding positions. After all the "izzy" and "otto" work, Gimme sometimes makes an assumption about what I want instead of listening for the actual cue. Imagine my surprise...

This was a great training session. Two weeks ago here Gimme was so off her game and lacking confidence; by comparison this one was so much better. I feel really good about it and Gimme was having a lot more fun.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Parkour Class - All Alone

Drove over an hour to parkour class and saw there was nothing set up for class, which reminded me I'd been told there was no class this week. I decided since I was there to get in a parkour practice of our Backwards Walk On [video].  After all, it was going to be a two hour drive home through rush hour, so wanted to make the time worth our while.

I started with shaping Gimme to back-up to a target (margarine lid) on the floor. I quickly moved the target onto the board. I was trying to shape steps backward, but can't really see her back feet without a mirror. She wants to treat the plank like a pivot platform, a behavior which has been well rewarded. Thus we end up with a fishtail behavior, which I certainly don't want. I use pressure into her space to get backward steps, hoping to get her started. I missed her first independently offered backwards step at 2:25. I get in several good clicks at 3:15 and a little beyond. Unfortunately there aren't enough of them to make it clear to Gimme what I'm looking for and she again starts offering behaviors. So, I have to include clicking all four feet on the plank, which likely muddies the concept for Gimme and leads to frustration. The best shaping is to click one part of the behavior at a time.

I tried several variations on the theme, none of which gave satisfactory results. More than anything this session was about identifying options which didn't work. Gimme is such a good girl for putting up with my nonsense.

I certainly don't blame her for not getting this. I blame myself for not yet coming up with something that makes this clear to her. Given her love of all things going backward, I KNOW she'd be doing it, if she understood what I wanted. It's who she is.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nosework (3/27)

Since Gimme is on antibiotics and they are believed to negatively impact a dog's scenting ability, I brought cheese to pair all her hides. The co-instructor declined because we were doing container searches with closed containers, so no way to pair without impacting the other dogs.  

Container 1 video - This was a blind search with an unknown number of hides and distractions. Gimme had the first hide in 7 seconds - clearly she wasn't having a problem scenting, eh. She paid no attention to the distracters. Honestly if you watch, she was ready to leave after finding the hide, so she knew there were no more, though she happily checked them all for me.

Container 2 video - Blind again, but we knew they added one hide and more distracters, so not as blind as when I didn't know how many hides there were. Gimme had the first hide in 6 seconds and the second hide 10 seconds later. We worked them all, as if I didn't know there were no more. Even with a second hide, she trimmed 7 seconds off her search time. 

Container 3 video - Not blind this time, another hide and more distracters added. Gimme did a fast and efficient job of this. It's pretty obvious she remembered where the first two hides were. She did a great job finding the third hide and finished with a nice fast time. 

Vehicle 1 video - Blind search on three vehicles, unknown number of hides. Parts of this video are too dark to see, but not anyplace that mattered. The first hide she found was actually behind the tire, so her source was very accurate, in just 24 seconds. From there to the second hide was 21 seconds. I took her by all the parts she'd missed, and we were still out of there quickly, in 1:14. Lovely job. 

Clearly the antibiotics weren't hampering her efforts in the least. These were all fast and efficient searches - Gimme at her best.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Weight Pull Weekend

This is our first trial on rails. It's easier to start and pull, so the weight percentage is much higher. Gimme has to pull 26 times her own weight for 10 points - more than twice as much as she's pulled before.

Weight Pull Day 1

505# video - I caused a fault on Gimme's first run. First I took my hands off her and then put them back on her, then during the run she caught up and touched me, so we had to do it again. I also got perilously close to having the hookup come off the ground. It was an easy weight and Gimme had fun, finishing in 6.38 seconds.

665-1145# video - This video has four pulls: 665# in 4.94 seconds, 825# in 5.66 seconds, 985# in 5.66 seconds, and 1145# in 6.53 seconds. All easy peasy.

1305# video - This is the first time Gimme went off the rails. I encouraged her to get back on and keep pulling. Apparently it's okay if she wants to pull from beside the track. The judge suggested that I not try to get her back on because she could lose momentum and then not be willing to restart the cart, which is the hardest part. Even with all this, she did it in 11.34 seconds.

1385# video - Gimme again goes off the rails and this time I just encouraged her to keep moving forward. She did it in 13.04 seconds, for first place and 10 points toward her weight pull CH.

Weight Pull Day 2

Since Gimme did the early pulls on the first day so easily, we started her at the same weight as her fourth pull from the day before. All the other dogs in our division stopped at lower weights, so Gimme's four pulls were without a break in between.

Also, they added another section of rails so handlers could move more naturally without worrying about falling off the end. They felt the handler's unnatural movement might affect the dogs' performance. I didn't notice any difference for Gimme, but it was nice to not worry about backing off the edge of the world.

There's no video for the first pull, which is just as well since I brought Gimme to the start with the harness on upside down. Clearly I need a harness marked with "top". She seemed a little surprised to find the first pull so heavy, but she still pulled it in 8.72 seconds.

1145# video - Gimme did all her pulls this day from the side of the track. I talked to Corey, the back-up judge about it and he thought she may be doing it when she's frustrated. He also suggested I could be further away from her. She still pulled it in 13.5 seconds.

1305# video - Gimme just didn't really get a good pull going on this load and so I had them push it to start it so she could end well, which was a fault for the run. I notice in the video I started by walking away from her, instead of backing away as I normally do. On the second try she did fine, pulling it in 9.97 seconds. I also see in the first pull I was much farther from her than usual and in the second pull I stayed closer.

1385# video - Someone had a dog a little close and within line of sight and the judge made them move before she let us start. I don't think Gimme had noticed, but I appreciate the judge's thoughtfulness in making sure we had a good pull. This pull was the one we needed to get to 10 points toward her weight pull CH. The time was 33.4 seconds, but she did it.

Honestly, this was all a lot of physical work in the space of ten minutes. Gimme did a great job and I'm so proud of her.

Both of the last two pulls, the one after the faulted run and the final one, Gimme needed a lot of reassurance in the form of hugs and kisses. It occurs to me now, she wasn't getting a chance to go back to our setup chair where the peanut butter and marshmallows were waiting, so hugs, kisses and my appreciation was all the reward she was getting. I gave her a lot of peanut butter and marshmallows at the end, but I'm betting she thought I was seriously falling down on my part of this whole experience. This likely contributed to her time out fault. I don't know how to change this, since the treats can't be stashed beyond the startline. Of course in larger trials, there have always been other competitors pulling similar weights, so we had time to go back to our setup chair.

This gives us 50 points, so we are halfway to her weight pull championship.

Valerie was there on the second day. She's the person who ran the workshops we went to. She was just thrilled with how well Gimme is doing. I was telling her I thought we'd stop with a UWPCH, because I'd done the math and it just didn't seem feasible to spend $500 on the next level title (based on her current 10 points per trial). She's certain Gimme could pull enough for 20 points with training. Unfortunately I'd have to get a harness, which would negate any savings. Valerie offered to loan me one of her extra harnesses for as long as I needed. Talk about nice!

Later I was talking to Angela Bruner, the trial host, about how to train Gimme and condition her. She's been bringing an extra harness to the trials we enter so Gimme can pull. I do have to say weight pull people are so nice and supportive. I've yet to meet someone who wasn't. Some of the new people are a bit clueless about their dog's behavior, but over all they've been super.

Anyway, Angela explained so much about training. One thing she said was that it's not about conditioning her body to make her stronger; instead it's about conditioning her mind to know she can do it. She thinks Gimme could pull enough for 25 points right now, if she believed she could do it. I told her about Val's generous offer and she told me to just take the harness I'd been using for the weekend and keep it as long as I like. Again, just nice people.

So we'll be pulling in the park and other places, as soon as I get some old heavy rusty stuff collected.  Gimme will love it - she just likes having stuff to do.

Parkour (5/9)

This class was just the day after we learned about Gimme's mass, so I was pretty much ready to go with anything she wanted to do - which was all of it. It's who she is.

Since then we've learned Gimme has a really bad UTI, which has infected the wall of her bladder. She's now on antibiotics and I'm praying for a speedy recovery. She has low urine concentration that makes her more susceptible to UTIs, so we are exploring different ways to prevent them and to monitor her urine to catch any future problems much sooner.

Sequence 1 video - This is an easy sequence, except for the swinging board, which Gimme hates. I make it a point to pay her a lot for being on it. If she gets it shaking, then I steady it with my foot. It's the only thing she dislikes. I misunderstood the instructions for the yellow donut at end of the first row - thought we were supposed to do 4 on.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme has a bit of a challenge understanding we can actually "wait" in parkour. Who knew? At the end of the walk on I was trying to get her to play "whazzat" about the dog in the corner. You can see her telling me, "I don't wanna look at him". Good girl.

Sequence 3 video - Another easy sequence containing the evil swinging board and the challenging yellow donut. Gimme does really nice in this class, especially since the course takes her within 6' of the other dog.

Sequence 4 video - Yet another easy sequence. I keep adding control points to keep Gimme focused. She's really willing to do almost anything to get her fair share of cheese and peanut butter. Of course, by her way of thinking... it's all part of her fair share.

Sequence 5 video - The goal was to get two feet on the barrel. Since Gimme wasn't listening well enough to do "hands", I had her do "bacon" instead. I can always count on her to do a "bacon". The goal on the two black platforms layered on a third, was to get the dog to stop with front paws on one while keeping back paws on the other. We do this a lot with our control points, so it was very easy for Gimme.

Sequence 6 video - Another fun sequence.

Backward "walkies" video - Doing walk on going backward is the one thing Gimme struggles with learning. I think I need to freeshape it and then she'll totally get it. Here I tried doing it "bacon" on the two black platforms layered on a third, but it didn't seem to help. I think I've failed to make what I want clear to Gimme.

Backward "walkies" 2 video - Here it went a little better. I wish I'd had my clicker with me. It occurs to me I get to class over an hour before it starts, so I could go in and have a short session shaping this on one of the planks. A level plank might reduce her tendency to sit.

In any case, the big thing for me was seeing Gimme so enthusiastic about working. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Nosework (2/27)

Earlier this day I learned Gimme had a mass, so I was kind of in a tizzy. I told the instructors and said Gimme could do anything she wanted. Fortunately she wanted to search for odor. 

Exterior 1 video - There were three known hides. I knew Gimme was going to run to the toy before we ever left the startline. It was a spotted puppy toy. I prefer Gimme to leave toys on her own, but will use a little social pressure to help her, when needed. While it seemed an eternity at the time, it was really only 20 seconds. In this search all the dogs had trouble finding the hide in the pen, except Gimme. She does get back to the toy despite me trying to keep her from it - which was next to impossible given the location of the last hide. She leaves it pretty easily and finds the hide on the stool immediately after. Great timing since the reward for the hide was close enough in time for also leaving the toy. Gotta love it. 

Exterior 2 video - Same search area with three hides, moved around. Gimme still went immediately to the toy, but I chose to use my move from containers, where I continue moving around her when she's on a container and I find she leaves it if it's not the right one. Apparently it works with toys too, since she left the toy right away. Good girl. On the second hide, I thought I was doing too much of the search keeping her in the area of the pen, but on video it's clear she wanted to stay there anyway, which Dorothy noted. Overall her time was 30 seconds faster, 20 seconds of which was not taking time with the toy. A nice search. 

Vehicle 1 video - There is only one hide. Because the light is low, the video isn't the greatest, but good enough. What can I say about this search, Gimme did an awesome job. What is interesting (and what Dorothy commented on) is the way the angled back section of the running board just shoots the dogs out as they are following the scent. Gimme was the fastest to get back to this... indeed only 3 seconds. The other dogs spent a little more time on the bush and/or curb. Gimme often uses the technique of following the scent out to find the edge, so she's likely more efficient with it.

Given our scary news, I was glad to see Gimme so focused and enthusiastic about searching.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Urban Tracking (50, 51 & 52)

Gimme's "mass"  Turns out Doc was exactly right about it being her bladder.  Gimme has a very bad UTI and it has actually infected the wall of her bladder, thus the thickening, from inflammation.  We won't get the culture results until Monday, so meanwhile she is getting tons of water/soup, so we can flush her out as much as possible.  I actually think she seems more comfortable with peeing (not dribbling and scooting off), so perhaps it's feeling better.  Or... it's what I want to see. 

I have three tracking reports to catch up on. 

Friday, 9/8 Game Farm Park

I asked Nadine to give us a simple track with lots of motivating articles.  It was aged 30 minutes, no breeze and about 70º.  The track Nadine laid was what I asked for, but it turned out to be a challenging track anyway.

She started out parallel to a sidewalk, going along behind some bleachers.  Gimme found the first article easily.  She had no difficulty finding the second article, but first had to go around the tree instead of taking the direct route.  Don't know why, but I'm sure she had her reasons.

At this point there was a lady with 2 small dogs coming up the sidewalk we'd cross (x-arrow-x), so I held her back to make sure they were well away before we had to address the turn.  Gimme stayed really distracted by the dogs and was sniffing all over in the area of the pink shaded circle.  From here to the last leg, Gimme stayed distracted, staring into space, marking a lot.  She found all the articles, but her tracking was all over the place.  Now I think she was reacting to her UTI.  I suspect she needed to pee and every time she tried it, stung - making it hard to concentrate.

Not quite the simple motivating track I was hoping for.  Poor baby.

Saturday, 9/9 Medline

I planned a simple track, with three landscape island crossings and an article after each one.  I spread the food drops out to 20 yards and put the final article up in the bark of the last island, covering it with leaves and debris.  It was aged 45 minutes, light breeze and 63º. 

As we went down the track, I kept seeing wasps on all the food drops (except 2).  Gimme learned her lesson from the last time when she got stung and I'd see her headed straight for a food drop and then from a foot away, curve around it and go on. 

I noted she seemed less confident and was taking a zig-zag path along the track.  By zig-zag path, I'm not referring to the wasp avoidance.  She was just not as focused as we'd been getting.  At the time I chalked it up to concern about the wasps and decided not to use any more food drops in the near future (wasps get aggressive toward the end of summer).  By the way, I made it a point to stomp the smithereens out of the distracted wasps and then picked up the jerky and gave it to Gimme along with her treats for the next article.  Of course now I think it more likely she was distracted by discomfort from her UTI.  

Thursday, 9/14 Auburn Cinema

I have received my new book Modern Enthusiastic Tracking, The New Step-by-Step Training Handbook by Sil Sanders.  If you are interested in tracking, this is definitely the book I recommend.  I helped by editing it, so I've already read it (and the first half twice).  Sil's plan is thorough, logical and detailed.  You can't go wrong here.

Nadine and I are starting where Sil said Gimme is, in section U2.  Today Nadine and I did the first session of parking lot tracks.  We are going to be doubling the parking lot sessions, since both of our girls are less confident on pavement.  Both girls do well on sports fields and lawns, so this will fit in well with our schedule.

Today's session called for three straight tracks, downwind (wind at our backs) without using curbs or islands, in 50, 75 and 100 yard lengths.  We were supposed to have 20 minutes aging, but it didn't work out, so Gimme's track was aged 35 minutes. 

I was able to do Cricket's tracks without any obstacles, but Nadine had to cross over an island to get Gimme's final 100 yard track.  Fortunately Gimme has done many landscape crossings at Medline, so they don't phase her in the least.  In fact, as I'm thinking about it, it might be time for me to turn at the landscaping next time we track at Medline, so Gimme knows to use her nose and not just assume she's crossing over.

She was again taking a zig-zag path.  She really only got focused for the last two-thirds of the last track.  With my knew knowledge, I'm blaming her condition.  While she wasn't tracking cleanly like I am used to, she did find all her food drops and articles.  And, did a very nice job on the last part of the longest track.

You have to love her persistence, even in the face of this personal distraction.  I just love how determined she is.  Something may throw her a little off her game, but she just never gives up. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

RFE practice (52)

I was determined to clean up my training this time. I pre-planned the things I wanted to work on.  Some things were much better, some didn't immediately go as planned.

Session 1 video - I started with click/treats for offered attention. I do have to be careful though, because Gimme is prone to deciding the game is I'll-be-distracted-so-I-can-offer-attention-and-get-rewarded. Fortunately she didn't go there this time. Our next effort was to tighten up her heeling. It was very sloppy the last time we practiced here. It still wasn't her best heeling, but there were a couple of nice spots where she self-corrected. Other places I had to help her by moving away. I have to get out of the habit of working "heel" then "side", because it means I spend a lot less time working on "side".

I started Gimme with some free-shaping to get on her stunt dog target. The end behavior will be called "mark". Gimme loves free-shaping, so she'll do this enthusiastically for a long time. The basic behavior is to stay on the target. I decided I wanted her to lay on it and have since added, having her head down on it. Gimme quickly morphed this into "bacon", which I didn't want, so I started tossing treats to the side and behind me to set her up for a straight approach to the target. Tossing treats also meant she got to run to them, adding some extra fun. You'll see me clicking for any lowered head. You'll also hear her "talking" when she gets a little frustrated, but she quickly figures it out. We soon get a half-bow, followed immediately by a full bow. I invariably get barking when I try for duration, but she always figures this out too. She just likes to yell at me when I change the rules. Right after yelling at me, she decides to offer me a bow-to-down, which I can reward with many treats in place - promoting duration. I end on this high note.

I was going to end with some simple behaviors, but then Gimme gets distracted by the people right outside our ring. So I change gears and work the distraction. I did a couple reps of offered distraction and then made it harder by heeling toward the people and turning away. You'll see how quickly Gimme responds to the distraction work. She recognizes the training game and always enjoys a challenge.

Session 2 video - I set up the guides to work on "izzy". Gimme has developed a tendency to turn back the wrong way halfway through the behavior. So I wanted the guides to help her get it right. We start with an "otto", which she can do nicely without the guides.

When I move into the guides, she seems very concerned by them. I don't understand this, since we've worked in the guides so many times over the years. Even my attempts to swing her rear toward them my luring her nose out don't work. After what seems like five minutes (really only 1:30) she gives me one "izzy", then another. I decide to make a full circle of the guides and see if it helps. She starts offering an "izzy" before I get the guides closed. This is her harder direction, so we'll need to put extra work into it. She still seems uncertain and even with the guides open a small amount.

I decide to get the chicken nuggets so I have a better treat for a better effort. Then I work briefly outside the guide, getting her to just move her butt in the direction we need (clockwise). When we go in the guides again, I started twice with her in the flip back spot and rewarded backing in the right direction.  Then I set up our start point so I can click/treat at the place where she usually flips back, before she does so. We do get one really good one and it gets a jackpot, with a nugget. Then we get two more nice ones. After the nugget reload, she does another really nice one with us backed a little bit out of the guides. It's amazing what nuggets will do. We did a bit of treat tossing for a break, the switched gears to a bit of hoop play.

We've never had this much difficulty with "izzy", so I'm still not sure what was going on here. I'm just so very thankful we were able to get through it and end on a positive note.

Session 3 video - I started with some hoop work, using one of the largest hoops set in a stand. In hindsight, I should have picked a different color. I think red is just not as easy to see, especially with red mats in the visual background. With the big red base, it's easier to see, but later when I take it out of the stand, then you'll see Gimme catching her back feet on it. When I get our own, I'll find a way to decorate it so it's highly visible.

We started with the stand and then did a little without it. It only takes one time of her catching a foot on it to put her off. So I put it back in the stand and then take it out sneaky like.

I got out the brick to practice some forehand pivot work. She loves her brick and is trying to get her foot on it before I have it down on the floor. We run through a couple repetitions, then move on to backing up in "heel" and "side" positions. We end with one "otto" and a couple tries at "izzy", ending with a great one and a jackpot.

Gimme seems a bit sensitive these days and I'm not sure why. I did find out today (9/12) during a routine vet visit, Gimme may have a mass near or on her bladder. It'll be a few days before we find out what it is or isn't. Doc wants to wait for all the lab work to come back before we decide what to do next. In any case, we are going to take it easy for a bit, just in case there is something causing her discomfort, though his palpation of the mass didn't bother her. I'll certainly keep you posted.

In the meantime your prayers are certainly appreciated.


Gimme did great in nosework class, though a bit more whiny than usual for having to wait her turn.  Came home to an email from Doc saying her blood tests came back all normal.  So now we are just waiting to get the urinalysis - hopefully tomorrow.  Prayers still welcome.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Parkour (4/9)

Originally I got an email saying we'd be the only dog in class, then when I got there, was told there would be another little dog there as a make-up. The make-up dog didn't show, so Gimme got to do everything off leash - a rare treat.

Jo was supposed to be here, but she's involved in search and rescue and was called out to search for a little girl. Haven't heard what the outcome of that was. 

Sequence 1 video - This was a simple little sequence. It wasn't perfect, but you can see how much more focus Gimme has when she isn't distracted by the presence of other dogs. 

Barrel racing video - Diane is familiar with barrel racing horses, so we were talking about how the sequence should go.

We spent a bit of time showing off Gimme's tricks. Diane is always so impressed with all Gimme can do. I like doing her tricks and moves in other places, since I think it furthers her understanding. Sadly, no video.

Sequence 2 video - Gimme was having difficulty with her 180° "flip" on this narrower board. Normally she does this better, but just didn't have her sea legs this day. Diane is very impressed with her immediate response to the verbal "halt". Actually she's impressed with a lot of things Gimme does. 

Working "flip" video - I spent a little time working on her "flip" on this narrow board. I'm not sure why she was having difficulty with this. We have a board at home, about half an inch narrower, same height, and she does "flip" on it with no problem.

Between these two sequences, Gimme took the opportunity to check out the toy barrel. Turns out they've added some new ones and she found a red man toy she especially liked. She brought it to show Diane and me, being her best silly, wiggly self. I make her leave the toy for each sequence and then each time, after I release her, she runs back to it after I release her. 

Sequence 3 video - It's not immediately obvious on the video, but there were 4 pool noodles in the "thru" and I think Gimme just didn't see a way through. To her credit, with a little encouragement, she tried and discovered she could get through it. The wide turn at the second cone was because her line of travel was taking her straight toward the red man toy and she forgot what she was doing for a second. She made a good effort to work through the distraction on her second try and her reward was to be sent to the very same toy. 

Working "thru" video - We did a quick back and forth "thru" just to cement the idea it could be done. Easy peasy. 

Sequence 4 video - I was definitely late with the "below" cue. We were trying to get a turn away from me, like we do in RallyFrEe. There really wasn't enough space. After the course I showed Diane what I was trying to do - whilst warming up the sequence for Gimme. 

Working "turn" video - Diane increased the spacing for us so we could try the "turn" in a sequence. It worked best when I had a little lead out.

My pretty little con artist worked her magic on Diane and managed to come home with a new toy.  Remember the little red man she got out of the toy barrel?  Diane thought she looked so cute playing with it and clearly "needs" it, so she gave it to her. This is the third time Gimme has managed to talk one of our instructors out of a toy. It's her system and it certainly works for her.

By the way, Gimme says "con artist" must be a fancy word for "cute and charming". Just sayin...

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Phantom of the Dogera

About 1½ months ago we completed our segment for the MDSA collaboration.  I thought I blogged about it, but can't seem to find the entry.  We had segment 1 and I was going for a dramatic look.  The compiled video is out and available to view.  Enjoy...

Phantom of the Dogera video

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Trick Dog Seminar

We went to a tricks and stunt dog seminar yesterday. 

Gimme's Training Session
After some lecture time we were paired up and got to work on a trick. Gimme actually knew most of the tricks (43 of 80 on the list) and we were supposed to train something completely new. I decided to freeshape her to roll a ball with her nose since the only other ones she didn't have any knowledge of required too much set up.

Our first challenge was to get her focused on me. She was quite distracted by our training partner Pam who was sitting on the floor. Gimme got into an unintended behavior chain, go-to-Pam-offer-attention and I had to move a little farther away to help her realize we could leave Pam out of what we were doing. One of the auditors noticed I'd done this even though I wasn't consciously aware of doing so. It was nice to be complimented on it in the after-training discussion.

Gimme found other dogs very distracting, especially the nearest who was 30 feet away, but moving a lot and fast. She had real difficulty not watching him, despite playing look-at-that. Pam suggested I move the ball so he wasn't in her field of view. I didn't think Gimme would be comfortable turning her back to him, but she was fine with it and we were able to get to work.

She started out well and then decided anything she can do with her nose will be better using her paws. She's always been paw oriented. She wasn't really trying to roll it with her paws, just tending to stand there longer and longer, with one paw on top of it. It was a heavy treibball ball, so it didn't roll too easy, so it would have been pretty easy to get her to do "hands" on it. She got stuck there and didn't offer anything different. 

Kathy used a stopwatch to limit our training sessions to 3 minutes.  I'd started the attention work before the official start of our session, but we still used up half our training time on attention before we even started with the ball and because of the stress related to working near other dogs, I think she was pretty much done. 

Crew's Training Session
Pam's dog was a border collie and she wanted to teach him to jump through a hoop in preparation for teaching him to jump through an arm circle. She wanted to use freeshaping, but he would just lay down and wait for her to tell him what to do. She said she'd taught him this as his default behavior to use when he needed her help/direction. To get him started she used treat tossing and then moved back to freeshaping. Crew got superstitious about only going through in one direction, even though she had done both directions to start with. When this came up was about the time their session ended. Later in the day when she needed to do hoop behaviors in stunt dog - then he offered only going the other way.

After a bit more lecture, we all got the chance to have Kathy review tricks for a title; since she's a certified trainer/evaluator for Do More With Your Dog. Gimme already has her DMWYD novice trick title, so we did an evaluation of her tricks for the AKC Novice Trick Dog (TKN) title. She did a good job overall, despite all the people watching and being pretty sure she needed to visit them. The only problem she had was with "spin", which she normally knows very well. When I changed to another behavior, then came back to spin using "turn" (the other direction), she did fine. Toward the end she was getting a little stressed/frustrated and jumped up on me to give me kisses, so I pointed it out as a trick she clearly knew.

AKC Novice Trick Dog (TKN) review
So she did: balance beam "walkies", get in "box", get on "table", "jump" over a low jump, go into strange "kennel" and wait to be released, "kisses", paws up "hands", spin in a circle "turn", "touch" hand or target stick, and "tunnel". This completes her TKN title. This is title number 24; but who's bragging? Now all I have to do is send in the form and application to make it official.

For the afternoon we spent all the time on the stunt dog title. I really didn't think this would interest me, but I clearly didn't know anything about it. We did a run through for the novice stunt dog title. It's very different than I thought it would be and kinda fun with all the silly interaction stuff. We might try it. It won't require much training to get up to speed on the behaviors. The challenge is that it's done in person in small trials. I know if we go to this location for trials (Pawsabilities in Fife, where we train regularly), the set up is good so we don't have to deal with other dogs too much. But Gimme was also very distracted by the spectators. She found it very hard to work with all those new friends watching. I don't have any options to work on a larger group of people except at trials. Still it will be a good experience for her.

Stunt Dog Novice Run Through video - I think once we are really strong on the behaviors, then she'll be more confident. The clock starts running as soon as we enter the ring and time is limited, so we'll need to shorten our acclimation time -- 55 seconds is too long. I think we can use some of the time outside the ring during the transition from one dog to another for look-at-that. We used to do this at the startline at nosework trials and now don't need to, so I think it'll work here too. 

This posing and other strutting is part of stunt dog. It's designed as a sport to help prepare you for performing in public, so handler interaction with the audience is required. We are to interact during both perimeter walks (entrance [after acclimation] and exit) and every time you return to the pedestal. I was trying to get in touch with my inner-Vanna, though some might call it my inner-ham.
  1. Perimeter Circle Entrance. Start at pedi "table" and then perimeter walk. I was focused on keeping Gimme's attention and forgot to interact, until someone reminded me. 
  2. Mount pedestal. Done between every exercise. This is the only place you can reward the dog. Here we surrendered our leash for the off leash exercises.
  3. 5-second stay while I backed away six feet. I noticed as I returned to Gimme the next person had entered the room with their dog and I asked to have them move before Gimme saw him, just to be safe. They responded so quickly it was really seamless, so you might not catch it on the video unless you are listening.
  4. Stay while handler circles pedi at minimum 2 feet distance.
  5. Trick on platform. We did the kisses, since Gimme had wanted reassurance prior. The drawback is that she tends to draw out the kissing a bit, wasting 10 seconds. When she's more confident, we'll switch to something else.
  6. Send to Pedestal from 10 feet. Gimme knows to send 10 feet, but wasn't sure in this setting. Of course, turning it into "bacon" always works for her. On return, we have to walk counter-clockwise around the pedi.
  7. Send to Target Mark from 6 feet. Gimme didn't know this target and my cue to "matt" with something which clearly wasn't a matt, didn't work, though she did go to check it out. It was easy to convince her to do it when we turn this into "bacon" as well. I have some yello scrap foam which I'll turn into a target for her.
  8. Hoop Interactions, 4 behaviors. Surprisingly we've never done anything with a hoop, so she had no clue what I wanted. I thought she might do "hands" on the top of it, since she'll do it to a PVC bar when I hold it. Any four interactions will do and I'm sure we can work up a little sequence here.
  9. Perimeter Circle Exit. Leash is brought to the handler and then we do a perimeter circle to the exit. I realized at the end, having the hand next to her up to wave an interaction with the audience was confusing Gimme and she interpreted it as an up-touch cue. She was clearly ready to be done with this foolishness.
It was a little bit stressful for her. Still, considering she'd never done any of this before or worked in front of an audience, I was very pleased with her efforts. This was also at the end of a long day, spent mostly in a hot car. I'm glad I invested in those aluminet screens last year, so she wasn't uncomfortable in the 92° heat.

I watched the last stunt dog run (we were second to last). Then we had a Q&A, followed by watching the rest of the people who wanted to have trick dog title reviews. We might have been able to pull off intermediate tricks with DMWYD, but I figured Gimme had done enough.