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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Urban Tracking (57 & 58)

On the 26th, we met with Nadine at Auburn Cinema for tracking practice. Our tracks were the same as they'd been before, only longer: 75, 100 and 125 yards. I had her place extra articles in place of some of the food drops the exercise called for (we are following Sil's new book, section U2). The weather was cool, with a light breeze. 

After our last session where Gimme needed so much help to get started on each of her tracks, I wasn't sure what to expect this time. Gimme was in season and sometimes she has an off day (or two) and sometimes not. Maybe she always has those off days, but it depends on what we are doing whether it's a noticeable factor. In any case, this time she was awesome. It was definitely a case of her driving the train and me holding on. She was in-charge and really focused. So great to see.

This Sunday, the 29th, I took her out to Medline for a session. I set a track of 359 yards, cool with a very light breeze, but only aged 15 minutes. My goal was to see how she would do leaving a track actually on the bark of the landscape islands.

We started on pavement, then went up on an island, making a 45 degree turn. Gimme had no difficulty with this, though she interestingly chose to track on the downhill side of the island, whereas the actual track was on the high edge of this little slope. Still she was only 5 feet from the track, so this was just fine. There was a gap in this long island for a driveway. Gimme was all over the place to figure out where her track went. It took her a bit, but once she decided it crossed the pavement, she just motored along. Her next challenge was a 90 degree turn off the island and across the parking lot. She overshot the turn, but then came back and sorted it out, spending much less time deciding to take the plunge this time. She really kept her nose down nicely as she crossed the next island and went straight across the pavement to the third island and another right turn down the length of it. This time she was exactly on the track. She noticed the next turn (her head comes up a bit), but still overshot it and had to come back to find it. She barely hesitated to go back on the pavement. When we got to the next island, I'd laid the track next to the curb. She initially went onto the island, but within a dozen feet was down at the curb where the track was.

She did such a nice job with this track. It's clear she has come a long way in her tracking on pavement skills. She found all the articles very easily. One of them was a 1x2 inch piece of thin rubber. She has huge motivation to find articles, since they are her reward points - a fact, which hasn't escaped her notice. It took me ten minutes to lay the track and she ran it in 11 minutes. I couldn't be happier with how she handled it. I didn't expect her to do this well.

Now we'll try something of similar complexity with more age. I think she'd have done fine with 30 minutes, but we got a late start and I didn't have the time. Besides, it's always good to have a really easy track now and then. This track wasn't "easy", but the short age nudged it significantly closer to easy.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Nosework (2/28)

We only had two searches, but they were very long and involved. Basically we were playing "running bunny" within an interior search. We'd done it once before on vehicles, Gimme loved it and went so fast the instructor could barely keep up. "Running bunny" is a game where the hide is moved right after the dog finds it and moves on.

I was really surprised by Gimme's searching in this class. I expected her to just really get into it and find a lot of hides as she had with the vehicle version of "running bunny", but this time it was quite different. Dorothy thinks it's because she had these expectations which were getting in the way of what she was doing.

The other factor which likely made it harder - she was the third dog to play the game, so the hides had been moved all over the place multiple times and thus there was scent everywhere. It clearly made for a very "messy" search area.

Search 1 video - Gimme only found 7 hides, whereas August found 13. In normal searches, the scent pools and moves and the dogs can read it and based on strength and direction, it leads them to source. When you have all this scent around and no clear pattern of strength and direction, it's hard to find source. Basically, it's just a matter of happening upon it. August searched first and the area wasn't filled with messy scent evidence, leading nowhere. Also August moves slower and is very methodical, so he was likely finding more hides because he wasn't outrunning his nose when he happened to get close to one. Gimme is used to scent making sense, so it made it harder for her in this situation. I'm not suggesting she wasn't having fun - she clearly was. She enjoys searching in and of itself, so a 6¼ minute search is fun for her.

Search 2 video - This time we started the search in the foyer, which you won't see on video, because Dorothy wanted to have the option to move a hide (the red cart) in there, to see if the dogs were inhibited about returning to there. Clearly Gimme wasn't inhibited since she went in there without me and without a hide being moved in there. Gimme was the only one of the dogs to use the steps of the ladder to access the high hide. Just what I'd expect from my smarty pants. She found 9 hides and searched happily for 8¼ minutes.

This was interesting, certainly not what I expected. She sure had fun with these extra long searches.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New Title #27

Today was our first try at Sniffing Dog Sports (SDS) and it was lots of fun. It's another flavor of nosework and a trip back to novice, so pretty easy stuff. Since there was a lot of walking to get from parking to where the searches were, they set it up so you came in once for back-to-back searches.  This was great for Gimme, though I can see where this might be a challenge for low-energy dogs.

Container search
Our first search was a set of ten boxes, one hide, allotted 2 minutes, with a physical barrier in the middle (a stand-up coffee bar). Gimme did a great job and I was really happy with her. She chose to go to the left: checked two boxes, skipped three to go straight to odor. She did paw at the box so I thought we might have earned a deduction, which would have put us out of the running for a placement. During the debrief the judge said she didn't give out any deductions, so then I figured we were in the running. Gimme's time was 11.18 seconds and four dogs were faster, 3rd and 4th by a couple one-hundredths of a second. It was a lovely search and Gimme quickly forgot about how slippery the floor was.

Game search
The game was called Goldilocks and we had two search areas with one hide in the first area and 2 hides in the second area. We were allotted 4 minutes and time didn't stop while we were moving about 30 feet from the first to second search area. The first area was small, about 12 x 15 feet of the cafe. The hide was on the bottom of a trash can. Gimme found and sourced it quickly. Then we moved across to the second area, a sunken 10 by 40 rectangular pit. The first hide was low on a silver box shaped thing and Gimme sourced it really fast. The second hide was on the far bottom corner of a trash receptacle dolly (3 trash cans on it) placed against the wall. This proved a bit challenging, Gimme knew it was there somewhere, but couldn't decide on source. Scent seemed to be drifting underneath the dolly, which she checked in a couple places. It was also coming out between the trash cans. She did nail it, getting 4th place in the class with a time of 1:10.59.

Apparently a number of dogs early on had difficulty with the trash bins hide and the judges decided it was too much challenge for novice dogs, so they gifted the hide to any dog getting the other two. Only those dogs getting all three hides were in the running for placements. I've shown a detail of what scent seemed to be doing. Pink is the scent Gimme was getting under the dolly on the front side and orange is where the scent was coming out between the trash cans. I also think based on where Gimme was checking relative to the other hide, it may have become an unintended converging odor puzzle.

Area Search This proved to be a challenging search because of how warm the room was. It was in the women jockey's locker room, two hides and 3½ minutes. Along opposing walls were two wood open-front lockers. In the center of the room was a large wooden cabinet with lockable lockers on one side. There were chairs and fake plants, with one chair in the hall opposite the door, to indicate where the search area ended. By the time all the ring crew got in the room it was pretty crowded. Gimme immediately went to her left and was all over those lockers, looking for the hide. She kept putting her feet up trying to find it, but I knew it couldn't be where she was looking because novice class hides are 2' and below. The heat in the room was making scent rise. She did source it and indicated when she did. Then she moved around the center cabinet and I followed, but she kept going around and out of sight, so I stopped until she came around to be on the same side with me. She paid little attention to the cabinets on this side and quickly got over by the chair, sourcing the floor level threshold hide. As is her typical style, she'd blown by the threshold, which she probably wouldn't have caught from the doorway in any case, because the room warmth would make scent rise. Gimme finished this search with a nice solid 1:03.31 and placements were significantly faster. Gimme loves a high hide, so she probably wasted more time than necessary on the first hide.

Overall Gimme's searches were pretty fast, as you can see by comparing her search times to the time allotted. Her slowest search (area search), she used less than one-third of the time allotted. She was only in the placements 1 time and was beaten in containers by only a couple one-hundredths of a second. While there were dogs faster than her to get placements, her solidly fast searches earned her Third Place in the overall rankings. Nice! 

Friday, October 27, 2017

RFE practice (55)

"Pivot" video - My goal here is to turn this into a distance behavior for advanced level sign #57. It says they only have to be 4 feet away and are supposed to back into position, so I'm waiting on answers to other questions to see if this will work. Gimme was tending to come off the brick as she did her "pivot", so I started treating her in position, which helped. I see I was also working on behavior repeats in this same session - bad training. Never work on more than one part of the behavior at a time.

Backward weaves video - I've been discussing online with other freestylers how best to teach this. Much of the first part of this video was based on what others said they did, which didn't work for us. I've given you samples of those. Gimme usually works really well with luring and will swing her butt easily, but this time I just couldn't get it to work. Then we tried using the guides, but I didn't get them working either. I've since thought of how I might use them with the method I ended with. The good news is the way the guides guided ME to working this in a different way - based on back-chaining - which I think will work better for us. I want to make some changes:
1.  set up the guide to create a channel helping her to not get out of position.
2.  use "touch" instead of "thru". I already see the "thru" weakening, whereas
     "touch" is a hand touch no matter where it is, so I wouldn't be interrupting
     a known behavior.
3.  start with a much smaller increment of the final behavior.

"Mark" video - Gimme starts this offering a bunch of behaviors. She had a chiropractor appointment scheduled later and we found her atlas was a little stuck, which influences her ability to think/work. I do think this behavior in another excellent opportunity to use back-chaining.

Sidepass into dog video - Two weeks ago when I was first using the knee cue, it seemed to work naturally, but not this time. I looked at the prior video and I don't see what I'm doing different, so I'll try it some more. Of course using my hand as a visual target worked well and will also work as a more natural physical cue.

Backing in heel video - I'm always surprised this isn't any farther along than it is. Gimme just has this tendency to take a couple steps and then swing her heiney out. At least now she was swinging it back in when I used luring with treat delivery. I think I need to spend a lot more time practicing this with guides, to build muscle memory. I could also use the space between the van and the wall in the carport, it's the perfect size channel.

"Fanny" video - Gimme has to go to the position behind me on cue and then follow me in position for four steps. My idea is to start with both hands behind me at parade rest position and then gradually move them up to be on my hips at my waist. I want to try this using two sets of guides to form a channel, so I can be sure she's where I want instead of having her slide out to the sides, then pop into position when a treat is coming. I was pleased to see in the third clip she's getting the idea. She'll try to turn anything into "otto" or "izzy", just sayin'.

Finding positions and "thru" video - This is just a bit of treat tossing, followed by giving position cues, so Gimme has to find them. It was during this last session she started shaking her head and sometimes moving with her head tilted. Usually this happens when she does a lot of barking (like in barn hunt), so it was weird seeing it here.

"Izzy" & "otto" video - Her "otto" is very solid - it's her better turning direction. Sometimes "izzy" is pretty wide until she gets warmed up. As much time as we spent learning these, then one day "boom" and she had them both. I've been having her do them other places so they remain strong behaviors.

Gimme wasn't as focused as I know she can be and she wasn't as confident either. She'd experienced some pains two days before and so I'd scheduled her for the chiropractor. Turns out her atlas was a little stuck, affecting her ability to think/work. We think it may have been stuck a lot more when she was having pains. Doc said the head shaking and tilting might be related to the atlas issue, since it can cause ringing in the ears. Her doc says dogs and horses often fix their own subluxations when they roll around on their back, which Gimme does often. Of course she still needs to see Dr. Powell for fine tuning.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Nosework (1/28)

This was the first class of a new session and we only had the one instructor.

Container 1 video - A blind search with two hides. We haven't done boxes in awhile and Gimme enjoyed them. As usual she gets more excited the more she's around boxes. I was glad the search ended quickly, with no pther container searches.

Exterior 1 video - Another blind search, but with three hides. On the second hide, it was right up under the pole and Gimme gets up to show me exactly where it is. She passed the nearest hide from the startline and so we had to get it last. Really a nice fast search.

Exterior 2 video - Gimme does a nice job finding these 3 hides, while completely ignoring my attempts to cough up a lung. Oddly she hates it when I cough at home, no matter what we are doing. I guess nosework is a bigger priority.

Exterior 3 video - By this time it was getting quite dark and this particular spot was farther from the overhead lights. Gimme finds the first channel hide quickly, but then is stuck for a bit when she discovers pooling odor nearby. I was too inclined to stand around and support her on nothing with my presence. If I had moved on, she may have as well. Both instructors have been making the point lately about how quick our dogs (the advanced group) are to source odor - the message being to move on if they aren't getting to source quickly. Our dogs are all odor obedient and won't leave it if it's the real deal, plus we can always come back if we have time left over. Gimme has a difficult time sorting out the next channel hide. I think part of the problem may have been my location relative to the hide; too often between her and the hide. She really did indicate the false alert, but in this case she was wrong. We haven't done channel hides in a very long time - clearly need to do it again.

Gimme did a nice job this day, even though she erred on the last search. She's entitled to make a mistake now and then, God knows I make more than my fair share, eh...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Urban Tracking (56) & BH practice

On 10/12 Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking. While I've had other tracking planned since then, none of them have worked out and we ended up skipping our scheduled tracking this week.

We repeated the three straight tracks we'd done two weeks earlier - 50, 75 and 100 yards. This time Gimme seemed very distracted, probably by her "condition". On all three tracks I had to help her get started and then, while she didn't do her best, she did pretty good. Her overall performance while she is in season is usually good, but there can be 1 or 2 days where she seems distracted. I'm sure they are always there, but I may not notice if they don't coincide with something else in our schedule.

On Saturday I'd planned tracking practice at Medline, but I also wanted to go to Eatonville for barn hunt practice. I'd decided to spend the night in Beaverton so I wouldn't have to leave home at the crack of dawn for the nosework trial. My plan was to get everything packed and ready so I could head south straight from practice. It took longer to pack so there was no time to squeeze in a tracking practice.

I do want to get in a few practices with the Eatonville Rat Rangers before the Thanksgiving weekend trials - to work on issues we discovered at this last trial. This was our first practice to work on paw indication. I also planned to stay in the ring for a time after she found all the rats each time, to clarify she's not supposed to false alert just to please me.

First session, 1 rat - Gimme did a nice job and found the only rat in 21 seconds. While I wanted to walk away, because the tube was low and behind a bale, I knew I wouldn't be able to see if she pawed, so I "nonchalantly" stood nearby, trying to look like I didn't care very much. She left and cruised around the ring. Gimme offered the tunnel and then quickly did it again. I didn't know there was a third entrance. Then she went back to the rat and pawed quickly. I didn't have any ring crew, so I just set the rat on the bales outside the ring and then forgot about it. When I told Gimme to "find me 'nother one", she'd trot around looking and barking. A couple of times she went over by the gate and barked - which I finally realized was the best access she had to be near where I'd set the rat tube, so she was basically telling me "this is the only one."  Clever girl.

Second session, 2 rats - Gimme finds and alerts on the first rat in 15 seconds! After the party, she did the tunnel. I used to be able to use her willingness to tunnel as a gauge for whether there were a more rats, but I've made such a big deal about tunnels, now she'll do them more readily and sometimes offers them. It took awhile to find the second rat, but then she'd only bark and bark and bark at it. So we left it and made another walk around the ring. When we got back to it, she alerted quickly. After removing the last rat, we stayed in the ring for 2:15 and I encouraged her to check several tubes, even persisting on one, but there were no false alerts. During this time Gimme offered 2 more tunnels and went to the gate 3 times. 

Third session, 3 rats - Twenty seconds to the first rat, fast paw alert. Then a climb and an offered tunnel. She barked persistently at a tube on top of the big pile, but no alert and finally left it. Gimme went on to find another rat and paw alerted after 13 seconds of barking. It took her a bit to get back to the rat and then paw alert (about a minute total). We played with the tube, scooting it around on the floor. We stayed in the ring another 3 minutes. Gimme gave me 8 more tunnels and searched everywhere.

I'm very happy with this practice. Gimme was getting better and better about the pawing alert AND despite staying in the ring a long time after finding the last rat and encouraging her to check tubes, she never false alerted. Very clear progress.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Parkour (7/9)

This is our last class for awhile - at least until after Christmas. Unfortunately Jo and Diane both had the flu, so we had the other guy to instruct us. He's not very effective, so it turns out to be no more than a guided practice.

Personal session video - This is another session on teaching Gimme to back on a board. Gimme thinks just bumping the target with her foot should be enough, so she gets a little frustrated when I wait for her to actually step on it. She normally backs up so readily and fast, so I can sure see this is a challenge for her.

Sequence 1 video - Just a simple little warm-up sequence.

Sequence 2 video - This is the same sequence as before and the second time Gimme had difficulty starting with the "thru" pool noodles. It was set up so close to our barrier, so she had to turn sharply to get started into it.

Sequence 3 video - This sequence starts with having Gimme only put two feet in or on props she is used to engaging with four feet, a simple challenge. We ended by going the other way. Gimme gets on the last prop so forcefully and ends up skiing across the floor until I get my foot behind it.

Sequence 4 video - We again started with Gimme putting only two feet in/on those props. My goal was to make sure she didn't walk through the prop when we were done - which I think muddies the concept of "hands" on props she normally engages with four feet. The "walkies" board falling down right as Gimme stepped off it scared the crap outta me. Jo checks those kinds of things after every dog. Fortunately Gimme isn't bothered by strange, loud noises even if I am.

Sequence 5 video - We hadn't done "bacon" yet and it is Gimme's favorite, so I let her do it on the tic-tac board. Then when we came back around I was going to let her do "bacon" on the yellow donut thing, but it kept running away from her. I love how she keeps trying.

Sequence 6 video - Gimme did a nice job on this sequence. This time we did "hands" on the three props going one way and then "box" and "table" when we came back around the other way.

Sequence 7 video - Same sequence. Gimme did a nice job, especially at the last "thru" where she comes out just 5' from our classmate, who she pays no attention to.

It's been a long time since we've worked on anything hard in class, but it's still always a great chance for her to work near other dogs. We are going to miss class, but as we gear up for the holiday season, I just really can't spare 5 hours (long drive). It'll be great to get back to it afterwards. Meanwhile Gimme and I are already videotaping for her ADPL5 entries.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Nosework (6/27)

This nosework class is from last week, just after the barn hunt trial weekend.

We are continuing to focus on exterior searches while we don't have to do them in the rain. I was eager to see how Gimme would do about peeing in the search area. Thankfully there was none.

Exterior 1 video - There were four hides total. Two hides were close to the sidewalk next to the building and one was on the hydrant and the other on the low wall near the lower sidewalk. Gimme did a great whiplash turn on the first hide. For the second hide, all the dogs knew generally where it was, but had to work to source it. We really have no clue why this proved to be such a challenge. She had no problem finding the lower hides and got all of four of them in 1:58.

Exterior 2 video - This 1-hide search was within a landscaping strip where dogs often sneak in a quick pee on the way to other searches. We had our choice of where to start and I chose the far end to take advantage of the very light breeze blowing toward our chosen start. Gimme had the hide in 21 seconds, I questioned whether it could be the "black thing" (a sprinkler head Dorothy found).  Just like urban tracking, nosework gives you an opportunity to collect and use all the supposedly useless debris laying about.   

Exterior 3 video - Three hides, with one threshold hide. Gimme bypassed the threshold to run to the far end, then caught the drift of the ground hide midway down. Most dogs went out into the grass to come back to the access plate. As we headed back to toward the threshold, Gimme caught the drift of it and went ahead of me to start sourcing. She did a nice job finding both hides in 1:16.

Gimme really did a great job; very efficient.  She never even thought about peeing.  At one place when we neared the place where she'd done it the week before, she moved in a little closer to me, just in case I needed to reminded of what a good girl she is.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Barn Hunt weekend

Gimme and I went for three days of barn hunt, October 6-8, Crazy 8's once a day and Master's twice a day.  The site is only 90 minutes from home and there are good places to walk.  While the site is really nice, sharing it with the agility group turned out to be an issue, simply because they were so loud. We were in one very long building and barn hunt had the last 50 feet at one end, separated by a chest height wall made of stock panels and plastic.


AM Crazy 8's - During our first run there was huge amount of barking from agility, plus barking/shrieking dogs in crates. Gimme basically stood in the middle of our ring barking. I encouraged her near the bales and thought she was barking more at one spot, so I called it and was right (10 points from a lucky guess). Then Gimme got on a bale (10 points), though she was very hesitant. She did a lot more barking, my next guess wasn't so lucky and we got a fault (-20 points). From there we went to another fault and that was an NQ.

AM Masters - Again a lots of barking, not aimed at anything. I got her on a bale for climb (she acted hesitant), then she went back to non-stop barking. My guess was wrong and then we were led to a real tube. I tried to get her to use her paws to indicate this known good tube, but she would only bark.

I was concerned about what seemed to be hesitation to climb on the bales, thinking she might be hurting. So when I took her out walking, I cued her to "table" on some very large rocks. She popped right up on them without any problem. After I eliminated pain as an issue, then it occurred to me it might be the noise. Gimme is really good about noise in general, but dog noise is an entirely different thing. I think she was just on sensory overload. Poor kid.

PM Masters - Gimme seemed to do a little better this time. She barked pointedly at one tube and it was correct. Then she was barking very close to a bale and I thought I knew which tube she was on, but the rat was about two feet away. I helped her find the close rat, and then we ran to the car for peanut butter.


AM Crazy 8's - She barked more and I guessed well. I cued her to "table" for a climb, then "tunnel".   Our next step was a false alert. In the course of telling us, the judge made a mistake, telling us where the nearest rat was (no doubt thinking of ring procedure for other classes). I helped Gimme find the real rat and then time was up. I thought we had a whole 10 points for our efforts. I realized on the way to the car, we might have gotten points for the real rat. I asked the scribe and she confirmed it, so we got 20 points for the run. I chose to view this as our "upward spiral".

Interesting side note - this is the same judge who I believed made an unfair call at our last trial, which cost us a masters Q. So, I didn't feel bad about benefiting from his error.  The judge giveth and the judge taketh away.

AM Masters - I went into masters hopeful. Gimme was very good about doing a tunnel and climb, but then she false alerted. She was barking near a small pile of bales and the nearest rat (the only rat) was at least 12 feet away. I helped her find it and we headed to the car.

Since she was barking so far away from the only rat in the ring, I thought this was no longer a case of inaccurate barking alert.  Maybe my encouragement trying to get her to use her paws, she thought was encouragement to bark more - maybe thought she was now being rewarded for barking.

I decided for our afternoon masters class, I'd ignore her barking and make it a point to move away so I wasn't supporting the barking with my presence, yet looking back to watch her. I thought if it wasn't a real rat she'd be willing to leave it and if it was real, she'd tend to stick it. I wanted to be watching so I could respond with "rat" if she used her paws on it. Meantime I did a day-of entry for the second class of crazy-8s on Sunday. I thought it wouldn't cost any more than driving both ways and paying the practice fees for the Eatonville practice.

PM Masters - I told the judge what I planned to do, just so he'd know what to expect. When we went in the ring Gimme quickly started barking at some bales on the corner of the big pile and I walked away, looking back over my shoulder - she came with me. Then I cued a climb, which turned out to be near a rat. Gimme started barking and I moved away again, this time she stuck with it and when she poked the tube with a paw, I called it for our first rat. She quickly moved on to find another tube, proceeded to bark and when I moved away, she pawed and I called it, our second rat. For her next bark-fest she left when I did, so I moved her around the other side of the main pile and we repeated the bark-move-away-paw-call sequence for the third rat. Then I cued tunnel and she did it. From there she found another tube to bark at and stay with, but she wouldn't' paw at it. I thought she was in an awkward location, so I got her to swing around me coming at it from another angle, but she still wouldn't do anything more than bark.  I called her away from it and we went to the other side of the pile, where she found rat four, which she indicated quickly with her paws. I felt she really was serious about the other rat, so I went back toward it and when she got up and started barking again, I continued moving past it. I glanced away and when I looked back I saw the straw had come off the top of the tube and suspected she'd pawed at it. But since I didn't see it and she could have knocked it off accidentally. I didn't want to call it and risk reinforcing barking. I continued watching her from a bit of a distance and she finally gave it a poke with her nose. I called it, but the judge didn't hear me (probably because of someone's loud barking), Ron told him I called it, he said "rat 4". Ron pointed out it was "rat 5" and then the judge said "rat 5" and I called "finish" with just 1½ seconds to spare. This makes Gimme's 5th masters Q - we need five more for her barn hunt championship. I'm really encouraged.

When I left the ring several people descended on me; I heard talk of a lynching party. They had no clue what I was doing and didn't understand why I was abusively incompetent when Gimme was loudly telling me over and over and over and over again where the last rat was. Of course once I explained, they understood and I was even complimented for my willingness to sacrifice a Q in favor of long-term training. Two people did confirm Gimme had pawed at the last tube at the exact moment I glanced away.  I need to shape her to paw repeatedly so a glance away doesn't cause me to miss her indication.


AM Crazy 8's - Gimme did better this time: climb, tunnel and 2 rats for 40 points. She can do better, but I was thrilled to have us moving in the right direction.

AM Masters - Gimme did a climb quickly. Then she was sniffing around a tube and nose touched it, so I called it, for a false alert. In hindsight, obviously my fault. Clearly I have to wait for a paw touch, not a nose touch.

PM Crazy 8's - Gimme did the tunnel and a climb. Then she pawed a tube, but it was a false alert. We could have played longer, but I chose to leave the ring.

I am also concerned Crazy 8's may be teaching her she can false alert and keep playing. Also, in other classes after a false alert we tend to lead the dog to a good tube to "end on a good note." So to reinforce only-alert-on-rat-tubes, we will not go to good tubes or continue hunting after a false alert. In Gimme's defense, this may have been an honest mistake. I'd heard the judge say earlier there was one really stinky bedding tube and several dogs false alerted on it.  I am confident Gimme knows the difference.  In any case, she needs to understand I only want her to tell me about rat tubes, nothing else.

PM Masters - This time it went better, but we didn't Q. Gimme did a climb, offered a tunnel, then found a rat. She went around barking and leaving before I left. She offered another tunnel, then went to the gate. As we continued the barking-walk I was thinking maybe there was just 1, when she pawed a tube for a false alert. There was only 1 rat. I suspect she was frustrated and did it to please me.

I think Gimme doesn't quite understand that even if we stay there after she's found the last rat, she's still not supposed to pretend a tube is a rat to please me.  This can be hard conceptually and I wasn't sure how I'd go about training it.  Then it occurred to me she knows this concept in nosework and I can train it in much the same way.  So now I have to get to practices 2 or 3 times between now and the Thanksgiving weekend trials.

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Title #26

Here is another post out of order, because I can't resist sharing good news.

Right before going to bed last night I checked my email and learned Gimme's parkour submission had been evaluated and she now holds the ADPL4 title for two titles in one day.  So tomorrow we start taping for level 5 in between the rain showers.

Here are links to the three submissions:

McAllister Park video

Long Lake Park video 

Huntamer Park video 

The results are online for yesterday's nosework title. Gimme is the first dog listed for a title, but the order is based on handler's first name, so no special significance. Fifteen dogs titled and Gimme was 14th in order by points. Accounting by time alone she would be 7th. 0:15.66

Vehicle 1 search - There was 1 hide in the Museum on an antique milk truck, with 1:00 allotted. Despite the distraction, Gimme completed this search in 15.66 seconds!

Vehicle 2 search - In the 4H Area search there was 1 hide on 2 vehicles with 2:00. This is the one where I called a false alert, so we got maximum time.

Vehicle 3 search - The Warming Hut search contained two vehicles, a car and a small chariot, with 2 hides and 1:30 for the search. Gimme finished this search in 28.57 seconds.

Vehicle 4 search - At the Sheriff's Office, there were 2 vehicles, 3 hides and just 2:30 to find them. The two vehicles consisted of a big pickup towing a flat bed trailer with handling obstacle. Gimme completed this search in 45.84, which should have put her in second place, but she was assessed a fault. I have no clue what the fault was since we don't get score sheets in element trials. Too too strange.

BTW we also got the certificate today from AKC for Gimme's Trick Dog Novice title. So we are just awash in success...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Title #25

I am writing this blog out of order, because I couldn't resist sharing the news.  Gimme got her L2V title this morning, while overcoming my mistake.  She did a great job.

We had one leg toward this title, so we could get another leg with 75 percent (or more). There are 7 total hides, so we had to get 6 of them for 75% or more.

Vehicle 1 search - There was 1 hide in the Museum on an antique milk truck, with 1:00 allotted. There was a lot of other stuff in the room - not part of the search, but distracting. Gimme went up the right side and across the back. I thought I saw a head check, but she pulled toward a snowman Christmas decoration. When she came back she went right to where she'd head checked and alerted. Not sure on the time, but very fast, even with the distraction.

Vehicle 2 search - In the 4H Area search there was 1 hide on 2 vehicles with 2:00. Gimme again went up the right side and showed no interest in the first vehicle. She showed slight interest in the right rear tire of the second vehicle, but then moved on and went around the front bumper. At the left rear tire she showed more interest and I called it - a false alert. It was the other tire. This was my bad, since she didn't really alert on it - I just reacted, calling "alert" without thinking about what she was actually showing me, called a "blurt alert". I don't know why I felt such time pressure - 2 minutes was an abundance of time. So the pressure was on to make no more mistakes and salvage the title. 

Vehicle 3 search - The Warming Hut search contained two vehicles, a car and a small chariot, with 2 hides and 1:30 for the search. I'm not sure why they call it a "warming" hut, it was warmer outside. Gimme left the startline and went up the right side of the car and around the front, when she saw the little chariot, she headed right for it. She went around it to the back, then back and forth until she sourced the hide on the back corner. From there she went up between the two vehicles, when she realized she'd passed the hide on the car she pivoted and went back to it.

Vehicle 4 search - At the Sheriff's Office, there were 2 vehicles, 3 hides and just 2:30 to find them. The two vehicles consisted of a big pickup towing a flat bed trailer, so there was a handling obstacle as well. Gimme went to the right side and quickly got a hide in front of the wheels there. Then she went around the back heading toward the wheels on the far side, when she doubled back and got the hide on the back corner of the trailer. From there she went up to the front of the truck and found the last hide just behind the passenger side front tire.

She did a great job, bringing in the hides we needed to complete the title, salvaging it despite my inept efforts. She was very precise in her indications on the second set of searches, probably trying to make sure I didn't do anything dopey to rob her of success. Way to Go Gimme!

I did notice in all four searches she started off toward the right side.  Maybe a coincidence, eh.  I don't remember noticing this before, but will be watching for it in the future. I don't suppose it makes any difference. I'm sure she'd go the other way if there were a clear reason detectable from the startline. Just an interesting thing I noticed. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

RFE practice (54)

I decided after last week's parkour class where Gimme was focused right from the start, to try a short attention session here and see if I get the same results. I'll let you be the judge. 

"mark" video - Please notice the fancy target I made for this - it's a quilting star pattern created from colored duct tape. I wanted something visual and distinct from any of our other props. We haven't trained this very often and it is a behavior chain, so I end up covering the same shaping each time, though it does go faster each time. Actually, having just this moment said it is a "behavior chain" makes me realize I'm not training it like a behavior chain - which is last part of the behavior is trained first and then the behavior before the last behavior, etc., until I've trained back to the first behavior. Shame on me. I am shaping for a head-down on the target, but you can see by Gimme's wagging tail, she is still very intense.

Backing on board video - We are continuing to work this behavior for parkour. My first set up to work with a little elevation wasn't stable and I had to change it. So, we started with some work on the flat. For our second part of this, I elevated the board with stacks of carpet squares. This is mentally hard work for her, so to encourage Gimme to want to back away from me, I used her special "bowl", since backing away got her closer to it.  This was J'Anna's idea.

"izzy" & "otto" video - I started with her backing around/with me in "side" position to warm her to what we'd be doing. She has come such a long way with her "izzy" and "otto" behaviors. Now we are working on the advanced behavior where she does them while I pivot in the opposite direction. The first step is to ask her to do the behavior twice before getting rewarded. Then I start moving. It's entirely expected for her to be confused by my movement initially - it's a huge change in conditions. Still, Gimme is very smart, so she very quickly figures out how to do this variation. 

"pivot" video - This behavior starts with sending her to put her front feet on the "brick" and then her CCW "pivot". My plan was to work on it as a distance behavior, but then I noticed she was not keeping her feet on the prop, so I worked on this first. You can see she is eager to get to me and the rewards and that is why she's stepping off in my direction before she completes the move, so I start moving in to reward her with her feet on the prop. Just one reward in position and you see her come off the prop and then self-correct. She doesn't stick it and we have to keep working on it to get consistency, but you have to appreciate how smart she is. 

Back into "under" video - I wanted to teach her to back into "under" so she'd get comfortable with it. I want to teach her how to do back-through-weaves. Of course I don't really know how to teach this yet, but this seemed to be a logical first step. 

Sidepass into dog video - J'Anna and I are both having difficulty teaching our dogs to sidepass when we are moving toward them and they must move away while staying in "heel" or "side" position. So I came up with the idea of creating an exagerated body cue so Gimme would know when I was going to step toward her, so she could move out of my way. To start with the exagerated version of the cue is to bend the knee closest to her while keeping my toes on the ground. Over time I want to make it a more subtle knee bend, which will be followed by sliding my foot toward her. Based on how quickly she picked this up in this short experiment with it, I think it has promise.

"can" & "spin" video - The goal behavior is to get on the "can" and then "spin". She did it one time on cue, but not again. Each attempt afterward, her back feet would come off the prop. She used to do this readily, so I'm not sure why it's an issue now. There have been times when she had discomfort in her loin area, but I'm not seeing any sign of that now. It's possible she remembers and it makes her tense, affecting her balance. At the same time I'm mindful her balance on narrow boards isn't as good as it was earlier this year. Perhaps the extra 4 pounds she's carrying is affecting how limber she is and balance. I tried several things, none of which gave me the results I want. I'm going to try having her just balance on the "can" for longer periods, in case it's a confidence issue. As much as J'Anna makes me a bit crazy with her suggestions, sometimes they lead to something productive. So when I do the confidence building work, I'll want to focus on her foot position. I want to reinforce the times when her rear feet are more toward the edge (not the middle) of the surface, since it makes her more balanced (like at 40 seconds). I absolutely need to use the clicker so I can pinpoint in the spin right before her feet come off. I also have to watch my treat delivery so I'm not lifting her nose and throwing her center of gravity back (which causes the back feet to move toward center). 

"away" video - The goal is to teach Gimme to stand in the same position as "center", but facing "away". The platform is supposed to help anchor her, the target stick help her make the turn and feed in position to reinforce the position. I think I need a treat on the target stick to start with, or maybe use her special "bowl".

Right in the middle of that session, Gimme suddenly noticed a whiny little dog, being held in it's owner's arms (just arrived), who was backed up to the ring gate with the little dog's heiney and fluffy tail hanging into our ring. As Gimme moved to go there I yelled at the owner "lady move away from the gate". Naturally she was completely offended, never giving any thought to how careless she'd been with her dog's safety. Little dog owners are the worst, often completely clueless about the safety of their vulnerable little guys. 

Focus after distraction video - Gimme was highly distracted from then on. Since the little dog continued to whine, I had to abandon what we were doing, move farther away and work on focus. She did better with the distance and moving. You can hear the continual wailing and screeching in the background. It's to her credit she works through this at all. It's a hard place to work in respect to noise in the background. 

Overall I thought the sessions went well.  So far I do think having the short attention session before the training sessions is beneficial.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Nosework (5/27)

Videos are all poor quality due to insufficient light.

Exterior 1 video - If you recall, last week Gimme got off a squirt of urine where another dog had peed during an exterior search, which I didn't see. I was concerned Gimme might decide my lack of response to her squirt meant the rule no-peeing-while-searching had changed.  She is inclined to take single instances as a rule change. Since we have two nosework trials in the near future and I was afraid she might not be clear on our rules, her decision to pee 31 seconds into our search was actually a very good thing. My, "Uhhh, what have you done? Shameful..." is more harsh than usual, but I wanted to communicate a very clear message. This ended the search, which is also part of the clear message.  I have to admit I never thought I'd be happy to have her pee during a search.

Exterior 2 video - At 1 minute into the video, Gimme suddenly slipped into heel position, right after she'd been showing some unease as we approached the area where she'd peed before. Dorothy called it "appeasing" behavior, not a bad assessment. In reality, I think Gimme chose to move into heel, where the nothing-bad-ever-happens-in-heel-position rule takes affect. She wanted to tell me she was being good; her way of saying "message received". You gotta love the beautiful simplicity of this two-way conversation, my earlier verbal and her reply. As we left the area of her prior mistake, she caught odor and confidently moved ahead of me, going right to work. Timing couldn't have been more perfect. She got a whole nugget for her especially nice work. From there she went quickly to the other hide. It was a great search. 

Exterior 3 video - It only took Gimme three seconds to find the first hide and Dorothy hadn't gotten the record button pushed. She then went up the sidewalk and turned toward the next hide, without getting near the baaaadd area. I sort of swung her through it and then let her go back toward the hide and get rewarded. I don't want her to develop a "thing" about that area, so I want to get her into it as needed. After the second hide she went toward the first one she found and then used it to bounce to her third hide, about 12 feet away.

Vehicle 1 - no video - Dorothy sometimes has difficulty hitting the right button on my camera and here she did it again, missing Gimme's extremely fast search in its entirety. She only noticed the issue after Gimme found both hides. Gimme searched, found the first one, got rewarded, continued around and found the second one and got rewarded in about 20 seconds. Not sure you could have seen anything on the first hide, since it was complete blackness in the side away from the streetlight. Gimme was rocking.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Urban Tracking (55)

Went to Medline for an urban tracking session. I'm continuing to focus on making sure Gimme understands to follow her nose when crossing landscaped islands and not just rush across and look for the track on the other side. I planned articles after each island and after each turn to keep her motivation up, since there are no more food drops.

Just as we arrived a thunderstorm dumped its load. It looked small and I could see clear sky not far away, so I decided to wait it out. As I laid the track there was a moderate breeze coming from the right, very wet ground and an intermittant sprinkle. It took me 8 minutes to lay the 295-yard track. We aged the track 30 minutes.

Overall I thought Gimme did a nice job. She zigged and zagged from side to side, but since the breeze was from the right when I laid it and from the left when she ran it, I figured there was a pretty wide dispersal pattern. I particularly liked what I saw when she worked the islands. Instead of rushing across, she'd get to the middle of the landscaping and then go back and forth on it looking for the track and when she didn't find it, she came toward me and worked the curb until she found it.  She finished this track in 13 minutes.

I could tell she was really thinking and not just making assumptions, which pleases me to no end.

The rain and drizzle were gone by the time we finished running the track, so I decided to take her for a walk in the area. I could see the thunderstorm and I thought it was blowing away. Little did I know the wind direction had changed way up there, just like it did at ground level. As we got to the farthest point of our walk the thunderstorm found us. Fortunately it was less intense by that point. For most of this we were walking a paved path through the woods, so it wasn't too bad because the trees blocked much of the rain. The last half-mile was out in the open. Naturally the moment we were both in the car and ready to head home, then the rain stopped.

Keep your fingers crossed for us. This weekend we have a 3-day barn hunt, three classes a day. Should be fun.