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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.

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