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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Urban Tracking (117)

I'm a bit out of order here, but wanted to talk about this track while it's fresh in my head. I was too slow getting out of the house this morning, so modified my plan. I drove to church, laid a track, and then went in for the service. When I came out, we ran the track.

It was 1:45 old, slight breeze, about 40º, with wet ground and pavement. The track started in the parking lot with a sock, crossed into the grass and meandered around some big rocks and a tree. The first turn went right in the open grass, crossing mulch to go down a sidewalk between two buildings, with a plastic article two-thirds along it. This article disappeared between laying it and running the track - someone likely thought it was trash. Then the track turned right up three steps and immediately left down a covered breezeway between two classrooms. I had to step around a picnic table, then cross onto grass for a short bit. The next right turn went down the center of a long deep gravel driveway, before returning to the blacktop parking lot. There was an article almost at the end of the gravel strip. Another right turn angled across the parking lot to a bit of landscaping where the final article was tucked under a small tree.

The track starts on the lower left (ignore the apparent line along the bottom of the picture - it's shadow from the fence).

Gimme took a couple of minutes to get started, she kept going toward the road about 30' away. I recall this once before (at the old Ford dealership), I think the swish of traffic pulls the scent toward the road. I just held her back until she sorted it out. Once she made a decision, she did a nice job driving across the parking lot and didn't hesitate to pass between two parked cars. She tracked to the left side of the rocks; I had passed to the right. 

She overran the corner, but as I asked her "Is this the good track?" she peeled off to the right and circled a couple of times before picking up the turn. She didn't hesitate to leave the grass, passing over the mulch onto the pavement. I know there had to be at least 20 people walk on the sidewalk from the building on our left, as the service was let out and Sunday school ended. It would have been just 10-15 before we tracked and she didn't seem to notice.

She cut both corners getting up into the breezeway, making more of a serpentine out of it, with no hesitation. She moved around the picnic table without a pause.

She overran the next turn, wanting to follow a track along the fence. I'm sure there was some scent gathered there, but she came back on her own and checked until she found where the track turned onto the gravel. She took a couple of steps onto the gravel before moving out to track along the grass edge. About halfway she angled toward the center of the gravel where the track was and was rewarded with an article.

She struggled a little bit with the last turn. Given the number of cars that were leaving, moving scent and possibly driving over our track, I think this is understandable. Once she picked up the line of the track, she practically pulled me off my feet to get to the article.

This is the oldest track she's ever done on pavement. She has crossed sidewalks and roads this old, but never actually tracked out in the middle and made a moment-of-truth turn at this age. So I am over-the-moon pleased with her efforts.

I think I also made a breakthrough in understanding. In the past I have tended to wait for her to line out exactly on the track. This time I let her work the edge between the gravel and the grass and she moved to the center of the gravel where the track was on her own. I think maybe I need to let her work it her own way more often.

Way cool.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Nosework class (3/35)

These were three complicate interior searches, so they tended to be long, especially the first two. The first search was blind.

Interior 1 search video - Gimme finds the first hide in 20 seconds. She really wasn't bashing the containers; they were just so close together she couldn't search without knocking them about. She found the hide, but by the time I got there she had looked up and then looked down pointing at a different one. I waited until she indicated the same one she had at first and we were correct. She finds the second hide in the toe of the stocking in 18 seconds. Nice work. It takes her 1:18 seconds to find the next hide, but much of that time was spent surveying other possibilities. She repeatedly bumps the hanging red box hide with different body parts, often her tail, and pushed it up high with her nose, but didn't indicate. She went around and around and around it, perhaps creating a vortex from her own body movement. (one seminar I went to they showed how a Golden's swishing tail moved smoke from a smoke pen) Gimme paid a lot of attention to the pole near it, but still didn't indicate. She finally did push it up with her nose and then told me, "that's it, pay me". I learned there were two other hides, but she didn't get to them. I thought there was, but I wanted to end on this positive resolution of a challenging hide.

Interior 2 search video - This time she found the first hide in 8 seconds and was clearly very excited. I couldn't get there fast enough to keep her from bashing the hide. She finds the second hide in the box "pile" in 10 seconds and was a lot less boisterous in her indication; of course I was closer. Maybe when I'm farther away she feels the need to add emphasis for effect, and to get me hustling over. Howevah, if I move too fast, she amps up and moves even faster, so it's a careful balancing act. It takes her 1:04 to find the next hide. It was moved just a few feet to the other side of the door, but it proves a challenge. I think the four hides in this end of the room are acting like one huge converging odor puzzle and thus she keeps getting drawn to the group in the middle, and keeps telling me about the two she'd already found. I don't think she necessarily expected payment for re-finding them - rather I think she was clarifying in her mind what was what. Of course, I could be wrong. Note she goes right to the corner where there is the other hide of the puzzle, but just doesn't get it solved before she leaves. Because of time spent there, when she leaves to find the stocking on the upside-down canopy, it was 1:10 for this find. The hide hanging from the canopy is still in the red box, but they turned the canopy 90º and lowered the hide a bit. She's still nosing it and batting it with her tail, without indicating. She went round and round and round, until I finally encouraged her to leave it and go toward the corner table. She leaves the table and goes back on her own and finds the hanging hide very fast. The time to find it was 3:10 - her longest ever. She does find the hide on the corner table, but not until she puts her feet on the chair and gets her nose higher than the top of the box. It was the same kind of box as the one hanging from the canopy. Its a one-piece folding box, so probably only vents from the top. You sure can't fault her persistence - it was a 7-minute search and she never lost enthusiasm.

Interior 3 search video - They removed most of the hanging things from the canopy and moved it to cover the container pile, adding an expen to limit access. Gimme goes in and out, clearing it quickly. She is drawn back to it for another check. I casually walked away and she follows me. She gets a bit stuck on the chair because every good dog knows hides are on chairs - except this time. The hide is actually in the stocking on the wall, near the bathroom door. You can see she is bracketing all around it. Once she goes up on the edge of the open door, it's only 10 seconds before she finds the hide. It was a very nice job.

I mentioned in the second search a "clicker training story about tails". It is from one of my first clicker training seminars, with Shirley Chong. I was trying to shape Meaggi to touch the trap under a sink with her nose. She did it a couple of times and then wouldn't do it again. Instead she would do everything except touch it with her nose. Shirley came over to observe us and then started laughing and laughing and laughing. While she didn't know what behavior I was trying to get, she quickly realized it had something to do with the trap (U-shaped pipe), because Meaggi had touched it with every part of her body except her nose. She noted Meaggi had slowly and deliberately touched her tail to it 3 times in succession. Shirley pronounced Meaggi brilliant, as did Morgan Spector a couple years later. They both concluded I was badly over-matched.

I think I'm over-matched with Gimme too. Fortunately she is more willing to humor me with my meager efforts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas Toy Extravaganza

Gimme enjoyed opening her Christmas presents.  There aren't as many as last year, but these are nicer.  She has all five of the Wild Things collection.  I made up a short slide show of her opening her presents and trying out her new toys.
Empress Gimme and the Toy Extravaganza video...

Of course, since there are no more presents, she's sad...

All this build up and still - not a thing to play with...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Nosework class (2/35)

As you can see, I am behind in blogging again, or maybe it's still-behind.

During the winter we usually get a lot of container searches in class. The pattern of the boxes, which isn't obvious in video, is shaped like a Christmas tree. We all were tasked to bring containers with distractors in them. I brought three Christmas gift bags, with stuffed Christmas decorations in them. I don't think they were as distracting to her as they might have been, since these "toys" have been where she had easy access.  She checked one of mine in the second search, but didn't seem to notice any other distractions.

Container 1 search video - This first search was blind with two hides. Gimme finds the first one in 13 seconds. I took her around finish checking the search area and she found another hide close to the beginning, which she'd missed as she overran and rounded the first corner a bit.

Container 2 search video - Gimme ran to where the threshold hide had been in the prior search, which slowed her enough to pivot right to the hide. Gimme found the next two hides easily. Gimme did notice the stuffed singing reindeer in one of the bags and just had to check it, sticking her head in the bag.

Container 3 search video - For this search the shape was changed to a star. All the acute points made it a bit "messy" to search and Gimme rounded the points. She finds the first hide in 9 seconds. She finds the next two hides quickly.

Container 4 search video - Gimme assumed there would be a hide at the far point (there was for the first three searches), then she moves on instantly and still has the first hide in 16 seconds. From there she finds the other two hides very fast. She was clearly excited about this search. She's always loved a challenge.

Gimme did a great job with her indications. Usually boxes and containers get her more and more excited and she gets rough with them. This night she was controlling herself and giving nice moderate indications. Looks like my plan is working. Yayyyy for us...

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Urban Tracking (116)

On Thursday, December 6th, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema for tracking.
I laid a series of back-to-basic track for Cricket to buoy her enthusiasm. She struggles with the squirrel-issue at Game Farm and then the last two tracks at the cinema were less-than-fun experiences. When we met on Thanksgiving morning to track, Cricket wasn't very interested in playing the game and just muddled through. We'll need to do this a couple of times, I'm sure. We ran her three short tracks (75 yards) first and she did better - aged about 20 minutes.

Then we ran Gimme's track. It was dry and very cold, so I asked Nadine for a fairly simple track. It was aged 45 minutes and the temperature was mid-30's.

Gimme took about two-thirds of the first leg to get really into her track. From there to the end she was solid. That red rectangle on her track is where a car was actually parked on her track. I really wish I had video of how she handled it. She came up to the bumper and then stopped and looked at it like, "what the...." She then moved around the car on the left side. As she got to the corner of the front bumper, she put her nose down, sniffed a bit then moved to the center of the bumper before turning a sharp left and motoring down the track.

It's what Sil calls a "cartoon corner". It was really lovely and made the whole track for me. She's such a good girl.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Nosework class (1/35)

We always do a lot of container searches during the winter.

Container 1 search video - First hide in 4 seconds! I did have her work the rest of the containers. She did bap the container, but not destructively. She sometimes baps/kicks other containers, so I was pleased she chose to just search and move on.

Container 2 search video - This time it was the same search, but we entered from the other door. Dogs usually see this as a completely different search. Gimme still had the hide in 4½ seconds! And with a nice indication.

Container 3 search video - This search was set up with a lot of different distractors, which Gimme normally does very well with. Dorothy's dog was kenneled in the office and the door was left open, so she saw Gimme and barked throughout Gimme's search. This was a lot of distraction for her, a good training challenge. Gimme gets the first hide quickly (4 seconds again), but then struggles and gets sucked in by one of the distractors (#7, but I don't remember what it was). I think the longer the barking went on the more it bothered her. It probably bothered her more because she's not used to barking in nosework class. She does finally sort out the challenge and gets the second hide. Then we bring her back around to find the first hide again. Gimme does start "just bapping boxes", but then gets serious about it when she finds the hide again. Dorothy apologized for the rude behavior from her dog, but I was happy for the chance to work through it - better in class than at a trial. BTW even with the frustration from the dog barking, Gimme did not revert to crushing boxes. Yayyyyy Gimme!

Container 4 search video - Gimme normally blows by threshold hides, so it was nice to see her nail this one in 2 seconds! Clearly she's recovered from the rude barking. Then she finds the second hide quickly. Taking her around the loop to see the other distractions, she does get interested briefly by one of them. She quickly leaves it and refinds the threshold hide. But then on the tour back down she discovers the tennis ball distraction in a box and is really quite interested in it. Odd, since she's not over the top about tennis balls. It takes a little bit and I have to help her to get her to move on and then we were right onto the second hide again. Nice to have this kind of exercise set up so Gimme can get rewarded after she leaves a distraction.

I was very pleased at how moderated Gimme's indications were. She's always gotten more and more aggressive with repeated container searches, so it's nice to see this.

Monday, December 10, 2018

RFE practice (82)

This practice was really weird. I know Gimme can be super sensitive during her false pregnancies, but this beat the cake. Neither J'Anna or I could figure out what Gimme was getting so upset about. [you may notice ring gates set up - they were there because I was recording J'Anna and Glory in their WorldWide entry, which I didn't enter]

Heeling warm-up video - We started with a little heeling warm-up and threw in some backward steps in heel. She did this nicely. Gimme has a consistent problem of overrunning when I stop or slow down. This was an issue in our West2 entry, so I need to focus on it. She had a lapse of attention when a puppy squeaked in daycare. Overall it went well, especially given her condition.

Paw lifts video - I was trying to get left paw lifts ("low") and she did a couple then switched to giving me "pretty" (both paws up high). I was trying to reward single paw lifts, because for the left paw, she tends to bring up the right paw with it, which is points off. I think she is more flexible on the right ("high") and so she can lift it without the other foot coming up. I offer her my hand to "paw" and she just gets all weird about it. She hadn't touched me, so I know she wasn't shocked with static. I tried to work through it, but she just was weirded-out and couldn't work consistently. I switched to nose touches and it helped a little, but other times she just acted scared of my hand. I did a lot of treat tossing to get her to happy again. I tried paw touch to my foot and she avoided this too.

I don't know what was bothering her on this day. She acted like she was afraid, but I don't know what it was about. She did have an episode later that evening, but no recurrence. I've examined her feet/nails and found nothing amiss. Just to be safe, I've limited her activities, though nothing else seems to be an issue. I've also scheduled a chiropractor treatment for this Thursday. This may be an unsolvable mystery.

Center front pivot video - At first she avoided this, but spitting some treats at her helped her get in the game. From there we were able to get some credible pivots, with lots of treats to reward her for remaining in "center" position.

Sidepasses video - We did a very brief bit of sidepasses, with Gimme in "heel", both away from her and toward her. She did well. It was very awkward for me going into her because I wanted to be extra careful not to bump her with my foot.

"Cane" & "orbit" video - At first Gimme acted afraid of the cane. I got her to work by tossing treats when she was moving around/near the cane. We got some good ones, but it was clear Gimme wasn't focused. She seemed to be struggling to focus on verbal cues.

Brick" & "pivot" video - She struggled with this on video day for our West2 entry and yet on this day, when she was struggling with other very basic stuff, this was easy peasy.

Scoot" video - Gimme likes these, so I let her do some as a reward for coming back to work with me.

"Under" video - I would think this would be intimidating and yet she had no issue with it. I threw a treat for her and then had her find "under".

Doodling video - I wanted to end on a really up note. So I started with really easy behaviors, helped her with a couple and continued to have her "izzy" which can be a challenge for her. She got paid for three-fourths of an "izzy" and then the next one was the full deal.

I have no clue what her problem was this day (mostly edited out). I haven't been able to find anything pain-wise and I see nothing in the videos to explain what she was upset about. It may have been all in her head. Whatever it was, I'd be happy to never see a repeat. Our next session isn't until December 20th, so we'll see how it goes then. I plan to keep it simple, unless I see her begging for more. Right now she's getting bored with motherhood, so I look forward to her being back to her usual self.