Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, February 22, 2018

RFE practice (64)

Because of the snow we had the place all to ourselves. It's a good thing I am an instructor there so I could get us in. Gimme was a little concerned when we first walked in, but then got right to work. It was nice to have a place to work where it was totally quiet.

Heeling the course video - I wanted to start by practicing the ideas I had watching the videos from our last practice. Basically I wanted to heel the course, clicking/treating for good heelwork and for good stops ("halt" from parkour). I did do a couple behaviors, but it was mostly about the heeling. Gimme seemed less frustrated by all the starts and stops, so I think it went well. Might be a good warm-up for all our practices. 

Backward pivot video - I did a backward pivot on the course and then did another on the other side as the first thing after our heeling practice. Gimme does it much better from the left side. 

Handler front cross video - Gimme does a nice job with these IF I get my part right. She has been doing the backward pivot on a shoulder cue since she was very young, so the shoulder cue overrides verbal cues. Thus, I can't pivot across the front of her for a handler front cross; instead I have to take a step straight ahead before starting the pivot to her other side. If I remember my part, she does her part - flawlessly. Do note how she's rock solid during the practice when I do it right. 

"Izzy" & "otto" video - I have to confess we haven't practiced either of these since our last practice at Pawsabilities two weeks ago. You can see even though the first "izzy" was flawed, it was already better than what we had two weeks ago. The second was passable and the third one just right. Her "otto" was perfect right away. 

Side-passes video - This is just some doodling with side passes. The ones in center are good. The ones at the side of me need more work. I'm thinking I want to teach her a cue for moving her rear a step or two. I'm thinking of "close" and "near" as cues. Not only would it improve her side-passes. I think it might also be helpful with the backward weaves. 

"Spin" & "turn" video - We did a quick bit of "spin" & "turn" with her in obvious and not-so-obvious positions. Remember "spin" is CCW and "turn" is CW. She gets the wrong direction for "spin" in "center". She gets both "turn" correct. I need to remember to train these in the even more not-so-obvious location, such as "turn" on my left and "spin" on my right - where she has to turn toward me and make her own space to complete the behavior.

J'Anna's dog had a hurt foot, so she decided to only work her the one time. So I just kept Gimme in the building. It so was quiet, almost church-like, so I was sure she could relax with some play. I'd forgotten to bring her toy in, so I found a ball and tossed it around for a bit. Gimme especially enjoys playing keep away. Then I took one of the moccasins and tossed it. Gimme goes to it, but doesn't pick it up automatically. However when I cue "bring", she'll bring it right to me, with great enthusiasm. I asked J'Anna to film this so you could see my service-dog-in-training - unfortunately she only panned the camera around after her without pushing the record button. We'll have to do it another time. 

"Around", "behind", "under" & "beep" video - Mostly she does well with all of these. The one thing we need to work on is for her to not assume "beep" whenever she is in "under" position. At about 39 seconds I shift my feet and she quickly does "beep" - which is, of course, exactly how Ray taught us to get them to back through, straddle and then gentle squeeze, which she surely thought was coming. It could also be her worrying about my big clodhoppers. I brought moccasins so I could work in bare feet and then just slip them on for a quick trip outside - so I did take my shoes off partway through this. It also occurs to me I should sometimes toss treats ahead when she's "under", so she waits to see what I want. 

Backward weaves video - We did a couple step-back-over with "beep". She's making progress. I want to work on the "close" & "near" idea. When she can do things with less manipulation from me, I think it helps. 

Backing in heel video - Gimme really struggles to back straight when she's on my right, doing a fishtail move. This will be another possible benefit to "close" & "near". I think this is because her ease with shifting her rear to the right is the issue and I can't seem to click at just the right time to sort this out - probably because I can't see her rear until she's already shifted it to the right. I see on the video a couple clicks happened exactly when she was swinging her rear out. I tried using broad jump boards as a barrier, but she was just sure she should "bacon" onto them - I may have clicked just as her foot touched the board. When we moved to the wall, she did better. I need to practice this in "side" position a lot more. Her effort in "heel" was good and could probably benefit from some wall work as well.

I was really pleased with her efforts and she was clearly happier without all the yapping and barking. As it turned out the snow at my mother's was really bad, so we came home without going there. I'm sure Gimme enjoyed less waiting time in the car.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

RFE practice (63)

Gimme was very much bothered by high-pitched barking from daycare. This may be residual from false pregnancy. She's no longer carrying a baby around, but she is still toy obsessed, which happens at the end of a false pregnancy. At times she had real difficulty focusing. I started with trying to work the course. It wasn't really helpful because Gimme was so concerned by the dog sounds.

There is a lot of work we did you won't see in the videos. We took many heeling breaks because moving is a stress reliever. We also did a few sessions of treat-tossing for the same stress relief. I did play "whazzat" (look-at-that game) when the dog was barking a lot and it helped for a little while.

These first two videos I prepared for the MDSA list to demonstrate a concept I mentioned. The concept is an interesting take on how to teach and create duration in a wait/stay or creating duration in any stationary behavior (such as bow). The idea is to reward-the-release, instead of directly rewarding duration of the behavior you are releasing from. I first learned this idea from my friend Chris, when teaching Gimme to stay. I admit I don't use it, but it's effective and does work. I find my own method, a variable schedule combined with two-fers, to be effective. Still it never hurts to have a back-up plan since every dog has their own way of learning and if my usual method didn't work for a dog, I'd certainly try this.

The first video on "wait" is an example demonstrating a more developed understanding of the rewarding-the-release concept. The video on "take-a" is a short example of how you might apply it to creating duration in the bow, since the discussion where I mentioned this was about bow duration.
MDSA "wait" video    -    MDSA "take-a" video 

"Izzy" video - The first station was Opposite Backward Circles Around x2 (dog does back around twice while handler turns opposite direction). With all the barking as we were warming up Gimme couldn't seem to remember how to do "izzy". She was just starting to get into it when the yapping started again. We did some refresh and she was able to do it next to the wall. In the open she couldn't do it, so we went back by the wall. Then she was concerned about the wall, so we had to work through this first. Then we got the "izzy" going well and were able to do it out in the open. 

Backing in heel video - With all the distraction she is losing her heel/side positions when I stop for signs, which I definitely need to focus on. We did the back in heel two times and she got better on the second one. 

Rolling a prop video - Gimme is learning to roll J'Anna's prop toward me. The most challenging part is she has to move her front feet back toward herself as she moves it forward. She does this, but not until it has rolled and her feet are too far forward. She needs practice to learn to control it. I should be clicking as she moves her feet back. I need to get a round prop of our own so Gimme can practice at home. 

Finding "fanny" video - I tried something I've been thinking of for "fanny" the position where she is behind me facing my fanny. I set out four platforms in heel, side, center and fanny positions, with a space for me to stand between them. I put the largest one in fanny. I thought having a platform to target would help her get the position more accurately. I also expected it to inhibit offering "otto" repeatedly. I used treat tossing and cuing her to find a position as she returned. Hands on my hips is intended to be a visual cue to her for "fanny", but I don't think she's made the association yet. Because of where I set it up and all the intrusive noise, I did have to be careful where I tossed the treats. I think this was an effective idea and I'll certainly be trying it again.

BTW in this video you get a big dose of the yappy-screeching we endured. It was so bad, it still bothers Gimme to listen to it as I'm editing these video's and she keeps leaving the room. I think it's harder for her because she doesn't know where it's coming from.

Step over video - I tried to do a bit of backward weave and Gimme suddenly seemed concerned about me stepping over her, though it hasn't seemed to bother her before. So I put a little time into just the step over part. Some of this was okay, but some was not. I should have taken it MUCH slower and/or left it for a time/place when she had less concerns about the environment. My rate of reinforcement was  far too low as well. I tried this at Mom's later in the day and she was suddenly just fine with me stepping over, so I'm sure the environment was a huge factor.

Down Stand video - Since her response to "down" was getting worse in the step over session, I decided to put time into down-stand, where there would be no creepy stepping over. I see I need to say "stand" with a little lift/chirp in the sound and then she is better about responding.

Observation... when doing coursework, most rewards happen at behaviors and I need to give equal time to heeling rewards. Or break off after a behavior and just move to the next behavior, set up and do the behavior. Also it might be helpful to work heeling in 15 foot stretches, since this is the distance between signs. When I work heeling I tend to go for larger circles and such, so by shortening the distance I could be rewarding the halt before the behavior.

In two days we'll be practicing at Pawsabilities again.  I sure hope we have a better session.  I want to see Gimme having a LOT more fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Title 34

Gimme had a great day. As far as she's concerned any day with marshmallows for treats and a new toy, it's a great day.

Trial 1
In her weight class, all the other dogs had dropped out before Gimme's start weight, so her pulls were back-to-back. In a situation like this, I can ask for a break (up to 5 minutes) any time I want. Obviously she didn't need it. For the trial she earned 15 points, making her the Newest Weight Pull Champion Sorry about the camera angle... I didn't realize until later that we were moving out of the frame at the end. Gimme was also awarded Most Weight Pulled By Veteran and Most Weight Pulled By Pound. These are calculated by percentage down to one-hundredth of a second. She only needed 10 points to get her UWPCH, so the five extra points count toward the versatility title, but not toward the excellent title.

One interesting thing I noticed, Gimme likes to check the cart - she wants to sniff a couple bricks. When I let her do this, she stands more calmly while I am hooking her up. So, even though it takes a few seconds for her to check the judge's work, I think we save time during the hook up.

Trial 2
Again, all the other dogs had dropped out before her start weight, so Gimme's pulls were back-to-back. We started at a higher start pull, heavier by 240 pounds, which was actually a 10 point pull. Gimme got Another 15 Points, her first points toward the excellent title and added to the versatility title.

I thought we might get to 20 points in the second trial, but it was just a little too much. She needed 85 pounds to get there. She didn't understand why the cart wouldn't move, turning turn around to look at it and getting a leg tangled in the harness straps in the process. The second time when it wouldn't move right, Gimme backed out of the harness. I think on a two-trial day, we should probably go for it during the first trial while she still has her edge on. Physically she is more than capable, she just needs the confidence to know she can do it. Last trial she got 15 points once - this time she got it for both trials. 

 Gimme did a fabulous job, pulling more than she ever had before - 18.24 times her weight! - a new personal best.  Naturally Gimme got a new toy to go with her new title.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Titles 31-33

Title 31 is actually a miscalculation on titles before the end of the year.  I was saying we ended the year with 30 titles, when it was actually 31.  Fortunately Gimme won't fire me from my job as her publicist.  Being her gray-haired old Mom has it's perks, job security.

The title I hadn't factored in was the ADPL1(2). 
The video is available at:  Lakepointe Park - ADP L1 (2GC)

Today she was awarded two more titles, the ADPL2(2) and the ADPL2(GC)
The video is available at: Meridian Park - ADP L2(2GC)

This Saturday we are headed to Longview for a weight pull trial.  I have to remember to pick up marshmallows from the store - Gimme's favorite treat for weight pull. 

She only needs 10 points to finish her weight pull championship.  I entered for two pulls on Saturday, but I should only need one to get the UWPCH.  So we'll end up with some extra points toward her next title - whatever it is.  I am taking the rules and regulations with me so I can read up.  There is a lot of time spent waiting around, so I'll have plenty of time to figure out what comes next.

Nosework (2-3/30)

As is usual with winter, we do a lot of containers and last Tuesday, Feb 6th, was no different. 

Container 1 search video - We had a very big oval with lots of containers and were instructed to make sure the dog checked every one. The instructors would move the box with the hide each time after she found it (running bunny). Originally we were supposed to keep going in the same direction, but Dorothy had us reverse direction. Gimme found it four times, then it didn't move and when she found it again in the same place, she didn't indicate. Dorothy instructed me "don't take her back to it." 

Container 2 Timmy-in-the-Well search video - This time we were to remain seated while the dog searched, going to them to reward in place, then lead the dog back to the chair while the instructor moved the hide. As we moved toward them, if the dog started to move away from the box, we were to pause until they return to the hide, or even return to the chair if they totally left it. Gimme found the first hide within seconds. For round two, she took advantage of being free of me to search wherever and however she liked. For round three she stayed with the boxes for the search and really stuck to the hide.  Round four was great too. 

Container 3 Timmy-in-the-Well search video - As you watch this video, be sure to listen to the discussion - Dorothy makes several good observations. She repeatedly sniffed and walked away from the hide where it was placed first. In fact, this was the first time she totally left a hide where I had to return to my seat without rewarding her. She spent almost a minute in the bathroom and I can't believe she didn't just KNOW there was no hide in there. Gimme had so much fun on the last search of Timmy-in-the-well, but seemed less confidant this time. After the third time she walked the hide, Dorothy suggested we move it to another spot. When I sent her out to search again, you'll see her search area gets smaller, suggesting she wasn't confident about what to do. Then after just a bit it again includes the far end of the room and she finds the hide and gets rewarded. Then it is moved again and she finds it faster this time.

After watching this video once again, I think Gimme thought that hide wouldn't pay. I think she was coming to get me, but then I stopped and it broke her concentration when I returned to my seat without rewarding her - leading her to believe it wasn't a "real" hide. Sometimes I think Dalmatians can really over-think things. Plus, even though she seems to be very much over her false pregnancy... two days later she'll do very poorly at Pawsabilities because of some dog noise from the daycare. She mostly ignores the daycare noise, but was clearly stressed then, so it may be some residual from the false pregnancy was throwing her off for this search.

Tonight's class, Feb 13th, we had more container searches. Our instructions were to reward in the container for a full 10 seconds and to not let them check out the group of containers in the middle of the square, except as instructed. Gimme thinks a full 10 seconds of being rewarded is a great system. We again did running bunny style searches, where the hides are moved during the search. 

Container 1 search video - Gimme finds the first hide right away and is solid on the second hide. She misses the third hide, because she wanted to go to the group in the middle, so I bring her back near it and then she gets it. After the third hide we did the middle, which had nothing and were to stay there until the dog indicated it was blank. Gimme did and we left. Gimme briefly missed the fourth hide. The co-instructor said it was because she lifted her head up, but if you watch the video you can see the chairs and other stuff channeled her path causing her to swing wide and when she turned back she was already past it. Fortunately odor drifting against a nearby container brought her back to it. 

Container 2 search video - This time the hide was in a paint can and Gimme didn't really check it the first time around, so she missed it. She slowed down and caught it the second time around. Note after she left it how she puts her head deeeep into the next paint can. She again misses the hide the first time and then has to go back to it. Keep in mind the paint cans are a bit harder because they are deeper and have a smaller top opening than open plastic shoeboxes and boxes, so there is less scent available. The third time she sticks her nose right into it and indicates nicely. Then we go to the middle group, which has two distractors in it. When Gimme is ready, we go back out almost directly to the hide. Nice search... 

Container 3 search video - This time we start around the outside and find a hide three-fourths of the way around. From there we finish the circle, then into the middle where there are distractors and one hide. Then we return to the outer circle where there are no hides, while the hide in the center is exchanged for two hides. When we get to the middle the scent is pooling against a cardboard box, so it takes her a moment to find the hides.

Gimme is always so tired after class.

Now we have two skip weeks from nosework class, so I expect Gimme will be telling anyone who will listen about how I never let her do anything! 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Urban Tracking (74 & 75)

On Saturday, February 3rd I took Gimme to Medline for tracking. I parked the van where you see the white square. The conditions when I laid the track were a cool 51º, dry with a light breeze. I aged the track 35 minutes. Mostly it was a simple 5-turn track, with all the turns out in the open. I planned for the last leg to parallel close to some of the new fencing (black line) - to see how it was compared to chainlink. As it turned out, the fencing was farther from the curb than I thought it would be and no way to get down close to it.

Gimme did well. She's gotten very good at crossing the landscape strips and does well with turns on open pavement. By the time we ran the track the breeze was stronger than before and was variable in direction. Gimme was again up on the landscaping for the last leg, instead of being down next to the curb. She ran this pretty steadily and was almost as fast running the track as the time it took me to lay it. She sure does love her articles.

On Friday, February 9th, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park. We didn't get any tracking done, since we spent the time taking pictures for our ad in the Spotter. We were trying to get pictures of the girls "tracking", so we repeatedly set them up to run to a glove for free cookies. This really turned out to be a fun game for the girls and I'm sure it improved their article-love. Of course, Gimme has plenty of article love already.

As it turns out, we aren't happy with the pictures. My camera is set to do a lot of things automatically and they just aren't sharp enough to go in an ad. My friend Carol is going to do the ad layout for us. She's a professional photographer and she helped me figure out what I need to change in the camera settings to get better results. So, we are going to try again this Friday. Cross your fingers.

On Saturday, February 10th, Gimme and I again went to Medline. I wanted to focus on transitions with larger sections of vegetation, so the transitions were more like what we'd see in a trial. Of course a real TDU would have a significantly higher proportion of vegetation to hard surface. I actually left the Medline property, crossing the street and using some of the grounds of another business. I didn't realize when I laid the track just how much meandering I did. There were a number of very soft turns of just 10-15º. And I also followed right along the edge between the grass and beauty bark as I was coming back onto Medline property. It was about 50º with a very light breeze. The other thing I wanted to do was to age it longer, so it was 45 minutes old.

Gimme hasn't been on a hard surface track that old before, so she had a hard time even getting started. It took me 12 minutes to lay the track and she spent 26 minutes running it, which is verrrry long for her. Gimme struggled to even start, she didn't think there was enough scent to work with. I encouraged her and even helped a little to get her going. She did great on all the vegetation. She spent a very long time deciding to go back to hard surface halfway through the second leg. Near the end of it we cross over about ten feet of grass and then back to pavement again. She really had a hard time finding the second turn (on pavement). Just as she solved it, a bunch of people walked through the parking lot and interrupted our work. I don't want to offend anyone on property we are using, so I just deal with their friendliness (green rectangle). Of course, it was really hard for Gimme to get back to work and I had to help her. From there she did great to the end. The meander along the landscaping grass/bark edge was no issue. She did better with the next transition to pavement and by then she must've had her groove on, since the last turn and finding the last glove went very smoothly.

I do need to plan ahead better, so I'm prepared to enhance my scent when I'm on pavement and pushing the age. I'll check the book and decide which to use next time. It will be two weeks from now since we are doing weight pull this Saturday.

I did get word about 2 seminars Sil Sanders is offering in June and July. One is for TD/TDX and the other is Urban. I've already sent in our registration. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Nosework (1/30)

Last Tuesday, January 30th, Gimme and I made our first visit to Meridian Park to video for parkour. When I went over two weeks before to assess the park and plan our entry, there was hardly anyone there and they left quickly. When I went back it was very busy (as it was today). This has been hard for Gimme because she hasn't been out as much this winter and she is just coming off a false pregnancy. So, it's been challenging, but I think we have the videos we need to put together our next entry.

In the evening we went to nosework class. The setup was the same as previous weeks, but none of the hides were on the expen fencing. After 3 weeks of all hides on the expen fencing, the dogs had very strong expectations for them to be there. Even though they were off leash and could search however they wanted... the dogs all continued to run their noses right over hides and not realize they were there.

Interior 1 video - There were two known hides. Gimme was the first dog in and so had the least amount of odor available, plus she had no pheromone clues from other dogs finding the hides. She was the most willing to check the rest of the room, but when she got in odor (on the low shelving by the back door), she left it to go check the setup, which goes to show how strong the effect patterning is on behavior. It takes Gimme over 2 minutes to find the first hide! She localized it to the red cart, but left it twice before getting back to source it. It takes her another 2 minutes to find the second hide. I never thought I'd see her spend 4½ minutes finding two simple hides. She was searching honestly and didn't give up, but you can see what a struggle it was for her.

Interior 2 video - This time there were four hides in a "square" at the far end of the room. She finds the first hide in 1:10 on the card table. She again gets near the hide on the red cart and leaves it two times. She gets the drift of odor on the upright beam in the middle of the back wall at 2:45 and then goes directly to the hide on the chair, taking 1:40 to find the second hide. She again goes to the red cart and leaves it. Then finds the third hide, taking 40 seconds to do so. And then 35 seconds to find the last hide. It was all very nice and honest searching, but really slow for Gimme.

I didn't pay much attention to the discussion going on while she was searching... but the one about her trying to figure out the new rules for the game is exactly what I thought was going on. Gimme is very inclined to have an idea of what the rules are, and once she decides what the rules are, she can be very tenacious. 
I think the expectations and trying to figure it all out, on the fly, while searching acted very much like a huge distraction, affecting her focus.  It'll be very interesting to see how it goes in class tonight.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Urban Tracking (71-73)

On Friday, January 26th, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park. She laid a track around the soccer fields and I asked her to extend it out into the big ball field for two turns. This time she took the second leg through the tennis courts, down the strip, into the ball field, then turned and finished pretty much the way she had for the two prior visits.

The weather was cool and damp and we ran the track at 35 minutes. Gimme did a good job on the first two legs, but overran the second turn. By the time her nose came up to tell me she'd lost it, we were well past the turn so I had to use her motion to circle her back toward where the track had to be (red line). She went over the track several times before she picked it up and drove to where the article was (bright blue). From there it was similar to what we'd done for the last two tracks at Game Farm. The track went in front of the bleachers and Gimme didn't even slow down.

I laid an article circle out in the big field for Cricket. Now that we have her tracking again, I included a couple challenges. I took the track near some trees where squirrels are known to be - though they haven't been there lately. Cricket got distracted and went off the track to check around the trees, but then.... She was able to leave it and go back to work. She had a little difficulty with the next article, but with a little help she found it. I persuaded Nadine to reward a lot there (not as much as I would have, but more than her inclination) even though Cricket needed help.  My thinking is she deserved a nice reward because, more than anything, we were rewarding her effort to go back to work - huge. She did well from there to the end. It's good to see her really trying again.

On Saturday, January 27th I took Gimme to Medline. I noticed right away they are fencing the facility. I hope this doesn't mean we won't be able to use the property in the future. Time will tell.

I laid a track with a lot of transitions. It was drizzling and the track was 35 minutes old. The white rectangle on the right near the top was where I had parked. We started in the middle of the parking lot and crossed a landscape strip to the first article (bright blue). From there we crossed into the much larger landscape strip with a moderate downhill, then across the road and into the grass, turning left in some mulched landscaping. The second leg stayed in the mulched landscaping a bit, crossed a driveway and then over a sidewalk (dogleg light gray line). The sidewalk had black pipe railings, which I had to get under, while Gimme was waiting at the third article. We went through the grass at an angle and onto the sidewalk before the next turn to cross the road again. The ground we were on at the far side of the road was rocky, with sparse vegetation and a steep uphill climb. We had a slight dogleg to get through the break in fencing and then alongside a landscape island. Next we turned about 45° to move out into the open before getting back into landscaping for the last glove. Transitions are the hardest thing about urban tracking and Gimme did a very nice job with all of this.

This morning, February 1st, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema. We have just moved into U3 section of Sil Sander's new book, so we are getting back to island hopping. 

The plan called for 200 yards and 35 minutes of age. I laid Cricket's track in the smaller islands, which are a straight line. She's not pulling hard like she used to, but it's getting better. We also had a short session with little baby Ember. She's really getting into this game and isn't shy at all about pulling to get to the treats and articles.

By the time we got to it, Gimme's track was 40 minutes old. Her second and third articles were crammed in a small space between newly arrived cars and the curb, but she didn't seem to care. I noticed she was inclined to use the dirt and vegetation in the islands, instead of following on the pavement next to the curb. I used line pressure to encourage her to get down next to the curb and by the last third of the track she was doing this on her own, like she used to. Overall Gimme did a good job.

BTW Nadine and I were both invited to place an advertisement in the special edition of the Spotter. Only 8 Dalmatians completed a TD last year and we had two of them. So we are going to do a combined ad. We'll take pictures next week when we get together for tracking at Game Farm.