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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Urban Tracking (88)

On Friday, April 20th, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park.  The program called for a marked track with intentional contamination. 

It starts in the upper right (black line) my contamination is in dotted yellow.  The weather was sunny and bright, with light swirly breezes and dewy grass.  It was supposed to be aged to 1:15, but ended up 2 hours old.  

Gimme didn't seem to notice my first crosstrack and found the eyeglass case easily.  She made the first turn, didn't show signs of noticing the crosstrack, did the second turn and found the ball cap.  She ignored the next crosstrack and then it got interesting.

Since the track was supposed to be marked, I was expecting to see Nadine's larger flag in the distance.  I couldn't see it up under the tree line and only saw my own smaller crosstrack flag.  I'd forgotten I crossed this leg twice and rationalized that not all of Nadine's flags were different from mine.  Gimme sniffed about six feet of this cross track and then tried to pull me down the actual track.  Since I didn't see the corner flag, I pulled her back and encouraged her down my cross track.  Bad Mom!!! 

Nadine stopped us, bringing us back to a known place on the real track.  I encouraged Gimme to "search for it" and she said, "I already showed you, why should I think you'll believe me now?"  I promised to believe her and encouraged her again.  When she lined out on the track I said the ritual question, "Is the the good track?"  She stopped and gave me a look of disgust.  I swear she could teach classes for teenagers about eye-rolling.  Then she went on and did a lovely job on the rest of the track, finding a cotton glove and a sock before the final glove.

I didn't put a crosstrack on the last leg.  Instead I came in at an angle and paralleled the track for 20 feet from about 6 feet away.  I thought this might be an interesting challenge.  She showed no sign of noticing my cleverness.

To ensure I don't lead Gimme astray again, I have printed all of my google earth images and put them in document protectors.  This way Nadine and I will have a better reference while we are planning our tracks.  Also it will be a handy way to draw a quick version of Nadine's track with my crosstracks. 

Tracking (43 & 44)

Last Sunday, April 22nd, after church I met with the Ladies of Caliber for training.  It was cool with minimal breeze, so I laid a simple c-shaped track of 390 yards .  I was aiming to age the track to 2:30, but a very chatty newcomer wasted a lot of time and making the meeting run very long.  The track ended up aging to 3:10! 
I wasn't sure how Gimme would do, but it didn't seem much harder than the other older tracks had been.  On the first leg, there is a driveway tip-out right before the trees.  Gimme resisted crossing it and then went around it.  She did a nice job on the first turn.  The next challenge was crossing the road.  Gimme resisted this for a bit, but then took the plunge, crossed the road and found the track on the other side.  I suspect the article helped her.  From there to the end she did well.  She had to cross another driveway, but just did it with no fuss.
I am noticing that she has the most difficulty on the first leg and shows she is uncertain.  When she gets to the first article her confidence goes up and she does much better through to the end.
On Thursday, April 26th, Nadine had another commitment, so I laid a track at Flaming Geyser.  Since the first leg is the challenge for Gimme, I decided to make two short tracks.  I aged them to 2:25.  It was 80º when we ran them. 
The tracks are both 150 yards, with an article at 75 yards, right turn 25 yards later and a glove at the end.  The breeze is blowing from the left side of the picture and the first track is the track at the bottom.  I set up Gimme's approach to come in 90º to the track direction (the short green lines show her approach). 
She had no problem finding the direction on the first track, probably because the breeze was blowing scent in her face.  She was more confident on this track than she has been and thoroughly enjoyed finding the article.  She turned the corner too soon, rounding it by about 10 yards, but then angling to get right on track and was rewarded by finding a glove.  The breeze blowing scent toward her probably caused her to turn early.
The dotted line shows my path between the two tracks.  We took pretty much the same course moving to the second track, except swinging wide to create the approach angle for the start.
Gimme spent a little more time determining track direction, but then she lined out on it, pulling me behind her and was soon rewarded with an article.  This time the breeze was blowing from behind us, so Gimme overshot the turn, but caught her own mistake, turned in the correct direction and angled to get on the track and was rewarded with the final glove.
I was very pleased with how well she did, especially since this is the first time she's tracked in hot weather in 6 months.  Overall she seems to be getting the idea and gaining confidence on these aged tracks.  She's one smart cookie...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Nosework (2/31)

We had a skip week scheduled since our last class, then last week it was only Dorothy to instruct us and she was sick, so we ended up with a two week break.

The first two searches were set up so we could watch our dog's behavior as we approached the startline... They were based on something interesting Dorothy saw at a recent nosework trial where she was the certifying official (CO).

Vehicle 1 video - This first search was set up so we would approach on a path parallel to the startline, which was also parallel to the two vehicles set up in a staggered overlap. We were instructed to walk the full length of the startline (marked by cones). You'll see Gimme wants to cross the grass headed straight to the truck. It could have been odor blowing from the truck's rear bumper hide or the car's far front wheel hide blowing under the truck. She gets the truck bumper hide in under 20 seconds. The other dogs got the other hide first. She was just as fast getting the second hide. She wasn't the only one to show interest in the bumper of the car - we think the shape of the molding above the bumper may trap scent from one or both of the two hides.

Vehicle 2 video - We again approached on a path parallel to the startline and the truck, while the car was moved to a position perpendicular to the truck. Gimme again wanted to cross the grass to enter the search area, but didn't pull as hard. She went past the bumper hide (actually in the electrical hookup), but quickly turned back to it. The hide on the car didn't move, but leaving the wheel turned made for a very different search. This search was almost 30 seconds faster than the first time.

Vehicle 3 video - This time our approach was straight to the startline. Dorothy turned the car around so the hides on the front wheel well and the bumper were pretty close to each other, about five feet. Gimme chose to go all the way around the car before going to the truck's bumper - probably because of the angle she approached the startline. After she went around the truck and came back to the area between the two hides, I stood in front of the truck bumper hide, blocking the hide and disrupting the converging odor pattern. Ordinarily I wouldn't do so in practice, but I figured since she already found the truck hide, I might think to block it if it went like this in a trial. From the moment I stood in front of the truck-bumper hide until Gimme found the hide on the car was 7 seconds. She cut the overall search time by another 20 seconds! Really nice given this included a converging odor puzzle.

Vehicle 4 video - The last search was on the big truck. Gimme was dragging me to it well before we even got close. The hide at the front wheel was a challenge because the spacing was so tight and Gimme went a bit past it, then couldn't turn around. Fortunately backing up is her special power, so it wasn't hard, it just surprised her. The second hide wasn't hard, but Gimme tried to give me a close-enough indication. In a trial it probably would have been accepted, since we're only talking six inches between the source and the step below it. Gimme wasn't wrong, the scent was falling on the step and her nose was only inches from the hide, but training for accuracy is always a good plan.

In May, we have trials every weekend, three weekends are for nosework trials. Two of the weekends are for three AKC trials and we are on the waitlist for a fourth - so it's a good chance we'll get some titles there. We also have a weekend of UKC, with a lot of titling possibilities. The other weekend is barnhunt - 8 classes in two days. The first weekend in June is a three day seminar with Sil Sanders on TDX tracking, which is why I've been working so much on aging Gimme's tracks. We're gonna be busy...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

RFE practice (67)

We started with some heeling practice and distraction work. So I expected Gimme to have her full brain when we went to work on other stuff. Not so much. 

Down-Stand video - I can't explain why Gimme had such difficulty getting to "down" - clearly she wasn't using her listening ears. Maybe because there really isn't much listening required in heeling, so we haven't warmed up her attention to cues. I wanted to focus on where her butt was on the down, often angled out about 45º. I gave her an extra cue one time, but then went to simply moving away without rewarding. When I get her to stand relaxed in heel it is better, but still out 30º. I was also rewarding waiting-for-the-cue. We never got better than 30º in "heel", but she did it perfectly at "side". So will need to practice "heel" more and maybe with a barrier to get better muscle memory. 

Switch back video - Just an easy run through of both sides for the switch back - done beautifully.

Circle transitions video - Another easy run through - done beautifully.

Figure-8 video - More quick run throughs. It's too easy to forget the novice behaviors, so I want to try them from time to time. 

Circle Handler 3x video - The biggest challenge I see here is her going around and always nosing my hands, checking for a treat. I didn't have any food in my hands, she just expects it. I think I want to train this with her special bowl. I think if there aren't treats coming from my hands, I can use the clicker to mark clean "around" & "behind". I think it would look better. 

"Thru" to front video - I don't know why she was hesitating about going "thru". I can see my cues where terribly late, but there were some where it was late and she was doing it just fine and some where she wasn't. I did see some hand checking, so special bowl might help with this, as would not having treats in my hands. I saw my posture was getting more and more bent over as we were having problems, but I don't think it was the reason. 

"Near" & "Close" video - I'm teaching Gimme to move her rear feet a step or two on cue. It's similar to "izzy" and "otto", except I only want a couple of steps. I think it can help with a couple of behaviors, in particular backward weaves, but without confusing the meaning of "izzy" and "otto". "Near" is clockwise and "close" is counter-clockwise. Gimme has picked up the meaning really quickly, but isn't comfortable using it to "beep". I think I need to set up for "beep", do it a few times so she's comfortable and then introduce these new cues. 

Walking weave video - I wanted to do a short practice with Gimme finding the smaller opening when I walk the way Ray Underwood said is more elegant. It doesn't look more elegant to me, though it does feel more elegant. Gimme did a good job; I need to reward in position. 

"Away" video - The goal here was to get center-stand with her facing "away", using her special bowl. It seems her release to the "bowl" cue has lost it's power. I'm not sure why, since I haven't ever put emphasis to avoid the bowl. I think I need to do a bowl tune up, so she really dashes to it when I release her, with something along the lines of a restrained release.  Maybe I need to run to the bowl with her, to add power to her dashing.  I'm also considering a cue to stare at the bowl - not sure. Despite this issue, at times it looked like she was getting the idea for "away". Maybe some foot targets, in addition to the platform, would help. 

"Fanny" video - Happily, this is coming along better than I thought - seems to be clicking for her. I think I'll just keep doing the same thing and when it's solid, mixed with other positions, then I'll fade the platform. 

"Izzy" & "otto" video - Just a quick run-through to keep these strong. Nicely done Gimme...

Backing in heel positions video - Backing in "side" continues to be more challenging than backing in "heel". I am seeing a little improvement with the use of "near" to get her heiney in. I do think I'm progressing too fast on the distance/duration.  And, I probably should use a barrier for "side". 

"Back" in center video - Gimme does this better than backing in "side" position. J'Anna thinks Gimme can't back except with a target, which I then show her. I'm using the target to establish a habit of backing straight. I noticed something interesting in this video. When Gimme is backing from center, her tendency is to drift her rear clockwise, just the opposite of what she does in "side". She does start offering "scoot", but with better clicker timing I was able to clarify what I was going to pay for. 

"Scoot" video - I'd like a little more distance, but if not, this is still good. Gimme really enjoys this - probably because she invented it. You know how she is about doing her own thing.

I think we are making better progress on many behaviors with my new approach to a training plan.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tracking (41 & 42)

Gimme and I tracked at Flaming Geyser on Saturday, March 24th.  Since I was in the area, this was a perfect time to start working on older tracks toward a TDX. So, I laid a simple field track for Gimme and then went to visit my mother. I was aiming for 2 hours, but it turned into 2:10. Just before we started, a guy walked out and set up one-third of the way down the first leg, to fly his drone (red dot). Gimme struggled on the first leg and having a man just five feet from her track was a really huge distraction. Once she got past him, then she was able to focus on her work.

She did a great job on the first corner and quickly found the first article and then got through the second corner easily. Unfortunately she was going too fast and overran the third corner substantially, at least 50 feet.  Clearly I didn't make a detailed map.  She caught the drift of the glove on the next leg and was able to work back to it. From there to the end she did a lovely job. 

Since this track was an increase of 40 minutes from next oldest track she's ever run, I was very impressed with her efforts. What a good girl!

Yesterday, on Thursday, April 12th, Nadine had a conflict, so I used the opportunity to set up another well-aged track at Flaming Geyser. This 505 yard track was aged 2:18. The ground was wet, with a slight breeze. Gimme spent time getting her confidence on the first leg and took her time to work out the first turn. She did fine on the second turn, but overran the third by 15 yards. She caught her mistake quickly and I only needed to move her back a bit to get in the vicinity of the next leg so she could find the track. She often overshoots turns, so I always assume I need to move back when she searches - I can count on the corner being somewhere behind me.

Gimme aced the fourth corner, which was in a bit of a depression.  Then she was going too fast and passed the last corner. It didn't help to have the breeze blowing the scent in the direction of the turn (away from her). Still she realized her own mistake and started swinging around to search for the track. She found it pretty easily with a bit of me backing up (always a good plan).

While it took her a little time, usually the whole first leg, to get confident on these two old tracks - from there to the end she did nicely both times. She has an AMAZING nose...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Urban Tracking (83 to 87)

Again, I'm far behind on blogging. I have 7 tracking reports to share.  I am blogging two of them separately since they are field tracking.

Nadine and I met on Friday, March 23rd at Game Farm Park. She laid a marked track of 575 yards. The conditions were cool and damp. You have to look carefully to see where the track starts on the left side on grass under the trees.  It turns left and quickly crosses a blacktop path, before turning left again. I asked for a challenging transition, so Nadine set it through the small playground. The track entered the playground (wood chips), then angled right and followed the short wall as it arced left. The turn around the end of the wall heads out into the field. Then there was a left turn going straight across another blacktop path and up into the grass to end.

Gimme did a really nice job on this track. The only challenge was the transition. She wasn't quite sure what to do about the wood chips, but she figured it out. The track on the paved path along the wall was pretty easy, since the scent pooled along it. The next hardest part was the turn around the end, going between 3 large rocks. Once she negotiated the turn, it was easy through to the end.

On Thursday, March 29th, we met at Auburn Cinema. Our tracks were two simple 150 yard tracks on pavement, aged 50 minutes. They are supposed to be straight, but we often have to put a slight bend in them to get the length. The top one in the picture is the one we ran first, aged one hour. Gimme spent a little time getting into the plan and then did nicely. While there weren't anywhere near this many cars, by the time we got to her second track there were a few cars nearby and one right on her track. Gimme wasn't bothered by them at all - not even with one of them running. She went between the cars without concern, to the side of the car straddling her track and luckily, about 20 yards after we passed it, she was rewarded by an article.

She is such a good tracker.

On Saturday, March 31st, I took Gimme to Medline. I decided while I was focusing on track age for hard surfaces, it would make more sense to just do straight legs like we do at Auburn Cinema. So I laid her four tracks in a square of 65, 100, 106 and 70 yards, with a short walk between the end of one and the start of another. I planned them to start into the breeze, but by the time we ran them, wind direction changed. As we were running the second track the direction changed 90º, then went back to it's original direction on the fourth track. It occurs to me this may be why she has more difficulty here than at the cinema with Nadine. Gimme did a really nice job on these 50 minute old tracks, which she finished in ten minutes, the same time it took me to lay them.

On Friday, April 6th, we met at Game Farm again. This was to be an unmarked TDU-like track and it was aged 1 hour. It started on a sidewalk along a chainlink fence and passed through another paved area between two ball fields. The large red dot is where there was an open gate. Gimme went through the opening (the gate jutted out into her path) so she had a little challenge to figure out how to get to the track which was now on the other side of chainlink. Fortunately there was an article right past this spot and she was highly motivated to get to it, so she wasted no time solving the gate puzzle. She had no problem on the pavement after this.

It always surprises me how hard it can be for her to transition from paved to grass when she started on paved, because I think of grass as being easier than paved.  I believe grass is easier, but Sil says the dogs have it in their heads to follow one smell and then they are presented with a different smell combo, making it a very different task .  Gimme spent the whole of the next short leg before she was certain the track was really on the grass. There was a lot of dog contamination near the fourth turn, but Gimme didn't act like she noticed it. She did a great job following the track along the outside of the ball field.

Going around the curve of the ball field we were actually tracking in a shallow ditch, but Gimme didn't think it was an issue.  I love how she can experience new things and just works through them, if she shows she noticed at all.

On Saturday, April 7th we went to Medline again. I repeated the same pattern as before, but making my tracks run in the other direction; 94, 70, 98 and 70 yards. My initial plan had been to age another 5 minutes, but this time the wind was quite strong, so we ran it at 30 minutes. Gimme breezed through this very quickly, so the strong wind clearly wasn't the challenge I thought it would be.

The pavement was saturated - we arrived in the first break from two days raining - so this likely accounts for how easy it was for her. In any case, its always a good thing to have an easy and motivational track.

I think the best thing I ever did was teach her to love articles.  I pay very well on every one, so she's always motivated to find them. 

Just workin' the system, doncha know...