The "M" over "U" crosstrack exercise has 8 crosstracks, 4 straight across (90º) and 4 angled (45º). It's an intense crosstrack experience. Here's a diagram of the layout:
Sil had talked about making sure we make the reward experience very valuable. I realized I'd gotten into lazy habits, so I was giving her treats one-by-one instead of by a handful - it takes a lot longer.
"M" over "U" track video -
Gimme was a bit slow to get started on this track and I'm not sure why, it's not like her. Then again this was the third day and she may simply have been a little tired. There is no sign on the video to show she even noticed the first 90º crosstrack, though I noticed a slight nose tilt at the time. She was happy to show me the first article. Gimme briefly got sucked in by the 45º crosstrack, but figures out on her own to go back to the good track and is quickly rewarded with an article. She got sucked by the next 45º crosstrack too. This time appeared she ended up somewhere between the crosstrack and the good track, until the next article pulled her back to the good track. She got totally pulled off by the last 90º crosstrack on this leg - using the whole line - oddly in the "wrong" direction. I re-scent her and cue her to "search for it"... she goes around twice then commits again to the crosstrack, but in the other direction. When the end of the line stops her, she comes back toward me and then picks up the good track right next to me and heads down the track to the next article.
She started on the left turn as if she was going to do a "cartoon corner" (as if you created a perfect corner in a cartoon), but then veered at an angle. I questioned her "is that the good track" and she pulled off it. One circle and she found the good track and motored on to the next article. She overruns the second corner and when she realizes it, she curves off to the side and right into search mode. She starts to commit in the wrong direction and when I question her, turns off it and continues her circle until she gets on the good track again.
She turns a little to the right (wrong direction) just after the first 90º crosstrack, but then goes back to the good track on her own and bim bada boom, there's another article and lots of treats follow. At the next 45º crosstrack, Gimme veered off the track, but not in any direction that actually followed the crosstrack. It would have come from our left front at an angle and passed to our right rear, Gimme turned to the right front, after the crosstrack. We tried searching, but she wasn't finding it. After I re-scented her she found it quickly. At the next 45º crosstrack, Gimme commits in the wrong direction. When she ran out of line, she happened to circle left (she usually circles right) and got right on the good track and quickly found the next article. At the final 90º crosstrack, Gimme again committed in the wrong direct and again turned left after she ran out of line, quickly searched and found the good track followed by the final glove.
Out of 8 crosstracks, Gimme reacted to 6 of them. Of these, Gimme committed in the wrong direction on three of them and needed my input to get back on the good track and for the other three she deviated in the right direction and then self corrected. There is no pattern as to whether they were 45 or 90-degree crosstracks. Hmmmmm.
This was about half the length of her longest track, but took her a lot longer than she's ever needed to finish a track - 19 minutes! It was a very intense track, with harder puzzles than she is used to, one after another. I noticed about halfway through it, the strength of her pull was less and she wasn't moving as fast either. This was a lot of brain work for my girl.
Comments from Sil and Maureen:
- Typically as the dog sees more crosstracks on a particular track, they become more and more attractive, which was true for Gimme as well. In time the dog learns and resists being drawn off their track, but Gimme hasn't had enough of those experiences yet. She'll need more experiences like this to learn she is responsible for staying on the good track, no matter what.
- Corner communication wasn't as helpful as it should be because we haven't done it enough when she was right, it wasn't creating the right association and thus she wasn't "answering" with a meaningful response.
- He complimented my way of taking a few steps as I'm adding restraint and/or stopping Gimme with the line, so it's not sudden. However I need to consistently and accurately back up to recover the space given. Perhaps I should make a habit to count those steps out loud, so I can then know how many backward steps I should take.
- Maureen and Sil both thought Gimme's search circles are a lovely example of what it should look like. In particular the first corner was textbook. Sil reminded us we used this same field two days earlier and at the corner where Gimme lined out in the wrong direction, it could have been residual contamination. I'd forgotten this.
- Maureen appreciated my smoother line handling. The glove didn't work from the day before. But, I found I could let the line slide across my right palm, while letting it pull through a somewhat tighter grip in my left hand. I added another knot near the end of my line, so when I felt the knot go through my left hand, I knew I had just 6 feet to get a grip or I'd lose it entirely. It felt good.
- Sil talked about Gimme's mental fatigue. He wasn't concerned about it this time, because we knew we were pushing her during the seminar and he knows I'll make sure to build in some fun motivational tracks. He reminded everyone how important it is to strike a balance between challenging tracks and fun tracks, to keep from losing motivation.