Sorry to be so long getting back to this - sometimes life gets in the way. On this last afternoon we had two group exercises - expanding the search area and article circles.
Expanding the Search Area - Gimme is really good at doing her "search for it" circles and, in fact, in our Monday morning search, Sil highlighted Gimme's search circles as a textbook perfect example. So on Monday afternoon as he was talking about expanding the search area; imagine my surprise to suddenly realize I've been doing it wrong.
The ideal is to repeatedly turn ahead of the dog, opening-up the area in front of you to invite the dog to continue the circle AND to use the dog's motion to step backward in a way that moves the dog into another area (in overlapping circles) without appearing to guide the dog. Somewhere along the way, when Gimme was searching, I started switching the line to my other hand and backing around in a circle. For purposes of not-appearing-to-guide-the-dog, mission accomplished. Obviously it works for us, since it was so smooth Sil didn't even pick up on it. The shortcoming has to do with my not using my chest-pointers to invite her to continue into more of the circle (not evident because she circles so readily).
I've been thinking of why I started doing this and I think it's because I'm right-handed, so I do most of the line control with my right hand. For the most part, Gimme circles clockwise, so this leads me to doing a backward circle. I watched the video from Monday morning, because I know there was two odd instances of Gimme circling counter-clockwise. Sure enough, when she circles CCW, then I'm handling the line and using my chest pointers correctly. Going the other direction, it's as I suspected.
For the practice exercise I asked Maureen to be my partner, so she could coach me through it and I could get the feel of how it's supposed to be. As always she provided excellent instructions. What I realized is, when it's backwards I am the pivot point for the backward steps to expand the area. When I'm doing it correctly, the pivot point is halfway down the line between Gimme and I. I'm sure this explanation is confusing, but it's the best I have. I don't know if I'll manage to actually make the change, but we'll see. Some would say, "If it ain't broke - don't fix it".
Article Circles - I know we've talked about these before. I decided to do this as our final exercise because I knew Gimme was getting tired from this long weekend. It's an easy game, familiar rules and Gimme loves it, so I thought it would be a nice way to end the weekend before starting the long drive home. Earlier in her tracking career I used article circles to get her into her tracking brain.
I've included a diagram of what an article circle looks like. It could really be any shape - oval and serpentine come to mind. I once did a big serpentine L-shape, because it worked. The key things are: start with a start sock (yellow), legs are 20-25 yards, place an article (blue) in the middle of each leg and make all turns, no matter how slight, between articles (i.e. not AT the article). The dog gets to lead the show and is rewarded lavishly every time they find one. If they skip one, it's okay, just make sure they don't backtrack to try and make it up. You can continue right from the end over to the beginning, as if it never ended.
Gimme gets 15-30 treats and a party at every article, which is probably why she loves them so much. At trials is the only time Gimme won't be immediately paid with food for finding an article. She may think I've momentarily lost my mind, but she loves the work enough to carry her through my apparent lapse.