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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

TDU/VST Seminar, day 3

At the morning meet-up, I volunteered to lay a rather simple track (the first one). I usually volunteer to lay the complicated tracks, but Nadine and Cricket had the second track and I wanted to watch them and then be ready for our mentor track. Cricket did well, there were some interesting challenges and she acquitted herself well.

Gimme didn't have a showcase track on Monday, so I planned ahead to track with Kathleen Ball, one of the mentors. She's so quiet and I haven't worked with her before so I didn't know what to expect. During discussion late on Sunday I asked Sil several questions about corner communications, since I don't think Gimme is getting it. Sil explained what he thinks I was missing (me, not Gimme), but I wanted to experience what he was talking about - so I asked Kathleen to plan a track to teach me what I was missing.

Sil assigned us a location, but by the time we got there it was 11:30 and there were several groups of children outside and the school turned us away. I suggested we go back to base-camp and do it there. Kathleen laid a track for us with 7 corners and one road crossing. It was an easy enough track for Gimme; the whole point was to instruct me, not her. Kathleen walked close behind me so she could quietly say, "Is that the good track?" every time I should be saying it. So I'd repeat it loud enough for Gimme and increase line tension.

Kathleen also caught me in a bad handler moment - uh several moments.  When we came to the last turn, as Gimme was searching for the direction, I could see the article to my left.  Gimme pulled left-forward on an open turn.  I kept saying "is this the good track?", then when she pulled I stood my ground so she had to curl off when she ran out of line.  After the third time Kathleen said, "Next time she wants to go that way, you could try believing her..."  Of course by then Gimme was having an attitude and wouldn't line out in any direction.  I encouraged her and she tentatively went, I followed and she took me to the final glove.  I gave her all the treats I had.  Apparently the "article" I saw was just a piece of trash and Kathleen decided to use it as an opportunity for an unplanned lesson if I fell for it, which I did.

The track-lesson was a great experience. I only saw Gimme curl off a not-good track once; Kathleen saw it twice. Gimme was good about really pushing into her harness when she was sure. So now I have the feel for it and will start working on it.

Before I do, I want to work on some other handling things, more physical, so I can have better line control. It occurs to me I've been trying to work on all of it at once and maybe I should break it down. It's going to be challenging since I'm going back to my 40' line and Gimme isn't as direct in her movements in urban tracking like she is in field tracking. My first task will be to focus on climbing up the line to 10' as she lines out and moves forward strongly. When I have that habit, I think the next handling focus, keeping the line off the ground and off Gimme's back will go better. Then comes more consistent line tension. Then I'll get on the corner communication.

After all the tracks were done, mid-afternoon, we celebrated Sil's birthday with cake and ice cream. Anne does a great job as hostess for the seminars. I got to talk to her more this time - never knew she was so funny.

We had homework for Monday afternoon. There was a google-earth picture of a location with a track superimposed on it. We were to make a list of the choice points on the track. A choice point is pretty much any point along the track where the dog has to make a decision. So a list includes every transition, every feature, every anything affecting the track. Nadine and I went out for Mexican food on Sunday after the seminar and worked on our lists together. I had 49 choice points on my list.

After the choice points discussion, we did the Dog's-Nose-View exercise. I have blogged about it before, so won't repeat myself. Maybe next time I'll get a video of me or someone else doing it. It's kinda fun. Actually it would be cool to try to video from inside the snood.

Our last thing for the day was to go to a nearby college campus and watch Maureen do a VST level track with Griffin.  He's a large, really fast and strong dog.  Maureen's handling with him is exquisite, poetry in motion.  I was struck by just how far she will go to let Griffin explore his ideas about the track.  At the second-to-last turn, there were steps leading up to an enclosed passage between two buildings - forming a channel.  The track actually turned right about 6' before the steps, but Griffin was convinced he needed to check out the steps, the passage and the area beyond.  We all waited while Maureen and Griffin went over a rise and out of sight (well over 100 yards off the track).  Sil and Laura talked about it and Sil went after Maureen, I thought to blow the dreaded whistle.  He was about to go out of sight himself, when I saw he was headed back in our direction.  Apparently he got there and saw Maureen was carefully working Griffin's search pattern, heading back in our direction and to the track, so he didn't whistle.

It was amazing to see just how far off track a team can go and still recover.  Because he moves so fast, Maureen gives Griffin a lot more flexibility.  When they came down the steps, Griffin turned with the track as if it was written in cheese.  They finished quickly and beautifully.  Now I see why judges are so tolerant of teams seemingly so far from the track.  It isn't about them being exactly on the track at all times, it is about how they are working as a team to solve the puzzle.  I.E. are they still working (as opposed to Gimme taking me on a walkabout) and can they still solve the track.

I have one more blog entry to do for this seminar... a recap of my notes.

BTW Gimme and I are in a nosework trial on Thursday, it's NACSW level NW3. Prayers and good thoughts are welcome. I'd really appreciate divine intervention...

Sunday, July 29, 2018

TDU/VST Seminar Photos


Start of our showcase track.
Rewarding at the start-sock.
Gimme lines out on the second leg.
Gimme gets water and re-scented.
Start of our showcase track. 
Rewarding at the start-sock. 
Gimme lines out on the second leg.
Gimme crosses highly contaminated driveway.
Gimme does flawless transition
back to grass after parking lot.
Gimme enjoys a bunch of treats at the final article.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

TDU/VST Seminar, day 2

We met at the Cascade Shopping Mall. It has HUGE parking lots, which were mostly empty early on a Sunday morning. Sil did a demonstration of how to mark these tracks so the handler knew where they were going from a distance. Since Gimme has done these so many times, her track was in a place where there would be very large gaps. Given her difficulty on Saturday, I wanted the rest of her tracks this weekend and for the foreseeable future to be lay-it-and-run-it tracks, i.e. zero age. The cool temps and damp grass were also a plus for Gimme. You can turn down the volume if you want - I did the first time.
Island Serpentine video - Because of a pocket failure, Gimme had two start articles, so she indicated both. She does nicely tracking a short distance and finding yet another article. Gimme sniffs and leaves a bone lying in the grass, then moves to bushes on our left for a pee break. Some people don't allow their dogs to pee on a track, but Gimme doesn't do it very often, so I permit it. (She's done more peeing recently - probably because of the extra water she is drinking in the heat.) She crosses the pavement readily to the island and quickly finds an article. She moves around the island and into the open space, drifting toward the sheds on the right and then back to the open area and the mid-leg article. She finishes moving across the open area and finds another article right next to the island. She finds the metal plate article between the islands and then moves on quickly to find another article at the next island. The next gap is really really big, with an article halfway across. Gimme does a little visual shopping, then uses her nose to find the article. She finishes crossing the gap and finds the next article next to the island. She finds another article in the gap and then to the island for the final article.

In the afternoon Gimme ran her second showcase track. We again went for a TDU-like track, but this time well marked and zero age, lay-it-and-run-it. To help her with the non-veg crossings, we added treats. To make sure those treats would not attract any insects, Nadine gave us a big piece of duck breast. You'll hear a running commentary by Maureen, which I love. She always gives the advice, then provides
an example of where/why.

Gimme's 2nd showcase track video - Gimme starts nicely and lines out on the first leg right away. She overshoots the turn a few feet and uses the opportunity for a pee break. Then she does a 3/4 circle before lining out on the second leg. We have a hard surface to cross - the driveway where we all just drove over her track. While it seemed like an eternity, it only took 37 seconds for her to decide she was ready to commit across the driveway. Good girl! Shortly after the transition, she comes to the first article - a perfect reward for doing such a good job. There are two potential changes of behavior. The first is at 2:44, but she immediately resumes the line. The real COB is at 2:51 and I take five more steps (about 6') before backing up to where I should have stopped. She circles once and then my foot gets caught in the line, stopping her abruptly, so she stalls briefly before lining out on the next leg. She's quickly rewarded with the second article. She gives a false turn, then waffles a bit before committing to the leg heading for the parking lot. Gimme comes to the parking lot at an angle and I square up to it (perpendicular to the edge), so she moves a bit right to square up with me - which takes her further from the article midway across. Sil tells me what I've done, so once I support her line across the pavement, she finds the article easily. By the way, there were just waves of heat coming up off the pavement. It wasn't too hot for her paws (we checked before starting the track), but it was stifling just the same. Gimme checks the duck breast, but doesn't eat any of it. I purchased some beef jerky and am keeping it in the car for when I need it. Gimme finds a shoe insole and I eagerly reward her for it, but it's not an article for the track. I cut those up for articles, so I just assumed it was one. Oh well, once I get my scissors out it will be a few articles. There was a small flag in this part of the track which was unrelated to our track, so it was confusing. When I moved over with her, Gimme then starts the crossing of the pea gravel and quickly finds another article (the real one). Her transition back to grass was seamless. She continues down the track and takes another pee break before deciding to indicate the final article. Actually her indication was pretty weak, but I reward it anyway. These are very hot conditions for her and I sure didn't want to delay rewarding what she was giving me. She is such a good girl...

  • From Maureen, use a 40' line. I'd come to the same conclusion after reviewing Saturday's track. I have a 40' line, obviously since I used it to get our TD. I need to use it so I can give her the full length of the line to explore her options without going with her, which could give her a false impression that I'm agreeing with her line of motion.
  • Sil and Maureen both commented I need to climb up the line sooner. Pretty much right after she lines out and shows she's committed, I need to be moving up the line to the 10' mark.
  • I am consistently late in recognizing her change of behavior, so I inevitably move several steps further than I should. Ideally I'd recognize the COB and plant my feet, while allowing line to play out. Gimme sometimes does a bit of a serpentine back and forth over the track and so I think I don't recognize it until she fully curls off the track (usually to the right).
  • I have a tendency to square up to transitions (most people do). Because I squared up to the edge of the parking lot, Gimme matched me, which put her out of line for the article halfway across.
  • Sil did say my line handling was better than Saturday. It helps a lot to not be worrying about what Gimme is going through.
  • About the non-article Gimme discovered, Sil said it was only 10' from the track and it's entirely possible some of Debbi's scent (the tracklayer) had drifted on it. Although I didn't see it until Gimme showed it to me, I had paused nearby, so I could have unintentionally sold her on it.
There was some discussion on Saturday about starts, related to Gimme's track. I didn't know what they were talking about and thought it would be obvious in the video. It wasn't. On Sunday the comment were about an improved start, which I still didn't understand. I made a short video of the two different starts and asked Sil and Maureen to review and explain what this was all about.

Two Starts video - While I don't think we can make any conclusions about the quality of Gimme's starts from Saturdays track and I don't think we can compare it to Sunday's track since the conditions were so different, I'm sure they is room for improvement.

There is concern that I let Gimme pull ahead to the start sock and that she can be turned facing in any direction when she looks to see if I've noticed her cleverness. She does generally align with me when I give her start-sock treats. While the advice is to restrain her from rushing ahead to the start sock... I don't want to do anything which might say she shouldn't independently go to any article she finds. She often makes generalizations I don't intend and I don't want to risk bleed over from start article to other articles.

So, to get closer to what is deemed a better, more focused start... I'll work on the following changes:
  • make sure she is aligned at the article to get her treats
  • treat for ten seconds or more
  • as she gets treats, I'll move my hand up the line until its close to the harness
  • as the treats end, I will watch her for a moment when she looks/faces down the track and say "track-on" then (much like I do in nosework)
  • wait to pick up the start article until after she commits down the track
When we arrived for one of the other Sunday showcase tracks, Sil had placed a thermometer on the asphalt. After a few minutes he showed us the difference. Before laying it down it said it was 78º and 50% humidity. Afterward it was 114º and 22% humidity! Who'da thunkit!

This explains the waves of heat I felt coming off the parking lot as Gimme and I tracked across it, just 30 minutes earlier. Sil has a seven-second rule for whether we should ask our dogs to cross any hard surface. The rule is: place your hand flat on the surface and wait seven seconds. If it takes an act of will to keep it there, it's too hot for a dog's paws. At 114º it was almost there.
During the afternoon wrap up discussion, I discovered a hole in my understanding about corner communication and it wasn't something easily explained.  So Kathleen, one of the mentors, and I decided to do a track the next day where she could help me experience it in real time.

Friday, July 27, 2018

New Parkour Titles

I just got word - Gimme was awarded two new titles today: ADP(GCH)
and ADPL5(2).

She is the newest ADP-Grand Champion and the first Dalmatian in the world to achieve the title. These are her 50th and 51st titles. You can watch her titling runs on youtube...

Game Farm Park video
Virgil S. Clarkson Senior Center video
Priest Point Park video

I always ask Gimme to pose with her
new toy for a picture, before she gets
it dirty. She thinks this is so annoying...

I get letters behind her name and bragging rights. Gimme gets toys... It's our system and it's working for us.

We've had fun doing the Grand Champion track. We'll be taking a break from parkour for a few months and then we will start working on the Premier sequence. Why? Because it's there...
And besides, Gimme needs a new toy
- this one is old already.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

TDU/VST Seminar, day 1

Gimme and I went north for a three day seminar on TDU/VST tracking (urban).

In the morning we had a group tracking exercise on contamination. It was aged about 15 minutes. We've done this exercise in other seminars and she's always done well with it.

  • This is the first time Gimme was in one of the middle tracks. Before she was always on one of the two end tracks, so she only saw dogs in one direction. Having dogs in both directions was very distracting, increasing her need to look at them.
  • When she was able to work, she did pretty good. However, when she needed to start or restart (after each article), then she needed to watch them again to be sure they weren't doing anything she needed to be concerned about.
Gimme's 1st showcase track video -

This was a semi-blind TDU-like track with extra articles. As she usually does, Gimme drags me to the start sock. It takes her just a moment and a quick pee, before she picks up the first leg. The line of the track goes between the two attic windows on the green roof. She goes partway down the leg, looses it, goes back and forth and circles, then lines out on it again. She searches around and finds the first corner (2:30), turning a little early. She drags me behind her and then turns slightly right (3:05). She crosses a ditch and indicates loss of scent (3:35). I gave her water and that was when Sil indicated for me to come back. Since Gimme took the first corner early and was tracking parallel to it, she misses the second turn and starts following a line of contamination where a group of boys crossed the track heading for the sports fields. After a short discussion we restart her (6:05) and she's very quickly rewarded by an article. As we continue, Gimme indicates loss of scent right after the corner. At 8:22 you can see one of the straw-flags just 2 feet to the right of where I'm standing. This is a regular flag, curled tight on itself and then a straw is slipped over it. These flags are very hard to see from a distance, so you can have a fully marked track, but the handler can't 'see the markings until they are right on top of them - hence the term "semi-blind". Gimme really struggles to find this corner and Sil finally comes up to tell me where it goes, so I know when to encourage/support her. With a little bit of encouragement, she takes off strongly - with a little side trip to pee and check pee-mail in the shade. When we leave it, she zigzags a little before finding the next article (10:31). When she reaches the road (11:40) she goes back and forth along the curb before deciding to cross. Note the sneezing at 12:45. After I re-scent her she decides to cross the road, where she finds another article. After we move on Gimme is drawn visually to the cement utility panel on the ground and then to the shade next to the building. I remained standing next to the straw-flag for the corner, providing a good anchor for her and she comes back and lines out on the next leg (14:30). The voice you hear after the turn is Maureen's - I always love her comments since they are fully in line with Sil's methods, but she says it in a different way, then between the two of them I get the message. Since Gimme is struggling to make a commitment on this transition, I give her water again and then re-scent her. Although I couldn't hear Maureen, I did happen to move gradually toward the parking lot and Gimme decided to forge ahead. There were multiple transitions here before she gets to the final article - sidewalk, parking lot, curb, driveway, curb, and parking lot. She overshoots the article into the grass, but quickly comes back and indicates. 

What you don't see before Gimme curled back to me at 3:35, was that she was well ahead of me, then hunched her back and stiffens like she was about to puke, but then she doesn't. When she came back to me, she was crouched low and trembling a little. For a moment I honestly thought she might be about to have a seizure, but it cleared up so quickly with the water, I decided to let her continue. I was hoping to be able to see more of this in the video, but the person taping was kind of all over the place for a bit, so it doesn't show. Later on she sneezes several times, which I've never seen her do on track before. This coming so soon after the other causes me to realize when I thought she was about to puke, she was actually reverse sneezing, leading me to realize she is having trouble with seasonal pollen and such. She had two other reverse sneezing episodes on one day a couple weeks back, but I didn't place any significance on it. Since we've been home I've noticed her doing some snuffling twice. So now I have an explanation for why her tracking ability has seemed to fall off so much starting right after the TD/TDX seminar, which I thought was because we missed so much tracking practice in May. Poor baby has been trying so hard, but she's really not getting the level of scent she normally would.

Comments from the track wrap-up:

      • At the road crossing, I was too willing to walk with Gimme as she explores back and forth. It would be better for me to stand still while letting her use the full length of the line. I think I need to go back to using the 40' line in urban instead of the 25', so I have it to play out and let her investigate without following her (which supports her moving when I may not intend to).
      • My line was dragging on the ground between us and on her back an awful lot. Gimme moves in and out relative to me, so it's a challenge to reel in the extra line as fast as I need to. I think I usually do better than I did in this track, especially after she had the episode where I thought she might be about to seizure - I pretty much gave up doing my job from then on. I looked back at the beginning of the video and while it was not so bad, I can do better. I also need to get better about climbing up the line when she is moving out strong in front of me.
      • Laura, a Canadian judge who audited the seminar, talked a lot about her philosophy on the importance of starts. Laura called it a "flying start". For the track we do on Sunday, she and Sil seemed to think had a better start. Gimme did stop for the sock, waiting for me to reward her and then started when I verbally cued it, so I'm not clear on what was wrong with the start for this track. I'm putting together a short video including the start from both tracks and will send it to Sil with the question about what I'm missing.
      • Sil does expand to say the importance of starts is why he almost always includes an article in the middle of the first leg. I must've missed this. I've been suggesting leaving out the mid-leg article on the first and last legs, since we are starting or ending with an article.

      Sil has a model made of peg board and little straw flags, which he uses to demonstrate certain principles about air flow and how it is affected by environment features, both natural and manmade. It's quite interesting to see how wind (and presumably scent) changes direction and especially how far out the affect goes compared to the size of the feature.

      He told us old-timers thought scent disruption extended three times the height of the building on the lea side. Science has since demonstrated turbulence at eight times the height of structures!

      Even though this track was disappointing in terms of showing off how great Gimme is... it was still very helpful for me to finally figure out what has been going on for the last 6 or more weeks. I am so blessed that she's continued to try so hard despite how difficult all the tracks have been for her during that time.

      In the future I'll know to account for this issue. I've checked my blog entries and there was no sign of difficulty in May and through the first weekend in June (TD/TDX seminar). I'm trying to find a site that shows the different pollens and when they are prevalent so I can get an idea of what is bothering her. I'm also putting a reminder on my calendar so I'll know when to give her simpler-younger tracks.

      It's my job to make sure her tracks are all appropriate for where she is on the specific day and at the specific time. I am so blessed to have Gimme who is so willing to keep trying.

      Tuesday, July 24, 2018

      Nosework (6/32)

      Class was very interesting last week.  We started with a huge exterior, then did a vehicle and finished with two water searches.  (Gimme will never be an underwater-cadaver search dog)

      Exterior 1 video - We had a HUGE search area with just 3½ minutes to find two hides. I decided this was a perfect time to use my 25' line. My memory of this search had me RUNNING with her the whole time, while the video shows I broke into a trot very briefly one time. This is why it's good to video. Gimme does a nice job and covers a lot of area quickly. As we were looking for the second hide, even though she was scanning around the hose area, it was really clear she hadn't made any decision. There may have been a bit of fringe from the hide, so it would be possible to sell her on a false alert. Still it's nice to see her make the decision to move on and then find it on the vent.

      Vehicle 1 video - Most dogs got stuck between the two vehicles, whereas Gimme went so fast she went right by that and ended up on the side where the hide was. Watch her overrun the second bumper hide and you can see where the odor was going and why the other dogs got stuck in the middle. When we moved to the trailer, Gimme spent a bit examining the whole back end of it - the other dogs were stuck on the hitch. She had no problem going under to where the hide was on the axle. We followed with a discussion about when it is and isn't okay for dogs to go under a vehicle (or anything else)... it's a safety call. In this case the trailer was high enough so it was safe to go under.

      Floating hide 1 video - The hide was in a little floating container. Gimme sniffed in the pool, then moved away. She came back quickly when she got past it on the other side. She's absolutely certain she shouldn't have to get wet to do nosework.

      Submerged hide 1 video - Gimme really wanted this to be a high hide and resisted anything to do with the water. I think it just took her awhile to decide she could indicate it without the horror of getting her feet wet. The "look" I got early on was because there was a leak on the left side of the pool with water squirting out. I'm sure the squirt smelled like odor. Later she paws at the side of the pool where the squirt was. Then she stretches her neck out as far as she can to get her nose right over the hide and that I accepted. She has stepped in water deeper than this, but it definitely wasn't going to happen this day.

      I just love watching her explore and think things through.

      Sunday, July 22, 2018

      Urban Tracking (97 & 98)

      With Gimme's recent misses of articles at Medline, I wanted to be sure to get in some article circles before the TDU/VST Seminar weekend with Sil.

      On Friday, July 13th, Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park.  I asked her to lay an article circle for us, with lots of really small articles.  She essentially laid us a short track with articles on every leg, aged 50 minutes.  Gimme tried really hard and did pretty good, but not her usual excellent ability.  She missed a couple of articles, so I just held her back a bit (not hard since she wasn't tracking with her usual confidence) until she came upon them.  The next day I discovered she had a major bellyache, so I assumed it might be throwing her off her game.

      We've since resolved the issue causing her upset tummy, I thought when we tracked on Thursday, July 19th, she'd do better.  This time Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema and she laid us an article circle, aged 50 minutes.  Gimme got through the track and did find all her articles, but not with her usual focus and confidence.  It was dry and overcast.

      Her tracking has been off for the last 6 weeks.  The last really strong efforts were field tracking at the TD/TDX seminar.  I've been thinking we just lost a lot of ground since we didn't have any sessions on pavement during the whole month of May and early part of June. 

      Unfortunately my efforts to recover ground haven't seemed to do any good.  Even the motivational tracks haven't seemed easy for her.  I've been looking forward to the TDU/VST seminar where I can get advice from Sil.

      Rally Obedience (1)

      Thursday afternoon, after the parkour class I teach, we did our first rally drop-in class. As it turned out we were the only ones to show up and Veda let us do the course from the Rally Novice class. I'm sure she wanted to assess our skill level.

      I wasn't sure how Gimme would do. After all, we'd already worked RallyFrEe three times in the morning and other than those sessions Gimme had been in the car nine hours, plus it was a really hot 93º, which she's not used to. It helped not having another dog to contend with, other than Veda's dog in a crate.

      Gimme was really awesome. She did a lovely job on the novice course, twice. The first time I gave her reinforcement for every station. The second time she got three rewards for the whole course, at places I messed up. She was really enthusiastic and did a lovely job. I have to say I've never seen her work so well at Pawsabilities. Most of the daycare dogs were already gone, so it was quieter and less distracting for her.

      She finally noticed Veda's dog toward the end of the second novice course. She seemed pretty certain she needed to do something about him. We did some "whazzat" then and again in our last course. I don't know if he's reactive, but he's certainly protective of his crate.

      After we did the novice course twice, Veda changed up the course, adding new signs from higher levels. She managed to trip me up with every one. Either I read it wrong or I read it right and performed it wrong, so there was a lot for her to instruct me on. The cool thing was how well Gimme responded when I got my part right. One sign is a halt-sit pivot-left-forward. Veda helped me practice my footwork and then I did it with Gimme. She came up out of her sit, simultaneously swinging her heiney right to maintain heel. It was really quite beautiful and I was impressed with how Gimme did it, as was Veda. She has really sophisticated rear foot awareness, which helps a lot.

      During her last run-through Gimme had an episode of reverse sneezing - her first. She had another prolonged episode later in the evening. Then I read on the weather site there was an extreme pollen alert - whatever it is, it's hard for her and she does some soft whining during/after. Poor baby.

      Gimme was losing focus halfway through the third run-through and this is when she became most concerned with Veda's dog, so we stopped and played "whazzat" again. It took her awhile to let go and come back to work. However, when she did get back to work, she did nicely. Given how much she'd already done this day, I was very happy with her efforts.

      I am still really surprised she did so well with this. I've always thought she wasn't as enthusiastic about RFE because of how choppy the courses are. This was even more choppy (10' or less between stations) and yet she was really enthusiastic, but focused and accurate. The last station before Finish was Slow Pace and I was doing an exaggerated slow. Gimme thought it was just a hoot, and was staying with me, but bouncing in place to do so. Veda and I both laughed at her special interpretation of how to do heel at a snail's pace.

      I don't' know if it really was the lack of noise/distractions or something else. Maybe there is a difference in my attitude or some other unknown. It'll be interesting to see how this works out over time. With Gimme's attitude and ability during this first class, it's clear she could be really good at Rally-O if the trials weren't so darn hard for her. Maybe I need to see if there are any video venues for it - J'Anna might be interested in it too for Glory.

      Anyway, it's certainly exciting.

      Thursday, July 19, 2018

      RFE practice (73)

      My plan for this session was to stick with basics and work on motivation. I again set up stations around the room, so I could reward Gimme with a high value jackpot - high in treat value, not just quantity. It was interesting to watch Gimme trot around the room, with a sniff up every time she passed a station, just to be sure she knew where the good stuff was.

      There are those in the reward-based training community who say there is no evidence showing jackpots increase training effectiveness. I think they are testing the concept with green dogs who don't understand jackpots, unlike with a dog who does understand them. Gimme learned about them when she was very young; I often see leaps in understanding right after she gets a well-timed jackpot.

      Recently Gimme has seemed unclear what "out" means in our parkour work, so I decided to set up pylons to work on the concept during our practice. I've also noticed she is very slow to respond to the "sit" cue, but sits rapidly to "setup", something I'll work on soon.

      Heeling video - The first thing I did was to click when she decided to come see what I was doing - to reinforce choosing to work. When she moves away, I started moving around and she got clicked for showing up in heel/side. We did a bunch of heeling around the pylons with c/t for good position. Her attitude was great.

      "Around" & "Behind" video - We did a short bit on getting these circles tighter. I find clicking to prime-the-pump works well to get her in a hurry to get to the end of the behavior; faster equals tight.

      "Out" video - She did this very well, even greater distance than the 10' we need for the Go-Around-Distance behavior. The next time we tried it in the real world, she again had difficulty and was inconsistent. At the time I thought I needed to keep my cuing arm/hand raised until she was committed, but from this video, I don't see it. For awhile when we were taping for parkour entries, if she had difficulty, I used a fast running-start to get her going, sort of a slingshot approach. So maybe she's confused about what the cue is and I need to spend some time retraining it in various places, being clean in my cuing. We've submitted our Level 5 videos and I am just waiting for results. I plan to take a bit of a break from parkour entries before we start the premier track, so it gives me plenty of time to work on this in various places.

      "Cane" & "Orbit" video - It occurs to me after watching this video, Gimme keeps trying to go "out" around the prop, when I want her to go between me and the prop. I wish I could remember when we started having problems with "cane" & "orbit" - I'm wondering if it might be about the time when we started practicing the distance "out" for parkour. Even though I didn't really think there was an arm/hand cue for "cane" & "orbit", I think Gimme may think there is one and to her they look just like the cue for "out". So I may have to develop a distinctly different physical cue for "cane" & "orbit", just for clarity. She is better at "orbit", it's her better turning direction.

      We did some more heeling. I tried to just move away from her when she lagged or went wide. I used side stepping away or taking a few fast steps. This seemed to intrigue her, sort of like playing keep-away.

      Heeling with behaviors video - We did two quick sequences of heel-behavior-heel-behavior-heel (on either side) ending on heeling where we dash to a reward. For the second one I had to curve around and move a little further because she drifted too far out of position.

      Playing keep-away video - I decided to actually play keep-away, with a c/t when she got into either heel position. I also backed away from her with c/t when she got into center position.

      Heel-pecks video - This was an idea I had loosely based on 300 Pecks. Just a game to make her really want to get into position where the c/t happens.

      "Near", "close" & "beep" video - My goal here was to get her more comfortable with doing "near" and "close" when the opposite leg is back. She remembers this from when I was trying so hard to get the backward weaves and in her mind it's a bad thing. So I'm trying to do it in tiny doses and then a couple of "beep". I want to set up something at home where she does "beep" from 90º to my side, going through my legs more like the backward weaves. She is plenty comfortable from in front, but it's not really the same behavior.

      Center front pivot video - I have to remember to slow it down when we are pivoting CCW. It's Gimme's better turning direction, so when we go too fast she turns it into "otto". I think I need to a lot more treats into the "center" bank account.

      As I said, I thought this was a very good practice session. Gimme kept a great attitude throughout and neither of us got frustrated. All good, eh...