Titles Achieved to date...

Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Urban Tracking (103)

On Saturday, August 25th, Gimme and I went to Medline. I laid a simple track of 5 turns, with an article on every leg. I was able to hide three articles behind the curb of a landscaping crossing and hid the final article between the picnic table legs. The track was aged 22 minutes. The conditions were dry and a cool 62º, with a strong breeze. (the bright blue lines in the upper right are 18-wheeler trailers) I hydrated the track with a squeeze bottle, dribbling plain water in front of me, which dried up really quickly.

My intention was to refrain from helping Gimme unless she showed it was really needed. I also wanted to let her use the full 40-foot line to explore options and make decisions. I've been helping her more readily over the last few months while she's been having trouble with pollen and wanted to make sure I wasn't getting stuck in a pattern of helping when she might not need it. I have noticed stronger tracking behavior from her the last couple of times we've been out, so I thought it was time to dial back the helps.

I have to say she did a really nice job. She used the whole length of the line "exploring options" for the first half of the long first leg. Then she settled down and tracked nicely to the first article. Her second leg had a little exploring and she quickly found the article behind the edge of the curb. The third leg crosses over a strip of grass (from the 2nd vertical white line to the article) which was soggy wet from a couple leaky sprinklers. With all that moisture on green grass, it must have been track-heaven. Gimme ran this segment and then missed the article tucked behind the curb. I stayed in the landscaping and let her use the whole 40' line to find the next corner. In doing so, she got back to the article, indicating nicely. This was really the only help I gave her on this track. She was really solid for the rest of the track.

The final article was a black eyeglass case. To make it less visible, I set it up in the legs of the tables in the employee break area. My track didn't actually go there, because I couldn't get my foot in there, but it was only 18" away. Gimme had no problem finding it and stopped to look back at me. I did my usual high falsetto "whachoo gawttttt?" Her response was reach under there and drag the case out with her foot... and then pounce on it for emphasis...

How could anyone not love her cleverness?  Just sayin...

BTW we are headed out for a 3-day barn hunt trial this weekend.  I hope to come home with something very special.  Cross any body parts you can spare for us.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

RFE practice (76)

We just had our first RFE practice after the very short one on the day we were rear-ended. On a positive note, the person who hit us has finally admitted liability, so now I can go about getting the van fixed.

"Under" video - I worked on "under" first, to warm up her brain. You can see her comfort level has improved a lot. She also figuring out "boop" means "side" to "heel" back-through. I'm using "beep" for the opposite, "heel" to "side" back-through. Note on the back-through how readily she tucks her heiney into proper "heel" vs. how long it takes her to swing her heiney in the opposite direction into proper "side" position. Seeing this is related to what I'm realizing about the backward weaves (next).

Backward weaves video - Then I again tried the backward weaves with the guides. This time I had her do a couple "otto" (back around CCW) before stepping my foot out and getting one of her going through. On the "otto" side, which will be "beep" for the backward weaves, she does better because it has always been her tighter turning direction so she's less likely to run into my leg. I said "yes" too soon and stalled her out, but it was more important to mark what I was rewarding. Going the other direction is going to be a bigger challenge, since Gimme doesn't turn as tight CW. She can do "izzy" (back around CW) reasonably well and even does it in the guides, but not with as much confidence. Too much tinkering and she gets uncertain, stalls out and tends to blame the guides.

Notice in this last video, she wags her tail while doing "otto", but not while doing "izzy". I believe this shows she has to concentrate much more to do the "izzy". I think the answer is spend a lot more time having her do "izzy" in the guides until she is doing them tight like her "otto" without the guides. Her skill/comfort backing or pivoting is much stronger going CCW than CW - so I think need to work on balancing her skill/flexibility.  I'm thinking it's a muscle memory thing.

Rewarding-release-wait video - I've decided I need to go back to the original way I taught "wait" to re-establish it firmly in her mind. It has become unreliable and it used to be rock-solid, and rewarding the wait itself hasn't worked to bring it back. I start up right away with distractions, since not getting a reward is as important as the ones she gets. This method puts the responsibility on her from the start. See how quickly she remembers how this game works.

The rest of these videos are refreshers for the tricks we need for the AKC Intermediate trick title. I'm sure we can get both the AKC and the DMWYD Intermediate titles before the end of the year.

The behaviors we need for AKC Intermediate trick title are:
Go to place - "mark" - minimum distance 10 feet
► Hand signals exercise - three behaviors without verbal cue
Weave poles - "weave" - 6 standard poles
Paws on arm -
Leg weave -
Wobble board - 10 second minimum
► Catch a soft toy -
► Fetch to hand - "Kong" - item must be thrown 20 feet
► Rollover - "grape"
► Alternate - "otto"

"Mark" video - We haven't done this in a long time, but she clearly remembered. I think all the distance send behaviors we did on the way to finishing her Parkour Grand Championship made this a really strong concept for her.

Hand signals exercise video - For AKC Gimme needs to do three behavior on a hand signal (she'll need 6 for DMWYD). I really expected her to do better at this. She seemed to get too excited and then just started flinging behaviors at me. Clearly we have more work to do.

"Weave" poles video - J'Anna was having a challenge with the camera, so I don't have our warm-up on video. It was very fast, especially considering we haven't trained them in years.

Paws on arm video - This is part of our "kisses" trick, so she doesn't even need a warm-up. The arm presented butler style is all the cue she needs.

Figure-8 video - We have a strong history of this with all our RallyFrEe work, so she does it perfectly.

Wobble board video - Gimme did this a lot when she was a puppy, so all she has to do is see a wobble board. Even though she hasn't done a wobble board anytime recently, she's done a lot of Get On Moving in her journey to parkour Grand Champion.

There are four other behaviors I want to get on tape, but the battery died on the camera, so that'll have to wait until next time. We practiced them and she did great on all of them.

This was a fun session for Gimme - she loves tricks.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Happy 8th Birthday

Hard to believe Gimme is 8 years old today.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting on the floor at Tana's, Gimme was 8 weeks old and biting my lip.  She's still a puppy to me.

Because any excuse
is a good reason for
a new toy... 

300 toys is never
enough - just sayin'...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Urban Tracking (101 & 102)

Nadine and I met at Game Farm Park on Friday, August 17th. There was still some dew on the ground and I wanted to take advantage of the moisture for a fun motivational track. I asked Nadine to make a simple track with articles on every leg. I also gave her a squirt bottle with water, so she could add hydration if she went through a patch of dry yellow grass, dirt, or over pavement. The only place she used it was near the end when we crossed the sidewalk surrounding the play area.

It was 62º and the track was only 20 minutes old when we started. The track itself was really perfect for what I wanted. Naturally we had an unexpected challenge right as we were approaching the start, when a man with a small dog (line of pink dots) walked along a nearby path. He continued forward and then across our field of view, went by the first turn and moved roughly parallel to the second leg. I decided to wait to start, letting Gimme watch them until she was ready to work. She still struggled a little, but then got into it. I spent some extra time at the first mid-leg article to let the man and dog get past the second turn before we would get there. At that corner, Gimme jumped up onto the path and investigated a bit, then came down and got back to work on her track - a nice decision on her part.

She did well on the next couple of turns and found all her articles. The only other interesting bit was when we got to where the track went across the pavement next to the play area. There was a slight breeze coming from our left and some large flat boulders about 5 feet to our right. Gimme chose to go outside the boulders and then picked up the track after them. I suspect the breeze pushed the scent toward the boulders and it eddied around the far side. Overall I thought she did a good job and I was pleased. I've been trying to get an easy motivational track and this is the first one in awhile.

On Saturday, August 18th I took Gimme to Medline. I don't see any sign they are working on the big truck gate, so it looks like we'll be able to keep using this site for awhile. I continued as I've done setting 4 short, one-corner tracks. It's sooooo dry, so I carried the squirt bottle and hydrated the whole track. My trigger finger was getting really tired and it was hard to control the squirts... I think I might want to get a squeeze top for the bottle.

The track was 20 minutes old and the temperature was 67º. We had a moderate breeze, blowing generally from 10:30 (parallel to the first leg of the first track); then it turned, coming from 9:00 for the last track. Gimme was slow to get started on the first track, but then did well. The second and third tracks were solid.

I decided to give her a lot more leeway to investigate options on the fourth track. She investigated a little bit of stuff to the left of the track and then really got stuck on the two islands to the right, nearest and after the turn. She was really all over the first island and checked and rechecked it several times. Then she pulled me hard to the next island. I really didn't want her to get any further, since I know how well she can scent an article.  I wanted her to track to the article, not air scent to it. Then just as I was about to reel her in, she turned to the track, got her nose down into it and just hauled me to the final article. I was so proud of her.

Gimme has on several occasions taken me on a walkabout. It's always when the track is really hard and she'll just decide to go off on an angle, in a straight line. I can't reliably tell when she's pulling strong on the track vs. when she's pulling me strongly for a walkabout. She can be really convincing. This is why Sil suggested I need a lot more fully marked tracks, so I can see this difference.  I thought I saw a slight qualitative difference on this last track, but I can't put it into words.

Nadine and I were supposed to track this Friday, but my chiropractor wants to see me again (still trying to straighten out all my whiplash; I was rear-ended 12 days ago), so we had to cancel.

With all the fires in British Columbia and California, plus a few west of here, the whole state is blanketed in a thick haze. I am blessed to be unaffected and Gimme is also showing no signs of trouble. A good rain would be a great help, but there isn't any rain in the forecasts.  So this cancellation has the side benefit of not asking our girls to track when the air quality is so bad.  The current pollutant count is 176, which is "unhealthy".  

We do have a cooling trend, but it'll need to improve a lot before we get out for more tracking.  The air quality forecasts suggests it might be good by Friday, so we'll see how it goes.  She'd love to get out and do something.  Nosework has been cancelled yet again and we haven't been out walking much, so she is exceedingly bored. 
Just sayin...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

RFE practice (75)

In case you wonder why we've been quiet, it's because our last 3 nosework classes have been cancelled due to excess heat and there was no class the week we had the NW3 trial. This RFE practice is the first thing we've done and we didn't work very much at this.  Gimme is not appreciating the break.

I was rear-ended by a careless driver on the way to practice. Gimme seemed fine, totally unconcerned by the experience. But, I wasn't and she sensed it. So we only practiced a little bit, then I headed home hoping to get in to see my chiropractor. I saw him the next day and have seen him several times since. I assumed she was going as slow as I was in the stop and go traffic. Now I think she may have let a gap open between us and then sped up to close it before some other car moved in between us and then couldn't stop fast enough. This is the only explanation for over $6K in damage to my car.

I have whiplash in two directions in my neck (she hit me TWICE and by the second hit I was turning my head to see what the heck was going on) and in my mid-back. Fortunately I'm making good progress restoring my parts to normal. Unfortunately, although she admitted fault to the state patrol, she hasn't admitted fault for insurance purposes, so restoring my van to normal is taking longer. I'm just lucky I can drive it without issue.

I apologize in advance for the background noise in these videos. J'Anna wanted to video from near the big doors, which are open for ventilation, otherwise it would be too hot. The noise you hear is from one of the big rigs sitting behind the building running its engine.

"Wait" on platform video - I started with reinforcing her staying put on the platform, hoping this would make it easier to maneuver around her to set up for the "beep". I just did a little moving around her on the platforms, which I hoped would help stabilize her position. They were a little help. I found I had to repeat the reinforcement of stay when she was positioned facing the other direction (not in the video).

I was reminded today while teaching parkour about how to teach "wait" as a function of rewarding the release. This concept is something I learned from Chris and is actually how I taught Gimme to "wait" when she was a puppy. I thought it was really successful. Over the last year her "wait" has lost much of its reliability and I've been trying to repair it by rewarding the wait. Maybe I need to go back to the original process of rewarding the release.

"Beep" w/platforms video - I was hoping using platforms here would help Gimme feel comfortable knowing where she needed to go. I didn't see any big improvement.

"Under" video - I have decided part of Gimme's problem with this move is a bit of discomfort with being "under" me. All her experience with under is with me straddling her where she can look up and see my face; she's been fine with this. I think doing it from side-to-side is just different enough to be weird. So I've been focusing since this practice session on doing "under", the old way (from behind-facing-forward) and both side-to-side directions. It occurs to me I should also teach her to do it from the front-facing-back - though this might need a different cue. Anyway, it seems to be helping, so I need to just keep doing it for awhile.

"Spinotto" & "Turnizzy" video - I wanted to end the session with some fun stuff. So we did these two combo moves. They work because the "spin" ends with her rear moving in the right direction for "otto" to begin, and "turn" ends with her rear moving in the correct direction for "izzy". We haven't done these combo moves in awhile, so I kept the cuing separate. I don't put them together very often or Gimme starts thinking every "spin" and "turn" are just the start of her backing moves.  You know how she is.

"Around" video - I have stumbled upon a way to get Gimme to tighten up her "around" and "behind" circles. She goes wide on the far side of the circle, away from where the treats are delivered. So for the short term, I will reward her there, have her finish the circle and immediately cue another. I hope this will create a habit of tight circles, then I plan to be variable about when and where the reward comes.

Even though this was a short practice compared to what we normally do, I still picked up some good stuff.