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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Urban Tracking (114 & 115)

On Friday, November 16th, Nadine and I met at Flaming Geyser Park. Nadine set a nice track for Gimme down in the picnic area, while I set one for Cricket in the field area.

The two white lines are where we parked. The dark grey area at the top of the photo is the river and the medium grey line above the track is where Gimme drifted toward the river. Right after the drifting area is the covered picnic area and the track went right through it. This was the hardest part of the track for her - it just took her a bit to decide to commit. Once she did, she just zoomed through. The rest of the track, including the two road crossings, went easily.

On Thursday, November 22nd, we met at Auburn Cinema. Since it was Thanksgiving morning, we took advantage of the big empty parking lot for the Outlet Collection Mall. The area is overrun with trash (don't get me started about how rude people are these days), which provided plenty of distraction. The parking lot is about twice as long as the cinema parking lot, so we were able to lay some really long legs.

I worried how Gimme would do since she is so deep in her false pregnancy and I thought it might be too much to expect her to focus for as long as she'd need to for a track. I need not have worried at all, she did a really nice job on this. She was distracted a lot by all the trash. She'd see a bit, run to it and sniff it, then move back to the track. For the rest of her track, she did a stellar job, making the turns easily and finding all of her articles. I was very pleased.

I can't complain with how she's doing on her different scentwork sports even though she's in a false pregnancy. She does reasonably well at parkour, especially since we are doing lower level for entries for premier level 1. RallyFrEe is a different story - she stresses so easily. She just wants to get back to the car and her baby - this time a blue lamb toy. Thankfully, in a couple weeks she'll get back to normal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

RFE Practice (81) & Entry

This was the day we had selected to video for the West2 RFE competition. The course was verrrrry doable, so I was hopeful we'd do well. Such was not the case. Except for when I had treats readily available she was just not able to focus. She was much better last week.

Simultaneous spins video - We hadn't done this in a very long time, so I wasn't sure what to expect. She did okay at it, though not perfect. I didn't want to belabor the fine points.

Free choice 4 video - She was losing focus already, just three minutes into our practice. The behavior I'd trained was to for her "center", "bacon" onto the tub and then "low" (left paw lift). We quickly discovered I'd have to let go of the paw lift. By the time we were doing the course, I had to let go of "center" too. She kept going out around the tub, then coming back to me into "center" and then "bacon" onto the tub.

Free choice 1 video - This is a trick we've done a lot and it comes out very nicely. By the time we video our course run through it was falling apart.

Right paw lift video - She was doing this fine at home, but couldn't remember how to do it in "side" position on this day. I tried to refresh her memory, but it just wasn't coming. I trained this using the couch as a platform and so here I used a chair. I got the right paw, but never could get her to do it beside me. I didn't want to get her frustrated, so I came up with a work-around. I pivoted in front of her and gave her the hand signal, then pivoted back into position. The behavior description only says the dog has to remain in a sit in the position we have approaching the sign, nothing about the handler. I'm sure we'll still take a major deduction for this, but hopefully better than failing it entirely.

We had one run through which is somewhat passable.  I don't think it will pass, but I have thought so before and gotten passing scores.  Generally the judges are far gentler in their assessments than I would be.  I think this run should score at 110 points; we need 125 points to qualify.  Still, my assessment versus the judge's assessment have been more than 15 points apart before, so who knows.  If it does pass, it will complete her RallyFrEe intermediate title.  RallyFrEeIntermediate video

I should know in the next couple of weeks.  We are at 59 titles and I'd like to have a nice round number before the end of the year.  Just in case, Gimme and I are working on the videos we need to complete her ADP Premier 1 title.  We are probably 70% done with those.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Nosework (5/34)

We had three fun interior searches.  They were all off leash, which Gimme loved.

Interior 1 search video - This search had one inaccessible hide, high on the garage door. We were told none of the dogs had gone for the high hide directly  and instead they needed to take a tour of the rest of the room first. Gimme must not have gotten the memo. Then again, she's always had a fondness for high hides. She nailed this hide in 48 seconds.

Interior 2 search video - This time there were two inaccessible hides. When the dogs found the hides we were to make it accessible. I like this concept. I was waiting for more commitment from Gimme, but the instructor thought I should do it sooner. Interestingly she gave me more commitment and sooner for the other hide. Maybe she just needed to know I could/would help her. Gimme was the only dog in class to start with the big obstacle in the center of the room; all the others did the back corner hide first. BTW this was Lynn's first time videoing Gimme, hence many of her comments.

Interior 3 search videoThis time the stool was moved outside the center obstacle and tucked in one of the little alcoves created by the baby gating. The instructor said most dogs would tend to go around without checking the various alcoves, which Gimme did. She checked the three "flat" sides more readily, buzzing by the seemingly "round" side a couple of times. She first caught the drift from the hide while checking a flat side and almost went by it completely again, but had slowed a little and was able to catch herself while she was still close. Sometimes speed is a disadvantage. The slowest dog in class was the fastest on this hide, but then took forever to get the back corner hide. It had been made completely accessible; chairs pulled away and table turned so hide was to the front. Gimme found it very quickly.

Next week is a skip week, since it's Thanksgiving week. Gimme will enjoy the break.

...Happy Thanksgiving...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Urban Tracking (113)

Nadine and I met at Game Farm on November 9th. It was a cool 57º, dew on everything and no breeze. Nadine laid this simple track for Gimme and we aged it 45 minutes. I wanted it simple because of Gimme's false pregnancy. She does pretty good with nose-related stuff, but tracking is a little challenging because it requires focusing for a longer time than something like nosework.

Gimme did a good job and found all her articles.  She was a little distracted on the second turn with a bit of crittering.  Lucky for me, she's not critter obsessed.  Nadine made the final path crossing on a long diagonal.  It's human to want to square up our crossings; Gimme had no problem with the diagonal.

There were a lot of dropped leaves and Nadine buried the last glove (orange) in a bunch of yellow and orange leaves.  Gimme was going pretty fast and almost over shot the glove, but caught the scent of it and turned back on a thin dime. 

When we were able to track at Medline, I used to bury small articles in the beauty bark all the time.  So Gimme is really attuned to finding them whether she can see them or not.  The only time she had any challenge with buried hides was when they'd refreshed their beauty bark and it was particularly strong smelling.  Even then she still found it and then for the other two articles (also buried) she had no trouble at all.  I think she had to tune her nose to the challenge.

Wish she could apply this straight across to buried hides in AKC nosework.  I'm sure she could do it if I'd just set up some boxes to actually train it.

Monday, November 12, 2018

RFE practice (80)

Gimme is going into her false pregnancy, naturally just in time for our RFE Intermediate entry. If we qualify, it'll be our third leg and a title, so cross your fingers for us. When she's in a false pregnancy, she has a tendency to get food frantic, where she stops listening and just flings behaviors at me trying to get a treat.

I tried using her special bowl, but she became obsessed about it. It was so bad when I sent her to do her brick-pivot, which was somewhat in the direction of the special bowl, she ran to the bowl instead. I think the excitement of running to it was just too much, as was running in the direction of it. If you listen for it, you will hear some whining when she wants to go to the bowl and I won't say the word. My goal was to reward calm behaviors, so I abandoned the special bowl, which this time seemed to be working against what we needed.

I practiced all of our free choice behaviors and some of the course behaviors. Then I did short sequences of 2 or 3 behaviors. I also made it a point to work through the distraction of corners. I don't know why they fascinate her so. The same stuff has always been there and this was our 80th practice session, so it should be blasé by now. On video day we'll set up ring gates for the whole end and anywhere else of special "interest".

Corner distraction video - This clip shows how we worked on her issue with corner distraction. On video day for the entry, I plan to work on this first. It's always effective and I should probably do it at the beginning of every training session to remind Gimme how to deal with it. Minutes later as we heeled into the same corner it was like we'd never done the session. <sigh> I think this is because of the false pregnancy, because it usually lasts for the whole time we are there.

Course segments video - This is the entire course, using the special bowl to reward after each segment. Before the third segment I moved the special bowl so it wouldn't be such a distraction for our "brick"-"pivot" combo. Then it was too much distraction when I wanted her to "scoot" and she couldn't even do the "center".

"Center" & pivots video - Later we had to drop everything to work on "center", reminding her how to do it. By this time I'd put the special bowl away, but it took her a bit to get it out of her head. I found the best solution was when I started putting cheese in my mouth and spitting it to her when she was in position. I think it helped because watching my face for flying cheese meant she had to be in position. To reinforce it, we also worked on our center-pivots. Of course looking up so much means she tends to crouch her rear. The flying treats also helped with keeping a CCW pivot from turning into "otto".

Sidepasses video - We did a little bit of work on this. Gimme is starting to get comfortable with actually doing sidepasses even if she doesn't yet have the cue down.

Before doing a final run-through, I heeled Gimme through the course pattern, doing only behaviors I needed to keep her on the correct side. She gave me a nice 1:15 of focused attention and I hoped we'd do well for the final run-through.

Final run-through video - By this time they had started a very noisy puppy class in the small training area right next to us. So even though it wasn't perfect, I was happy with Gimme's efforts. She does reasonably well until we get to the "otto" station, which is her favorite move. Unfortunately the receptionist's dog chooses this time to have a screeching fit. With her condition, Gimme was unable to get past this on her own. I finally chose to reward a part of an "otto", which seemed to be enough to help her get back to work. From there she did a nice job through to the end.

We have our course map for this event. It looks very doable and I'm hopeful we'll do well. Gimme is doing pretty good with our bits of training. My plan is to quit with the first passable run-through we get and not belabor things.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Nosework (3/34 & 4/34)

Our prior class was the night before Halloween, so as is tradition, we searched in the dark. I do find I pay more attention to the noises she makes.

Interior 1, Search in the Dark video - It's pretty fun to "watch" the dogs. There is a little light in the room, but mostly you can only see glow sticks. There are a lot of glow sticks on the floor and the handlers and dogs all wear them.

Interior 2, Search in the Dark video - Dorothy moved all the hides. During this search Gimme started going faster and she bumps into the table supports twice. She does a good job finding the hides.

Interior 3, Search in the Dark video - This time Dorothy moved all three hides close together, creating a complex converging odor search. The other two searches were about 2 minutes each. This search, which was much more difficult, she solved in 45 seconds.

This week in class, we were back to the short line handling stuff. As I've said, I don't like it. I don't think it's a good technique for us. Now that the class has split into two groups, I'm in the earlier group and the other three dogs are steady and/or moderate speed dogs and it works better for them.

Gimme moves fast and changes direction unpredictably, with no hint whether she's just turning or reversing course (often right into me). This means I'm stutter stepping all over. Even using a longer line than Dorothy thinks is right, I'm still moving awkwardly to stay out of her way. I find it noisy and I can't help but think it must be distracting for Gimme. Normally we are supposed to avoid distracting the dogs, so this doesn't make sense. Note the difference in how I move about in the first two searches versus how I move in the last search (off leash).

I've done two things to make this sort of work for us (until the instructors move on to another topic). I am using more line than Dorothy thinks is "just perfect" for us - she didn't say anything this class. And I'm actually working the leash with two hands, sliding it through and letting it play out through my left hand. So I can work it shorter and keep the tension, without being in Gimme's space or in her way. I didn't get any comments/suggestions, so it must be close enough to what they want (or they're giving up telling me what to do).

Interior 1 search video - I know I was sliding the line back and forth through my left hand a lot - I felt it. Still it's not really noticeable in the video. Key point to me is the lack of dirty looks from Gimme.

BTW I didn't' realize I needed to charge the camera battery, so there are some gaps in the videos. We miss the first 15 seconds of search 2 and the last hide in search 3.

Interior 2 search video - One thing I love about Gimme is how much distraction she can ignore when she's working scent. She paid no attention at all to Paul and Janice when they were talking loudly. She's really very efficient in this search, especially given the need to drag me around with her.

Interior 3 search video - This time Gimme gets to work off leash, which she much prefers in a chaotic environment. This search isn't any faster than the others because of a converging odor challenge between the big stool on its side and the little stool in the bathroom. Gimme got really frustrated and obsessed a bit about the hide on the big stool, but when I don't accept it (when she doesn't leave it, I just walk away) then she follows me. After she finds the nice high hide on the ladder [camera dies right then], she goes directly to the bathroom and its hide.  Almost makes me wonder if all three hides weren't converging somehow.  The ladder seems too far away, but given how she acted, I don't discount the possibility.

I think part of her frustration was an impending false pregnancy. Just two days later, she whelps a baby bat and now she's fully into her false pregnancy. She is always so much more emotional (and hungry) then. She's a good girl and still persists to solve puzzles, but she does try to persuade me to give her extra treats now and then.

In the end she always persists - she's such a great worker and I am so blessed.