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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Urban Tracking (123 & 124)

On Thursday, January 24th, Nadine and I met at Auburn Cinema. She laid a track for Gimme using a somewhat different area. It was 42º and the track was aged 50 minutes. Breeze was negligible.

The start was a challenge. Nadine placed the start on the inside corner of an L-shaped island. Gimme went across to the other side of the island, which was very narrow there. This means she really didn't get her nose grounded in the actual scent of the track, thus she had difficulty with the first corner. Once she did get this first corner, she did well for the rest of the track.

The other challenge was all the trash in the landscaping on the last leg before turning toward the center of the parking lot (lower left of the picture). This proved very distracting - she finds trash fascinating. I just kept reminding her what we were there for and she did get back to work. Once she found the article on this leg, then she was all-in for the rest of the track.

On Sunday, January 27th, I laid a track for Gimme at Temple Baptist Church before going to services at my own church, right next door.

My goal was to revisit the area where she was so distracted by the woods. I also changed the track to not take her through the worst of the foot traffic coming out of the sanctuary. By starting on the left side of the main parking lot (on the other side of the curb so no one would pick up my start sock), we avoided most of the foot traffic since there was no sidewalk there. People coming out of the sanctuary would either turn right on the sidewalk and out into the main parking lot or go straight to the small parking lot. I also made sure I walked by the portico outside the little planter, so she had a curb to hold scent. I also thought it would funnel people into two small areas if they were going straight, instead of a broad swath of contamination.

It was 41º degrees, the track was aged 1:45 and there was a light breeze. Gimme did well with the start and even crossed the curb within a foot of where I crossed it. She did a lovely job in the parking area, so my strategy worked to limit the challenge to what I wanted. She made the turn left toward the grassy area easily. She was a little bit distracted by the woods, but nothing like what she'd experienced the last time we were here.  I'll never know what the distraction was.  She almost missed the article on the rightmost leg, but caught it herself and searched until she found it. The article right before the end article was at the bottom of a ditch/depression on the last leg.  (Sil would be so proud of me for crossing at an angle)  I covered the article with a large leaf, but she found it easily - almost standing on her head to stop for it. She found all her articles and for the most part, stayed on task.

She's such a good little tracker. She makes this look so easy.  I think we could be ready for a TDU test this year, if we can find one in Fall.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Nosework class (6/35)

This class was mostly about distractions. I brought cat poop (thanks to friend Carol) and corn chips. Neither proved to be an issue for any of the dogs. Still it was a good thing, since even a novel smell which doesn't trap the dogs adds to their experience base. You just can't have too much experience in this sport.

Container 1 video - Our first search was a series of blind container searches. We weren't supposed to call alert out loud and we were to say how many hides we thought there were.
- First was the foyer. Gimme was ready to go to the next room - I think because most of our searches are in the big room, and the door was wide open. Even with the time wasted trying to go through the open door, she had the hide in 7 seconds. She checked all the other boxes and I said one hide - I was right.
- Second was camouflage colored brick boxes. She had the only hide in 8 seconds. I noticed she tended to push the distraction containers around with her nose. She did this consistently all evening.
- Third was bright colored brick boxes. She had the hide in under 5 seconds. There was one hide. She did get caught by a distraction and looked at me hoping I'd fall for it. We took her around again so she could leave the distraction on her own, then go to an odor box and get paid.
- Fourth was a big circle of large boxes. She stuttered at the little lunchbox, but didn't stick it or indicate. It took 25 seconds to find the first hide and another 17 seconds to get back to the lunch box and indicate. Clearly just 2 hides and she didn't fall for any distractions.
- I'm happy to see I'm getting better at knowing when she is done with an area.

Container 2 video - This time all the hides and distractions were moved into the big circle for one big search. Gimme overran her nose, but caught herself and turned back to the hide. She found all four hides (one of them twice) in a minute. She really was on fire.

Not-Containers 3 video - This time they took up all the container hides and placed one odor tin at the base of the table legs. Since we'd just done 5 container searches and the containers were still out, the dogs all expected to do another container search. Gimme is torn between the containers and odor not-in-a-container. You'll see her go back and forth several times before she sticks to odor. Then she goes around the whole circle again before deciding to follow her nose to odor at the other end of the room. This was such a good exercise - such good value to teach the dog to let go of expectations and follow their nose. Way cool.

Container 4 video - They set up an ORT-like search for a classmate who got into an ORT the following weekend. We had the choice of whether to do it or not. We did - never hurts to have an easy-peasy search. Gimme nails it in 4 seconds. Even at a dead run, she skidded to stop and indicate. That's my girl...

BTW the classmate went to the ORT and was successful on all 3 odors. Yay for them...

I was pleased to see Gimme was mostly reasonable in her indications on boxes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

RFE practice (85)

Ray Underwood is leading our workshop this month. What you see here is based on his first video on reverse heeling. He prepared another more detailed video and I think it'll make a big difference once I incorporate information from it.
Reverse Heeling video - I've decided the cues for these will be variants of the reverse of the forward heeling cues. So "leah" for heel side and "diss" for the other side. Gimme is picking this up nicely. We first tried it during a walk when she wanted a treat. This is only the second session. I think when I clean up my handling it'll look a lot nicer.

Sequencing for "Java Jive" video - This is the first time Gimme and I worked on this, so we started out tinkering with the sequence I had in my head. It really seemed to work nicely, I just had to get my part working. This time Gimme didn't feel the need to change my choreography. The weakest part as a behavior is the end behavior. We haven't done it in awhile, so I'm sure I need to refresh it separate from sequencing. Then again, I may need to come up with something else, since the turn to face her doesn't seem to work smoothly and with this behavior we'd need it to have good presentation for the camera. BTW I did a lot more sequencing warm-up than I show here.

3 sequences video - Here are three short sequences where it's starting to come together. As much as I hate coffee and/or tea, I do like this song a lot. I like the strength of the beat and the timing.

Freeshaping 1 video - I thought it would help to start with her backing up and sitting on a low stool, to get the idea in her head for sitting on the stuffed cat. The first stool was too high and uncomfortable to sit with her front feet on the ground. The second stool was better for sitting, but it did tend to move. It did work and we got some good sits.

Freeshaping 2 video - I tried doing this with the stuffed cat. We worked at this more than I have here on video, but the battery died on the camera. We made a little progress, but based on the whining, it's clear Gimme was frustrated. This stuffed cat is a broken mechanical cat and has a hard body covered in loose fur. Because of the contouring, it might not be easy to sit on. I'm going to make a trip to Goodwill and see if they have any stuffed cats that might work better.

MDSA Heeling samples video - For the MDSA workshop, Ray wanted to see some heeling samples with Gimme. So this includes a bit of side view, front/back view and a set of leg weaves.

I thought it interesting to see Gimme's heeling position was better here, in a strange place, than it was in the familiarity of our regular training session. I'm pondering whether she may feel more comfortable working closer when she knows we are "just heeling". It occurs to me the times I've lost my balance or mis-stepped have been at the training center when we are doing heeling with behaviors. I've watched since then and the little bit of heeling practice when we are out walking are also closer. Gimme is very smart, so it wouldn't surprise me if she's picked up on the "safe-to-be-close" distinction.