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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

RFE practice (92)

This is our last Thursday practice. I hope the freestyle class is all the hype.

Freeshaping backward weaves video - Gimme did three bottles at home, but we were clearly starting over here. I made up some "cones" from empty juice bottles, so Gimme won't hurt herself again. Though, I think taller cones helped her remember which side to be on. She was so distracted by the barking, I decided to change the setup back to what we started with to help her get started.

Distance send video - Gimme is well versed in this behavior and I only decided to do it because there was one "cone" out. It's one of the advanced behaviors we use in ADP parkour.

Center front pivot video - Just a quick practice of this in both directions. I was focused on getting Gimme to stick with me on the CCW pivot. She prefers to go fast and will turn it into an "otto" in a nanosecond. Of all the things I've tried, spitting treats to her works best, probably because she has to watch my face, so she can't get too far out of position. 
Platform work video - My goals are for Gimme to be comfortable standing still on the platform while facing away from me. So I'm gradually getting her accustomed to touching the target stick with me in different positions (farther and farther back). I'm also working on a duration touch of the target stick. This is the farthest back I've been able to get, so we are making steady progress. I absolutely must focus on feeding for position. When I changed sides, she offered "turn" several times, so we worked through it.

J'Anna's done as much as she wants in RallyFrEe, so she often is working on different things than I am. Last time and this time, she brought stuff for UKC nosework. Both of her girls, and now Gimme< are entered in Master Pre-Trial for the upcoming trial. Last time we got together she set it up to practice with Glory in a strange location. I was curious what Gimme would do with Myrrh, which she'd never smelled before and she aced it. So I went home and sent in my entry for a master pre-trial test. This time J'Anna set up both interior and exterior searches and then a pre-trial run through.

Interior 1 video - A big challenge here was for Gimme to get into her nosework brain, since we always work other things in this location. Note how her whole demeanor changes when she really smells odor. She does a good job for such a large space. I give her time to get near the distraction, which she basically ignores.

Exterior 1 video - She does a good job with this search. Gimme is more interested in the distraction this time and while she paws at it, she doesn't look at me, so it's not an indication.

Master Pre-trial run-through video - We ran through it three times. I'd only planned to do it twice, but Gimme learned a new trick, sticking her nose in the box until it gets stuck on her face and then flinging the box off. Always entertaining this girl of mine. So we did it a third time to see if she'd indicate in a more normal way.

Next Thursday is the Freestyle and RallyFrEe workshop and then we start Freestyle class the following week.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Nosework class (3/37)

This class was just last week.  Gimme was bored to tears as I was working on taxes and annual filing, so she was verrrrry eager to get to class.  I haven't told her yet, but next week is a skip week.

Exterior 1 video - Gimme races from the startline to the first hide and indicates in 4½ seconds! It takes her much longer to find the other hide. The breeze picked up making it a very messy scent picture. Plus the second hide was only a few feet from the first and higher, so scent from it would have fallen on the first one. Note how Gimme goes back to the first one a couple of times and the second time she moves on by herself going right to the other hide. She's so smart.

Our interior searches focused on suspended hides again.

Interior 1 video - She finds the first hide in 18 seconds - clearly her nose is recovering from the pollen. Once we're at the back of the room, you can just barely see the suspended hide against the blue wall and to the right of the orange divider. Gimme is smelling scent in many places where it's falling and you'll see her sometimes look at me, not as an indication, but to see if I think it's there. Note how right before she indicates, she sniffs low on the green chair and then her nose goes in a straight line to indicate the hide. It took her nearly 2 minutes to solve the puzzle.

Interior 2 video - She races in the room and you'll see her tip her nose up to the hide, but for some reason it wasn't enough to indicate or she just overshot her nose because she was moving too fast. She wanted it to be on the cart. Then she goes back to the suspended hide, indicating in just 38 seconds. Amazing!

The last search was composed of regular hides. Dogs tend to get patterned train and Gimme especially so.

Interior 3 video - She finds the hide on the upturned table quickly and shows she's not the least bit concerned about walking on the icky surface. After Gimme finds the table hide, you'll see her sniff high where she found the last suspended hide. Then she quickly goes to the other hide. She gets both of them, including reward time in 33 seconds.

She was clearly on fire...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Urban Tracking (137)

On Thursday, April 18th, Nadine and I met at the Auburn Cinema for tracking. I asked Nadine for a simple track with lots of articles for motivation. It was a cool 49° and we aged the track for 25 minutes. It had rained in the middle of the night, so the pavement was still wet.
The two white blobs to the left are where we were parked. The two orange-red blobs in the upper right are police cars with lights flashing. Gimme did great, wanting to run in places, even squeezing between a curb and a car to get the second article. She was distracted by the policemen - you know how she loves men, plus there was a lot activity as they were making the perp spread-eagle against the patrol car. Thankfully she went back to work on her own so I didn't have to pull her back from gawking and she was almost immediately rewarded by another article. She took the first turn so fast she didn't even seem to notice it. The second turn was a little more challenging, but she figured it out soon enough.

She was flying along, finding articles and having a great time. She had a bit of a challenge when she got to the missing article (the second one after the second turn). But not finding anything she looked back at me, saying, "What the...?" I encouraged her to "track-on" and she did. Before long she found the last article.

She was still struggling with pollen at this time last year, so I think the bee pollen is helping a lot. It was fun to see her really being her usual tracking-genius-self. Of course, we are still making things easier for her. Initially the making it easier was still leaving her with a lot of challenges, so now we'll gradually get back to her usual parameters.

BTW - I mentioned J'Anna and I were losing our Thursday time slot for RallyFrEe practice at Pawsabilities. The slot will be filled with a Freestyle class, which we both want to try. So not only do we have to move our practice to another day, I also have to move my tracking day. J'Anna and Nadine are both able to move to Tuesday, alternating between them. So for the moment all is working out.

I'm excited about the freestyle class. I'm planning to arrive early and help Lezlie with set-up and have offered to help with her RallyFrEe class, which follows ours. It'll be challenging for Gimme since the class is large with strange dogs, but I'm sure she'll get used to it. And I'll get used to the strangers with their unknowns (specifically can/will they control their dogs). I sure hope this lives up to the hype and proves worth the inconvenience of changing our schedules with my two practice partners and other things to dovetail in. Cross your fingers.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Nosework class (2/37)

This is last week's nosework class, with an Easter theme.

Exterior 1 video - We did this search in a light rain. Gimme immediately found the hide in the tree, while it was the last hide found for all her classmates. While she went by the next hide and to the right leaving the search area, as it turned out - when I swung her back in, it was aimed right at the next hide. She had one false alert and I don't know why. She does find the nearby hide, but I don't understand why the scent would blow uphill to drift onto the other, especially since it was cool out.

Interior 1 video - This is a very long search for just one hide. It's suspended and it may be hard to see; though it gets moving at one point and then you'll notice it. Before then, while it's in the foreground, it's aligned against the orange panels near the far wall. I never see any evidence of Gimme noticing it before she pops right up and indicates it. Suspended hides don't act like other hides, so they can be extra challenging to solve.

Interior 2 video - This time they moved the hide to hang off the track near the back of the room. At 1:07 Gimme pops up to smell the fish-line near where it attaches to the chair, she would be smelling the hand scent of the instructor and possible scent transfer from when she handled the hide and then the line. At 2:17 she points her nose right up at the hide, but whatever the reason wasn't enough for her to make a decision. You will see she spends most of her time in the area of the hide, but then does the thing she often does, moving out of the area, so she can define the edge of the scent cone. She is then drawn to the front of the room by the sound of a chair rolling across the room, but then works her way back to the same area. At 5:20 she gets caught up in the fish-line, causing the hide to go a foot higher than it was. Fortunately she is resilient and such things don't bother her. She keeps searching and finally makes the decision at almost exactly 7 minutes! That's a very long search.

I love-love-love how persistent she is. She never gives up and doesn't even show any signs of frustration. She has always enjoyed a good challenge and she was certainly determined to solve this one.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

RFE practice (91)

 This is our practice session from 2 weeks ago.

Pivot-in-a-bucket video - I started with a little heeling warm-up, clicking for her better moments of heeling, then we went straight into freeshaping her pivot-in-a-bucket. I'm ignoring her when she puts her back feet in. I find I have to reshape this behavior every session, but it progresses faster each time. This was hard with all the dogs barking in daycare. Still she got to where she was doing a full pivot and she did it several times. I am careful to only give her rewards when her feet are both in the bucket. She had a tendency to spin herself out of the bucket, but not as much now. I think this is coming along very nicely.

Pivot-on-the-can video - I went straight from pivot-in to pivot-on, using the same prop. I wouldn't ordinarily do them together, especially not if both were behaviors still being trained. However, the pivot-on-the-can is a well-established behavior, so I wanted to keep it fresh as a distinct behavior. After all, the prop itself is part of the cue, so I did this to reinforce listening for the cue. In this case it's "can-pivot".

Center-back video - Gimme prefers backing up behaviors, so she has a lot of behaviors using her super power. My intent was to work on backing up to do a behavior at a distance, but we got distracted away from it. J'Anna suggested I have her back and then wait in position, while I go to her. We'd never done it before, so it wasn't elegant, but she did do it.

Platform work 1 video - This is a continuation of an idea I fell onto while we were at the hotel during the barn hunt trial weekend. The idea is to gradually expose her to a change in my position relative to hers, so I can get her to stop, facing "away" 180°, instead of treating it like a full spin. I think this will work, but it's only the second time I've tried it, so I'm still working out the kinks. I'm also looking for a little more endurance in the touch.

Platform work 2 video - This is a separate session of the same concept, but on the other side. It's a much shorter session and I get further, but only because we'd already gone through it some. Fortunately Gimme is brilliant and readily transfers things she learned one way to another way. BTW do note we are using stacked platforms so it's more noticeable to her when she has a foot off.

Center front pivot video - When we go CCW she is more likely to get ahead of me, so I was trying out turning back to see if it helped - it didn't. Spitting treats to her when she's precisely in position makes the most difference.

Freeshaping backward weaves video - We've been making good progress with this, but then we had an unfortunate experience here and it has cost us a bit. Gimme tried to "bacon" on a cone and slipped and jabbed herself in the tummy with the cone. After that she was quite worried about it and I spent several minutes encouraging her to just stand next to the evil second cone.

Since then we've practiced with our bleach bottles. They are much shorter, so she won't be able to hurt herself in the same way. We actually introduced a third cone the last session. It took her a little bit to understand what I wanted, but when she did, she got a huge jackpot.

I don't want to risk Gimme getting hurt again, so I've come up with 3 new bottles to use. They are about the size of bleach bottles and I can fill them with water (don't want to carry a bunch of bleach in the car). I'll make a couple stripes around them with white duct tape, so they are more visible.

I've just learned we are loosing our Thursday morning practice time at Pawsabilities. There is someone coming to teach Freestyle and RallyFrEe at that time. I may take her Freestyle class if she accepts the instructor discount; otherwise her prices are too high for this area. So now I'll have to change all my scheduling with everyone around. I have a plan for tracking with Nadine, but haven't gotten an answer from J'Anna about whether she could practice on Tuesdays. Cross your fingers.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Nosework class (1/37)

I'm behind again. Been doing taxes and Gimme is CERTAIN she is being abused.

Vehicle 1 video - I don't know why Gimme swung out to the right from the start line, since the vehicle was to our left. You can definitely see when she catches odor and it's all catch-up for me then. She gets to source right away. You can also definitely see when she decides there are no more hides.

Container 1 video - Gimme finds the first hide easily, but then struggles finding the other one. She kept going back to the first one, but was also searching elsewhere. I'm not sure I would have read this right in a trial and might have called "finish". The hide she struggled finding was down at the end, close to where the wind whips around the building.

Exterior 1 video - This is not an easy search. The wind is always the strongest along the back of the building. It takes Gimme 1:40 to find the first hide. Then just 25 seconds to find the next hide. I think the wind was swirling the rock hide over toward the trucks. As Dorothy points out, once Gimme found the first hide, she did go back close to the trucks where she'd shown interest before, but then leaves it to go right to the area of the rock hide and has it within seconds.

Interior 1 video - Note how direct Gimme is, going straight to the second room. She wasn't even interested in the foyer. And if you had divided the room into quadrants, she spends the whole time in the quadrant where the hide was located. This search was really nice.

Interior 2 video - This search took her 2 minutes to resolve. It was definitely playing with her expectations. She was so interested in all the stuff in the middle of the area, partly because she's found hides in center-stuff before. She also checks the aerobics steps at the end of the room. The things she barely notices are the bookshelves, chairs and fan - which are all where they normally are. When she doesn't find something readily, she slows herself down and then is able to find the hide behind the fan.

Interior 3 video - Gimme finds the first hide at the far end of the room in 22 seconds. She finds the second hide in 23 seconds.

She was really on fire this night.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Great Barn Hunt Trial


Crazy8 (1) - Gimme started with a tunnel and then false alerted on a litter tube (fault costs 20 points). She was certain it was the real deal. From there she found two rats and climbed on a bale. She went back to the tube she'd false alerted on repeatedly, wasting a lot of time trying to convince me it was a rat. Because of the fault we only got 20 points for this run.

I was concerned the pollen issue and reduced scenting ability might make it really hard for her to tell the difference between litter and rat tubes. This did not bode well for the rest of the weekend. The only thing I could do at this point was to encourage her to drink a LOT of water, hoping to keep those nasal passages moist. I stopped by Safeway on the way to the hotel and bought some hamburger so I could encourage plenty of water consumption.

Crazy8 (2) - Gimme found a rat within seconds of leaving the start box. Then she got a climb on the way to another rat. I cued her to tunnel and after she came out she hunted until she found a third rat. This gave us a nice 50 points.

Masters (2) - Gimme performed well in Masters. She found 3 rats and did climb and tunnel. Then she went to the gate. She's done it in the past and I found it an unreliable signal of whether there are more rats. I had her go around the ring with me checking any likely spots and we did find the 4th rat. Then she went to the gate twice more. Since I didn't have any other ideas where to check, I called "finish" and was right. Her run took 3:36.12 and would have been 5th place if they had ribbons for it. This is Gimme's 5th leg toward RATCHX; she's halfway there.

I came into the weekend not knowing what we were going toward in the advanced titles. Madam Barn Hunt proposed some significant changes right after we finished out RATCH in September. She asked for comments and suggestions from competitors. All the suggestions were shot down in flames, though the comments were mostly negative. It seemed pretty certain she was going to do it despite objections. Fortunately trial secretaries were also much opposed to the extra work they'd have to do, so for the time being things will stay the same. YIPPEEEEEE!!!!!


Crazy8 (1) - Gimme was on fire to run. She found two rats quickly and did climb on the way to a third. I had her tunnel, then she found two more rats. She was going so fast and eagerly, I hoped we'd break the 5 rat barrier, but she was just a few seconds too slow. This judge waits really late to call "climb", many times not until you've done it several times, so I wasted time encouraging Gimme to get up on bales. We still came away with a nice 70 points.

NEWS FLASH: I was checking the results to confirm points and Q's and discovered the scribe for our first Crazy8 run didn't check our fault, so we get an extra 20 points. Other errors can be corrected, but if the scribe errs and the judge doesn't catch it, it stands. There have been other times when I thought we were robbed, so this kinda makes up for it.

Crazy8 (2) - Gimme did another great run. She got two rats right away, then did a climb on the way to another. Then she ran around and found a fourth rat. I had her tunnel and then she found a fifth rat. The judge said "sorry, you're out of time" and as I turned toward Gimme she was indicating another rat. Twice in a row we've been just seconds away from breaking the five rat barrier.

It occurs to me I spend a fair amount of time making sure she's committed before I call a rat. She's been solid on them for awhile now, so perhaps I can back off some.

Masters (2) - Gimme found two of two rats really quickly, with a climb on the way. She slowed down a little bit and I was just starting to walk her around pointing out things she could check. She alerted on one of the places I pointed to and she was barking and using her paws - the things I rely on and it was a false alert. She lied to me. She does this sometimes, usually when there is only one or two rats. She wants there to be more or she gets frustrated because the rats are all gone and we are still there, so she false alerts to make me happy. I've always said one or two rats is harder than five rats.

In the evening we had The Talk - which is where I remind her to only indicate tubes with rats in them, not any others. Gimme hates having talks and as soon as I start she gets up and turns her back to me. It occurs to me we should have the talk before the trial starts, or maybe a brief reminder while we are waiting in the blind.


There was a potluck scheduled for Sunday, so I brought my crockpot and canned goods to make Taco Soup. I wedged it in when I put it in the car, but apparently not well enough. On the way to the trial, an IDIOT failed to stop and drove right in front of me, so I had to slam the brakes on. Suddenly I could really smell the soup. Half of it ended up under the driver's seat and in every little nook and cranny you can imagine. It took me an hour just to do a preliminary cleanup. On a positive note it wasn't raining and the car smells really yummy.

Crazy8 (1) - Gimme was on fire. She was racing around finding the rats. She's pretty funny the way she'll bark when she gets close to a rat - then I say "Can you be more specific?" Then she gets right in there and barks directly at the tube and paws at it. She got her usual 5 rats today. One of them was in a spot where it was hard for her to paw at it, so she just barked right at it. I said, "Are you sure?" To which she replied "Awwraaa waahr larrr awwwhhh larrrrr." Everyone was laughing. The judge was laughing so hard she could barely reply "Rat 4" when I called it. I think this is Gimme's response to our having The Talk last night, probably meaning... "You never listen! I said it's a rat!"

Masters (1) - There were just two rats and she found them pretty fast and did a tunnel the first time I asked her. She went to the gate a couple of times. I walked her around pointing out places I hadn't seen her check. I made sure to keep myself moving the moment she went to check them. She resisted any urge to false alert - Good Girl. As hard as it is for me to call "clear" I did and we got another Q. That brings us to 6 MasterB Q's, so we just need four more to get a RATCHX.

Crazy8 (2) - Gimme did a nice clean job in our last class. She seemed to be moving a tad slower than before. It was a loooooonnnnnng weekend. She came away with another 60 points. This brings our total to 360 for the weekend and we need just 100 points to finish the next level Crazy8 title.

Here is a picture of Gimme with her ribbons and new toy.

Gimme's new rat toy sings, instead of squeaking, which I'm not sure she likes. When it starts singing she puts it down and stares at it. Then she waits awhile before she tries playing with it again. Right now it is on the floor, she's on the couch staring at it. She might be okay with letting me keep this one on the shelf. Here's a little video of it Singing.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Nosework class (6/36)

The instructors had set up blind hide challenges and I reminded them I wanted to know how many hides there were while Gimme was discombobulated by pollen.
Vehicle 1 video - There was just one hide here and Gimme found it very quickly. There was a slight breeze blowing toward us and you can see how Gimme reads it and then takes herself around to the other side to find source.

Interior 1 video - This search was pairs of hides (Gimme's hides were also paired with food) and we were instructed to keep them in the area when they showed a change of behavior until they had solved both hides. Gimme shows an obvious COB at the red cart and sources quickly, but spends a bit of time getting the ladder hide. She is much faster to source both the support beam and stool hides. She clearly knew there were hides at the far end of the room and when she got there, she nailed the fan hide and then the one on the grooming table.

Interior 2 video - This time they left one pair of the hides and the dogs got to run it off leash. The idea was to see if they were faster or searched different off leash. She was faster by 25 seconds and I do think being on leash disrupts her normal search style. However, I don't think this is an adequate comparison. Without the other hides, which create a very different "picture", it's really not the same search, so you can't make a straight comparison.

All in all it was a good class and we both enjoyed it.