Sunday, March 20, 2016

Reverse heeling

Our newest fancy trick, taught via a little luring and pocket hand:

I'll clean up his positioning and then we'll use this as our "alternative position" in advanced Rally-FrEe, and for some Free Choice behaviors as well.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Advanced training, mystery medical problem

For the sake of my own health and trying to fix my sleep/wake cycle, I started a regimen of walking/hiking for 30 minutes right after I get up in the mornings. Of course I take Cai with me. My motivation for going out is quickly changing from "my health" to "Cai loves it." If it's raining in the morning, I now do 30 minutes of playtime and training with Cai instead.

This morning it is indeed raining, and we worked on some fun advanced training skills:
- Heeling while he's facing backwards. (This will be our Alternative Behavior in rally-free, as well as a great Free Choice behavior.)
- Turning 180 degrees to face away from me while in Center position. (The first part of the Advanced "Turn: Back Through" RF behavior.)
- Moving from Heel to Behind position on a verbal cue, and NOT confusing it with the backwards circle.
- Directed retrieve using those little rolled up Whole Foods bags that I always have on hand.
- Down from motion.

It was during this last one that I finally out the pieces together with a strange behavior that Cai sometimes does. For a long time now, he has occasionally yelped while jumping up from a lying position. This has never before happened during training, only when he was doing his own thing. So I could never tell whether he was feeling something funny, yelping, then getting up, or whether he was yelping as a consequence of getting up. Well today he did it twice as he got up from the down position on cue. And then he started offering playbows instead. And then I realized that our problem of Cai frequently offering a playbow instead of a down is likely not a cue discrimination problem, but a physical problem. Holy smokes.

He has a visit with a new chiropractor in two weeks, so in the meantime I won't be asking for any downs in training. I hope that this won't be a mystery problem that takes a long time to figure out...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rally-FrEe trial at Fetch Sam, Intermediate title

REDD hosted their annual musical freestyle and (since last year) rally-free trial this past weekend, at Fetch Sam in San Jose. Chimera competed in the Intermediate RF class on both days, and we earned the 2 legs we needed for our Intermediate level title! (Which, confusingly, is called the "Excellent" title, or RF-E/X.)

Cai spent much of the trial napping in the car or sitting on my mom's lap. We did some fun engaging (like cuddling or giving butt scratches) both before and after our run, but I only did a formal warm up for a few minutes on the first day, and one minute on the second day. I gave him plenty of time to look all around and see who was present (and he got lots of treats whenever a new dog walked in).

We went in the ring and I was ready to have fun and not worried. I knew the course well since I'd helped to set it up! I felt confident that we would qualify, and I didn't care too much about the score otherwise. (Though of course it's nice to score high!)

Well on Saturday my little monster BLEW ME AWAY. He was completely focused the entire time! No looking away when someone made a teeny sound! No worry when he messed up and I had to recue! He was prancing and looking up at me the entire time!

We scored 171, our highest score ever! We only lost significant points on the Circle Around x3 which he doesn't like and I hadn't quite fixed it in time for the event, and a few points for the confusion on the Figure 8 x2.

On Sunday he did have a teensy moment of distraction when he noticed Sherry outside the ring, and a brief floor sniff, but was still much more focused than he has been in the past. In fact, he got revved up and started barking a bunch, which he has never done before. Mostly it was my mistake - I had him do a bunch of barks on cue before we went in the ring. Then I used it as the first Free Choice behavior. And the next sign was a back up, which he sometimes confuses with barking due to old cue issues. So once that pattern happened, he just started barking. Since it messed up the third sign, Spin to Front, we lost major points on that one. We also lost points on the bobbled Switch Back, which usually goes better. And then he left my side to start running for his treats, haha.

Overall I'm still very happy with our second run, since his attitude was so happy! We scored 157.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

RF Novice Skills Test

Chimera and I earned our Rally-FrEe Novice Skills Test title (R-FE/NS) with a score of 136/150. Here's our video submission:

Note that I performed sign #11: Into Left Heel incorrectly, as the DOG should move into Left Heel. It's incorrect if the handler moves. Oops! We also lost 1 point on many of the signs due to Cai finishing wide.