Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Mock Trial" at home

Oooh, how long has it been since we've had a fancy paint drawing of a course map?  ;o)  Yeah, yeah. Maybe some day I'll spring for Course Designer. I haven't even done the free download on my computer yet because I don't want it there taunting me after the free trial ends.

Last night I dialed my brain back into "NADAC mode" and fabricated this little number. The goal of the night was pretty simple -- replicate, to the best of my abilities, the behavior chain that Kizzy would go through at the trial this weekend. I kept Kizzy to a simple 13-obstacle Novice course (3 jumps to tunnel, serpentine, S-shape sequence to finish), but was able to add a few more loops for the other dogs to replicate more of an Elite course. With Kaiser and Luke I practiced more Chances skills than anything. My only goal for Secret was to run fast, and with the jumps set at 8" for everyone, she pretty much did just that.

If Kizzy manages to keep it together even half as well as she did last night I'll be thrilled. She got to play first last night. We started in the house by putting her on a slip lead and going out into the garage. We had some "focus time" together in the small pen and did hand touches. Then we left the treats behind and walked into the yard on leash and set up for the first jump. She was tugging on the leash at this point and I let her do it (and I will do the same at the trial if she chooses).

She did take off for the leash when I chucked it across the yard, but came back when I called. The first time I think I just took off without setting her up again, to be sure I kept her engaged and happy. I did a blind cross on the first turn of the serpentine and she ran past the middle jump, but we kept going and didn't correct anything. At the finish we ran straight to the leash where she practically stuck her head through it by herself, then left the yard together and went and had a party.

We did this once more, again starting with the nose touches before heading into the yard. This time Kizzy didn't chase her leash and gave me a nice wait at the start line. She missed the middle jump in the serpentine again, so hmm, handling error there I guess. The finish was wonderful again, with Kizzy letting me put the leash right over her head and going going out the gate to get our treats. On the second time especially I had worried that she'd leave the yard to go help herself to the treats since she knew the routine, but she didn't!

After everyone had played through their turn I brought Kizzy out for one more go. This time Luke and Secret were both laying in the yard chewing on their toys. I figured they could offer some level of distraction for us. Kizzy was tugging on her leash as we went to the start line again, and again she chose to the follow the leash when I chucked it. I called her back and this time I did ask for a wait at the start, which she gave me. I emphasized that middle jump in the serpentine this time and she got it, and ran the course clean. It was followed by another great end-of-run behavior sequence and we had a big party outside of the yard.

Truthfully, this training session went about as well as I could hope for. I will still be trying to control the sun, moon & stars at the trial to make sure the environment is as success-producing as possible for her, but hopefully we are well on our way to growing more as a team.

Kizzy is also coming along nicely with the trick training/shaping exercises that we do with her dinner each night. The nose touches are pretty solid, and Kizzy has totally picked up on the touch light trick! That one was actually pretty solid by the third session, so she ended up learning it faster than I thought she would based on that first session. Last night we started to work on "sit pretty." The girl has like zero core strength, apparently, so this will be good for her. I should start working on a video of the stuff she's learning.

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