Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blind Search

Laev did her first blind searches today. :-) I've worked briefly on going around an object and returning to me, but she's not really fluent at it. She had enough of the concept, though, to figure it out this morning, as I set her up beside the #5 blind and sent her around it, where I immediately sent her all the way across the field to blind #6. (Schutzhund fields have 6 blinds; the helper is always in #6.) Watching Laev book it across the field at Mach 7 is quite fun! if I don't have to be right behind her to take her after the bite. /laugh/ We have a large Schutzhund field; it's my exercise program!

There were only three of us present at training today, so no gates to help at the blind. She hasn't needed them for a while, but it's still a big picture change. So our helper has a plexiglass shield he could use to keep her from getting a successful bite, and it was kind of fun to watch her work that out. "I want the bite! Give it to me, darn you! Grr! Give it!" (She bit at the shield; she whacked it with her paws.) "Fine! Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark!!" And she was rewarded with a bite. :-)

The second time we started a little further back, though she wanted to look over her shoulder to #6. But she did it correctly. The third time we did it even further.

The fourth time, now directly behind blind #5 as opposed to beside it, she tried to cheat. She knew, of course, that he was in #6, and why on earth would any sensible dog run around the empty blind in front of her instead of going directly to where she knew the bad guy was? Really? I mean, humans have such stupid ideas of fun games! So she ducked out as I sent her and ran toward blind #6.

We knew this was likely, of course, so we had her on a long line running loosely to a person standing just past blind #5. A correct blind search means Laev never feels the long line and then drags it at high speed all the way across the field, but an attempt to cheat means that the line tightens and she can't get more than a couple of feet behind me.

I sent Laev again, and she tried to cheat again. Man! Stupid humans!

The next time, she played by the rules she knew worked, even if they were dumb, and she got around that blind in record speed and across the field. Way too fast for anybody to be moving in this kind of heat and humidity! But I caught up in time to see her earn the bite.

All told, the day's reps were 3 successful, 2 cheats, 2 successful.

I need to review our training plan a bit, though; it's obvious that she does not find the calm sleeve-holds and outs to be reinforced, because they're degrading terribly on the field. And indeed, almost every time she wins the sleeve and holds it as asked, she is then asked to out it and we drag her away from it. Not good! and that's obviously why she has a 99% reliable out anywhere off the field and a mediocre out on the field.

The problem is, traditional Schutzhund training relies strongly on that frustration in the dog ("darn it! that was my sleeve! I want it back!") to build strength into the next behavior (another blind search followed by a hold and bark), so we need to be creative in finding a way to reinforce the calm hold and the out without losing that intensity.

Tracking this morning STUNK. As in, Laev was more interested in my right foot than the start of the track, she skipped most of the food on the first leg, and she didn't want to play at the end, just wander and sniff after a desultory tug. In good news, she didn't go more than a foot or so off the track and she did very nice article indications, but it was a long way from what I want it to look like.

DPCI club picnic this afternoon. We decided to make a bid to host the 2008 Nationals. I think we'll be busy!

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