Monday, January 26, 2015

Threshholds and Gig

It has been a VERY long time since I have blogged!!! It has been a very busy summer, fall and winter here in Full Tilt land. Many seminars, and working with my puppy.  It feels great to get back to blogging and I appreciate your patience in my absence!
I have started teaching classes for Denise Fenzi!!! It is a BLAST!! So far I have done some Basics of Handling classes and a Foundation Jumping class. It is a blast and I am so inspired by my students! You can see the class I am teaching this session starting Feb 1st!
There are also many other classes available! Go check it out!
Ok back to Gig!!!
Sadly Gig ended up getting her leg caught in a wire kennel while running around like a crazy dog and tore her Supraspinatus muscle in her right shoulder. 4 months of rehab, and now we are working her back up. She is doing GREAT! We are just working on getting her back to her full potential in regards to fitness. Thus...this didn't leave me much I could do in the training department. Which then brings me to today's blog post. I was asked by a person on FB how I approach problem solving this type of issue with a dog. So here goes!
Gig is 10 months old. She is totally sound now, and is taking walks with the pack. She is a VERY motion sensitive dog...which is normal and expected for a herding bred Border Collie :) Unfortunately, I normally get this under control as a young puppy, but I guess Gig didn't really time her injury so that I could get this dealt with :) SO...Thanks Gig :)
Gig's main issue we are currently working on is getting her brain to engage on tasks OTHER than finding motion in her environment. When she is working on skills by herself she is WONDERFUL, focused and we introduce distractions she is GREAT, until we get to dogs :) Gig spent most of the past 4 months in an x-pen. She didn't get to play with dogs and I couldn't allow her to even walk with the dogs on leash as she would go crazy...she is super friendly and loves dogs. Great!!!! BUT...I need that connection to me when they are present.
So as you can see in this video...she can for sure recall. But then wants to redirect to the pack.
 Which is normal her breed has been bred for HUNDREDS of years to work motion. I am asking her to go against instinct! Tough choice for this girl!!
So I break her behavior into levels of thresholds that she can or cannot manage, this is how my brain processes every issue I have with a dog (they all have issues BTW)...
The definition of a threshold is: the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested---in this example, for Gig's grey matter to ooze out of her ear canals. Figuratively speaking...I think :-)
NOTE: Red Zone here does NOT be aggression!!! It means that she just is mentally so immersed into the motion she cannot take ANY rewards and doesn't have a clue I exist!!!
So the diagram is showing you were we have started (so boring dogs and then rewards). We are now going to the GREEN ZONE...or a variation of this. The rewards I have available (for the sake of me taking video of this myself and trying to reward I have not used a tug toy) cheese (HIGH REWARD) Zukes (medium reward) and kibble (lower reward). I can use this to see where Gig is mentally. If she takes the low value kibble, she is in a very focused and happy state. If she stops taking the kibble, I will then up the reward because we are getting into the threshold that starts bothering her (aka the motion is too much and she wants to disengage).  If she stops taking the medium then I know I am really starting to push those boundaries (necessary at times!!!!) and I will go to a high reward. IF I am in the high reward circle, I have to be VERY careful to keep that short!!! If she won't take anything, I have pushed her way too far. I need to back up.
NOTE: Because I have 7 dogs, I will say my dogs name before commanding them.
Here is an example of Gig's M.O...motion happening, she KNOWS she needs to come when called...but likes to take the treat and then IMMEDIATELY disengage...but THIS TIME she actually makes a HUGE step forward!!!! Doesn't leave AND then actually gives me a slight wave!!! Think in terms of the "Smallest Change, Slightest Try"...she gave me a TINY wave, I need to acknowledge that!! If I don't she will just not engage because she is TRYING SO HARD TO BE RIGHT! GOOD GIRL GIG!!!!
Remember after all these little decisions, she is released BACK to the pack. So she starts understanding that this not only gets her high rates of reinforcement, but it also gets her permission to engage back with the pack!
Here is a good example of me putting Gig way over threshold and also being a bad trainer and missing a try. There are dogs running around...she is doing all she can to stay engaged.
 AND, I should have been happy with that, but I wanted the wave, asked for it in fact (where as before I was wanting her to offer it) response but her trying to stay connected to me. I SHOULD have rewarded that! I upped the ante here, went into a higher threshold point and she couldn't handle this. She then offers me a TINY wave and I did not reward!!!!!! I MISSED THAT MOMENT! BAD LORETTA!!!! GOOD GIG!!! We all make mistakes.
 Luckily for me she offers that slight try again :) And the stupid human rewards :)
So I back off all the motion...and go back to a place where she can function. I do say the word NO here...but for my dogs that just means you won't get a reward :) It doesn't mean evil things :)
Yes I do believe in JACKPOTS!! Her entire demeanor has changed :) She is focusing, she is offering. GOOD GIRL GIG!!!!
 So now I am getting the focus I need...I then will up the ante a bit as you can see. Gator does this for me and Gig cannot catch treats while focusing her energy towards following commands :) That is OK. You can see how she focuses, then as I add movement from the other dogs...she loses it for a second. But regains it :) GOOD GIRL GIG!
She is thinking through all this and working on centering herself! I love this process and seeing all those little changes!!!
 This was just on one walk...using cheese and zukes (the kibble would not have been a hit here).
Sometimes I will use toys, in that case the toy breakdown is: HIGH LEVEL (ball on a rope and tugging), Medium level: This weird stretching armed toy (tugging) and finally Low Level: squeaky toy.
The idea is to observe and react to what your dog is saying. I LET her tell me what she is capable of. What she can do mentally. If she gets overwhelmed we back off and then work up again. THE DOG CONTROLS how we proceed. She has only been able to go on walks with the pack for about a week. And we have already progressed to the Orange level! Just by working her thresholds. Yes my other dogs are behaving well and that does allow me to work on this with her. But all my other dogs have went through the same things as puppies. Fortunately for them, they got this understanding EARLY in life, rather than 10 months like Gig.
Those of you who are familiar with the Full Tilt Pups will notice Crackers isn't included in this equation, there is a reason. LITTLE WHITE TERRIERS are so freaking amazing that if we get focus in the room with the terrier still, it is a good thing. SO NO NEED to try to add him to this problem :) Someday he will be integrated into these sessions! But little white terriers are THE MOST AWESOME THING TO STARE AT EVER. Little steps :)
I will be attending a trial this weekend and bringing Gig. Agility is the MOST AMAZING thing ever, even though she doesn't know it. Dogs running FAST!!! Working thresholds again with this environment can be even tougher! So I break the behaviors down even more. See below:
This has been updated several times since the first trial she attended. Because the red zone just used to be GIG AT A TRIAL. We have moved on from that :)
Again, RED ZONE doesn't mean aggression, it means I am useless to get my puppies attention :)
In this example, I am only able to work in the Salmon level. She cannot go up to the ring with a dog running. The noises made scare people and other dogs. And it is useless to keep her there. In the salmon level...she can only do this for about 6 minutes. I will not take her past this level until she can work with me, doing tricks etc...very important.  Yellow can be about 10 minutes, Green and Blue for as long as I want (max has been about 15 minutes as that is a LOT to deal with mentally!!!) I will give her breaks often and when she tells me she is mentally done, I will call it a day and let her rest.
I have High, Medium and Low rewards, so I can gauge her arousal level.
I hope to get some video of this during the trial this weekend! So stay tuned!!!
I hope this helps some of you that are dealing with motion sensitivity, it CAN be worked through. Think small steps!!!!


sheyla said...

Yes, please post on your experience! I found this immensely helpful and look forward to seeing her deal with the trial as that is a HUGE struggle for us as well!

laughing dog said...

I like how you broke this down to an abstract visual and didn't just stay with this particular situation with your dog. It makes the process easier for to apply. Now I have to do this for weaves at home versus trial situations.

We also have trouble valuing treats because my dog is a food hound. He doesn't appear to love one kind versus another. At least, not to me.


P.S. The email address associated with this account I rarely use. I only created it to associate with Google.

laughing dog said...

I like the graphic. It makes the process easy to apply to other situations. Will enjoy following this.