Hey, you guys are really really good! Here's a follow up video with a decoy to illustrate what I was teaching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y44nQDICsc
I went into training with the plan to work on her transport pivots - specifically her response to me walking around a ball. Or...a decoy walking around me. This is clearly illustrated in the first two minutes of the video above. To be successful she must do two things at the same time; maintain body contact with me and visual contact with the ball. Or decoy. Same thing.
You all nailed why I put the whistle in my mouth. The whistle means let go and run away from whatever you are biting - normally 180 degrees, circle and object, AND THEN RETURN TO HEEL POSITION. The hard part of this exercise is the let go and run away, and therefore it is rewarded about 90% of the time without finishing the behavior. For those of you who do obedience; it's like letting the dog touch the baby gate on the go out - most of the the time you don't bother with the sit because that is not the difficult part of the exercise. So...if I didn't immediately throw the ball and release her, then the expectation is that she'll return to heel position. here was the process I went through to teach this - all in one minute:). (see the first 1.30 of this video for the progression):
When I have a helper, the whistle still means release and run 180 degrees, but she is conditioned to stop in heel when she is next to me, so she should (doesn't' always) stop when she gets to heel, unless I send her on to bite again. You can see that from 1:35 to 1:45 in the first videoimmediately above. You can also see where my whistle recall off of a helper is weak - if he's adding extra personal pressure of if he's down on the ground (3min mark) she struggles to return. She also tends to deteriorate when she's tired.
Next topic: Mid session in the first video from a few days ago, I realized she was looking at me when she should have been focusing on the ball (decoy). So I began sending her directly to the toy without calling her back. On the helper, I replicate that with out/down sequences followed by immediate reward. You can see that at 2:05 to 2:20 in the first video above - obviously it's easier to look at a decoy than a ball, but on occasion she returns to heel (incorrectly) on the "out/down' command rather than guarding. She was good in the above video and didn't make that mistake.
"Transport" means make physical contact with me and visual contact with the ball/decoy. The harder she touches me the better. She's now pretty good about this with a toy but still weak with a helper. I'm thinking about bridges to make that transition easier - maybe an entire session of very short transports from all angles - no more than five seconds - and sending her when she's pushing against me. In addition, I'm working on it in a different manner with the ball (the ball is moving for higher provocation). See the second video above starting at the 1:30 minute mark to see how I made the ball behave more like a helper. The good news is that she struggled with the ball too, so I have a way to work on it without a decoy present. Fun session! Thanks to all who played - you guys did a pretty darned good job!