Re: Blue & 2nd outdoor hide:
Excellent. You give Blu the opportunity to work, and allow him to lead. Really nice- also you are doing a good job using food and the play reward. At this stage you could start fading out the clicker as it isn’t necessary to have in the field.
3rd Outdoor Hide:
Great. Again, but I do notice what you are observing via touch, and reluctance to it. It appears he is not so much against you touching him as it is anticipation of play. He is focused on the chain of events you have instilled in him (which is a VERY strong motivation)- which is find truffle- food- then BALL. It appears he is avoiding your touch because he is in heavy anticipation of you throwing the ball.
If he avoids or pulls away from physical contact, that’s ok. You don’t need to physically touch him- so just go from food reward to play. Keep verbal praise, but physical touch isn’t necessary.
4th Outdoor Hide:
First thing I noticed- he goes back to where the previous hide was to inspect. Good! But he doesn’t alert on lingering odor. Even better! He does an excellent excellent job of pinpointing odor source, and then even re-alerting when asked. Very, very nice.
The only thing I would point out is to be conscious of your verbal cues. You don’t say it often, but when you were at the small structure you prompted Blu several times with his start cue. We ideally want to use that phrase when a dog has broken concentration or is questioning what they are supposed to be doing. Blu was working very well in the environments and we want to try to avoid adding excess noise when possible.
It can be considered encouragement, which is great, but perhaps consider using a different string of words, such as ‘good searching’ and not ‘where’s the truffle’- As that is the phrase you use to begin the hunt sequence.
Overall, Awesome job though. You guys are doing great.