we have been working in the gravel a lot lately. in the last videos (above) i was mounding up the gravel into three mounds, hiding the truffle in one of them. this was more like the boxes in that there were several visual targets to check. sometimes she would just check every mound until she found the strong smelling one. this is what she did with the boxes. the last couple of days i have refrained from mounding blank targets (i have to mound up the truffle because the gravel is not quite deep enough to bury it flat) and we have worked up to searching the whole room. she has never had a “failure” or lack of success. i’m not sure what you mean when you say “tough.” i can only think you mean that it is taking too long to find it, but if she is still happily looking it can’t be that tough.
the gravel is nice because it cannot be turned into a toy, and she naturally knows to “dig it up” or at least paw it until her nose can touch the target. this is her default alert for now – the pawing. she will repeat this on the target over and over. she naturally loves to dig in dirt and on her dog bed.
my big question is: in shaping a strong alert sequence, do you begin by giving the command for your desired alert behavior (sit or lay down or speak) until she gives it out of habit? for instance, she finds it, paws it, i reward. then can i command a sit or down or speak at the truffle? will she begin doing it out of habit eventually or always need the command?
i can see the usefulness of a speak alert (for distance). how crucial is this? you must have your opinions on the “best” alerts for truffles.
i have noticed that she has a tendency to thoroughly search the 30 sq ft or so around my body, so i am trying to be very conscious of my body orientation, and to have patience in allowing her to venture further without leading her to it.
i invented another truffle exercise to begin moving it outside. occasionally on our regular leashed walks down our long driveway i will bring a truffle with us. when we are strolling i will toss the truffle into some tall grass [ideally] when daisy is not looking. then we find it. it makes our walks a lot more fun. sometimes she sees me toss it and then it becomes a regular fetch type of find.
my one concern is that she knows and is quite sure, even when out of the room, that i am hiding the truffle. i should not worry about this at all, correct?