In the first hide I think you do a great job with your reward sequencing and getting her to nose target inside the box.
We actually LOVE long reward sequences and here is why- it takes time to retrieve a truffle from the ground and we want the dogs to stay with us as handlers at source and be happy about doing so! Even the truffles by you (Tuber lyonii or other white species) which will likely not be as deep as some of the ones here in the PNW, will take time to extract from soils, so this is a way to build more value of staying at source, among other things.
AT about the 0:50 mark you see her do what you call the ?false alert?. YOU know where the targets actually are, but in a real environment, you don?t know, so you must trust Spring when she does alert. It may be pooled odor, but what we would like to see you do, if she does that, is to inspect the box be like ?nope, nothing here? and then put it back down and then move on.
You effectively did the same thing by ignoring her and she moved on to a new scent cone, but in the field you won?t have that luxury, so we want to build in now that if she alerts at this stage, you are checking (UNLESS for her alert you were waiting for more defined behavior. But she looks to you to question if this is correct)- she is not rewarded however if there isn?t a target. You are trusting her. The fact she doesn?t stay with it show us she is uncertain about odor there. Take a look again at that alert and the one following. How she looks to you but then enthusiastically goes back to it on the second one- but you have already started to move towards her at that point, so that may also have given her more confidence that this is correct choice.
This is important to note in the field, and why we want you to check when they do offer an alert is real truffles growing in the wild have some other compounds some dogs may not be as confident about alerting on, and if you check with her, and there are truffles there later, you are giving her more info and confidence in new situations. If there aren?t truffles or targets, you?re are still checking and trusting her but she isn?t rewarded.
Same thing in the next set of hides. When she does find the tea ball right after next to the box, that?s great, but it is reinforced as correct when you start moving towards her. She?s relying on you for information here and we want to start to have her be confident without direct input from you. Does that make sense? Such as you are cuing her to the correct odor. She is guessing (which is totally ok) and waiting for a response from you.
As you remove visual ID such as boxes, I am fairly certain Spring will be more confident in where she alerts, and not look to you for confirmation or information as much, and the hitting the boxes or lack of precision will cease to occur. If you continue to use boxes though we would like you, if she does that to go check it out and then just be like, “that was great Spring, but nope, next.?
2:19 is a fabulous example of her being confident she found it before you starting moving towards her and then she offers you a really nice re-alert as well. That is a very nice reward sequence as well.
2:57 is Fabulous! This is a great example of what I just meant by how she will be more confident and not seek information from you with less visual ID.
Based on all of this, I would actually start to fade the boxes as a visuals unless you are transitioning to new environments as it will provide a familiar framework.
You are quickly going to get to the stage where you are obscuring the hides more. Not burying yet, but removing even more visual id. When you start doing that, remember to keep the area you are working in a bit smaller than you think you need.
The other thing to practice (with keeping at the same level of visual ID aka Targets sitting on grass) is to increase the search area and build confidence in starting to search larger areas. I would not do your whole yard, as that is quiet large, but start slowly pushing boundaries.
The Last sequence of rewards at 3:37 is really nice too. Don?t shorten your sequence. It is really good as is 🙂