Reply To: Alyssia & Spring (DRTDT)

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Alana McGee

The video:

Your search area is pretty big, I would try to decrease it a little. Not a lot, a little.

That first find by the downspout it totally confident and a really nice indication and reward sequence. It?s nice and long, and the re-alert with the foot touches are great! Great job staying at source!

I know we can?t hear you on the video very well, so we can?t analyze you verbal interaction there. It might be helpful if you could even set up a close up inside hide once for her to find, and film it- just a super short video- so we can hear YOUR reward behavior chain 🙂

The second hide is also very very good, you?re correct in your analysis on this, and her confidence level seems just fine. We like that she gives you that very direct look when she has found it and then once you are there offers the reassert without a re-cue.

At 1:14 or so you are cueing her to start searching again, and this is where I think you were saying there was confusion, and there is, you are correct.

You are standing still at the source of the previous find.

While your body is oriented the direction of the rest of the field YOU are stationary and she is searching around you. We venture that if you started to slowly move more in the direction you wished Spring to go, she would orient herself that way and engage. Don?t make eye contact with her when you do this. She is taking cues from you, and you are at the previous source so she may well stay there longer.

The root hide is great.
She may just be having a hard time isolating odor in shifting air currents etc. That is normal. That find and reward was good.

After the root hide she does the same thing, which is search around you, because again, you are stationary. Try moving a bit. It doesn?t have to be a lot or fast, but walk, don?t stay in one place. A few small steps doesn?t count.

Once you start actually moving more and not staying still (thinking she does lots of obedience games/tricks where you are still and she is facing you) she does hit that one in the grass! See how she engaged more when you were walking. At 2:30 you do actually start to move more than a few steps and that is when she engages.

She is confident she found it! Look at that tail. I don?t think it is a confidence issue per se in terms of recognition of odor. It is spatial and movement oriented.

The playing with the target, building up value is great, but after that, you should have ended the session. Just make a mental note!

After she makes a find like that, you would end the session, or offer her a VERY easy one, have another party, and then exit the scenario. It sounds based on what you are saying (less so on what we are seeing) like it is overwhelming to her. But we want it to be fun, so if she is having a hard time and getting frustrated, we want to offer a fun party and then end the game.

This is a good lesson for you to practice ending sooner. Do less than you think you need/ want to.

We honestly think much of what is going on may be simply a stress related/ confusion/ lack of confidence that will be solved by more motion on your behalf.

[b]Here?s what we want you to do:[/b] Decrease the number of hides, and decrease the search area. Do say three, in a smaller section of your yard. After she finds three, great done. Remember! She doesn?t have to find all 3 if she seems stressed. **We suspect that once you start walking with her around the environment, this will cease to be an issue in the same way.

IF she struggles, give her about 20- 30 seconds to figure it out, and then offer her a success with that extra target you have. Then see if she can continue on a bit, but if the stress signals are still present, offer her a target again, and stop. Massive party, Win Win Win, Play play play, and you?re done. Sessions should be shorter than you think. You can always try again later if she seems up for it, but even have it just be 1 hide.

Dogs have moods and on & off days too. The goal is to recognize this and figure out what in the scenario is off. Is it the set up that is too difficult? Is it the weather? Does she not feel good? Is she hungry? What is different about this. If it is the set up, go back a step, make it easier, and build build build value at that previous stage.

It didn?t seem like you were pushing her beyond her skill set either, so we go back, and reinforce it, and build that confidence up! then we can slowly increase the parameters again and keep the confidence high. But do try moving more- we think that may be a key component.

Regarding the field at the trial: [quote] So I figured too much too soon and ended it.[/quote]

That sounds like a stress signal to me. There could be a lot of reasons in that environment she would do that, but if she is not having the best time, then yes, we want to stop, and go back a step and really build up the value of what you doing.

[quote] So if that happens again, do I go with her or lead her and have a big party when she finds it?[/quote]

You can walk over there and help her, yes. The other thing you can do is manufacture success. THIS is why you have that extra target on you at all times. When you first started to notice her getting stressed, throw that extra target in front of her and have a party. We wouldn?t have necessarily suggested this before now, but based on your own observations, you are getting the feeling she is having a hard time. It is okay to push through boundaries, but err on the side of the dog winning- always. Eventually they will get there, but we want her to have fun and be reliable in the long run. It is OK to manufacture success during a hunt. Most dogs need a little more encouragement along the way!