[quote] What is interesting is she finds the buried hides first and then one that is just sitting out in the open takes longer for her to source?.
Is that because the disturbed dirt “smell” is more of an attractant?[/quote]
A few things can, and are likely, going on that will influence this.
1)the upturned earth ?can? be a marker for some dogs pulling them into an area as they are like ‘hey, upturned earth means target= reward?. You can easily check for this by digging some fake holes and see if she goes to or alerts on them. My guess is if she checks them, she won?t alert. (There is then the possibility she has upturned earth + truffle scent= reward) More unusual, but does happen. Similar to in other scenarios to a dog catching a truffle scent column following it close to source and then looking for the shiny object to alert on.
2)The odor from targets buried is lingering in the area, the soil, the low air, more densely than from a target sitting above ground where the air currents may be moving the VOCs around erratically or up and pluming over her head, dispersing them so it isn?t as concentrated. So that could partly be an explanation for difficulty in locating above ground hides.
3)This next one I personally call the ?Lolo effect? because my dog Lolo does it- Which is, like the boxes earlier with Spring, easier hides can, for some dogs (it sounds counter intuitive) be confusing in many situations, and it becomes other objects to interact with and as you?ve said previously with NW, boxes are your nemesis. I have a very similar scenario with Lo. I mention it because, while it is not exactly the same, this anecdote may provide perspective (I don?t normally do so many anecdotes!).
Lolo finds real truffles below ground (we still have things to work on- always improving- and we are very open about this!), what she & I used to struggle with frequently was targets, or truffles above ground (which does happens sometimes) in more stimulating scenarios when there were other harder hides present with that odor lingering more in the soil (from the harder hides).
The more stimulating the scenario (aka a forest or outside lawns etc) the less likely she was to forcefully & confidently alert on that target that was considered ?easier?- or, like Spring, it would take her longer and it would be one of the last ones she?d get. If there was a buried one, or a real truffle growing, no problem- She?d find those. Targets that were, what I considered, easy were an issue though in more complex environments where more ?difficult? ones were also present.
Having worked with her for so long, I could see she would get on the odor by the subtle change in her body language, and that she had actually found source and was proceeding towards it, but if I didn’t offer that verbal communication like Kristin was talking about in your video analysis, before her threshold to break away and follow the stronger source , she wouldn?t stay at or with the column she was on for the obvious target.
For us it was confidence, well timed encouragement and confirmation of her having found correct criteria and building value with that and at source to keep her engaged there with me connected. The game of searching (and premack principle comes in here) was rewarding in of itself to her so in order to get the alert chain I wanted I needed to pay very close attention and provide encouragement as she was working on the, what I considered, ?easy? hides. Trying to encourage her to stick with the column she was on instead of bailing for the more concentrated one that was easier for her to find (even though I considered it a more complicated hide).
It does relate to issue 2 for this reason of how VOCs cling to thing and where odor is concentrated and one scent column being more dispersed vs another.
I don?t think that is necessarily exactly what is going on with Spring, but the open air ones do seem harder likely because of that dispersal, so because you are still building confidence, she?s going to the more concentrated odor columns first. What?s easy for us and Easy for them may be two very different things.
You guys do look good though, and when Spring is confident, right after you start that verbal confirmation, wow the excited happy change in her body language. She just wiggles, and that tail! we love that.
Anyway, just perspective. You guys are doing great though! Don?t think otherwise!