Reply To: Alyssia & Spring (DRTDT)

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Alana McGee

[quote] She seems to be pretty reliable, and I think the digging is key, if I don’t see the dig then it’s not a truffle or could it be?[/quote]

Spring is reliable. We have no reason to think otherwise unless we seem something that manifests as such. And we have not, at all.

Her checking the other dug holes you made as fakes- Totally fine, doesn?t matter. It?s great actually because it assures us, that while it may have your odor, or up turned earth, but that what she has begun to associate is the truffle in these scenarios.

So Spring noses it, digs, (sometimes looks at you), digs more and then on the re-alert she?ll return to source (if she left it) and lay down etc. Refining it more takes time, and rewarding the behaviors you want to see, but it will vary day by day your progress.

Spring approaching you is totally ok as long she already reliably returns to source–which she does. We also would really encourage you to keep the bark.

You said she barks because it takes you a long time to get to source. This is exactly why actually we like it.

It?s a delicate balance right now where you are at. If she is leaving source to come find you and then goes back- ok. That?s okay to then keep pushing for more pronounced behaviors.

**You do this now a bit** so it?s right on track:
You could start to approach, stop, and then ask her to re-alert and see if that changes the sequence all- as opposed to asking/ giving confirmation (waiting for more pronounced behavior) and then closing the distance to source. That way she may feel more comfortable as you are in closer physical proximity before her re-alert. So it?s that space between the initial alert and the re-alert and your behavior. Does that make sense?

We think keeping the bark is a good idea (we really don?t see any negatives) because unless all the land you are going to be checking is pretty darn flat (or you?re only working on orchards), it takes time to get to your dog- even if Spring is only 15 feet away.

It gives Spring something to do while she waits for you to get there! And if it has a positive association as being part of her alert behavior, it won’t necessarily become a frustration bark. Once you can get the bark from the growl you kind of have now you can continue to reinforce it.

Ending the game:

Yes. At this stage you should always plan to leave at least one out there.If you find all of them easily-n great. Take advantage of opportunities as they come- but It?s not about finding all the targets. It?s about stopping on a good note, WANTING more. Plant more than you expect to find and get COMFORTABLE leaving some. Don?t push too darn for those last two. You can?t aways suppose in the moment as to why you are struggling as a team.

It?s important to be able to walk away.

Video: 0:22- Awesome. what we talked about earlier in your approach of stopping and starting- which you do already. We actually really like the bark. And we encourage you to keep it. It looks like there are lots of nose touches in the soil.

I think your communication with her right now is really nice. Especially the sequence around 1:15, you are very engaged, confirming, encouraging, but also asking for more pronounced behaviors. Really good!

Also- this is the 5th time I?ve watched closely and seen her do this in various videos of yours: She sneezes when she finds it. Not every single time, but in many of the hides it?s pretty pronounced. You may have just been dismissing it as normal behavior, but I honestly don?t think it is. Conscious or not, it is an alert. She could very well be trying expel the VOCs from her nose, but it doesn?t matter. If you want, you can also reinforce this. Not only that, but it also gives you more information to work with.

1:15 she does it
2:06 she does it

And I do like her low growl at truffle finds 🙂 We like the moment at 2:55- very clear concise, doesn?t necessarily appear to be frustration bark. Communicating! It?s already progressed quite a bit in a week. Which is great!

The video looks good though. Good area, great searching patters drive. Just keep pushing a little at the vocalization, and watch for the sneeze.