We think it is great you decided to use the Leash with Esprit. To other students who have been watching the differences between Rachel & Vidoc and now Rachel & Esprit: this is exactly the kind of scenario with distractions present where it helps to have a physical connection with your dog. Not to correct, but as a guide and a way to stay connected and in the game so to speak. You can see the different working styles between the two dogs and again, Rachel, we commend you choice to try practicing with a lead.
Kristin & I both think Esprit is a hoot! You are going to such fun with him. He is a zippy firecracker! You can feel the energy from him.
I love it when he picks up the box and again and delivers it to you, like HERE mom. That behavior becomes an outlet for energy- we talk about this more in a moment.
At the 1:16 mark you do a Fabulous job of cuing him again away from distraction. That is the same box he alerted on initially when he was very excited about the environment upon entry.
He may end up being one of those dogs that will take a minute to settle into a routine in new environments as well. We do think you are correct and agree with you about the routine with Esprit prior to engaging in a new environment.
You can decide if you do it all the time or only in new or challenging locations. We suspect it will mostly be relevant to new environments and that Esprit will likely associate location with activity. Eventually that yard area you practice in will become “This is what we DO here?, just like a regular truffle spot would. But the priming can be a great tool for transferring to new places with more controlled focused energy.
We have a couple of other thoughts:
The outdoor environment is stimulating to Esprit, but it could also be the boxes in that environment which are also arousing him.
He finds that first target right away, no problem, but doesn?t stay with it. You are absolutely correct in what you did though allowing him to move on. He knows he found it via the alert, he was just so stimulated he moved on to the next. What is great about that sequence afterwards is he does come back and re-alert on it later instead of mentally having cached it as a ?found that one already!”
Even though the environment is different, we are somewhat inclined to say you should try to quickly fade the boxes. In addition to the distractions, we get the sense that Esprit is aroused BY the boxes…so the environment AND the boxes are amping him up. So, two thoughts:
We suggest you try both of these and we can then see what may work best
1- Try fading the boxes and continue rewarding with food.
2- Try to use a toy reward (if that is exciting for Esprit…which we assume it is) when moving into a new environment and using boxes.
What it boils down to is matching the energy/ excitment of the reward to the environmental impact on Esprit. If the environment is stimulating, he may need a reward that has more intensity. In a familiar environment, your genuine style of rewarding with food is a VERY nice match and therefore keeps you is sync.
Just as the handlers ideally match the energy the dog brings to the search, the energy of the celebration/reward needs to match the stimulus of the environment.
In that outdoor scenario, we feel like Esprit needed more of an outlet during his reward. At least in that video. Once the area becomes familiar that may cease to be the case as much. Some dogs when stimulated in searches or complex environments will ?shake off? the added stress as a release, but for some matching the energy with a reward that matches the pumped up level acts as a release. Not all dogs will shake off the added stress or excitement.
The play reward acts as a stress release to focus afterwards. You don?t want to amp them up more but provide an outlet (Tug works well for this too, but it depends on the dog). Priming in a location will help with this as well. So can physically exercising a bit before beginning a search. This is common place when we go in the field to locations far away and dogs have been car crated for a while. We will allow the dogs a way to release some of the overwhelming excitement of a new location before we ask them for complicated behaviors. Some dogs you take a calming approach as opposed to play and allow them to become comfortable before asking for those behaviors. We think Esprit is likely going to be in the play for release of stress category.
We would like it if you could try both 1 & 2 listed above. Maybe with no boxes might be too hard in that larger outdoor environment yet, but maybe not. If it is, the physical outlet may be a way to redirect energy. OR he may be just fine with surface targets in the grass, and the lack of visual ID will bring his buzzing energy down a bit.
It will be interesting to see how he responds.
Great job. It is really fun to watch you two.