Reply To: Annie & Ashley

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Alana McGee

Hi Annie

This ? I like to mix sessions, with a medium hide, increase the difficulty and then end with something on the easier side,
if needed, to ensure we end with a good, solid session. Then a game of tug!? Is PERFECT. Always ending on a positive note is fabulous, and we like that you play tug as well 🙂

For the above ground mushrooms, let the alert evolve naturally. For obvious reason you won?t want her aggressively pawing the mushrooms in question, but say, things like matsutake that are under the duff, a tap would be fine. The nose targeting and staying in a down position near source are likely going to be very helpful for you.

The precision nose targeting with above ground mushrooms, isn?t quite as critical as you will be able to see what she found most likely, but you are on the right track, and sounds like you?re doing a great job!

Proofing with blank tins is great, and will be important for you again, as most of what you will be finding will have visual clues, and so we want to proof that Ashely isn?t just finding shiny objects? At this stage you could begin to add some distraction odors indoors. That can be some soil or duff in a box, other odors etc. Just go slow with how much you add a time and respond and tailor the level of difficulty according to how she is doing with it. They don?t have to actually be IN he boxes, but it can make it easier for you sometimes!

Anything novel will work, but for the sake of working in the field we recommend actually using things you find in the forest that may be distracting. I have used things such as deer or elk scat (if you?re brave) as well as things like basil or grass clippings etc. Other animal odors tend to be some of the more distracting scents. But remember, just go slow with what you add and adjust as needed.

We would suggest you change the order on this: “Outdoors: basic search with visible tins, then with boxes in a line, then changing the configuration of the boxes and search area.?

Go: boxes in a line, then change configuration, then just to tins; as the tins are smaller and provide less visual identification.

Just like with truffles you?re going to want to practice with real mushrooms at some point because Ashley may interact differently with the mushrooms than the tins themselves, so just keep that in mind for the future.

In terms of warm up for mushroom hunting we tend to suggest some simple targeting games. We also suggest, and we cover it I believe in FE530, that you begin to develop a hunt sequence or ritual around your hunting. Specific gear you use etc. You can make a big deal out of pulling a harness out of a backpack getting ready etc, so when you are out mushroom hunting for real, Ashley will know when it is working time as opposed

It?s helpful, especially for herding breeds, to have an on & off switch to some degree, and the hunt sequence and gear you have can help signal that.

It should be different gear than you use on normal walks.

You sound like you are doing great though, using lots of positive feedback and adjusting when necessary. Right on track 🙂