Reply To: Annie & Ashley

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Alana McGee

Week 1 Hides

The Good, The Bad and The Thankfully All Is Good

Backyard Hides

Hide 1: 5 boxes, 1 hot target. Ashley found the target quickly, full alert. Wonderful
Hide 2: 8 boxes, 3 hot targets. Boy did I mess this up….
These hides were on the cement patio area.
I forgot where one target was and did not check the box with her (big mistake on my part – big lesson learned – trust her nose it’s way better than my memory).
She did alert to the next target well, she then tried the first box again ( I did not look at the box with her as I should have) then she got frustrated. She then went on to new targets and came back the first box again. But during this hide Ashley she sat down and scratched ( her stress show).
So I walked away to kind of reset and she followed me. Then we came back and had a restart with 2 good finds. I then pulled a target from my pocket and used that to solidify a good ending.

When cleaning up, Bill opened the box I thought was empty and it wasn’t.
My new mantra: Trust Ashley, trust Ashley, trust Ashley, She hasn’t had any many false alerts and those were early on.

Stumble Upon Hide at Park

We tried a ‘stumble upon’ hide with Ashley at a local park in oak duff.
This is a park we go to fairly often. Bill placed the hide and then Ashley and
I came over and Bill and I just talked while Ashley did her usual sniff everything routine. You could see when she caught the scent about a foot away, when she was over the scent, she pounced down on it. Tail up, ears up – her normal alert. Big party, praise, liver brownies. We had her re alert by tossing the tin a little, then put it away and continued on our normal walk.

Wow! So cool that she went – I know that scent – pounce!!!

Indoor Hide – a day after the outdoor disaster
6 hot in the house with boxes and toys
4 tins hidden – 2 tins in boxes
Bill set this up – so it was a blind hide. To eliminate handler knowing where the target is body language.
It worked. 🙂
Overall this was a great search.

She started on her own as soon as she got in the area.
She was really good and persistent searching – the best I’ve seen so far.
She finds the hidden tins better than the ones in the boxes.
It appears that she catches the scent better just when passing by a hidden
tin vs a tin in a box.
When she gets a whiff of a hot target, her ears go from 1/2 up
to full up for just a second, kind of like a ding of a bell. It’s really quick and cute.
Hidden tins get a great down alert.
For tins hidden in boxes, she noses & paws the box; when she gets a good whiff of the tin, when the box is opened, she usually gives a down.
She is very engaged when we are partying over the tin. Lots of re-alerts.
If asked to show me, she does.
After we found a hide and it was ‘picked’ she went on to search more on her own. No redirection needed.
She would go over areas she had already searched and found a tin, but just sniffed and moved through the areas quickly.
Apparently the cat was in the room on a chair. Ashley went over and gave him a quick nudge to say hi in the middle of the hunt. She also picked up a toy during her search and carried it for a maybe 5 seconds, but dropped it and continued the search.

We repeated the outdoor hide this morning
on the cement patio
3 targets – 8 boxes

This search went well even with a big distraction. Ashley found 1 tin and then our other dog came over to join the party. When I stepped in to move Amy, Ashley pounced on a box (pure reaction) – so this is really a pattern between us that I need to be extra sensitive about. This only seems to be an issue with boxes. I re-cued Ashley continued her search and alerted just fine on the next 2 tins. We finished with our normal tug game.

I guess the Amy distraction will kind of simulate when we meet friends/people randomly in the forest. But at that point, we will give a ‘free’ command, since we usually stop to chat for a bit. As big as the Sierras are, we tend to run into people we know.

So as I write this, I realize I should have given Ashley a ‘free’ command. Moved Amy. Then started the search again.

I’m thinking of a way to test this movement/alert issue with tins. Maybe spacing the tins far apart and stepping into the search area while she is searching so I can see her reaction? Thoughts? Maybe before stepping in asking her ‘what ‘cha find?’ or something like that?

Things learned this week (and things that I need to work on):

Trust Ashley – she totally understands this game and her nose is awesome. My memory – not so much.

Check every alert. Check every alert. Check every alert.

Ashley was very, very persistent in trying to get me to look at a good box and was frustrated with me and showed some stress when I didn’t get it. But she kept engaged and had good finds afterwards.

Adding new boxes or containers to search increases the difficulty for her. The second time with that article is fine,

She picks up on hidden tins as she goes by, boxes require a nose right on the box.

She can distinguish a box with lingering scent vs. one with a hot target in it. I still need to watch her reactions more.

If I get too close to her, she thinks I’m coming in to praise for a find she pounced on the closest box. Even though she didn’t sniff it. I need to stay back and be more aware of my body position

Doing a blind search really changed how I reacted vs when I know there is a target.

I am starting to tune in more on her little signs of catching the smell.

When she gets a whiff of a hot target, her ears go from 1/2 up to full up for just a second, If you had a bell, the ding of a bell = ears up.

For her last indoor search here were some changes:

Her search drive and endurance made huge leaps (for the week overall)
She is starting to give distractions just a quick check and continues with the search.
She picked up a toy and carried it with her for 5 seconds while still very actively
searching and then dropped it when she caught scent. She was happy and just
grabbed the toy briefly. Interesting.

Other Stuff

As hard as it is to wait, we will try the new yard set-up this evening so Bill can video tape it for review.

One fun spontaneous hide yesterday. Ashley grabbed a hide box while I was making dinner
and bumped it against my legs. Normally she does this with toys. Dinner got put on hold and I set up a quick indoor hide. When we were done, as I was picking up the boxes, she ran over with a toy so we could play tug! She just loves this game.