Reply To: Jenny Catlett & Baxter (Mixed Breed)

Home Forums Recreational Truffle Dog Training 101 Jenny Catlett & Baxter (Mixed Breed) Reply To: Jenny Catlett & Baxter (Mixed Breed)

Alana McGee

HI Jenny we will post specifics on how to handle scent & odor, but yes, what you are doing is just fine. You do not need to re-apply it each for each training session.

For those of you who are students who have taken Canine Nose work classes, you often will find that you have been taught (and this is totally fine!) to use Q-tips and store them in a glass jar with a drop or two of odor solution (in NW that is Birch, Anise, or Clove as target odors) in the bottom of the jar. After training you will replace your used Q-tips in this jar, and every so often you will add more of the odor to the jar. This works for truffles too if using an oil, but you will need to add more drops to your ?odor? jar more often as some of the critical volatiles dissipate with exposure to oxygen. You do not though need to reapply new drops to the cotton for every session.

With truffle hunting there is no one set way, and actually variety is best. We will talk about how Truffle hunting is an Odor “messy” sport. When we train for truffle hunting, the amount of VOCs present will vary in the wild, and we want the dogs to alert on higher concentrations as well as lower concentrations of these compounds- and proof for that fact so we can be as clear as possible with the dogs on what criteria we are looking for them to locate. So we practice that principle of varied concentration.

Having the scent solution on cotton, in a varying concentrations is good.

Again, if applying it to cotton, it does NOT need to be reapplied for every training session. In fact (as we mentioned about alerting on lower concentrations of VOCs) you might consider having a separate jar to store q-tips you have used once or twice with no additional oil/truffle piece/odor in there so the VOC content can dissipate.

Good job rewarding at source at 0:07. Pretty good timing too!

One thing you are doing, and this will come up periodically in the course is at 0:17 look at your body language in reference to Baxter?s position and where the odor tin is. Note it. You are not quite blocking him here, but my guess is you are looking at him. Try not to make eye contact during this initial sequence. He?s looking to you for direction. As you mentioned, he is likely tired. The fact that you recognize this in self analysis is excellent. Keeping it short is the right thing to do!

At 0:41 (and this happens in the sequence at 0:17 too) is he is somewhat unsure (it is a new game after all) and questioning, and looking to you for direction. Instead of allowing this to continue on for extended periods, we want to encourage confidence and success. If it had extended on for much longer we would suggest you pick up the target, pause, and then re- place it slightly closer too him.

The other thing to consider is, is baxter motivated by moving objects? This is where round containers can come into play for some dogs. Many dogs are often stimulated by movement and so if the target rolls when you place it on the ground it encourages further investigation, upon which you can click and reward.

He does eventually go to it, and you do, again, a good job on timing with your marking, which is great. Allowing him to to make that calculated decision is good and creates a strong learning experience. If it goes on for much longer than that though (10 seconds say) in a scenario, consider that you might need to lower your criteria for a successful outcome, and move it closer to him to help support the notion of success.

Another thing to consider and we build on it in the future lessons is elongating your reward sequence. Some of it is about matching Baxter?s energy level- which you are doing well here, but if you stay at source and praise for a longer period of time before moving on, we wonder if he might have a more positive energy feedback from that.

We talk about energy and matching levels in later lessons, but for now you are matching his level pretty well. Matching energy, simplified, means you are not going to be jumping up and down screaming with excitement at the desired behavior (a level 10 energy response) when Baxter is like this, fairly low key and calm (say a level 3 or 4). Jumping dramatically in energy levels is likely to throw your dog off more than help, and you do a nice job of matching him here.

0:56 great job placing the target and then backing away. Other students take note. Even though Jenny is ?fronting? baxter here (meaning she is facing the target and facing baxter), she allows him space to approach the target without applying pressure. For some dogs, if Jenny was a step closer to the target here, the dog would feel less confident or comfortable approaching.

*** Imagine as a human you have a bubble around you. It extends more in front of you than in other directions (*I?ll think about trying to make a diagram of this!). Your dog- in this case Baxter– would be trying to be polite and wouldn?t want to invade your space. By backing up a step Jenny has allowed Baxter easier access to the target and thus Baxter is more comfortable offering the desired behavior.

Great job rewarding AT source!

What we like is by the end of the session is he is taking a moment to think about the scenario and then make s a very conscious decision to engage. This is going to be very fun Jenny. He?s going to be fun to work with! It looks great overall! Keep it up!