Reply To: Gwen Matear & Millie

Alana McGee

Hi Gwen

Also let us know if you intend to work Millie on a collar or a harness. As we have said in other threads we have some suggestions we can recommend that will be available over in the UK for you. Because you do competitive (and for fun!) tracking, those kinds of harnesses are perfect, but we would suggest eventually using a different actual harness for truffle hunting than tracking. Different gear for different tasks.

She is most definitely looking to you for information, but your dynamic in communication looks great and it doesn’t look like from here that you are throwing her apparent signals saying “the target is right there Millie!”

0:29 great on your part- notice how your energy level and excitement picks up a bit there. It’s a nice dynamic between you two and you can see she trusts you a lot. She also does know odor, and is more confident the more you play these games.

0:47 is a GREAT example of just that. You can see Millie thinking it out. Anthropomorphizing here, but it is almost like you can see the internal debate- “do I check all the boxes first…. but this one met criteria!” at 0:52 we would even reward her again. We really really like pushy, enthusiastic, deliberate dogs in this sense when truffle hunting- It makes harvesting as a handler- on orchards and in the wild far easier- especially when it is a naturally offered behavior- which we think will develop with Millie. If she goes back to it on her own at this stage unsolicited, fabulous. Reward that.

It does not appear like you are helping her too much at all. We saw no overt signs of her depending on you for information in order to make an decision to alert. She is sensitive to you, yes, but she wasn’t basing her entire decision making process on information from you while ignoring other senses and acting indecently.

This looked really nice Gwen- just be sure to let Millie know that if she goes back to the source, that she is correct! If you need to get her away at this stage you can coax (which you did- and she is responsive to that) or lure- but acknowledge that “yes Millie, that is a truffle! Good girl.”

Well done Gwen.