Reply To: Annie Ingersoll & Dottie

Alana McGee

Hi Annie

The pictures are great Annie- Thank you for including them.

Really nice approach (on both your parts) and alert from Dottie on the first scenario.

What’s nice about this approach is she is being thoughtful while also taking cues from you in terms of directional searching, naturally. She checked the wood pile first- it is how you entered the scene, but notice the moment you shift your intention she also redirects her focus towards your orientation. There is great power in intention as a form of communication. Just something to note. The visual clues are very much clue for her at this point, but that is perfectly okay and by design. It provides structure to a game. She has a nice thoughtful independence while still following your signals. Really nice genuine rewards on the alert at 0:20. We like you mini play after the find. The scampering fingers.

0:44 Nice! You allowed her to make choices there and respected those choices. She even then brought it to you after that. Well done, really don’t have much to comment on here. You handled it well. She didn’t provide you an opportunity to move faster to the source, because in under a second she brought it towards you, and you went to source then, which is just fine. We all know she does this occasionally. She’s being very clear with her signals on alert in this case and it makes us smile. There is nothing wrong with that. Once the targets are buried this particular behavior will be more difficult to manifest, but you may find eventually, she will excavate and bring/ spit truffles at you on occasion.

As for handling a situation like you describe better: You have good impulses. The key idea, when possible, is to reset in such a scenario- which is what it sounds like you did. Something about the environment or scenario didn’t compute.
Take your time in a reset in such a scenario. You can play very easy hand/ truffle targeting games prior to re-engaging as well. We call that ‘priming’ Get her comfortable, have her happy. At this stage we’d rather not push frustration and endurance and risk shutting down a sensitive dog. The key is when you do re-engage in the scenario is the win/ find should be an epic party/ jackpot. Provide Dottie the opportunity to succeed through independent choices, but understand the time limits on that (it realistically will be under 30 seconds at this point based on the videos we have seen), and be ready to manufacture a success for that epic party if you feel she is starting to flag.

Later in field when we run into such scenarios where a complete reset (as in completely remove from environment) is difficult you can rely on those base ‘priming’ or foundational games as a reset button of sorts. There are many ways to offer a reset, but the goal is to create a break, do something else, engaging the mind or body in a different set of activities, and then once she (AND you) are settled and relaxed, try to reproach. This is also where having that extra target comes in handy. Not just in offering hand target foundational games, but as a means to manufacture success in stressful situations. Dogs are sensitive to being wrong, and if you can manufacture a success, with genuine excitement and reward on your part if the hide is too difficult (for whatever reason) then you both win, and not finding the planted hide, is really not an issue. At this stage it is about building confidence and providing positive reward histories.

Again, your instincts to reset are right on the money. Next time try to offer some easy foundational games with that extra target before you reengaged, and when you do be ready to jackpot/ party the moment she does alert on the target, because WOW Dottie, you’re awesome! Genuine is the key. Also then reflect on why she might have struggled with that one hide. Were you approaching differently? Was there some other added stimulus? Just think about it and see if you can come up with a few possibilities as to why the situation may have proved more difficult.

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 3 months ago by Alana McGee. Reason: typos