Reply To: Tim Rinaldi & Molly

Alana McGee

Hey Tim

Scent is carried on the breeze, yes, but doesn’t cling to the flat horizontal surfaces as well. It is capricious. In an essence yes it can be easier, sometimes. There are situations where this is in fact harder, or just different. It all is highly dependent on weather conditions. It’s just something to be aware of. On hard packed ground & concrete odor moves differently- faster we call it… Partly what we are saying is you may not see the same behaviors manifest when you start working in grass. You’ll notice Molly doubling back more. Her search patterns won’t be as clean, straight forward lines to source.

You are correct, the walls are harder because of those eddies. While scent will accumulate in these places, it is messy, so it’s harder for her to pinpoint, but she does an excellent job in this video working through it. Tenacious 🙂

She is a fast worker. We love that she is so enthusiastic and you can see it in her whole body. Makes us smile, big time. That’s what it is all about.

We also like that she was checking elevation. Outside the box thinking.

0:20 You are moving a little too fast here. We understand you are trying to work her through space, and you are providing physical blocks/pressure with your hands and body to get her to move a certain direction and around the sides of the buildings with eddies, but be slightly more still in the these scenarios. Just a tad. We’d suggest giving her a little more leeway/space. Allow Molly to dictate a bit more where the parameters of the search area are. Because this is hardpack/cement, & because the odor has been sitting out almost 24 hours, and because it’s hot & dry, the odor is moving ‘fast’ in this environment and dissipates quickly. If you allow her a chance to quarter in and out more, it is more likely she’ll hit a scent column faster that doesn’t dissipate she can follow to source. It is also practice for you to allow her to to double back towards you and removing some of that pressure you are applying when she does so- take a step backwards. Wind on orchards (and in the forest) at ground level will move around quite a bit, and you don’t want to be blocking her from approaching a scent column because it is behind you and to your left by a foot.

1:37 she does this and tracks back towards you. You send her back out, which is not wrong, but we would likely have said take a step back and allow her more space to search before cue the direction with your hand.

*You do a better job of leaving space from 0:30 to 0:42. Don’t jump to the hand signals right away, she’s doing well without it. If she got stuck in that back corner, then yes, absolutely- as she is sensitive to them. The hand signal at 0:42 was premature we think. Again, we know why you did it, but you know where the targets are here 😉 so you are more comfortable probably using the hand signals to direct her and apply pressure. Try to remain a tad more neutral, and see how that works. If you find she is ranging far outside your search area, then employ them. We don’t think she will though as she is so sensitive to your body orientation.

0:25, is she sitting or eliminating there? Both are fine, just curious if it is a sit you didn’t cue, perhaps why. Just for us gaining insight. In this scenario we also would have liked to have seen the few seconds after this when she re-engaged in the game. Did you cue her, or did she initiate and begin searching again on her own?

1:00 You do a very nice job of staying AT the location of the find. This is great. We’d like to see you collectively
spend more time at source. Not just you, but Molly with you there. Create the party/play at source, for longer. After the initial reward sequence/ ball play, ask her for a re-alert. (**This is where you can work on larger more active alerts as well. You are praising and acknowledging but withholding the ball until something more is offered*- Again use your good judgment and temper this. You don’t have to always hold out.)

Right now you click, praise, reward, and Molly leaves (you’re still there). She doesn’t go far generally, because your focus & intention is still on the target area, but it is incredibly useful later to have the dog remain at the source of the alert after the initial alert. Not all truffles are superficial, or shallow and you’ll need her and that fabulous nose and wiggly body in order to locate it in the soil. Odor often does not come out of the ground exactly above the truffle, so even if the dog digs down, you’ll need help locating it. The best tool at your disposal to do so, will be Molly. Elongate that sequence.

Something you could try would be to use food instead of the ball as an initial reward, and use the ball as the jackpot/ end reward in the alert/reward sequence.

At this stage what that would look like: Molly finds target and alerts (Tim clicks), approaches praising (as you do now) and rewards Molly at source with food. Tim asks for a re-alert, Molly offers a more pronounced behavior (either passive or active- likely active will be more naturally for Molly), and then Tim rewards with Ball. Tim plays with Molly there, Tim staying at the site of the target (Target is not yet picked up). Tim gets Ball back from Molly. Pauses. (Molly might offer an alert here! if she does have massive Party!) Tim asks for re-alert again & then Rewards again with ball. Tim praises, plays with Molly & ball at source. Tim gets ball back and the cycle is repeated for multiple hides.

Eventually you’d be able to fade the intermediate ball play, but a lot of this will depend on Molly and if food is motivating enough, or the lack of toy reward is too frustrating. If food rewards cause frustration because she’s trying to figure out how to get that ball, you’d want to back off on this idea a bit, and try it without food but otherwise as described.

Both will have you spending more time at source, collectively, which is what we want. It also allows you an opportunity to work on the details within a larger picture.

You guys look great. Try a few of the above suggestions, & just keep them in mind. It is a lot to work with we know! You are doing wonderfully, and are a joy to watch.

As for building difficulty, your plan of action yes, sounds acceptable, but do try to focus a little on details mentioned above as now is the time to work on those foundational skills as later every action & movement is magnified in the canine response.

Keep building reward histories in this environment as well. Is that second photo (the one with the land rover?) you posted the same area as the place you have been training in, or slightly different? If different, yes, go for that. Hedgerows are great obstacles of distraction as many things live in them. Not that that will phase Molly, but it is good practice. If not (if it is the same area), work on expanding this search area (more laterally than what we saw in this video), and the scenario will be more about you, Tim, moving through the space not blocking access to odor coming from multiple targets spread in a scatter as opposed to relatively linearly, and building history for both of you in this scenario. Let us know if that doesn’t make sense.
**Try this first anyway- the scattershot idea— before you move to those grass areas. **

Very well done Tim.

we also love this: “Noticeable difference in her hunting body language really using her nose now-can also hear her breathing through her nose rather than mouth.”

That’s one of our favorite noises.

  • This reply was modified 8 years, 11 months ago by Alana McGee.