Lesson 3 gave River and I a chance to work on her alert. River has a very enthusiastic alert, something not desirable for a 90lb. canine when targeting delicate truffles. My goal was to fine tune her heavy pawed alert with a more gentle alert, possibly saving us a few truffles.
Today’s targets were jars, something we have never used. We used Tuber oregonense. Today’s treats were cheese and carrots. Unfortunately I had to move practice outside, our house is just too small and I could not get the results in the confined space of the garage. There was a north to south breeze of about 5mph, with south being at the camera.
In the first video I allowed her to alert as she would normally. You can see and hear just how hard she alerts on a target. I award as usual, often having to hold the target so it doesn’t go flying. This is a great example of just what can happen to a truffle in the field, check behind your canine. A softer alert will help keep the truffles in the alert area.
In the second video I awarded on the initial alert. When I went for the “show me”, I held the target in place and asked for a “gentle” or “easy” alert (both commands River understands). I awarded with praise for the alerts that were the her normal, but did not treat. Once I was able to move my hand off the target and have her “show me” without kicking it away, then she was rewarded with a treat. It is difficult to see in the video, but I move my hand off and to the side on the desired alert.
It will take time to gain a final alert that is more gentle than the one we use now, but this is a great thing! The classes have caught up to us and shown us a way to fine tune an alert we have used for years, costing us several canine damaged truffles.