Reply To: Mary Hammond & Salu

Alana McGee

Good use on building distraction scents in the other targets for additional complexity in the game.

As for Salu becoming less motivated to search after two finds- encouraging him through, as you did in this case is just fine. One thing you can do is perform the “reset” as you did and reengage in the scenario that way. The other more common game we play in the field when this manifests is we offer a easy find or success which can act as a ‘primer’ for continuing searching.

This is something you can practice during the break— transitioning from working from 2 hides to more. After the 2nd find (as that is when you said he starts to become less engaged) make the third hide simple and have a HUGE party when he does alert/ engage with it. You can even praise the searching behavior here when this happens.

Provide an opportunity for success by throwing a target near him after the second find/ party wherein he’ll have to move to access it (re-engaging in the game) and you can build a transition that way. The goal is eventually that Salu will generalize that the game is not over after 2 finds. Do make the first few times you do this fairly simple so he can build a reward history with the concept of “game is not over after two truffles”

Resting is good. It means he was using that curly noggin of his and was challenged by the scenario. Great job on allowing the break to happen.

Be sure to take a few days off over the break where no truffle hunting happens. Allow him some time away. He won’t forget but learning pathways are strengthened by these intermittent breaks.

Your Video:

0:18 good. Notice the difference in his alerts here and his default alert when the hide is not as easily accessible. Truffles in the wild- and indeed even on orchards— are not always accessible so it is important to understand more confident default behaviors of an alert when this is the case. His default here is a look to you followed by a passive sit.

Very nice re-alerts here to indicate location. 0:32 GOOD! nice rewarding on that and both of you staying engaged in the game.

The find at 1:30 is good- something to note. While it may seem like a short amount of time, we feel that was right on the edge of his comfort zone in terms of length in scenario without a success. IF that searching had continued on longer and you noticed him starting to lose interest in the game- that is a perfect scenario to provide a success as a means of encouragement. We often do this in the field. If we are not finding a truffle/ target within a certain period of time we will place a target (with decreased difficultly in the scenario) to provide a success for the dog in question. Working through frustration can be acceptable at times as that is how some learning happens, but we want truffle hunting to always always always be a fun game the dogs want to play- and that is a means to achieve that positive mentality.

Your encouragement here around the 1:50 mark is good. Notice his minor ‘shake-off’ a stress release.
2:14 he’s working really hard and well here, and you can praise that for encouragement. 2:40 would be a good example of when you could drop a target on the floor and ask him to alert. You do get him up through encouragement- but we wanted to provide you other means for reengaging in the game. On that final 3rd hide we would have suggested even more of a party/ jackpot. That was really hard for him and we want to make a big deal out of the fact that he just broke through a barrier there of going from 2 hides to 3 hides. So you want to make that 3rd hide he found super duper awesome and rewarding.

Keep that in mind if you practice a bit over the break. Remember though to take some time/ days off of truffle games and when you come back he’ll be raring to go!

Well done Mary & Salu. We look forward to seeing you in the next class!