Reply To: Curt & Mo

Alana McGee

Ah Quail!

If you have a space you can separate out that doesn’t have (known) quail trails running through it, then yes, we would suggest that for some of the practice sessions, for now. You won’t always need to work there but it will give you a good indication of his mental state and how engaged he is via his enthusiasm when working with targets. The quail could be a distraction- and you see it at several points in the video when they are. He likes to do both activities and in this situation (if you had quail trails) the previous day, he may think it is that game you are playing here as well.

It is a matter of shifting his mental state so he starts to realize both things can happen in this space.

Dogs will associate a space with an acitivity, but it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Prior to coming into this scene what were you doing? Did you Prime Mo? The beginning behaviors or running all over that scenario are not abnormal. Excited, yes, absolutely. It is great big outside, and Quail are here too!

“Several times during this session I wondered if Mo was actually keying on quail scent and not the black trumpets I’m using here”

If you can, video your “quail” sessions and watch them for self analysis. This may help in learning the subtle differences in his behavior from sport to sport. The first step (and you’re doing it here) is to start to notice the shift in behavior. The subtle differences wherein Mo is telling you he is on either Quail or mushrooms. The signs are there we all just need to practice learning to recognize and read them. We haven’t seen him on Quail so we can’t compare for a baseline analysis, but our suspicion is you are correct here.

Also often times when first realeased into an area (and by first we mean first time that day, or during the session) dogs need to spend time getting more comfortable with that environment. We sometimes call it ‘getting the wiggles out’. This does appear to be a facet of what Mo is doing here. It can including exploring other odors in and environment.
The more often you use this space for these purposes, and the more familiar he becomes with it, the duration of “wiggles” will decrease.

0:33 GREAT on vocal praising his recall. Not truffle related- but well done.

0:37- Yes, quail could have. So could have bunnies, or many other distractions. Our guess is you have a lot of wildlife in that area.

Also was the ground wet/ damp at all? It doesn’t look it, but that can impact how scent moves & clings. Where was the wind coming from? Mushroom odor could be lingering in a small trough created by the depressed grasses.

More likely it is animal distraction odor.

When you run Quail for him, does Mo wear different gear? Different cues?

1:00- great body positioning Curt. You are really giving Mo a nice space to work and not crowding while still being supportive and not blocking. Well done.You’re very sensitive to his area of work focus, and that is to your advantage. Well done.

1:06 was great timing and delivery! If possible we would have draw out that reward a little longer. Granted you will be looking for mushrooms so it isn’t as important as it is with truffle hunting, but still we would encourage you to do so.

1:12- Whether he was on odor or not, you are correct, in this situation that is pulling him off odor. He didn’t appear to necessarily be in a scent column and on odor, but he was interrupted right at about the moment when he would have shifted from air scenting to ground scenting. You are aware of it though as a handler now, so that is a valuable lesson.

What we would suggest in this situation is after the last find you cued him to go find more Houby. Great. Allow him an opportunity to explore a bit again. After a bit more time- 10-20 seconds— if he’s running around that area, obviously not scenting, then re direct. He is very responsive and sensitive to you.

Great reward again on that second find. Again, we would recommend drawing out that reward sequence. Make it more of a party!

2:11- what you can do when he is distracted is redirect him. Use your body and move! Point your body in the direction you plan on going and start to move there. Look over at him and encourage him to come with you, drawing his attention away from whatever other interesting odors are going on and redirect to an area where you know the target is hidden. In this case he was right near it, but yes, he was distracted. The same principle works however. Move away so you can move back into that space again. It is a bit like a field- reset.

2:48- Good. When you do this, shift your direction of your body to point the way you want him to focus. While you are backing up your ‘intention’ is still infront of you, which is a direct block for what you want him to do. Pivot 180 degrees. After he runs past you at 2:50 you do a good job. You also were using your hand as a directional tool here to indicate which area you wanted him to search. That is perfectly alright (we talk about it later in the course), and great he picks up on that already. Be conscious when you do it, and make sure when you do, you are doing so purposefully. Pay attention to how accurate he is and the motion of your arm. It may surprise you 😉

2:56- this is better with your body in terms of intention on where you want him to search.

Overall, this was good. Preparing the jackpot was a very wise idea. 3:53- GOOD re-laert and very nice genuine praise and delivery. This is the kind of enthusiasm and more drawn out rewards we would like to see after each find. Really PUMP UP that confidence.

We would encourage you to work in a smaller space on occasion so the successes can happen in rapid succession. This is a pretty big complex area for him in this video, and that will effect the perceived enthusiasm and enjoyment you can see in him in the/ and for the game.

Keeping him in a more contained area will keep success rates high and limit the amount of distractions he is exposed to. This was actually a very difficult scenario. Quail and this big space and tall grass. Try to eliminate some of the complexity. By doing so you’ll build the confidence and excitement back as well as laying really strong foundations. One of the easier ways to do that would be to limit the search area size to 1/2 or a 1/3 of what he is covering here (use the long line if you need to). Also doing it in an area without the quail will be easier as they add odor & noise distractions. Eventually this would be just fine, but start right now by limiting the factors he has to compete with & against for a successful outcome.