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Here is our second video for Week 1.
I am pretty sure that Dottie is now over her “yellow jacket PTSD” and is back on track. I have been working on adding the element of getting down on the ground, taking a longer time to pick up the target, making sure target is in hand before rewarding. I am trying to lengthen the time she’ll stay with me while at the source. I am also withholding the click until I get a solid, acceptable alert directly on the target (paw touch).
This session was a little tricky for both of us. First, she was very distracted. She kept sniffing critter poo, did some marking… etc. Some of it was silly and showing she was clearly having a good time: rolling in the grass, rubbing her face in the grass, etc. Maybe this is one of those cases where I should allow for some time to explore and settle into the environment before expecting any real searching effort? As you’ll see in the video, we hit a little stumbling block right off the bat… She easily found the first target, but instead of alerting, she rolled on it (rubbed her neck on it, the way she does with icky stinky stuff!), then started to mill around the area, poking and rubbing her face in the grass. She was certainly having a good time, but not giving a solid alert or staying at the source. I tried to encourage her to go back and give me a solid alert, but she didn’t and eventually walked away. I was baffled and didn’t know how to handle this. So I followed her as she walked away and figured we could come back to it.
After the first find, she became very interested in a critter scent and was not interested in the toy, so I cut the video off there. (There were a total of 4 targets in the grass, so what you don’t see in this video is two more finds between the first one and the last one. We did play with the toy after these finds. You also don’t see some of the distraction sniffing, marking, etc. that she was doing.) The last find is where she returns to the original target she rolled on and does a very solid paw alert.
My biggest question is: How should I have handled the “rolling on the target” scenario? And should I plan on giving her “exploration” time prior to asking her to knuckle down and get to work on a real search?
Thanks for all your input and help!