Reply To: Curt & Mo

Alana McGee

Remember that often “bad truffling days” are great learning experiences, so please don’t be hesitant to share!

Sometimes these are the best teaching and learning moments and where we learn the most about our own behavior as handlers and about our dog’s relationship to us and the game.

We commend you for thus far sending unedited video. It is along the journey that we learn the most, not necessarily at the final destination 🙂

Fantastic for giving him a NICE BIG reward on the recall off of distraction.

You said it yourself, but remember, Mo is a puppy. You are doing wonderfully, but he is still a puppy. There will be days where this may be more common.

Again, we commend you for being sensitive to not applying pressure on the line to Mo. Yes he is sensitive to it but it can also act as a perimeter guide to keep him inside a certain area. Use it as a tool. It is one thing too pull him off of odor (aka he is tracking target odor and you steer him aside) and very different to set boundaries on range of motion in a geographic area. Use the line as tool and guide.

Don’t worry about efficiency for efficiency sake in Mo finding Houby. It’s about the fun factor!

I’ll be quite honest, I had a very similar circumstance with Lolo in outdoor wooded settings her first year. Only for us it was Elk/ deer poop. She loved it (gross I know), and would follow it above anything else. So we changed the game, and brought the distractions TO us, in order to proof against them. We do cover proofing at some point in the course, but below is a training method to try.

One training solution is to work with these distractors in a controlled setting, i.e. inside first and then outside in more controlled space. You live in a fantastic spot with lots of fun wildlife. Bring some of that indoors and work with it there. When training outdoor odor sports we work with what we can and manipulate training to suit our needs and manufacture scenarios as best we can. One example brings the distractions inside to you, in a less distracting environment. Example: If you know where a deer bed is (I am assume grass here) when Mo is not with you, go collect some of the grass from where the deer has been sleeping. Bring it inside and set up a scenario indoors with hobby hides. Put that in the environment as well. Practice like this. Try to get different novel odors in his environment to work on some of these things in a more controlled setting wherein you can build value for Houby odor over value for Animal odor.

For me & Lolo, that required me to go collect lots of deer & elk pellets and hide them in my training area. I can now say, after working on it, I don’t feel the need to have deer poop in my fridge anymore 😉 I didn’t know Elk pellets would be distracting to her until we were presented with it. Once I knew, I brought that distractor inside and worked with it where I could control more things and provide the kinds of rewards & party she needed to have more value in truffle over elk poop.

Also giving that space a break would be good. Again, take some of those distracting elements and bring them into your more controlled outdoor environment where you can more easily set Mo up for success and more importantly FUN!

The areas with taller grass are inherently harder than mowed fields for Mo. Partly because of environmental odor movement, and partly because of distractions. See if you can find an intermediate space. The slope infront of your house is a good place that is a bit of a picture of these things.

you do a great job on line handling and delivery of reward.. At 0:27, because he’s having a harder time on re-alerts, help him here, get down and engage at source. We know he understands Houby, this environment is more stressful. It is OK to help them out and encourage behavior we want through aided example. He already found it, want you are looking for at that moment is re-engagement. You can point it out. Just like teaching a dog to sit. The first few times you’ll reward with food, but for the rest of his life, every time he sits you won’t have to deliver a food reward. Same principle. Help him out more. We understand you are holding out for more concrete and solid criteria, but based on what you said that he has unenthusiastic and distracted in previous settings we would drop your criteria for success WAY down.

1:21 is a great example of this.

Really nice genuine rewarding Curt.

The other thing, do not EVER feel obligated to find all the hides you put out simply because you put them out. Oh the teaballs I have left in forests to be found at later dates!!

Some days, just finding one target is perfect. We aren’t so worried about endurance yet. There will be a time for that, but right now, again, it’s the FUN that’s the most important. If that is just one repetition of Houby, OK! Totally fine and we encourage that. You can read Mo in the moment very well and you are sensitive to him. We always suggest students err on the side of too little in the earlier stages, rather than too much.

2:04- In this scenario this is exactly when you would manufacture success by throwing out an easier Hobby for him to find. Always have an extra target on you for this reason. Manufactured success is not the devil. It is your friend and a tool. Just like the ling line is a tool for communication. The key to transitioning from area to area often lies in rapid reward history. Too long between finds and dogs become stressed and distracted. You will see us do it even now. If we aren’t locating anything for a certain period of time, we manufacture success. So we encourage you to do that with him. More than you think necessary. 1 minute in-between finds is too long right now in this complex environment unless he is being really focused working odor and the shift in behavior is noticeable- like we have seen from him inside. We would expect inside he could go for quite a while working. Outside, it is more complicated. He’ll get there, but we use the manufactured success as a stepping stone. Also, the manufactured Houby doesn’t need ot be really hidden. It can be obvious. The point of the game is success and fun when do that, not being a master at pinpointing odor. Make it easy, make it fun.

Nice video Curt. You’re doing really well the line and giving him really nice working space. Well done.