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Thanks as always for your great analysis, advice and encouragement! We had a much better week this week! You may be right that she wasn’t feeling well.
I spent some time with the basic box hide game she loves, and took the game to these outdoor search areas. She really enjoyed that.
I also worked her in the grassy meadow area, placing many targets out in a smaller area. She was fantastic. Much more confident, motivated and actively searching the area. In this session, she only played with the toy a couple of times, and I really had to coax it out of her. However, she has been very eager to receive high-value treats, so that was the primary reward in that session.
In this video, we did another search in the same area as the last video. Right off the bat she is more perky, confident and motivated. I started by hiding a target where we enter the search area, in the hopes that she would stumble upon it. She did! She was not interested in the toy at all this session, but was very happy to receive her high-value treats. I cut out the reward sequence because it is long and looks pretty much the same every time: 20-30 seconds of me kneeling down with her, continuous verbal praise and continuous treats (either feeding little pieces one after the other, or continuous nibbling on one big chunk.) Leaving these reward sequences in would eat up most of my 3 minute limit, hence their removal in this video.
Some things that I was very happy with were:
a) Great paw touch alerts,
b) hitting the scent column and confidently returning to the source,
c) confidence around the terrain: actively scratching at, stepping onto and digging into the stump to get to the target, and was unaffected by low hanging branches for the target that was hidden under the tree,
d) ability to easily return to searching after distraction (actually, one part I cut out was when she stopped to poop—she readily went right back to confidently searching the area when she finished.)
e) the appearance that she is going forward and moving around the search the area on her own, rather than requiring me to walk her around the whole area.
Just a note about the long line: When she exits the search area at 1:42, it looks like I am putting tension on the line to bring her back. Actually, I didn’t pull on her–I was keeping the line up off the ground and trying to prevent it from catching on the small stumps scattered throughout the field from the previous tree plantings/harvests. Her return to the search was all her own. 🙂
Well, I think we’re back on track! I am a little bummed that she isn’t as interested in the toy anymore. There were a few times in our practice sessions this week that she was, but her interest in them is now infrequent and not like it used to be. But I think it’s ok–she has been very excited about the treats, and in many cases has been eagerly nudging me, pawing at the treats and giving eye contact when I bring out the toy. She’s saying, “no thanks” to the toy, and asking for great treats instead. So treats she gets. 🙂 Other times she ignores the toy and goes back to searching. I’m fine with that too!