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A few responses before I get to my next video…
You are certainly right, I need to work with Tooz on developing a more passive alert. Even if she doesn’t pick up the target, she still paws at it more roughly than I’d like. So I will work with her to eliminate the behavior of picking up the target, as well as reduce pawing. She has done well when I’ve worked on this in the past—I’ve just become too lax about it.
As for the verbal encouragement at the specific point you asked about (1:38), I was praising her because I could see from her body language that she was onto the odor and honing in on the source. I almost always give verbal encouragement/praise when she is at this point of a search—on odor and pinpointing the source.
Indeed, the forests out here in the coastal Pacific Northwest are dense and are typically littered in branches, logs, and undergrowth. I definitely do not throw the ball in these environments. I don’t even do short tosses to her mouth since she can’t always catch them—if she couldn’t make the catch, she’d go leaping and lunging after the ball. So in these kinds of environments I do little more than hand the ball to her mouth. It’s not the same as a throw, but she still loves it.
This next video begins a little strangely. I have not yet been able to do blind hides where I also don’t know the location of the targets. Finding someone who is available to do this for me has been challenging, so when I had an opportunity a few days ago, I had to jump on it. It was, however, not an ideal situation, since enlisting the helper meant also enlisting her 5 year old daughter. The drawback was mainly the distraction—Tooz didn’t seem to mind too much, it was me that found the girl distracting. The benefit: The girl took her job as helper very seriously. She placed many “traps” where she touched the ground or used the trowl to lift some soil. She also walked all over the search area, making “crazy tracks” of footprints that zig zagged all around. (She was pretty invested in the search and a little overly-excited to see the dog in action!) So I’m sorry about the little girl in the beginning of the video—she goes away, I promise!
I noticed that in this search where I don’t know the location of the hides, I give a lot more verbal encouragement and praise than in scenarios where I do know the location of the hides. I think Tooz responded well to it since she stayed happy and motivated until all 6 targets were found.
The weather during this session was partly sunny, 55 deg F, 70% humidity, with winds up to 12 mph.