Home › Forums › Best Of Forum – Developing a Reliable Team › Alyssia & Spring (DRTDT)
- This topic has 43 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 8 years, 4 months ago by Alana McGee.
November 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm #3260November 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm #3262
Spring is an 8 year old Rat Terrier and we live in Manassas, VA. She has her NACSW NW 1 and NW 2 titles and since we can’t get into any NW3 trials, thought truffle hunting might be fun offshoot of nosework for her.
She has a soft temperament, can be environmental, but works through it and needs high reinforcement, although she will work a long time on scent to find source.
We took Level 1 at Bronze and are currently using the Pacific Northwest Truffle solution for our scent.
We are looking forward to the class and I hope there are some other small dogs in it 🙂November 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm #3263
Beautiful dog! It will be fun sharing adventures with you.November 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm #3264
Welcome Alyssia and Spring!!!November 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm #3265
Here are pictures of my backyard, where I will be doing most of the training right now. There is a park right down the street that has an open field, surrounded by trees and then houses and parking lot, but I am not sure how often I will be able to get over there right now, so didn’t take pictures.
This is pretty much the whole yard, house behind me, chain link on left and back and 6ft wood privacy on right. Yard slopes downward, tree will be dropping leaves pretty soon, so there will be lots of ground cover. Lots of places for hides when we get to more advanced. From my nosework training, odor does go down towards the back of the yard.
Another view of the “main” grassy area.
The back fence area, feral cats behind the fence, which make good distractions and I do have critters that come through, so there is scat sometimes to be found.
Hope to have my 1st video up today or tomorrow as I would like to get feedback on what I need to work on. Spring will most likely be on leash to contain her search area, as she will search the whole yard if in working mode.November 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm #3270
Your outdoor training area looks great! You will have many options for training and can create several scenarios with varying challenge! Wonderful set up for this class.
One thing I’m excited about is that there will be so many leaves falling in your yard. That will be a great “change’ to the training environment as you progress so keep that in mind before you rake leaves up. Consider training in the leaves and then with leaves raked. Be creative when you get to the point of adding distractions/ changing environment.
You have a good size yard and this will initially be too large of a search area so we recommend having a way to section it off. Being on leash works fine, but it is sometimes nice to have a visual barrier that defines the space (if possible). If you have some gates, plastic fencing material, or ex-pens to define the boarders of the search area, that provides some clarity for the session. It doesn’t need to be secure…just defining the perimeter.November 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm #3271
Thanks for the tips on the use of the yard, I do have ways to section parts off, so will have to try that so she can have some freedom to work. She is very good verbally off leash, but she will chase odor and work a larger area then needed.
I did get video together today. It is almost 4 minutes, even after creative editing, but wanted to give you guys a better idea of how she works. Will keep the next videos to the time limit.
1st section of video is a box drill from this morning, with two hides in the brown boxes, she was off leash for that one, but I had done the same drill previous to that on leash, so she knew the game. You will see her false alert a bit, but I think the odor pooled after I opened the first box. 2nd section is from this evening, on leash, it was 4 empty boxes, 4 blank tea balls and 4 blank tins with 3 hides in tea balls, she did false alert on a box and then hit the tea ball near it. 3rd bit is same drill without the 4 boxes and I thought she did a great job with that. All the hides were 3 qtips in tea balls.
Do you think I should spend less time rewarding? I know I dropped food a couple times and she had to make sure it was cleaned up, but she does go back to work. Looking forward to any other feedback you have as well, thanks!November 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm #3272
In the first hide I think you do a great job with your reward sequencing and getting her to nose target inside the box.
We actually LOVE long reward sequences and here is why- it takes time to retrieve a truffle from the ground and we want the dogs to stay with us as handlers at source and be happy about doing so! Even the truffles by you (Tuber lyonii or other white species) which will likely not be as deep as some of the ones here in the PNW, will take time to extract from soils, so this is a way to build more value of staying at source, among other things.
AT about the 0:50 mark you see her do what you call the ?false alert?. YOU know where the targets actually are, but in a real environment, you don?t know, so you must trust Spring when she does alert. It may be pooled odor, but what we would like to see you do, if she does that, is to inspect the box be like ?nope, nothing here? and then put it back down and then move on.
You effectively did the same thing by ignoring her and she moved on to a new scent cone, but in the field you won?t have that luxury, so we want to build in now that if she alerts at this stage, you are checking (UNLESS for her alert you were waiting for more defined behavior. But she looks to you to question if this is correct)- she is not rewarded however if there isn?t a target. You are trusting her. The fact she doesn?t stay with it show us she is uncertain about odor there. Take a look again at that alert and the one following. How she looks to you but then enthusiastically goes back to it on the second one- but you have already started to move towards her at that point, so that may also have given her more confidence that this is correct choice.
This is important to note in the field, and why we want you to check when they do offer an alert is real truffles growing in the wild have some other compounds some dogs may not be as confident about alerting on, and if you check with her, and there are truffles there later, you are giving her more info and confidence in new situations. If there aren?t truffles or targets, you?re are still checking and trusting her but she isn?t rewarded.
Same thing in the next set of hides. When she does find the tea ball right after next to the box, that?s great, but it is reinforced as correct when you start moving towards her. She?s relying on you for information here and we want to start to have her be confident without direct input from you. Does that make sense? Such as you are cuing her to the correct odor. She is guessing (which is totally ok) and waiting for a response from you.
As you remove visual ID such as boxes, I am fairly certain Spring will be more confident in where she alerts, and not look to you for confirmation or information as much, and the hitting the boxes or lack of precision will cease to occur. If you continue to use boxes though we would like you, if she does that to go check it out and then just be like, “that was great Spring, but nope, next.?
2:19 is a fabulous example of her being confident she found it before you starting moving towards her and then she offers you a really nice re-alert as well. That is a very nice reward sequence as well.
2:57 is Fabulous! This is a great example of what I just meant by how she will be more confident and not seek information from you with less visual ID.
Based on all of this, I would actually start to fade the boxes as a visuals unless you are transitioning to new environments as it will provide a familiar framework.
You are quickly going to get to the stage where you are obscuring the hides more. Not burying yet, but removing even more visual id. When you start doing that, remember to keep the area you are working in a bit smaller than you think you need.
The other thing to practice (with keeping at the same level of visual ID aka Targets sitting on grass) is to increase the search area and build confidence in starting to search larger areas. I would not do your whole yard, as that is quiet large, but start slowly pushing boundaries.
The Last sequence of rewards at 3:37 is really nice too. Don?t shorten your sequence. It is really good as is 🙂November 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm #3273
Thanks for the feedback. Boxes have always been our nemesis in nosework and she does do much better WITHOUT them. I had hoped going back to the foundation box work in the 1st truffle class, would eliminate the uncertainty of which box has the odor, but as seen in the vid she still does it. Last night we did do 4 hides with no boxes and with the empty teaballs and tins scattered around and she nailed that. I actually couldn’t remember where they all were in relation to the empties so I had to check and she did great with staying them. Of course had video malfunction, so need to make sure it is recording next time.
So this week, do away with the boxes, unless I am seeing she is having trouble, build up the size of the search area and continue rewarding in a long sequence. Should I continue with multiple hides and if so, up to how many?November 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm #3274
Yes, do away with the boxes unless you think you need them as a guide.
Yes, continue with multiple hides. I would say increase the search area, but if you do, don’t exceed more than 5 hides, and always make sure you have one on you in case you need to manufacture success. Which is TOTALLY ok to do. Remember, if she finds 3 and you think she is starting to fatigue, stop there. Always better to end on a positive!November 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm #3275
Here is my end of week 1 video, sorry about the audio, it appears to pick up the crickets and hardly anything else, can use my old video camera but picture quality isn’t as good, so will look into boosting the mic on the phone.
This is from tonight and it was sprinkling with slight wind. I had 4 blank tins and 4 blank tea balls with 5 hides (4 teaballs and 1 tin, which she found last). There was a gate on the right and the left to contain the area, but at one point she went around it , but came back when called.
I realized I was saying good before getting to the target and I think that is why I was getting alot of look backs in the first video I posted, so have been trying to keep my mouth shut, until I get to the “truffle” and check it out and then it goes, did you find a truffle, good truffle, good girl, good job or along those lines.
[url=http://youtu.be/S5-tjlleGXc]http://youtu.be/S5-tjlleGXc[/url]November 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm #3276
Thank your or telling us the weather conditions, that does make a difference.
Without the boxes is a big improvement. At the 0:09 mark- that is fabulous, she does a very quick look to you and then alerts again, and then gives you the longer more pronounced looking alert after he has marked it with her paw. I even like that she steps away as you approach and she comes back to it!
Great work on the reward and the targeting with her paw/ nose on the truffle in hand.
Again at 1:37 fabulous. She is more confident in these and looks to you for reward after she has give a large and clear alert.
This was a great video. We don?t really have too much feedback except to say that this is a good level to continue to build at and get positive reward histories. Try it in different portions of your yard.
What I would say is notice, if you rewatch the video, the distance at which she is comfortable working from you. You do a great job of not blocking her, but she usually doesn?t stray beyond a certain point. Slowly moving around the space may be an option for you to explore the area together when you start working in much larger areas. That is a decent sized area you are working in and you are definitely ready for this week.
Don?t stress about the sound too much. It?s good to be able to hear your interactions, but seeing your body language and your interaction is more what we focus on.
Also great job on withholding verbal communication until after the alert.November 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm #3277
Her confidence AND yours are greatly improved without the boxes. You don’t doubt her as much in these scenarios. Keep that up!!!! Really nice work.
Can’t wait to see how blind searches go!November 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm #3278
Thanks for the feedback, she is a mamma’s girl, so yes she stays close, even if she chases something in the woods, here threshhold is about 100ft and she stops and comes back. I think once the area gets bigger and I set it with less barriers, she will work a bit more away, but will watch that.
She had today off, and the upcoming weather is going to be a bit unsettled, so hoping I can get some good practices in this week.November 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm #3279
Yesterday, did 5 obscured hides , weather was sunny and dry, she did a great job finding those, had one in a split tree root, completely accessible and she tried to dig that out, which was great. The camera was way back to get the whole scene and of course after watching it, realized would be hard to see what we were doing.
This morning, did only 4, had been raining again and it was much cooler and wet and her energy seemed down, she found them all, just took her longer then usual.
So decided to try again this evening, had stopped raining, was 60 degrees and everything was wet. She found the five hides in 4 1/2 minutes, I cut out where she left the frame and also when she was she searching the PVC for a bit for her last hide and still over 3 minutes. I can cut more of her searching or the rewarding out if you don’t need to see as much.
The search area is smaller again and the hides clustered to get the camera closer. I had two under the leaves and stuffed in the grass closer to the camera, there was another stuffed in the weeds by the fencing and then under the pink flowers, which she hit on at .34 and around 1:08 but she did not commit.
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