Annie & Dottie

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  • #5828
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Welcome to class Annie!  This is the forum topic where you will post your questions and homework videos for feedback from the instructors.  Please take a moment to tell us about yourself, your dog and your interest in truffle hunting (and what you have been working on during the break).

    Class begins August 9th but you already have access to the first lesson so go ahead and check that out!  You can begin posting video homework and questions August 9th.

    #5845
    Annie
    Participant

    Hello Everyone,

    I’m glad to be joining this class with all of you! I live in Oregon, in the Willamette Valley. I got interested in truffle dog training because it is a perfect merging of my interests: dog training, edible fungi, and hiking/the outdoors. It’s a real bonus that I live in an area that has a high concentration of some edible truffle species!

    Though I’ve been training and teaching various reward-based dog activities for years, nosework is relatively new to me. I have previously taken Kristin and Alana’s online classes with my 3 year old terrier mix.

    This time around, I’ve chosen a more challenging subject… my 11 year old papillon, Dottie. She is very energetic and food motivated, and she still loves to learn new things. Don’t let her age fool you. 🙂 She doesn’t have the same drive as my other dog, however, and is more easily distracted by her environment. We have just finished the Level 1 class (Intro to Truffle Hunting) and are excited to move forward to this one.

    During the break between classes, I have been working on a more refined alert—paw touches only, without mouthing the target. This has been going well. We have also been working on multiple hides around the house, and have been including some distraction scents as well. (Yes, we even practiced with deer poop!)

    I am really looking forward to this class and learning from all of you classmates!

    Here’s Dottie!

    #5852
    Annie
    Participant

    Hi Alana and Kristin,

    Here are photos of my 3 training sites.

    Site 1: Part of my driveway. There is a short, but steep slope at the back that leads up to a young Doug Fir stand. There is also a road that passes through and beyond the driveway and leads to a Christmas Tree farm.

    Site 2: A small field that runs parallel to my driveway. The field is on a gradual slope that runs north-south from top to bottom. There are a lot of gopher holes in this field, and the Christmas tree farm workers often drive through it.

    Site 3: This is a little way up the road that runs through and past my driveway (farther up the road seen in the Site 1 photo). It has a steep but small bank. I would like to use this area since scent will pool, rise, or fall in the bank. There are also obstacles like a stump and of course, the Christmas trees.

    All three of these areas are very familiar to Dottie as we play and go for walks in them regularly. So they shouldn’t be overly distracting. I will be keeping Dottie on a leash or long line at all 3 sites.

    Now for our video.

    This video is from one practice session. I cut out parts where I was rearranging the tins or we were taking play breaks, but all reps were done in one session. I think it went pretty well.

    The tins are harder to see in the video than I expected, so I labelled them in the hopes that it helps. A better camera has been ordered and will be arriving this week! So clarity and better resolution are on the way!

    During one rep, the 6-year old neighbor girls started hollering “Hello!” to us from down the road. Holy distraction! I was keeping an eye on Dottie in my peripheral vision so I wouldn’t lose track of her. I kept this in because I was surprised that she didn’t lose focus. It is especially great because the girls love to come over and play with my dogs, hence Dottie is usually very excited to see them when they are around. So this sort of showed a new level of dedication to the search/task at hand.

    #5854
    Annie
    Participant

    I’m sorry for this additional post, but I cannot edit my earlier posts and I wanted to add a quick detail that I should have included about Site #3: On the left side of the photo, the terrain continues uphill into the stand of young Doug firs that is behind my driveway. In this stand of firs, the trees are very close together so the canopy is completely closed throughout the stand. So there is cooler air in there and as long as it is not during the heat of the day, I suspect this cooler air will be rolling down the hill into the area where I will be conducting the exercises. This movement of cool air down from the Doug fir stand may also be true for site #1. Thanks for letting me add this bit!

    #5909
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Annie

    Welcome back to class. Those sites look great.

    Working in areas with moles/ voles is fabulous distraction. Be sensitive to Dottie’s attention span in these areas.

    Many productive (as in truffle productive) christmas tree farms do have grass like this with mice/voles which can be a huge distraction for some dogs, so be conservative on criteria & expectations. Also many orchards in the US are plagued with critters like these, so it is good practice for those too!

    We’ve seen you working a bit in these areas previously and they are great. The stump/ dip in the ground, density and height upto first trees branches on the smaller trees will all provide ample different scenarios for you to work through in the coming weeks. Start to be sensitive to notice (once hides are around obstacles) if she has a particular angle of approach or if she avoids anything as an additional stimuli (thinking branches overhead here etc).

    We aren’t quite at that time of year yet, but considering your location, and ecosystem of that area it wouldn’t surprise us if truffles are present in either the older stand of trees, or possibly the christmas tree farm. If you start to notice Dottie (or Tuesday) alerting where you have not planted hides, please let us know, we may need to amend assignments for you if there is truffle mycellium off gassing in those areas. We wouldn’t expect that to happen for at least another month or so, but please do be aware that these locations could potentially could harbor truffles.

    ————
    Video:

    Thank you for labeling Tins. Yes, that makes it much easier to see.

    Good persistence Dottie! Love the feet shuffle of excitement!

    (0:24) Execllent job on leaving the scenario and re-setting.

    (0:35) You are right on the money here Annie. Good instincts on when to wait & encourage Dottie for a more forceful and clear alert. If you continue to see that ‘quick’ paw, ask and encourage her. We also love the moment at 0:49 where staying at source trumps toys (you point this out after the next find when she goes right back into searching as a reward, but you can see this behavior forming here)! You handled that well, and notice the change in her behavior upon review after you pick up the target. Great work. Thank you for letting us see a glimpse of the transition into play/ reward as well. It is a helpful reference point.

    1:38- GREAT. As you mentioned, the neighbors are normally a huge distraction. Well done. Dottie has decided searching is really interesting and rewarding in of itself. You, as a handler do a good job here of making sure you are still aware what Dottie is doing, and rewarding appropriately. It is a Handler distraction!!Those happen just as often as canine centered distractions. Glad it was captured on film, so you can review and analyze how well you handled this scenario.

    This is a great moment of Team work. It highlights the principle that you rely on one another, and can adjust and adapt. When one team member is distracted, the other carries that weight.

    Had Dottie been distracted by this (we see her glance briefly in that direction), you would have needed to pull your focus more away from the nieghbor to re-engage her in the game. We say you always want 100% focus on your team mate when hunting, but this is one of those real world scenarios that are unexpected and tough to plan for. You handled it very well. If Dottie had been in a slightly less confident state this interaction may not have gone as smoothly as is it did. Not a critique- but something to be aware of. While you were distracted slightly by communicating, you were very aware of Dottie and her positioning. Well done Annie!

    The cluster was good. Glad you did this one

    Real world scenarios all around!

    On to lesson 2!

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by Alana McGee.
    #5929
    Annie
    Participant

    Well, we’ve had some interesting developments lately, to say the least.

    First, we had a DISASTROUS episode last week where Dottie and I were practicing some outdoor hides. She was doing fabulously—better than I expected—when she got severely stung by a yellowjacket in the groin area. Based on her reactions, it was clear that she was stung repeatedly. The result: total avoidance of the truffle targets and containers, to the point of running away and hiding under the bed when I brought them out.

    So I have been working with her to overcome this aversion and help her find the fun in the game again. I did a lot of straight classical conditioning with the truffle scent, basic alert exercises and simple box hides–all indoors. After a few days, she was excited to do truffle work again, so we have been able to take the box hide exercises outside. The first few times outside she showed some concern—acting kind of “gun shy” for lack of a better term—and was hesitant. She completed the exercises successfully, but had clearly lost drive and enthusiasm.

    So I have been doing more outdoor box hides and a few very simple obscured hides (in a very small area) to try to create simple successes where I can reward heavily with liver treats and play rewards. This has been working with great success.

    Yesterday evening, I wanted to practice outside and expand our search area, but the wind was blowing quite strongly as a front was moving in. So I placed some targets in the grass (small and obscured) along the edge of the field and walked her down the driveway, parallel to this edge. The wind was blowing across the field, perpendicularly toward the driveway. So our path along the driveway was downwind from the targets.

    WOW did this work!! I was afraid the strong wind might make the session too difficult, but she quickly detected the scent columns when she walked across them and she found all 3 targets very quickly and easily. She was SO proud of herself, and I could see that each find was a major confidence booster. We had a party of liver treats and play (with a toy) after each find. She was definitely not ready to stop, but I did stop the session after she found the 3rd (final) target. I wanted to end the session with her thinking, “dang! I wish I could do more!!” so that she’ll hopefully start the next session with the same enthusiasm she had when we ended this session.

    So, major lesson for me: working perpendicular to the wind set up a scenario that allowed for success to be easily achieved while outdoors. Result: major confidence booster for the dog!

    Will submit our second video for this week soon, after a couple more practice sessions. In the meantime, I’m totally open to any suggestions you have for helping us get back to where we were before the stinging incident! Thanks!

    #5944
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Annie

    It’s great you are taking time to build back the value of the game. Things like this can happen and associations made, and it’s important these steps you are taking to make it a positive and fun experience for Dottie again.

    What you are doing is perfect. Go slow and build that value back. Short sessions are good!

    This “We had a party of liver treats and play (with a toy) after each find. She was definitely not ready to stop, but I did stop the session after she found the 3rd (final) target. “ Is absolutely perfect. You’re doing great and that is exactly what we would suggest you do. Treat parties, short sessions, build that confidence back!

    Having her “stumble” upon them is good too. Again very short sessions, but what we would recommend is exactly what you did. Which is going back few stages make it easier and get her to genuinely want to play again. When you progress, do so slowly.

    #5954
    Annie
    Participant

    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!

    #5971
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Annie

    We would encourage you to allow some exploration time, but with the understanding that some days she may not need it. Some days she may need to get pumped up.

    Have you worked in this space much?

    You handled the situation well, despite being baffled!

    Every day will be different. Some days she may need an opportunity to explore before she is comfortable. Some days you may need to rev her up!

    You know this well, but we always tell folks truffle dogs are not machines. There is a large emotional element present when hunting and there has to be a significant amount of motivation for the dog to want to truffle hunt, and it should be matched between human and canine. It should be fun!

    It is one thing to work through distractions on a motivated engaged dog, it is another to indulge in distraction if the dog is disinterested thereby reinforcing behaviors of distraction in game environments.

    If she is having a hard day and being really distracted, we would say don’t push it, and don’t encourage behaviors you don’t want to see in the field. Use those behaviors as indicators that Dottie isn’t feeling it today, for whatever reason. Once out of the situation you can try to determine what was going on. Try again a different day. Truffle hunting is not life and death. It should be fun!

    —We don’t think that this example is evidence of a extreme case of that, but be aware there may be times this happens so we wanted to clarify what to do!–

    It’s like professional football players watching tape of themselves after a game. You analyze what worked and what didn’t. What about the environment, scenario, or emotional energy may have created or prompted these behaviors. Then you evaluate how you can change those factors to achieve the results you are looking for.

    Remember that the game is supposed to be fun.

    If she is having a long round of rolling, eating grass, doing other activities besides truffle hunting in an area she is familiar, we would suggest removing her from the area, doing something else for a while and then revisiting. It could be a different day- in fact we encourage that.

    What & how long you entertain these behaviors will depend on Dottie, and the scenario. It is your job as a handler to know the difference between disinterest & distraction. There can be many reasons for both!

    For example, if this were to manifest with one of our dogs on an orchard we would allow a certain amount of play and exploration, but then would cut them off. We’d remove them from the area and do something else. We’d play games. For some reason they aren’t motivated to truffle hunt at that moment, and we’d want to know why, but first we would take them out of the environment where these contradictory behaviors are happening so we don’t create and reinforce behaviors we would like to not have later.

    Example:

    Early in Duff’s (My Black Lab Mix) career there was a day like this on an orchard. It was more than distraction. Upon reflection it was a combination of distraction, new environments, New odors, and emotional stress I was placing on him. After a few moments I realized this was the case and no amount of allowing him to indulge in smelling Pig flakes (long story) would combat what our intended task was that day. So I calmly explained to the owner what was going on (and that dogs are not machines!) and We went for a 30 minute drive, got out at a park, played for a few minutes and came back to the orchard and he was ready to work. During that time I had adjusted my energy levels and pressure I was placing on him as well as worked off some of his nervous energy. When we returned to the scenario the only thing that was different was our team energy. That made all the difference!

    Every dog will be different.

    Dottie May still carry with her the Yellow jacket stigma a bit, just not manifest in the same way. We would still be cautious and based on this video be willing to accept reduced criteria for success in outdoor situations with increasing levels of complexity. Every day is going to be different. Some days she’ll be more confident than others. Overtime the standard level of confidence (or average if you will) will raise and it will get easier to hold out for higher standards of criteria.

    In this instance I think we actually would like to see the entire video if you have it so we can see the progression of either distraction or of her motivation “(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.) “ —Seeing the other hides will make this a bit clearer on what was going on.

    0:16 She follows a scent column to the target- it is with purpose she goes there. That is clear. This is a situation wherein it may have been appropriate to accept decreased criteria for success. Easier to see/say on the playback than in the moment- but based on her other distracted behaviors, this could have been an alert. She followed odor to source (and you know this because you placed the target).
    If Dottie had a habit of rolling on targets that would be one thing, but this may be a version of stressed situation. Stress doesn’t have to mean it was incredibly challenging or overly complex and frustrating, just that there are other forces at work here too that prompted this behavior over her more normal and usual alert.

    What would have been good in that situation is to interrupt the behavior (not over aggressively of course by coming in fast) but by asking Dottie if she had found something? Which you did! By doing so you’re requesting a behavior she knows and encouraging her to alert in a fashion that doesn’t confuse you- while she is exhibiting the rolling behavior. You did a good job allowing the two of you to exit and then re-approach other hides.

    That second hide- how confident was that? You are doing a great job at source, but we can’t see her well, so you’ll have to tell us.

    The last alert on the 1st target was GREAT. She was very confident there- and Kudos to you on that staying at source and party there and when exiting the scenario. You can feel the shift in her energy from the beginning of the session to the end.

    It is likely that this particular day Dottie needed a little more encouragement and success to play in the beginning to build up her drive and enjoyment in the game, because that last find was Superstar quality from both of you!

    #5978
    Annie
    Participant

    Thanks for the great feedback, as always! 🙂

    I have uploaded the entire session—it’s just over 7 minutes. I added narrative captions because we are in the distance for much of it. (I am getting used to my new camera and still figuring out the range of vision, how far away is too far, best resolution, etc. Sorry for this! And strangely, the camera makes its own breathing sounds in the video… weird.) It is interesting that you can clearly hear the clicker, even in a distance (it’s not a very loud clicker), but what you can’t hear is my voice. Just so you know what I am doing, at each find, I kneel down, give lots of happy voice-verbal praise, and feed several treats.

    I have practiced with her in this area 3 previous times, and two of those times were after the yellow jacket incident. This is partly why I was surprised at how distracted she was. But there are lots of critters in that field and that pass through it. So to a dog, it is quite different every day. Prior to the videotaping, we did our usual priming/warm-up exercises of targeting, refining alerts, and box hides with tins. She seemed excited and ready to go.

    I understand what you are saying about how her distraction may be stress-related. Makes sense. At least she is coping with the stress by doing things that she does when she’s happy—face rubbing, rolling, marking, etc. (She often rubs and rolls on her toys when she is excited and playful. So I think the rubbing on the truffle target may have been a playful act.) Of course I’d rather she not be stressed at all, but coping by being goofy is surely better than shutting down.

    Your input about determining if the situation is distraction or disinterest is very helpful. In this case, there was definitely distraction, but I don’t think there was total disinterest, since she would go back to searching when the distraction was over. And I feel like she found each of the targets with confidence when she was searching. (With the exception of the first one that she rolled on and walked away, of course… but as you said, even that one she confidently found at the end.) Still, you are right that I should have lowered the criteria. Live and learn!!

    I haven’t been able to practice outside all weekend because of smoke in the valley. The winds have shifted and brought a lot of smoke westward from the fires out east. Was supposed to clear today, but it hasn’t, and unfortunately it looks like we still have more westerly winds to come. 🙁 So I am eager to get back outside to practice.

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts after you see the video of the entire session. Thanks for taking a look at it! 😀

    #5992
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Annie

    Yes, of course play is better than shutting down 🙂 We don’t think she was shut. Play is always good 😉

    1:33 GOOD use of movement to re-engage.

    One of the important take-aways from this video, and valuable for you, is in the recognizing truffle odor search behavior vs. other search/ play behavior. You do recognize it, but in the field later this will become very important as complexity levels increase in the forest.

    You do a really good job of being connected with her down at source. 3:16, that was also perfect on your part for asking for more at source there. More games! A mini-game of re-alert to try to engage her more. Good job. It provides you more time to stay connected with a positive energy and grounding. When you pull the toy out after that notice the shift in her energy. She becomes MUCH more playful. (4:05) it is a shift from the beginning of video.

    Accidental well timed clicks are the best 😉

    If this were habitual (which it isn’t necessarily) we’d say to decrease the complexity of the scenario, probably by limiting the size of the area you’re working, and to yes, decrease your criteria for success. You guys are doing great, you are, but this was harder for her partly because of distraction. Keep that in mind when you re approaching more challenging situations. If you read she is being more easily distracted by her environment, Drop criteria and have a party.

    Well done working through a complex scenario however. You two handled it well.

    #6010
    Annie
    Participant

    Here is our video for week 2. Again, another less-than-enthusiastic performance. We had some better practice sessions earlier in the week, but this was not a great one. She did find the targets, but she spent time doing much of the same kind of distraction behavior you saw in the last video, but mostly standing around gazing. I trimmed much of this out since you saw what it looks like in the last video. She was not interested in the toy, though I presented it after each find.

    (Side note: We’ve had some thunder the last couple days, and she’s been a little edgy outdoors from that, I think. Normally thunder doesn’t bother her, but she has been edgy outside lately. I’m not sure what that is about. She has been eager to get outside when she sees me gear-up and grab her harness, however, so each time I figured we’d give it a try.)

    I feel like she is not “working the area” like she should be. I drastically reduced the search area to try to encourage more of that behavior, but I still feel like I need to walk her around more than I’d like to. I think this would not be a problem for orchard work, but for general forest areas it may be a problem.

    I’m thinking it’s time to go back to some much lower-level exercises and build back up from there… She still loves the box hide game, and will always play the “find the correct Altoid tin” game with enthusiasm. So maybe we should just stick to that for a while. Add multiple hot tins and spread them over a larger search area? What do you think?

    There were a couple of things in this session that I was very pleased with, however. First, she had no trouble finding the target that was placed under the edge of a large slab of bark—this obstruction did not deter her in any way. Second, she did not pick up the target that was a truffle in a mesh tea bag. We’ve been working on “no more mouthing” the targets, and the mesh bags have been the hardest for her. She doesn’t just pick them up, she chews on them. But in this session, she pawed at it and did not mouth it or pick it up. Yay!

    #6034
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Annie

    Really nice, long reward with Dottie here on the first find under the big bark slab. Her energy does seem to be more controlled.

    The next find…
    1:24 she is in odor. right here (bc you know where the targets as well!) start to use those words of encouragement. It is generally soft in tone (much like you do at 1:29) but start some of that if/when you realize she is in odor. We highly doubt she will break focus because of it thinking it means reward at this stage. It is supportive. Then when you get to odor source, party!!

    1:36 good job getting down with her. Start to rummage in the grass yourself like you are looking for it too… Be genuine. 1:41 it looks like she does a really really nice nose touch alert! YAY. followed at 1:44 by the double paw! you can see here her energy shift. It became more ‘fun’ at this moment.

    2:03 notice the difference in how she moves through space. More confident, excited. More willing to engage. There was a distinct emotional shift there, and it changes the entire game you are playing.

    It does start to flag again but after the shake off at 2:11 improves again a bit.

    2:25 PERFECT example of encouragement.
    Take a look at 2:35. See how Dottie is emotionally at the moment? THAT is our goal for the search.

    Based on the last couple of videos (and that is not everything!) Dottie seems to need a little more time not only to become accustom to an area when searching but to build confidence in what she doing. No doubt she understands the game as soon as she arrives, she’s just a little shy or timid, or unsure and is careful until you build her up. That is ok! That is what you as handler have the joy of doing.

    Nice rewarding on your part.

    Do not stress yourself or worry about her “not working the area” in a particular fashion. Take note as it is an indication and something we can collectively analyze and learn from, but that isn’t what is important at the moment. What is important is that it is FUN for Dottie. We completely understand what you mean, but in order for Dottie to be that Dottie we have seen previously be so confident in scenarios, it has to be fun, so we want to break down the scenario and see where the disconnect is happening. ***The fact she isn’t interested in the toy (when she normally loves that thing!) is an indication of stress and that she doesn’t feel comfortable.

    This is not necessarily that “difficult” of a scenario for Dottie right now. She can certainly find them. But we think she needs more condensed success. You don’t need to find all the targets, but we would encourage you to put out way more than you expect to find, in a smaller area. When Dottie stumbles on one… YAY DOTTIE. We think (for right now anyway- for whatever reason- she may just not be feeling well too!) smother her with success. SUPER High rate of engagement, reinforcement and return. Basically everything she does in that kind of scenario, she can’t be wrong. And then after finding just a few (say 3 and you put out 10), exit with a Huge happy heart and fun.

    *Indeed you can do this with boxes/altoid tins too- and if you do that and Dottie Loves it, then YES! Build up a strong reward history with that game in these areas. That is your goal right now. Dottie confident, and having FUN- with all capital letters.

    You can work on other things in these kinds of scenarios eventually (while still keeping insanely high success rates), such as the alerts you were talking about, but the distance between targets and initial rewards should be greatly reduced both geographically and temporally (in terms of from one find to the next). But for now, just focus on HIGH success rates by setting up scenarios that improve her chances of that happening. Rapid Success and confidence building. SHORT sessions. 2 minutes. Set your team up for success. That does mean an even smaller area and more tins.

    #6086
    Annie
    Participant

    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!

    #6114
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Annie

    This quote ” I started by hiding a target where we enter the search area, in the hopes that she would stumble upon it. She did! “ HUZZAH that’s great!

    Love your description of positive take-aways from this session

    It may not be that she is always uninterested in the toy. We’ll see. We would encourage you to still bring it out and see if she decides to play with it. It may be a nice way later, when you are working on endurance to take a ‘play break’ so don’t throw it out just yet! She’s communicating with you and you are amazingly receptive, so well done Annie 🙂

    0:06 NICE head check! yay! Right off the bat we can tell the energy is different here.

    0:40 REALLY nice placement of encouragement Annie. Well well done. Yay. She looks very happy here. You can see it in the ears 😉

    1:08 LOVE it. This seems to be going well this session and the energy shift is palpable. She’s working hard here and excited about it. Double yay. Lots of smiles. 1:39 was a great try with the toy and you were engaging, but she was still in for the hunt. That’s great too. Not something you’ve seen yet, but you handle it well.

    This looks really nice Annie, not to much to say for altering anything. You both look wonderful and happy and having fun. She’s working the space well and her energy stays maintained the entire time. 2:45 is a great one under the tree. Added stimuli, she worked pretty hard for it, and a very pretty very clear alert.

    Yay Team!

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