November 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm #641
Lola is a graduate of Recreational Truffle Dog Training 101. In this forum topic are selected video homework and feedback from Lola’s progression through the class.November 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm #644
Welcome to class, Mary.
This is the thread where you will post questions and video for feedback from Alana and I. You will always be able to find your personal material here.
Please share with us a little about you and your dog(s).
KristinNovember 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm #645
Lola is a 10 month old Lagotto Romagnolo. We’ve taken 3 classes with the clicker and just the sight of it gets her excited. She loves to work and is very food motivated so I think she will really enjoy this class. We have signed up for a scent class in town starting 9-23 but I also wanted her to know truffle and morel mushroom scents as morel’s are found here in the spring.
Thank you for letting me join late. I’ve looked at a couple videos and it’s a lot like the “touch” that we’ve worked on previously – one of Lola’s favorite exercises. I should have my scent any day and then we’ll be able to practice and catch up.November 15, 2013 at 9:45 pm #646
Alana – I received the scent today, thank you so much!
Alana/Kristin: I practiced with Lola a couple times before making the attached video. My question is… how do I know if I’m marking the scent or the object? We’ve done this many times with objects so I can’t tell.
November 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm #651
Maybe I’m being impatient but I’m not sure Lola’s getting that she’s to find the scent. A few times she went right to it and pushed over the pot (she got a jackpot for that) but most of the time she just sniffs all of them. I now start the sessions with sniff and click in my hand and then move to the pots. I also started turning over the pot when she sniffs the right one and showing her that she “found the truffle” and making a big deal. I think that might be helping.
When she sees the clicker she gets so excited that it takes a few passes to get her calmed down. She’s also just getting over her heat cycle (week 3) so that might have something to do with it also.
Suggestions?November 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm #658
ok, this was taken after a longer than usual training and she’s getting tired – but it gives you a good idea of where we are. Obviously some “hits” are just chance but I think she is getting the hang of looking for the truffle scent.
Should I keep the scent in the refrigerator? and…I would like to get some morel scent and a couple more scent tins – my question is…. we start our scent class here 9-23 and I’m sure we will start with birch. Will that be too much at this stage?November 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm #659
FUN! Just love watching her happy attitude!!! You are both doing great! Keep this up with just a few modifications. And, yes, it is pretty normal for them to still be guessing at this point. She hasn’t figured out how to discriminate between odor and visual cues. That’s ok. It will come. This is typical. 47sec was an AWESOME learning moment!! She had recognized why those two pots were different!!! Great.
1. Leave Lola behind a gate, in a crate or somewhere while you place the truffle scent. She doesn’t have to be far but not on the other end of a leash as this allows her to practice not alerting when near a truffle. We want her wild for finding the source of the scent and not having to wait for you to ask. You can even practice sit stays if they are solid enough.
2. Let her have the opportunity to check all of the pots. Even if she finds the scent under the first pot, have a party and then as you “exit” the training space for that attempt, continue along the line. Why? Because there MIGHT be another And eventually, there will be another scent to target. What we want is for her to get rewarded and and then be ready to go right back to searching since eventually you will want her to alert repeatedly (always rewarding). The game doesn’t end with the first find. If you are going to walk away after a success, continue the party as you leave so there is no question in her mind if she is being rewarded or if you are wanting her to work/ wait for a working cue. Does that make sense?
3. Reinforce your truffle cue during the party. Just a simple thing to reinforce the word.
I think 3 scents might be too much at the early stage…unless, Alana thinks the morel scent and truffle scent could be used together. I’ll let her comment on that.
Great job!!!November 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm #660
Excellent Mary. You and Lola are doing great.
As for scents and Odor: You do not need to keep the truffle or Morel scent in the fridge. It is human grade, but I advise not eating it- it is much too strong and isn’t made for that purpose. Do keep it out of direct sunlight.
The morel scent needs to be shaken before being used.
While you can combine the Morel and Truffle solutions on the same cotton, as we discussed previously (making sure you also practice with them independently), since you are also doing Birch with your class it would be preferable if you don’t have 3 odors in the mix at the beginning while you and Lola are forming foundations.
Once Lola can find truffle/ birch etc, it will be pretty easy to add a new scent into the mix and she will ‘get it’ quickly. You want to solidify the desired behaviors before you make it more complex.
If you haven’t done it already, I would suggest you do Truffle and Birch separately- don’t combine them, as your class instructors would likely have a fit- and wait to add your Morel until later stages. If you have already started working the combined morel/ truffle solution ask your instructor if you can substitute your own scent. They may be open to it, but they often have a set regime for how classes are run with one scent source and one scent box. You adding other odors to the environment might be detrimental/ distracting to the other dogs in the beginning stages.
The goal is to have the correct behaviors solidified before you add too much more complexity. The idea in training is to eliminate as many other variables as possible. When beginning new behaviors- which these are in many ways- you want to start with one and then once that is solid, add more.
Kristin is absolutely right however to keep in mind a passive alert for morel hunting. They will hopefully teach you this when your start your NW class for Birch, as at advanced stages the dogs are not allowed to indicate forcefully on targets. You can have that passive alert used in NW also for morels (so Lola doesn’t damage them), and the active alert for truffles. Likely Lola will do passive alerts, once that is learned, and upon further encouragement indicate with an active alert pinpointing the physical location of the truffle.
Make sense?November 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm #661
Thanks Alana! Luckily we don’t start our class with the birch until the end of September so Lola still has lots of time with the truffle alone. OK – can you explain passive and actice alerts?November 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm #662
Sure! This will come up in Lesson 3 as well- but briefly a Passive Alert is just that, sitting, lying down etc as a form of indicating she has found the desired odor.
An Active Alert such as scratching or digging, barking etc, is just that! active. There are reasons why scent work trainers and dogs (including truffles, narcotics, explosives dogs, etc) choose one alert over another, and that will be discussed in the next lesson. Basically Passive alerts are great, but for real world application when specifically truffle hunting they can leave some things to be desired. Don’t stress too much over it yet. Just keep doing what you are doing. We like to work with the dog’s natural tendencies as that makes learning easier, more fun, and more ingrained later down the line when things get exciting or stressful.
You will learn distinct passive alerts- most likely sitting, which I already see Lola doing as well, when you start your NW class.November 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm #663
OK, one more question…since these pots are porous should I be putting the scent in the same pot and just rearranging them? I’m worried the pots may be absorbing some scent and confusing Lola as she sniffs the them…. Right now I move the scent from pot to pot….November 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm #664
That is an excellent question.
In the beginning it might be helpful if you did just that (and that is exactly what they will do in your NW class), but almost always it has nothing to do with the scent in the pot, and more the dog figuring out what behavior gets a reward. They think, “hey I tip over pots, I get cookies”. If this is a continual issue then yes, I would suggest keeping the odor in one pot, to eliminate any doubt on your part and eliminate scent contamination. (This comes up in later lessons) This is very very common with dogs in the beginning stages as they learn what behavior chain triggers the reward.
There is a caveat to all this:
Because truffle hunting involves practical application it isn’t really detrimental either way. There will be trace odors of the truffle all over the room, along with your scent, any other family members, food from upstairs etc. There is no way outside of a clean room to create an environment devoid distractions. Most dogs can handle this stage and level of distraction easily (we do recognize not all however). The goal is for Lola to find the one that is the strongest odor, as opposed to trace amounts, and alert on that. That is why repetition and training over a long period of time is key to success.
In application in the wild, truffles are located underground, and that causes scent to move in erratic ways. You want Lola to eventually be able to pinpoint and mark the exact location of the truffle, not a foot to the left where it smells like truffle- because the whole forest will smell like truffles to her. You want to teach her to Alert at the source. THAT is one of the reasons you really want to try to reward “At the source” is to strengthen that connection between the odor’s physical location and reward.
Make sense?November 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm #665
it makes perfect sense!! thank you!November 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm #666
I switched to plastic glad containers last night and marked the scent one so I don’t mix them up. She seems to have done better and spends more time sniffing the lids – but, that might also be my imagination…. we’ll see.November 15, 2013 at 9:57 pm #667
Plastic containers have worked fine for us. Containers, tea balls and loose truffles are what I train with primarily.
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