November 15, 2013 at 10:04 pm #685
I received lesson 2 and watched the first video but it’s what I’ve been doing for awhile so I’ll study them all this weekend. Lola and I did 3 sessions tonight. Right out of the gate Lola found the scent I hid (it was an easy one) alerted then sat down (this was a first) so I did click/treat. I decided I should take advantage of this so I did easy hides and focused more on the sitting after she alerted. The second session (same room) was much the same only more difficult hides.
We then moved upstairs and I did the first one easy, then started hiding under pillows etc. I was amazed at how fast she found them (pillows on the couch). We ended with an easy hide as she was getting tired.
I have to say she is one hard worker and doesn’t give up easily. She’s so fun to work with – it’s more like play.
Just an fyi in case it matters re. this… Tuesday we are starting a 3 week intro to agility class then a week from this Monday we start the scent class. We’ll be busy for a few weeks but I think she’ll be fine as she thinks this is fun stuff. Not sure if it changes how I approach things for awhile…November 15, 2013 at 10:04 pm #686
Sounds like Lola is doing great! Truffle hunting should be exactly that – PLAY! Any training should feel like play! Keep that in mind as you embark on your agility class. Fun fun fun!
Since she is doing so well, this is a great opportunity for you to build value for the desired behaviors. The more positive experiences she has playing this game with you, the more value she will find in the actual hunt! I often practice known behaviors for the purpose of reinforcing and building value. It keeps them excited to play with you!
You are both doing a fantastic job! Keep it upNovember 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm #687
Thanks Kristin – two questions for your or Alana:
1. I see in the video Alana uses “Zuch” as her verbal cue. Is this a standard cue or one she chose to use? Is this a cue I should start using?
2. Since we will be starting another scent soon, should I spend additional time imprinting the word “truffle/zuch” with this scent so she can distinguish between this class and our new one?
fyi…I’m in Lesson 2November 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm #688
You can use any word you like, Mary. I would recommend sticking with what you have been using. Alana and I use different words as our search cues. I believe her word is German for search or find it. Mine is Italian for find it. No particular reason except to chose a word not used in our everyday language and one that didn’t sound like other verbal cues we use for various behaviors.
I think it is a good for you to intentionally strengthen the word association, yes. However, I don’t think you need to do more than be conscious of using it during training…especially during the reward. The reason being that you don’t want her to think that simply nose targeting a scent tin you presented is the final behavior.
What you can do is build into the reward period a few nose targets. Send her to search as usual and reward as usual. While you are still at the source rewarding, ask for a few nose targets (using your word) for even more treats. This will help to prolong your reward period (which you will need for actual truffle hunting) and it will also keep her engaged during the time that you will be down on the ground with her digging and searching for the truffle.November 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm #689
Started beginning agility last night and rather than tiring Lola it just got her ready to go. We did some advanced hides in the basement – behind objects (which she found really fast) Later we moved upstairs and she was tired and wasn’t engaged after the first hide so I ended with an easy hide and a jackpot. I find when We pass her ‘bedtime’ she loses focus.
Tonight I’ll start hiding the scent inside objects (as in the video) and post another video today or tomorrow.November 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm #690
Sounds great Mary! I’m looking forward to seeing more video of you and Lola working. GREAT job reading her. Learning to “listen” to the dogs’ cues is the most difficult part of this training. Keep it up and keep it funNovember 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm #691
This was our fourth and final search of the night. As you can see she was getting tired (plus it was her bedtime – sounds silly but she’s a real creature of habit).
She’s getting fairly quick at finding the scent – especially early day/evening.
Should I continue doing this or try some easy hides outside? I think we need to work on the alerts and outside would actually be easier with the ither dogs.November 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm #692
Alana/Kristin – I may be able to start back up late week/early weekend. In the meantime, I went to the scent class here (sweet birch – Lola stayed home) and I’m wondering how to train with both. Should I do them in seperate sessions, have two seperate scent boxes and train with both at once? What’s the best way to do this? I know I will have to first imprint with the birch but after that….. suggestions?November 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm #693
After Lola is feeling better and has imprinted on birch, I would keep the sessions separate for the time being. Do one with truffle odor, one with birch. Or one day work one scent, next day work the other.
Eventually you will be able to hide both scents at once in the same environment and expect her to alert on both. I would also keep the boxes you hide them in separate for the moment to avoid contamination. Since she already knows the truffle odor you don’t want the lingering odor to be present on her “Birch” box, and have that be the reason she alerts on it.November 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm #694
Good idea Alana… I’ll just mark them with a “b” and “t”. Lola won’t touch treats now, maybe because we trained right before she got sick, but she will eat sweet potatoes so I’ll dehydrate some for training. Hopefully we’ll be going by this weekend.November 15, 2013 at 10:09 pm #695
As per your recent video:
You are doing a great job of just letting her work! And she does!
What I love is she is checking High and Low. She has taken the initiative and realized it could be at different heights as well. That’s great, and will be great for your NW class.
Notice when she heads to the other room by the baby gate (I assume it is a hallway down that way) she turns around and is like “Nope”. As trainers we love to see that. It is the dog confirming that the scent trail is not that direction and instead they choose to re-search areas they have been previously.
At the 42 second mark she finds it, and then at the 47 second mark she tells you but is unsure. Watch the video again and see if you can see her give you that brief look before she wanders away. That was a very subtle alert. You do a good job of letting her figure it out herself, and waiting for a more pronounced indication.
After you say show me- notice she seems a bit fatigued and stressed- you also mentioned this was the 4th hide and past bedtime. This is the fine line during training between encouragement and setting the dog up for success and stress. You want to push past boundaries gently but be cognizant of the dog’s mental fatigue.
It is fantastic she goes back to it, but I wanted to point this out so you could see the process. At 1:12 she alerts to you again. Let me underscore again, that her taking you back to the target is great! It is fantastic. That is her working through the situation. You did the exact right thing by going over to it and encouraging her as it seems you could tell she was reaching her limit.
You could work outside at this point BUT the aim of lesson two is to build stronger and solid alerts. I would stay inside and even make the hides a easier than that occasionally and just work on perfecting her alert. The more solid her alert is, the easier everything else we be later. Shaping and working on alerts is an ongoing process. I would love to have seen some of the earlier hides so we could see her alerts in those situations. She alerted you 3 or 4 times during that video, not all of them what you were ideally looking for. That’s okay- but re-watch the video and look for it.
We know Lola can find the target even in pretty complicated situations, what we really want is for her to show us with the same consistent behavior.
But in short answer to your question you could start working outside. But make it very easy, as again, we want you to solidify that alert.November 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm #696
First day of Lesson 3
We spent a day working on her alert as suggested (I had actually posted a video of us doing that but after reviewing this one I didn’t think the post was really necessary – I can re-post if you’d like.) This was the alert she chose so I went with it.
Lola’s really having fun with this. This is our first day working outside. I started with the boxes earlier and then for fun threw the balls in the grass just to see what she’d do. Her first ‘alert’ was pretty lame so I left the scent as a ‘redo’. The second she tried it again so I had her come back and do it correctly – from then on she was fine.
Anyway…She caught right on so here’s where we are… I think I’m at the point though where it would be easy for me to move too quickly and I don’t her to get discouraged by my doing that so I’m posting for input. What should I be focusing on now? Continue with this? Maybe move them further apart? The yard is very large so there’s plenty of variations to work with.
Sorry about the circle of dizziness… 🙂 also, it was too hard doing iPad, clicker and treats so this was minus clicker and treats. My multitasking needs a little work…November 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm #697
That video is great! Lying down is a great passive alert. We love using what the dog chooses when possible as it will be stronger and less prone to extinction in the long run (And it will be great for your NW class)
You did the exact right thing at the 0:22 asking her to come back and show you. What I suspect may happen is the game is SO fun for Lola, she’s not waiting for a reward. This can be problematic later. Try not to let her walk away after alerting, which you did a great job of.
Also it appears as all the targets you have out in the grass are “hot” targets? True or False? If there are cold targets mixed in, that is fantastic. What I would focus on is the same drill, but make sure you pick up the target after she has alerted on it. We want her to find a new one each time. The re-find game is great, and keep practicing that- but after she has re-alerted, remove it from the game and ask her to find a new one.
That and you can move them farther apart. And depending on what they have you doing in your NW class, it is a fine time to phase out the clicker.
Also leave the targets out in varying weather conditions and for varying lengths of time as this will change how the scent moves. Leave some out for a hour if you can, or more. Just keep doing this over and over and over. Eventually she should be able to check your whole yard with just one target hidden (or 13!) and be able to find it. You really can’t practice enough at this stage. You could start to hide them under things as well- but keep it simple. Different materials, like leaves vs grass vs rocks, obscure and transmit scent differently- so it is good to practice this but don’t move too fast.November 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm #698
In the NW class we are just starting to introduce cold targets – starting with one and then slowing increasing them. It’s not as fun as working outside but a good refresher and discipline for both of us. We will also be introducing the alert next week – again, this should also be good reinforcement.
You’re right about this being SO fun for Lola – when she sees the scent balls it’s like we’re headed for a party (I suspect homemade smoked salmon treats don’t hurt either – can treats be too high value?). The first scent ball where she did the lame alert I didn’t pick up immediately (after thinking about it later I wish I had – lessons learned) but the others I picked up after she alerted (thus the fingers in front of the camera ) I only had hot targets for her to find – what may have looked like targets were her bones scattered around the yard.
OK, I’m out to find more tea balls for cold targets – I think I’ll hold off on burying this week and just practice hot and cold targets set outside in different areas for various lengths of time and making sure she gives me a solid alert. I’ll give a progress post this weekend.
I’d really like to understand more about a dog’s relation to scent and how this all works. Are there books or good resources (websites etc.) you would recommend for this?November 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm #699
On our new website we are putting together a Seminar/talk on just this but it won’t be ready for a while, and I believe I’m going to be speaking about it at one of the festivals…. We can let you know. While it doesn’t relate to truffles, more to SAR and tracking I recommend Scent and the Scenting Dog by William G. Syrotuck. It’s an old manual, but it talks about some things that are useful to understand and do have correlations. If you want to get really involved in NW or detection dogs in general it is good to know how scent moves in different environments, how dogs perceive it, and how to respond and adapt etc
Also would love to know your recipe for home made treats- we are always looking for new things!
- The forum ‘Best Of RTDT 101’ is closed to new topics and replies.