November 15, 2013 at 10:18 pm #715
I’m not sure I understand what you are wanting to do. It sounds like you want to mix up the scents in the box lineup for your NW class???
I don’t think mixing the birch scent and truffle scent in the same training session (or even context) is ideal. Lola won’t be asked to find a truffle scent in a NW setting and also won’t be asked to find birch in a truffle hunting scenario. I also imagine your alerts are a bit different (even if subtle differences).
I think they should remain separate activities. When you start adding multiple scents to a truffle dog training lesson, it will be multiple truffle scents. For example, setting out a white and a black and working on Lola’s ability to recognize both as acceptable finds. Surprisingly this can get tricky and is difficult for some dogs who “like” one species of truffle best. You will do that LATER down the line. For now, I’d keep the birch and truffle scent training within the context that they will be used.November 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm #716
No – I’m thinking of putting some truffle scent in it’s own container with dirt – totally separate from the birch scent… But using that as a scent like we did in lesson 1 – with the three boxes. Just a thought…
The dirt seems to be throwing her off so I’m barely sprinkling it with dirt (like pepper) and then gradually going from there.November 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm #717
Mary, is the location where you started burying in dirt a familiar training location or was it a new environment for Lola to be playing this game?
Now I understand what you want to do and why…let me know about the above questions. Putting dirt in the container may not be necessary though. If it is actually the environment that is difficult for her, I’d suggest taking the “box game” to the new environment and progressing that way. Let me know and we can problem solve from there.November 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm #718
Just thought I would chime in as well a bit.
While you could eventually do just what you are talking about with the truffles in the NW boxes-Kristin is right, it is not going to help her actual practical truffle hunting skills if the issue is the environment. It does work her competition NW brain which is good, and solidify alerts/ build a history of confidence and experience but for actual truffle hunting it doesn’t add practical application value.
When you start burying hides the intensity level of the ‘game’ goes up dramatically. Keep it very simple and in a small area to start. Only gradually once she has it down pretty solidly, increase the area.November 15, 2013 at 10:22 pm #719
here are two videos from today – both in areas we had never done hides. As Alana suggested, I disturbed dirt in several areas.. Once Lola got acclimated to hides in dirt she had no problem – just me being impatient. The first video she actually uncovered the scent and I didn’t notice until she went back to it. That scent had been in the ground about 20 min. The place she kept digging at was where had done a hide about a half hour earlier – maybe had some scent remaining?
The second was in dirt covered in bark mulch and had been in the ground about 5 minutes. I was surprised how fast she found that one as I had never placed a scent around the pond. She kept alerting on top of the scent so I couldn’t get to it.. I’m happy with her alert though…today was the most consistent yet.
After thinking about it… Should I have praised her for alerting on the old spot in video 1? Not reward but just praise?
10-18-2013 – came home from work and hid the scent 2″ in dirt before our walk. 45min. Later took her to the middle of the yard and asked her to ‘search’. Less than a minute later (prob. 30-45 sec) she had the tin! Yea Lola!November 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm #720
Absolutely right Mary about the spot she kept digging at.
Praise but don’t dwell on the area. We want to acknowledge that yes, that’s the right idea, right behavior, but there is nothing there for you (Mary) to pick up. What we want to try to avoid is having a dog who will alert on traces or be hyper sensitive in the field as the mycellial mats will often give off the same volatile compounds on occasion. We don’t want Lola to alert on those, we only want her to alert on the actual fruiting body. It is a process of scent discrimination. Finding the strongest source of odor and learning the difference between traces and actual fruiting bodies. This comes with practice.
If it happens a lot, praise, but quickly move her away from the area and distract her for a moment before you begin to work again so she doesn’t rush right back to that spot.
You are doing great though. The videos are fantastic.
Just keep working on buried hides in your yard. The more practice you can get in, the better. I imagine it will remain stimulating for a while for Lola. It should always be a fun game! Remember to keep the area smallish and gradually build the size of the search area for her. She is a rock-star, and your relationship is solid but good foundations make for excellent dogs in the field.
Try to avoid negativity such as ‘no’ when and if she digs in that previous spot. Instead, reward and then distract her to another area. Keep practicing. You both are doing fantastic!November 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm #721
Thanks Alana – it seems to work well to hide the scent(s) prior to our walk and then let her find it. She’s getting spayed Wednesday and this is our last week so I’ll post a final video on Tuesday. With the scents I have coming we’ll have plenty to keep us busy. I’m assuming as long as the ground is not frozen we can continue outside during the winter?…November 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm #722
Sorry – the weather didn’t cooperate and I didn’t get in the last video before Lola got spayed… Since she now has “the cone” we’re out of commission for awhile. We’ll continue with the buried hides in the yard (and friends yards) and start with new scents. Please keep me posted re. upcoming classes you feel would be helpful. I’ll be sure to print this prior to 11-7.
Thank you for everything!November 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm #737
Lola is doing awesome. At this point identifying the object (the tin) and the odor are basically the same thing. What comes later is scent discrimination when only the tin that has odor gets rewarded. But a great first step. And your timing is fantastic.
If this seems too easy (which it looks like), try to focus on Lola not just coming near the tin or being on top of it but actually inhaling. Try to watch her nostrils. Not an easy feat, but it is good practice in reading your doggie’s body language. Don’t overly focus on that principle though. Soon you will get to a stage where she is only rewarded for odor recognition.
So to sum it up: Ideally you want to see Lola actually inhale on the scent tin and not just get near it, but in the very beginning stages of truffle scent training we reward any behavior that comes close. Baby steps.
Good work and keep practicing!November 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm #738
Thanks Alana ? I?ll try to get a better read on her inhaling. Do you think we?re ready to add the boxes ( or in my case, flower pots)? And may continue to do both exercises for awhile?
Questions ? I was going to make some boxes. About what size are they and is any wood OK? They look about 8?8. Also, how often to I need to change and add more scent to the cotton ball?November 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm #740
I love Lola?s personality and ?happy? working attitude! In addition to the comments from Alana above, I?d like you to reward Lola at the source of the scent. When the scent is in your hand this is built into the process but as you move the tin around, be sure YOU go to her for the reward. These small details are important even at this early stage. Ultimately she will need you to come to where she found a truffle. If she leave it to get her reward from you, you won?t be able to find the truffle without a re-find (which is an acceptable approach?just more steps). I?d like to see you practice this before moving to the boxes. I like that Lola is willing to move away from you to go find the tin. When she does, click and quickly move toward her. Always reward at the source.
I?ll let Alana comment on how often to change your scent source. I tend to change it with every session but I doubt that is necessaryNovember 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm #742
Thank you both! Lola is fun to work with ? she loves the clicker (as you can tell). I?ll work more with rewarding her at the scent. I saw that on the video and totally forgot. Thank you for the reminder!!
Just a note?we practiced a for about 5 minutes rewarding at the source. Much better! It encouraged her to sniff the scent while looking for the treat on the floor. Sometimes she gets excited and puts the scent in her mouth and drops it. Does that still get a reward?November 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm #772
Much better tonight. She was ?on? about 60+% by either laying down or pushing the pot over. Changed treats to a smoked salmon jerky, made a huge deal when she found it and showed her the ?truffle?. We practice in the basement away from the other dogs ? the basement is now her favorite place to be. When I get the leash and say ?come on Lola? she flies down the stairs?November 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm #774
First off. 60% +/- is great. These things take time. I have yet to meet a dog who does it flawlessly first time or even the second, or third etc etc. It is a learning process.
It is good if Lola inhales scent on each box- the reward comes only when she inhales the scent on the one containing the odor. The behavior is great though! That is what you want! You want her checking every box/ pot etc. Eventually she will alert on only the correct one- which is sounds like she is doing right now anyway!
What she is doing now, either laying down or pawing the correct pot can be turned into an passive (sit or lie down) or active (scratch) alert. Eventually you will only reward her when she offers this behavior. That is covered in Lesson 3: Shaping an alert.
You are doing everything rightNovember 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm #776
Perfect, thank you! We?re working on lesson one ? it ?s the only one I see. I?m glad to know that sniffing all the pots it normal/good. I let her sniff them all and then if she doesn?t find it we start over until she alerts on one ? right or wrong. If she picks the wrong one I ignore it and let her choose between the other two ? she almost always gets that right and then it?s a big deal. She gets to see and smell the truffle uncovered and gets the reward.
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