October 30, 2015 at 11:57 pm #6525
Hi Bev, Thank you for sending the two part scent discrimination video, and apologies for the delay.
This is a great video showing both Wolfy and you working to finding the truffles in two different scenarios and will suggest the following changes to Wolfy’s find and reward sequence. I have watched it multiple times to try and read Wolfy’s offered behaviour, so the information below is my interpretation, and welcome your thoughts on this feedback.
I understand the PNW truffles are quite delicate and fragile. Can you confirm Wolfy’s indication behaviour: is it an active response of digging, pawing; or a passive response, sitting, nose touch, or something else?
Wolfy is working hard to locate these samples on the video. Once he has located them he appears ‘lost/unsure’ as to what to do next. He’s displaying behaviours such as walking off, turning away from the sample and you, or picking up the sample and dropping it whilst walking away.
When moving from a known working space to a larger highly distractible place, check that the location behaviour is solid and if not go back a couple of approximations (steps) to build that behaviour to the same level as in the known working space. Does that make sense? I would suggest a set routine for finding, identifying and then rewarding the truffle, with the release at the end of the search as the throwing of the ball.
At this stage I’d propose a more defined mark (yeeeessss or click) when Wolfy locates the scent tin (before he picks up it up, if possible (I know he is fast)). Encourage him/Talk to him/Thank him for remaining at the sample whilst you move towards him. As you are using a combination of food, and the ball as the ultimate reward, have a piece of food ready in your hand to give to Wolfy when you bend down. When you arrive ask him to show you where it is (‘show me’) and party with him at the source of the scent by bending down or getting on your knees (you will be doing this on the forest floor whilst you dig a truffle up) and rewarding him with food, within touching distance of the sample tin, before you pick it up. Use variable ratio’s when rewarding Wolfy in this situation. When you pick up the sample and stand up, toss the ball into Wolfy’s mouth as the final, OK, you’re AWESOME. Then before the next cue to search, retrieve the ball from him.
By giving the ball to Wolfy in his mouth when you are removing the sample/truffle it will become his cue that the hole is now empty, and when you remove the ball from him that will become his cue to start searching again.
Wolfy does really well at locating the first sample. Be aware of the number of behaviours that are offered between the locate and the mark, if repeated and rewarded often enough, they could become an indication behaviour chain. Well done on asking Wolfy to show you the sample on cue, and rewarding the find.
You are so PATIENT with him, allowing him to investigate the area and find the new scent source in his own time, it’s WONDERFUL to watch, like poetry in motion. Wolfy is a very thoughtful and thorough boy when searching. When he locates the tin at 1:11, you asked him to relocate the tin again and rewarded close to the scent. This was a GOOD rewarding sequence, and he got a ball toss as well.
At 1:23 he started digging in a patch of earth. Had a truffle been located here previously? He located the cold target tins for you and then he found the last hot target, and got a food reward.
The area of improvement would be working on a routine reward sequence for Wolfy to understand. Lesson 2 (DRTT Lesson 2: 0:09 to 0:18: and 0:52) and Lesson 3 (DRTTL3: 0:36 – 0:42) videos you uploaded in the Developing Reliable Truffle Team are BRILLIANT examples of how you trained the reward sequence with Wolfy. If you can bring this back into the current scenarios, it will provide greater clarity for Wolfy moving forward.
Sometimes we need to go backwards to move forwards.November 1, 2015 at 7:51 pm #6530
Hi: Here is week three. Thank you Karen for your insight on the tins…I am going to do some work on discrimination again. Today we were out in the rain! First time in all the time we have been practicing that we actually had conditions we would probably be working in. We hid 10 hot tins which were there maybe 30 mins cooking in the forest they were hidden and I did not know where they were. My husband put them out with the pink flag tape, but I was not paying attention to the tape. We were outside walking 10 minutes to the hide, (same park as last video, different area) and spent 30 minutes hunting. Wolfy found the first 5 very quickly….He did really well, I, on the other hand was slow on one or two of them, not seeing his alert. Like I said this is the first time in months we had rain and was different for me, but did not bother Wolfy at all! We had a rough start when he went down and incline and it was slippery for me. 🙂
November 4, 2015 at 2:00 am #6535
Thanks Bev for this video. Listening to the rain it was a very wet day which is good experience for your training session.
The relationship between you are Wolfy is growing beautifully. I have noticed in the last few videos that there are conversations between you and the camera person (your husband). Whilst working Wolfy I would discourage becoming actively engaged in conversation whilst searching. Your attention should be 100% on Wolfy, and the conversation could negatively affect Wolfy’s searching pattern, he could offer alternative behaviours because of it, and your attention is no longer on him. I do however think that these discussions are insightful and should occur when you have finished the search or if you take a break, but during the searching process yours should be the only voice.
You need to trust Wolfy’s nose, and watch him really closely for his indication sign. If digging is Wolfy’s indicator, move swiftly to him and ask him to show you the sample/truffle for you. You did this beautifully on the first find and in response Wolfy searched again and at 0:12 the sample he had unearthed was relocated. Good timing on the giving him praise. EXCELLENT feeding at source, the first provisioning of a reward can be sped up by having food available in your hand in preparation of the find.
(0:39) Wolfy indicated that he had found something but then walked on as it appears you were still walking forward so he moved with you. Your husband identified that he had dug one up and pointed it out. You did really well in asking him to show you where the sample was and he did another search locating it under some leaf litter. Talking to him to keep his attention worked well for him and he was spellbound by you (or the noise from food bag). You are getting so much lower with him which is great, and the rewarding is getting closer and closer to the source.
(1:29) Wolfy has a wonderful indication and location here. Good rewarding.
(2:16) Wolfy was interested in the ground near where the previous sample had been buried. Looking at how you applied pressure to have him move away from that area, what could you do differently to tell him that there isn’t something there and he can move on?
(2:39) AWESOME team work between you and Wolfy. The food reward was given quicker than previously. When you got down and digging with him it was EXCELLENT and he was with you all the way, a great partnership. It was wonderful to watch.
Wolfy didn’t appear ‘lost’ after locating samples in this training session, and you held his attention well prior to provisioning the food reward. The suggested areas to work on would be: having the food reward in hand ready to give to Wolfy; and feeding at source. Rewarding at source has improved so much in this video, so keep the momentum going. BRILLIANT
A comment made was “he’s doing good in the rain”. What factors do you think helped Wolfy to work better today than on previous days?November 8, 2015 at 4:31 pm #6545
I am posting week 4/5 as I had to improvise this lesson. I do not have fresh truffles to work with, just oil in tins. Which I had on me and one my husband had. We went to an entirely new area, a forestry road on a forest company land. This is open to the public, for various uses. We have been areas like this before, so we have knowledge of it. We spent a total of one hour on this site. We walked in, to the Douglas Fir area, with branches, etc. It is also deer hunting season, and there were deer hunters out there, we did not see any actual deer, although Wolfy ate some fresh deer poop. ;/ We spent quite a bit of time in different areas around the initial starting point, he did dig once or twice and we explored to see if there was anything, and ended up manufacturing quite a few hides. We also manufactured more hides if he was off on deer hunting or showing stress signs. Overall, it was a new area, we did not pre hide tins, and it was an unknown area for truffles, being on forestry land. It was a lot of learning on digging up, two of us, working with him, and a new area. Overall, I think it went ok. I am posting the initial couple minutes, to see what you think.
November 10, 2015 at 1:27 am #6550
Wow…that first part of the video was very interesting watching Wolfy search in silence. His intensity was there and appears to be searching really well. His animation was the highest I had seen, which is great.
Your handling of the leash in keeping it loose, and holding back to allow Wolfy to lead you around the forest, was wonderful.
Brilliant that you get down to Wolfy’s level, ask him to show you, and then you start digging to see if you can locate it. I couldn’t see, but I think you sniffed the ground for the distinct smell of the truffle? Did you smell anything there other than a good earthy smell? Getting down there with him was the best thing, and having a good dig around in the area and asking him to confirm the location were all BRILLIANT on working to keep the team working together. Be careful in regards to who will give Wolfy the cue to search.
Yes, I agree he was very sure that there was something there, and good job in placing the sample into the hole without him seeing.
Good praise to him when he did locate the truffle.
This was a really good video where the teamwork between you and Wolfy came shining through. Well done.November 14, 2015 at 3:39 pm #6560
Hi: This is week 5/6. Again we do not have real truffles, and I do not have access to them. So we went out to the forest, this time we took my other dog Breezy. We drove up to the forest area, which is on a mountain, Wolfy was excited as he saw me get the truffle tins ready, so he was ready to go since then. I did have him off leash for a bit, and started with some truffle hunting sequences, on leash. I used a longer 15 foot leash too. My other dog Breezy was a large distraction, but good for training. This video I have for you is over 3:30. We spent an hour in the forest looking for spots for truffles, I think it is probably too early for them, but I manufactured after digging around to see if there was a truffle. I chose this to show you as Wolfy is active, engaged, and into the find. So, I do think it was a good training exercise, although, I would not want another dog in a real hunt situation as it would be too distracting, and he does not like dogs in his face, he puts up with Breezy as he lives with her. I gave him his ball and we walked out of the area, so he knew he was done searching, and they were both tired after their adventure.
November 17, 2015 at 1:54 am #6567
It is not an issue using a good truffle oil over the real ones. When the opportunity arises Wolfy will transfer over easily.
Taking a second dog can be very distracting to the dog searching, unless they are used to it.
Wolfy does a beautiful search and at (0:17) Wolfy alert and hangs around a little. You do some digging Bev which is great to be working down with Wolfy. Did you sniff around for the truffle aroma? At (1:23) Wolfy does an AMAZING nose hold about 2”s above where you were digging.
Wolfy is very engaged with the whole truffling process. If a dog is digging at a location and you cannot find one, often resetting them by moving them away and then back can help them refocus. The video doesn’t have a wide shot of you working together so a guessing you are about 2’ away from the tree. It stays engaged with you with is great, and you do ask him to indicate again. Did you ask him to ‘review’ the dirt that you had dug up? Sometimes truffles can be so small (or big) that they can dig them up and flick them behind them. Good to ask them to check that material as well as the hole.
You mentioned at the end of your note that both of the dogs were tired. Did you notice any signs of frustration, stress or tiredness in Wolfy before you left the forest?
Good job at setting him up for success, and finishing on a high note. Well done.November 17, 2015 at 4:40 pm #6568
Hi Karen: I do not know if there are any truffles, I tried to smell the dirt and all I smelled for truffles, but being rather new to this, I only smelled dirt. I did not think of having him go over the dug up dirt….good idea. I tried digging there, but it looked like clay and rocks there…they could have been deeper or really small and I just did not see it. So, thought I would put the tin in as I wanted him to be successful considering I was not seeing any real truffles. Breezy lives with him, she is very excitable and they were tired from the outing as it is super fun! He was not stressed at all, but he had lots of breaks too, and just basically ignored the other dog when he was searching.November 18, 2015 at 12:41 am #6570
The great thing about sniffing the area for yourself is when you do find truffles the scent will stand out from the familiar dirt smell. It also keeps the dog engaged with you whilst you check. If you feel the dog is over enthusiastic you could teach it a behaviour that is associated with your movement to bend down and sniff the ground. Wolfy doesn’t look this type of dog, but just an idea of how to add a behaviour associated with this movement.
The earth looked quite rocky where you were, and hard to dig. Putting the tin into the hole for him to find was spot on.
You mentioned that you had lots of breaks. What is the current searching time for Wolfy? What are the signs that you decide that a break should be taken?November 18, 2015 at 4:36 pm #6572
When I train anything, I always take short breaks for the dog to process. Wolfy likes to work then take a short break. If we spend maybe 40-60 minutes in an area, he works maybe 3-5 mins work, then a little break then working again. I found if I kept asking to find another truffle, without a break he is not as enthusiastic. Also, when I teach, a one hour class, no matter what we train, 2-3 minutes of training then a short break works best. His short break consists of him squishing his ball, and maybe lying down or doing nothing much. After maybe a minute, I trade his ball with a treat, and cue him to work again.
You could call that his reward, just squishing the ball, but that is what he likes.November 25, 2015 at 12:50 am #6586
It’s really great that you understand your dog and his working time periods.
You say Wolfy loses enthusiasm if he works more than 3-5 minutes. What happens when you periodically increase the searching period and reduce the rest period? Does the anticipation of the impending rest (reward) increase his working time? If you always train for 2-3 minutes has Wolfy become ‘stuck’ in that pattern of work. What would happen if you carried out a variable ratio on working times to rest times to extend Wolfy’s searching time whilst keeping his enthusiasm up.
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