Chris (access until November 15, 2014)

Home Forums Recreational Truffle Dog Training 101 Chris (access until November 15, 2014)

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    the picture was there in the last post. now it’s gone with my ability to edit post #2713.


    oh well it just had her frisbee, bullies, stuffed toys.

    yesterday we began cueing and reinforcing a bark with “speak” command and the talky hand like in the video. we will start working on quiet as a paired behavior today.

    the open mouth touch improved when i pinched a target with two fingers. this way she can see that my fist is not clinched so there is no food in my hand. with two fingers extended, she would nose the inside of my hand looking for food. using inanimate targets seems to help as well.

    Alana McGee

    Hi Chris

    ?(5-9) short (3-10 min) sessions every day.?
    This is fabulous! Good work!

    As for feeding/ going to bed rituals: It is going to be specific to every situation and each dynamic and your schedule, and Daisy?s personality. From a distance with limited information it is difficult to recommend suggestions without going into many other facets of your daily routine. We would recommend you discuss this with your local trainer, or we can suggest a trainer who would be willing to discuss this and more with you as distance learning and they can explore facets of your schedule and dynamic with Daisy in this regard to aid in everyday establishment of routines.

    Personally, I have 4 dogs. They are all fed at the same time but in different areas and when they are finished eating, the food (if any is remaining) is removed.

    There are many different modes of thought on feeding regimes, and no particular one is right. It is what works best for you and your pup! Because we have 4 dogs (one of which is a glutton, and one who barely eats) we do not free feed. But for puppies, as they are growing, it can be fine.

    Controlling access to food an water intake can also alter potty training habits, so that is something to take into consideration, depending how she is doing on that front. Hence, this is where a trainer specifically aware of all of these modalities of your environment and situation can advise you.

    As for uploading: We use Vimeo with great success, but as with all web based hosting it is related with internet upload speeds, but we find it better than Youtube with more control on privacy as well.

    Your supplies look great! Love the boxes, and the Zuke?s will be good. Remember when doing truffle related activities- especially later when it gets a bit more advanced we want the value of the rewards to be really high. She should LOVE to get the treats from truffle hunting more than anything else (but she seems fairly excited by all treats right now!)

    One thing to keep in mind if we haven?t mentioned it: In terms of harness, you will want a different harness (as in different style of fit eventually) than one you may use for loose leash walking or training. Different tools for different tasks (the dogs will draw different associations from different gear), but waiting until she is full grown in size to invest in one may be prudent. We have tested many models on different dogs, and again, it is what feels right for you, but we can offer suggestions, including the Canine Julius Harness is one we recommend folks check out. Dogs are allowed to pull/ lead when truffle hunting (if on leash) and we don?t want her to associate it with heeling/ loose leash walking.

    The Second video: That was a very nice stay and excited come. Good work. She looks a very happy pup 🙂 Those are very good stays and impulse control for such a young pup, all throughout the video.

    Great job on your clicker mechanics as well. You have timing down really well with your touching. At 1:18 I love that exuberant flop into a down. She loves interacting with you in this manner. It is fun to watch, and you are doing a good job!

    Alana McGee

    It is always good to see other toys, but don’t stress over it. We can extrapolate. She is one lucky pup!

    Good luck with the Speak/ Quiet command. Make sure to give the “quiet” a hand signal as well as the “speak”. Personally I use a right hand palm down, lateral movement in a parallel plane to my body orientation.

    The target/ touch game has hundreds of uses outside of truffle hunting as well. It is a very valuable skill for teaching all kinds of behaviors. You are astute to notice the difference in how your body positioning, and slight change in position can affect a change in behavior. Well done.

    Alana McGee

    HI Chris.

    Kristin & I wanted to let you know that we are conducting a seminar this weekend (Sept 6th & 7th) and will be occupied all day and for that reason will not be commenting on videos/ posts if you happen to post any over the weekend. We will comment on whatever you post on Monday.

    Have a great weekend.


    oh, please! just one more reply before monday!

    so, i moved on to lesson 2. is “charge the marker” different from lesson one marker conditioning?

    getting into scent imprinting. my tupperwares needed some cleaning/sterilization after i realized they smell strongly of whatever cherry detergent the manufacturer used to last clean them. looking for tea balls.

    daisy knows i want her to “get” the target, but she mostly paws/kicks it around. i try to click when she noses it, but half the time she ignores the click, and i end up clicking several times before she looks up for her treat. is this why i need to charge the clicker? half the time she gets her treat and goes back to wacking the target around and quickly looking up for her treat. may i use a stationary target? truffles are stationary, after all.

    speak/silence – can you recommend when to do the “silence” command and when exactly to click? before or after the “speak” command? the video sort of skims over this. it probably doesn’t matter which order the commands are in, but do you only click and treat for the second command?

    also wondering how to improve “stay,” as she only stays about half the time. traci taught us to stay then release with “come,” but she has been anticipating the release and coming prematurely. i thought i would try stay command, then walk away, then come back to her. this feels good but the click is a little awkward. should i just not use the clicker when the correct behavior lasts longer than a moment?

    Alana McGee

    Pawing and kicking can be just fine, it is excitement and at the beginning stages we take pretty any interaction with the target (truffle odor), but ideally we are going for a nose targeting behavior (or a foot touch). Yes, stationary targets are just fine, but you will want to pick it up after she gives you the desired foot tap/ nose touch and replace it again. And in answer to your question about her ‘ignoring’ the click, yes that’s what charging the marker is for but also it would be good to know is she batting the target around during this time, or is this when she nose touches? The goal is to have Daisy’s ideal behavior be when she hears that click to look to immediately for the reward.

    Start with it in your hand when you imprint before you put it on the ground. You can always keep a finger on it on the ground as well.

    It would be helpful to see video of what she is doing with it, and how she is interacting in order to give you more specific advice.

    It is off topic, but for Silence after you give a hand signal, and she then is quiet for a second… THEN you click and *beat (as in pause a second) and then reward. If you are teaching her this in the beginning I would click/ reward for each- and then you can chain them, so “speak”, hand signal for silent (she is quiet) click, reward.

    For the ‘stay’, I would say your impulse to walk away and then come back is just fine. You could click just as you are about to her, and then reward, or omit the click altogether- but try it with first.


    i’ll try and get some video today. she’s ignoring the click because she’s batting the target around and can’t hardly hear it. if i keep my hand on it or go to pick it up she will mouth my hand, which i don’t want. at one point we were playing fetch with the target, her getting a treat when the target returns to my hand. i’m not sure how well the scent is being imprinted. right now it seems that things are so elementary that they are ineffective. like, everything is play, so who cares what it smells like.

    i always start a session with a sit, down, touch, speak, silent. you said to mix up commands and sessions so that we don’t do the same session more than twice in a day. can you give me another run down of what my 5-9 daily sessions should look like as we progress?

    i have never been instructed on how to handle the truffle oil and target containers. do i wash after each session? can i reuse a scented target with a few fresh drops of oil? how many drops of oil?

    we have been doing some fetching which has been great. what do i do when she does not perform a desired behavior like bringing the toy or staying, if reset and retry does not work? end the session?


    Alana McGee

    Hi Chris

    For scent imprinting, in those sessions, do not mix exercises (it didn?t appear you were in the videos), but just checking. When I was talking about mixing drills (for behaviors) you were working on basic marking and clicking in response to foundational obedience behaviors (which is not something we cover in this course). We want to keep the truffle game distinct. Those basic behaviors can manifest themselves in the course of scent training, but they are rewarded in association with scent, not on their own. Does that make sense?

    For other drills you may be working on for basic obedience it is fine to mix those around with different cues/ commands, but we recommend when you do your scent imprinting drills, it is just that. Very short ( a few minutes) and just scent imprinting- then you can take a short break and go practice other basic foundational behaviors. Of your 5-9 training sessions a day, maybe only 2 or 3 of those are scent imprinting. The point of saying don?t repeat the same thing too many times, is it can get boring and routine for the dog- but it will depend on how much daisy likes these games.

    The retrieve game with the truffle odor can be a fine tool for training (it is one method Italian-style training employs), but you are correct in your assessment that Daisy may not be getting from it what you want. It is an okay tool to use in your tool box, but keep doing other scent imprinting as well.

    As for how to handle odor & prep:

    Truffle hunting as a scent detection sport is far from sterile and for that reason we tend to be more lenient with how odor is handled, as that is realistic. In a real truffle environment everything smells like truffles– the forest, your hands, your backpack where you are storing them, etc. Truffle odor will be everywhere and the dogs need to learn to differentiate the criteria of what counts as an odor source and what receives a reward. We do proof for human odor later, and it becomes apparent quickly if that is what is happening.

    We would recommend (when you get to that stage) that any truffle bits you harvest that are not being sold etc, be careful of how you dispose of them or you may have Daisy alerting on your trash can. We tend to double bag anything we are not keeping, in the trash to prevent this scenario.

    You do not ‘need’ to reapply odor every session or every day. The volatiles can linger weeks. In fact it is beneficial to work on varying degrees of odor concentration. Sometimes more (fresh drops every day), sometimes less (2 or 3 days). One or two drops on cotton is sufficient. You can re-use your scented target. If you are applying the oil directly to the tin, then yes, wash it. If you are using cotton, there is no need. Ideally please try to store the target/tin in an airtight container away from other odors. Another method for storing supplies is to put some q-tips in an airtight jar with a few drops of oil and then remove the q-tip and use that in training. You can then keep that Q-tip to use again later for a slightly diminished odor source the following day(s), or dispose of it and use a new one the next day. (*after watching the videos it looks like you are using Q-tips inside a small tuperware yes?)

    As for you fetch question. If you are working on establishing a behavior pattern, then yes, end the session.


    I see what you are saying about the click and the playing! One thing you can do is try to get down there quickly and reward at source. If suddenly food appears right on top of the target before she has a chance to play with it too much, it may arrest the behavior. She is young! remember that, it will take some time. If you notice on the second try in that video, her response time is already remarkably better. She likely was excited and once she knows what game you are both playing is she will respond more quickly (*Which she does do!).

    Remember to try to deliver the treat right on top of the container. In the second video that was a much better delivery at source, even when tossing it. If you can, ?place? the treat even right on top of the lid of the container, that would be ideal. Good work.

    The third video is beautiful. Those nose touches when you are holding it are great! And then you got a BOW! NICE! These can be turned into alerts, just keep at it and building the value of reward in association with the odor! That is the foundational step is odor association, and interaction with odor on the part of the dog.

    Yes there are moments of play interspersed for her. Again, puppy. You are doing a great job though. So, keep practicing like you have for this in the video, and try to, if possible, reward as close to the source (container) as you can.

    So she doesn?t just get used to one type of container and think of it as a ?I interact with container game? try some different containers- even drops of oil on a paper towel you hold in your hand. I would be curious to see how she would interact with that. The connection (or light bulb moment) for odor often comes at the next stage when they are making choices and guesses about what gets them the reward when there are multiple containers, but we try to solidify odor recognition and build value first.

    Good work! Keep at it.


    am i supposed to click and treat when she goes to eat the previous treat from on top of the target, or wait for the next touch after eating the treat?

    Alana McGee

    Ideally you wait until the next touch after the treat- but in some circumstances with some dogs we can’t get them to make the association, and so that’s where this trick also comes in handy- as treats happen on the odor source so dogs will sometimes make the association connecting the two– odor means cookies.

    But you and Daisy are doing ok on the re-touching- so stick with that.

    I like it at the 0:07 mark after you click she looks to the pod for where the treat should magically appear, and then back to you. What she does after that at the 0:15 where she is staying with her nose pressed on the target, that is totally fine, and you have very good instincts for how to read her behavior. It is completely ok to wait a few seconds and then click and reward. She is at truffle odor source after all!

    Excellent job of delivering treats at the source. Notice her tail, and how she pops her head up after you click. That is a the sign of a clicker conditioned puppy. That is really good indication she is motivated and understands clicks mean rewards.

    What would be even better: After about 20 seconds of doing what you did, allowing her to have in her proximity the pod/ container and clicking rewarding and delivering treats at source for when she interacts with it (which was great- good job) Pick the container up. Hold it for a second or two and then place it back down on the ground in a slightly different spot. Over time slowly expand the distance. You were actually doing this by the end and you didn’t even realize it because Daisy kept flicking the container away. That is ok, and good.

    She is starting to even possibly offer you a down in tandem with a paw/ nose touch as an alert.

    You guys are doing really well. Keep practicing. She seems to enjoy playing the game.

    When you think you are ready for the next step, and I think you guys are almost there, you can start working with multiples (that mean multiple boxes/ containers- still just one truffle odor). Read through that lesson when you are ready and go ahead and try it.

    First though work on just what you have been doing in that video but picking up the target and placing it down again slightly further away every time. It causes her to re-enaged.

    Good work.


    she was nosing the target up on chairs and generally doing very well with scent imprinting so i have moved on to simple box hides. i am using planter pots, sometimes upside down, sometimes right side up, three at a time with the target in one.

    daisy is not stoked on the leash indoors. maybe if it was a bigger room like on the video. she generally attacks all boxes looking for the target, so we’re working on it. she mostly uses her paws for this and batting the target once she has found it. she is not as interested in the zukes anymore. i think i need to switch flavors or just keep changing up the treats to keep them high value.

    she has been eating more kibble lately and getting bigger.

    i received today a frozen (white? the outside is brown) truffle from an oregon christmas tree farm that came here via the telluride mushroom festival and a friend. it smells strongly like a truffle. how should i handle this/use it in training? can it only be used a few times? how do frozen truffles work?

    Alana McGee

    As for treats- if you do stay with Zuke’s, do vary it, so she isn’t getting the same, say Salmon flavor every time. Dogs will lose an affinity for one kind of treat if that’s what you use a lot, so try to vary it. String cheese tends to be easy and a hit over here most of the time.

    I am in the middle of trying to create other discussion forums that have lots of information on truffles (and answer questions like this, so you can see how to store and prep and ask other questions ). Hopefully they will be soon.

    I hope it has been keep mostly frozen- feel free to send us/ post a photo of it (cut it se we can see the interior as well) not that we don’t doubt it is one, but it tells us a lot about the state of the truffle’s life. Whites can range in color on the outside from very whitefish to yellow tinged to more common buff or beige/ rust. I’ll attach some photos in another reply.

    Frozen truffles (especially if it has made its way from Oregon to Telluride to you) won’t be marbled inside due to the cell walls breaking down the gleba (that’s the inners). That isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but you want to be careful you don’t train Daisy on VOCs associated with decay. If it still smells like an oregon white, you’re likely just fine!

    I have uploaded our basic guide for species for using frozen specimens- this is an all purpose doc and if made to refer to many species, but applies to Oregon whites. Not noted on this Doc, but a good idea, is you can also store cotton (Qtips etc) in with your frozen truffle and use those in training. This way you don’t have to expose the truffle at all to oxidation and degradation. When starting to use a real source like that, the VOCs it contains will be slightly different than any oil based solution.

    Most dogs will make the association quickly, but some dogs are incredibly literal and you may need to practice this a few times. Being that she is a pup and doesn’t have a lot of life experience drawing conclusions from similar associations (not that she hasn’t made many cognitive associations already), I would recommend you prime Daisy so she has that A-ha! it’s the same thing, moment. This can just be two or three repetitions (or more if you think her indications are somewhat less confident) of the paw or nose targeting with the cotton/Qtips that had been stored with the real truffle such as you have been using.

    Eventually you’ll want to use whole real truffles for training, but for now, if you want to use the real thing you recieved and not cotton, cut it into pieces. It will last longer.

    Again, not a cause for concern, but if you handle the white truffle be aware that your hands will then possibly transfer those VOCs to other locations, so we would recommend washing your hands after handling. Again, unlikely to crop up as an issue, but just so you are aware.

    Alana McGee

    Some Oregon White truffle photos from the archives to see a range in color of peridium (outer skin)

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