Curt Leitz & Mo

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    Here we are working on week four’s homework. With the more complicated box hides, Mo started the week giving some false alerts. I always honored them by looking in/under the box and showing him nothing was there, and he always responded by moving on and eventually identifying the target. As the week’s training progressed, the false alerts became less frequent and somewhat tentative–he would place a paw on a container briefly but then move on without pausing or looking to me. When he eventually would alert on the target, he was very sure. I think I only saw one false alert in the last two days of training.

    In the first trial in this video, Mo does check and pass by the correct box several times before eventually alerting on it. I don’t know what was going on there, but I was pleased with his persistence and eventual success.

    I’m still rewarding Mo’s natural alert of placing a paw on the target box, but I’ve also begun rewarding him for a nose touch. Building the chain.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    Alana McGee

    First off we’d like to commend you on your very thoughtful self analysis. Your description of your week’s progress is very well stated, and gives us a very clear picture of what is going on.

    There can be many reasons, you are correct for walking around/ past a box even after having smelled it. Sometimes dogs will “map” an environment to see what in the environment most closely matches required criteria. This first one though was pretty darn perfect. Everything from your handler skills, approach, energy, excitement and reward to Mo being thoughtful and precise and response to your energy and marking skills. Really nice.

    Nice timing on clicks.

    There is one brief moment at 0:36 were Mo pulls back from the pets.
    Mo is fine with touching, and responds positively to it, that was just a little too assertive/ quick a movement over the top of the head perhaps. Puppies don’t necessarily have the life experience to understand their head carriage in relation to other things/ objects. Very minor- but interesting to note the body language for you.

    EXCELLENT job building that chain. From the paw to the nose touch upon re-alert. It is looking really nice Curt. This looks great. good job team!

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 10 months ago by Alana McGee.

    Week 5 homework:

    –Clearly identify the initial reliable alert: This is Mo placing his paw on the target. I see this alert primarily in situations where it would be difficult or impossible for Mo to perform a nose touch, including a couple of points during our homework video.

    –Describe the behavior in the alert chain I am currently shaping: A nose touch. Often Mo goes right to the nose touch. Whether he does or not, I reinforce this behavior once or twice after he correctly alerts on target in each trial.

    –Advanced indoor box, rewarding only the desired alert I’m shaping: I did this early in this week’s homework, and Mo so quickly started offering nose touches at each target placed in a box that we progressed to the advanced indoor hides (without boxes).

    –Video: this shows each trial in a single session of work. I used several rooms this week, and this session was conducted in the largest and most complex space I’ve used thus far. After each trial, I do an embarrassing hop or dance out of the training area while praising Mo–this seems to amp up his enthusiasm. I give the command “come” when I am in separate room and click and treat. (We’re working on that with light distractions and in different contexts right now.) I close the bedroom door, leaving him inside, and place the target for the next trial. Seems to be working–when I release him and say “houby,” he’s excited and waiting to push through the opening for the next trial.

    Alana McGee

    Thank you Curt for your concise analysis and answers to the homework assignment. Well done, and very clear. Your plan of action as described looks quite strong and well thought out and includes appropriate steps to take with Mo.

    Nice use of barriers to build excitement/ allow you freedom to set up hides

    We don’t think it will manifest based on what we have seen so far but if Mo starts to exceed threshold of excitement and become anxious due to the barrier placed between him & you while you set up hides we’ll come up with an alternative plan.

    Another level of complexity (perhaps you can only do one short session a day like this however) is to allow the target(s) to cook in that blocked off room. If you can help it right now, don’t make it too small of a room with many hot targets in it as that is actually a very complicated odor ‘flooding’ exercise and we want to avoid overloading him at this stage.


    Your enthusiasm right off he bat is great Curt. You allow a nice space and it great to see Mo developing more confident searching patterns at distance from you with independence.

    0:26— What we like about this was his angle of approach. He located the target a second earlier but realized access to it in order to offer an alert would be difficult. It shows persistence that he readjusted to try to reach the target from an alternative angle before seeking reward/ confirmation from you.

    Also notice where the odor from that hide had pooled 0:19 and how he worked to source. Well done Mo! 0:24 almost looks like a truncated “foot tap” alert (notice the shift in weight on to the front right foot heavily) except he can’t actually access the target that way. Clever Pup.

    0:32 GREAT! You really do have such a nice bond.

    This is a big space and definitely more of a challenge for Mo, but it looks great. Nice quick (but not startling too fast) approach for reward at 1:03. You and Mo have a nice balance to one another here.

    1:52 nice reaction on your part (voluntary, conscious, or reactionary) to pull back for a moment on your physical touch to Mo in response to his retreating from it. Again, we think Mo responds nicely to you and enjoys physical touch but if you look at that sequence again you can see him pull back a bit. It is interesting and Again, something to note is all. That reactionary pull back may lessen with time and experience as he learns to generalize more that hands coming at him in this manner when your body posture is like this mean happy things and soft pets. You see how once he interprets which behavior coming, he solicits more of it after he realizes what it is (in the very next second when he approaches you).

    2:23 he’s working really hard here! 2:29 great impulse to open the rolled blanket up to attempt to solicit and aid in a re-alert. When he did come back to it and nose touch that is a perfect moment to take an opportunity to have a jackpot there and spend a little more time in that moment (before you remove the target from that location by touching it).

    These are great Curt. We don’t have a lot of constructive comments to additionally add here. You guys are progressing really nicely and this is definitely more challenging for Mo, he’s searching larger areas and building confidence. It looks good. That last hide under the laundry basket is a a hard one, which he handles gracefully.

    We wouldn’t suggest that for all teams as the source is hard to access and even nigh impossible to access without assistance, but Mo does a great job of indicating he found the target.

    well done!

    Alana McGee

    This topic is now closed. We look forward to seeing you next session. Registration for Developing a Reliable Truffle Dog Team (level 2) opens July 26th. Class starts August 9th.

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