Elaine Booker & Dorie

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  • #5356

    Last of Hills north of Glendora


    San Dimas Canyon #1


    San Dimas Canyon #2


    San Dimas Canyon #3


    South Hills area #1


    South Hills area #2


    South Hills area #3

    As you can see from all the photos, the terrain and vegetation in this area is all very similar. Everything is very dry frm the drought. Up in the Azusa & San Gabriel Canyons, there are more oaks and ground cover, but you have to get in deep, off the trails.


    More of Hills north of Glendora


    I am considering trying to shape her alert to a behavior that is different from her NW alert indications. What are your thoughts on this and, if you agree, can you provide some guidance? For example, if I want to shape her behavior away from the “look at me” to a “down” or “sit” (I used to use a “down” in tracking, but with Dorie I haven’t taught her that for tracking), would that be inappropriate?

    As you know, with K9NW, we don’t shape indication behaviors, so this is not something I have tried with Dorie. But truffles ain’t NW… 😉

    Alana McGee

    Hi Elaine.

    For future posts, please wait for a response from us before posting again as the conversation can quickly become very confusing when we need to comment on multiple posts by you. If you want to post longer videos please consolidate into two videos per week. If you do that (as opposed to these short ones) make sure each video is less than 3 minutes each. Longer videos make HUGE files in video analysis. Eventually we ask for longer ones so we can see the complete sequence. They also I am sure take forever to upload if they are super long!

    I’ll go through videos, and refer to them by number for your reference:

    Video post #5345

    ORT boxes are great. We are not surprised her alert isn’t quite as sharp, it is a new odor.

    We understand the limitations of each student in terms of houses/ space etc. It is something we all often run into. We prefer inside, due to lack of distractions mainly, and a decrease in environmental complexity, but if you can’t you can’t. If you are outside however you need to take special precautions to really limit your search area, work high value rewards, and keep sessions short short short. Success Success Success! Always set yourself up for success. There is always a lot going on outside!

    Good of you to notice she needs more encouragement with the new truffle doors. Support her in that. Truffle odor is different from NW odors in that it is not nearly as concentrated as well. The anise, clove, birch you are used to are single (occasionally double/triple) volatiles, whereas the components in the oil you are using (since you have the one we make) are easily upwards of 10 VOCs. Absoltely go with pairing. If you think it will help her, go for it.

    She does have a nice distinct/ sustained alert on the boxes. That “look” is her comfort zone, so remember that when complexity goes up, that will be her fall back we think in terms of primary alert. 0:18 was a nice ‘re-alert’ of staying at odor. She has that down, so that’ll be to your advantage later. The ending cue “thank you” is nice and she comes off it. Is that typical for Dorie when leaving a source on cue?

    Video #3546

    It’s okay that she started without your cue. We understand in NW that is not desirable necessarily but be careful a bit at this stage, as if she is working, and on odor, we don’t want to pull her off it, even if this is a chain of events she is familiar with in NW. We like the self initiation, and want to reward and build confidence. Go Dorie! She wants to play, we always like that! Having a dog you can turn ‘on & off’ and who is literal is great, and there are situations where this is beneficial, but for where you are located geographically as well, and the unknown nature of truffles in your region we want to encourage those moments of self initiation if they present. It’s not a big deal, and we know because you teach nose work it is perhaps not something you want her to have become habit, but understand that in Truffle hunting it is not considered a fault, and actually could be encouraged. Whether that is something you want to do, we leave up to you. Dorie will learn context eventually that NW games don’t take place where truffle hunting games do. Right now, the two spaces likely overlap (as we are working on boxes indoors after all!), but that will change soon, so the behavior doesn’t necessarily have to manifest when you’re in a NW trial- just when you are truffle hunting. That make sense?

    We will say she is very thoughtful. at 0:44 AWESOME that was a nose-touch re-alert! YAY. we would even suggest maybe jumping in a second sooner there on your acknowledgment she was correct and that is a behavior you want. And we’d have rewarded again when she does it again at 0:52. Build that confidence, not only in the re-alert, but that in “Yes, this is what we are looking for… wooohooo” She’s very gentle, & precise. Really nice.

    The other thing we are going to suggest you start doing is picking up the target after she does the series of alerts. Truffles aren’t left in the ground after she finds them 😉 We aren’t concerned with her trying to get an ‘easy paycheck’ as it were because of your/her background, and it is evident that shouldn’t be an issue- but it is good habit for you, and later might help her so she won’t dwell on previously alerted on targets when you get to scenarios that have many more sources (think like 10+ targets). Again at 1:12 we would have jumped in there a little sooner and rewarded that secondary re-alert.


    Post #3547
    Nice job Elaine! That was much better timing on the re-alert like I described above. You will eventually be able to delay longer, but let’s build up that confidence! Because she was having difficulty at 0:35 she did go back to that other 1st target. Good Dorie. Smart cookie. This is a situation where you could pick it up however and remove it from the game, and encourage her elsewhere. Because we Love dogs who stay at source, and if the source stays out and accessible, she’ll keep being right, but it isn’t how you want her to attack the space- and you do eventually 🙂

    Your husband does a good job videoing- cookies for him too!


    Post #3548

    Love the use of those rum bottles- Hadn’t thought of using those before 😉 We like this one. Again, at 0:52 we’d suggest being slightly quicker on your “yes” acknowledgement she’s right, but well done. Since you aren’t using a clicker, and are just using praise of ‘good girl’ paired with reward, think about using a marking word to signify this. Even “Yes”. It is a little faster delivery of information to Dorie than “Good Girl”.

    Also don’t forget to have a little bit of a party after the session! We can’t see it on video- maybe you do. She’s a smart cookie! Most dogs like training (and we think Dorie fits in this category) and if after they successfully are done with your sessions and then it is completely over and flat ……(basically you turn and walk away and disconnect) well, the dog is like, ‘well, that’s a bummer.’ So make the fun extend beyond your session of “truffle” even just a little. We want the dogs coming away happy, wanting more, not flatlining.

    Habitat posts

    These look good. Keep in mind where you are it’s hot outside and dry. If it ever rains, take advantage and go practice in it! Scent will cling more towards the bases of trees and be caught in eddies there, which in your environment, because of the heat, will help you.

    It’s what I call California Scrub, and will work just fine for the outdoor components of the course, you’ll just have to take temperatures more in mind when working, but Dorie is also used to it as this is her environment.

    Beaware that Eucalyptus may harbor some species of truffles. Maybe not culinary species, but just so you are aware, as I know there is lots down in those parts.

    The pictures of the South Hills areas look like really nice places to work, as they look a tad more open/ maneuverable- which in the beginning of some of the more complex outdoor work, will be helpful for you both.

    Post #5371

    You already are developing/shaping, organically, a nose touch as an additional alert. Use that to your advantage. She offered it. Her “look” at you is pretty darn distinct, and she holds it. Because this behavior seems to be very ingrained in her in NW behavior chains it is likely going to be her default initial alert behavior for truffle hunting. So just be aware of that. Alert behavior chains evolve. And they continue to do so, but you certainly can shape and encourage ones you’d like to have be part of the sequence. You can certainly teach/shape a formal sit etc (again- we’d suggest keeping the Nose-touch for precision). Take a look at Bev’s forum thread as she just asked about this too. A sit or a down is just fine and not inappropriate at all (again keep the nose touch and keep building that we’d say too), just know, she is still going to offer you the “look” in complex environments and that is not wrong, at all. Just be sure to jackpot/ reward more heavily the behaviors you like more, but we think it’s pretty safe to say we think the “look” will be her default- and for you to recognize that when she is under stress to reward it for confidence building.

    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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