Exercise to be Named

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    Alana McGee

    Here are a couple of things you can do to work with Lola in the interm:

    Please remember when you do this to always warm up first so she ‘knows’ what game you both are playing.

    Start with your basic box hide. Let her do it once. Then remove her from the room- set them up again, this time not in a line, and only reward her when she hits the right one. Is she hitting all the boxes expecting a reward, or just the correct one?

    If this is too easy (and she doesn’t hit or alert on the ‘cold’ boxes) try placing multiple ‘hot’ targets out. One can be under a box, one can just be sitting on the floor in a tin or some kind of dog proof container. You always start with it being very simply and easy before you make it more complicated whenever you add new elements to the ‘game’.

    After she alerts on a ‘hot’ target (that being a container with the truffle scent in it), remove it from the ‘game’ and encourage her to seek the next one right away. If after time she doesn’t find the second target it on her own, encourage her by bringing her physically closer to the location of the second target. You want Lola to succeed.

    The other option is to increase the area in which the targets are hidden. Spread them out so she has to work harder. The boxes are still acting as a visual identification method, but she has to cover more distance to check them all. Remember to reward at the source.

    Add more boxes/ obstacles/ foreign objects of interest. At this stage, don’t use food or very high value toys she really likes as distractions. Use mundane objects from around the house. A hairbrush, remote control set on the floor, a soda can etc. Place these objects nearby the hot target and even in the way. This is very basic distraction proofing. The idea is you want her to ignore other scents, novel objects in her working environment.

    Also try practicing in a different room. All of these factors will contribute to her learning that the ‘truffle’ can be anywhere! Don’t ask her to start searching multiple rooms right away, but eventually you can build to that.

    Go slowly.

    Don’t start’ burying’ targets in furniture (under cushions/ blankets etc), or elevating (hiding them on chairs etc) yet. We want to make sure she really understands the game first.

    Take a short video of her working with some of these scenarios if you have time and we can suggest the next step.

    My guess is, based on the videos I have seen of you two working, she could probably handle larger indoor area searches, furniture hides etc now, but go slowly. If it seems too easy, and she is only hitting the hot targets, add more targets out there for her to find in succession. Stop at 3 or 4 though. Don’t do more than that at a time.

    Remember to keep sessions short.

    Let me know if you need clarification on this.

    Have fun.

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