Gwen Matear & Millie

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  • #5007
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Welcome to class Gwen!  This is the forum topic where you will post your questions and homework videos for feedback from the instructors.  Please take a moment to tell us about yourself, your dog and your interest in truffle hunting.

    Class begins June 1st but you already have access to the first lesson so go ahead and check that out!  You can begin posting video homework and questions June 1st.

    #5196
    Gwen
    Participant

    Hi all

    I am Gwen and will be working through the course with Millie my rescue Springer Spaniel. She hasn’t done any scent detection work as such but has passed her Level 1 in the UK Tracking Dog Association stakes so I am hopeful she will enjoy the truffle hunting.

    #5205
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Welcome Gwen!! We are excited to have you in class and adding to the international presence in class!

    We are heading into Week 2 of class so you may want to post one video of your Week 1 homework and one video of your Week 2 homework if you find Millie is progressing quickly.

    #5213
    Gwen
    Participant

    Hi this is the first video – neither husband nor I good at filming! Must try harder! I am little late in marking on a couple and early in one too! She is mixed in her targeting sometimes with nose on sometimes slightly off but it’s been a short session today so hopefully will pick up.

    #5214
    Gwen
    Participant

    In the pass when the box had been moved she didn’t acknowledge it at first and I moved back a little for her to acknowledge it – not sure if I helped too much there?

    #5223
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Gwen.
    We’ll answer and respond to the videos one at a time to keep things tidy on your thread.

    The Following is in response to video “Millie Part 1”

    The video looks good, you and the husband are doing great with the video. It is just fine.

    The one thing right off the bat to just be mindful of is delivering reward at source, even in these foundational touching/ imprinting exercises. We want the association between odor and reward to be linked in the spatial sense. Love the tail!

    Also around 0:27 hold the target a bit lower, if possible for you, so Millie isn’t having to jump up to touch it. It will help with her precision as well.

    You do a good job of rewarding at source when you put the tin on the ground. She does a nice job of circling back and your timing on that set of passes at 0:56 is spot on. At 1:04 still try to deliver reward at source. 1:116 good Millie, good timing on clicks, and great delivery at source.

    You have a very nice enthusiasm that is well matched for Millie as well during this set up. Good job!

    #5224
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    The next video is marked private still. Let us know and we’ll keep checking back to see if the privacy settings have altered.

    Also just so you know, it is okay to help. It shouldn’t be something the dog comes to rely on, but it is about building confidence and setting yourself up as a team. We’ll take a look at the video though and let you know.

    #5229
    Gwen
    Participant

    Apologies the second video is available now

    #5263
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Hi Gwen

    Also let us know if you intend to work Millie on a collar or a harness. As we have said in other threads we have some suggestions we can recommend that will be available over in the UK for you. Because you do competitive (and for fun!) tracking, those kinds of harnesses are perfect, but we would suggest eventually using a different actual harness for truffle hunting than tracking. Different gear for different tasks.

    She is most definitely looking to you for information, but your dynamic in communication looks great and it doesn’t look like from here that you are throwing her apparent signals saying “the target is right there Millie!”

    0:29 great on your part- notice how your energy level and excitement picks up a bit there. It’s a nice dynamic between you two and you can see she trusts you a lot. She also does know odor, and is more confident the more you play these games.

    0:47 is a GREAT example of just that. You can see Millie thinking it out. Anthropomorphizing here, but it is almost like you can see the internal debate- “do I check all the boxes first…. but this one met criteria!” at 0:52 we would even reward her again. We really really like pushy, enthusiastic, deliberate dogs in this sense when truffle hunting- It makes harvesting as a handler- on orchards and in the wild far easier- especially when it is a naturally offered behavior- which we think will develop with Millie. If she goes back to it on her own at this stage unsolicited, fabulous. Reward that.

    It does not appear like you are helping her too much at all. We saw no overt signs of her depending on you for information in order to make an decision to alert. She is sensitive to you, yes, but she wasn’t basing her entire decision making process on information from you while ignoring other senses and acting indecently.

    This looked really nice Gwen- just be sure to let Millie know that if she goes back to the source, that she is correct! If you need to get her away at this stage you can coax (which you did- and she is responsive to that) or lure- but acknowledge that “yes Millie, that is a truffle! Good girl.”

    Well done Gwen.

    #5417
    Gwen
    Participant

    Apologies for getting behind. I am holiday from tomorrow afternoon through to the 29th so Millie and I will get bang up to date over the week.

    #5434
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    Sounds good Gwen. Can’t wait to see it!

    #5467
    Gwen
    Participant

    Lesson 2 Assignment – Photos of locations to train

    This location is a large field on a graduating hill with a wood on the left hand side. It is not used by the general public and is largely unused by the farmer.
    Scenario 1 – morning visit – raining and wind coming from the left
    I would work from right to left so we were working a mixture of perpendicular or directly into the wind ensuring that Millie has the best opportunity to pick up the odour and that I am not fouling the area with my scent. As it is damp there should be more odour in the air however, obstacles would be the wind hitting the wood and spreading the odour or pooling it in amongst the trees. As it is a graduated hill there will be areas where the odour will gather on the hill itself. All of these will make it a little more difficult for Millie to identify the exact source.
    Scenario 2
    If it was late afternoon and hot I would likely work from the top of the hill still prependicular and/or inot the wind and work downhill as the odour will have risen.

    This second area is in a wood in a country park. This will tend to have more footfall on the path that lies to the side of the wood so I nedd to take that into account when searching.
    Scenario 1
    I would try to work from right to left working into the wind – the trees are tighter here and not as open to the impact of the wind but it will still spread and pool to a degree. The area between the trees is tighter so will be more difficult for Millie and I will need to be aware of where I am in relation to the wind as it is a more difficult area to navigate. The moiture will have created more odour so that should provide encouragement to Millie to keep searching for the source.
    Scenario 2
    The heat doesn’t penetrate this area as much so will not have as big an impact as it does in Location one so although the odour will rise I would not expect it to rise as much. I would work perpendicular and/or into the wind from right to left as much as I can.


    Final location is similar to the first but is not on a hill but behind the trees is an open field which would be a consideration iif the wind was coming from that direction.
    Scenario 1
    This area is slightly easier as there is little tree cover on the left so the wind would carry the scent without hitting too many obstacles except one into the treeline but there are only a few trees at that point. For the most part it is open and I would work from right to left perepndicular and/or directly into the wind as needed.
    Scenario 2
    The heat would cause the scent to rise here and make it quite difficult for Millie. I would be tempted to give it a go but if she was struggling I would stop and come back the next morning!

    #5518
    Alana McGee
    Keymaster

    That Hill looks great Gwen! It also looks very very good to practice here as it nice and big and open and very much mimics (minus the trees) the kind of large areas you’d be searching on Orchards in Scotland/ North England.

    Spot on on your analysis and approach to the scenario. Also well done on your analyzation of the foot traffic in the second photo- that will impact how Millie works, but you will know best how she reacts to contamination in areas, but it is something to keep in consideration as there likely will be other canine odor as well. In tight trees- and this is more common in the new world pine/ evergreen forests and among younger stands of hardwoods, watch your eyes. As in look out for branches in the eye. A hazard of searching in these places.

    You are also correct, and something for others to note too, that under the canopy of the forest it is often a few degrees cooler. Again, affecting how scent moves. This will not be the case on plantations or orchards until the Hazels/oaks reach a hight of about 20 ft, and then it lis still not quite the same effect because elf the spacing a distribution of the trees. So just keep that in mind. Orchards are usually breezier places.

    Final picture:
    Yes, the morning! Good call, as the air is usually more still, but not always.- the other thing is to always remember to have that extra target on you in these scenarios to manufacture success so you can exit more easily with a positive frame of mind for you both!

    #5631
    Gwen
    Participant

    Apologies for the delay but my holiday didn’t give me the opportunities to catch up that I though it would! Then I managed to get a tick bite and have a reaction to it! Anyway back on track and videos will follow shortly.

    Lesson 4 Scene 1
    The difficulties I would foresee is the light wind might trap the odour in the trough and it may be that the source is higher up.

    As it is damp I would expect the odour to be close to source in most places but do wonder about the impact of the thickness of floor cover? Would think though that generally good environment for success.

    I would work into the wind with Mille and would be especially careful to watch for her alert as I think at this stage if the source was under considerable cover her alert is not strong enough at this atage so I would need to be alert to her movements and signs.

    Scene 2
    A lot of obstacles and high wind would create pockets of odour which may not be at source. With the heat and the wind the scent would likely be above Millie’s head which would make it more difficult. If I was to attempt it I would likely work perpendicular to the wind and slighlty higher up the hill and would have a scent tin just in case nothing found so we finish on success. I would likely be temptedto return in the morning. The considerations are Millie having to contend with the difficult terrain in intense heat and I would be concerned about overheating and fatigue.

    Other considerations for when we did the session would be tick prevention (which she has in her food every day anway) and my safety for obstacles underfoot.

    #5633
    Gwen
    Participant

    Lesson 3/4
    A few learning points for me this time. I attempted to do the videoing – that won’t happen again! Millie has been doing quite well but she went a bit over threshold here and was a bit unstructured.

    I introduced a couple of buckets this time but once she realised that one of them was the source she focused on the buckets (I had blind scent tins in the other two as I didn’t want her to focus on the only one with a scent tin). Her alert is pawing as she has been offering it more frequently. I need to work on slowing her down a little so she takes more time to check out the area so she doesn’t miss anything and I think I will make sure if I use the buckets next time they are not the source.

    I really need to widen the search area too.

    Not our best work, however she is very keen and loves doing it! Will do a bit more work over the next couple of days before posting week 5 video.

    I’ve posted all 3 video attempts as I think it does show the various points above.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 3 months ago by Gwen.
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