Lois & Speed (DRTDT)

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    Alana McGee

    [b]Assignment[/b]: lightly covered hides, outside.
    [b]Location[/b]: enchanted meadow
    [b]Hides[/b]: 4 hides, 2 slightly buried.
    [b]Run Order[/b]: Speed 1st. Monza tracked and didn?t do this exercise.
    [b]Conditions[/b]: mid to upper 50s, dry (for a change)
    [b]Aging[/b]: 60+ minutes

    In a previous post, Kristin has asked that I try remaining squatted down after rewarding at a hide to see if Speed will continue working without me moving. He does not. His reaction is “HEH! You’re in treat delivery position, I think I’ll bow/lie down and look handsome.” I started varying my position/movement and I think we can work through this.

    He finds the surface/leaf covered hides 1st (I edited out the 1st hide). He does a great job with the 2 lightly buried hides. I did not bury 1-inch deep. I estimated ? to ? inch. I basically peeled back the mossy/grass layer and lightly laid the earth on top. He?s so funny. He paws them right out and you can?t see it but he does the paw slap on the box on the 2nd hide. Somewhere on another post I think Alana mentions that the next class addresses things like when they scratch up a truffle. Speed did this with the lightly buried hides.

    He got a jackpot of raw liver in the end and we played toss and catch with treats.

    Thanks Kristin and Alana, your feedback is so very helpful and your compliments are motivating us to do our best.

    Alana McGee

    [quote] I basically peeled back the mossy/grass layer and lightly… [/quote]
    That?s fine- it?s all about progression- good to know what depth though you are working at in these. It is a good log for yourself too.

    Many dogs have an active alert of a scratch in the soil. We have taught them to try to get AT the odor after all. different dogs have different styles of this from a light tap to a roto-tilling effect and you employ different tools for each method. Speed?s method and alert chain looks fabulous though. And yes, we do cover trailing later- that?s when the dog kicks or dislodges the truffle and it migrates somewhere not the original site of the find.

    The first buried hide looks awesome Lois. From both of you. I really don?t have any comments/ critique, except nicely done. You give nice space, are relaxed, show up at the target site promptly with excitement, Speed is excited, it?s really pretty perfect.

    Just for you own info, watch at about 0:40 and notice his movements when he is trying to pinpoint the source. Really nice- just interesting for you note and watch as an example for later reference for yourself.

    I love your party with him and your movement. He mimics that. Love it. makes me 🙂

    If you look at about the 0:20 mark you also can see that he actually seems to get on odor of the second buried hide.

    This is why it is interesting when you start doing multiple hides (which mimics real environments) as there are multiple odor columns swirling around. I would make a guess that he actually would have found that target first had he not been pulled back to you by your body posture. Not a big deal in any way! just interesting to watch him work on multiple sources. He does awesome- as do you- but I think yes, your body posture when you are down did seem to influence him here. You notice it though and adjust yourself.

    Overall, excellent. Pretty textbook perfect search. well executed, good timing, he?s having fun, good verbal communication etc. It looks great Lois! Keep at it and keep progressing in depth and numbers of hides/ hides buried.

    Good amount of time for them to be aged as well. Nice!!

    Alana McGee

    [b]Assignment[/b]: lightly covered hides, outside.
    [b]Location[/b]: front yard
    [b]Hides[/b]: 4 hides. One covered with leaves and 3 slightly buried: 1 under thin layer of grass. 2nd in clay/gravel dirt at edge of grass. 3rd in mulch at edge of grass
    [b]Run Order[/b]: Speed 1st.
    [b]Conditions[/b]: mid 60s, dry and sunny. Light breeze
    [b]Aging[/b]: 20-25 minutes

    I didn?t want my husband to see me digging up the front yard so I snuck one dig in the grass, and placed 2 hides on the edge of the grass in dirt or mulch. I?d like feedback on these since these were in dirt or mulch and not grass, I decided to add some verbal encouragement/movement to help keep the rate of reinforcement high.

    I almost manufacture a hide at 1:58, but he turns around and we?re luckily close to the hide in dirt.
    He deals with distractions well including briefly stopping when he hears a neighbor dog barking whom he is not found of. AND The Truffle CAT appears! I decided to leave the video unedited in honor of our 14-year old cat, Velo. Speed learned to never stare at Velo because Velo told him that if he did, he would turn Speed into stone. Speed is a believer.

    We?ll go to some new locations this weekend that we used in NoseWorks class and do grass hides and continue to work buried hides at home.

    Thanks Alana and Kristin!

    Alana McGee

    I love your commentary (written and spoken!) Lois! Sweet Velo. We know who rules the roost! I love Velo following you. Truffle kitty indeed 🙂 You never know!! (*I have actually worked with a kitty before on indoor truffle finding just for fun)

    The fact that you hid/ buried targets in dirt/ mulch as opposed to grass is good Lois. Scent will move differently through all of these things and so it is good practice. Your yard actually provides a lot of different textures and soil composition and opportunities for variance on hides, and that is to your and Speed & Monza?s benefit.

    First hide: perfect. really both of you! He does great with Velo there 🙂 A quick appeasement head tilt and away he goes!

    Second hide. Again! GREAT. Love the flop down. I do have to say Lois, your mechanics with the dogs are exceptional and improving all the time, but it really exemplary. Nice verbal communication, body posture mimicking energy, delivery of reward, etc. It all looks really good.

    Good job on your delayed reward in that one, as we know you are building on that, and nicely done. He is responding well to it and being persistent.

    So at 1:32 where he foot taps the old hole again, that?s ok. What we really like about it is how he doesn?t offer you the full chain again there even though you are approaching in which can sometimes push a dog to stay at a location with residual odor. It?s very very very ok he did though. There is trace odor there, you are just now at the stage where old finds can be ?confirmed? but are not rewarded in the same way as a source.

    We want to commend you for your impulse to manufacture a hide when you did. That is FAB. We really strongly encourage this. Speed is doing great, but we do want to keep that success to time ratio pretty short! Ideally yes, he wouldn?t see you. But it is ok if he does on occasion. IT was ok too to hold off there because of your situation/ positioning but in the field when you are working on finding many targets (aka Lots of truffles!) minutes apart you will want to manufacture successes, and your instinct is spot on.

    I think you were absolutely right to move yourself (and therefore Speed) to the other edge to try to help facility the last find at this point. Again, good communication skills and understanding and reading Speeds body language about stress levels in the situation.

    You see that ?look? at you when he finds it here. Slightly different chain because he?s been thinking really hard and working for a few minutes. Totally fine, just internalize that and file it away in your brain as that may be some he does slightly more when he is starting to get a bit fatigued.

    Looks really good Lois.

    Don?t be concerned about grass vs. mulch. Do both, we encourage that. You?ll be hunting in the real world in a variety of different soil types, so the more types you can practice in, the better, as scent will move differently in different mediums.

    Very nicely done. We like the addition of Velo 🙂 And Speed does a great job of ignoring him (as well as the barking neighbor!)

    Alana McGee

    [b]Assignment[/b]: new location.
    [b]Location[/b]: museum
    [b]Hides[/b]: 4 hides. All in grass.
    [b]Run Order[/b]: Speed 1st.
    [b]Conditions[/b]: mid 60s, dry and sunny. Light breeze
    [b]Aging[/b]: 15 minutes

    We went to a new place. I selected the area because there’s a drainage the helps establish boundaries. It expands into an area with trees that I think we can use as we advance.

    I primed Speed and he found 1 hide quickly and goes to check out the culvert under the road. Video picks up after the 1st hide reward sequence.

    Thanks to Kristin was making note of the little whistle that I did with Monza! I used it with Speed today.

    He was a little slower but not significantly. I encourage him or whistled to get him to stay in the area. I’m thinking the ol’ 80/20 rule. Exploring is okay, but if it feels like it’s more than 20% of the time then we raised criteria too quickly. This rule would be AFTER he’s settled into the area. I will give him time to check the general area before cueing. I would apply the 80/20 rule after work commences.

    What are your thoughts about putting out more hides in a new area (say 5-6) so the chance of running into one increases? These weren’t spaced out too far – all were in view of camera. But it seems like if I put out a couple more, RoR would be higher and reduce chance for exploring.

    There were some pine cones in the area so I stuffed 5-6 in my bag and after we’re “All Done!”, we played a Silvia Trkman game of catch with pine cones. I’ll have to bring 3-4 tennis balls next time. We then wrestled a little as we went back to the car. Speed was pleased with himself as was I!

    Also we’re priming on the new pecan truffles at home. We played a game with boxes last night. It’s going well. I’m so impressed with how fast they’re picking up the new truffle scent.

    Thanks Alana and Kristin!!

    Alana McGee

    This was a nice level of challenge to “up your game”! Some very subtle increases in difficulty but still well below asking too much. Perfect!

    Alana McGee

    Yesterday I had a huge area of monkey grass dug out in the front yard. So it was a great spot to bury some hides!

    [b]Assignment[/b]: buried hides.
    [b]Location[/b]: front yard, dirt
    [b]Hides[/b]: 5 hides. All in grass.
    [b]Run Order[/b]: Speed 1st.
    [b]Conditions[/b]: low 60s, dry and sunny. no wind
    Aging: 45 minutes

    I had 5 hides out lightly buried, still less than 1-inch. 1 or 2 were in leaf mulch. Speed did great. We definitely look forward to next class where you talk about the kicking the truffles. You’ll see he’s a pro…I attempted to end after 3 but he had this look like “Can we do more?” so it was great that we could keep going. I let him find one more and then went inside.

    My main observation is he had more trouble with the one buried in the leaves. It was probably a little more coverage. I’m guessing the scent spreads around in the leaves, where in the dirt it’s a more pronounced scent cone?

    I can do hides in this area again and as you can see, it’s larger. So should I bury them deeper and spread them out over a larger area?

    Also, I have 4 tins with holes in them. I also use 2 tins that have no holes, but I stick a leaf in the edge to keep them cracked open. I would like to put out 6-7 hides and shoot for 3-4 finds. One tin was actually closed and part of me is concerned they’re smelling metal and not truffles…..Comments? Should I stick out empty tins and not reward those to make sure they’re only scenting truffles? Should I switch to tea balls?

    Thanks Alana and Kristin!

    Alana McGee

    I forgot to note that 3 hides are summer truffles and 2 are pecan truffles. We’ve done several sessions in the house. Last night we did hides of both species in the house and they did great so I used both species today.

    The pecan truffles were in tins with holes.

    Alana McGee

    As for the dogs finding the metal by odor? I wouldn?t be overly concerned. Most metals actually don?t give off odor in the same way organic matter does- but you can be adventuresome and try just burying a real truffle! We do cover this in FE530 because dogs can respond differently to physical truffles in the ground vs targets, but I wouldn?t be overly concerned about it Lois.

    If a tin is closed, odor still has leaked around the outside- but I wouldn?t make a habit of using closed tins.

    What happens more often is a stage earlier where the metal is still partially visible and a dog will learn- find truffle odor column, look for shiny object.

    So yes, you can test this- but as you are already burying targets, I suspect this isn?t an issue. But yes, if you have tea balls, vary what you use to house your scent source as you may find Monza & Speed interact with the articles differently.

    As for your question about leaves and scent. There are so many variables in exterior environments that a lot of times it is conjecture what exactly is happening, and usually it is several things in tandem. That being said, yes, loose leaves, like mulch (different from forest floor litter of leaves which are packed down usually) may cause the odor to disperse more making it more difficult to pinpoint.

    The video looks great. Speed is working really well, and this isn?t posing much of a challenge. 0:44- again, nice relart as he comes off of odor after the initial alert. This was really good, and I like that you ask him for it. Also how he grips it with his right foot cracks me up.

    The 3rd hide was interesting as it looks like he scratches nearby (ish) and then keeps looking. You can see when he finds the column he is quick to track to source.

    What is great that you are doing- and with Speed I would keep encouraging this behavior on your part?is after his initial alert, he comes off odor. You are doing a great job of asking for a re-alert before you reward, and then multiple rewards after that. Very good. If for some reason this breaks and changes we will have to adapt and try something new aka rewarding sooner at source, but right now the value seems high and he is driven for that reward and will repeatedly show you. Keep that up. Keeping a dog at source (I know we say this a lot), and engaged with you in finding the truffle in the ground is an incredibly valuable skill.

    He?s pretty pushy and determined on that 3rd hide (which we LIKE!), but I might have come in a little bit sooner. And then continued the re-alerting rewarding down at the source with him instead of at distance (aka you standing up).

    You do do an EXCELLENT job at the 1:40 mark-ish doing exactly what I described, and he does stay at source, which is awesome, and keeps nose punching it. Superb.

    This will be interesting to see how this evolves as you go deeper.

    Something to try:

    If you have a way to make your targets smaller, that is also something we?d like to see- The tins are pretty big and easy to interact with. When you are dealing with a) a round or roundish object that rolls b) something more buried in the ground or smaller, Speed may interact with it slightly differently.

    When the target is smaller and he is doing his re-alerts, watch out for precision (we talk about this more in week 6). As always, it?s a spectrum, and we increase criteria over time. But with the way he initially comes off of odor and then goes back to it, you?re going to need him to be more precise with either his nose or his paws in order to locate the truffle in the dirt.

    Right now he?s putting it right in-between his feet when he does his down at source, but it?s a little off kilter and not as precise. He offers the alert with excitement and that is part of it, but asking for the nose touches is what helps here.

    He does do a GREAT job of backing up a bit and nose touching it- but with a smaller target we can more rule out that he is re-finding through visual cues as opposed to olfaction. He can see it easily and so doesn?t have to engage the nose.

    At 1:37 when you say ?where is it? he does an AWESOME slam down at source- but notice how he is actually almost overtop of it. YOU do a great job of delaying until you see him do a more accurate nose touch- which is nice.

    Same for the 4th hide. Well done. Very well done, but we are curious to see interaction on re-alerts with slightly smaller targets if possible for Speed.

    When (and if) you start using the smaller odor vessels, start at this depth of buried. With the Tins as is, I would increase the depth and start building experience and reward history in those scenarios. You’re doing awesome!

    Alana McGee

    Read Monza’s post first.

    Speed goes after Monza. Same area. This is after he goes through the cat door…He’s a very sensitive, loves to be correct.

    I set out tins as well as truffles wrapped in cloth. I used some camouflage cord as markers. Won’t use that again, wayyy to hard for me to find.

    What surfaces quickly in this session is his lack of precision. He starts throwing some behaviors like downs when I squat down. He gets a little crazy.

    It takes him a little bit to settle in and I was okay with that after all the chaos earlier. I didn’t prime him because he bounded to the area and it was apparent he understood the task.

    At 00:58 he starts to scratch around a little, and he is then on a hide, I think, and I ask to re-alert but he doesn’t commit so I think maybe I’m mistaken. I can’t tell from video if one of my camo-cords is sticking out. I’m guessing it was since I was asking him to persist in that location.

    At 1:50 still no finds, so I ask him to walk with me and he stumbles onto a cloth hide and uncovers it. I ask him to show me, he’s not accurate at 1st, pawing a rock, and finally I wait for the nose touch to source and not the rock….I played a basic game of Source It and SOooo wish I had a clicker with me to mark the nose touch, my verbal marker isn’t precise enough and I even mark early on one. I think it helped to settle him and get a lot of reinforcement after a lot of time without reinforcement.

    I say I’m ending the session. but when I get out in the grass, What do I do? I play the Source It game and keep saying “touch”….why? I do finally keep quiet knowing I need to regroup…..The snow globe brain was obviously still shaken.

    I look forward to your critique on his precision issue. My thoughts are to go somewhere new when I don’t have a snow-globe brain and do some simple Source it games with a clicker as our primer entering an area. Use the clicker to get the nose touch to be more pronounced and reduce/eliminate the paw touch, kicking, bowing, downing behaviors.

    Thanks Alana and Kristin. You’ve got your hands full with me this weekend…… I just remind myself that I learn the most from days like these.

    Alana McGee

    This is great timing for this video as the next lesson deals with precision alerts- which will come into play here, and answer a lot of your questions about what to do with Speed and how to go about working on precision alerts. Do go find that clicker, it will help.

    Because of what happened just prior to this video, it is actually even more important to prime Speed and ground him and yourself in what you are doing. It provides a little more structure and promotes a balanced state and approach to the game. If he is too high and excited it brings him down a bit (which is what we think is going on here). If he?s distracted, it provides ground rules and a bit of focus. We know he knows the game, as he seems pretty situational, you don?t ?need? to prime him at all he?ll still go find the targets, but it acts as a moment of connection. If you have to do it away from the search area (aka inside the house) because he is too keyed up, do that.

    He is still figuring out and struggling a bit with pinpointing source in these scenarios. At least in this video.

    At 0:56 look at his tail- again around 1:07. It starts going a lot faster. We think that is a subtle indicator for you to watch for and recognize. It is a signal and a ?tell? (for lack of a better word) that he is on odor but still sorting out the source. For comparison- in a similar situation- and you see it in the videos this week you see Kristin?s Cash bark when he has detected odor but is struggling to pinpoint source. That is Speed?s equivalent here.

    We?d suggest you offer encouragement when you see that change in his tail. What you are asking him for in this scenario was an alert. Instead offer encouragement, ?good boy speed- keep at it? but don?t ask for the alert yet. When he is more confident, he?ll show you. You want to avoid him throwing an inaccurate alert out of frustration. Your ?it?s over here somewhere? is a good example and a good tone of voice to use for that encouragement. Asking him ?Where is it? may be an actual cue for him to show you and so it may be putting more pressure on the situation than intended.

    He?s working really hard for you in that situation, and when he does offer the down alert in that situation- that?s when it does help to know where the target is so you can help and guide him in the right direction and then work on those precision alerts in these situations. He sure is trying!

    At 1:34 you see that tail again. He is really trying to pinpoint source. Out of curiosity- do you know which species of truffle this was?

    At 2:15 (and prior- good work on moving away form the area that was causing trouble) that was good you caught it and could work the find. Really nice actually because he kicked it behind him and so lost the odor on it among other things. Great job bringing him back and working the reinforcement there. Really good teaching moment for Speed. When you say ?wait? notice how he whips his body back around to investigate. Just shows how responsive and sensitive he is to your verbal cues.

    In that situation, I wouldn?t dwell on the precision. So much else is going on, he?s offering a stay at source- take what you can get and work incrementally. He?s excited so he won?t be as precise in this scenario. GREAT job at 2:26 working on the nose touches. and great job rewarding it AT source in that one.

    What we would suggest with Speed is to work on buried hides in a constant spot. Meaning pick a location (this doesn?t have to have anything to do with where Monza goes) to practice these games (and next weeks lessons on precision) and keep working on buried hides in this same training area. If it?s a familiar area- fine. If it?s new, that?s okay too- but try to not jump around from location to location when doing these hides yet- with Speed.

    We want to him to get comfortable learning how to detect odor from buried hides (at various depths) in one particular environment and soil type and build confidence in that. Once that detection and alert seems pretty solid (Don?t worry about precision on this yet), along with staying at source, in this location, you can go somewhere else.

    It was a tough one but you guys worked through it, and ended on a good note with the touches. And a good learning experience for you 🙂

    Alana McGee

    And as for the precision stuff. We do cover that next lesson, but basically yes, what your plan was is fine. Non-snow globe brain being the key factor. We don’t say that to be rude- but you can see how your state as a handler can impact communication with your dog.

    Yes, dig out the clicker, it will help. Don’t be stingy with the bowing/downs etc though. We like those. Remember, it is a gradual process and a chain of behaviors.

    Alana McGee

    Alana and Kristin, you need to be nominated for Best Instructors of the Year! I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate your feedback. You’re not rude at all. I almost pulled Monza’s video but decided the whole scenario was so ridiculous that it was worth reviewing, because crazy things happen in the real world.

    I’m quite thrilled at how Speed’s enthusiasm has escalated as we move outdoors. You’re right, the precision will come and the clicker will help him focus.

    In some ways the timing of these scenarios was perfect. Last night in reflection, I reminded myself that we did [i]12+ weeks [/i]of foundation work using truffle oil in Lucy’s Noseworks classes starting indoors and doing some basic outdoor searches. Then we did 6 weeks of foundation in this series with real truffles.

    It’s made both dogs more resilient, and it’s a plus to not have to fabricate distractions. If these distractions had happened in our earlier weeks of foundation, it may have resulted in having to backup in our training. We’re able to hold steady because of the foundation work.

    Alana McGee

    You are spot on, Lois! The more we can gradually give up control of the environment, the more we are set up for success as “surprises” occur in the real world 🙂

    Alana McGee

    Read Monza’s post first for details about area.

    [b]Assignment[/b]: buried hides. I’m shooting for finding 3 out of 7 hides.
    [b]Location[/b]: water feature area, mix of leaves, mulch, dirt
    [b]Hides[/b]: 5 tins and 2 hides in cloth. All bured ~2 inches.
    [b]Run Order[/b]: Speed 2nd
    [b]Conditions[/b]: upper 40s, cloudy. no wind
    [b]Aging[/b]: ~60 minutes

    I didn’t get a chance to replace the 3 hides that Monza found. I should have but when I brought Monza in the house, Speed was fired up and I didn’t ask him to wait and he was out the door. He should not have gone out without being released but I had just let him out of his crate, and wasn’t very clear about what he needed to do next. So off he goes founding out to find truffles!

    This was also a good session.

    He checks out a spot at the I’m uncertain as to whether one is there, he doesn’t alert strong, and he moves on. There actually was one there. He moves on and finds another one. I worked on rewarding at paw/source, and asked for a touch and held that reward at the paw/source to keep him steady and not fling it since it was a cloth one.

    He checks out a place where Monza found one, digs a little but moves on. The next find is in close proximity but it’s REALLY dry mulch. I was wondering how it would effect the dogs. He does manage to flip it out. At least it’s a large tin. I got REAL lucky when I said ‘Touch’ and he paw touched it. Again I went in with reward over foot to keep that foot stationary. I’m not pressing down on his foot, simply offering reward directly over the foot with the hopes of keeping him steady.

    I had snuck in a cloth hide in the rock wall earlier in video. We go to look and I see that tail wagging faster so he knows something is out there. I kind of wondered if it was me talking to him that got the tail wagging, and it may have been a little bit of both detecting odor and me chatting it up. Now it gets fun.

    He grabs it out of the wall and the truffle piece falls out. I take the opportunity to work through the leaves thinking COOL, this feels realistic. He doesn’t make it easy for me to help while he’s standing over the area, then he wants in my treat bag, I placed one tin on the wall and he nose touches that. I reward and move tin to my pocket. Again, it felt realistic and it was fun.

    Then I spot the loose truffle and I’m thrilled. Speed has this body language of “HEY, you’re thrilled. I’m thrilled. What are we thrilled about? Can I have a treat?”. He’s so funny.

    Speed is tagging along on the trip to the tracking workshop this weekend. We’ll do hides in a new location this weekend and may have a chance to do some precision alert foundation games.

    Thanks Alana and Kristin! I’ll get our final video posted late Sunday or Monday.

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