Lois & Monza (DRTDT)

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    Alana McGee

    You both did fantastic! Well done 🙂

    We agree with your plan. It sounds very appropriate and well thought out!

    Alana McGee

    [b]Assignment[/b]: buried hides.
    [b]Location[/b]: front yard, dirt
    [b]Hides[/b]: 5 hides. Dirt and leaves.
    [b]Run Order[/b]: Monza 2nd.
    [b]Conditions[/b]: low 60s, dry and sunny. no wind
    [b]Aging[/b]: 45 minutes

    Monza watched from inside the house when I worked with Speed. She was a bullet out the front door to the dirt area. She explored more of the area at one point and I whistled her back because I don’t want her near the curb. Luckily we get light traffic and I can hear it coming up a big hill, but still…

    She did a great job especially since she has a little less practice than Speed with buried hides. I like letting both dogs drag a 6-ft leash instead of working the long line. I just wasn’t in the mood for the long line tonight.

    I asked my questions on Speed’s post. I don’t have any specific questions for Monza. It’s interesting to watch her work here and trust that she’s eliminating area. This is very helpful and carrying over to me trusting her more in tracking. Although right now with truffle training, we’re not working in contaminated areas. In tracking we contend with excrementitious treats left by wildlife….

    I mainly tried to keep her in the area to keep the RoR high. We ended after 4 finds. I then brought Speed back out to find #5, because I hadn’t marked them well and he found it.

    Same questions about adding more hides, expanding area for Monza. Anything else I should do differently?

    Thanks Alana and Kristin!

    Alana McGee

    That looked really great Lois

    As for a drag line- that is just fine. It depends on what you are comfortable with as a team. It doesn?t seem to bother Monza at all as a form of stimulus. Just keep that in the back of your head, and watch for signs that the dragging line is effecting her performance in some way- can be a simple stimulus reaction of being pulled off odor because the line is dragging by her foot for example.

    Monza did FABULOUS staying at source while you were ?digging out tools.? very nicely done. I like that she is actually checking the surrounding area to her left at 0:45 like it has been kicked out.

    Overall this look really really good Lois. It?s right on track. We think you could start to expand the area even more and add more hides- but just as you have been doing, if you feel like it?s a good stopping point, end the session to keep the rate of reward high.

    How deep are these buried? They look at about 1 inch? Monza doesn?t seem to have a trouble exposing source, so it would be nice to start to increase the depth. The other thing would be to keep the area the size shown in this video if you do start to increase depth.

    Monza looked great checking out the whole area and was working really well. Right on track!

    What we?d like to see you start transitioning to are new areas if you?re comfortable being there, and graduating to surface and buried hides in those area.

    Whistling her over to try and get her focus on an area where you know a hide is buried is ok, you are encouraging a certain area, and it is nice you don’t force it but simply encourage. We can tell where your body is facing as to not block access to the hide by your body angle in the camera footage.

    No comments really to change anything you are doing. It looks fabulous and your delay in rewarding with the cookies and Monza staying at source is superb.

    I would note in your first reward sequence that the reward sequence is shorter than you normally do- but you also did a nice job of delaying the initial cookie until after a re-alert. THAT was fab.

    Well done!

    Alana McGee

    As I look At Speed’s post you answer my own question about depth- so in that area, or even slightly smaller, we’d encourage you to go a little deeper and see how Monza responds to that challenge. We think it will look fairly similar to this and it might not change her perception at all, but try it.

    Alana McGee

    [b]Assignment[/b]: buried hides. I’m shooting for finding 3 out of 7 hides.
    [b]Location[/b]: front yard, dirt
    [b]Hides[/b]: 3 tins and 4 hides in cloth. Tins buried 2 inches, cloth hides 1-2 inches. Dirt.
    Run Order: Monza 1st.
    Conditions: upper 40s, cloudy. no wind
    Aging: 25-30 minutes

    Oh boy…Monza is the magnet for major distractions. I REALLY thought I planned the time of day well, noting the BCs down the street were headed home from their walk before I set hides. Surely no one is out on a blustery Saturday at 5:30 when the UT Vols play SC in 2 hrs. Everyone must be eating dinner and prepping to watch the football game….

    I did not include the 1st find in the video. She had no problem with a tin buried 2 inches. Video picks up at this point.

    Video starts after 1st hide (pecan). Monza’s 2nd find is a truffle piece wrapped in cloth. Very nice!

    THEN Speed shows up – husband was not home so this confirm Speed HAS learned the cat pet door. I immediately end that session with a party with both dogs not wanting to reinforce Speed for coming out by allowing him to hunt, but yet not deflate all enthusiasm. I have obviously built value for the game with Speed….

    We go back in the house, I regroup and take Monza back out and she picks up where we left off with a 2nd tin (pecan).

    At 2:27 I decide it’s time to manufacture a hide, but I’m fumbling with gloved hands for the 1st time this year, can’t get it out fast enough and bury, so i just present it to her, and HAPPEN to be standing next to the buried cloth hide and she paws the ground. With a truffle in hand, I don’t have a TREAT in hand to reward. I’m certain she’s going to stick with but she doesn’t.

    At 2:50 my voice is a little frenetic,

    At 3:00 I ask her to look in a very specific place and she even accidentally steps right on it.

    At 3:05 she starts to look a little frustrated/frenetic. She goes back to the old hide spot where I dropped chicken.

    At 3:17 I manage to get a manufactured hide placed, ….and THEN Sophie, the slightly reactive standard poodle appears (I’m sooo happy I didn’t let Speed stay for the hunt). At this point my brain is like a vigorously shaken snow globe. Reinforce Monza for looking at Sophie. Stay put, don’t trot off to the house so Sophie does not think she chased us off and finds this reinforcing (I did Control Unleashed work with these folks 2-3 years ago). They are able to get Sophie to sit. I act pleasant. Monza’s tail is wagging and she sits. Sessions ends. I give lots of verbal praise as we go in house.

    This is not in video:
    I give Monza a break and work Speed. But feel that Monza has been short-changed. So I decide to take her out for 1 session without interruption. I open the front door, and who shows up? The landscape guy! I’m not making this up. So I turn around, put Monza in the house, remove GoPro from forehead, deal with landscaper, and then get Monza.

    To make things easy, I had placed a tin back in the hole where she’d returned to earlier, where I dropped chicken. She found that one right away. We then focus on the spot where I was trying to get her to focus before the Sophie incident and she finds a cloth buried hide and we have a normal party.

    I never managed to end the session correctly with “All Done”….

    I’m not using this area again. Easy digging but too many unknown distractions. The pet door will be CLOSED.

    I’m looking forward to the forest!

    I plan to repeat this somewhere else. Not sure if I’ll use the enchanted meadow or go somewhere new.

    Thanks Alana and Kristin.

    Alana McGee

    Hi Lois

    First off, I don?t know if we have mentioned it, but I want to say thank you for providing the conditions and run order in which you are running Monza. It is certainly helpful when analyzing footage.

    Also think it?s great that you are shooting for 3 out of 7. If Monza feels good when you are out there running scenarios take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, it can make for great teaching moments- but we commend you for setting your goals as such.

    This sounds just like one of ?those? days. It happens!

    It?s great she had no problem with the deeper buried tin! Victory! which also was a Pecan truffle- which is newer to her!

    The fact that Speed has learned the cat door, certainly does say you have built value up, and while not as you planned- does make me chuckle. Way to go Speed. Someone does NOT want to be left out of the fun!!!

    A good call to put Speed away, but glad you reinforced the party. It would be not a surprise if this threw Monza off as well, as it was, just one of ?those’ days.

    This is a GREAT exercise and example in the unexpected!!!! And it sounds like you really did handle it well! Despite what you, yourself may think. We actually do talk about situations just like this in FE530, because it happens. That?s life.

    For manufactured hides, it isn?t critical that the hide be buried. Ideally Monza wouldn?t see you toss it, but frankly, it doesn?t really matter- and in situations of stress, what matters is that it is a game, and she just won the prize! WOOHOO MONZA. It?s about the success, even if it?s a gimme. Next time- don?t worry so much about placement. Yes, she?ll know it?s an easy one, that she?s didn?t have to search for- but here?s to betting it?s relatively the same on the pay scale for her.

    Your commentary Lois, even when written makes me smile.

    It?s OK! it?s a learning experience. Just shake it off. We ALL have days like this.

    It sounded like a tough session with the interruptions, but that?s life. But it sounds like you handled it well. You never know when things like this will happen! Wowza! It?s a doozy.

    Remember also that while Monza feels the presence of the moment and what is going on, she?s not necessarily going to feel short-changed by not going out again.

    It?s us humans who have expectations in these scenarios. Sure, I bet Monza would love to have fun cookie chicken truffle time for a long while but It is us as humans who feel pressure in these circumstances and a sense of fair play. It may not be obvious, or an outwardly physical manifestation on Monza?s part, but Monza can sense your stress in these situations, and it will effect your team dynamic. That?s not said to pressure you (pun not intended) or scare you, it?s just an aspect of sharing life with emotionally & socially intelligent creatures.

    It?s a tough lesson to learn, and a good life lesson. It can take while to be absorbed, but sometimes it is better just to let go. I know you know this, it?s just tough to do! (I personally have this exact same issue with one of my dogs)

    When you free yourself from expectations, the pressure to perform is off, things start to flow more naturally, and you develop a rhythm, and you are living in the moment. Responding to your surroundings and your connection with Monza, in the moment. When that happens, something magical takes place and it is super fun to watch teams who have worked through those moments.

    I think it is really good you took a break though.

    When this happens in the field- just –take a break. I have literally sat down on muddy wet ground with one of my dogs for multiple minutes when things were going like this and just realized, it ?whatever the pressures are?don’t matter. Breathe, center, breathe again. If we don?t find truffles, if we don?t make that order, oh well. That?s not what’s important and the world will keep spinning!

    This is one of those brilliant breakthrough moments however, where once you can get past this feeling of anxiety or stress over the situation (doesn?t mean you won?t have moments like it again), you can really start to deepen your communication skills and bond and understanding with one another in a situation. While it certainly may not feel like it, it really is a big growing moment for you as a handler. [b]And you are doing a superb job.[/b] We could not be more sincere if we tried. **You really did seem calm and collected for the most part- but we can tell by your written commentary that may not be the case.

    Pressure, internal or external, is killer in truffle hunting. If not managed it can ruin your day. Don?t let it.

    And it differs with each dog as well, as I am sure you have noticed. With Speed you have different focus and concerns than you do with Monza. There is always something to be learned from experiences like this.

    This is one of the hardest parts of truffle hunting (I think personally), is managing your own expectations in a scenario. It can make a big difference in outcome- and when in doubt, just take a break. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that or going slow. At all.


    The first video hide (actual 2nd hide) was really nice. I do so love your commentary 🙂

    You?r recue to work is beautiful and she pops right to it!

    The third hide- where Speed pops up, was actually fabulous as well (I really do LOVE that a) he has figured out the door b) to join you on the hunt!!!).
    What?s great (beside your startled reaction), is Monza. She alerts, looks at you, alerts/ sees speed, continues her alert behavior chain with a full down it looks like. Really really really nice. Again this eventually bodes well to you (if you want) possibly being able to work both dogs simultaneously. Again- a ways off- and always a challenge- but they do respect each other?s space really nicely. Good job on your excited exit 🙂

    When you come back Monza doesn?t skip and beat and she is insistent on her nose touches and showing you. Love it.

    I can tell from your ?whew? that you?re still releasing stress from the unexpected Speed arrival! What we would suggest is, (if time allows of course) take a longer break before coming out again to give you as a handler and chance to relax a little. I can see, what I think, is you scanning the street looking for other unexpected phenomena to present themselves. Not a bad thing, but it does mean YOU are at a heightened state of alert and not as relaxed. Even though you aren?t physically connected by a lead in this situation, that may translate to her. I interpret your ?whew? as a bit of a shake off. there goes some of the stress. Which is good.

    At 1:49 it very much looks like she?s eating chicken, not an alert, so I wouldn?t be concerned by that. What happens after that does look like she has disengaged a bit- hence her not staying at the hide by your foot (right after you present a target)- which is very atypical for Monza. She seems stressed by the situation, and it is a confluence of factors to be sure.

    You did a really good job getting her over there, and trying to encourage. The only thing apart from moving away and resetting/ or removing, which you then did, would be to get down closer to the ground and start patting the ground around the target to try to keep her attention there. Unfortunately right as she was just about to reengage with you at source, she saw the neighbors dog?.

    That became a teaching moment too though- so it’s good! Good moza, Great Lois! [b]GREAT JOB dealing with the unexpected.[/b]

    So I would say you had a very busy day!!! Lots of lessons. Whew. Exhausting- you did and [b]AMAZING JOB. [/b]Really Amazing. Well done Lois. Your composure and quick positive thinking in this situations is a testament to your training, your wonderful character. We can all learn positive lessons from you in how you handled these situations with composure and grace.

    Well Done.

    Alana McGee

    [quote=”Alana McGee” post=77527]If we don?t find truffles, if we don?t make that order, oh well. That?s not what’s important and the world will keep spinning![/quote]

    Reading this my eyes widened/forehead raised. Never thought about the pressure some teams may feel about ‘making an order’. Egads! But who cares, it’s just a bunch of hungry, helpless foodies without truffle dogs..mwahaha!

    As you know having Lagottos, they can be SO confident and yet SO sensitive. I was thrilled with Monza staying at source when Speed arrived. When we returned and she picked up where she left off, I was melting with pride resulting in the “whew” (which I didn’t think was that audible). Again, like I said in my last post with Speed, it’s a testament to the foundation work.

    [quote=”Alana McGee” post=77527]At 1:49 it very much looks like she?s eating chicken, not an alert, so I wouldn?t be concerned by that. What happens after that does look like she has disengaged a bit- hence her not staying at the hide by your foot (right after you present a target)- which is very atypical for Monza. She seems stressed by the situation, and it is a confluence of factors to be sure.[/quote]

    I agree and here are my thoughts. In foundation work for tracking there is a lot of food on the ground or on targets. I’m wondering if some chicken on the ground may have caused a little confusion. Having food directly on the ground on a track (normally we use food on targets) developed a HUGE drive in Monza’s focus/confidence tracking. So did the combination of Lois’s scent and a little chicken confuse her about what game we’re playing…I don’t know. I would think it would take more food drops to result in confusion but I find Lagottos to be very thoughtful so who knows.

    [b][i]Many Thanks [/i][/b]again for reviewing these crazy sessions. I am so pleased and impressed with the quality of your feedback. And that’s an understatement as to how pleased I am with your classes! 🙂

    Alana McGee

    You?re very sweet Lois. It?s always nice to hear 🙂

    We love having you in class!

    As for the confusion with tracking etc- that is totally possible. It would take many more repetitions for this all to get confused I think though, but it is totally possible it gave her a moment of, huh? There was a lot going that day and you guys did fantastic, especially considering everything! It?s impressive to watch. And you handled the situation really really well. I am super glad you did decide to post this video as opposed to pulling it. It is an incredible learning moment and I am sure will be invaluable to other teams who look at this as well.

    And about the Lagotto- Yes it is a more common breed trait I have found that is not as much talked about except by those of us who do competitive sports with them, or other professional work, such as therapy (or extensive history with breed). They can be very confident and extremely sensitive at the same time. I have found they are much more sensitive than most give them credit for, or than is widely discussed.

    Alana McGee

    It’s been one of THOSE weeks, and we have not done much training.

    [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]: Monza 1st.
    [b]Conditions[/b]: upper 40s, cloudy. no wind
    [b]Aging[/b]: ~60 minutes

    The water feature area is great because I can gate it off, it’s all easy to dig in without damaging, and I’ve been wanting to see if Monza can work near the water feature because water is HIGHLY distracting and I figured we just need to try. She and Speed had a good romp in the woods before this session to work off ‘the jet fuel’.

    She immediately gets in the water feature and I realize she probably didn’t stop by the water bowl when we got home. I was so pleased that she got to work and didn’t revisit the water! GOOOD GIRL MONZA!!

    The 1st find was a bit of a surprise because I apparently buried a tin where I had previous buried a cloth hide and forgot/didn’t find it. So there’s a truffle piece out there but she’s so funny flipping the cloth in the air while I dig out the tin. I briefly look for truffle piece but she’s moved on to another find so I go with her. This was cool. It felt realistic to a truffle hunt where there may be small truffles in the same dig area.

    Find #2 I delay reward looking for a little more precision.

    She investigates a couple spots where I purposely dug to disturb earth and leave my scent. She moves on quickly.

    Find #3 she does a nice job nose touching.

    I turned camera back on because she was interested a hide I stuffed in the side of the rock wall to simulate a creek bank. I put it there just to see if she would notice it. Since she did, we stopped to look and I worked with her in a small area. I didn’t turn the camera on soon enough, but you get the idea. I wanted to place it back in the wall for Speed but she catches me! LOL

    Find in rock wall:

    Overall it went well. We’re headed to a tracking workshop with Lucy for the weekend. I will bring truffles along and if she’s not worn out, we can do a couple easy games in a new location.

    over the 2-week break, we’ll work on some precision games. I’ve not studied this weeks homework yet, only a cursory glance.

    and yes Monza had a haircut on Sunday, I trimmed her down fairly short, she had some mats and I had to go for the German Short-hair Pointer look……..She had this look of “you decided to cut my hair this short NOW that it’s turned cold?” She doesn’t really care, as you can see, wading in water….

    Alana McGee

    First hide – GREAT! Love the persistence Monza shows at the hole. “Hurry up mom!” That’s exactly what we want! (Also nice water feature :))

    She?s very persistent, love it.

    Absolutely awesome finding the one you didnt know was there! Exactly like that, there might be two in a hole OR Monza could break one while digging and there are pieces to find! Very realistic! Super good job.

    Third hide – really nice job of Monza staying in position with the truffle between her paws!! LOVE THAT.

    Big kudos to you for setting out 7 hides and only committing to finding 3! BRAVO!

    Overall really well done! No big critiques on this end!

    Alana McGee

    Monza focused on tracking this weekend. She did have a GREAT time doing some truffle precision work at the motel. She had a case of Lagotto mumbling/grumbling as she waited on the bed for HER turn.

    She’ll get several days off from everything after traveling and working so hard this weekend. I will get her out to some new locations before Dec 1st and continue with buried hides around the yard. Both dogs needs more time with pecan truffles.

    Monza sends her best to both of you and hopes all your dogs get to eat turkey at Thanksgiving!!!

    Alana McGee

    I know the lagotto mumble grumble! Gotten a howl out of them once or twice as well!

    Very glad you had a good time tracking! And GOOD giving her & you a break after a long weekend of *fun* work.

    Keep building value on Pecan truffles. Some dogs really are hyper specific, as I have said and so it is important to build up history on it. They also are not as strong in odor (to us) and VOCs release a bit different so it is good practice on different concentrations of odor.

    Have a great break 🙂

    Alana McGee

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! See you in a few weeks!

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