Mary & Salu

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    Alana McGee

    Hi Mary

    Apologies. We’ll get to it in the am if not sooner! Hang tight!- Same for Lola!


    No problem Alana – we’ve re-reviewing the nose touch/clicking. Salu’s used to it but we’re now using a frisbee. He does a down and nose touch no problem. And, when the piece of truffle is in my hand he now does a touch just fine (no licks) – I’m just not sure how to move to a naked truffle by itself on the floor/ground. (Without going broke. In the process.. 😉 )

    Alana McGee

    It is perfectly OK Mary to be excited and accept any alert in these situations. In fact, in this case, it is more than okay, it is preferred. Don’t expect or require super hard & fast criteria when you are changing the game to a much more complex scenario. If he offers it, awesome, but this is still a new place. You don’t have to have 100% compliance so to speak.

    0:11 really nice Salu! Notice ever here how it is not as exact- that is A-OK. See that Log, see where he is, see where you are? Things are in the way, that’s okay. If he approached from a different angle and you were in a different spot it might have looked different. He told you where it was clearly. Right now, that’s what we are going for. Well done team. Very well done.
    His re-alert here was fantastic. Laying on a log is awkward. even more kudos. His expression is great there.

    NICE transition to the next one.

    Even better transition after that- no cue needed!

    2:00 awesome- he had nose touch duration there! You may not have even intended it, but hey! that’ll be great later.

    2nd video 0:26- YAY. This is great. We should start to call him Mr. precision.

    These were really good set ups and scenarios at a perfect level for him. Nicely done.

    That IS interesting about the alert- I chuckled and FANTASTIC. That is exactly what he is doing. Really well done and persistent on his part. you can see him starting to get a bit tired after that one- but that was great.

    Well Done Mary on setting Salu up for success.


    Alana/Kristin – a couple questions…. How long is too long to let scent cook? It’s very dry again and only a chance of rain this weekend. If I were to put the scents out the night before so the soil would be moist from the dew in the AM would that work? Or, make it too difficult? Also, how would it change if it DID rain overnight?

    Several times I’ve forgotten teaballs that were buried in the yard only to find days even weeks later the dogs will find them (not sure which one)

    Alana McGee

    Too long is relative, and it is hard to say

    The night before would be fine as morning dew would allow the odor coming out of the ground to mingle in the grasses. If it did rain, that’s okay!- Odor will be more widely dispersed in that instance, as there is more wet. Overnight when it is dry (with dew in am) is preferable actually to planting in morning then trying to find later in the day when dry and thermals have come into play.

    General rule: odor clings to wet things. The more that is wet, the more it clings to.


    Thanks Alana!!! that’s EXACTLY what I’d hoped you would say… 🙂


    More learning experiences this week… never ending…

    As I indicated it’s been VERY dry here making video and practicing difficult. Yesterday we did have some rain so I drove to the park to place the scents but the ground was only damp about 1/4″. I placed the scents about 1″ under with wet leaves on top and waited about an hour. Salu and I then went to practice. Along with all the distractions (I could hear the deer close by) the dry ground made it very difficult – he did find 3 and two were right away (as he always seems to do) but after that he mind was anywhere but “truffles” and I think he stumbled on the 3rd scent while investigating everything else.
    I replaced them before we left and this is Sunday morning. It’s very damp and much cooler and the scents have been cooking about 15 hours. He found these 3 in pretty good time but then he started fading (the video stops here) and when he found some deer scat it was all over.. which brings up a question…
    I’ve seen you mention bringing distractions into the house where it’s a more controlled environment for training. How is that done?
    I think at this point Salu and I should practice/focus on distractions and not try anything more complex until he’s comfortable with that. No rain expected in the next 10 days so trying to move forward would just prove frustrating for everyone. When he’s focused he’s really working hard but then his nose catches something fun and he fades… I’m sure has he matures and we practice in different places this will improve.
    I also like that his alert is soft and precise and that will be fun to work with and fine tune.


    I should add that way before the end of the video I should have thrown out a tea ball and had a success when it was apparent that his concentration was fading. I really need to practice that… (sorry for another post, the “edit” option keeps coming and going….)

    Alana McGee

    Stumbling on a truffle while investigating something else is totally ok. Surprise find! He alerted which is great 😉

    no worries on another post- but yes, getting in the habit of throwing out a manufactured hide can take some time, but it is good to do! We learn a lot though self-analysis. Good you noticed it.

    As for distractions, here is what we would suggest you do: If you have that park nearby where the deer are- go grab some of the leaf litter and dirt. If you can find some of the deer scat, even better. You can order online various animal odors or sprays that might be novel- like fox and coyote.

    The idea is that we want to start introducing some interesting, odd, different things into his environment for him to practice working in opposition too. If there is a dog park nearby that may provide an interesting opportunity too. You can either grab grass from there to use or if you are brave- place an orange cone (some kind go plastic object) there and leave it for a few days. No doubt it will be peed on by many neighborhood dogs. You can then go collect it and use that as a distraction as well, as that is always very interesting ‘reading’.

    When you use these things at home or more controlled settings, you can put them inside containers (think tupperwear with holes in it) so it doesn’t soil the house but can still release odor. The more things you can grab out of the environment to work with the better.

    You then can play discrimination games. Start very simply inside with your distraction & truffle. have then both relatively close together. when he alerts on the truffle huge party. Don’t reward obviously if he is super interested in the distraction. You ignore it. Eventually he’ll choose the truffle. If not we can take a step even farther back, but try that first.

    From there you increase distance and even add in more distraction. Parties and treats only happen for alerts on truffles. Everything else is ignored. It is about getting him used to working around novel odors.

    If you remember the Video of Lois & Monza from the Best of Forum where it’s in the basement of her house with the Kayak and lots of boxes? That eventually is what you want to get to except that in many of those boxes you’d have distraction odor as well.

    We LOVE his alerts here. Confident, calm. VERY pretty. The two of them have such different styles it is wonderful to see.

    0:54 great transition. He still seems “in it” at that point and again, it’s fantastic to see how far he has come on the transitioning from one hide to the next. It’ll continue to improve and build endurance in this behavior over time as you practice it more and more.

    1:18 you did a nice job with the line there. That is exactly why it’s great to have in these scenarios as you can control perimiter of the search area.

    2:27 is interesting. You do a great job there not moving in too fast. That is what we call an exploratory behavior. odor is in the area, he is still trying to locate. His alerts are very clear, that unless he flops down on the ground he is not confident about it in this session. We do think he is still working here. The digging around 3:00 is tinged a little more with frustration, so yes, this would have been good time to toss out a target. Now you know though what it looks like around the 2:00 mark when he starts to get a bit distracted. That’s when you throw out a hide. It’s okay to throw out lots of hides in a session if you think he’s being distracted. Every day is different.



    Along with the distractions Salu and I are working on shaping soft paw touches. So far so good. He sees the food and clicker and gets really excited. At first he ran over and did nose touches on the target and when nothing happened he got a bit frustrated. Then his paw would accidentally touch the target and after a few of those accidental touches with “click/treat” he caught onto the game. Hopefully I can get a short video of that over the weekend.

    Question…. do I wait until he’s doing a soft paw to the target (right now he’s semi-slapping it – but, I think a lot of that is being excited over playing the game) before I give it a “touch” command or give the command and then work on the soft paw.

    Alana McGee

    Smart Salu 😉

    Are you asking when to “cue” the touch?

    As he thinks of ‘touch’ as a nose target right now, consider using a different word.

    Ideally the order of operations is cue, behavior, reward. Think of teaching a dog to sit. You say sit, and then luring them into the behavior or shape it, then reward.

    If you are changing words in a behavior you insert the new one before the old cue. So for “sit” it would be something like “Bum down” “Sit” **Behavior happens** reward.

    Give the soft paw a different word so he can differentiate it is a different specific behavior later that may require a higher standard of criteria for success (Eventually!)

    If you start using the “soft paw” cue words while shaping, that is just fine. If you add it after you have achieved the soft paw it’ll be fine too.

    We’d recommend you’d use the “soft paw” “touch” *slapping behavior happens* reward method as opposed to labeling a behavior once you already have it. It becomes part of the learning process this way and faster.

    Again, over time you can refine the criteria and remove the “touch”in that above sequence so “touch” can mean any kind of touching the object with any body part, but “soft paw” ONLY means touching it gently with his foot.

    Does that make sense?

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Alana McGee.
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