Rachel & Esprit FE520

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    Alana McGee

    I took Esprit’s toy with me last time but placed it by the camcorder. I didn’t want it to stuck out of my “butt’ on film so to speak. So today I had it on me each time. You are right it’s a nice and clear way to end a session plus very rewarding for my dogs!

    Today we did two searches. The first one was by the edge of a forest. I worked both boys in the same area but their search areas were apart. Neither Esprit nor Vidoc crossed the other dog’s area on the way there and back.

    I was nicely surprised how easy it seemed for Esprit. The thing about Esprit is that when the Universe distributed self-control Esprit was hiding away as he must have stolen something edible. Dear Esprit came with zero self-control, I have never had a dog like him in this department. To this day I don’t know should I laugh or cry 😉 Esprit realized truffles are yummy. As a puppy he found every chewing gum in the woods, unbelievable. Now this is working for us as he really wants to find those yummy truffles. I have to be quick to trade them in with cookies.

    I did the second search because Vidoc struggled with his search earlier in the afternoon. Because I used the same holes I let Esprit search first. It’s a grassy patch behind the soccer field and we cross it every morning.

    Holes were about 1″ deep and covered. Windy conditions (more during the first search). Holes were marked in first search but not in 2nd search.

    Alana McGee

    It may be that Esprit thinks they are yummy (that can happen), it also is likely he is just really excited! That can happen when dogs are pumped up and down the hatch it goes! Not the end of the world. Luckily for you, your truffles are bigger, so that is going to be less likely very easy for him to do when dealing which real, whole truffles in the field.

    I have found of my dog who has a proclivity from excitement & and honestly likes to eat certain Oregon Black truffles, that most dogs don?t like the mouth feel of Burgundy truffles as they are pokey with all those pyramids on the outside.

    The videos are awesome Rachel. Really good. Esprit did great and has settled into this searching really nicely!

    This is a much better ending with toy.

    Second video- also both of you, rock stars. Really good job on coming in on the first hide. We know he is excited and speedy but your energy matched really well and you were very on top of it!

    We really like the way he problem solved at 1:14- and also good job on your part for stepping back and giving him some more room to work. You never know- you could be standing right on top of a truffle!

    Over all, again, really good. Rock stars, the both of you!

    Alana McGee

    Today I did a search mainly geared at Vidoc cuz of the struggles with the new truffle. However I slacked with Esprit’s search as I used the same hole. For starters I missed one hole and Vidoc “contaminated” the area with his scratching and kicking the truffles behind him.

    Lesson learned: don’t be lazy, rather skip one dog’s lesson. He did find 3 out of 4 truffles, got stuck on that one hole where there was a truffle. Instead of dwelling over it I just got Byuti out so she could work too (she always gets her session too and is very good and reliable – talking about a rock star).

    For this week we should work on refining our alerts. Esprit likes to dig first, then bow and nose touch the truffle. However when I am using a piece of truffle wrapped in paper towel he is quick eating it. I can go back to work on these behaviors. But then when we go out into a new environment… how to address that there?

    Alana McGee

    [quote]Lesson learned: don’t be lazy, rather skip one dog’s lesson.[/quote] As I often say, your other dog doesn?t know it is necessarily missing fun truffle time, it?s a handler complex 🙂

    Refine the alert in familiar environments first, yes. At this point in the field, don?t just push for it too hard, but if it manifests, jackpot. You can start to withhold a little/ delay on reward in the field, but you need to be very sensitive to Esprit?s state. If you feel he is edgy and going to leave source, you need to make your rewards and criteria sooner and more lax. You don?t want to lose him at source.

    Don’t push it for new places….simply jackpot if he does do a more refined alert out in the field and begin to increase your delay and RoR a little. Not enough to discourage by any means! Just to lengthen. See how that goes first. You can, if the alert behavior doesn?t self manifest like you want, actually ?teach? a down or whatever cue you want at source, but we like to use what is offered when possible as that will be you?r dog?s natural tendency under stress.

    Alana McGee

    We had a very nice session this afternoon and I was very very happy with the boys 🙂
    Both boys got their own spot and were not distracted by the other search area. First was Vidoc’s turn and then Esprit’s.

    Environment: grassy spot with some bushes and young trees belonging to ABB (company in my neighborhood).
    Time: around 4:15 – 4:45
    Conditions: sunny and dry but due to all the fog and heavy rain on Wednesday the earth was very wet. Hardly any wind.
    4 pieces of fresh truffle (found 1 week ago), wrapped in paper towel, holes about 2 inch deep, covered and marked.

    And like Vidoc I worked on Esprit’s alert as he offered me a bow and then lie down plus nice nose targeting. Today Esprit was not tempted to munch on the truffles. I think he likes the very fresh ones much better 🙂 We’ll see 🙂

    Alana McGee

    Into the scene with Gusto!

    He does not waste any time! 0:19 really nice. GREAT job on your part matching his energy level.

    I just love the way he literally ?springs? into action

    At 0:43 you can see he kicked it behind him too. He?s very responsive to your pointing. Next time, give him a couple of more seconds to figure it out himself ,that it is not there still, and to track to where it is now before you start looking with him for it.

    Well done the precision aspects. Fabulous sequence at 1:56 as well.

    It?s really nice he checks out the sites of some of his previous finds but does not dwell. Great.

    Again, Really well done Rachel 🙂

    Alana McGee

    Thank you Alana and Kristin!

    My zippy firecracker into it with gusto 🙂 That is so very much Esprit and he is such a happy boy, so eager to work and gives me his 300% of everything! I am glad I signed him up as a gold student as he developed some very nice skills during the last 6 weeks!

    Tomorrow will be the last day to submit a video for your feedback for the long break till December 1st. I got 2 fresh training truffles that I will use for Vidoc. Shall I stick with the old or do a mix with Esprit or use the new one or both? Plus what kind of environment shall I aim for?

    Alana McGee

    Due to the time difference and today being the last day to submit videos I went ahead and took the dogs truffle hunting.

    For Esprit I used the 10-day-old truffle that we practiced on in the last week.

    The holes were about 2 ? 3? deep. They were cooking for about 20 ? 30 minutes; I took the dogs for a walk in between. Hardly any wind, earth on the wet side due to the heavy fog (each day till March to April now) and it was raining yesterday.

    Esprit?s hides were marked. I couldn?t find the ribbons when I tried to remove them. He got some ?weird holes?; i.e. I hardly had to dig and there might be mouse holes. I gently pushed down a piece of truffle wrapped in paper towel and covered it with the ?overlapping? earth.

    Esprit got 6 truffles but I was ready to pull him after 3 or 4 truffles so Byuti could work too. Esprit got stuck on one truffle. He clearly located it and was digging but then dismissed it. I tried to help too but the earth was very packed and had no tools with me (left in the car).

    We had distractions in form of dogs with their owners twice during Esprit’s search. We saw them and I was very happy that he didn?t scan the environment, just noticed them and focused on his job.

    I guess I will try to locate more environments like this one – forest edge – and hide 3 or more truffles. Any other suggestions?

    Alana McGee

    Sorry for the delay Rachel.

    Your final video and questions will be addressed. Please know that a response is coming. If the classroom closes and we are unable to post here, you will get it in an email from us.

    Alana McGee

    In this scenario he has such a different energy than Vidoc. Fun to watch the differences.

    This entire video is actually a great teaching moment about handler skills in when to offer the target when you can’t find the truffle.

    GREAT job coming in quick on the first hide. THAT was awesome.

    That first one was interesting. Good for you staying at the hole, and yes in a real world scenario you would have the tools and be looking in there too.
    He backed up Crazy fast and then went looking for that odor again as he has now dispersed the soil around the area.

    What you?ll have to be conscious of in these instances in the forest is of forcing an alert at a location where the truffle no longer is- but that is why you look with him- and try to keep him engaged.

    What you do in those situations you don?t find it, is offer the reserve truffle you have just as you did, keeping him with you- because he is already off looking for it/ another one, and the important thing is to keep him with you engaged- OR you need to be focused on him and where he is looking. But what you did was good, and correct.

    The hide at 1:40 was Fantastic. at 3:13 I like your, ?Esprit, hey hello?.? You?re doing everything right at the beginning there, he is just already on to bigger and better things. If you can?t keep him at source there, because you can?t find it and he is disengaging- that again is when you present the target to him so YOU & HE know that he is alerting on something correct and then you do the reward sequence and then leave it. You can come back and try to refind, but dwell on it. There will be more.

    3:21 you don?t want him digging without you watching. You caught it, and that?s great, but you should be where he is and aware of his focus if he?s not staying with you. This is where offering the hot target to him comes in very handy. You don?t want him off finding lots of truffles while you are still looking for one!

    If he?s having a day of not staying at source, present the hot target, reward and then move on.

    It?s a little different in a training scenario because I know you want your truffle piece back- but honestly, just leave it. It is more important to stay with him and have an experience of success via your hot target that is offered then to find that piece. This is actually one of the exact reasons, and most common, why we use the extra target we have. Success for an offered alert when you as a handler can?t find it. It helps during some of these transitional phases when you are working on staying at source and precision.

    It?s a very useful tool- and this is when you use it.

    We do go a lot more into handler skills in the next course, as this is the stage when they start to play a very big role.

    Well done over all- but remember to keep your focus on Esprit. Don?t dwell at that last hole, it ends up being an exercise in frustration for both of you. Just leave it, offer target and reward and move on. If he comes back and works on it, great, but don?t push too hard to have him stay there right now, especially if it is a day where it just seems like he isn?t staying at source.

    Alana McGee

    Thanks for the valuable feedback!!! Glad you pointed out some handler mistakes that I can work on during the break.

    Today I didn’t dwell on hides. No marks, I couldn’t remember where they were and I didn’t care if we loose some pieces of truffles or not.

    After 3 hides and the last one was a manufactured success I ended it. Poor Esprit started to cough. Bee got the cough a few days ago and just today Esprit too. Nothing serious but I preferred to end his session with a success (and hope the other two dogs won’t get the cough).

    I am looking forward to December 1 and will practice in new environments and on my handler skills.

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