Sandra & Tippet (DRTDT)

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    Alana McGee
    Alana McGee

    We are eager to begin the second class in the series. We live in Eureka California.i

    Tippet is 4yo, an enthusiastic and focused worker. We are looking forward to transferring our training to outdoor truffle hunting.

    We have white truffle oil and wonder if we should have black, too. ??

    Alana McGee

    Welcome back to class!!! Continuing to work with the white truffle oil is just fine. It is not crucial to purchase the black oil unless you also want it in your kitchen for culinary use too! As we move into truffle season here this fall, we should have some fresh truffles available for you to purchase and train with.

    Alana McGee

    Hi Kristen and Alana.
    Here is our first video, just over 3 minutes,
    Morning, some moisture still on small grass area in the church yard we rent. Very short grass.
    Six soup cans, three red tops are hot.
    Second part, left cold green topped soup cans and placed 3 small scent vials into the grass.

    I am hoping he will pick up speed as he gains confidence. Overall, I am pleased – he is on task, focused, and succeeds. I am a bit over-the-top on praise because he is a very soft dog.

    Alana McGee

    Hi Sandra

    You do a great job on the praise and rewards. I don?t think it is over the top at all. IT is right on the money so to speak 🙂 Tippet responds to it, and THAT is what is important!

    After the first find you do an excellent job of reorienting yourself to the side and behind Tippet allowing him to lead the way. THAT really is excellent. At the 0:39 really love watching him flop down and then be persistent on it. Really good. And at the 0:44 when he nose bumps it again after a reward at source. That tail put a BIG smile on my face 🙂

    He also goes nicely back into the game when you give the cue. Just something to note. He breaks after the reward sequence and doesn?t appear to re-engage until you cue him to. So just remember that. That may not be the case always, but keep it in mind, he does this multiple times throughout the video. So you?ll want to cue him, as you have been doing, after every successful find in order to re-engage him.

    At 1:16 GREAT job and GREAT JOB TIPPET for the pushy nose touches. Seeking rewards. I like it! Nicely done on the dropping it, he doesn?t miss a beat on that.

    The second part of the video looks great! He?s not really showing any signs of stress or that this is all that difficult. I would keep practicing like this, and start to enlarge your search area. Don?t go HUGE all at once here, but Tippet seems to be handling the searches really well. MAKE SURE when you do this to have a target on you as well in case you need to manufacture a success if Tippet is struggling. Remember, it is TOTALLY ok to provide him a freebee truffle find when working in more complicated/larger areas. The goal is to build confidence, and frustrated dogs are not what we want! His confidence will grow with more successful reward histories in these environments.

    As for speed in locating. I wouldn?t dwell on it too much. You?re both doing great. As his confidence in situations grows he likely will pick up speed (subject to environmental factors of course as well), but speed is not necessary. Some dogs are extremely zippy in the field, like Kristin?s Callie, and some are very slow and methodical. There is no right or wrong way at all, they are just different working styles and there are different training techniques you may use with one style over another.

    In the video from FE510 there was one where he was tearing about pretty quick! My guess is though he will not be one of the dogs that is bouncing off the walls tearing around the forest, and that is perfectly ok! Frankly, I can say from personal experience, it is slightly easier to keep up with the non zippy type!

    Great line handling skills Sandra. Really nice lack of pressure.

    You guys look great, and like you?re having fun!

    Alana McGee

    Thanks much! We will practice on grassy-ish areas. Won’t send another video this week, but will continue with this plan:
    1. Grass areas, but some have pine needles mixed in.
    2. Long line, not off leash
    3. Small scent vials, including new odors if package with black and NW oils arrives. I will introduce new odors in the apartment, moving them to scent vials when he appears strong on scents
    4. Increase the area in which I place the hides
    5. Increase the hides (we got to 8 inside the cabin last week). I will go to 8, max, and doubt he will show anything but eagerness

    1. I have started to have him jump up on my chest as a signal to end the exercise (truffle, track, NW, rally, obedience). He seems to get the message and we both enjoy it. OK?
    2. THANKS BIG TIME for the tip on packing a secret hide to guarantee success
    3. Had not thought about the re-cue after a hide. Hmmm. I think I will stick with it rather than change. I didn’t perceive you felt it was a bad thing as long as I know T & I are on the “same paw print.” And I think it is probably wise for us…in the woods it will give me a chance to scan the area before I set him off again. And he gets to be part of the celebration. I am slow and lumbering, and he is very patient. I could not keep up with him if he were running off to next hide!

    Alana McGee

    Your plan sounds great, Sandra! You and Tippet are looking fantastic!

    Yes, that is perfectly ok. Anything that he understands as his end cue works. Even better if it is something you both enjoy 🙂 We all use something different for each of our dogs. For me, Callie keeps her ball, Cash gets to do a “hooray” bounce and Da Vinci (very literal boy) simply likes a ” that’ll do”.

    Really great work! The re-cue will come in handy in the field!

    Alana McGee

    October 8. Temp around 60 degrees, slight overcast, very little wind. Location is corner of a church yard that we use for training, and I feel he is safe working off lead, a small copse of redwoods is just visible beyond the area.

    There were 5 blind hides. All hides are just under some twigs or duff and were not visible to me or Tippet. Total time was about 12 minutes. I cut out most of the searches to shorten the video, but left in enough to show how he searches and how I would likely follow him in a forest. Two search portions show the classic way a dog finds the scent column and hunts it to source. On the 5th hide, Tippet began to look at me and indicate he was not sure anymore. After about 4 minutes of searching, I planted the hide.

    Video is just over 3 minutes. Is there anything you would like not to see so that we can shorten it further?

    I am very pleased with my little guy. He is a dedicated and fun partner. The redwood copse holds lots of kitty truffles and other disgusting treats, but he stayed right with me the whole time.

    Alana McGee

    ARRGH!!! Instead of the fifth planted hide, I put in a repeat of an earlier hide. Sorry!!

    Alana McGee

    This is great Sandra.

    You?re fun to watch! We love your excitement. You realized it pretty quickly after you did it, but you jumped the gun on that first one that Tippet didn?t quite alert on! We know it?s hard not to sometimes. It is actually really good we see this.

    This is one of the reasons we have students practice blind hides (besides being technically useful). When handlers don?t know where the targets are, pressure builds (especially the first handful of times you do it- or for some of us, with audiences) and nerves can build into excitement, like you exhibited there, which can alter canine behavior as well (it didn?t for Tippet- but other students be aware that it most certainly can). On the other end of the spectrum: not recognizing a more subtle offered alert is also something common that happens with some teams when they first start blind hides.

    You did a fantastic job of settling in and trusting Tippet after that. Looked really really nice! You give him good distance without crowding and allowing him to work. And work he does. He does a great job, and I really do like his style. Notice how when you shift your orientation (it was slight, but it was there), so does he.

    Other students please note the amount of distance between Sandra & Tippet. Every dog will be different, but they had a really nice dynamic of moving together through the space and Sandra always keeps just about that same level of distance from Tippet. Some dogs if you come in too fast or too close when they are trying to work, it acts as a distraction and it can fling them off. 1:00 beautiful! He gives a really nice clear alert- and GOOD for you on your approach to it- not coming in right from behind but off kilter at an angle from the back left.

    We love your reward and enthusiasm with him and he responds so well to that.

    Thank you for including some of the ?searching? portion. That is just as valuable in many ways for us to see, so we can give reference and advice.

    1:17 WOOHOO! We love how genuinely excited you get! We also love how Tippet doesn?t even look up from his task after the alert until you actually verbally ask him if he found something. We love the persistence and focus, and that is thanks you guys practicing so much on that earlier (and his NW background doesn?t hurt)

    The third hide was your prototypical pinpointing odor kind of search for the first bit as he zig zags close to the ground following the trail? until he kicks it. This is actually AWESOME. at 2:02 you do a FANTASTIC job letting Tippet figure out that he moved it, and in targeting it. You were calm (excited, but calm 🙂 ) and let him get there. That was seriously awesome.

    That, by the way, is an advanced skill you will want to nurture when it happens (we cover specific drills for it later). You did a great job there, but know this does happen in the field. Dogs will alert, and even if they are gentle, sometimes they will kick it out behind them. It is an incredibly valuable skill, and more advanced, but way to go.

    You didn?t plan it, but this was a perfect training opportunity that you took advantage of, and so did Tippet and way to go! It?s tough in those scenarios to give the canine a moment to work it out, but that was very very good! Excellent!

    The third hide is great. This is a decently large size area and we are impressed with how you guys are moving through it calmly with confidence, and how calm Tippet is in his approach. He?s a cute fellow (I like when he spits it at you 🙂 )

    3:03 – perfect send off to the next search while excitement is high!

    You were spot on about the idea to plant a hide. We suggest you make a mental note of how it looked during this time and try to manufacture success before he starts to question heavily. You can even do a couple of planted hides. We like to push boundaries in terms of endurance, but if he is questioning you repeatedly, you?re right that is a sign he?s having trouble locating. But that?s why we have that extra target on us, for just such occasions!

    You do a very nice job with your own movement and body orientation to not put pressure on Tippet. Very very nice to see 🙂 Looking great guys.

    [quote] The redwood copse holds lots of kitty truffles and other disgusting treats, but he stayed right with me the whole time. [/quote]

    Ahh kitty truffles. Good boy Tippet 🙂

    It looks really good Sandra. You are fun to watch and I really do like Tippets evolving style of searching larger areas. You?re going to keep having a lot of fun with this I think together.

    Alana McGee

    Aaw shucks. Thanks very much! I think he is fabulous. There is something about nosework and truffle hunting and tracking where you need the dog’s unique ability that deeply builds respect and partnership.

    I need to point out that we used 1/3 of a particular land footprint for our video. During the 12 minutes, he ranged over the entire land area, searching nicely for several minutes, but I cut that out of the video. Would you like to see that? Still, when I called Tippet back, he understood I wanted him to restrict himself to the area near me and stayed within 15 feet of me after that. I was very pleased with that. Today or tomorrow, we will go back to the same area, use more of the land footprint and four or five blind hides before next assignment, but won’t send video unless there is a problem. I think he has this assignment down pat.

    I asked a question in the homework forum, but did not get an answer, so will ask it here. How many minutes/hours a day; and how many days a week do your seasoned dogs work?

    Alana McGee

    Well said, Sandra! Well said!

    It is very nice to hear that Tippet is working large areas. And it is also nice to hear that you know with such confidence that he understands when you do want him to stay closer to you. I LOVE it when handlers can speak with such certainty about their unique working style! I would say, go ahead an include it if you don’t have other footage you want our comments on. We don’t need to see it at this point unless there is an issue but if you have the footage and haven’t used up your 3 min of video, go ahead and throw it in. We do enjoy seeing footage that simply makes us say WOOHOO 🙂

    I tried a new (to me) feature in the forums and moved your question (and my answer) to a new forum here Let me know if you are unable to see it.

    Alana McGee

    Thanks for moving my comments to the correct place.

    You two are doing so much answering all our questions. Some great videos and some thoughtful questions.

    We are set until the next assignment. He searches nicely, I think, and at a good pace for me. If we were in the woods, I wouldn’t want him to be where I cannot see him. You will see him as we go along.

    Alana McGee

    We did a three blind hides today. We used the entire area where we were the last two times… probably 80-90′ x 35-40′. He started by going more or less directly to the portion we used the other day, sneaking into the woods for a kitty truffle (who really thinks cats hide it to cover the odor!!!?) Then he got down to work and found the other two hides. A quick break to shred a piece of wood and finished. Without the interruptions, about 3 minutes. He is not fast but he doesn’t poke along either.

    Just before the last find, he stopped and looked at me and I asked, “Did you find it?” And he went back to work. Just before the odor hit his nose, he glanced at me again, very quickly and hit the column. I was very pleased, and I think we got lucky with him starting to lose confidence and suddenly hitting the scent column.

    Am not including video.
    Looking forward to the next assignment. Hope you both had a great weekend…and all of my classy mates, too.

    Alana McGee

    That all sounds fantastic, Sandra!

    Tippet works at a very nice pace. He has a very balanced way about his searching and you and he are developing into a great example of a single working unit. We are really enjoying watching you two progress!

    Gotta love those unplanned but perfectly placed reinforcements!

    Hope your weekend was wonderful!

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