Sandra & Tippet (DRTDT)

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    Alana McGee

    Today we went back to the area in the church yard we have been using as our grassy area. For this exercise, we narrowed the boundaries and I know where the hides are. All three are white tuffle oil on q-tip in a small scent vial, about one inch down

    Video is about 4.5 minutes, and it is the entire search. He is dubious about the first hide. He first picks up the marker stick (has red polish on it, about 10 inches away and pointing to the hide. VOC of nail polish still evident on the stick). He is a little hesitant. Nothing has ever been under the top before, but he quickly gets into it.

    Although I narrow the field on the third hide because he appears to be having some stress, he got #2 on his own and #3 mostly on his own.

    Whatcha think?

    Alana McGee

    A little hesitant is expected when hides start going underground, that is not uncommon. That is why we narrow the search parameters in some way to make it easier- so we can build confidence and set up a successful scenario.

    When hides are underground there is a lot more going on with how scent moves through the soil and where it comes out. Lightly buried is one thing but as you increase depth the odor shifts around a bit.

    I believe you have said to us previously that you hope Tippet will actually bring the truffle to you. Is this an accurate assessment? If so, everything is great! if not, we have a couple of things to recommend.

    Your Video:

    For you guys
    (and this sin?t for every student) I really like your start 🙂

    It?s a big area he?s searching! Way to go!

    Great job positioning your body to face the direction of the search area you desire.

    You did a very nice thing with the first one. You realized his lack of confidence and oriented yourself to bring him back to it. It?s okay to help a bit when transitioning through some of these larger stages. We build to confident alerts. In the future (for the next few training scenarios- not for forever) if you KNOW there is a target there and you read him like that, try to help a wee bit sooner. If you can keep him at the source without diverging, the reinforcement will be stronger.

    We aren?t worried with you accidentally pointing out the target to Tippet, what we want is confidence building in Tippet knowing he has found the correct criteria for reinforcement.

    When he does dig (assuming you want that) you could even provide more verbal affirmative feedback to him.

    You do a GREAT job on feedback to him during the second alert sequence.

    We love your marker isn?t right on target. That is great. Gives you a general idea, but you have to trust him!

    FANTASTIC job rewarding for that one 🙂 His tail 🙂

    The sequence at 3:18 is good! We like that he is checking out the odor saturated area again, we do, and we really like, how you give him a minute and then cue him off it. This is one of those things that we have to teach through experience in these scenarios is residual odor of a previous find, if there is not a strong source, doesn?t get a second reward.

    The 3rd one looks good! I love the end bouncing as well 🙂 VERY well done sanrda.

    Alana McGee


    We will do at least one more at the lightly buried level, if that is okay. The sticks are pointing directly at the buried “truffle,” on the north side and 10-12 inches away from the target. We probably will need two marker sticks on each side, eventually. I could not see the buried spot, just looked for the stick. I am not ready for blind hides! Otherwise, I can’t set him up for success.

    Yes, I will encourage him to dig a bit, and help with the process. Somehow, it seems more a team thing.

    Now that I have your feedback, I have a better feel for what I should/should not be doing while he is working.

    I won’t enlarge the area yet, perhaps use another similar section of the same area, then move to the whole area – all at the 1″ depth. Or should I use the same area and bury deeper?

    It will be Monday before we go out again. Tomorrow is Football day. My one vice that does not include Tippet

    Alana McGee

    We would err on the side of building up confidence with shallower hides before burying deeper. If you do go deeper, stay in a more familiar area with a size reduced a bit perhaps.

    Alana McGee

    Oct 22. We opted for a local national park for today’s assignment, displaying equipment and trees of the lumber history here. We have been here before, done a few tracks on the grass. Tippet is not familiar with the tree portion of the grounds. Bruce picked two trees, about 25′ apart and placed four hides within 5′ of an imaginary line drawn between the two trees. Exact locations were unknown to me, except I could see a part of one can in the duff. Ground cover is woodsy: needles and droppings from redwoods and a few other pines (not Douglas Fir). Rule is dogs on leash, so flexi-lead is on him here. I could not smell the small canned truffled q-tips, so he does not have much to work with, but it is enough.

    Alana McGee

    The area looks good Sandra. You could even go deeper in it. EZ PZ for Tippet. Fun to watch. Good work on line, and it doesn?t seem to bother him really. Really nice at coming in on reward.

    0:49 is perfect. You re cue, he?s looking at you for cookies, and then you slightly orient your body in a new direction where you set your intention and away he goes. To other students: this is a really nice example of communication and how relatively subtle body posture can change and influence canine behavior and direction!

    The second hide is great 🙂

    I LOVE the sequence at 1:20 ish. He pauses to smell deeper on something and you approach (because it?s a blind hide) but he looks at you and is like, nope! and you TRUST him. Really really nice on both your parts.

    2:01 made me laugh out loud with how he picked it up 🙂

    It really looks fabulous Sandra, we don?t have many constructive comments, it?s pretty fantastic as is! Love watching Tippet and you work together. He looks cool and calm and collected, and you could start to go deeper as well and try that. Keep doing things that build confidence too, but we don?t think the deeper hides will too much of an issue! And he already covers a pretty big area. It just looks pretty darn good!!

    Way to go. Keep it up.

    When you get the Pecan truffles and the Oregon blacks and start working with them, remember to imprint and run a few hides at slightly easier levels to make sure he is making the associations and build confidence on those hides, but we think it will be a pretty quick transfer for you & tippet.

    Looks fabulous. Nicely done!

    Alana McGee

    Pouring here today. TIppet got to wear his new Cloud Chaser. Birthday (from me to me) stuff arrived today. My brother gifted us a second one which will be the base for his “overcoat.” And the 100% wool arrived today. Nice looking piece. I will start fulling/felting/felling – whatever it’s called this afternoon.

    Also arriving today was a package from The Truffle Dog. Our real truffles are happily in the freezer, blacks were somewhat soft but they will be fine for our purposes. I didn’t cut them up. They are in glass shaker jars (think Parmesan cheese at your favorite pizzeria) with a piece of paper towel on the bottom and a piece of plastic wrap between the jar and the lid. If that is not okay, let me know asap! I plan to introduce them by putting a piece in a tin with the q-tip scented oils, and then fade the q-tip over a few days.

    Just driving around in the rain this morning, we stumbled on a find! These trees (dfir 1&2) are three blocks from our house and are on a newly deeded community forest! I will walk down the road a bit this week because I think I see more. A few look over 15, but under 45 yrs old. Wouldn’t that be sweet?!

    What kind of trees are “whatisthis 1&2?”

    Thanks for all your help. We may get to a truffle hunt later today, but not right now.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by Alana McGee.
    • This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by Alana McGee.
    • This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by Alana McGee.
    Alana McGee

    Hi Sandra Blacks in the freezer yes, Your Pecan truffles actually could live happily in the fridge for a while too as they are fresh specimens, just chaining out the paper towels daily, but freezing is totally fine too 🙂

    As for trees. The trees in the “whatisthis” They look like Alder/ Red alder. Fine, they aren’t bad, but they don’t tend to form association with the truffles we want really. You tend to find them in peripheral margins of other forests. The Doug look a good age- but it looks a wee bit brushy there at the moment.

    Alana McGee

    October 27. We set out five hides for Tippet along a forest road close to home. The road is vaguely familiar to him and has some D.Fir that we will explore as the season goes on.

    I used real truffles for the first time, and because of that I did not want to bury them deeply. In three of five tins, I put a q-tip with truffle oil in the tin, as well as the truffle piece.

    He was challenged, but persistent. I stood fairly close to a couple of the hides, but he found them all. I will give him one more shallow set and then he will have the odor down pat and be ready for this week’s homework..

    Alana McGee

    Good call on not burying them when transitioning to a new odor source- aka the real thing! It’s ok when you are transitioning to help out a bit, especially if Tippet is starting become overly challenge. We want him to succeed!

    Working on the edge of the forest is great, and what you’ll be doing this week along with buried hides in these locations, continuing to build confidence in new locations–just make sure you don’t venture very far in yet. Ideally we practice some of the buried hides in Forests we know DO NOT have truffles before we put dogs into an environment that might possibly have them, as we don’t want to confuse them.

    But it sounds good!

    Good work!

    Alana McGee

    I deliberately deleted a video done yesterday and replaced it with this one, done today. There were no comments on yesterday’s, so hopefully this replacement will be in place before anyone saw yesterday’s (which went well, by the way)

    Moving cautiously, I want to see his confidence at full volume before we get too much further along. These were four semi-blind hides. Area is roughly 80x80sq ft. We divided it roughly into quadrants, two in the grass, two in tree duff. Hides are about 1-2″ in the soil below the grass, and 3 and 4 inches in the redwood duff beneath two Sequoias. I know there is a hide somewhere in each quadrant, but not exactly where.

    Day is low 60s, rained last night, ground is very wet, no wind, very light fog in the area.

    This video is the entire sequence. Bruce’s camera automatically shuts off after a certain number of seconds and he restarts immediately. Any visible break is about 5 seconds while he restarts the video.

    To my untrained eye, he understands the task, keeps his nose working, picks up scent and gets to source pretty quickly. Unknown to us, there was a kitty truffle within a foot of a real truffle. Tippet stops for a snack, but gets the true truffle, too. He was a happy hunter!

    Alana McGee

    Your plan of attack is very well formulated and well thought out Sandra. Nicely done.

    This is a great area to practice, and nice approach and entry into the ?hunting grounds? with priming before you go in.

    First Hide is awesome!

    What?s interesting is after you stood up fully after rewarding Tippet didn?t even finish waiting to hear you say the truffle cue before going right back into searching mode! Interesting how that is evolving!

    Very nice job redirecting him to an area you would like him to search. He is very responsive to that.

    He?s working the larger area really well and has awesome focus. He was even trotting a little more today, and you can see him doing a couple of those loping movements when he is quickly trying to cover more ground. He likely will continue to do that occasionally in larger open areas when he is scanning for a scent column, as opposed to precision work of denser areas. Just super interesting to watch him evolve his style 🙂

    1:54 We LOVE how he stays with it at source and is very committed. He even kicked it out behind him and relocated it without a cue to do so. Well done Tippet! That was a fabulous find.

    The kitty truffle find is great too. That?s a massive distraction for him, but he is not really phased at all.

    The last find is awesome too.

    This is really great Sandra- it was an awesome video, and Tippet (&You) did great. Good job on your rewards and keeping the party up. He was super on task, didn?t seem distracted by anything. Moved well in the space, didn?t really seem to have any complications or difficulty with depth or the size of the environment at all. You trusted him 100%, he stayed at source. Pretty darn text book perfect execution.

    Well done you guys. This was a great one for confidence building!

    If you practice in this space again before moving to burying in new places- we want you to try what we recommended to Rachel a few videos ago, which is tell Bruce to put a couple of the targets actually in close proximity. We don?t think it will be an issue at all for Tippet, but let?s see how he starts to handle multiple targets close together.

    Superbly well done!

    Alana McGee

    Thanks for the feedback. Today, Bruce suggested we put two close together, and I said I would ask. I will tell him he is spot-on.

    Question. Do we increase the search area or increase the depth first? There seemed to be no problem with either on this hunt and we will move on to an unfamiliar location – perhaps just a tad deeper and a slightly larger unfamiliar (but clearly defined) area. I will know the number of hides, but not their location.

    Or, we can go back to this location, a familiar one, double the area, and increase the depth.


    Alana McGee

    Happy Halloween! I think our today in our field was a real treat!

    We returned to our current “same old familiar place,” and Bruce buried six blind hides. Two at 2″, two at 4″ and two at 6″. TIppet found all six hides. I asked for location on the last two, so I could better guide the dog. We had been hunting for over 20 minutes, and that is a long time for a green dog, I think, so asked for help. I think the video shows he really had to dig for a few, so depth was not a problem for him. He drank a ton of water after this was over – I have been told that Goldens and PWDs are the thirstiest of all breeds.

    Temp was 56 degrees, no wind, heavy rain last night, 86% humidity. We doubled the area of the same land we used in several previous videos. This was about 150ft x 80ft. I don’t think I will take on any more area on a truffle hunt without walking to a new one. And I expect most of the truffles we hunt and find will be pretty much at the depths we used today.

    Hides #4 (blind), and #5 (I asked where it was) did not make it into the video. One of these was very close to one he had found earlier. He picked up the first 4 hides in about 15 minutes. This was about as close to the “real deal” as we will get before the “real real deal.” At one point, I felt he was starting to flag and I called him to me, rewarded and rubbed him to let him know he was doing well, and I was pleased with how he was working.

    We had some challenges, but not the dog. I believe TIppet did a great job today. Some camera challenges, it is hard to see what you are videoing on the small screen of a small pocket camera.

    When he is on a find, I get too much in his space. It is good for me to see it on the video so I can keep reminding myself to back off.

    Alana McGee

    Hi Sandra!

    You asked about depth vs area and the answer really is both are equally important at this stage, but not necessarily jumping to both at the same time. You set up from today sounds good though! 6? is deep, but that?s good.

    20+ minutes active searching is a long time to be searching and good for you for working on endurance- but I’ll address this more later.

    If there was a long break between hides, I would manufacture success. Eventually you will be hunting this long and even longer, but just be in tune with Tippet. I think it is good you asked for guidance on the last two.

    Truffle hunting is thirsty work. Dogs will drink a TON of water hunting, and you should encourage that. It is a very mental exercise and we want to keep them hydrated and it helps scenting ability. In fact, I would suggest after about 10 minutes you stop for a short break and offer water to Tippet.

    Most of the truffles you are going to find, that are worth finding, will be in the 1?-6? range. After that, frankly, it isn?t worth it!

    I love that you called him over to you, gave him a rub, and just hung out for a minute. That is great. We encourage this, often. Taking breaks- even very quick ones are a great way to re-center, refocus, and reconnect. It can be just what you did with Tippet, can also be sitting down and just relaxing, playing a bit. It is good to take breaks.


    In the video you say ?slower today?.? That?s OK! He does cover the area well. Speed is a style, and is not better, just different. We mean that. This is a very good area by the way- and you have opened it up a lot. It is a large area to work, and he handles it really well. We cover this more in next week (large areas)

    You say hide #1 was about 4 minutes into the hunt. So during that first 4 minutes, was he actively searching, or checking out the space as well? My guess is searching- as that’;s what Tippet does! 4 minutes is totally okay, and you know Tippet best in this regard to timing- but as it is a large area, we may encourage you to offer him a success during that window. We know he can find all the truffles in a large area- but we want to keep the rate of reinforcement high. He?s doing awesome, but consider that, if it happens in the future. We don?t see him be frustrated or stressed at all but this, but you likely would know. Just be ready to offer him an easy find and then he can happily keep on going. [i]It isn?t considered cheating :)[/i]

    When he does find it, that?s great! I love his digging style. He?s such a cool calm collected fellow. Makes me want to hug him.

    You are in his space a little on that first hide- but if you look at his body language, he doesn?t seem to mind much. It?s hard not to be in there because you want to see where the truffle is after all! If you?re off to the side a little more and not looming over, but next to him, might make a little bit of a difference and you can still be engaged with him at source looking for the truffle.

    He does pick it up and hand deliver though!

    Hide #2 is about 10 minutes in. You?ll notice as you start to increase areas you work in, time hunting increases like this- that?s totally normal. Just remember you have that extra target if you need to manufacture success. And honestly we suggest you do. This hide you do a better job of being off to the side and not over top of Tippet. and he flings it at you! Excellent on both your parts.

    Really do like when you call him over for a pat. I would even have made this longer and take a minute just to play, hang out. But very good instincts on reading him.

    This was hard- it?s a large area with only 6 targets in it! That?s tough!

    This was definitely and exercise in increased endurance with hunting. You & he did awesome, but don?t jump to doing this everyday.

    If you were going to do this again, I would actually plant twice (or more) as many hides (for a higher rate of reward), but only expect to find 6 of them- which means they may need to be marked in some fashion. I would NOT expect or even want to find all 12 in that scenario- but this is how you build endurance. It was great- and you did really well- we would just urge not to do this long ones multiple days in a row. Just yet. Eventually yes, but we want to still make sure he’s having fun. Which it looks like he is! But we want it to be fun 🙂 We don’t see what happens after the last hide, but make sure you play with him after that. He did a Stellar job finding all those at varied depths. Super awesome!

    And the finding the targets next to each other- that’s exactly why we wanted you to do it, is because he may not find them both right away, He may find one, and then come back- but it adds not only a element of difficulty, but elements of realism.

    Well done you two! and Three (including Bruce!)

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