November 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm #3310November 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm #3313
I’m excited to be back in truffle class! I’ll be working with Cricket again, she is my one year old border collie cross rescue. Cricket and I have been practicing over the break and I am really looking forward to continuing our truffle hunting journey. However, I am slightly nervous about moving outdoors since Cricket can be reactive and is very environmentally focused – but that’s ok, we’ll work at our own pace like last class 🙂
Looking forward to learning from all of you!November 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm #3314
Great photo! Where are you and Cricket located?November 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm #3315
Thanks! She is easy to photograph. We are in Calgary, Alberta (Canada).November 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm #3316
We get to Crowsnest Pass every year. My son flies in from Massachusetts to kalispell and I drive (from Eureka California) and we flyfish for a week.November 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm #3317
The Crowsnest is one of my favorite places and its also part of my study region for the research I do in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem – one of the prettiest places around (everyone should visit it). I’ve wanted to take a trip down the west coast to California for many years now, I hear it is spectacular!November 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm #3318
Welcome back Shannon & Cricket!!! Fantastic photo! This work is often quite soothing for teams on high alert in their environment. I think Cricket will surprise you 😉November 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm #3319
Great! I am so looking forward to seeing how we do outside. Before I can do that, we’ve hit a bit of a wall inside that I am hoping for your help on. So far we are stuck at the level of difficulty that we ended with last class.
My understanding from the last class was to start to remove visual cues, and then progress to multiple targets. What I have found is that as soon as I start to obscure the targets Cricket gets stressed without the visuals (she is super visual, so this doesn?t surprise me much).
Instead of removing the boxes completely, I thought I?d help her by moving the boxes (flower pots) out of direct sight and placed them next to chair legs, or half tucked behind things thinking that might help her get the game (I am pretty sure this is your guys’ suggestion from the lecture).
Ahhh – It just occurred to me that I?ve been putting both hot and cold flower pots out ? keeping the game mostly the same, but just making the boxes harder to see. Maybe I should only be ?hiding? one hot flower pot, slowly make that more difficult to find, and then move to the tea ball? I think she is getting frustrated by finding cold targets and not being able to pinpoint the hot target.
We?ve done no multiple target searches since I thought they came after the advanced searches ? did I get it wrong?
Also- when I see her getting stressed I manufacture success by having her target a scent source I have in my pocket ? so I think (hope) that I am preventing her from being too discouraged/stressed. She still loves the game, so I don’t think our little challenges have caused her to dislike it at all.November 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm #3320
Alright, apparently all I need to do is write out my problem here, have an epiphany, and then go home and practice. I went home last night and did some rounds just hiding the box slightly to progressively more difficult. She got it! Then today I made things a little harder and we had successful advanced hides.
My video is work from today.
Hide 1: I totally forgot to warm her up to the scent (bad human) and you can see how unsure she is. I think this shows me how much I need to do a quick scent imprinting round before starting. I almost always do, but missed it this time.
Hide 2: A new item – she’s never searched for a truffle scent in a camera bag before. She actually checks it out and it doesn’t ‘click’, she inspects the things she knows and then comes back and correctly alerts on the bag – yay Cricket!
Hide 3: Hidden behind the leg of the footrest. It was mostly out of sight, but not completely. I scared her when I came in to reward her, she jumps a little. I have to be careful of this!
Hide 4: I was so impressed here! I’ve never placed a box over in that area where I hid the tea ball, the tea ball was hidden almost completely out of sight in the rolled up carpet and she got it.
So – as always – the problem is the human. I just needed to figure out how to explain to her what we were doing without confusing her. I was so impressed by how hard she worked today and how well she did. I was worried I was pushing her too far with that last search (I edited out 3 or 4 other searches in the video), but she was game. I also love how when I say “All Done” she goes flying into her room to wait for another chance to search.
Photos of search spaces to follow. We’ll start in backyard I think, but there are a number of quiet fields at the University we can use too.November 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm #3321
Hi Shannon! Sorry my post yesterday didn’t seem to get uploaded!
I’ll take a look at the vids right now too and re- post everything!November 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm #3322
[quote]Instead of removing the boxes completely, I thought I?d help her by moving the boxes (flower pots) out of direct sight and placed them next to chair legs, or half tucked behind things thinking that might help her get the game (I am pretty sure this is your guys’ suggestion from the lecture). [/quote]
This is perfect!
Multiple targets do come after more advanced scenarios, but they are a bit interchangeable. Just make sure if you are doing multiple, something about the situation is a little bit easier. Everytime you increase the difficulty level in one aspect, something else should get a little easier, whether that be environment, amount of visual clues etc. Again, Success and confident reward histories are what we are looking for.
[quote]Also- when I see her getting stressed I manufacture success by having her target a scent source I have in my pocket ? so I think (hope) that I am preventing her from being too discouraged/stressed. [/quote]
This is great too. Perfect, that is exactly what we suggest you do.
Hide 1: happens to all of us, but now you know that Cricket is much more comfortable in an environment when she is primed for it. Keep that in mind when you are outside too to keep up the routine of warms ups.
We LOVE the nose targeting in your hand. Good job waiting for her to offer you the alert when it is on the ground. If she pauses and looks at you for direction for a while, one thing we would suggest would be to start moving slowly as that may re-enage her.
Hide 2: I love when this happens. You can see the dog process and think, well, this doesn?t fit criteria of previous situations, but when they have a success in a scenario like that it is a light bulb moment for many dogs and is a GREAT learning experience.
What I would say is you are extremely aware of your impact on Cricket with Pressure, such as the rushing in. That is fabulous Shannon. And really good to note about your approach.
[quote]I also love how when I say “All Done” she goes flying into her room to wait for another chance to search. [/quote]
We love this too 🙂
At 2:21 see how she hits the scent column and works backwards, and it is really completely out of view. It?s great, just have to give her the opportunity to hit the column 🙂 Very very nice 🙂 That really was a VERY very good one for Cricket as she trusted her knowledge of odor not visual 🙂
Start in your backyard as it will be more familiar than the University perhaps, just to start. Remember to keep the area small and have an extra target on you to manufacture success. If she is on a leash that will be something else to take into account to, so just conscious of your pressure on the leash.November 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm #3323
We did a few searches outside yesterday. They were wonderful – there were unicorns, rainbows and nothing but success. The only slight problem was not hitting record on the camera… minor I know… so you’ll have to take my word on it 🙂
In all seriousness, I was super impressed how well Cricket figured out what to do. The first search she was a little confused but I moved with her to re-engage her which got her going (you guys are so smart), and by #3 she was a rock star.
I’ll give it another go tonight.November 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm #3324
We love unicorns… Don’t get us started!
That’s great though 🙂 looking forward to it!November 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm #3325
Yes! Unicorns! – I presented at a conference this summer and managed to sneak in a unicorn, next task is to sneak a T-Rex in somewhere 🙂
Back to why we are all here – we did some hunting tonight, it was great! Except I forgot to warm her on the scent again (I promise, I usually remember, really I do). I think you can see how she is exploring in search #1 trying to remember, she walks passed and even stops to sniff the source once but doesn’t alert, and the whole time I was kicking myself. Thankfully she is smarter than I am and she figured it out.
Hides 2 and 3 went really fast, and I tried a ball as a reward once. I think I’ll do it differently next time and keep her super close with a short toss like we would need to in the woods.
Question – should we practice in different parts of the yard? It seems like the smell sticks around on the grass and she goes back to that area frequently when we are out playing etc.
As recommended, we got a harness for truffle hunting for her. We are currently counter conditioning the heck out of it as she has had major problems with harnesses in the past (ah, my sensitive puppy), so you should see that soon.November 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm #3326
[quote] should we practice in different parts of the yard? It seems like the smell sticks around on the grass and she goes back to that area frequently when we are out playing etc. [/quote]
Yes, the odor does cling. Eventually this shouldn?t pose a problem as the criteria for what Cricket will alert on will be raised, but if you can, be aware that that is why she is lingering. If she does alert on a spot like that, you should give verbal communication of an affirmative, but we want Cricket to start processing that she doesn?t get reward for trace odor, only for source. If you?re out playing in that area, same thing? ?That?s right cricket, there was one there, good girl.? but she doesn?t get a food reward for that.
But while you are just starting to practice outside, you can avoid the issue a bit and build a reward history by doing it in slightly different spaces.
You did a great job on the last hide brining her back to stay with you.
Keep running these drills like this. I?d be curious to see her in a slightly larger area, or if instead of just one hot target, using two (smaller area), so you can move from one to the next and she can have a couple of successes in a row, not only that but I am curious to see how she would act when you allow her the opportunity to find more than one.
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