Alana McGee

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  • in reply to: Tim & Molly #6247
    Alana McGee

    So yes, Fridge

    As I said, summer truffles are incredibly hardy if they were given to you fresh. We ran some tests and in a cool fridge in a closed container with paper towels we had samples for training last over a month!.

    Brush off that white fuzz. When they start to smell gross, that’s when you want to ditch them. Also a good indication is the interior. It should be marbled. If it is not and is one color solid- that means it is starting to break down.

    Do NOT store on rice.

    in reply to: Tim & Molly #6246
    Alana McGee

    Hey Tim, sorry for delay.

    Hope you had fun on the orchard!

    We should have a link to truffle care somewhere in a lesson, but I’ll have to dig through. Until then this is a PDF of how to care for your Burgundies.

    in reply to: Bev & Wolfy #6244
    Alana McGee

    We’ve said it before and will again… Wolfy is a smart fellow!

    I see proofing in your future! We’ll go over a lot of it in Lvl 3 coming up- but you’ll be doing that with ribbons I think too. he’s very smart and sensitive so we want to provide the best possible chance for success when we start those drills. Just file that away in the back of your brain…. “Play basic discrimination game in controlled environment —here, your yard— with multiple markers placed close together. Only one having odor.”

    Good good good! on the building the game back up in the dirt and the clay dirt. Good of you to make the distinction. They ARE different! Wolfy does have a memory for this game, but that’s okay and expected… makes him have to actively engage his brain and think about it when the truffles aren’t in their ‘usual’ spots 😉

    He looks much more peppy today, and very nice paw alerts! Like a different dog, and that smile 🙂 His energy is much improved here. 0:29 it is noticeable. Nice getting down with her at 0:34, and great connection. This scenario is MUCH more relaxed and fluid and easy for the two of you, not a hint of the kind of pressure we talked about earlier 😉 You have nice spacing and back off when appropriate.

    1:16 that was good of you to investigate. And YAY wolfy on the delayed rewards. no problem there 😉 in this instance good to note too he wasn’t going to alert again until he had his cookie. one alert for one reward. The boy likes to be paid for his work 😉

    This was really nice Bev. Your connection and energy here is WAY more relaxed, and you can see he is way more comfortable. It could be he wasn’t feeling well prior- but this is really nice.

    in reply to: Karen & Haggis #6241
    Alana McGee


    These are great experiences you are having Karen, and what fun you have orchards to work on too! Really good learning experiences for every handler. No matter how much you prepare something will always surprise you at one point or another, and it is in how we adapt to those challenges as they arise!

    For orchards and with dogs of Haggis’s personality, the staying at site of the find while you dig up the truffle is going to be one of the key ones to work on, depending on if you have additional harvesters helping you (but that will depend a lot on site/ client)

    This was great to see you on the orchard! Thanks for sharing. We know this is a bit of a unique circumstance, but so other students/instructors know what’s going on, Haggis alerted, and then the video cuts, and then you see Karen & haggis working the rest of the orchard while someone else is at Haggis’s alert site. For Orchard harvesting, this is what you want to do with a dog with Haggis’s personality type and very active. If this was a larger orchard in mid or full production, you’d want to put Haggis away if you needed to and come back to the truffle alert, as it would have been marked (you’d mark it. We use florescent tape). But it depends on if you have helpers with you as well. As some of you know, in the larger plantations in Australia the dog team actually does none of the harvesting. Simply the indicating!

    You do a good job of encouraging him along Karen!

    This is good Karen at 0:41- and REALLY interesting and tells us a lot, and REALLY good on your part. Watch that nose of his and trust it. He gets excited and so digs early, perhaps where odor has pooled, but you notice this right away. Follow that nose! He’s doing a really nice job staying with you there too!

    He is rather adorable shoving his nose in there, and adamant!

    So much fun you are going to have with this boy.

    in reply to: Announcements #6240
    Alana McGee

    We wanted to let you know again that we will be traveling with possible interruptions to video analysis starting mid day tomorrow (Saturday), If you post videos, please bear with us and we’ll get to comments as soon as we are able!

    Thanks all!

    in reply to: Karen & Haggis #6236
    Alana McGee

    Oh Haggis!

    Great he found one!

    ‘Should be’ is all part of the process. Every dog is different too and every day. Don’t be shy even if you’re not in love with the video and you know there are umpteen things you should be doing differently!

    We look forward to seeing you guys on the orchard.

    in reply to: Mary & Salu #6234
    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 6 years, 4 months ago by Alana McGee.
    in reply to: Assignment 2 #6233
    Alana McGee

    Bev – Sounds like you have what you need! You will want to check with the insurance company and the facility to see if they need something from the other. Here, Alana often has to add a new facility to our insurance coverage.

    Karen – Are there any other instructors (or daycare providers, grooming facilities, etc) you can ask?

    in reply to: Assignment 1 #6232
    Alana McGee

    Gwen – this looks great!!! No worries. I just tilted my head 😉

    in reply to: Assignment 3 #6231
    Alana McGee

    Bev – Glad you have a location, price and selection of class times. Take a general survey of your clients’ interest and schedule from there. As for filling 3 L1 classes. Stagger them so the first group RAVES about your first session and draws in new students for the next L1 class. For example, you may have an L1 starting in Jan or Early Feb. Then another in late Feb, and so on. You may not offer L2 until you have two-three L1 classes completed so you have enough students qualified to enroll. Plan it out through L3. When students go to enroll in the series, they like to plan the entire thing. Why take L1 if you don’t know when L2 and L3 will be offered? Make sense? Take a look at Erica’s schedule here // She ran several L1 classes March-July leading up to now.

    Gwen – Sounds like you have this all under control and perhaps a New Year’s launch would be good for you. Let us know when you decide on a schedule. Lots of variables to consider!

    Karen – Your situation is going to be a bit more complicated when group classes are not involved. Nothing we can’t work out, but do let me know what you decide in terms of how you will run the classes so I can structure the access to online content to meet your needs.

    Annie – Have you thought about this?

    James – What are your teaching plans?

    in reply to: Assignment 3 #6226
    Alana McGee

    Hi Bev, Sorry for delay

    We wouldn’t expect you to be able to fill a level 3 right away as the students from the level 1 tend to make up the level 3 class!

    in reply to: Bev & Wolfy #6225
    Alana McGee

    Sometimes, just like us, they don’t feel well. That’s okay. You know him best. Who wants to work, or even play sometimes when they don’t feel well. I know I don’t! Based on the video and your analysis, we think you’re right, that he likely isn’t feeling tip-top.

    That is GREAT about him alerting on the one you couldn’t find. He probably was giving you that look. Dogs are so funny. What’s interesting about what you stated there is when you were genuinely down looking for it, he helped out. It’s about intention. He’s a smart sensitive guy. Good job on team work 😉

    His digging is interesting. I have a dog who does this behavior for I think likely similar reasons, so I can speak from personal handler experience on this one, not just as an instructor. What we would suggest when this happens (1:15) is throw a target away from the dig site (but not too far) a couple of feet, and initially see if you can get him to watch you do it- so he can go an alert on it. You’re changing the game here, but we want to get him out of this stress/pressure feedback loop which the digging is a symptom of. It looks like you did that here- toss the target. You have to get him out of the hole first.

    We want to try to coax him away from that displacement behavior, and eventually decrease its frequency. If you can get him physically away from the area, great. And you do try to do that, but as he is big it’s not like you’re going to “pull him off” literally. Make the fun, and you- he likes being with you, elsewhere. What is key to remember here is when he does come off of that digging behavior to praise it. Not overly so and have a huge party, but mark the change in behavior.

    For example (again, remember I said I had a dog who does this, his name is Duff), I’ll draw from personal experience to highlight how this may work:

    When Duff does this, I do what you are doing there. “Nope not there buddy” with you body cheated to the side, leading into a new area. If necessary “i” start moving away and ask him to come with me, “let’s go”- which is a cue for Duff to move with me. As soon as Duff disengages with his stressed hole digging and takes a step away “good job Duff, thank you” in a soft voice sometimes with pets, but I am marking the shift away. When we were training to decrease this behavior, right after that happened (the leaving the dig site, marking the change in behavior) I would then throw a target he could see a few feet in front of him and ask him to alert. thus bringing on a reward sequence away from the site of the stress dig.

    You’ll need to get Wolfy out of that hole first. When it happens, praise it.

    It’ll take some time before you may be able to recognize ‘before’ Wolfy is about to do this kind of behavior. You’ll notice this most easily in scenarios where the hides ARE NOT blind, as that adds additional levels of complexity for you as a handler. You’ll notice Wolfy starts to get intent on an area you know nothing is hidden. It’s a different different body language then being in odor. We’ll review the previous videos from Wolfy and see if we can notice it from previous scenarios. I can remember right now at least once it happened. His shoulder set is more forward. Again, simply as an example to draw from for contrast, personally now I can see moments before Duff starts into this stress digging and I can preempt it by moving us to a new spot and throwing a target for him. That’s eventually what you’ll do. Overtime, the behavior decreases as you are eliminating the opportunity for it to become self-rewarding.

    Like at 1:19 keep coaxing him away, clapping to get his attention if you need to. It’s not the end of the world at all, but we don’t want to encourage this behavior, again as I said because it is self-rewarding. It’ll be easier to work on now than in the forest.

    1:23 is good. He comes off with your touch. Right there is when you would have said, “good job buddy” and then “find truffle”. You do a good job.

    Because he is dwelling around that previously dug hole, move yourself farther away from the site when this happens at next time. Movement from you for Wolfy seems to make him more comfortable.

    And again, based on his movement and behavior, We also think you’re right & he may not be feeling great. He’s not as bouncy in his step. This was good from you though Bev. You seem more relaxed 😉 you’ll have to tell us whether you were or not, but it seems that way.

    in reply to: Mary & Lola #6224
    Alana McGee

    We think that sounds like a perfect idea to work on distractions for those environments.

    in reply to: Chat Thread #6223
    Alana McGee

    Thanks Mary- I appreciate that. I think I am going to get her a mini. It looks like you have the ICD harness as well- it is more angled. Lolo is a little more dense and blocky like nephew Salu than Lola I think, but height wise, they seem comparable.

    That is helpful.

    in reply to: Bev & Wolfy #6220
    Alana McGee

    Also Bev

    Do not be discouraged 😉 The connection and pressure are what I find, personally, to be one of the hardest parts of truffle hunting. We’ve all been there. Letting go of our own emotional state and expectations is tough, but once you can (and every day is different) it makes a world of difference! It is something we all work on, and Kristin & I will attest to that and can provide many personal examples. We often learn the most from days like that, even if they don’t feel good. It is the growing moments that make us better teams in the long run.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 1,232 total)