Annie

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  • in reply to: Chat Thread #6575
    Annie
    Participant

    Hi Bev,

    I don’t compete in scentwork, so I can’t help. But one resource might be the “K9noseworkPNW” yahoo group. I joined that email group, and pretty much all the posts are event announcements. It is supposed to be a forum for questions too, and I bet people would jump at the chance to give their 2 cents (however wise or not) about questions related to competition.

    The group requires approval to join, but it was easy–just list some dates that you took a nosework class. Good luck with the road to competition–that sounds fun!

    in reply to: Annie & Tuesday #6569
    Annie
    Participant

    Hello,

    Sorry for the lapse in online activity–I have been keeping up with the posts and have been practicing, but haven’t had a chance to post until now.

    The following video was taken a couple days ago. It was 50 deg F, drizzling rain off and on all day with slight wind. It was not drizzling at the time the video was taken. I don’t have enough real truffles left to use them for practice, so I used targets. I did use different containers, as well as fabric, that have not been used at all before this exercise. I let the targets cook for 2 hours.

    What happened in this training session was that she would enter the vicinity of a target, pick up on the odor, so some searching, then move on. This happened for about 4 of the 6 targets. Sometimes her search lasted a couple minutes before she moved on, other times she only pursued the odor for several seconds. I was glad to see that she was picking up on the odor, but pinpointing the sources was a challenge.

    In the first half of the video, she catches the scent pretty easily, but has a very hard time locating it. With this particular target, I threw it far off into the ferns. My thinking was that throwing it would be good because my tracks wouldn’t lead her there, and also because it would be an easier success to achieve by being above ground.

    This exercise left me a little concerned that Tooz has been relying on my tracks more than I realized. She repeatedly runs up and down the “path” that I took to get to the area. Then when she is in the area, she can’t find it, and goes back to the path that I walked. I think that she is returning to my path because my scent trail gets “cut off” at the point where I threw the target.

    I have always tried to make an effort to leave wandering tracks all over the area when I set up searches. I frequently throw targets in addition to placing them when setting up hides. I’ve kept an eye out to see if she is using the same paths that I’ve walked, and I’ve been confident that she is not using my tracks to guide her. So seeing this happening in this session was a bit disconcerting.

    She did find almost all of the 6 targets unaided (had to move her on and return to the area later in the session). She is very successful if I can take her to the near vicinity (approx. 30′ x 30′ area, say), but she clearly had a hard time pinpointing the sources in this particular forest session.

    Thanks for your insight–I look forward to getting some tips on how to work through this, and to achieve success without having to take her to the vicinity of a hide in order for her to locate it.

    in reply to: Chat Thread #6548
    Annie
    Participant

    I have heard several times throughout my study and communication with TDC that orchard work is very different from forest work–that it requires different skills on the part of both the dog and handler, knowledge of different conditions, etc., and got the impression that orchard work is a whole different animal than forest work. Yet I noticed that with this 3rd level, the text has been updated to state that this class will prepare us for hunting truffles in the forest OR orchard….

    So I am wondering: What are the special/additional skills that are necessary for both dog and handler to have in order to successfully work in orchards, and what are the particular factors that need to be considered in an orchard setting versus a forested setting? I would love to be able to work in orchards as well as forests (I already have a few leads on some orchards in my area that are inoculated), and so this information would be very appreciated! It would also be great to get some ideas of exercises/modifications that would help teach my dog the special skills required for orchard work. Thank you!

    in reply to: Annie & Tuesday #6537
    Annie
    Participant

    Thanks Karen,

    A few responses before I get to my next video…

    You are certainly right, I need to work with Tooz on developing a more passive alert. Even if she doesn’t pick up the target, she still paws at it more roughly than I’d like. So I will work with her to eliminate the behavior of picking up the target, as well as reduce pawing. She has done well when I’ve worked on this in the past—I’ve just become too lax about it.

    As for the verbal encouragement at the specific point you asked about (1:38), I was praising her because I could see from her body language that she was onto the odor and honing in on the source. I almost always give verbal encouragement/praise when she is at this point of a search—on odor and pinpointing the source.

    Indeed, the forests out here in the coastal Pacific Northwest are dense and are typically littered in branches, logs, and undergrowth. I definitely do not throw the ball in these environments. I don’t even do short tosses to her mouth since she can’t always catch them—if she couldn’t make the catch, she’d go leaping and lunging after the ball. So in these kinds of environments I do little more than hand the ball to her mouth. It’s not the same as a throw, but she still loves it. 

    This next video begins a little strangely. I have not yet been able to do blind hides where I also don’t know the location of the targets. Finding someone who is available to do this for me has been challenging, so when I had an opportunity a few days ago, I had to jump on it. It was, however, not an ideal situation, since enlisting the helper meant also enlisting her 5 year old daughter. The drawback was mainly the distraction—Tooz didn’t seem to mind too much, it was me that found the girl distracting. The benefit: The girl took her job as helper very seriously. She placed many “traps” where she touched the ground or used the trowl to lift some soil. She also walked all over the search area, making “crazy tracks” of footprints that zig zagged all around. (She was pretty invested in the search and a little overly-excited to see the dog in action!) So I’m sorry about the little girl in the beginning of the video—she goes away, I promise!

    I noticed that in this search where I don’t know the location of the hides, I give a lot more verbal encouragement and praise than in scenarios where I do know the location of the hides. I think Tooz responded well to it since she stayed happy and motivated until all 6 targets were found.

    The weather during this session was partly sunny, 55 deg F, 70% humidity, with winds up to 12 mph.

    in reply to: Chat Thread #6528
    Annie
    Participant

    Thank you Karen. This was helpful. To answer your questions:

    With the knowledge that you have of your truffle area, what time of the day would be best for you to search? Morning, as it is cooler and sometimes winds can pick up in the evenings. Mornings can be more damp, but truffle season here is a season of continuous rain, drizzle and fog. So avoiding high humidity or dampness will be pretty much impossible. So odor is going to be sticking to all the wet things around us as a standard norm.

    What are different ways you can test which direction the wind is coming from? Using smoke matches, watching the leaves, grass, other vegetation. Even watching flags on flagpoles on the way to the site.

    What are the advantages of knowing where the wind is coming from? So I can work my dog downwind.

    Why would you set your dog to work upwind or downwind? Because if my dog is downwind, the scent is moving toward her. If she is upwind, then the scent is moving away from her and she wouldn’t pick it up until she moved around to the other side of the source, thus positioning herself downwind. In the last class series (level 2), I used this concept several times to set up exercises where I purposely placed the targets in locations where we could search downwind from them. This was for my other dog who needed confidence building.

    in reply to: Chat Thread #6524
    Annie
    Participant

    Hi everyone, I need some help understanding about cooking targets. I am a bit confused…

    “Keep in mind that deeper targets need longer to “cook” to allow the truffle VOCs to escape from the surrounding soil.” (from lesson 3) This makes sense to me. It seems that the longer the target cooks, the more the odor will permeate the soil in that spot, and therefore make the target easier to find.

    So I am a little confused by this:
    “You also should allow the targets to cook. Anywhere from 15 minutes to a more advanced scenario of perhaps a day. Start in the 15 min to 2 hour range. When burying, it takes time for the VOCs to permeate the surrounding soil. By allowing more cooking time you are allowing the odor to concentrate and move in the environment more.”

    Why does allowing the VOC’s permeate the surrounding soil add difficulty? Wouldn’t searching for targets that haven’t had time to cook be very difficult since the odor hasn’t had time to permeate the site? Or does cooking make finding them easier up to a point, that is, do they reach a point where there is too much permeation and the odor has dissipated so far that the source becomes difficult to pinpoint?

    Sorry to require clarification on this! It just seems counter-intuitive to me that longer cooking times makes locating the targets more difficult.

    Thanks to anyone who can offer insight or explanations! 🙂

    in reply to: Annie & Tuesday #6522
    Annie
    Participant

    I should add that I changed up the reward process a little. I only rewarded her with the ball 5 out of 7 finds. for every find. She did get an awesome good reward instead, but I withheld the ball once when the find was particularly easy, and once when she found the target, then picked it up and carried it off. (this was the only plastic target, and she was enjoying chomping on it…)

    When I did reward her with the ball, it was only for 1 or 2 short tosses. So fewer than she’s used to.

    Anyhow, I think that saving the ball for stellar work and doing fewer tosses helped keep her drive up .

    in reply to: Annie & Tuesday #6520
    Annie
    Participant

    The video posted here was from our last session in a forest. Tooz found 7 hot targets. Each was lightly buried in 1-2 inches of duff. Temp: 62 deg F, Wind: slight with 5-8 mph gusts, Humidity: 90%.

    I had been worried a few months ago that she wasn’t working comfortably away from me anymore. She seemed to be sticking closer, rather than venturing out to search wider areas. So I was pretty happy with this session. To see her confidently explore areas beyond our little “work space” was good. I probably could have provided more verbal encouragement throughout the session, but I was concerned it might distract her. So I need to find the right balance there.

    We are working in the house on searching negative space as well. Will try to get some video of that posted soon.

    Thanks!

    in reply to: Annie & Tuesday #6513
    Annie
    Participant

    Hi Karen 🙂

    Thanks for the great feedback. It’s great to see that you are also instructing–I am glad to receive your insight! Scentwork is pretty new to me, so I am glad for all the help I can get!

    Tooz is really fun to work with, and you’re right, it’s all in the tail! She has a very different tail & hip motion when she is on odor. She wags a lot anyway, but this particular wag is how I can tell if she is really on odor, or just crittering, sniffing scat, etc.

    At 0:57 when I reach down, I am picking up the target. She retrieves them if I can’t get there fast enough. (She is getting better at waiting, as I am introducing a “wait” command to get her to wait for me to get there before she does anymore pawing/mouthing.) She really isn’t interested in food rewards just after finding the target–all she cares about is getting the ball. So I don’t usually reward her at the source with food. Maybe I should try it anyway?

    I appreciate your thoughts on throwing the ball and maintaining stamina. I am definitely going to experiment with this! Will be getting out to a forested setting to practice in the next day or 2.

    Thanks Karen!

    in reply to: Assignment 2 #6464
    Annie
    Participant

    The dog training businesses in Corvallis are already in use during the times that I am available to teach. So I’ve been looking for other facilities in the area. The cheapest place that I could find was $50/hour at the Benton Co Fairgrounds in Corvallis. There are probably more inexpensive places…Need help with ideas other than training facilities!

    I did find that I would need to have $1-2 million liability coverage with all of the places I inquired about. So then I started thinking about getting my own insurance coverage thru Business Insurers of the Carolinas. (They offer insurance specifically for dog trainers.) It might be cheaper in the long run to do it this way.

    I am having better luck finding a space in Newport, and will be talking with the owner of a shop this week about holding classes there. It looks very promising. She already runs a dog business out of her shop, so solid insurance should be in place. I will verify that when we meet.

    in reply to: Annie & Tuesday #6457
    Annie
    Participant

    Hello Kristin and Alana 🙂 And hello classmates–great to see you and your dogs again! I am working with a different dog of mine, Tuesday (aka Tooz) in this class. Tooz has had some truffle training in the past and she found a couple in the wild last winter. So I’m hoping to have her ready to do some more serious hunting this winter.

    She is a 3 year old terrier mix that I’ve had for 2 years. I adopted her from a shelter a couple weeks after she was brought in as a stray. She has done some obedience work and knows a whole bunch of tricks. 🙂 She started getting white hair on her face at an early age, so she looks older than she is…

    This exercise took place in a small patch of mostly riparian vegetation that runs along a creek. On either side of this riparian strip are young Doug fir stands. The day was cool and wet, it had been drizzling most of the day, but had stopped about 10 minutes before we started the exercise. The targets cooked for about 20 minutes. After each find, Tooz’s reward is 3-5 short tosses of a tennis ball. So most of the tosses were spliced out of the video.

    Right now, I think Tooz needs to work on endurance. She becomes mentally tired after 4-5 finds and then begins to struggle to find more. I’d like to work up to 6 as our next goal.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    in reply to: Annie & Dottie #6133
    Annie
    Participant

    Thanks for the great feedback Alana!

    We had a great session today! I took Dottie to a park where we practiced in an area that had a lot of downed leaves. This park is quite popular among walkers and dog owners, so there were plenty of smells for distraction.

    I started by playing the box hide game under some sequoias where the surface was packed dirt. We had a little bit of a rough start here–she was distracted and not super motivated at first, but after 3 reps, she was into the game. So then I moved the box hide game to the area with the leaves. She was great–focused and a happily playing the game. Then I put several targets in a small portion of the leafy area. (I wanted to keep the search area small so there was a high density of targets in our practice site.) I did not bury them, but did nestle them under the leaves so they were visually obscured.

    She was great! She found 6 targets within 5.5 minutes, and much of that time was actually spent rewarding her after each find. Still no interest in the toy, but she was very pleased to get her treats!

    The results from this session has me thinking that I need to take more time, doing more box hides and easing into the actual search area. So I’ll be experimenting with this notion to see if that will help keep her confidence and motivation strong as we continue to practice in other new and unfamiliar sites.

    in reply to: Annie & Dottie #6129
    Annie
    Participant

    Here is our latest training session. I went to an area that is on the edge of a forest, dominated by bigleaf maple and vine maple.

    I started by playing some box hide games in this area to get Dottie comfortable, having fun, and aware of what we were out there to do.

    As we’ve seen in the past, she is not as confident here as she’s been, but given that the location is new, I think she did well. She didn’t seem too stressed like she had in some of the previous videos—just a little unsure at times.

    My main question is what I should have done at the first find when she did a great alert when she found it, but then wouldn’t take me back and re-alert on the target. I am glad she remained at the source. I just would have liked a second alert so that she would pinpoint the location. After some unsuccessful coaxing, I picked up the target and put it in front of her, asking her to alert—which she did. Was that a bad idea to bring the target to her? What should I have done in that scenario? She did offer great paw-alerts at the other targets she located, so I didn’t run into that problem again.

    I must admit, somewhat shamefully, that I asked for too much in this session. After these 3 finds you see in the video, we should have stopped. Instead, I encouraged her to keep looking for more (I hid a total of 8, though was aiming for her to find 5). We did stop and take a break after the first 3 finds (for some water, play, scratches, and a few minutes to relax), in an effort to keep her enthusiasm up. But when we went back into the search area, she flagged and I had to toss out a target to manufacture success on the spot. I tossed it near her, and also very near another hidden target. She quickly found the one I tossed, and because it was very close to another hidden one, she found that one too. This is where we ended the session.

    in reply to: Annie & Dottie #6086
    Annie
    Participant

    Thanks as always for your great analysis, advice and encouragement! We had a much better week this week! You may be right that she wasn’t feeling well.

    I spent some time with the basic box hide game she loves, and took the game to these outdoor search areas. She really enjoyed that.

    I also worked her in the grassy meadow area, placing many targets out in a smaller area. She was fantastic. Much more confident, motivated and actively searching the area. In this session, she only played with the toy a couple of times, and I really had to coax it out of her. However, she has been very eager to receive high-value treats, so that was the primary reward in that session.

    In this video, we did another search in the same area as the last video. Right off the bat she is more perky, confident and motivated. I started by hiding a target where we enter the search area, in the hopes that she would stumble upon it. She did! She was not interested in the toy at all this session, but was very happy to receive her high-value treats. I cut out the reward sequence because it is long and looks pretty much the same every time: 20-30 seconds of me kneeling down with her, continuous verbal praise and continuous treats (either feeding little pieces one after the other, or continuous nibbling on one big chunk.) Leaving these reward sequences in would eat up most of my 3 minute limit, hence their removal in this video.

    Some things that I was very happy with were:
    a) Great paw touch alerts,
    b) hitting the scent column and confidently returning to the source,
    c) confidence around the terrain: actively scratching at, stepping onto and digging into the stump to get to the target, and was unaffected by low hanging branches for the target that was hidden under the tree,
    d) ability to easily return to searching after distraction (actually, one part I cut out was when she stopped to poop—she readily went right back to confidently searching the area when she finished.)
    e) the appearance that she is going forward and moving around the search the area on her own, rather than requiring me to walk her around the whole area.

    Just a note about the long line: When she exits the search area at 1:42, it looks like I am putting tension on the line to bring her back. Actually, I didn’t pull on her–I was keeping the line up off the ground and trying to prevent it from catching on the small stumps scattered throughout the field from the previous tree plantings/harvests. Her return to the search was all her own. 🙂

    Well, I think we’re back on track! I am a little bummed that she isn’t as interested in the toy anymore. There were a few times in our practice sessions this week that she was, but her interest in them is now infrequent and not like it used to be. But I think it’s ok–she has been very excited about the treats, and in many cases has been eagerly nudging me, pawing at the treats and giving eye contact when I bring out the toy. She’s saying, “no thanks” to the toy, and asking for great treats instead. So treats she gets. 🙂 Other times she ignores the toy and goes back to searching. I’m fine with that too!

    in reply to: Assignment 1 #6017
    Annie
    Participant

    I’m not feeling very confident with my submission for this assignment, but here goes:

    Facilities:
    Fairgrounds: Benton, Lane and Lincoln Counties
    Humane Societies: SafeHaven (Albany), Greenhill (Eugene), Lincoln County? (Newport)
    Possibly Rec centers, YMCAs
    Community Colleges?
    Other training facilities, I’m sure, but I don’t know of any that would allow outside instructors. I’m sure there are some, though!

    Groups, clubs, etc.:
    NW Dog Activities Yahoo group
    K9NoseworkPNW Yahoo group
    There are several Facebook pages for truffle dog companies… not sure if posting training services would be welcome… Would have to make contact, introduce self, and find out. (NW Truffle Dogs, Pacific Truffle Dogs, Truffle Dog Kitchen)
    North American Truffling Society (www.nattruffling.org)
    Cascade Mycological Society (www.cascademyco.org)
    Oregon Mycological Society (www.oregonmushrooms.org)
    Fungi for the People (fungiforthepeople.org)

    Also maybe promoting through events like the Mt. Pisgah Mushroom Festival, the PNW Mushroom Festival, Yachats Village Mushroom Fest (and their Facebook Pages)

    Buyers:
    Wild Mushroom (Can’t find website)
    Oregon Mushrooms LLC (www.oregonmushrooms.com)
    MycoLogical Natural Products (www.mycological.com)
    Cascade Mushroom (www.cascademushroom.com)
    There are a LOT of mushroom companies! Packers, buyers, cultivators, etc. I will need quite a bit of time creating an exhaustive list of the ones in the PNW.

    I will be adding to these lists as I think of ideas, find other resources, ask around, etc. Hopefully this is a good start!

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