The last two classes have been focused mostly on containers. Once last week we also did a vehicle search on two caterpillar backhoes that were parked at the parking lot (empty store) where we were practicing. Tonight we were indoors at Ursula's new building, using the downstairs open area where they have not yet put in the runs.
Gimme did great with the vehicle search. She is doing well with the container searches as far as resisting distractions and in finding odor. However her paw indicator is still a work in progress.
We've hardly done any containers this summer, so I've been working on her paw indicator. I've been focused on clarifying what I expect of Gimme when I say "paw", which is, that I want a paw-hold instead of pawing. I've been doing it on all kinds of different things, but have not yet put it together with odor.
So when it was presented last week, with odor and in a cardboard box, that was really too big of a jump for Gimme. I was working with her to understand the training applies here too, when Joyce snatched the box away. Joyce neither agrees with or understands what I'm trying to do - even though I have explained it to her more than once. Very frustrating.
Happily when we did the other container search, with odor in an upright bag, Gimme did her paw indicator the way we have been practicing, so she got multiple cookies. Tonight when we searched, she got it faster for most of them. However the one that was in a box, still threw her. I had asked Susan to put it in an open bag I'd brought just for that purpose, but Gimme still had a lot of difficulty with that one.
It occurred to me on the drive home, while I've practiced her paw behavior on a lot of different things, I haven't practiced on enough different kinds of bags that are more like what she'll see in a container search. I'm thinking that may be why putting the odor box inside my open bag didn't work - she gets it right on stuff that is more like luggage. So when I got home I brought almost all of my bags in the house and we'll just have to practice with each one. I'll also have to bring in some paint cans and other weird stuff from the garage. The more variety the better. Then we have to add odor into the picture.
We have also been putting in some odd distractions for the container searches - not food or toys. Instead its been things like hand sanitizer, cleaning soaps, make-up, deodorant... I thought that was maybe some new trend in trials and Joyce explained it tonight. It seems they are finding some dogs are really attracted to novel smells and many of the bags and such used in trials are coming from thrift stores. When one dog spends a lot of time investigating a novel smell, then other dogs will be attracted there because of the smells the first dog left behind and they were excitedly investigating in one spot. So there can be a lot of false alerts once one dog gets a bit excited, because the other dogs react to that dog's smell. So the trend is to make sure the dogs experience a huge variety of novel smells in containers, so they don't get sucked in.
I haven't blogged about Public Dog class, though I have a lot of interesting news to share. It'll be a long post, so I'll wait until after class tomorrow...