Gimme and me spent the weekend in Salem playing barn hunt. We had four chances to get a senior leg and came away with one. Sadly I didn't get videos of any runs. This trial was held in the same location as an agility trial and most people were trying to do both sports, which left less people hanging around watching (and made getting enough volunteers challenging as well).
Our first run on Saturday was nice, we found 3 out of 4 rats before we ran out of time. 75% is consistent with our first two tries on Easter weekend. On our second run... Gimme didn't indicate any rats - she usually scratches at the tubes. She busily ran around and sniffed a lot, seeming to have a great time, just didn't settle anywhere or indicate. Needless to say I was bummed.
The judge asked me if I had any idea where any of the rats were and I pointed to three locations, which he said all had rats. He showed me another spot Gimme had been to once, but only stuck briefly. So it was clear she knew where the rats were, she just wasn't sharing. I talked to Amy about it and she said dogs often change their indicator. I can't imagine Gimme changing from scratching/pawing, since it IS her preferred style of interaction with stuff.
The next day they started with small dogs, so I had plenty of time to observe while I waited. I often eavesdrop and sometimes join other conversations. A gal who had already run in the novice ring was talking with her friend while watching and complained about her dog no longer indicating the rats, though still eagerly entering the ring and hunting. Hmmmm, sounds familiar. The friend, who was just there to watch, commented saying she didn't understand why the dogs would continue telling us where the rats are, since right after they do, someone comes to take the rat away.
Out of the mouth of babes... it makes perfect sense...
So I decided I would make a big deal if Gimme did anything which even remotely looked like her indication. I could praise her all I wanted and can pet and stroke her while I'm holding her back from the rat wrangler. The first indication was weak, but recognizable and I made a huge deal about it. Then the other two were her normal pawing at the tube and I also made a big deal of those. We got three out of four rats and then ran to our treat bag.
For our afternoon she was even more excited and indicating very clearly. I continued making a big deal of her indications. We had three rats and she was just going through the motions after them. So I told her, "Gimme, find vermin, show me, show me." 'find vermin' is our rat searching cue and 'show me' is a cue I use to get her to re-indicate in nosework when I'm not clear where odor is.
In response Gimme went over to a 5 bale stack and got in a position with her nose down in an area where she'd been before. This time I circled behind her and clearly saw her paw reaching down into the area, so I called "rat", resulting in our fourth rat find and first senior leg. I realized Gimme had tried to indicate this rat before, but my position when she did, kept me from seeing what she was trying to show me.
She is such a good girl for understanding what I wanted when I used her nosework cue and being so willing to try again for her inept mom. I love what a smarty she is. I'm always amazed how she is able to generalize a concept for a cue from one sport to another. In nosework I also have the cue, "Thank you, find another one." when she has located odor and we need to move on to find more. I used this cue once in barn hunt and she immediately understood what I meant, so I've been using it ever since.
We also attended a nosework seminar on Monday. I was really disappointed and I don't feel like I learned anything much, certainly not $145 worth. I found the presenter's comments, when she was CO for a trial we entered earlier this year, to be so insightful, so maybe my expectations were too high. Possibly she just had something especially perceptive to say at a moment I most needed to hear it. I've been to other nosework and scenting seminars and so far the best ones were from people who were not deeply involved in this sport.