Search one was a dozen blank containers in a parking lot. Blank means no odor. Search two was three containers on the sidewalk next to the training building, with all of them having odor.
The dogs consistently did pretty much the same thing. Gimme went around and checked all the blank containers and then not finding any odor, decided to bap a couple to see if I would pay up. I did the same thing I always do with containers; I keep moving and if necessary walk around her to see if she sticks the container. When she is faking or intent on a distraction, she leaves it. Tonight this worked for her faking these blank bags.
From there we walked across the street and she got to find odor in all three bags. She got the first bag and then the third bag, the the first one again. The middle (second) bag was tighter and didn't have as much odor in it. This made it very challenging because to the dogs, the slight odor between the two stronger odors seemed invisible.
I posed the question of how the search would change if we'd
- put the weaker bag on the end
- between two blank bags
- simply spaced them further apart.
Our third and fourth search was 18 bags/containers set in three lines. Odor had been there since Saturday and much of it was very strong (like 15 q-tips in one container), so the area was saturated with odor. First we did the search as it was set up. Then some of the containers were replaced with boxes with distractions in them.
Gimme did a lovely job on both these searches. She really consistently leaves distractions if I keep moving, so we had no real problem with any of the distractions we had tonight. I learned they've discovered dogs are most distracted by food items which are a combination of carbs and fat. Who knew? In any case, none of the dogs paid any attention to my butter.
We had a discussion about leash length and during our first search, both instructors wanted me to really rein Gimme in. I do work with a shorter leash, but first I let her blast off the startline and then after the initial burst, I gently reel her in and if necessary provide direction. If I kept her on a short line, she'd get an unintended correction as she left the startline, which is not a good thing. I can't possibly keep up with her, so the unintended correction would be inevitable.
They also think I should always keep her on a short line when we enter an interior or exterior search area to make sure she checks the threshold. I haven't found it effective to start our searches pretending I'm an anchor. The prevailing "wisdom" is - dogs who miss a threshold hide as they enter a search area rarely go back to find it. This has not been the case for us - we've never missed a threshold in a trial. If the situation allows for it, I stay close to the threshold (like for off leash interior searches) and Gimme comes back and checks it, without being frustrated. If we're on leash, I know enough to bring her back by the threshold after she has scanned the search area.
I've found as she's gotten more mature she is more willing to take direction from me, but she still likes to burst into the search area. We started nosework on a 25 foot line and now we use a 12 foot line for most searches. I let her use most of the 12 feet to begin, but then I take it up and we do most of the search on 6-8 feet. Since neither of these instructors were with us when we started, I told them where we'd started and the improvement since then.
They seem to think class is a good place to experience frustration. I disagree. I can see trying new things in class, but I'm disinclined to experiment to the point of frustrating my eager and talented girl. Gimme is wonderfully persistent when the search itself presents frustration in the form of a challenge - she just never gives up. I think she is this way because searching has always been a positive experience for her and she has learned she will eventually win. Winning is important to her. I doubt she would feel the same way if nosework included having to drag a 200 pound anchor around the search area whilst solving a scent puzzle.