Dorothy comes up with the most creative ideas for searches. They teach so many classes, so they don't go out on field trips (as the other class did), but I don't think we lose anything for lack of field trips. She is very talented at making our usual area "interesting". Right now we are on week three of four weeks focused on containers. Statistics show more dogs fail on containers than any other element.
Tonight there were a dozen plastic containers, two luggage pieces, several cowboy hats and a couple other odd containers. Each of us brings a container and a distraction. Tonight I brought cheddar fish crackers and a small piece of luggage. Gimme loves fishes and apparently so do other dogs; there was a LOT of interest in them. At the recent NW3 trial a huge percentage of dogs (23 out of 25) failed a hide in a pocket on a piece of luggage. So tonight Dorothy replicated this search.
All the dogs noticed the odor in the pocket, but didn't commit right away (with the exception of the slowest dog in class). They all treated it like it was lingering odor. There was a big difference in which direction the dog was moving when they passed their nose by the pocket. Dorothy says many times the pockets are made from fabric which really traps or hugs the odor, not letting a lot of scent escape.
We did two searches with this scenario. On the first search Gimme went by the bag/pocket three times before she really decided to chase down the odor. In hindsight, on this search she approached it from the same direction each time. She found the other hide very quickly. On the third search, we approached it twice from different directions and the second time she found it very quickly.
Another thing Dorothy does is to set up searches themed according to the holiday. Of course, with Halloween approaching, all the containers were orange or black. For the second search, they had a bunch of glow necklaces. Each dog got a glow necklace as did each handler, and then we did an interior search in the dark.
There were three hides and each was liberally paired. As we came in from the lighted entry, we waited to let the dogs acclimate as they shut the door. I shared from my background as an aviator how it takes a lot longer than a minute for the dog's eyes to adjust to total darkness. When we had a night flight we'd stay in a dimly lit area for half an hour before a flight. And if you got spotlighted (such as from vehicle headlights), your night vision was basically gone for half a hour. Of course the minute was more to let the dogs and handlers adjust to the idea of a dark room.
All the dogs pretty much did fine in the dark. Gimme took a moment to adjust to the glow necklace seeming to "follow" her, but then dismissed it. Our job as handlers was to focus on what we could hear of how the dogs breathed as they searched. I noticed Gimme blows out in a more pronounced way when she close to odor.
So, as always, it was a very interesting class. Gimme was her usual talented self.