We had the most interesting setups for class tonight. The whole goal was to see how well we could handle the dog on leash if the search area was challenging. So Dorothy purposely set up a situation where the dogs were going into narrow channels AND could pass under at the back, where the handler couldn't. Here is the layout:
The green half-moons are all chairs and yellow squares are tables. The orange lines are a room barrier, which restricts movement, but not air flow. The lower right triangle is the door to the area. Blue square is a filing cabinet and black square an open cabinet full of stuff. We were to come in and treat the entry as a threshold regardless of whether there was odor there. We had four searches and the last one was blind.
The first search was off leash so we could observe how our dogs worked in this complicated area. Gimme found both hides very quickly. Many dogs tried to push through/behind the barrier, but Gimme just quickly went around it - something she learned long ago on vehicles.
The second search was on leash and quickly proved challenging. You can drop the leash in nosework, but need to pick it up really quickly again. There are instances where a judge may fault you for dropping a leash if they think its unsafe, such as an open exterior search near a road. Many of the dogs, Gimme included, thought we were about to dish out treats when we bent over to pick up the leash. By the end of this search and the next, they were already getting used to our clumsy leash handling and picking up and dropping it.
The third search was a definite case of converging odor and it was interesting to watch the dogs sort it out. Gimme didn't seem to find it particularly challenging.
The last search was blind. Our instructions were to open the door, hold onto our dogs and announce (after observing their behavior) whether we thought the hide was "threshold" or "deep". We could do it either on or off leash. I decided to do it off leash and to work the threshold the way I normally do, which is to let Gimme blast into the area as she likes to do, and I just hang out near the threshold - she always comes back and checks the area then. I watched her nose and saw her sniffing and there was a slight pause as she sniffed toward the right, so I called it "threshold". When I turned her loose she went down by the chairs in front of the tables, then seeing I hadn't moved, came back and found the hide. It was probably a six second hide.
Dorothy thinks Gimme would find the threshold faster if she was on leash, but I have my doubts. I find frustrating Gimme slows down her searching. Of course, the best time to test these ideas is in class. So we'll play with it some. Its a good time to introduce new ideas.
I did see Gimme was a bit baby-needy this class and she wasn't last time. She even tried to convince me she should bring the baby in once and could search with it in her mouth. I made her leave it behind. It occurred to me she had been much calmer before the weekend, which was just a couple days into when I reduced the amount of the remedy she is getting for her false pregnancy. She'd been on a loading dose and after ten days I reduced it to its regular dose. I've since added more in, and she's getting a dose halfway between loading and normal.
Sunday night I'd tried practicing at the arena for our upcoming RallyFrEe video debut. It was one of the worst practices we've ever had. After last night and adjusting her dose up a bit, we practiced again tonight. Gimme was very good - the difference was dramatic. And this practice was with William and Chris there observing and occasionally moving a bit. They were so kind to hang out for our training benefit. William will be videotaping us, so it was great to have this opportunity for Gimme to get used to his presence in the middle of the "ring".
Its good to have Gimme back to normal. I notice she is back to playing with her toys as well and the baby doesn't demand her presence every minute. Sometimes it lays in the other room unattended for 30 minutes! I'm really encouraged with this new herb and can't wait to see how it works next time around when we can start it much earlier in the process.