First let me tell you, Dorothy confirmed we can qualify and get a leg or title with up to 3 total faults and no more than two faults in one search area for an element trial. Clearly my understanding was "faulty" (pun intended).
Class tonight was about seeing how the dogs would deal with an exceptionally high inaccessible hide. The red square was a canopy with the hide inside at the center apex. The white rectangles is a configuration of tables with a green plastic tub on the table. The green chair symbols were single chairs. The two blue chair symbols were stacks of three chairs and the pink chair symbol was a stack of ten plastic chairs. In addition to this layout, there were about 15 small plastic containers with novel scents in them, everything from household cleansers to garlic to strawberry extract. Dogs are often drawn to novel odors, not just food odors.
The first search was simply this layout with the one hide in the canopy. All the dogs were challenged by it. Gimme probably gave the strongest indication and even her indication was weak - I would never have called it. Mostly the dogs tended to follow scent up the legs, but none of them ever acted like they knew where the odor was - even after they'd seen it three times. Whatever they did that tended to indicate "up" while they were under the canopy we rewarded by putting our reward hand as high as we could under the apex and bringing it down to them. They were happy to get the rewards, but there was no sign our rewarding made sense to them. It sure would have
been handy to have smoke matches to see how scent was actually moving.
For the second search, the odor in the apex of the canopy remained and she added a hide under the bottom of the tote on the tables after moving it to an edge. With easier odor to find, the dogs were even less interested in chasing down the odor under the canopy. Gimme found the tote odor quickly and then when she happened to chase some scent up a canopy leg I rewarded her.
For our third search, the tote with odor was moved to another spot on the table. Dorothy also added odor to a chair third down from the top in the stack of ten. These are plastic chairs, so they have slots in the seats and based on the way the dogs acted, the odor fell through them to the floor and/or lower chairs and also drifted to the two shorter stacks nearby (blue).
Gimme headed over to the chairs right away, but when I didn't accept her indications lower on the chairs, she left them. From there she went to find the odor under the tote. Then she came back to the chairs and tried again, but I still wouldn't accept her indication because I wanted her to make more effort to get to source. So she left again and went to the canopy and was rewarded for chasing scent up a canopy leg. Afterward I encouraged her back toward the chairs again and stayed there with her.
She expressed her frustration with whining and by repeating her low indications - honestly in a trial I would have called alert with what she was giving me. Without helping her solve the puzzle, I just encouraged her to keep trying. When she did put her feet up and got really close to source I made a big deal about it, partying with her and gave her probably a tablespoon sized squeeze of peanut butter. Frustration is her Achilles heel, so I wanted to make it memorable and well worth her efforts to have worked through it. Dorothy said I handled the challenge "perfectly" and spent time pointing out to the class a number of things I did which were noteworthy.
After I came back in from returning Gimme to the car, I asked Dorothy about the setup. Since Gimme had given me solid indications which were not to source and I was sure I would have called "alert" in a trial situation, I wanted to know whether the judge would have accepted the call. She said, first, we would never see this hide in an NW1 trial - there might be odor in a stack of chairs, but it would be likely to be on the bottom chair or under the bottom chair. For an
NW2 or NW3 trial, she said any call on the stack (the way it was set) should be accepted.
Of course the purpose was for the dogs to learn to put extra effort into getting to source. After having a completely inaccessible hide three times (the canopy apex), Dorothy thought it was important the dogs also experience success on a hide which was more challenging to get to source, but which was also doable.