We started tonight's class with an exterior search. It was a large search area with four hides - two low, one medium and one slightly higher. The idea was to see if we could pick up the decision points, just as we'd done for the two prior weeks. Gimme was one of the fastest dogs, no big surprise. She only had a challenge with the higher hide and it wasn't about the height. Rather it was because she had to stand on something (some rockery) she wasn't sure of to reach it. In daylight I'm sure it wouldn't have been a challenge, but by streetlight it was a slight added challenge. Dorothy noticed Gimme didn't lift a paw like she normally does.
The second search was a case of "Running Bunny" done inside. There were four chairs set around the search area to go with a sequence of four hides. The handler was to come in and sit down and then turn the dog loose to search on their own. When the dog finds the hide, the handler gets up and heads toward them. If the dog then leaves the hide, the handler moves back to the chair. The idea is to reward the dog for sticking the hide (moving away is a -P for leaving the hide). When you reward the dog, then handler and dog move to the second chair, while the instructor resets the hide. The fourth time the hide was paired.
Gimme did well, though she found my odd behavior very distracting the first time. In fact, even though she was wearing her nosework harness, at first she didn't want to leave me. I wondered later if she thought we were simply at a waiting station, like we see at trials, and believed it wasn't our turn yet. When I gave her our verbal cue "wherezit", she took off searching, but you could see she was distracted. She wasn't worried though. I likened it to how it would be if you normally do something in a specific way with a co-worker and suddenly they weren't "doing their part" and how distracting it would be. Once we got past the first round, then she was fine.
Dorothy made the point about how many people use a verbal cue to start their search and how often their dogs don't actually pay any attention to it. Yet it was clear Gimme knew what it meant. I wasn't surprised though, because I've noticed before how she darts off the startline when she hears "wherezit".
For the second and third rounds, Gimme was into the game and okay with the new rules... she was no longer distracted by my odd behavior. For the fourth round (the paired hide), she was on it very quickly. It was nice to see she stuck all her hides, so I never had to move back toward the chair.
For our last search, they put the hide on top of an airline crate, with the odor tin in a little sauce cup. This was paired and the idea was to virtually fill the sauce cup with treats. It was interesting how quickly all the dogs found this one.
I noticed when Gimme got the drift of it, her decision point behavior was much more pronounced. This led to a discussion of why the dog's behaviors are so much stronger. Of course the simple answer is: pairing food is a primary reward, while odor is a secondary reward. Put another way food IS food, while odor only means there will be food soon. This would be the best reason for pairing often, to keep the value of odor as a food inidicator very high.
Since I've been writing this, Gimme has been bringing me her toys - one by one. She brings one, plays with it beside me for a minute and when it doesn't distract me from the computer, she abandons it to go get another toy she hopes will work better.
BTW the other day I was standing next to the open van door talking to Tonya and made mention how I needed to take the two go toobs in the house when I got home, so I could wash them out. Both were nearly empty and due for a good cleaning. They've been sitting there on the van floor and Gimme has passed by them several times, paying no attention. Yet when we got home and I had my arms full (having completely forgotten the go toobs), when I let Gimme out of her crate, she wouldn't get out of the van and she never hesitates. Instead she waited until I turned my full attention to her and then very deliberately pawed at the go toobs. Clearly she's not above reminding me of things I need to do, especially when they accrue to her benefit.
She is who she is.