First a brag. Just got the scores/placements for the West1 RFE Video regional trial. Gimme improved her score by 12 points. I'd hoped for more, but any improvement is a good thing. And given the affect her medication has on her focus and memory, I'm happy with some improvement. AND she got a 4th place from this. So this gives us 2 out of 3 legs toward her R-FE/N. Just one more to go. Yay Gimme! I haven't received her individual score sheet yet and am looking forward to seeing where we improved.
Nosework class tonight was focused on assumptions by the dogs (and humans). It was very interesting to watch how the dogs searched. We used pretty much the same layout for all four searches. The green arcs are green plastic chairs, tan and black squares are a different kind of chair. The black star is a office chair on wheels. The textured rectangle shows where everyone was seated. The zig zag is a freestanding expen and the lines in the upper left is one leaned against the wall.
The two crossing lines of squiggles with the red dot are cracks in the floor where the odor was placed in the crack. The dogs are so used to finding hides on chairs, so they kept searching the chairs and ignored the hide in the floor for the longest time. A lot of attention was paid to the office chair on wheels, which normally sits right by the refrigerator where they store odor. The most inexperienced dog was actually the fastest, because she didn't have a long history so wasn't working based on assumptions. Gimme did really well. When she couldn't find odor on a chair (she ignored the office chair), then she put her feet up and checked high on the walls. She was the fastest of the more experienced dogs.
When you think of this from a biological point of view, of course the dogs make assumptions about where hides should be. After all, wolves don't look for lunch where bunnies never go. If the dogs are this focused on chairs to the exclusion of other locations, then the fault is with us for falling into a pattern of hide placement.
For the second search they added a hide in one of the wheels on the office chair. Gimme came in and made a big C-shape (grey line) with her nose to the ground and went right over the top of the crack-hide, screeching to a halt without going past it. She clearly noticed the one on the office chair, since she went directly to it, but I didn't see any sign of it. She was awesomely fast. Dorothy pronounced her a "one-trial learner", since she came in with her nose down and hit the hide so quickly.
For the third search they removed the hide from the office chair and from the crack in the floor. They placed the hide under the seat of a chair against the wall, right where the crack ended. Gimme was the only experienced dog to not get obsessed with the crack. The only one to approach her speed at finding the hide under the chair was the less experienced dog. Two of the experienced dogs kept insisting the hide was still in the crack and it took them some time to puzzle it through.
For the last search, the hide was placed under a chair in the middle of the room and under a chair in the corner where a couple of the dogs had gotten distracted by some smell. Gimme found the one under the chair in the middle of the room pretty quickly, but then it took her awhile to find the one in the corner. She went really close to it once, but she was moving so fast, I think she just missed it. She checked high and low and then got into the corner again and nailed it.
One of the things I think helps Gimme to be a better hunter is how I don't help her with my positioning and movement. A couple other students basically go stand near the hide (4-5 feet away) and stay there until their dog searches there and finds it. The others will tend to stick to the general area of where it is and then hover when the dog gets close. Dorothy commented, praising my ability to act like I don't know where the hide is, even though I do. Mostly I just try to shadow Gimme's movements, hang nearby when she is detailing and keep moving if she isn't getting right to source. Now if I could just do as well in a trial situation, eh.
Of course the other thing which makes Gimme such a good hunter is a lot of inherited talent and a ton of drive. Then there is the whole need-to-drive-the-train thing. ☺