Because the weather is likely to turn rainy at any moment, Dorothy decided we should put the container work on hold (typically done indoors) and take advantage of good weather to do stuff outside.
Our first search was an interesting vehicle search. It was a white van pulled up close to the portico of the training building with brown squares to show columns and the tan rectangle is bench. Dorothy had four clean and empty tuna cans with large magnets inside, which also had odor inside. The tuna can made it so you could pair a bunch of treats with odor on a vertical surface. We were to work on a shorter than usual leash, go up the left side, do a front cross in the portico and come back down. On the way up the dog could self reward and on the way back we had to be prepared to reward again.
I let Gimme forge ahead as we entered the search area and then caught up to her and stayed on a 5 foot leash for the rest of it. I always let her rush into the search area - she likes it and it keeps her from being frustrated and personally I don't see a downside. Gimme did miss the first hide on the bumper on the way into the search, but caught all the others and caught in on the way back.
Because the pairing treats in the tuna cans aren't peanut butter, Gimme doesn't have the best motivation to grab every hide immediately and she's always enjoyed the hunt more than the find. This is the whole reason I originally went to rewarding with peanut butter - to encourage Gimme to stop for every one as soon as she can to get the good stuff. I've noticed she's not as motivated to get to the first odor she passes since we've gone back to this basic stuff with all the not-peanut-butter pairing treats. Of course, Dorothy and her co-instructor don't see this. I make it my life's work to study Gimme and know what is going on with her - so I do see this stuff. I'm going to see if I can find those mini-peanut butter creme cookies and use those for pairing. I think she'll be more motivated for them.
Our next search was an exterior, under the larger portico of the other office in the building. The brown squares again are the columns for the portico. The double square at the threshold is a downspout which jutted out from the building at the bottom 3 feet and odor was behind it (two dogs chose to squeeze through the space - one a GSD of all things). The light yellow rectangle is a desk with odor beyond it. The odd textured brown shape past the portico is a bit of landscaping where we were to do another front cross as we turned back. With the hide by the second column, this makes 3.
Gimme again passed the first hide, but she was on such a bee-line to the second hide by the column, I'm inclined to believe she smelled it from the startline. She then went to the hide by the desk, we did our front cross in the landscaping and she nailed the desk hide again. From there she went to the hide by the downspout and I was instructed to take her from the search area, but before I could she zipped behind me to get the hide by the column again. The desk was about 6" from the wall, so I think she may have caught the drift of the downspout hide from there, accounting for her direct line to it.
The co-instructor chastised me for letting Gimme rush into the search area. I explained AGAIN her issue with frustration and how a couple of judges noted Gimme is one of the few dogs they've ever seen blow by a threshold hide and then come back to get it. Both instructors agreed she does do this, but they think missing hides will hurt us in Elite. Since you have to compete successfully at NW3 level to get an Elite title and given how hard it is to get into a trial at NW3 level, I have no plans to go there. I'd like to get an NW3 title and L3 Element titles, but I don't foresee us competing for an Elite title.
In any case, I do think having the Peanut Butter Minis might help her to find those paired "threshold" hides better. If not, I'm not inclined to do things which frustrate her and make her think this game isn't fun. There are too many other things we are doing together and frankly, I think we are both getting a little bored with nosework. Gimme does enjoy class and working, but she doesn't have the same level of excitement she did 9 months ago. I don't think it helps to keep going back to basics so much of the time. Gimme enjoys a challenge and while she is happy to take "free" treats, it doesn't excite her like conquering a challenge does.
Our third search was to go back to the vehicles again. This time the hides were all on a second white vehicle, just in front of rear wheels and just behind front wheels. The front wheels on the van with the hides were angled - not intended as a challenge, but proved to be one. The blue truck was not part of the search and its included only for a reference point. We were to start our search by aiming our dogs toward the left rear tire/bumper of the non-hide van and then follow their lead. Again on a short leash.
I kept Gimme on 4½ foot of line, but ran with her to the vehicles where she slowed down on her own. She went no more than 1 foot down the left side of the non-hide van before turning back to go to the other van. She quickly got both hides on the near side. Then she went around the front and started down the right side. All the dogs hit the angled-out tire and then bumped out toward the blue truck, before veering back to the hide in front of the rear wheel. Only Gimme and the GSD got the front wheel hide directly afterward - the other two dogs had to go back and forth a few times. Gimme went closer to the blue truck before turning back (and before I could respond to encourage her back), which I think is because she is the fastest moving of the dogs in this class, so she just naturally carries out further.
Apparently when they ran this search for other classes the front wheels were straight and there was no issue. Both instructors were surprised about the extra challenge it presented, with no clue why.
Our last search was in an exterior area where dogs are frequently walked to potty along a sidewalk. There were three hides and our goal as handlers was to observe and see if we could tell when the dog was crittering vs when they were detailing for source. I knew when Gimme was doing which and was pleased to see she left the potty spots on her own each time, before I needed to interrupt her.
I was also happy to see Gimme didn't seem inclined to mark despite this extreme provocation and particularly because we had a little difficulty with marking in exteriors after we started tracking at the beginning of this year. I'm using the same harness for tracking and nosework. Since Gimme was/is allowed to potty in tracking, she was briefly confused about what she could do. After getting walked off the search area for marking a couple of times in nosework, she seems to now understand its not the outfit she wears, but the activity. So, this was a great exercise for us, especially since Gimme and I have gotten in an L2 Element
exterior trial this Saturday afternoon. Its only a two hour drive, so
we'll be going down and back the same day.
Regarding the trial this weekend: Feel free to start crossing your body parts any time now...